By Emily Goddard

Nova Peris 110213February 11 - Australian Olympic hockey gold medallist Nova Peris has been named as a Senate candidate for Labour in the federal election after being endorsed by the nation's Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The 41-year-old former athlete (pictured top), who as part of the Hockeyroos became the first indigenous Australian to win an Olympic gold medal at the Atlanta 1996 Games, was appointed after Gillard insisted her "legacy" as Labour leader must include installing an Aboriginal woman in the Senate.

"There has never been an indigenous Australian who has served as a federal Labour representative," Gillard said.

"I'm determined that at the 2013 election we change that.

"I'm not going to make it routine for me to intervene in party processes.

"I am a big respecter of party processes, but I think there is a national significance here for our political party."

However, the announcement has not been welcomed by all parties, with the now dumped incumbent Trish Crossin slamming Gillard's decision and claiming that it was made without consultation with the local Northern Territory branch of the Australian Labour Party.

"It has been my long held belief that pre-selection should always be a matter for NT Labor branch members to decide," Crossin said in a statement released shortly after the announcement of Peris as Gillard's preferred candidate for the Senate.

Nova Peris 1102131After winning gold in hockey at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics Nova Peris went on to claim a further two gold medals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in athletics

Peris, who after Atlanta switched to compete in athletics events and became a double gold medallist at the Kuala Lumpur 1998 Commonwealth Games in the 200 metres and 4x100m relay, thanked Gillard for the "amazing opportunity".

"I stand here before you all today not only as an Australian but also as a proud Aboriginal woman, proud of my heritage and culture," she said.

"As an Aboriginal woman I have seen and I've been around the ropes long and hard enough to know that Aboriginal people have been disappointed with Government for a long time, hence the intervention.

"I was in the midst of that and I saw firsthand that you can have policies but if you don't have the right people implementing it, it's never going to work."

The next national election is set to take place this year, with Gillard obliged to hold it sometime before November 30.

The Australian Labour Party requires another eight seats in the Senate in order to take control of the upper house of the federal Government.

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