Tracking unionists in Parliament

May 20, 2022

This lists tracks former union officials who have made it into state or federal parliament as Labor MPs over the past 30 years. Send any corrections or additions to

Dick Adams: the Federal Labor member for Lyons since 1993, he was a meat worker who rose to be union organiser with the Australian Meat Industries Employees' Union and the Liquor and Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union.

Michael Aird: a Labor member of the Tasmanian Legislative Council in the Division of Derwent since 1995.

Pam Allan: was a Labor member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1988 to 2007 representing Wentworthville who came from the NSW Teacher's Federation.

Marie Andrews: represented Peats for the Australian Labor Party from 1995 to 2007 and has represented Gosford since 2007. Upon leaving school at 15, undertook business shorthand/typing course and later word processor. For 17 years, private Secretary to NSW Branch Secretary, Australian Railway Unions, now Public Transport Union.

Mark Arbib: a Labor member of the senate since July 2008, representing NSW and part of the "NSW mafia", he began his campaiging career with the Liquor Trades Union.

Alan Ashton: the MLA for East Hills in NSW since 1999 and a member of the History Teacher's Association and Teacher's Federation. Still checking if ever had a paid position with the union.

Jim Bacon: the late Tasmanian premier was formerly Secretary of the Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council and a member of the ACTU Executive, as well as being a delegate to the ILO's International Labor Conference. Prior to that, he was an official, then State Secretary, of the BLF. Not bad for a former Scotch College boy out of Melbourne.

Ken Bacon: was a Labor Party member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly from 1998 until 2005, and a government minister from 2004-2005 until he retired because of poor health. The member for Lyons in the Tasmanian Parliament came out of the TWU.

John Bartlett: the late President of the Port Stephens Teachers Association, he represented Port Stephens for the Labor Party in NSW from 1999 to 2007. He died on 8 February 2008.

Tom Barton: the former member for Waterford from 1992-2006 and Queensland State Development minister who came out of the AMWU and the Labor Council as state secretary. He was also a member of the ACTU Wages Committee from 1984 to 1992 and was a founding director of sunsuper, the largest superannuation fund in Queensland.

Peter Batchelor: the senior Victorian Labor Minister representing the electorate of Thomastown, did 10 years with the quaintly named Furnishing Union from 1973-83.

Peter Beattie: the former Queensland Premier was the former State Secretary of the Queensland Railway Employees Union. He is a member of the MEAA.

Liz Beattie: the Victorian member for Tullamarine(now abolished) since 1999, and now representing the electorate of Yuroke since 2002, she was an ASU Organiser and Victorian Trades Hall Council Buildings Manager.

Brenton Best: the Labor member for Braddon in Tasmania since 1996 came out of the TWU.

Arch Bevis:
the Federal Labor member for Brisbane since 1999 was a teacher who rose to become an organiser and then deputy general secretary of the Queensland Teachers' Union 1980-90.

Catryna Bilyk: a senator for Tasmania representing the ALP, she is also a former ASU industrial officer.

Mark Bishop:
a Labor senator since 1990, from WA who is a former State Secretary of the SDA in Western Australia and was also the WA state secretary of the National Union of Workers.
Peter Black: represented Murray-Darling from 1999 to 2007 for the Labor Party in NSW Parliament. Ex-President and Secretary of the Barrier Teachers Association and Bush Hostels Association.

David Bradbury: the former mayor of Penrith and Labor's federal member for Jacqui Kelly's seat of Lindsay, since 2007, who spent time as an industrial officer for the Australian Services Union.

Stephen Bredhauer:
the former Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads was formerly a union organiser for the Queensland Teachers Union.

Clive Brown: former WA minister for trade and state development and a former secretary of the LHMWU in WA. He was also state secretary of the Miscellaneous Workers' Union from 1976 to 1978 and later president and then secretary of the Trades and Labor Council.

John Brumby: the Victorian Premier started out as a Teachers Union official and is a Melbourne Grammar old boy.

Geoff Buckland: the former South Australian senator is a former SA State Secretary of the Federated Ironworkers' Union and he was also once the AWU's Whyalla branch secretary.

Meredith Burgmann: is a former President of the NSW Legislative Council. Life Member, National Tertiary Education Union and member of various Green groups.

Anna Burke: the Federal Labor member for Chisholm since 1998 and was an Industrial Officer at VicRoads and the Victorian Institute of Technology before becoming an industrial officer for the Finance Sector Union.

Jan Burnswoods: a former NSW upper House MP was an executive member of the New South Wales Teachers' Federation 1986-1991.

Mark Butler: the member for Port Adelaide in the house of reps, he is a former LHMU SA branch secretary.

Anthony Byrne: the Federal member for Holt since 1999 and former SA Branch organiser for the SDA.

Doug Cameron: a senator for NSW representing the Labor party, he is a former AMWU national secretary.

George Campbell: the former Labor Senator for NSW is also a former National Secretary of the Australian Metal Workers Union.

Christine Campbell: the Labor Member for Pascoe Vale in Victoria became Minister for Senior Victorians and Consumer Affairs in 2002. Also a former Victorian Family Services minister who was a branch organiser with the Shop Distributors (SDA).

Bob Carr: the former NSW Premier was a journalist but he also did a stint at the NSW Labor Council.

Kim Carr:
the Victorian Senator and Industry Minister is a former School President of the Technical Teachers Union and twice failed in tilts to become an organiser. Possibly should not be on this list because he's a failed wannabe union organiser who never really got beyond the house committee.

Nick Champion: the federal member for Wakefield in SA is a former SDA official.

Darren Cheeseman: the federal member for Corangamite in Victoria representing the ALP is an ex-CPSU organiser.

Elizabeth Clark: a former Queensland MLA for the seat of Clayfield who was an Industrial Officer with the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

Ralph Clarke:
former South Australian MP who was with the ASU in the 1980s and early 90s. He was once deputy SA opposition leader but then turned independent after the party dumped him following a domestic violence controversy, after which he took the ALP to court over branch-stacking.

Barry Collier: a labor member for Miranda in NSW, is the former President of the Legal Education Teachers' Association of NSW.

Jacinta Collins:
a former Victorian Labor Senator who is also a former SDA Industrial Officer in Victoria.

Greg Combet:
the member for Charlton in federal parliament since 2007, he was secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions between 2000 and 2007.

Pat Conlon: the Labor South Australian Minister, representing Elder since 1997, who was an LHMWU organiser in the late 1980s and, ironically enough given his union pedigree, also has a drink driving conviction.

Stephen Conroy: the Labor Senator from Victoria and Communications Minister who was an organiser with the Transport Workers Union.

Peter Cook: the late WA senator worked for the FCU in Adelaide and became the Secretary of the WA Trades and Labour Council, and vice-president of the ACTU. He was made a Minister in 1988 and a Cabinet Minister in 1990.

Michael Costa:
former NSW Transport Minister and Treasurer who first made his name as secretary of the NSW Labor Council.

Simon Crean: the member for Hotham, former Federal Labor leader and now Trade Minister who was ACTU President and rose up through the Storeman and Packers union.

Trish Crossin:
the Labor Senator in the Northern Territory who was NT Secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union. She has worked for the NTEU, the AEU and the ALHMWU.

Trevor Crothers: the former Labor South Australian MP, and failed independent was a life member of the LHMWU but not sure was ever a paid official.

Yvette D'Ath: the federal member for Petrie in Queensland is a former AWU Queensland branch industrial officer.

Michael Danby:
the federal Member for Melbourne Ports was an industrial Officer for the SDA 1994-96 and also President of the Melbourne University Student Union.

Kaye Darveniza:
the Upper House Victorian Labor MP was secretary of HACSU - HSUA Victorian No 2 Branch for 10 years.

John Della Bosca: former NSW Labor Minister and general secretary who got his start as an organiser for the Transport Officer's Federation.

Ed Dermer:
the North Metropolitan representative in the WA Legislative Council since 1996, who was a full-time union organiser before joining parliament.

Kate Doust: the South Metropolitan Region representative in the WA Legislative Council who was a junior vice-president of the Trades and Labor Council before winning a seat in parliament.

Joanne Duncan: the Victorian Labor member representing Macedon, who was an organiser for the Victorian Independent Education Union.

Michael Egan: the former big spending Treasurer for Bob Carr's government who started out as a federal research officer for the AMIEU from 1969-73 before landing his first political staffer gig and then arriving in Parliament in the late 1980s representing Cronulla.

Sue Ellery: the South Metropolitan Region representative in the WA Legislative Council who was previously an industrial officer in the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union.

Don Farrell: a Labor Senator who was the South Australian secretary and the National President of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association union and a leader of Labor Unity in South Australia.

David Feeney:
as been a Labor member of the senate since July 2008, and is also the assistant national secretary. David is a former federal industrial officer with TWU, and is married to Liberty Sanger who is on our women on Aussie boards list.

Gary Fenlon:
the former Labor member for Greenslopes in the QLD Parliament and a former industrial advocate for the Nurses Union.

Laurie Ferguson:
the Federal Labor backbencher representing Reid in NSW, came up through the Miscellaneous Workers Union like his brother Martin.

Martin Ferguson: a former ACTU President who rose up through the Miscellaneous Workers Union and is now Labor's Resources Minister.

Michael Forshaw: the Labor Senator from NSW who is a former National Secretary of the Australian Workers Union.

Mark Furner: a senator for Queensland, and a former NUW official.

Gail Gago: the former Australian Nursing Union state secretary in SA who, after twice losing in Adelaide and Makin, was elected to the SA upper house in 2002 and is now a junior Labor minister.

Jenny George: former ACTU Secretary who then scored the very safe Labor seat of Throsby in the Illawarra.

Graham Giffard:
the former Labor member of WA Upper house for the North Metropolitan Region and previously an industrial officer with the CFMEU before he entered politics.

Steve Gibbons:
the Labor member for Bendigo was a union officer for four years in the early 90s with the Liquor and Hospitality union.

Brenda Gibbs: the former Queensland Labor senator previously worked for the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union and the Australian Journalists Association.

Julia Gillard: the PM was once president of the National Union of Students.

Mary Gillett: the former Victorian member for Werribee who came from the National Union of Workers.

Monica Gould:
the former Victorian Industrial Relations Minister was with the Manufacturing Grocers Association, which became part of the National Union of Workers.

Larry Graham: former Labor member for Pilbara in WA Parliament since 1989 before being ousted in a factional battle by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. Was a full-time union official before entering politics and then held the seat as an independent.

Alan Griffin: the Federal member for Bruce was an organiser with the Federated Clerks Union and was instrumental in getting Lindsay Tanner elected as Assistant Secretary in 1987.

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Brian Harradine: former Tasmanian Independent Senator who was still President of SDA Tassie Branch whilst in Parliament.

Gabrielle Harrison: former MLA for Parramatta and Sports minister. Was chairperson of Macquarie University Students' Council.

John Hatzistergos:
the attorney-general of NSW was a member of Shop Distributive and Allied Employees' Association 1977 -1983, Australian Government Lawyers' Association 1986 - 1989 and Australia Services Union 1993 to present. Still checking if was ever a full time unionist.

Kerry Hickey: the Labor Minister for Cessnock in NSW Parliament and former President of the Newcastle Milk Vendors Association from 1995 - 1997.

Joe Hockey: the minister for human services was himself a president of the Sydney University Students Representative Council.

John Hogg:
the Queensland Labor senator who is a former QLD State Secretary of the SDA which are a close relative of the old NCC.

Gary Humphries: a liberal senator representing the ACT who once ran the ANU Students Association.
Stephen Hutchins: the NSW Senator who is a former TWU State Secretary and National President.

Morris Iemma: former NSW Premier who started out as an Industrial Officer for the Commonwealth Bank Employees Union.

Sharryn Jackson: federal Labor member for Hasluck in WA. Soon after finishing university she started work as the women's officer at the Trades and Labor Council. Then spent 15 years with the Miscellaneous Workers Union WA (LHMU), the last 10 as assistant secretary.

Gavin Jennings: a minister in the Brumby government who did time with the ETU and the Liquor Trades as well as the Public Transport Union.

Stephanie Key: the South Australian Labor MP representing Ashford who was with the TWU for much of the 1980s and 90s.

Tom Koutsantonis: the South Australian Labor MP representing West Torrens who was with the SDA in the mid 90s.

Telmo Languiller: a Labor Member for Derrimut in Victorian Parliament and a former top dog at the Health Employees Federation after being an organiser in the late 80s early 90s for the Health Services Union of Australia.

Paul Lennon: the former Tasmanian Premier was an organiser, then secretary and senior vice president of the Storeman and Packers Union (Tas Branch), after which he was the secretary of the Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council between (1984-1989) and a member of the ACTU Executive.

Michael Leighton: the former member for Preston in Victorian Parliament and an ex HEF No2 and former HACSU (Health and Community Services Union) Assistant Secretary.

Veronica Lesley: the Queensland MLA for the seat of Aspley elected in March 2001 who was formerly a Professional Officer at Queensland Nurses Union.

Kirsten Livermore: member for Capricornia was an organiser with the Commonwealth Public Service Union before becoming a solicitor and then entering Parliament.

Fran Logan:
the Labor member for Cockburn in the WA Legislative Assembly who worked for the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union from 1986 until being elected to parliament.

Joe Ludwig: the Labor Queensland senator and Special Minister of State who was an industrial advocate with the Queensland branch of the Australian Workers Union under his all-powerful father, Bill Ludwig.

Kate Lundy: a Labor senator for the ACT and a former President of the ACT Labor Council and worked as a builders labourer, then an organiser for the Building Workers Industrial Union (BWIU) (now CFMEU). Was a vice president at the BWIU.

Sue Mackay: former Labor senator who was formerly an organiser for the Liquor and Allied Trades Union in Tassie and an industrial officer for the Community and Public Sector Union.

Jann McFarlane: the former federal Labor member for Stirling who was a founding member of what was then the Australian Social Welfare Union (now the ASU).

Justin Madden: the Victorian Planning Minister who was formerly in charge of the AFL Players Association.

Norm Marlborough:
the former Labor member for Peel in the Legislative Assembly who was a full-time union official before entering parliament.

Richard Marles: the Labor member representing Corio in Victoria was a former ACTU assistant.

Gavin Marshall:
the Victorian Labor Senator who was an Assistant State Secretary with the Electrical Trades Union.

Ian Maxfield: the former Labor member in the Victorian seat of Narracan who in 1986 he became an organiser with the Shop Assistants Union.

Jim McGinty: former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs in WA who was also the key numbers man in the Gallop government. Jim was secretary of the Miscellaneous Workers' Union from 1978 to 1990. He was an industrial officer with the Hospital Employees' Union from 1972 to 1978 and a former Trades and Labor Council advocate in the Industrial Relations Commission.

Sheila McHale: former WA Minister for Community Development, Women's Interests, Seniors, Youth, Disability Services, Culture and the Arts. She worked for the State School Teachers Union of WA before entering politics.

Bob McMullan: the federal Member for Fraser in the ACT who has spent a life time as a party official, union official and MP and is now a key frontbencher.

Frank Mossfield:
former member for Greenway who did the full union career path before finally joining the big retirement house on the hill. After 15 years as a fitter and turner, Frank started as an official at the Australasian Society of Engineers before becoming branch secretary of the Australian Society of Engineers and then federal president. From here he became an executive member of the ACTU and then President of the NSW Labor Council.

Reba Meagher: former Cabramatta MP and Minister in the NSW Parliament and a former TWU official.

Claire Moore: the Queensland Senator who spent 17 years with the Queensland branch of the Commonwealth Public Sector Union (CPSU). Elected secretary in 1993. Elected VP of Queensland ACTU in 1994.

Shayne Murphy: former Labor senator from Tasmania who turned independent when he got fed up with the Regional Forests Agreement. Had been the State Secretary of the CFMEU, formerly the Australian Timber Workers' Union.

Mick Murray:
member for Collie-Preston in the WA Legislative Assembly who was president of the Collie Combined Coalmining Unions' Council.

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Belinda Neal: former NSW senator and federal member for Robertson in NSW since 2007, is also a former FIA official.

Sang Nguyen: former upper house Labor MP in Victoria who was formerly an ethnic organiser with the National Union of Workers before he became mayor of Richmond.

Gordon Nuttall: former Minister in the Beattie government who left in disgrace after extracting cash payments from billionaire Ken Talbot. He was sentenced for corruptly receiving secret commissions in 2009 and jailed for seven years. Formerly a State Organiser for the Queensland Branch of the Electrical Trades Union.

Kerry O'Brien: the Tasmanian senator who was a research officer for the Federated Miscellaneous Workers' Union (1974-82) and then Tasmanian Branch Secretary (1983-1992). Also served as Tasmanian Branch Secretary of the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union (1992-1996), the Vice-President of the Miscellaneous Workers' Division, Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union 1991-96 and, during most of the foregoing period, a Federal Executive Member, Federal Councillor, Federated Miscellaneous Workers' Union/Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union (1983-96).

Michelle O'Byrne: the former federal member for the marginal Tasmanian seat of Bass and a former organiser for the Miscellaneous Workers Union.

Brendan O'Connor: replaced Neil O'Keefe in his safe Victorian seat of Burke, and since 2002 has represented Gorton, was an organiser with the MEU, and then became Assistant National Secretary of the ASU.

Neil O'Keefe: former Federal member for Burke in Victoria who started out as teacher before becoming a union official and then spent 17 years in the Parliament.

John Pandazopoulos: former Gaming Minister in the Bracks Government who was an organiser with the Insurance Employees Union which became part of the Finance Sector Union. Before that he was a manager at a McDonalds store, where he actively promoted membership of the Liquor Trades Union.

Graham Perrett: the federal Labor member for Moreton in Queensland is also a former Queensland Independent Education Union organiser.

Bronwyn Pike: Victorian Minister who came out of the Teachers Unions before working with the Uniting Church and was also once National Industrial Officer with the Finance Sector Union (FSU).

Robert Poole: former Queensland MLA for the seat of Gaven (elected in March 2001) was formerly a Organiser and Workplace Health and Safety Officer for Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union.

Patrick Purcell: the Queensland MLA for Bulimba was formerly Secretary of the Australian Building Construction Employees' and Builders Labourers' Federation (Qld Branch) and Vice President Federal Australian Building Construction Employees, and Builders Labourers' Federation.

Jaye Radisich: the second youngest parliamentarian in WA history who was a delegate to, and executive member of, the National Union of Students and vice-president (Asia-Pacific) of the International Union of Socialist Youth before winning the Legislative Assembly seat of Swan Hills in 2004. She was in office from 2001-2008.

Eric Riper: former WA Treasurer and now opposition leader who was a teacher by profession but served four years as a full-time official with the State School Teachers Union.

Bernie Ripoll: the French-born sparkie got on the fast train to become Federal Member for Oxley by becoming an organiser with the State Public Services Federation of Queensland in the mid 1990s.

Neil Roberts: the Queensland MLA for Nudgee was formerly an Industrial Advocate for Electrical Trades Union.

Terry Roberts: the late South Australian MP who grew up in the rough and tumble of the CFMEU in the 1970s and 80s.

Stephen Robertson: the Queensland Labor Minister for Mines and Energy, representing Stetton, and a former State secretary for the United Fire Fighters Union.

Nicola Roxon: the federal Health Minister who topped law at Melbourne University and then was a Judge's associate but also did the ubiquitous two-year stint in the mid 1990s as an organiser at the National Union of Workers.

Robert Schwarten: is a Labor member for Rockhampton in the QLD Parliament and a former Queensland Teachers Union organiser

Bob Sercombe:
the former federal member for Maribyrnong hails originally from a union and the Victorian Parliament.

Nick Sherry:
a Tasmanian senator since 1990 and junior Minister in the Rudd Government who was the State Secretary of Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Union in Tasmania between 1979-90 and a National Councillor of the Union between 1981-90.

Bill Shorten: member for Maribyrnong and parliamentary secretary for Disability and Children's Services. Shorten was a the former Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union.

Bob Smith: the speaker in the Victorian upper house who was previously with the Australian Workers Union.

Bob Sneath: a MLC in SA and a former AWU state secretary who this year sat on the big red bench vacated by long-serving MLC and former AWU warhorse George Weatherill.

Mike Symon: the federal member for Deakin in Victoria representing Labor was a ETU activist in his past.

Lindsay Tanner: the Federal Finance Minister who has a law and arts degrees but still went off and spent 6 years as assistant secretary and secretary of the Federated Clerks' Union in Victoria.

Brian Tee
raised and educated in Perth, where he worked for three years as a solicitor before moving to Melbourne at the age of 26 in 1995. He subsequently worked for the LHMWU and as an industrial lawyer before he became senior adviser to Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls.

Craig Thomson: a member since 2007, for the Division of Dobell, NSW for the Labor party, is also a former HSU national secretary.

Ian Trezise: a Victorian MLA representing geelong since 1999 and former AWU official.

Joe Tripodi: former Minister in NSW and still serving as Fairfield MP who was once a TWU official.

Ian West: a NSW Labor Upper House member since 2000 became an organizer for the NSW Miscellaneous Workers' Union in 1976. He was elected NSW Assistant Secretary of the LHMU in 1981 and held that role until 2000.

Geoff Wilson:
a member for Ferny Grove in the Queensland Parliament and a former CFMEU official.

Penny Wong: the South Australian Senator and Climate Change minister who was an organiser and Industrial Officer with the CFMEU before serving as the legal officer with the ALHMWU in South Australia and spending some time at the bar as a barrister.

Michael Wright: the South Australian Labor MP representing Lee who was with the AWU from the late 1980s until the mid 90s.

Kim Yeadon: the former NSW Energy Minister who came out of Miscellaneous Workers Union and Electrical Trades union as an organiser and research officer.

Kim Young: member for Moore in WA and a former Assistant Secretary of the CFMEU WA branch.