Senator's removal a 'night of the long knives'

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's dumping of Northern Territory Senator Trish Crossin for Olympic gold medallist Nova Peris has been described as a ''night of the long knives''.

Labor Left Senator Doug Cameron, a friend of Ms Crossin's, told ABC radio the move was brutal and he was disappointed with Ms Gillard's interference in the NT preselection process.

He said any problem with indigenous representation in the Northern territory should have been dealt with six months ago.

''We should be looking at how we attract talented Aboriginal people into the party, how we can make the party relevant to them,'' he said.

Senator Cameron said it was not relevant to be ''parachuting people in and saying that soothes our conscience in terms of Aboriginal representation''.

''It's a short-term fix that belies a deeper problem,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Ms Peris on Wednesday 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 the Seven Network.

''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.''

Ms Peris said she felt ''honoured'' to have been selected for her work in health and education rather than her high profile as an athlete.

However, former NT education minister Marion Scrymgour, who was Australia’s first indigenous female minister, had stuck up her hand to run against Ms Crossin for preselection for the Senate ticket.

She received a phone call from Ms Gillard letting her know the race was over.

Ms Scrymgour told the ABC that the Prime Minister would have her way, but the NT felt robbed of having its say.

''Nova has been away for a long time,'' Ms Scrymgour said.

''There are many issues up here, sure she’s been backwards and forward . . . you’re playing at a different level.''


This story Senator's removal a 'night of the long knives' first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.