Senator Amanda Stoker scores third spot on the LNP senate ticket

Senator Amanda Stoker loses preselection battle against James McGrath 

Amanda Stoker, the Assistant Minister for Women and the Assistant Attorney General, has been placed third on the Liberal-National Parties senate ticket for the next federal election.

A vote of the Queensland LNP State Council day elected to put backbencher James McGrath in the stop spot, while the second spot goes to the Nationals’ Matt Canavan. Senator Stoker, who replaced the retiring George Brandis in 2018. The next election will be the first time Senator Stoker will face voters, and the decision to put her in the third spot puts her political future under a cloud.

Political analysts say it’s possible to win a senate spot from the third spot on the ticket, but a significant challenge now sits in front of the conservative politician.

The vote by party representatives on Saturday was predicted to be a close race, but Senator McGrath was the clear victor winning 212 votes to Senator Stokers 101 votes. It was the biggest ever turnout for a State Council senate vote in the history of the LNP.

The decision to relegate Senator Stoker to the third spot will be seen as a snub to both the senator and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Senator Stoker, who aligned with the parties conservative faction and the religious right, was recently promoted by the PM following a string of scandals in Canberra. Senator McGrath was previously a backer of ousted PM Malcolm Turnbull, and has not been given a ministerial position under Scott Morrison. Senator McGrath’s success is being attributed to his hard campaigning at a branch level.

Senator Stoker asks Human Rights Commission to reconsider anti-racism project

Senator Stoker made headlines earlier this week when it was revealed she had intervened in a project at the Australian Human Rights Commission. Senator Stoker called Rosalid Croucher, the AHRC President, to express her concern that the independent organisation was offering a tender for a project that was related to “critical race theory”.

The project was to look into ways to align the long running ‘Racism – It Stops With Me’ campaign with recent discussions about unconscious bias and systemic or structural racism.

Following the call from Senator Stoker the AHRC halted the progression of the tender process and placed the program under review.  The commission’s head said the call had not influenced the decision to cancel the tender, but noted that neither was it the Assistant Attorney General’s role to direct an independent body.

“Assistant Minister Stoker rang to express her concerns and I made it clear that while open communication is valuable, and welcome, it is not for an assistant attorney to give direction to an independent agency head.” Rosalind Croucher told The Australian.

“The original ATM (Approach to Market) did not clearly express that the campaign will include a focus on institutional or structural racism in addition to, not instead of, the current focus on individual behavioural change and building social cohesion.

“It is important the language in a tender is as detailed and specific as possible to ensure potential suppliers understand the depth of the work that is being undertaken so they can demonstrate their relevant expertise.”

A spokesperson for Senator Stoker said her main concern was the the use of the phrase “anti-racism” within the tender documents.

The senator’s representative told the media that she “believes that racism is completely unacceptable and should be combatted in ways that foster a cohesive society”.

“The original approach to market stated that the project ‘provides an opportunity to align the RISWM campaign with current discourse on anti-racism’,” they said.

“While not always the case, the term ‘anti-racism’ is often associated with critical race theory.”

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical Race Theory is a academic movement that emerged in the 1970s and has been prominent in political discussions in the USA in recent times.  The theory suggests that social problems are created more by societal structures and cultural assumptions than by individuals and psychological factors.

Opposition to the theory has grown rapidly among conservative voices in the USA, propelled by former US President Donald Trump who often argued that racism was no longer was major factor in the USA. Under Trump’s Presidency federal agencies were banned from undertaking any training that discussed the concepts of “white privilege” or “critical race theory”.

The theory is regularly demonised by commentators on Fox News in the USA, and Sky News in the United Kingdom and here in Australia.

OIP Staff

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