Australia

Labor WA candidate Melissa Parke quits over Israel views

Melissa Parke as Labor Member for Fremantle in 2016. Source: AAP

The Labor's candidate for Julie Bishop's seat was in hot water after she made controversial comments about the Israel and Palestine conflict.

Ex-Rudd government minister Melissa Parke has stepped down as a candidate for the Perth seat of Curtin on Friday night, following backlash she received over comments about Israel.

The star Labor candidate, who was standing for the seat of former foreign minister Julie Bishop, was heavily criticised by Jewish groups after reportedly likening Israel's treatment of Palestinians to apartheid.

The West Australian says Ms Parke quit hours after questions were submitted to Labor’s campaign headquarters about her statement by the Herald Sun newspaper.

Ms Parke, a former UN lawyer who worked with Palestinians in Gaza, said she did not want her views to be a distraction.

"I've had 20 years' experience in international relations and law including living and working in the Middle East," she said in a statement.

"My views are well-known... But I don't want them to be a running distraction from electing a Labor government which will take urgent and strong action on climate change."

Western Australian seats to watch in the May election include the blue-ribbon electorate of Curtin, which an independent is vying for, while Labor seeks to steal Stirling.

Curtin 

Popular former deputy Liberal leader and foreign minister Julie Bishop quit after two decades in politics following her snubbing in last year's leadership spill.

Former Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, September 13, 2018. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Former Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop during Question Time last year.
AAP

The party will be hoping former University of Notre Dame vice-chancellor and ultra-conservative Celia Hammond can comfortably win the blue-ribbon seat which the Liberals hold by a whopping 20.7 per cent.

Ms Hammond's biggest threat could come from independent Louise Stewart. Ms Stewart has been a life-long Liberal voter but believes the party has changed, citing the treatment of Ms Bishop as one example.

Labor was also hoping to divert some of the Liberals' resources to the seat by running one-time federal minister Melissa Parke, who has now quit.

Stirling  

Former Liberal minister Michael Keenan is retiring after holding the seat since 2004. The Liberal candidate is former soldier Vince Connelly, who defeated four women for preselection despite Mr Keenan's preference to be replaced by a woman.

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Election kicks off campaigning in Western Sydney
Election kicks off campaigning in Western Sydney

Mr Connelly has been a staff member for Ms Bishop, who he considers a role model. Labor's candidate Melita Markey works at the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia and has a chance of snatching the seat, despite the 6.1 per cent margin.

Cowan 

Labor's Egyptian-born Anne Aly already had a public profile through her television appearances as a counter-terrorism expert when she became the first Muslim woman elected to federal parliament in 2016.

She faces competition from the Liberal's Isaac Stewart and has an ultra-thin margin of just 0.7 per cent. But if there's a swing on to Labor then Ms Aly may be heading back to Canberra.

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