Former federal Labor MP Melissa Parke has withdrawn her candidacy for the seat of Curtin in WA. (AAP: Mick Tsikas)
Labor’s candidate for the West Australian seat of Curtin, Melissa Parke, has pulled out of the contest after reports she told a public meeting last month that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians was “worse than the South African system of apartheid”.
- Melissa Parke has withdrawn as Labor’s candidate for Curtin in WA
- Ms Parke was previously the federal member for Fremantle but resigned 2016
- She says her views are well known but does not want to be a distraction during the campaign
In a statement, Ms Parke said her views on this issue were well-known, but that she does not want to distract from Labor’s election campaign.
“I’ve had 20 years’ experience in international relations and law including living and working in the Middle East,” she said.
“My views are well-known.
“But I don’t want them to be a running distraction from electing a Labor government which will take urgent and strong action on climate change.
“That’s why I have decided to withdraw my candidacy.”
Ms Parke was the minister for international development in the Rudd government.
She resigned as the federal member for Fremantle in 2016 after nine years in the seat, saying she wanted to travel less and be closer to her family.
She was previously a lawyer with the United Nations before being preselected to the traditionally safe Labor seat.
There was speculation Ms Parke’s preselection would force the Liberals to divert precious resources to defend the traditionally safe seat.
Curtin has been held by Ms Bishop, an outgoing MP and former foreign affairs minister, since 1998 and is one of the safest Liberal seats in the state.
Withdrawal a ‘setback’ for Labor campaign
Political analyst Peter Kennedy said Ms Parke’s withdrawal was a setback for the Labor campaign.
“Obviously the Liberal, Celia Hammond, is the favourite, but with a high profile candidate like Melissa Parke Labor hoped to poll very well,” he said.
“I think Melissa Parke’s views on those controversial issues are well known, and they were her views when she was in the parliament — and also at the time that she resigned.
“So I think that on those issues she’s simply being consistent, and I guess the Labor Party should have been aware of that.
“It’ll be very hard for Labor to find a high-profile candidate like Melissa Parke in such a short space of time so I think the party will be battling to achieve the vote that it might have achieved if Melissa Parke had stayed in the race.”
Mr Kennedy said it was a good strategic move for Ms Parke to bow out early.
“I’d be surprised if it had repercussions beyond WA really, but obviously Labor needs to be cautious on this issue, it doesn’t want the issue blowing up and detracting from the election campaign,” he said.
“Melissa Parke’s views on those issues, I guess, have been controversial and have been at odds with some views within the Labor Party itself, and if she had stayed in the race there’s a possibility that it could have become an issue in the Curtin electorate.
“So by bowing out now and giving the Labor Party the opportunity to obtain a new candidate — albeit at short notice — I guess it removes that issue as a potential controversy.”