Peris the thought


Political parties are like those “3D images” where red and blue images don’t overlap, and by wearing glasses with separate red and blue lenses your eyes are tricked into seeing the third dimension, seeing the image as if it is a single object.

(Helene, small, icy moon of Saturn. Irregularly shaped, about 36 by 32 by 30 kilometers, Helene orbits at Dione’s leading Lagrange point while brotherly ice moon Polydeuces follows at Dione’s trailing Lagrange point. The sharp stereo anaglyph was constructed from two Cassini images (N00172886, N00172892) captured during a close flyby in 2011. It shows part of the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Helene mottled with craters and gully-like features. APOD )

There is the political party as the repository of a set of policies, ideas, ideology, world view, opposed to another party with a different set. In a battle to ensure that one party’s policies become those of the country.

Then there is the political party composed of individuals, flawed, talented, stupid, smart, angry, kind, jealous, competing with all the other individuals in the same party for personal supremacy.

We saw a clear case this week in Australia. Some background. Indigenous Australians have very rarely been represented in Australian parliaments. At federal level only three, all since the 1970s, one only since 2010. I think there has only been one at a state level (in WA some years ago), although there have been several in the Northern Territory with its high Aboriginal population in recent years.

Somewhat astonishingly the Australian Labor Party has never had an Aboriginal member of Federal Parliament, while the Liberals have had two (one reluctantly) and the Democrats one.

Anyway, in a first step to rectify this the Prime Minister announced she had, outside of the normal candidate preselection process, invited a well known Aboriginal former international sportswoman to be the Labor NT Senate candidate (and certain winner), to replace the current non-Aboriginal female Senator who has held the position for 15 years.

Ok, win win win all round eh? Loud applause from all concerned? Supportive media? Labor Party welcoming new recruit? Current Senator happily standing aside? Praise for Prime Minister’s creative thinking? Community discussion about ways to get more minority groups into parliament? In your dreaming.

Immediately members of the Labor party stated bitching and backgrounding the media. How dare the PM interfere? The members must decide. Poor choice, what had this woman done anyway? What had the sitting senator done wrong? Rudd (former Prime Minister) supporters outraged. And on and on. The Party members tearing at each other and in doing so opening up wounds that the media and the Opposition were happy to enlarge, the media undertaking, in its usual charming way, a witch hunt to see what if any dirt they could find. On a young woman who had done nothing except put up her hand and say she was interested in serving her country. The very thought of bringing in new blood to the party for a wider good was anathema to many in the Party.

Look I don’t know the background to this inside the Party. There are two diametrically opposed views here and here. I don’t know what qualities Ms Peris might have (although the tears of happiness she shed, standing by the Prime Minister, were a pretty encouraging sign). I have seen enough of life to know that public image, and perceptions, are often wildly at odds with the actual character and performance of some people in the public eye. But at face value Ms Peris seems a good person who has achieved a great deal in her life so far and now has the opportunity to achieve a great deal more.

The process of getting her pre-selected to seek election is one that could be followed a lot more to get other groups into parliament that are scarcely represented (and I don’t just mean ethnic groups, but scientists, artists, teachers, nurses, young people, old people, and so on). It should be welcomed by political parties concerned with their principles and with the well-being of the country.

In his famous call to the American people in that long ago Inauguration, Kennedy said “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. It is a call that could be directed at politicians by substituting the word “Party” for “Country”.

Most of the time, the public, issued with those special glasses, sees political parties as they wish to be seen – whole idealistic public-spirited groups concerned only for the well-being of the country they seek to serve. The Nova Peris unpleasantness is one of those occasions where one lens has been removed, and we clearly see the ugliness and self-seeking nature of most politicians (though definitely not all) within their parties.

Time many of them took off their glasses and took a long hard look at themselves in the mirror.

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16 comments on “Peris the thought

  1. The Labor Party’s greatest danger is now, and has always been, the willingness of its own members to cut off the Labor nose to spite its face. How often it manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Not that its opponents don’t do a fair job at the same trick – but the Labor Party’s timing is better at it.


  2. Kerry Seebohm says:

    David, The issue that bothered me was that Peris was NOT a member of the ALP. By her own admission, she was approached 7 years ago. But was for personal reasons, not interested then. But where is her heart. Why did she not become a member of the ALP 7 years ago? That is what pisses me off. She joined ALP only days after PM Gillard announced her “Captains Pick.”


    • David Horton says:

      That was a silly mistake. The application should have gone in before announcement. Labor is constantly capable of tactical stupidity.


      • True. But once a thing is done, it is prudent for the rest of the party either to keep its collective trap shut or to get behind it. How does it help Labor’s chances of reelection to go the other way? In the last 2 years or so I have seen Labor do the stupidest possible things tactically, which have given its opponents a free ride they don’t deserve.


  3. Good points, well made. You omitted one indigenous parliamentarian – Eric Deeral in Queensland. (But that’s a long way from WA :) )


  4. NannaHannah says:

    The problem is, today’s political parties are made up mostly of apparatchiks. They think they are entitled. It’s part of the problem of where we’re at, politically, today. Fresh blood is exactly what politics needs.


  5. Keith Woolsey says:

    Current indigenous MP in WA state parliament is Ben Wyatt (Lab), don’t know if he is related to Ken Wyatt also WA, who for some reason has hooked up with the Libtards. I agree with the comments above regarding tactical blunders. Another tactical blunder may be their regular attacks on the Greens.


  6. Buff McMenis says:

    He’s a nephew of Ken Wyatt … on the other side of the tracks. :-) The sensible one. Now, to get to Peris … I was thrilled to bits with the PM’s choice. And Nova’s response to the announcement. As an ex-President of an ALP Branch in WA I know exactly some of the devious dealings which go on at and for pre-selections on BOTH sides of politics! I spent some years standing for Council against a determined Liberal Mayor and lost each time with another scar on my back! NOT pretty! Another reason why I let my Party membership lapse. But to get back to this one in particular .. Crossin is a long-serving Senator who I have never heard of. And who’s only claim to fame is that George Brandis sits on the same Parliamentary Committee that she Chairs. And who supports her. Also the fact that she admitted quite freely that she “chats frequently” with her Opposition Senator and “keeps him up to date with what is going on”. Goodness me .. I wonder if he returns the favour to Senator Crossin? This Ruddite Senator can be allowed to go to her retirement with a substantial Pension scheme and the knowledge she has done nothing outstanding in her 15 years. Bring it on, Nova Peris … bring it on!!!!


  7. fred says:

    Here’s a thoughtful article worth reading.

    One interesting note is the bias of the media.
    All the negative points they are making with respect to the ‘parachuting’ of Peris can be duplicated by Abbott trying to ‘parachute’ 2 celebrities into seats recently but …and here’s the rub….failing.
    Failing in one case because the celebrity rejected him and in the other because the factions kicked up a fuss …out of media sight of course.

    Different strokes for different folks when it comes to media reporting.


  8. Kerry Seebohm @KezzerSA says:

    Nova has certainly endured a baptism of fire. However, if she had insisted on proper procedure to be followed and had taken out membership of the ALP before the “captains pic” then the outrage would have been minimized.
    I still have a big question mark about her “Labor Values” though.


  9. Poor Warren Mundine – worked his way up to be president of the ALP only to see his promised seat given to captain’s pick Bob Carr. Not black enought, eh? It’s tough being a token.


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