The First Nations Political Party (FNPP) is a new party contesting the upcoming federal election. The party will contest two lower house seat a and field a four-person senate ticket in WA. It will also run a senate candidate and content a lower house seat in the Northern Territory.
Aboriginal activists Marianne Mackay and Glenn Moore began working towards forming an Indigenous political party in late 2009. They have a goal to getting Aboriginal people elected to parliament.
“We need a pure Aboriginal voice in parliament”, Moore told Green Left Weekly.
They aim to see meaningful social justice changes “at street level” for Aboriginal people and others. “What I want to see is more people put in the right positions to make a change”, Moore said.
The first term of the Labor government has disappointed activists in the Aboriginal community. MacKay told GLW that while former prime minister Kevin Rudd will “always be remembered for saying sorry” he will also be remembered as the prime minister “who did nothing to end the NT intervention”.
“Supporting the NT intervention is the biggest thing that has happened in the Aboriginal political arena in recent years”, Moore said.
“And for Rudd to say sorry and then not act on it as prime minister when he had a full term to change things is really sickening.”
“That is the modern genocide”, he said. “We are people who are still oppressed, there are still genocidal acts going on.”
Moore said he was tired of there being no-one to speak out on issues such as the WA government’s proposed stop and search laws. “Those laws are put in there to create the prison population, to put us in there.”
In November, Mackay and Moore linked up with Gerry Georgatos who had been trying to establish an Ecological Social Justice party after becoming disillusioned with the Greens.
The new formation became known as the Ecological, Social Justice, Aboriginal Party (ESJAP).
ESJAP has since united with the NT-based First Nations Political Party and will contest federal elections under the FNPP banner and state elections under the ESJAP banner.
For the moment, the party is not yet registered at either state or federal level, so candidates will appear on the ballot without their party affiliation. (In Hasluck and the NT, party members have selected the option of appearing with the label “independent” on the ballot paper.)
Georgatos told GLW that the party’s federal registration application was rejected after the electoral commission refused to recognise Aboriginal members from the Todd River community in the NT who have no residential address.
He said he expected a new application to be approved by the electoral commission after the federal election is over.
The party has considerable numbers of members, but is based on people signing a membership form without paying a membership fee.
Georgatos, who is also the lead senate candidate in WA, said affirmative action is the rationale for the new party. “We want to endorse as many Aboriginal candidates as possible. So far, there have been only two Aboriginal people elected at federal level.”
Other Senate candidates in WA are Bill Hayward, Mackay and Lara Menkens. Georgatos didn’t say why the party had nominated a non-Aboriginal person for the lead senate position. He did say that the new party is coming from the “leftist side of the political spectrum” and favours “radical redistribution” of the social wealth. “We need to narrow that corridor between richest and poorest.”
He said there was no point hiding his socialist politics and that the party would give preferences to the Socialist Alliance in the senate.
Mackay and Moore said the new party is a case of “from little things big things grow”.
“The federal elections aren’t the end of it”, Mackay said. “There are state elections, local government elections.
“Our goal is that by the next federal election, we have Aboriginal candidates in every state.
“Even if we don’t get elected we’re still out there speaking about it. We’re still getting known, getting our faces out there so people see that Aboriginal people are standing up.”
Moore told GLW that a lot of Aboriginal people don’t even vote. “We need empowerment there so that people begin to believe in themselves again. We’re planting seeds to inspire people to realise that they have a voice.”