OUTGOING South Australian Greens Senator Robert Simms has condemned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to hold a double dissolution government, which cost him his seat in parliament.
Even though not all votes have been counted, it looks likely Simms will lose his seat to Family First’s Bob Day.
“Like anybody who is in a situation like mine, there’s a sense of sadness to not be able to return to parliament,” he told Star Observer.
“But there is a sense of gratitude to have been able to present my values and those of South Australians in parliament.
“Not many people can say they have had the opportunity to serve as a senator.”
As the Greens’ spokesperson on LGBTI and sexuality issues, Simms said he was most proud of his contribution to those issues.
“I feel proud that I’ve been able to advocate for people… and in the LGBT space, the Greens were leading the charge for the access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis, a HIV preventative),” he said.
“I feel like I was a strong voice in the support of the Safe Schools program and for exposing the costly and divisive nature of a plebiscite on marriage equality.
“And I also tried to bring my own story into parliament.”
Australian senators are usually for six year terms, but Simms was faced with fighting for his seat again after only 10 months in the job when the Prime Minister dissolved both houses of parliament ahead of the July 2 election.
New senate voting laws introduced before the double dissolution also made it tougher for Simms to be re-elected.
“It is disappointing in that sense the double dissolution was a miscalculation on the part of Malcolm Turnbull,” he said.
“I think it will be seen as one of the worst own goals in Australian political history.
“He’s created a senate that’s going to be very difficult to work with and he’s responsible for the facilitation of One Nation gaining seats by reducing the number of primary votes needed to be elected.”
“Voting reform was absolutely the right thing to do. In a democracy the outcome of the election should reflect the will of the people. I don’t think it impacted on my chances either way, but in any case it was the right thing to do.”
The 32-year-old is not sure what career path he will pursue now that he’s out of job, but he does know he needs a break and plans to travel to the UK where he was born to visit family.
“It’s been a unique period in Australian political history and the election campaign was a marathon and exhausting,” he said.
“I’d like to continue my work in advocacy and campaigning… I’d also like to do some writing work, I used to do some opinion writing and I’m thinking how I might return to do some of that work.”
In the meantime he’s been hitting the gym and will hopefully have time to focus on his personal life now that he’s out of parliament.
“I might have time to find one (a partner), it’s hard in a political role because you’re travelling all the time. I might have more time to devote to my personal life,” he said.
Despite taking a deserved break, this probably won’t be the last we hear from Simms.
“At 32, I still have a contribution to make to public life and I’m looking at that in the future, I’m not ready to give up just yet,” he said.
“This was maybe act one.”