The West

Senator for shop assistants to take floor

Joe Bullock will today declare his intention to be "senator for shop assistants" in a maiden parliamentary speech that will spell out his socially conservative, union-first outlook on politics.

Senator Bullock, whose political rise came at the expense of gay Labor sitting senator Louise Pratt, will affirm his anti-abortion, pro-marriage stance.

Maiden speeches are often used by politicians to define their particular political philosophy and Senator Bullock's will be very much of this type.

As well as expressing support for greater freedom of speech - in presumed reference to debate surrounding now-abandoned coalition plans to amend Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act - the former secretary of the shoppies' union will advocate broader use of conscience votes within Labor.

"Conscience voting covers a range of issues, including for example matters of life and death - and in these I will always advocate the right to life and issues related to marriage," an excerpt of his speech reads.

"Labor had a conscience vote on no-fault divorce in 1974. I'm sorry I missed that division."

Senator Bullock says that gambling and hotel opening hours have been the subject of the "moving feast" concept of conscience votes, and that he is "inclined to argue for the widest application of individual conscience".

"Firstly, I intend to be a senator for shop assistants," his speech says, noting that before the election _The West Australian _ had asked him whether his first loyalty was to the ALP or the union.

"In response I said that I would always look at legislation from the perspective of its impact on shop assistants. If that meant I was union first, then so be it.

"It is this understanding of and concern for the interests of working people which I feel best equips me to take my place here.

"Second, I intend to be a senator for WA. The Senate is the States' house and I intend to stand up for the interest of my State."

The West Australian

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