‘It made me feel like I don’t belong’: Fatima Payman speaks about resigning from Labor

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul5,2024
In an interview with SBS News, Western Australian senator Fatima Payman has spoken about feeling intimidated by members of the Labor caucus and a focus on her religious identity in the lead-up to her resignation from the Labor Party.
Payman resigned from the Labor Party on Thursday, saying her conscience had left her “no choice” and she would sit as an independent senator.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese indefinitely suspended the senator from the Labor caucus on Sunday after she vowed in an interview to in support of Palestinian statehood.
The prime minister had previously banned Payman from a single party room meeting after she broke ranks last week to vote in favour of .
The 29-year-old is the first Labor politician to defy party rules and since 2005.

“A red line I had to draw”: Payman

Payman told SBS News that, while some members of the Labor caucus had reached out to check on her wellbeing, she had been intimidated by other members.
“I wouldn’t constitute it as bullying but it definitely made me feel like I don’t belong, made me feel like there was no return for me in the Labor Party … this was a red line that I had to draw,” she said.
During Question Time on Thursday afternoon, Albanese was asked by the Opposition if he had spoken to Payman in an “aggressive or intimidatory manner” during that meeting.
“The answer is no,” Albanese said.

“And a short while ago I received a message from Senator Payman, addressed to me: ‘Dear prime minister, thank you for your leadership. It has been an honour and privilege to serve in the Australian Labor Party,’ and it went on to indicate her resignation as a member of the ALP.”

Asked about the focus on her religious identity from the Opposition leader and Labor MPs, Payman told SBS News that while she prays to god for guidance and it is an important part of her “private life as a Muslim”, those beliefs are not imposed on the constituents that she represents.

“It’s quite patronising and condescending to be stereotyped in a particular way because of my external appearances,” she said.

While asserting that Labor should “have room for dissenting voices”, Payman did not say that she would advise young women of colour to avoid entering parliament and representing the Labor Party.

“It’s up to people with their views on what aligns with their values and their principles. For me, this was a parting moment and I had to do it in good faith.”

Palestinian recognition was key for Payman’s decision

Payman told reporters on Thursday she had been “deeply torn” when trying to make a decision about her future, but Palestinian recognition and “liberation” was an issue that she couldn’t compromise on.

“On one hand, I have the immense support of the rank-and-file members, unionists, the lifelong members, the party volunteers, who are calling on me to hang in there and to make change happen internally,” she said.

“On the other hand, I am pressured to conform to caucus solidarity and toe the party line.
“I see no middle ground and my conscience leaves me no choice.”

Payman’s move to the Senate crossbench means the government will need to secure one vote more to pass legislation not supported by the Opposition.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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