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Fatima Payman: Husband said quitting Labor would be the ‘worst thing to happen’ in weeks before floor-crossing

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has hinted that he expects suspended Labor senator Fatima Payman to cut ties with the party and move to the crossbench within days.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has hinted that he expects suspended Labor senator Fatima Payman to cut ties with the party and move to the crossbench within days. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

The husband of exiled WA senator Fatima Payman said resigning from Labor would be the “worst thing to happen”, arguing his wife needed to rise through party ranks to shift the Government’s position on Palestine.

The husband — who The Nightly has chosen not to name — made the comments in late March in one of a series of social media posts defending Senator Payman against fierce criticism that she wasn’t doing enough to stand up for the Palestinian cause.

Senator Payman has since broken ranks to support the urgent recognition of a Palestinian State, causing her to be banished from the Labor caucus indefinitely.

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The first-term senator is widely expected to quit the party within days after talks with a well-known political operative who specialises in getting independents elected.

In the clearest sign yet Senator Payman will cut ties with Labor, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told Parliament on Wednesday that he expected “announcements in coming days” that would explain “exactly what (her) strategy has been over now more than a month”.

Just over two months ago, her husband — who is aligned to Labor — was arguing Senator Payman needed to remain inside the tent to shift the Federal Government’s position.

The man does not identify himself as Senator Payman’s husband on his X profile or in the posts.

Senator Fatima Payman announces that she got married on Instagram.
Senator Fatima Payman announced her marriage on Instagram. Credit: Fatima Payman/Instagram

“I think the worst thing to happen would be for her to resign,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“Making government shift its foreign policy position does not happen overnight.

“She needs to work her way up, and be there to recruit more Muslims into the party and into Government.

“THAT’s how we get representation.”

In posts in the days prior, he told critics Senator Payman was doing everything she could to advocate for Palestine, including lobbying cabinet ministers.

But when it came to how she voted in the Senate, he said “she has to vote along party lines, or she’d be booted”.

“She attends Palestinian rallies and events but when it comes to voting in the chamber you have to vote with the party. Simple,” he said.

He said if Senator Payman quit then Labor’s “strongest Muslim voice in Parliament” would be replaced with “another white male”.

The comments were posted roughly a month and a half before Senator Payman first split from Government talking points to declare Israel was committing genocide in Gaza and to use the politically contentious chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

Those comments, which blindsided colleagues, proved the first in a series of defiant acts that culminated with her last week crossing the floor to support a Greens motion to recognise Palestine.

Senator Payman was initially told not to attend one caucus meeting before Prime Minister Anthony Albanese suspended her indefinitely after she refused to toe the line.

Labor senator Fatima Payman
Senator Fatima Payman says she is considering her future after a caucus ban for crossing the floor. Credit: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Her husband has continued to post comments in support of his wife since her suspension.

His X and Facebook accounts were turned to private just hours after The West Australian contacted him for comment.

The West Australian also contacted Senator Payman for comment. Neither responded.

Senator Payman has not been spotted in the upper house since the swearing-in of the new Governor-General Sam Mostyn on Monday morning.

It is not known if she is still in Canberra or has returned to Perth.

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