Indigenous Members of Parliament

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Indigenous Members of Parliament

Posted 6/08/2010 by Coral Dow

The contest for the Western Australia seat of Hasluck is unusual in that three of the seven candidates are Aboriginal Australians: Dot Henry (Independent), Glenice Smith (Greens) and Ken Wyatt (Liberal).

The Liberal candidate Ken Wyatt (pictured opposite) needs a swing of 1 per cent to win the seat from Labor member Sharryn Jackson and become the first Indigenous Member of the House of Representatives.

Ken Wyatt told the Koori Mail (28 July 2010) that ‘there’s been this view that Aboriginal people are principally Labor Party oriented, but I think the three of us prove that we as a community are now starting to make our own political choices’.

A breakdown of party representation of the twenty-two Indigenous members that have served in Commonwealth, State and Territory parliaments suggest that as a Liberal Wyatt would join a minority if he wins the seat. There have been four representatives from conservative parties: Senator Neville Bonner (Liberal 1971–1983), Hyacinth Tungutalum (Country Liberal Party MLA Northern Territory 1974–1977), Eric Deeral (National Party MLA Queensland 1974–1977) and current sitting Northern Territory MLA Adam Giles (Country Liberal Party 2008–). Sixteen have been Australian Labor Party members (although two later left the ALP to sit as Independents), one Australian Democrats and one Independent.

Although the ALP has endorsed Tauto Sansbury in the marginal South Australian seat of Grey which requires a swing of 4.4 per cent to win the seat from the Liberal Party, former ALP president Warren Mundine is reported as being disappointed that the ALP has not endorsed an Indigenous candidate in a winnable seat.

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