Senator Joe Bullock, the Western Australian Labor senator elected in 2013 after a controversial preselection, has announced that he will resign from the Senate in the next few weeks. He cited the party’s policy on same-sex marriage and the removal of a conscience vote for members as his reasons.
Bullock, 60, said his conscience would not allow him to support the ALP’s policy on same-sex marriage, a policy carried by the ALP National Conference last year. He said he could have moved to the crossbenches as an independent but neither of two conditions which would justify this applied: he was not threatened with expulsion by the party and as an endorsed ALP Senate candidate he could not claim a personal vote in support of his stand.
Bullock said he would stay in the Senate until the end of the current session later this month, so as not to deny the ALP a vote in the Senate.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten wished Bullock well and described him as “a man of deeply held faith and convictions” who had been “a tenacious advocate for workers across Western Australia”.
Bullock’s preselection led to the defeat of former Senator Louise Pratt in 2013. A former head of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Union in WA, Bullock was attacked for his conservative views and for a speech he gave to a Christian organisation.
The ALP has just six parliamentary representatives from Western Australia. All three of its House members (Melissa Parke, Alannah MacTiernan and Gary Gray) have announced their retirements. Bullock is one of three ALP senators. His resignation will give the party greater flexibility in preselecting replacements.
- Watch Senator Joe Bullock’s resignation speech (19m)
- Listen to Bullock’s speech (19m)
- Bullock’s maiden speech (Aug 26, 2014)
Hansard transcript of Senator Joe Bullock’s resignation speech.
Senator BULLOCK (Western Australia) (20:09): It was early in the spring of 1973 that I drew up my courage to the sticking point and rose to speak. It was not a speech that I felt would find favour in a room packed with serious, striving parents and the dignified pedagogues in whose charge I had all but completed serving a twelve-year sentence for youth. My chosen topic was ambition. I spoke against it. It had occurred to me some years earlier that the path to personal fulfilment lay through service to others and not in the pursuit of wealth or self-aggrandisement, which I suspected of being the defining motive of the majority of those in attendance. It was, therefore, with surprise verging on astonishment that I greeted the decision of the wizened panel of adjudicators to award me the Old Trinitarians Union public speaking prize. With that prize came the realisation that it was the fate of some to peak early and that the road for me henceforth lay, in all probability, downhill.