First among First Nations equals

We just keep racking up the wins. In the same year we had our first Aboriginal Neurologist, now we have our first First Nations candidate for Mayor of Sydney.

It is 179 years this month since the City of Sydney was established by an Act of the NSW Parliament. In all that time, an Aboriginal Australian has never been nominated for Lord Mayor of Sydney – until Wiradjuri woman Yvonne Weldon.

Seems like a missed opportunity by all sides of politics. Still, we’re making progress as the incumbent is also running with a First Nations candidate too. Or is she?

Emelda Davis is on her {Mayor Moore’s} current ticket, and is talking up her “diverse Indigenous ancestry as as second-generation Australian South Sea Islander of First Nations and Caribbean descent” – but when I point this out to Weldon’s campaign manager, she’s definitive: “Concerning Emelda Davis, she is a South Sea Islander. South Sea Islanders are not First Nations.”

I wonder what the definition is of “First Nations” and how Weldon’s campaign manager can be sure Davis doesn’t qualify?

Melbourne doesn’t fare much better. Wiradjuri man Professor Mark McMillan was the first Indigenous person to run for council, unsuccessfully, late last year on Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp’s ticket. Whilst she won a definitive second term, she didn’t win enough votes to select him on her team.

More on McMillan later. Back to Yvonne Weldon, what relevant experience will she bring to the role?

She’s drawing upon her experience as elected Chair of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Deputy Chair of the NSW Australia Day Council, Board member of Domestic Violence NSW and Board member of Redfern Jarjum College to bring leadership experience to her campaign.

Perhaps the kindest thing one can say about that CV is at least she will feel comfortable sitting in public sector committee meetings every day.

So, to recap; of the three candidates mentioned above (Weldon, McMillan and Davis), two are “First Nations”, one is not.

Ok.

Bill’s Opinion

Ethnicity really should be the least interesting human characteristic when assessing someone’s suitability for a job.

Over the last three decades, it seems we have lived through a cultural version of the Brunhes–Matuyama Reversal, where the Right stopped being concerned about race and the Left took on that pointless angst instead.

We now have the unedifying situation of two mayoral campaigns competing over who qualifies as more “First Nations”. What next, DNA tests?

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