The moment Fatima Payman decided to walk away from Labor

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul6,2024
Deciding to walk away from the Australian Labor Party was not easy for newly independent senator Fatima Payman, but there was a specific moment when her choice became clear.
Before she crossed the floor on the issue of Palestinian statehood, Payman , accusing Israel of conducting a “genocide” in Gaza and criticising Australian political leaders for “performative gestures”.

In the weeks since, the 29-year-old revealed she had faced intense pressure, including “confronting” emails and death threats, but explained that she saw that as part and parcel of public office.

However, it was a set of remarks by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during Question Time (QT) on Wednesday that solidified her decision to leave the party.
Albanese said the senator had made a choice to “place herself outside the Labor Party” and that he expected “further announcements in coming days which will explain what the strategy has been for more than one month now”.
As she resigned from the party on Thursday, Payman said she had not expected the comments and denied her actions had been premeditated.

“It felt like an accusation where I’ve been planning this for a month because it’s not true,” she told reporters.

A man in a dark suit, white collared shirt, and diagonally striped red and green tie looks forward with a serious expression on his face.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has denied Senator Fatima Payman repeatedly raised her thoughts on a two-state solution during Labor caucus meetings. Source: AAP / Lukas Coch

“The vote was purely based on my conscience … it was yesterday after QT where I thought, this is when I have to make a decision.”

Payman has repeatedly said she believes in a two-state solution and while resigning was “the most difficult decision in my life”, it was not an issue on which she could compromise in good conscience.
She felt she was in a “tough position” but had “exhausted every opportunity to raise my concerns”, including individual conversations with the prime minister, several senior ministers, and caucus colleagues as far back as last November.

However, the prime minister has since denied that Payman ever raised concerns about the Middle East in caucus meetings.

“One of the things I find disappointing about Senator Payman, is that — and the decision she’s taken, she has a right to take that decision — [but] at no stage, no stage, did Senator Payman stand in the caucus and make any comments about the Middle East or about anything else,” Albanese said on Friday morning.
“No comments in the time in which Senator Payman has had the privilege of serving the Senate as a Labor senator.
Payman was during a “stern” meeting with the prime minister on Sunday, following an Insiders interview where she vowed to continue crossing the floor of parliament in support of Palestinian statehood.

Payman: Labor must have ‘room for dissenting voices’

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.

While refusing to “character assassinate” particular individuals, she said she had felt the accumulation of condescending remarks, constant prodding, and attempts to control her next move.

“I definitely don’t need to be told what to do and how to think,” she said.
As Payman looks forward to representing her constituents as an independent, she said Labor needed to reconsider its own rules and how it would allow for a diversity of voices in the future.

“We need to have room for dissenting voices and a conscience vote on matters like this, which is not necessary legislation, which I understand requires that solidarity and toeing the party line,” she said.

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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