Gerry Georgatos Former ALP president and Bandjalung man, Warren Mundine is putting on a brave face after being denied the opportunity to become the first Aboriginal federal Labor politician.
Mr Mundine has congratulated former NSW premier Bob Carr on his nomination to the vacant Senate position - after Mark Arbib, who held the Indigenous Employment portfolio till taken over by Julie Collins in the previous ministerial reshuffle, dramatically resigned on the same day Prime Minister Julia Gillard out-balloted Kevin Rudd, 71-31 to hold on to the leadership of the ALP and the prime minister-ship.
When the Senate position became vacant Mr Mundine declared himself available to fill the position and it is understood he and his supporters lobbied strongly.
When the Senate position became vacant a parliamentary source told the National Indigenous Times that Prime Minister Gillard lobbied for Mr Carr to fill the Senate vacancy and lobbied for Mr Carr to be offered the ministerial portfolio of Foreign Minister. This was immediately refuted by the Office of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister who publicly said "this is not true". She has since admitted she did lobby for Mr Carr to fill the Senate vacancy.
Our source's claims included that the Defence Minister Stephen Smith argued against the invitation to Mr Carr to undertake the Foreign Ministry portfolio and that he believed it to be highly improper for it to be offered to Mr Carr. He said that instead the Prime Minister and the Cabinet should agree on and expeditiously announce to the public the replacements for Mr Rudd's and Mr Arbib's portfolios, who should be selected from serving and seasoned federal parliamentarians.
Mr Crean, who some insiders believe is positioning himself for a tilt at the prime minister's job, if and when needed, backed the Prime Minister in what was a testy Cabinet meeting. The source was correct that the Prime Minister's supporter David Bradbury would be elevated to Cabinet and was correct that Senator Doug Cameron's fears of retribution to some of the Rudd supporters would eventuate.
Mr Mundine publicly put on a brave face however it is understood he has said to some within his beloved ALP that the party had the chance to dedicate to affirmative action on Indigenous representation in parliament and at long last displace some of the Coalition's boasts with Indigenous representation - Ken Wyatt in the House of Representatives, and formerly with Neville Bonner in the Senate. The source said that one Cabinet member said that Mr Mundine would be "our first Indigenous Senator and could also take over the Indigenous Employment portfolio or have an Indigenous portfolio created or work with Jenny" - The source said Jenny Macklin remained silent. Another Cabinet member believed Mr Mundine's elevation to the Senate could raise the party's profile, however the Prime Minister and Mr Crean, and other ministers, said that Mr Carr was better placed to raise the party's image with voters - Aboriginal voters being less than 2% the total voter population.
We asked the Office of the Prime Minister whether Mr Mundine was considered as a Senatorial candidate by the Cabinet. A spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister said, "We don't comment on private conversations between the Prime Minister and her colleagues."
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