A few thoughts about recent events in Canberra.
First and foremost, I’m passionate about seeing more Indigenous Australians in our Federal Parliament. Therefore, I was absolutely stoked to hear yesterday that talented NSW State MP, Linda Burney would be seeking preselection to run against the Liberal’s Nickolas Varvaris in Barton. If Linda, a Wiradjuri woman wins Barton, she will become the first indigenous woman to become a Member of the House of Representatives. This is a significant and considerable milestone. We need more indigenous voices in our National Parliament and we especially need an indigenous woman in the House of Reps’. Regardless of political persuasion; we should all agree on this.
I was also very relieved also to hear that Joe Bullock would resign as a Labor Senator for WA. As an ALP member, I have signed a pledge to support all Labor candidates in public office. Yet, I have never hidden my views on Mr Bullock’s position as a Labor Senator within the Labor Party. Mr Bullock’s views on a wide range of critical matters have no place in the modern Labor Party. I am particularly proud of my local branch, the Flemington-Kensington Labor branch who in May 2014, passed this motion calling for the ALP National Executive to intervene in the preselection of Mr Bullock and remove him and to reinstate Louise Pratt to the number 1 Senate spot. In 2014, Louise Pratt was dumped from the top of Labor’s WA Senate ticket in favour of Mr Bullock as part of a dodgy factional deal between the Left aligned WA branch of United Voice and the conservative SDA union.
In the wake of Mr Bullock’s resignation, Labor have a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and listen to the membership by restoring Louise Pratt to the Senate. Louise Pratt is a talented, hard-working and effective advocate for Labor and for LGBTI Australians. Let’s replace a homophobic conservative with a passionate supporter of equality in Louise. That’s what a modern and progressive Labor Party should be all about.
Labor Leader Bill Shorten has made an announcement this morning that widely respected Indigenous leader, Pat Dodson is his preferred candidate to fill the casual vacancy. Mr Dodson is seen by many as the father of the reconciliation movement and like Linda Burney in the House, he would make a terrific addition to the Australian Senate.
However, I am torn by this latest development.
Good riddance Joe Bullock and hooray for more Indigenous voices in our National Parliament. But I do not believe Mr Dodson should fill this casual Senate vacancy over Louise Pratt.
My view that Louise Pratt should be returned to the Senate immediately. If Mr Dodson wants to become a WA Labor Senator – which would be magnificent, he should join the Labor Party and then run for preselection in Western Australia. There is a compelling case for Mr Dodson and it may very well be that Labor members would choose him over Louise Pratt in such a scenario. Nevertheless, Ms Pratt should fill the casual vacancy until such time. That would be a just outcome. Again, that’s what a modern and progressive Labor Party should be all about.
Let’s give grassroots Labor members in WA the power to determine who should lead their Senate ticket.