Peris shielded but backlash flares

A SERIOUS backlash against Nova Peris, Julia Gillard's hand-picked Senate candidate for the Northern Territory, has prompted the former Olympian to explicitly address a whispering campaign alleging wrongdoing while she was a public servant just over a year ago.

Amid ongoing anger in Darwin at Tuesday's prime ministerial bombshell anointing Ms Peris, disaffected ALP members have been lashing out at both the Prime Minister and Ms Peris with some peddling a rumour that she had been sacked by the Department of Education and even investigated by police over the use of departmental furniture in November 2011.

Ms Peris has attracted solid support from several prominent indigenous personalities for her community work promoting children's health and girls' education, but other vocal indigenous activists claim she is being paraded by the ALP to improve its Aboriginal credentials.

With a smear campaign in full swing, the politically inexperienced Ms Peris was being shielded by her new ALP minders and was unavailable for direct interview on Thursday, but issued a statement denying any substance to the anonymous claims.

''I have been made aware of malicious and unfounded rumours circulating about my time as an employee of the Northern Territory Department of Education in 2011 and I wanted to definitively correct the record to address these incorrect suggestions,'' the statement began.

She said she ''did not misuse departmental assets during my time at the Northern Territory Department of Education'' and in fact supplied two of the three girls' academies she had established with lounge suites, a coffee table, a fridge, a microwave, and a rug.

She said she had subsequently removed her property at the department's request when it elected to replace the items with new assets.

This story Peris shielded but backlash flares first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.