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Jan 24, 2013

NT senate brawl; Labor learns to ‘suck it up’

Despite everything from strong reservations through to unbridled outrage among Labor rank and file over the PM’s ‘captains pick’ of Nova Peris to replace Trish Crossin as a senator for the Northern Territory, the national executive have voted unanimously to accept it.  Most members of major political parties become adept at toeing the party line, at least if they want to remain there. 
Labor has taken the next step and now toes Gillard’s line.  There is some sort of agreement to allow dissenters to do some mouthing off during the prelude to a vote in order to shore up their factional support, but when the crunch comes they have to suck it up and obey. And so, they have: 
Ms Gillard's push for Ms Peris, which stoked leadership divisions, was assured of success after the Left faction decided to support her, despite opponents labelling the decision "brutal" and "arrogant". 
At a fiery pre-national executive Left caucus, representatives from Victoria, Tasmania and NSW attacked the decision to take the NT Senate preselection contest from rank-and-file members and hand it to the national executive.  However, it was argued the Left could not oppose the endorsement of a female indigenous candidate and undermine the Prime Minister's authority. 
The subsequent national executive telephone hook-up voted unanimously to admit Ms Peris into the Labor Party and make her eligible to contest preselection for the number one position on the party's NT Senate ticket.Senator Crossin declared yesterday she would fight on and would encourage others to enter the race.
The term, “make her eligible to contest preselection,” actually means accept her application for party membership, as she is not currently in the party.
The claim by the Prime Minister that her action is some sort of response to having been ‘deeply troubled’ at the lack of indigenous representation in the party is hogwash.  If her claim were genuine, the logical move would have been to encourage an indigenous member of the party to stand rather than a high profile outsider with celebrity status.
Such concerns if they exist at all were not apparent when a replacement for Senator Arbib was needed and Warren Mundine, an indigenous former Labor Party National President was rejected in favor of Bob Carr.  The NT itself has numerous Aboriginal party members who would be capable of doing the job of voting along party lines in the senate like the current members do.

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