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Whitely quits over rise of union chief
The West Australian

Former Bassendean MLA Martin Whitely has quit the Labor Party in protest over union boss Joe Bullock's rise to the top of the WA Senate ticket as recriminations from the bitter preselection reverberate.

Mr Whitely, a factionally unaligned MP who retired from State Parliament at the last election rather than fight a preselection battle he believed he could not win, had been a Labor member for the past 18 years.

He had been an advocate for party reform and was a constant critic of Mr Bullock, the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association secretary who won the No.1 spot on the Senate ticket ahead of sitting senator Louise Pratt.

Yesterday, Mr Whitely said he had reached the end of his tether.

"What about this mob is worth bothering with," he said. "I can't see a way forward. We had a crack at reforming the party, aimed exclusively at watering down the power of those union bosses and we got nowhere."

He denied his resignation was a "dummy spit" after he failed to win a spot on the Senate ticket. "I always acknowledged I may not get a vote, but it was a protest candidature," he said.

Mr Whitely said Prime Minister Julia Gillard - whose "captain's pick" secured the endorsement of former athlete Nova Peris Kneebone to the Northern Territory Senate ticket - should veto Mr Bullock's candidacy after he reportedly turned his back on a welcome-to-country ceremony at the Queen's garden party at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in 2011.

Mr Whitely said he had vowed during his valedictory speech to quit the party if Mr Bullock won preselection and was delivering on that promise.

He is critical of Mr Bullock, 58, for, among other things, his socially conservative views, including opposition to abortion and gay marriage, and his defence of "show and tell" voting in party ballots.

"But worse still is the cowardice and complicity of those within WA Labor who claim to be appalled by his world view but did everything in their power to help him," Mr Whitely said.

"I have terminated my membership of the party I once proudly served in the WA Parliament."

Mr Bullock declined to comment on Mr Whitely's criticism other than to say: "I'm sorry Martin is leaving the party."