Senior Labor figure Anthony Albanese doesn’t think controversial West Australian senator-elect Joe Bullock should quit, despite a union turning against him.
Mr Albanese had opposed Mr Bullock’s automatic endorsement by the national executive.
But on Monday he said he did not think Mr Bullock should stand down, despite admitting his controversies had affected the result of the re-run WA senate election.
In the lead-up to the election, Mr Bullock apologised for comments he made about his running mate Louise Pratt’s sexuality and for describing her as a poster child for gay marriage.
He also caused a stir when he labelled some colleagues mad and when it was revealed he had a conviction for assault in 1996.
It would be silly for anyone to argue that the controversy did not have an impact on Labor’s result on the polling day, Mr Albanese told reporters in Perth.
But he said he expected Mr Bullock would now serve his term.
He said the result showed there were lessons to be learned about Labor’s pre-selection processes, adding he supported members having more power to directly determine who ran as candidates, which would improve election prospects.
“If you increase the empowerment of the Labor party membership I think you will get greater membership, greater campaigning capacity and a real sense of ownership over who runs under the Labor banner,” he said.
Mr Albanese will meet with Ms Pratt for a sundowner function on Sunday evening.
She recently conceded defeat in the election and unleashed a scathing attack on Mr Bullock, who she described as homophobic, but denied it was a case of sour grapes.
United Voice, which originally supported Mr Bullock’s nomination, also withdrew its support for him and called for his resignation.
Ms Pratt’s defeat delivers a third seat to the Liberals, with the remaining two seats likely to go to Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Palmer United Party’s Zhenya Dio Wang.
The final vote count will not be know until after Anzac Day.