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January 22nd 2013 print

Philippa Martyr

Gillard white-outs the rules

A perfectly presentable Labor senator from the Northern Territory has been bumped by prime ministerial edict, to be replaced by an Indigenous woman who is not even a member of the ALP. Tokenism, anyone?


Julia Gillard has intervened in the Senate pre-selection process and chosen Nova Peris as a Senate candidate for the Northern Territory.


Nova Peris was a fine hockey player back in the day, and a fine athlete. No one would argue with that. She also has reasonably good Labor credentials, having been a ‘treaty ambassador’ for the now defunct and discredited ATSIC.

Yet Nova Peris is not actually a member of the ALP. Apparently Peris has said she is ‘proud, honoured and humbled to be part of Labor,’ which is only to be expected, given that her membership application is currently being expedited at light-speed.

So what other qualifications does Peris bring to Senate pre-selection? There are exactly two qualifications she brings, both of which were stated quite clearly by our Prime Minister in the media today. Nova Peris is 1) black, and 2) female. In other words, Nova Peris has been selected because Julia Gillard wants her to be the first female Aboriginal federal member of parliament.

Gillard’s a triple threat: she has a tin ear, lead foot and ham fist.

  • she has effectively announced publicly that Peris was selected because she’s black and female
  • she appears to believe that she, Julia Gillard, is somehow responsible for a person’s election to parliament, rather than their actual electorate
  • she is also very happy to overrule the local ALP and its preselection process (cf. the Penny Wong imbroglio in October 2012)

It’s odd how every other male and female Aboriginal member of Parliament in Australia – and there’s a list of them here – seems to have made it on their own terms, without needing to be personally pre-selected by the Prime Minister on account of marketability, blackness, and femaleness.

What else is odd is how the recent NT elections brought about a horrible backlash against Labor for its decades-long policies of subjugation via welfare dependency, denial of education opportunities and home ownership, and chronic neglect of Aboriginal peoples’ genuine wellbeing.

Among the most outspoken critics of Labor in the Territory were – shock – female Aboriginal MPs Alison Nampitjinpa Anderson and Bess Nungarrayi Price, neither of whom were personally selected by anyone to run for parliament. They were actually capable of selecting themselves. Bess Price was also a sole parent in her teens. Both Price and Anderson worked for years, up to their necks in their local Aboriginal communities to try to better the lives of their people from the inside.Could the choice of Peris just possibly be vaguely related to this?

 

Philippa Martyr blogs at Transverse City, where she operates a patented Media Bias Translator™ largely for her own amusement.