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Labor's Senator Louise Pratt announces her retirement

Senator Louise Pratt has announced she’s retiring from political life when her term expires in 2025. Senator Pratt made the announcement alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at her Perth office this morning.

Pratt said health issues had played a big part in her decision to stand down.

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“I have psoriatic arthritis and it is much better managed when I’m not flying, not chairing estimates and not whipping in the chamber,” she told reporters this morning.

Later in the day Senator Pratt shared a more detailed statement sharing that she let the Prime Minister know of her intentions a few weeks ago, and she highlighted her work on LGBTIQA+ rights as one of her proudest achievements.

“To serve the interests of LGBTIQ+ Australians. To serve the interests of working people in our nation, accessible health care, and delivering prosperity to people. Back in 1996, when I was about 24, I was campaigning to change the many hundreds of laws that discriminated against the LGBTIQ+ community.

“I took great heart back then from the newly-elected Member for Grayndler when he gave a speech to stop discrimination against same sex couples in superannuation law. And Albo remembers that I applied for a job in his electorate office back in 1997, or thereabouts.

“And I want to thank Albo for giving that job to someone else. I can hardly believe the things that I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to over my now long career. LGBTIQ+ rights – in so many different areas we’ve made a difference. Maternity services, family law, climate change, HIV policy, foreign aid, employment services and so much more.

Senator Pratt said nothing however compared to winning the fight for marriage equality, giving a shout-out to her wife.

“But I have to say – nothing compares to that feeling of changing the law on marriage and then being able to get married. I love you, Bek.  For ensuring reproductive access technology and being able to have that much-loved and much-wanted child. Very often it has been an intense fight. A fight for rights, a fight for equality, against climate change, for jobs, for housing for communities.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Senator Pratt had made a major contribution to Australian society.

“I do want to pay tribute to your contribution for Western Australians, for the Labor Party, and importantly as well for the nation. Louise has never been anyone who sat in the Senate just to occupy the seat. She’s someone who has been an agitator, someone who has been out there pushing on issues, because she has wanted to make a difference each and every day.”

“She has made – a bit of research we did here – 977 statements to the Senate, contributing in so many areas. Maternity services, family law, climate change policy, HIV, foreign aid, employment services, as well as issues facing the LGBTIQ+ community; a fighter for equality. She received extraordinary support across the party as a candidate for her election.”

“In this business, not many people get to choose their time of departure, either elections or pre selections, things intervene. Louise Pratt is leaving as she arrived – on her own terms, with respect, with dignity, with the support of her friends, family, and of course, her parliamentary colleagues. And on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I wish Lou and her family all the very best for a great future. Thank you very much.

Senator Pratt became involved in politics at university and served on the executive of the National Union of Students. After university she was a prominent gay rights campaigner and a member of Gay and Lesbian Equality (GALE).

Pratt first served in the Western Australian parliament. Elected at the 2001 election which saw the Gallop government come to power, Pratt was the youngest woman ever elected to the Legislative Council. During her time in the Western Australian parliament she was at the forefront of bringing in the 2002 law reforms which saw the age of consent equalized, adoption laws being updated and band on promoting homosexuality removed from schools.

At the 2007 federal election she made the move to federal politics and became a Senator for Western Australia.

At the 2013 general election Senator Pratt lost her seat by a narrow margin. When it was discovered that some votes had gone missing during the election, one of the most unusual times in Australian politics began. The court ordered a second election be held for WA senators, on the second election Senator Pratt failed to gain a seat and she left the parliament.

In 2016 she was re-elected to federal parliament and returned to being a senator for Western Australia, and was subsequently re-elected for another term in 2019. In opposition Senator Pratt served as Labor’s spokesperson for Equality, but the position was scrapped when Anthony Albanese assumed leadership of the party.

During her time in parliament Senator Pratt looked after a diverse range of portfolios including environment, climate change, water, families and communities, manufacturing and employment services. Since 2022 she has served as Deputy Whip in the senate.

Senator Pratt took a leading role in the marriage equality movement that saw Australia’s laws changed in 2022, she has also been an outspoken advocate for transgender rights and health in the parliament.

21-02-24 15:00 Updated with additional comments from Senator Pratt and Anthony Albanese. 


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