Man charged over racist post to Australian Aboriginal senator

A man will face court next month after allegedly sending a racist and expletive-laden social media message to senator Nova Peris (pictured).
A man will face court next month after allegedly sending a racist and expletive-laden social media message to senator Nova Peris (pictured).PHOTO: EPA

SYDNEY (AFP) - A man will face court next month after allegedly sending a racist and expletive-laden social media message to the first Aboriginal woman elected to Australia's Parliament, reports said on Monday (May 30).

Senator Nova Peris shared the comments over the weekend, saying while it would have been easy to block the message, she would "leave it there to continue to show the ugly side of this country".

"My skin is my pride," she wrote, in a post praised as a powerful take-down of the comments under the hashtag #Racism - it stops with me.

The foul-mouthed rant told the 45-year-old Olympian to "go back to the bush and suck on witchety grubs and yams" and stop painting her face "with white shit in Parliament", referring to ceremonial facepaint.

"Other than being a runner you are nothing," it added.

In her response, Ms Peris wrote that she had never eaten the grub, a famous Australian bush food, as she was from a coastal area, but noted the "mangrove worms are delicious & the yams are amazing #Peace".

She added: "I'll continue to wear ochre on my face just like my people have done for thousands of years!"

New South Wales police said they had arrested a 64-year-old man, whom they did not name, over alleged offensive social media posts.

He has been charged with using a carriage service (telecommunications) to cause offence and was granted bail before a court appearance next month, they said in a statement.

Ms Peris was elected to Parliament in 2013 after being hand-picked to run for the Labor Party by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

She had a high-profile career after winning gold in field hockey at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics before switching to athletics to win gold in the 200m and 4x100m relay at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

But she announced earlier this month she was quitting politics at the national elections on July 2 and urged people not to judge her.

"Until you are an Aboriginal person do not criticise me for the decisions I have made," she said.