Peris running again... for the Senate
Julia Gillard has endorsed Olympic gold medalist Nova Peris to top Labor's Northern Territory Senate ticket, bypassing normal pre-selection processes.PT1M53S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2d4f3 620 349 January 22, 2013
Labor senator Trish Crossin says she plans to renominate for preselection despite Prime Minister Julia Gillard endorsing indigenous Olympian Nova Peris to replace her.
The ALP national executive followed Ms Gillard's lead on Wednesday afternoon and accepted Ms Peris as a member of the party's Northern Territory branch.
ALP national secretary George Wright announced a preselection ballot would be held on January 29 "should this be required".
Labor Senator Trish Crossin speaks with Liberal George Brandis at the hearings into the proposed changes to the anti-discrimination laws. Photo: Justin McManus
"Members of the ALP national executive unanimously resolved to admit Nova Peris as a member of the NT branch and credential Nova to stand for preselection for the first position on Labor’s Senate ticket in the Northern Territory," Mr Wright said in a statement.
Nominations for the position will remain open until 5pm (Darwin time) on January 28.
Mr Wright confirmed that the 20 voting members of the national executive will have the final say on who will be Labor's Senate candidate for the Northern Territory.
Mr Wright said that the national executive would consider Senator Crossin and other applications if they were made, but he confirmed that no one from Labor's Northern Territory branch would be allowed to vote.
Speaking in Melbourne earlier on Wednesday, Senator Crossin challenged the ALP national executive to put Ms Peris' name on a party ballot.
She said her immediate focus was to get members a ballot - which she would nominate for - and she encouraged people not to resign from the party in protest at her treatment.
"There is always a point to join the ALP. I would encourage people to be part of the Labor Party. I have encouraged people to not resign over this," Senator Crossin said.
"The Labor cause is something that is bigger and broader than this.''
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said she expects people to be unhappy about her decision to replace Senator Crossin, but insists that it had nothing to do with Senator Crossin's support for Kevin Rudd.
On Tuesday, Ms Gillard announced that she was endorsing Ms Peris for the top Labor spot on the NT Senate ticket in the upcoming federal election.
The move has angered Senator Crossin, who said she was only told about the move on Monday night and that neither she, nor the NT branch of the ALP were consulted.
But the Prime Minister said she expected that her decision would be ''controversial amongst some.''
''I expected that there would be people who weren't happy with my decision,'' Ms Gillard told ABC Radio on Wednesday.
The move to install Ms Peris has also angered other Labor MPs – such as Labor Left Senator Doug Cameron, a friend of Senator Crossin's.
Senator Cameron has described Ms Gillard's intervention into the preselection process as a ''pretty brutal exercise of political power''.
''I think simply a night of the long knives against a Senator who has, you know, given the party a long-term commitment, a very effective commitment, is not a good message,'' he told ABC Radio.
Another Labor MP, who did not want to be named, called the decision a ''thought bubble'' that gave the parliamentary Labor Party the whiff of the NSW Labor Party, which was notorious for using the NC40 rule to overrule the wishes of local branches to install the candidate preferred by head office.
''I don't recall the knocking off of a sitting member for something like this ever,'' the MP said.
''It's a disturbing precedent . . . To go out on a limb like this is amazing.''
Sittings members could not assume they would automatically gain preselection, the MP said, but they had the right to defend themselves at a ballot.
The MP said although supporters of Mr Rudd were angry at the decision it was unlikely to lead to any resurrection of leadership instability.
Ms Gillard stood by her decision on Wednesday, saying there were always ''tough decisions''.
''It's a leadership decision,'' she said.
When asked if the treatment of Senator Crossin had anything to do with the fact that NT Senator had been a supporter of former prime minister Kevin Rudd, Ms Gillard said: ''All of that is completely irrelevant.''
Senior frontbencher and former Labor leader Simon Crean backed the Prime Minister on Wednesday morning, saying that ''in the end it's the outcome that's important''.
''You're never going to satisfy everyone,'' he told Sky News.
Mr Crean said that even though the rank-and-file process was important, the preselection process was ''not always perfect''.
''We haven't been able to preselect an indigenous woman, let alone an indigenous candidate.''
Ms Peris also defended the Prime Minister's call.
''I think with the Prime Minister yesterday, I think she's handled it the way that she saw – the best way to do it,'' she told Channel Seven.
''I can't really get involved in the nuts and bolts of the party process but if you look at the Northern Territory, Labor lost its last election . . . there was lack of representation from Aboriginal women in the NT.''
Former NT deputy chief minister, Marion Scrymgour, who was Australia's first indigenous female minister, had put her hand up to run against Senator Crossin in ALP's NT Senate battle.
Ms Scrymgour told ABC Radio, Ms Gillard had phoned her before the Peris announcement, letting her know the race was over.
''I think people are cranky. It just robs the territory of the right to have a say,'' she said.
With Stephanie Peatling, AAP