Senator Louise Clare Pratt
Whilst studying at University of Western Australia she began her first foray into politics quickly gaining a reputation as an effective and strategic advocate. This led to her election as state education officer and member of the national executive of the National Union of Students in 1994.
Her political reputation and activism grew as she took on issues not yet prominent in the general public’s eye becoming a lead spokesperson for gay and lesbian equality in WA.
This work along with her increasing public profile saw her encouraged into the Australian Labor Party working with high profile Labor MPs Megan Anwyl, Jim McGinty, Geoff Gallop and Carmen Lawrence.
In 2001 Louise Pratt was elected as a member of the WA multi-member East Metropolitan region and was the youngest woman ever elected to the Legislative Council.
Her time in the WA parliament was remarkable as she became a vocal member of a multiparty ministerial committee on gay and lesbian law reform. This culminated with the parliament passing legislation to remove discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation from the state’s statutes, the repeal of legislation which had made it an offence to promote homosexuality in schools and granting rights for same sex couples to adopt children, to inherit from a deceased partner as well as lowering the age of consent to be consistent with laws then applied to heterosexual individuals from 21 years to 16 years.
At the same time Pratt was working on the reduction of greenhouse emissions, seeking improvements within maternity services including midwife-led care.
After being reelected at the 2005 state general election she was promoted to chair of the Environment and Public Affairs committee and served as a member of the Public Obstetric Services Select Committee and Chair of the State Government Adoption Legislative Review Committee.
In 2006 Louise Pratt was encouraged to stand for Labor preselection as a Senator and easily dominated the vote across all sections of the Party. She was elected to the Senate in 2007 Federal Election.
In the Senate, Pratt was elected a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, the Standing Committee on Economics, and the Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts. She made her first speech on 27 August 2008, in which she covered a range of policy issues including sexuality, the environment, foreign aid, immigration, social inclusion and workforce participation.
In September 2012 Pratt, along with three other Labor Senators co-sponsored a Bill to amend the Marriage Act (1961) and enable same-sex marriages to be recognised. The Bill was ultimately defeated; however Pratt's impassioned speech in support of the Bill received widespread national and international attention.
Louise was promoted again becoming the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Water in 2013, a position she held until her defeat at the Federal Senate Election in 2014.
Pratt's defeat at that election marked a highly unusual episode in Australian politics - after initially being elected in the 2013 general Federal election, a Senate recount was held and Pratt's seat was lost. However, 1375 votes were lost during the recount, resulting in the High Court ordering that a new, half-Senate only election be held in WA. During the subsequent campaign, Labor's vote declined significantly and she failed to regain her seat.
She continued a life of activism working in the community sector within housing and homelessness.
She was again preselected on the ALP ticket for the Senate in the 2016 election, and was re-elected.
Pratt was subsequently appointed to the Shadow Ministry, as Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities.
Senator Pratt has a long history of fighting for justice across the whole Australian Community spectrum, the environment and novel approaches to build a strong sustainable manufacturing sector.