• "The people of Barton have the opportunity to make history at this election": Linda Burney. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
CANDIDATE PROFILE | The woman who has spent the last 13 years working tirelessly for her community of Barton is set to make history if elected on July 2.
9 Jun 2016 - 9:06 AM  UPDATED 9 Jun 2016 - 9:29 AM

Name: Linda Burney      

Age: 59

Electorate: Barton

Political affiliation: Australian Labor Party

1. Why are you running?

I’m running because I’m passionate about protecting those things that make this community so fantastic to be a part of. That’s things like Medicare , the Gonski funding program for our schools, and penalty rates for workers, but I can also see that there are issues for our community which need to be corrected. 

I’m also running because I have always been committed to social justice, to the feminist cause and to fighting for these things in our community. 

I've spent the last 13 years representing the people of Canterbury in the NSW Parliament and I’m proud of what has been achieved. I want to take that commitment to our community into the federal parliament for the people of Barton but also for the First Peoples.

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2. What do you want to achieve?

If I’m elected I will be the first female Aboriginal person elected to the house of representatives – while this isn't the sole reason for my candidacy I would be enormously proud to have helped break that barrier for our people. 

The people of Barton have the opportunity to make history at this election and they've been extremely excited and encouraging about that prospect, I've been very encouraged by their reaction. 

I want to see policies that work for the community, on a local level that means achieving a fair funding system for our local schools and making sure the people of Barton have a voice in the Federal Parliament again. 

I also want to help enact policies which work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – that’s things like increasing the number of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander educators and of course I want to be a part of the parliament which sees the First Peoples recognised in our constitution. 

3. Is your Aboriginality important in deciding what policies you want to pursue?

Of course, I said in my valedictory speech to the NSW parliament that my time in that parliament was shaped but not defined by my Aboriginality.

I was a proud advocate for the state’s First Peoples but I was also a Minister and Member for all of the electorate.

My Aboriginality has made me focus not just on Indigenous issues but on ones which I see affecting the most disenfranchised and ignored groups in the community.  

I’ve always considered education to be one of my passions, I started my career as a teacher and then as a public servant in the department – this is partly because I have always recognised that if our people are ever to end the disadvantage that pervades our communities good education policy must be a part of the answer. 

4. Treaty, Sovereignty or Recognition?

My views on this are well known – recognition does not preclude discussion of a treaty and to delay the monumental project of constitutional recognition for our people on this basis would be, in my view, a mistake.

It is unhelpful to frame the argument in a way which suggests that these options are mutually exclusive, that is simply not the case. 

We still have a constitution which permits legislation on the basis of race – that cannot be allowed to stand. 

I know that there are diverse views in our community about this issue but it is unrealistic to expect every Indigenous person to agree on the minutia, we should not be asking people to make that false choice. 

The First Peoples are the oldest continuing culture in humanity, that deserves to be recognised in the nation’s constitution.

It will not resolve everything, but I hope it will go some of the way in the continuing great reconciliation project. 

5. It’s July 3, the day after the election, and you have been elected, what is the first thing that you want to get a move on?

If I am elected, from a purely practical perspective I want to have an office and staff organised as quickly as possible so that we can start to advocate for the community immediately

I will immediately be pressing our Minister for Education, who I very much hope will be a Labor Minister, to implement Labor’s Your Child, Our Future policy. 

This is the imperative for me; students deserve to get support they need in our schools – for students from Barton and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, every day this does not happen is a failure of government. 

I will also be requesting a meeting with all of the Aboriginal and Indigenous members elected so that we can get working on implementing the policies which will help our communities.