Former Labor Senator Fatima Payman accuses Albanese of ‘petty’ behaviour after quitting

Former Labor Senator Fatima Payman accuses Albanese of ‘petty’ behaviour after quitting
  • PublishedJuly 7, 2024

Former Labor Senator for WA Fatima Payman has accused Anthony Albanese of “petty” behaviour since she quit the party on Thursday, adding many members feel let down and disenfranchised by the Government she was once part of.

Senator Payman — who quit Labor to sit on the crossbench, citing its “indifference” to the plight of Palestinians in Gaza — on Saturday said she would not get involved in a public tit-for-tat with the Prime Minister over her decision to quit.

Mr Albanese this week said the WA public had voted for his party and not Senator Payman, who received about 1600 votes in the 2022 election, and she had “at no stage” stood up in caucus on the Middle East, WA or “about anything else”.

Asked about Mr Albanese’s assertion that voters voted for the ALP, not her, Senator Payman told The Sunday Times: “I am not going to get into the petty back and forth that he has been engaging in.”

But she said she was not alone in feeling disenchanted with Labor.

“They may have voted for the ALP, but I feel like the ALP has strayed away from its own values,” Senator Payman said in a wide-ranging interview just hours after she returned to Perth, in which she paid tribute to her “rock”, husband Jacob Stokes.

“West Australians voted to change the Government (in 2022). They voted for fairness, justice and equality.

“Rusted-on young Labor members have told me that they feel disenfranchised and have resigned.

“Not just because of Palestine, but other issues as well. People wouldn’t feel disenfranchised if the ALP was sticking to what was in the platform.”

Senator Payman dismissed speculation she would form a new party to further the interests of the Muslim community.

But she left the door open for a political party of her own — one day.

“I can rule it out and make it very clear that I will not be forming a Muslim party — even if I decide to form a party,” she said.

“As a West Australian senator, I know I represent people from all walks of life and all backgrounds.

“So if I was to form a party it would not be a Muslim party.”

But she had a warning for Mr Albanese when asked if she expected a strong anti-Government vote from WA’s Muslim community.

“I think the anger has been resounding through various communities, and not just the Muslim communities — especially the way the Government has handled the situation in Palestine,” Senator Payman said.

“So I wouldn’t be surprised if they galvanise and mobilise action around that — in WA as well (as the Eastern States).”

Senator Payman’s bombshell move to walk out on the party was precipitated by her move to cross the floor of the Senate on June 25 to vote for recognition of a Palestinian State.

She said she condemned both sides of the Middle East conflict, as thousands of innocent lives had been lost.

“It is important to condemn both sides, because it is human life that is being lost, indiscriminately killed,” Senator Payman said.

“It’s something that needs to be called out and I just feel the Government hasn’t really stepped up to it.”

She was banned from attending the following week’s caucus meetings by Mr Albanese.

When she again told media last Sunday that she would support the same motion if it came before the Senate, she was indefinitely banned from caucus by the Prime Minister.

Having quit the party on Thursday, she will serve out the remaining four years of her term as an independent senator, but said at this stage she would not be aligned to any party or group of independents in the Senate.


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