It is almost certain Labor will replace the first indigenous woman elected to Parliament with another indigenous woman, as Nova Peris has decided not to contest the election.

Peris was Julia Gillard’s “captain’s pick” for the Northern Territory Senate spot in early 2013. The Age reported yesterday that Peris had been in talks with key AFL executives to take on the top indigenous job in the AFL, which would rule her out of contention as a Senate candidate for the July 2 election. Crikey understands Peris was not talking to anyone about her plans overnight, but in a statement released this morning, Peris confirmed she would not re-contest her Senate seat:

“I had never envisaged myself becoming a career politician. I want to thank all the people who have made contact with me to thank me for my efforts over the past three to four years. I’m now moving on and personally looking forward to the next chapter and journey of my life. I will not be making any further comments on my decision to not re-contest.”

As Peris has now decided to end her short political career, Labor is already floating a couple of names of potential candidates to fill one of the two candidate places on the Labor ticket in the Northern Territory (the other is Pat Honan). It is believed that the top Senate ticket candidate for Labor will need to be a woman in order to comply with the party’s affirmative action rules. The lower house candidates for Labor are all men, and the second spot on the Senate ticket is seen as unwinnable, so if a woman is not appointed to the top spot, it will mean 100% of Labor’s NT federal politicians would be men.

Crikey can reveal one name in the mix is former territory Labor politician Malarndirri McCarthy, who was in the NT legislative assembly between 2005 and 2012. McCarthy is a former ABC journalist, and last month she stepped down from NITV and SBS. In 2014, she was part of a team that received a Walkley nomination for NITV’s Bowraville coverage. McCarthy is currently based in Sydney, but she would return to her home territory.

The other candidate is Marion Scrymgour, a former minister and deputy chief minister in the NT government, who briefly sat as an independent after disagreeing with the government over indigenous development issues in 2009. She rejoined the ALP later that year, and ultimately retired from politics in 2012.

Both women are from the progressive side of the Labor Party in the Northern Territory. Peris has said she will support whoever the national committee of the Labor Party decides to fill the No. 1 spot on the Senate ticket in the Northern Territory.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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