Women seem to be the expendables in Australia politics. Yet, even I was surprised how Senator Trish Crossin was treated by the ALP machine at the behest of the Prime Minister when she was replaced by NT Senate candidate Nova Peris.
No one can dispute the importance of an indigenous representative for the NT - especially one who will take her place in ‘herstory’ as the first female indigenous Federal MP- but the process has been questionable. The ALP federal record on indigenous representation is woeful, indeed negligible.
The Australian Democrats ensured indigenous representation (Senator Aden Ridgeway, who became Deputy Leader) at the 1998 election and, long before that, the Liberal Party set a standard with the election of the late Queensland Senator Neville Bonner.
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Julia Gillard today announced celebrated athlete Nova Peris would be the ALP’s first indigenous representative in Federal Parliament. Peris, who is not a member of the Labor Party, will be parachuted into the number one spot on the ALP Senate ticket in the Northern Territory, much to the disgust of the woman who currently holds that position, Trish Crossin.
The PM was unapologetic about dumping Crossin, who has been in the Senate for 15 years, describing Peris as a “captain’s pick”.
Gillard simultaneously declared her support for party processes, while exclaiming she was “troubled” the ALP had so far failed to send and Indigenous Australian to Parliament. After all, 42 years have passed since the Coalition selected Neville Bonner as the first Indigenous Federal Representative.
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