Barrister Varun Ghosh has emerged as the early frontrunner to replace retiring WA Senator Pat Dodson. Mr Ghosh operates out of the prestigious Francis Burt Chambers, where he specialises in corporate and administrative law. He has been admitted to the bar and practiced in both WA and New York, where he also worked as a legal consultant to World Bank. The 38-year-old has longstanding political connections, having served as the president of WA Young Labor in the mid-2000s. He has also represented the party on a range of matters – including contributing to the successful defence of allegations from exiled Upper House MP Ben Dawkins that Labor had breached its rules when knocking him back for preselection to the Federal seat of Forrest. The son of first-generation Indian migrants – who are both doctors – Mr Ghosh won a scholarship to complete his Master of Laws at Cambridge University in the UK and has spent the past two years as an adjunct lecturer at UWA. A senior figure from Labor’s Right faction confirmed Mr Ghosh would be backed to fill the Senate vacancy that will be created when Senator Dodson calls time on his political career at the end of January. Senator Dodson himself was first elected to Parliament in 2016 to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Joe Bullock, who quit Labor over his refusal to fall in line with his party’s support for same-sex marriage. Because Senator Dodson occupies a seat viewed as belonging to Labor Right, the faction would ordinarily be expected to select his replacement. Mr Ghosh – who stood for the Senate on the same ticket as Senator Dodson in 2019 in the unwinnable fifth spot – also hails from Labor Right. The Australian Constitution requires that Senate vacancies are filled by a member of the same political party as the vacating senator. Unlike in WA’s Legislative Council, the position does not automatically go to whoever was next on the ticket at the last election. Senator Dodson, widely hailed as Australia’s father of reconciliation, this week announced he would retire on January 26 next year. His decision follows a battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including multiple debilitating rounds of chemotherapy which prevented the 75-year-old from playing a more prominent role in the Voice referendum. Following seven years in Parliament, news of Senator Dodson’s departure sparked an outpouring of tributes – including from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who described him as a “wonderful Australian and an excellent human being”. Premier Roger Cook labelled Senator Dodson “one of my life heroes”. “He is one of the living treasures of Australian society. He’s a man of extraordinary vision, tenacity, strength and the nation owes him a huge debt of gratitude,” he said.