Labor scrambling to find new Curtin candidate

Melissa Parke. Photo: Getty
Melissa Parke. Photo: Getty

THE Labor Party is scrambling to replace its former Curtin electorate candidate Melissa Parke.

Ms Parke resigned from the May 18 Federal Election last Friday, after statements she made in March supporting a Palestinian state and attacking Israeli force were reported.

“We’re already in talks with those people who had nominated previously,” a party spokeswoman said.

Ms Parke, a former Fremantle MHR and United Nations lawyer in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, was parachuted into the election as a star candidate.

She may have soaked up Liberal Party resources in that party’s blue ribbon seat held for the past 21 years by former foreign minister Julie Bishop, who is leaving politics.

Ms Parke’s entry made Curtin a virtual all-woman race, comprising the Liberal Party’s Celia Hammond, independent Louise Stewart, and Australian Christian Deonne Kingsford.

The Green Party’s Cameron Pidgeon is the only man.

Barely five days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the election, Ms Parke resigned after she was recorded saying Palestine should be a state and claiming civil rights abuses by Israel at a public meeting last month.

The statements caused anger in Australia’s Jewish community, after which Ms Parke said she left to avoid her statements becoming a distraction in the campaign.

Labor’s 2016 election candidate Melissa Callanan got 29.3 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote.

Ms Callanan said she had not been contacted to fill Ms Parke’s vacancy.

“I made it clear to the leadership in the past I would not take it on again,” Ms Callanan said.

However, Ms Callanan said that despite a rise in conservatism in the seat, including in its increasingly wealthier inner-city parts, there were pockets fertile for progressive politics.

“There’s an undercurrent that could also be good for an independent,” she said.