St Vincent de Paul CEO Seeks Labor Preselection
11 July 2018 at 9:29 am
Charity leader and opponent of the mandatory detention and offshore processing of asylum seekers, Dr John Falzon is launching a bid for federal Labor preselection hoping to drive progressive change from within the party.
Falzon, the national CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society, announced last week was running for Labor preselection in the newly created federal seat of Canberra.
A leading voice of Australia’s social sector, Falzon had been St Vincent de Paul Society CEO for 12 years. He had also served on the board of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS).
But Falzon’s advocacy put him at odds with Labor leadership on issues such as welfare and asylum seekers.
While Labor leader Bill Shorten acknowledged a “problem” with the level of Newstart payments in May, he has committed only to reviewing the system if elected.
Falzon however was a supporter the ACOSS Raise the Rate campaign, calling for a $75-a-week increase to Newstart.
He was also a strident critic of offshore processing, having previously criticised the Gillard Labor government’s treatment of asylum seekers in 2011.
“We continue to say to the Australian government: no to offshore processing; no to mandatory detention,” Falzon said after a High Court injunction about the deportation of two asylum seekers.
— Andrew Giles MP (@andrewjgiles) July 7, 2018
However, before the party’s preselection process took place, Falzon would first seek endorsement from Labor’s left faction.
Speaking to The Guardian Australia on Saturday, Falzon said his asylum seeker beliefs were “well known”, and he vowed to take his passion on the issue into the party.
“I note that our policy will be determined at the national conference later this year, and I’m very, very sincerely hoping to see some progressive change in that area,” he said.
“It is something many people in the Labor Party have been advocating for some time.”
Who has tweeted, messaged,
Written, posted or called
With words of encouragement
My deepest thanks
For your solidarity.
I am deeply touched.
— John Falzon (@JohnFalzon) July 8, 2018
Having spoken to media at the time news broke of his intention to run for preselection, Falzon this week was tight-lipped declining to comment when contacted by Pro Bono News.
Labor meanwhile is in turmoil over the asylum seeker issue, with a range of voices openly warring over detention and resettlement scenarios.
Though Falzon’s ambitions took a blow this week when left-faction leadership contender Anthony Albanese said the Coalition’s policies “have stopped the boats”.
Albanese told Sky News on Tuesday the previous Labor government was wrong to believe that Australia’s border policies were not a “pull factor” for asylum seekers.
“The government’s policies have stopped the boats,” he said.
“They’re not coming, so the circumstances of rejecting boat arrivals has been achieved.”