Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten has announced Indigenous leader Pat Dodson will replace departing Senator Joe Bullock in Western Australia.
Pat Dodson is a Yawuru man from Broome, Western Australia. He is a former chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and a former commissioner into Aboriginal deaths in custody.
Mr Dodson was the first Indigenous person to become a Roman Catholic priest when he was ordained in the order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in May 1975. In his role as a priest, Mr
Dodson sought to incorporate Indigenous spiritual belief with Catholicism. This led him into conflict with church hierarchy and, after many years of confrontation, he left the priesthood in the early ’80s.
Often referred to as the ‘father of reconciliation’, Mr Dodson told a press conference at Parliament House that he had accepted the role after a great deal of thought.
“Having spent much of my adult life trying to influence our national conversations, debate, government and the parliament from the outside, it is now time for me to step up to the plate and have a go at trying to influence those same conversations, debates and public policies from the inside,” Mr Dodson said.
Joe Bullock announced his resignation from the senate yesterday. One of the reasons Mr Bullock cited for resigning was his inability to endorse the ALP’s support of marriage equality.
Asked about his own views regarding the marriage equality debate, Mr Dodson said in a civil society, it was the role of politicians to eliminate unfair discrimination or disadvantage faced by individuals.