The Indigenous leader Pat Dodson will replace outgoing Joe Bullock as Labor's new Western Australian Senator.
Andrea Booth

The Point
2 Mar 2016 - 9:52 AM  UPDATED 2 Mar 2016 - 10:42 AM

"Pat's decision to seek a role in our parliament as a Senator for the Labor party is a win for Australia," Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced Wednesday in Western Australia.

"This is a great day for the Labor Party, for Western Australia, for the Senate and the parliament and indeed for our democracy."

The 'father of reconciliation', as Pat Dodson is known for his work to bridge the divide between Indigenous and other Australians, says he believes politics is a platform where he can make change.

"Having spent much of my adult life trying to influence our national conversations, debate, government and the parliament from the outside," he says, "it is now time for me to step up to the plate and have a go at trying to influence those same conversations, debates and public policies from the inside as a member of the Senate and representing Western Australia."

Mr Dodson says that a "lasting settlement" can only emerge if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at "the centre of the discussion and the debate".

Constitutional recognition will be one of the top matters on his agenda, says Mr Dodson, who sits on the Referendum Council that is considering the potential for a referendum on whether Indigenous Australians should be included in the country's founding document.

"The constitutional recognition that we are currently seeking remains fundamental.

"If we are ever to begin coming to terms with the national narrative, and its consequences for this nation, we need to pursue that."

Mr Dodson is the second Indigenous person involved in discussions over federal politics this week.

Linda Burney MP announced she was running for the seat of Barton on Tuesday. If she wins she will become the first Indigenous woman to enter the House of Representatives.