Jacinta Price has won the top spot on the Country Liberal Party’s Senate house ticket and, if usual electoral patterns repeat themselves, will be sworn in as a parliamentarian sometime after July 1 next year.
Price will be taking her place 51 years after Liberal Neville Bonner became the first Indigenous member of the parliament and as the second female Indigenous Coalition senator after LNPer Joanna Lindgren.
There are some immediate political challenges stemming from Price’s victory. National noses will need to be put back in joint and there will no doubt be some simmering resentment at the gratuitous smearing of the sitting Senator she defeated, Sam McMahon, and the allegations she was drunk in the chamber last week, but these should be smoothed over quickly.
The longer-term issues are far more significant.
Price has already fought off vicious and sustained attacks, many personal, and abuse and misrepresentation — including from the ABC — that in many cases would be called out by the left as the nastiest racist and sexist smears but appears to be fine when directed against an Indigenous female conservative.
More will come — and they will be harder and nastier.
There’ll be keen interest in seeing the dynamic between Price and the Greens Lidia Thorpe, the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge loving very model of a modern, shrill, hard-left urban Aboriginal activist.
But perhaps the greatest challenges might come from Price’s own side.
Price has the strong support of most of our leading conservatives and the free-market think tanks, along with thousands of ordinary Australians.
These, unfortunately, are not necessarily represented by the Liberal or Coalition party rooms.
Price, a solo artist, will now have to sing as part of the choir.
She will be a strong voice, but the message that her voice brings may well sound discordant in Canberra.
For Price will have many uncomfortable truths about Indigenous Australia that will challenge decades of bureaucratic thinking, along with not just the broad-left academic, media and cultural establishment, but Coalition ministers captured by their departments and MPs afraid of rocking the boat.
Price poses a challenge to them as much as she does to the left.
Can they handle the truth?
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