WA Indigenous leader Pat Dodson has been elected a senator in a special joint sitting of both Houses of State Parliament this morning.
State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan greeted Mr Dodson and his family when he arrived at Parliament House.
Mr McGowan congratulated and thanked Mr Dodson, the Premier and the State Government for reconvening during a sitting break to ratify Mr Dodson.
“He’s widely respected and will be a great representative for all Western Australians, particularly those in the regions, those in the north and Indigenous West Australians,” Mr McGowan said.
Mr Dodson said he appreciated the support and warm welcome he received from the Australian Labor Party and Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
“There’s been a number of people on either side of the House [who have] expressed their congratulations and support,” Mr Dodson said.
Mr Dodson said he was humbled and hoped to eventually secure constitutional recognition for Indigenous people.
Mr Dodson rejected claims in State Parliament from Liberal MP Peter Abetz that Mr Dodson’s Catholic and Aboriginal background may influence his stance on someissues.
“I’m not going to be dictated by him or by anyone else in relation to those matters,” Mr Dodson said.
Mr Dodson will replace Joe Bullock, the former Labor senator who resigned earlier this month over Labor’s support for same-sex marriage.
“How can I recommend…a party which is determined to deny its Parliamentarians a conscience vote on the homosexual marriage question?” Mr Bullock told the Senate in March.
In response to the same issue, Mr Dodson said people had a right to choose their partners.
“I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against in a civil democracy,” he said.