Louise Pratt


Louise Clare Pratt (born 18 April 1972) is an Australian politician who has been a Senator for Western Australia since 2016, and previously from 2008 to 2014. She is a member of the Labor Party, and served as a member of the Western Australian Legislative Council from 2001 to 2007.[1] She was the youngest woman ever elected to the Legislative Council at the time of her election and the second open lesbian to be elected to an Australian parliament.[2]

Louise Pratt
February 2014
Deputy Government Whip in the Senate
Assumed office
31 May 2022
Preceded byAnne Urquhart
Senator for Western Australia
Assumed office
2 July 2016
In office
1 July 2008 – 30 June 2014
Member of the Legislative Council
of Western Australia
In office
22 May 2001 – 29 October 2007
Succeeded byBatong Pham
ConstituencyEast Metropolitan
Personal details
Born (1972-04-18) 18 April 1972 (age 51)
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Australia
Political partyAustralian Labor Party
SpouseRebecca Misich (m. 2023)
Domestic partnerAram Hosie (2005–2015)

Early life edit

Pratt was born in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Her father was born in Devon, England, and she was a British citizen by descent until renouncing it prior to the 2007 election.[3] Pratt grew up in the outer hills suburbs of Perth, where she attended Eastern Hills Senior High School.[4] She studied arts at the University of Western Australia, where she became involved in student politics. After taking on a number of positions at her campus, she was elected as the state education officer for the National Union of Students, as well as a member of its national executive, in 1994.

After university, Pratt became involved in gay rights activism, serving as a regular spokesperson for Gay and Lesbian Equality, a prominent advocacy group in the state. This saw her addressing issues such as discrimination, unequal age of consent laws, homophobia in schools and property rights, and frequently saw her clash with the conservative Liberal Party of Western Australia government of Richard Court. It also saw Pratt working in concert with fellow activist Brian Greig, who became a Senator for and at one point interim leader of the Australian Democrats.

State politics edit

Pratt remained active in the Labor Party outside of student politics, and was the Labor candidate in the then-safe Liberal state seat of Alfred Cove at the 1996 state election. She worked at various times for former MLA Megan Anwyl, Jim McGinty, Geoff Gallop, and federal MP Carmen Lawrence. It was while working as electorate officer for Lawrence that Pratt won the third position on the Labor ticket for the East Metropolitan Region at the 2001 state election. Labor won the election against expectations, and Pratt scraped into the final seat in the region, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to the Legislative Council.

Pratt took her seat with the new term of the Legislative Council in May 2001. Her maiden speech was notable for the suggestion that the voting age in the state should be dropped to 16, but her first major contribution came in July, when she was appointed to a Ministerial committee on gay and lesbian law reform with a wide mandate to make recommendations regarding the elimination of discrimination in state law. Pratt, along with lesbian Green MP Giz Watson, played a major role in the committee, which ultimately made a wide range of recommendations, and which was tabled in the Western Australian parliament on 2 August 2001.[5] The committee's recommendations were largely taken into law with the 2002 passage of the Acts Amendment (Lesbian and Gay Law Reform) Act 2002. Amongst the reforms included in the act were a complete ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the granting of the right for same-sex couples to adopt children, a lowering of the age of consent from 21 to 16, the right for same-sex couples to inherit from a deceased partner, and the repeal of legislation which had made it an offence to promote homosexuality in schools.

After the conclusion of the law reform debate, Pratt became relatively less vocal in the media and received some criticism in the state media for making only 24 speeches in her first 15 months in parliament. However, she was no less active in her role – taking up the issue of greenhouse emissions through her position on the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs, and advocating for midwife-led models of care in maternity services. She was comfortably re-elected at the 2005 state election, and was promoted to chair of the Environment and Public Affairs committee after the election. She also continued to pursue her interests in midwifery services through her role as a member of the Public Obstetric Services Select Committee, and served as Chair of the State Government Adoption Legislation Review Committee. Pratt made some headlines again in December 2005, arguing for the introduction of civil union legislation in the state.

Federal politics edit

First term (2008–2014) edit

Pratt began campaigning for Labor preselection for a Senate seat for the 2007 federal election in mid-2006. She received wide cross-factional support, and achieved a shock victory in October, topping the poll to win first position on the Labor ticket ahead of incumbent Senators Mark Bishop and Ruth Webber. This resulted in Webber's subsequent defeat at the general election after being dropped to the only marginally winnable third position. Pratt subsequently resigned from her Legislative Council seat in October 2007, and as the highest-placed Labor candidate, was easily elected to the Senate in November. Batong Pham, a former political staffer, was appointed to Pratt's former Legislative Council seat on 26 November 2007.

In the Senate, Pratt was made a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, the Standing Committee on Economics, and the Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts.[6] She made her first speech on 27 August 2008, in which she mentioned a range of policy issues with which was concerned: sexuality, the environment, foreign aid, immigration, social inclusion and workforce participation.[7]

In September 2012 Pratt, along with three other Labor Senators co-sponsored a Bill to amend the Marriage Act (1961) and enable same-sex marriages to be recognised.[8] The Bill was ultimately defeated, however Pratt's impassioned speech in support of the Bill received widespread national and international attention.[9] In December 2013, Pratt, along with Senators Sue Boyce (LNP) and Sarah Hanson-Young (The Greens) established a cross-party working group on marriage equality.[10]

Pratt went on to become Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Water in 2013, a position she held until her defeat at the Federal Senate Election in 2014.[6] Pratt's defeat at that election marked a highly unusual episode in Australian politics – after initially being narrowly elected in the 2013 general Federal election, a Senate recount was held and Pratt's seat was lost.[11] However, 1375 votes were lost during the recount, resulting in the High Court ordering that a new, half-Senate only election be held in WA.[12] During the subsequent campaign, Labor's vote declined significantly and Pratt failed to regain her seat in the final result.

Second term (2016–present) edit

Following Pratt's defeat she took up work in the community sector, working for Western Australia's peak housing and homelessness service[13] and serving on the Board of the Burnett Institute.[14] She was the fourth candidate on the Western Australian ALP ticket for the Senate in the 2016 election,[15] and was re-elected to the Senate.[16] Following her election, Pratt was subsequently appointed to the Shadow Ministry, as Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities.[17]

Personal life edit

Pratt has a son, born in October 2014, who she co-parents with her former partner Aram Hosie,[7] a trans man and LGBTI community activist,[18] as well as Western Australian state Labor MLC Stephen Dawson and his partner Dennis Liddelow, one of whom is the biological father.[19] Pratt married her long term partner Rebecca Misich in June 2023.[20] In May 2022 Pratt was appointed Deputy Government Whip in the Senate. In February 2024 Pratt announced her retirement from the Senate.[21]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Ms Louise Clare Pratt MLC". Western Australian Parliemnt. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  2. ^ Karvelas, Patricia (29 August 2008), "Labor's new gay senator Louise Pratt calls for same-sex marriage", The Australian, archived from the original on 16 September 2008, retrieved 10 September 2008
  3. ^ "Statement in relation to citizenship – 45th Parliament" (PDF). Australian Senate. Parliament House, Canberra. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  4. ^ "Enriched by Effort". Eastern Hills Senior High School. Mount Helena WA Australia. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  5. ^ Mr McGinty, Attorney General (2 August 2001). "Ministerial Committee On Gay And Lesbian Law Reform" (PDF). Legislative Assembly. Western Australia: Legislative Assembly. p. 1984. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  6. ^ a b "Senator Louise Pratt". Senators and Members of the Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  7. ^ a b Senator Louise Pratt, first speech, Louise Pratt, Senator for Western Australia (27 August 2008). "First Speech". Official Hansard. Commonwealth of Australia: Senate. p. 3935. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024.
  8. ^ "Marriage Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2012". parlinfo.aph.gov.au. 10 September 2012. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 24 August 2022 – via Parliament of Australia.
  9. ^ Anderson-Minshall, Diane (19 September 2012). "Louise Pratt's Tearful Speech on Marriage Equality in Australia". advocate.com. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024.
  10. ^ Martin, Lisa (11 December 2013). "Same-sex couples wait on High Court ruling". AAP. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024 – via news.com.au.
  11. ^ "New Senate ballot rules mean new election games - The West Australian". au.news.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 11 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Fresh WA poll throws Canberra into spin". AAP. 20 February 2014. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024 – via SBS News.
  13. ^ "Louise Pratt". shelterwa.org.au. Archived from the original on 13 August 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Burnet welcomes two new Directors". Burnet Institute. Melbourne VIC, Australia. 25 January 2015. Archived from the original on 18 November 2022. Retrieved 21 February 2024. Burnet Institute welcomes the appointment of two new directors to its Board – former Burnet HIV researcher and now Director of the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Professor Sharon Lewin, and former Senator and WA State Parliamentarian, Ms Louise Pratt.
  15. ^ Green], Antony. "Federal Election Senate: Western Australia". ABC Australia. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Western Australia's Senators have been decided". Australian Electoral Commission (Press release). 1 August 2016. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. 10. PRATT, Louise Australian Labor Party
  17. ^ "Louise Pratt appointed Shadow Minister". www.outinperth.com. 23 July 2016. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024.
  18. ^ "Aram Hosie nominated for human rights award". www.outinperth.com. 10 November 2015. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024.
  19. ^ Probyn, Andrew (11 October 2014). "Modern family joy for Pratt". The West Australian. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 27 June 2016 – via Yahoo! News.
  20. ^ Hirst, Jordan (20 February 2024). "'A fighter for equality': Senator Louise Pratt to retire". qnews.com.au. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 21 February 2024. On Tuesday, Louise Pratt, who married her partner Rebecca Misich last year, reflected on her decades of LGBTQIA+ campaigning.
  21. ^ "WA Labor senator Louise Pratt announces she will step down at next election". ABC News. 20 February 2024. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 21 February 2024.

External links edit

  • Gay and Lesbian Equality website