Louise Pratt Gives Final Speech as Senator

Senator Louise Pratt

Outgoing Labor Senator Louise Pratt made her valedictory speech yesterday before the new Western Australian senate takes its seats on July 1st.

In her speech, Pratt discussed how the events surround the 2013 election and subsequent re-election brought home to her how important it is for the state’s democratic processes to hold integrity, and how those events, including within her own party, failed to meet that standard.

Pratt was moved to the second spot on Labor’s ticket and replaced by Joe Bullock, and consequently did not retain her seat in the next senate.

“I have had a front-row seat to the recent and public failures of Labor in my own state to meet that standard.

“I will be part of the State Labor Conference in WA in early July and I hope that the prospect of reform is made a reality. It is a challenge we simply must meet.

“…my own personal disappointment is insignificant beside the consequences for our Party, for our members, and most importantly for the men and women around Australia who depend on Labor to defend their right to health care, their right to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, the right of their children to get a quality education.”

Senator Pratt also discussed how her support for issues including same sex marriage and womens’ reproductive rights has lead to her being viewed as left of center or a minority.

“I am – proudly – on the Left of my Party. Those with my views are often characterized, kindly, as ‘progressives’ or less kindly as ‘radicals’. Either term is used to marginalize us, to imply we are extreme, to suggest we are a minority.

“I have always found it ironic that the very views that lead to me being labelled like that are exactly those views which are shared by the majority of the Australian population, although not by the majority of the Australian Parliament.

“I support the end of discrimination in the Marriage Act – not because it affects me, although it does affect me – but because equal rights for all Australians has always been a touchstone for me, in all aspects of my political involvement.

“It will, I can assure you, remain one in the future. More than 65% of Australians agree with me. If this Parliament truly reflected the views of those who elect us, marriage equality would be a fact.

“I support the right of women to make their own reproductive choices, not have government make them for them and 80% of Australians agree with me.

“I have been equally opposed to laws that force women to bear children when they do not want to; and laws intended to prevent women from bearing children when they do wish to.

“Pro choice means the right to choose.

“I am profoundly grateful that I have been able to choose motherhood.”

Pratt participated in amending legislation to allow all women to access IVF treatments regardless of their marital status, the gender of their partner, and whether or not they have a partner at all. She has recently announced that she and her partner Aram Hosie are expecting their first child.

Pratt also took the opportunity to state that those who labelled her support for these issues as ‘radical’ as extremists themselves.

“They are mainstream views and it is those who deny them who are extremists.

“It remains a great disappointment to me that my Party still contains a small rump of those extremists, who exercise a power far in excess of their number and most certainly far in excess of their support among our Party’s members and the members of our union partners.”

The outgoing Senator also spoke about her entrance into parenthood reaffirming her belief in equality and the necessity for Australia to support that for all citizens.

“…as I anticipate becoming a parent I feel more commitment, more dedication, more urgency, about the task of making this country one where all of us enjoy equal rights, equal protection before the law, where a helping hand and the fair go are for all, regardless of where you live or who your parents are.

“And as I think about the country my child will live in, the future they will see, I am more sure than ever that we cannot argue anymore that the problems that affect the rest of the world can be stopped at our borders.”

You can watch the entirety of Senator Louise Pratt’s valedictory speech below or read it here.

Sophie Joske

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