The Minister for Ageing and the Opposition Spokesperson have engaged in a war of words following the appointment of Noeline Brown as the inaugural Ambassador for Ageing at the weekend.
Justine Elliot has demanded an apology from the Margaret May after a statement from the Shadow Minister’s office described Ms Brown’s selection as a “political appointment”.
Mrs May said that while she welcomed the appointment of an Ambassador for Ageing, she had reservations about the suitability of Noeline Brown who stood as a Labor candidate for the NSW parliament in 1999 and 2003.
“Ms Brown’s two attempts to win political office were unsuccessful but nevertheless I was surprised to learn someone who had run for public office has now been appointed Ambassador for Ageing,” said Ms May.
“I call on the Minister for Ageing to explain to older Australians why she has appointed an Ambassador for Ageing with a ‘political past’.
“An Ambassador is someone who is seen to be apolitical and someone who will represent all older Australians.”
But the Minister called on Mrs May to apologise immediately for her “personal and scathing attack” on Ms Brown.
Mrs Elliot said the Ambassador’s connection to the Labor Party is “well known and on the public record” and again praised Ms Brown for her ongoing contribution to the nation’s cultural life.
“Noeline Brown is an Australian icon – and Mrs May should apologise immediately,” she said.
“Make no mistake, Noeline Brown – who turns 70 in October and still strides the planks as a working actress and patron of charity – is the epitome of healthy and positive ageing.
“Ms Noeline Brown is a great Australian – full stop.”
The Shadow Minister also called on Mrs Elliot to provide more details about the role of the Ambassador for Ageing.
Although the Government has provided a list of activities that the Ambassador will perform, Mrs May said it was unclear how Ms Brown will carry out her duties.
“For example,” she said, “does her role include the development of policy? Will she have an office and if so where will it be located? Will she be given support to carry out her role?”