Malarndirri McCarthy (left), then NT Member for Arnhem, in 2008 with former federal minister for Indigenous affairs Jenny Macklin (centre). Photo: Glenn Campbell Malarndirri McCarthy (then NT Minister for Statehood) in 2011 with prominent Indigenous figure Michael Long and school students in Melbourne. Photo: Justin McManus
Federal election: Full coverageJournalist prevails over Nova Peris staffer in Labor preselection battleEmotional Nova Peris slams critics, defends legacy – ‘No-one should judge me’
Freshly appointed Labor Senate candidate Malarndirri McCarthy has confirmed she is not a member of the Labor Party and is not enrolled to vote in the Northern Territory.
In her first media appearance since Monday’s surprise pre-selection result, the Yanyuwa Garrawa woman also said she was ready for the kind of racism experienced by her predecessor Nova Peris, for which a NSW chiropractor was arrested on Monday.
A former journalist and NT cabinet minister, Ms McCarthy said she was enrolled “nationally”, having lived in Sydney working for NITV and SBS since 2012 after losing her seat in the NT Parliament.
The deadline for updating enrolment for the July 2 election with the AEC was last Monday.
When asked whether she had been a financial member of the Labor Party in recent times, she said: “No, I haven’t.”
A well-known figure in the Top End since her time as a Darwin newsreader and a minister, Ms McCarthy said she had “absolutely” experienced bigotry as an Aboriginal woman.
“Even in my time as a Northern Territory cabinet minister and as the member for Arnhem, I did endure in that time unfair, unnecessary accusations being a woman, being a black woman and never ever really looked at in terms of my qualification and the skills that I brought,” she said.
“So I’ve experienced some of that, not to the depth that Nova has and I’m conscious that stepping on the national scene that obviously it is out there and like Nova and like everyone else should in this country racism is just not on and we have to stamp it out straight away.”
Ms McCarthy was the surprise victor over Ms Peris’ chief of staff Ursula Raymond in Monday’s vote to fill the Senate spot, conducted by the ALP’s national executive after the outgoing senator’s shock resignation last week.
She attracted strong support from the Left faction, who pointed to her ministerial experience.
In Tuesday’s press conference, she dismissed attacks on this record from NT Chief Minister and Country Liberal Adam Giles, who said she presided over the worst child protection system and tourism campaign the Territory had ever had.
“I come in with experience. I’m a very experienced minister in the former Henderson government. I had numerous portfolios,” she said, denying she came with baggage.
“Child protection, not just in the Northern Territory but right across Australia, is critical. We have far too many children in this country being removed from their family; we have to get it better.”
She rejected the claim that the situation became worse in her time as child protection minister and said the NSW Baird government had recently asked her advice on relevant policy.
Lingiari MP Warren Snowdon, who backed Ms Raymond for the position, said the preselection process “wasn’t perfect” but that Labor had the “perfect senator and that’s what’s important”.
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