Federal Labor suddenly has big problems in WA as Gary Gray quits

Gary Gray, centre, with Kevin Rudd on the campaign trail. Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images

Not a single sitting federal Labor MP will contest the next election.

Shadow resources minister Gary Gray, the member for Brand, made the surprise announcement last night that he would not recontest his seat.

He joins Alannah MacTiernan, the member for Perth, whose decision to quit also came as a surprise, and Melissa Parke, who is standing down from her seat of Fremantle.

Gray is a former Woodside executive and is considered a champion of the resources industry. He is hated by many in the WA union movement and recently headed off a preselection challenge spearheaded by left-aligned factions.

“After 41 years of continuous membership, seven years as National Secretary and nine years in the Federal Parliament, I am pleased to say it’s time for renewal and regeneration,” Gray said.

Gray was working with the Liberal Party on voting reforms intended to reduce the likelihood that “micro” parties can win Senate seats, a phenomenon which has led to volatile cross-benches in the Senate and increased complexity in the passage of legislation. There remains significant opposition in the ALP to these measures, however.

The West Australian reports that Bill Shorten arrives in Perth tomorrow and will be under pressure to head off messy preselection fights, with the state Labor organisation “riven by factions and various alliances of convenience”.

Complicating matters further, Labor has affirmative action rules which require 40% of candidates in held and winnable seats to be women, but the people currently favoured for preselection in all three spots are men.

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