Australia

Labor senator apologises after sharing 'all lives matter' post on social media

Labor Senator Helen Polley during Question Time in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, November 30, 2017. Source: AAP

Labor Senator Helen Polley has apologised for reposting an "all lives matter" image to social media.

A federal Labor senator has apologised for sharing an “all lives matter” post on social media, a day after tens of thousands of Australians marched in cities around the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Helen Polley, who has represented Tasmania in the federal Senate since 2005, shared an image on Facebook last week with the words: “instead of black lives matter, how about all every life matters no matter what the colour of your skin is”.

“Every one matters”, she wrote in a message accompanying the image.

She was criticised for the now-deleted post by people on social media, including some Labor party figures.

In a tweet, former federal Labor MP Emma Husar said that the post showed the senator’s “white privilege” and it was “bad, very very bad when it is coming from the ‘progressive’ side of politics”. 

Former Tasmanian Labor premier David Bartlett tweeted that the post was “a serious embarrassment” to the party.

On Sunday afternoon, Senator Polley called one Twitter user who criticised the post “a keyboard warrior”.

A few hours after that, she apologised for sharing the “insensitive” Facebook post.

“I apologise for carelessly reposting a post which was insensitive to #Blacklivesmatter. I have always stood against racism. #politas,” she tweeted.

Several people on social media thanked Senator Polley for apologising, including writer Benjamin Law, who said "we’re all learning" and it was "heartening to see a leader demonstrate this".

Senator Polley declined to comment further on the matter. 

“All lives matter” is a slogan that has become associated with critics of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Senator Polley's federal Labor colleague Malarndirri McCarthy said it is important everyone can "have their say" but that the Black Lives Matter movement "isn't about saying that other lives don't matter". 

“I think it's important to point out the statistics here the high incarceration rates of First Nations people, the low educational outcomes, the short life expectancy - that's what this issue is about,” she told SBS News.

“For everyone who wants to have a say they need to remember this is about bringing all of Australia with us.” 

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