29 November 2023

'Father of Reconciliation', WA Senator Patrick Dodson, to leave politics for health reasons

| Andrew McLaughlin
Senator Pat Dodson

Senator Pat Dodson was most recognisable with his long beard and distinctive black hat. Photo: Facebook.

Labor Senator for Western Australia and Special Envoy for Reconciliation and Implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Senator Patrick Dodson, has announced he will resign from the Senate on 26 January 2024.

Senator Dodson has been fighting health issues for some time, and in a brief statement today said his ongoing cancer treatment has left him physically unable to satisfactorily fulfil his duties as a senator.

He had previously advised in April of this year that he would be absent from Parliament for several months.

“I recently informed the President of the Senate, as well as the Prime Minister and the Premier of Western Australia of my decision,” he said.

“It has been an honour to serve as senator for Western Australia.”

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Senator Dodson was selected by the Parliament of Western Australia in April 2016 to represent the state in the Australian Senate.

During his tenure, he has sat on numerous committees, including the Joint Select Committee into Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, the Joint Standing Committee for Northern Australia, the Joint Statutory Committee for Human Rights, and Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committee for Finance and Public Administration.

He has also held the positions of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Shadow Assistant Minister for Reconciliation, and Shadow Assistant Minister for Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Senator Pat Dodson

Senator Dodson just before the referendum on the Voice when he was receiving treatment. Photo: Facebook.

“I thank Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for his support and his appointment of me as Special Envoy for Reconciliation and Implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart,” he said.

“I also place on record my high regard for his decision to proceed with the recent referendum.

“I also thank Mr Bill Shorten MP for his decision, when he was Leader of the Opposition, to nominate me in March 2016 when a casual Senate vacancy arose.”

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In a statement, Prime Minister Albanese said Senator Dodson’s retirement fills him with sadness and gratitude.

“Patrick Dodson is a great Yawuru man, a wonderful Australian, and an excellent human being,” he said.

“You would gladly follow him into battle, yet he’s made it his life’s work to make peace. From the moment he entered Parliament, he has made this place a better one.”

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