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WA senator Fatima Payman quits Labor to sit on the crossbench

Western Australian senator Fatima Payman has quit the Labor party will serve out the remaining four years of her senate term on the crossbench.

The decision comes after she was indefinitely exiled from the Labor Party caucus over her decision to cross the floor and vote with The Greens on a motion that called for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

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There had been reports that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was hoping that Senator Payman would resign from parliament completely, allowing Labor to fill her vacant seat with a party member, but she’s chosen to stay in politics.

Speaking to the media about her decision to become an independent Senator Payman said she had to follow her own values, and those of her community.

“Our actions must align with our principles. When history looks back, it must see that we stood on the right side of humanity, even when it was difficult.

“Sadly, I do not believe our principles align with those of the leadership of the Labor Party. With a heavy heart but a clear conscience, I announce my resignation from the Australian Labor party. I have informed the prime minister that, effective immediately, I will sit on the crossbench to represent Western Australia.” Senator Payman said.

The senator said the situation has left her “deeply torn” but there was “no middle ground”.

“This has been the most difficult decision of my life and put me in a tough position and, like I told the prime minister on multiple occasions and my colleagues that this is a matter I cannot compromise on. It is a matter of principle and when I voted across the floor, it was on conscience.” she said.

The senator said she had been frustrated that her concerns about the situation in Gaza had not been heard by the senior leadership of the Labor party including PM Anthony Albanese, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Foreign Minister Penny Wong, and that the party’s position on the conflict in the middle east was already locked in before being presented to caucus.

Fatima Payman was first elected as a Labor senator at the 2022 election. She is the first hijab wearing Muslim woman to be elected to the Australian parliament.

Senator Payman was born in Afghanistan. Her family fled to Pakistan when she was five years old. Her late father arrived in Australia in 1999 via a boat and he spent time in immigration detention. He was able to bring his family to Australia in 2003 when Senator Payman was eight years old.

At University she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and sociology and a Graduate Diploma of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She also became involved in politics after she saw the working conditions and exploitation her father experienced as he worked a range of jobs.

Senator Payman worked for the United Workers Union as an organiser, and also worked in the office on state politician Pierre Yang.

She was given the third spot on the Labor ticket at the 2022 election, and was not expected to be elected, but a swell of support for the party in WA saw her at 27 become the third ever youngest member of the parliament.

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