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"Father of reconciliation" Dodson heading for Senate

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Bill Shorten has nominated indigenous leader Pat Dodson to fill a Senate seat left vacant by Joe Bullock.

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It was a win for Australia, Shorten told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

The former chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation is the Labor leader’s pick to replace fellow Western Australian Bullock, who announced his resignation on Tuesday night.

Dodson was a person of “unmatched intelligence, integrity and achievement”, Shorten said.

He was nationally recognised and rightly admired as the father of reconciliation.

“A truth teller, a powerful advocate for recognition, justice, equality and fairness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Shorten said he wanted Labor to seize the moment, in a veiled warning to the Western Australian branch of the party that decides the nomination.

“We should put aside the rough and tumble of the party system and give someone of Pat Dodson’s remarkable qualities the opportunity to serve as a senator,” he said.

Dodson, who has not been a member of the ALP since the 1980s, said he was honoured by Shorten’s support.

“After many conversations it became clear to me that this was a good opportunity and one that should not be passed up,” he told reporters.

Having spent much of his adult life trying to influence national conversations from the outside, it was now time to “step up to the plate” and have a go at trying to influence those same conversations, debates and public policies from the inside as a member of the Senate and representing WA.

Constitutional recognition for indigenous Australians remained fundamental, Dodson said.

“If we are ever to begin coming to terms with the national narrative, and its consequences for this nation, we need to pursue that.”

Dodson was the inaugural chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, an independent national body set up by the Hawke Government in response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

with AAP

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