West Australian Senator Joe Bullock quits Parliament over Labor support for gay marriage
West Australian Senator Joe Bullock has announced he is retiring from politics, citing an inability to support the Labor Party's position requiring MPs to vote in favour of same-sex marriage.
Calling it "homosexual marriage," the 61-year-old right-wing Senator told Parliament on Tuesday night that he was "morally obliged" to quit, just two years after entering Parliament because he could not agree with the party's decision to impose a binding vote on MPs.
He said his decision to retire began when he was asked how he could support the Labor Party given his view on same sex marriage.
"This question has dogged me for six months," Bullock said.
"How can I in good conscience recommend to the people that they vote for a party which is determined to deny its parliamentarians a conscience vote on the homosexual marriage question?"
"The simple answer is that I can't."
Bullock said he would not defect to the crossbench because he was elected on the ALP's ticket.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten immediately issued a gracious statement saying that while he often disagreed with the West Australian, he wished him well.
"A man of deeply held faith and convictions, Joe has always held to his views," Shorten said.
"I don't agree with his views on a number of issues – including marriage equality – but I respect his right to hold those opinions."
"I respect the decision he's made to step down tonight, knowing it's come after a long period of consideration."
But one Labor MP who did not want to be named told Fairfax Media there was no love lost for the outspoken conservative Senator.
"Good riddance to the big fat rat," the MP said.
Bullock is the fourth West Australian to announce their retirement ahead of the 2016 election.
Gary Gray, Melissa Parke and Alannah MacTiernan have all recently said they will be quitting politics.
Gray attended Bullock's speech in the Senate.
- Sydney Morning Herald