A move into federal politics could see New South Wales deputy Labor leader Linda Burney make history as the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives.
The NSW Deputy Opposition Leader has confirmed she will be running for preselection for the federal seat of Barton in Sydney’s south in the next federal election.
She said she would be proud to be the first Aboriginal woman to join the House of Representatives, following Nova Peris becoming the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the parliament when she won a seat in the Senate.
“That’s not just a great pride for me, but for my people and also, very importantly, for the wider community,” Ms Burney said.
“I’m not going to be pigeonholed into being an Aboriginal candidate, my experience in life is a broad experience.”
At the top of Ms Burney’s agenda is seeing Aboriginal people officially recognised.
“I want to see a change to the Australian constitution to recognise Aboriginal people, to get rid of the capacity of that constitution to make laws that will disadvantage Aboriginal people,” she said.
“I want to also see truth being told in our founding document … an amazing story about this country, of being the recipient of the oldest surviving culture on this planet … and that’s one of the things I will be pursuing.”
She will step down as deputy leader in the next week, but will stay on as Canterbury MP until the election is called and after that will be campaigning full-time.
Ms Burney’s switch will force a by-election in the state seat of Canterbury, which the MP has held since 2003.
The seat is currently held by the Liberal Party, but an electoral boundary redistribution in NSW is expected to favour the ALP, due to a move to the west.
Both Labor and the Liberals spoke out against the changes when they were proposed, with the Liberals arguing they would lose three seats as a result, including Barton.
Redistribution to make Barton ‘a relatively safe Labor seat’
Ms Burney said the electoral redistribution had made Barton a relatively safe Labor seat.
“With the redistribution the seat of Barton is about 5.4 per cent notionally Labor,” she said.
“But I don’t take anything for granted, I’ve fought four elections, I know how hard it is and I know how important it is.
“If you can’t convince people, if people can’t trust you, you will not get their vote.”
She said her current seat shared territory with the federal electorate of Barton.