Julia Gillard has found something of a novel recruiting tool for signing up new members to fill the dwindling ranks of the Labor Party, offering a senate seat in exchange for joining. In what seems to be another symbolic gesture, indigenous Olympic gold medalist Nova Peris has been offered preselection for the Northern Territory senate seat in the coming election.
Ms Peris has not been a member of the party before, and in fact has yet to join but has indicated that the position along with the $190,000+ salary, $32,000 electorate allowance, superannuation, car, travel, and accommodation along with lurks and perks is tempting enough to coax her into Labor:
INDIGENOUS Australian and Olympian Nova Peris is set to stand as Labor's number one Senate candidate in the Northern Territory after the intervention of Julia Gillard.
The Prime Minister said she had exercised her discretion to make a “captain's pick” in selecting Ms Peris to run for the seat, currently held by Labor senator Trish Crossin. She has asked ALP chiefs to approve the move by overruling local preselection processes.
The move to dump Senator Crossin after 15 years follows the Country Liberal Party's victory over Labor in last year's territory election. Ms Gillard said she was troubled that Labor had never been represented in the federal parliament by an indigenous Australian. “I am determined that at the 2013 election we change that,” she said.
“I've asked the national executive to work with me in ensuring that Nova is eligible to stand for preselection and that she is preselected as our number one candidate for the Senate in the Northern Territory. …
An emotional Ms Peris thanked the Prime Minister for the “amazing opportunity” to stand for Labor preselection. “I stand here before you all today not only as an Australian but also as a proud Aboriginal woman, proud of my heritage and culture,” Ms Peris said. “I certainly understand the significance of this opportunity, and I am very honoured and humbled by this, Prime Minister.”
Senator Crossin, who has been a party supporter for thirty years and a Senator for fifteen appears ready to stage a fight against being replaced by a non-member and it is expected that some Territory branch members will also be angry that once again loyal Territorians are being kicked to the roadside in order to be the conscience of the Canberra elites:
Senator Crossin said the decision, which she was told of last night, was taken without consulting her or the territory branch of the Labor Party. “It has been my long-held belief that preselection should always be a matter for NT Labor branch members to decide,” she said in a statement.
The real issue at stake in this action is that in the last Territory election the Labor Party was smashed by Aboriginal voters siding with the CLP. Gillard is tossing Crossin under the bus in order to try to shore up her support among indigenous communities.
Opposition to this move will fade within days. Ever since the Whitlam government Labor supporters have come to an understanding that the party elite knows better than the local branches what’s best for them. While they are often unhappy with the directives from above, they have adapted by learning to suck it up.