“… fuck you”.
This is the essence of today’s announcement by the Prime Minister that she is going to parachute Nova Peris into the #1 spot on the ALP’s Senate ticket. The electoral calculus means that this will guarantee a Senate place for Peris.
First, and foremost, Labor want their own token blackfella.
I use that insulting language because I believe it is that insulting. They’re not interested in the person who will be a Senator of the Commonwealth, just the symbolism of it.
It’s been a rough few years for Labor in indigenous politics. The Liberals pre-selected an indigenous candidate and he was elected to Parliament. Then the 2011 Northern Territory elections caused a tectonic shift in NT politics.
Aboriginal voters abandoned Labor and voted for the CLP. The Northern Territory’s Legislative Assembly’s indigenous members are almost all CLP members. The symbolism is very unsettling for Labor, who have always considered aboriginal issues to “belong” to them.
So. They want their own. The Prime Minister pretty much belled the cat when said:
It would be the first time that our political party has put forward an Indigenous Australian in a winnable position at a federal election.
Here’s the truly, truly insulting part. The real teeth-kicker. And what proves that Gillard is more interested in symbolism than substance.
They’re going to parachute in Nova Peris. Peris is a former Olympic Athlete, “famous” for being the sole aboriginal player in the 1996 Women’s hockey team which won in Atlanta (nobody seems to care about her former team mates). And that’s it. That’s the highest achievement of her life: being part of a winning team nearly 20 years ago.
If you’ve ever met Peris, you’ll know that she is not A-grade Senate material. I mean, I don’t like Trish Crossin. But Crossin is a smart and experienced Senator. Peris is, frankly, going to be an embarrassment.
If Julia Gillard wanted to select an indigenous woman for the Senate, there was a candidate right there, already trying to win pre-selection.
Marion Scrymgour is smart and has Cabinet experience. Marion Scrymgour would be an adornment to the Federal Parliament.
Ah. But Marion Scrymgour isn’t “famous”.
And Marion Scrymgour has her own ideas. She occasionally speaks them aloud. Gosh, how embarrassing it would be if the brand new token actually harboured ambitions to help her people.
Yours Sincerely, The Prime Minister
This is nothing new. Both parties at a federal level regularly treat Territorians worse than live cattle. But the gall, the gall, to parachute such an unimpressive dud into the Senate simply for the symbolism so boils my blood that I find it difficult not to want to kick things.
I wish a thousand poxes on the house of Labor. I hope that the earth opens up and swallows their Victorian and NSW headquarters. I hope that their ministers are struck mute. I hope that they are called out for this breath-taking insult. And most of all I hope that they are reduced to a smoking ruin at the next election, forced into the wilderness to consider their sins.