Shorten wants Indigenous leader Pat Dodson for Senate seat

THE Father of Reconciliation, Kimberley indigenous leader Patrick Dodson, will run for the Western Australian Senate vacancy left by retiring Senator Joe Bullock.

Labor leader Bill Shorten called Mr Dodson this week after Sen Bullock told him of his plans to leave the parliament, due to his disagreement with Labor's decision not to allow a conscience vote on marriage equality to take effect next year.

Mr Shorten, who first met Mr Dodson in 2003, said the indigenous leader would be a champion for the causes he had dedicated his life to if elected to serve in the Upper House.

Mr Dodson spearheaded the reconciliation campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s, was heavily involved in land rights campaigns, and promoting the need for equality generally between indigenous Australians and the rest of the nation.

Also involved in the campaign for constitutional recognition, Mr Dodson said that would be a key issue he would be pushing from within the political establishment.

However, Mr Dodson still faces a Labor challenger for the causal senate vacancy caused by Senator Bullock's departure.

Well-known former WA Senator Louise Pratt, who was placed lower down on the party's senate ticket in favour of Sen Bullock at the 2013 poll, has also signalled her intention to nominate.

But Mr Shorten said despite her expertise and experience, that "on this occasion", he had lent Mr Dodson his support to fill the vacancy.

Mr Shorten's decision to back Mr Dodson for the role follows former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's "Captain's Pick" of indigenous Senator Nova Peris to replace then-senator Trish Crossin in one of the Senate's Northern Territory seats.