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Shorten backs dumping of Labor candidate


Labor failed to follow party procedures in endorsing maritime unionist Chris Brown for the federal seat of Fremantle but won’t back down on dumping him, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says.

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Shorten said he was disappointed by the series of events and said he had accepted the national secretary’s recommendation to disendorse Brown and anoint local deputy mayor Josh Wilson.

“The party has made a recommendation to me that he should not be the endorsed candidate and I have absolutely supported that decision 100 per cent,” the Labor leader said today.

Opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen earlier said the disendorsement was an “open and shut case”.

Labor is dumping the Maritime Union of Australia organiser because he didn’t disclose two convictions dating back to the 1980s, but Brown says that’s incorrect.

In a statement overnight, he said a 1985 assault when he was aged 19 was an accident, while a driving under the influence of alcohol conviction a year prior came after he was caught driving just 0.01 per cent over the limit – and both were spent from his record in 2011.

Brown also said he voluntarily provided details about the spent convictions at a meeting with Labor’s national office staff last month and has never hidden from his past.

“I have answered every question the ALP has asked of me truthfully and honestly both on paper and in person,” he said.

“I am disheartened that my integrity and character have been called into question.”

Brown also addressed reporters on Thursday morning, saying he had not yet been contacted by the Labor party about his disendorsement and had learned about it through the media.

“I haven’t actually heard from National ALP at this point and they’re meeting today,” he told reporters.

He said he had also been open with his family about the mid 1980s incidents, which were a lesson for his children.

“I’m not obliged to put that out there, that’s my history, I own that and I use that as lessons to teach my own children and my friends’ family about violence and to be aware in those situations.”

Despite Labor having held the seat since 1934, deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek told the ABC on Thursday that Fremantle had been a “tough seat” for the party but expected whoever was preselected for it would work hard to keep it.

Brown beat Wilson, who is also the chief of staff to outgoing Fremantle MP Melissa Parke, in preselections in March.


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