An Indigenous prime minister of Australia is inevitable, Aboriginal journalist Stan Grant has said as he confirms he is thinking “very carefully” about aligning himself to a major party.
Mr Grant ruled out standing for federal parliament as an independent but left the door open to running for one of the major parties in this year’s election, in an interview with Margaret Throsby on ABC Classic FM’s Midday program.
“I do feel a great sense of obligation to the words that I’ve written and the things that I’ve said,” Mr Grant, a television journalist and Wiradjuri man, said.
“I feel a great sense that this country can be all it should be, and I think I have a contribution to make to that.”
He said he could not see himself being the first Indigenous prime minister, but he could imagine himself in the role of education minister or foreign minister.
“I could imagine an Indigenous person becoming prime minister and I think we will see that,” he said.
“I could imagine going into Parliament with the experiences that I’ve had.
“I dare say there is not a single person in the Parliament who could lay claim to the broad life experiences that I’ve had. You learn a lot of things along the way.”
Mr Grant, 52, is the International Editor for SkyNews, Managing Editor of NITV and Indigenous Affairs Editor at The Guardian.
He hosts a nightly news bulletin on NITV titled The Point with Stan Grant.
He was born in Griffith to a Wiradjuri father and Kamilaroi mother and went to 15 different schools before he was 13 and spoke of growing up battling homelessness, truancy and poverty.
“I was very solitary, I was extremely anxious, because of how we lived,” Mr Grant said.
“We were beyond dirt poor. This was a hand-to-mouth existence.”
He recalled his grandmother, a white woman who married an Aboriginal man, who had 13 children and called herself a “white Aborigine”.
“She used to say to me all the time ‘he’ll be prime minster one day this boy’,” he said.
Mr Grant said there was greater freedom outside politics, but he saw a potential role for himself in policy and law-making.
Stan Grant ‘thinking very carefully’ about party choice
He ruled out standing as an independent and said he was not aligned to either major party.
“I am genuinely impartial and genuinely non-ideological,” he said.
“I don’t believe that’s how you solve the issues of the world, let alone Australia.
“It’s one thing to cast a vote … but to say you are going to stand for a party means you choose that as your team and they are the people you will side with.
“It means I need to really think about this very, very carefully and I am.
“And if it means I don’t enter politics this time around, it may be something I revisit. [Or] it may be something I never do.”
Neither the ALP or the Coalition have offered him a safe seat, he said.
“At this point, there is not a seat on the table, that I can stand for right now and say: ‘I will get elected and go into Parliament for X party in this seat’,” Mr Grant said.
In 2015, Mr Grant won a Walkley award for coverage of Indigenous affairs for The Guardian.
He gave an eloquent speech on racism and the Australian Dream in October 2015 as part of The Ethics Centre IQ2 racism debate, which went viral just before Australia Day 2016.
It was described by commentator Mike Carlton as “Australia’s Martin Luther King Jr moment”.
He said Aboriginal affairs in Australia was treated as a “soft left” issue and needed to be placed on an equal footing with hard politics such as taxation and immigration.
“I would like to see that Indigenous affairs no longer sits off in the margins,” he said.
“That it is an issue we grapple with every single day, and it sits at the centre of the body politic.
“At the moment, it sits in the same basket as gay marriage and the republic. These things we get to once we’ve dealt with the serious business.”