Dumped maritime unionist Chris Brown has pleaded with Labor leader Bill Shorten to reconsider his disendorsement for the federal seat of Fremantle.
Mr Brown was dumped in favour of Fremantle deputy mayor Josh Wilson as the Labor candidate on Thursday after it emerged the Maritime Union of Australia organiser had two convictions dating back to the 1980s.
The former wharfie says a 1985 assault when he was aged 19 accidentally occurred while he was being attacked by several assailants, while a driving under the influence conviction a year prior came after he was caught just 0.01 per cent over the limit – and both were spent from his record in 2011.
Mr Brown maintained he had been “honest and truthful” with the Labor party on paper and in person throughout the preselection process, adding he had now received legal advice on the matter.
“I would ask Bill Shorten to genuinely reassess the information used to disendorse my candidacy so that I can continue in our campaign,” he told reporters.
Mr Brown beat Mr Wilson in preselections in March to replace outgoing Fremantle MP Melissa Parke.
He remained relatively positive about his position within the Labor party and the electorate of Fremantle, despite the Labor national executive’s decision, which Mr Shorten said he backed “100 per cent”.
“There have been many positive comments about my future in the party … Fremantle has always been my home and I believe my future is here in Fremantle,” Mr Brown said.
“I hope the ALP resolve this issue quickly and fairly.”
His newly appointed replacement said he sympathised with Mr Brown, describing the situation as “extraordinary”.
“This is a difficult day – these are extraordinary circumstances – and the first thing I want to say is that my thoughts are with Chris Brown and his family,” Mr Wilson said.
“Chris Brown and I have been through a preselection process. That’s something that only people who have been through that process can understand, and I know he’s a good guy.”
Wilson had local backing
Mr Wilson said he was not too shaken by being thrust into the middle of a federal election campaign, saying he was energised by the challenge.
He said he supported Labor’s asylum seeker policy, but added that Australia had a responsibility to play a part in what he described as a global issue.
Mr Wilson said he had deep and wide connections within Fremantle, where he has lived for the majority of his life and cited education, renewable energy and marine conservation as issues important to him.
Labor has held the seat of Fremantle since 1934.