Another proud moment in Australian race relations- from perthnow.com.au:
Aboriginal MP Ken Wyatt gets racist hate mail
THE first Aborigine likely to be elected to the House of Representatives has received hate mail from people who said they would not have voted for him if they had known he was indigenous.
Mr Wyatt, 58, destined to be the first Aborigine to be elected to the House of Representatives, said his near-certain triumph in WA’s ultra-marginal seat of Hasluck had been tarnished by a racist backlash.
The upset Liberal candidate said his office had received at least 50 emails and telephone calls from angry voters who accused him of only being interested in indigenous issues.
He also endured racist abuse while walking through Guildford in his electorate, with one man calling him “Uncle Tom Wyatt” on Thursday. Mr Wyatt was with his 28-year-old son Aaron at the time.
“It’s a term used to describe a person who has sold out and denied their cultural heritage,” Mr Wyatt said. “My son asked me what it meant. I just said ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s a derogatory term’.
“It just surprised me that he used that term. I wouldn’t expect it in this day and age.”
But it’s the mail and phone calls that have surprised and hurt him most.
“I am surprised at some of the hate mail,” he said.
“Some said ‘Wouldn’t know you were indigenous – we wouldn’t have voted for you if we did’.
“And yet it was out there in the media all the time (that I was an Aborigine). It was on one of my flyers.
“After all the work that the Australian Government has done, I am surprised there are still individuals who hold these strong views and are prepared to commit (them) to writing.”
Ironically some of the criticism levelled at Mr Wyatt this week has come from Aborigines.
“Three Aboriginal people wanted to know why I had joined a racist party,” he said. “That’s not true at all.”
Mr Wyatt said he stood for more than Aboriginal issues.
“I stand for all political persuasions and all culturally and linguistically diverse groups in Hasluck,” Mr Wyatt said.
“I am proud of my heritage and absolutely exhilarated at being the first indigenous candidate in the House of Representatives, but for me it is about Hasluck and the people of Hasluck.
“I intend standing up for everyone in the party room and in the House, and I am going to stand up for WA.”
The Liberal candidate has not been officially declared the winner of last Saturday’s contest over Labor’s Sharryn Jackson. But with nearly 91 per cent of the votes counted, Mr Wyatt leads by 856 votes.Labor state secretary Simon Mead said that with nearly 3000 postal votes yet to be counted, Ms Jackson would not be conceding defeat.
Prior to contesting Hasluck, Mr Wyatt was the director of Aboriginal Health within the WA Department of Health. He received the Order of Australia in 1996 and the Order of Australia Centenary Medal in 2003.
Mr Wyatt plans to fly to Italy in December to marry long-time partner Anna-Marie Palermo.