AFTER winning an unexpected victory in the seat of Prahran almost two weeks after the state election, Greens MP Sam Hibbins has vowed to continue forwarding the interests of LGBTI Victorians.
The Victorian Electoral Commission called the seat for the Green on Tuesday night after the distribution of preferences knocked sitting Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown out of the race, with Labor candidate Neil Pharaoh conceding defeat on Thursday morning.
“I don’t have to do the battle within my party, I can take the battle straight to parliament,” he said.
“That’s what I’m planning to do — be that strong voice for LGBTI communities in parliament.”
Hibbins argued his presence in the lower house would allow him to ensure some of Labor’s promised reforms would be passed and implemented in the best possible way.
He specifically mentioned Labor’s commitment to re-introduce employment protections for LGBTI people in the Equal Opportunity Act repealed by the Liberals, and to reform the Adoption Act to allow same-sex couples to adopt.
Hibbins thanked the LGBTI community for their support of his campaign, and attributed his win to extensive community engagement.
“It’s been a fantastic experience, and particularly the support we’ve got from the LGBTI community, but also the engagement that we’ve done — we’ve gone out there and listened,” he told the Star Observer.
Hibbins has been a local councillor for the City of Stonnington, and has previously run in a number of state and federal elections for the Greens in Melbourne.
Although Pharaoh concluded his tenure as national convenor of the ALP’s internal LGBTI group Rainbow Labor — a position now held by former Labor senator Louise Pratt — he still plans to be involved in implementing the LGBTI-related reforms Labor committed to during the Victorian election campaign.
Pharaoh also told the Star Observer he is planning a number of initiatives outside of the party to support LGBTI communities.
“I’m very keen to look at starting up in Australia… some sort of activity that supports LGBTI politicians to enter the field, whether it’s looking at money or mentoring or support and things like that, from any political persuasion,” he said.
Pharaoh is also looking at setting up a local LGBTI “giving circle”, which would involve LGBTI people donating money to support causes across the community.
Newton-Brown told the Star Observer he’s not sure yet what his involvement with the LGBTI community will be going forward, but said he was proud of his work for LGBTI Victorians.
“Probably my proudest achievement in my term as Member for Prahran was when on the last sitting day we got through the legislation to expunge historic gay sex convictions,” he said.
“I wish Sam well in his new role and pay tribute to Neil and the tough campaign we were in, battling for the seat of Prahran.”
During his time in government Newton-Brown spearheaded the legislation to allow men with historical gay sex convictions to have those convictions expunged.
The expungement bill was passed in the final sitting week of parliament, and was prioritised within the government’s over-full legislative agenda.