Current Federal Parliamentary Party Leaders

Each political party represented in the Federal Parliament elects leaders in each house.

Just as the government is decided in the House of Representatives, so the parties elect their leaders and deputy leaders from amongst their representatives in the House. If the party is not represented in the lower house, its leader will be chosen from amongst its members in the Senate.

House of Representatives
Party Leader Deputy Leader
Liberal Party John Howard
Member for Bennelong (NSW)
Peter Costello
Member for Higgins (Vic)
National Party Mark Vaile
Member for Lyne (NSW)
Warren Truss
Member for Wide Bay (Qld)
Australian Labor Party Kevin Rudd
Member for Griffith (Qld)
Julia Gillard
Member for Lalor (Vic)


The major parties also elect leaders and deputy leaders in the Senate. These people form part of the leadership group and act as the focal point for their parties in the upper house.

For example, the current Liberal Party leader in the Senate, Nick Minchin, is referred to as the Government Leader in the Senate. Senator Chris Evans is referred to as the Opposition Leader in the Senate.

Senate
Party Leader Deputy Leader
Liberal Party Senator Nick Minchin
(South Australia)
Senator Helen Coonan
(New South Wales)
National Party Senator Ron Boswell
(Queensland)
Senator Nigel Scullion
(Northern Territory)
Australian Labor Party Senator Chris Evans
(Western Australia)
Senator Stephen Conroy
(Victoria)
Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett
(Queensland)
Senator Lyn Allison
(Victoria)
Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown
(Tasmania)
Family First Senator Steve Fielding
(Victoria)


Footnote: Convention dictates that the official leader of the main parties will be a member of the House of Representatives. In 1968, following the death of its Prime Minister, Harold Holt, the Liberal Party chose its upper house leader, Senator John Gorton, as the new prime minister. Gorton immediately resigned his Senate seat and contested the by-election for Holt’s lower house electorate, Higgins. Thus, Australia had a prime minister for several weeks who was not a member of either house. This is allowed for in Section 64 of the Constitution.


Howard Ministry; Nelson To Defence; Nats Lose; Turnbull Tapped

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced changes to his ministry, moving Brendan Nelson from Education to Defence and promoting the Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, into Cabinet as Education Minister. The PM has also promoted Mal Brough from Assistant Treasurer into Cabinet to replace Kay Patterson as Minister for a revamped Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

The National Party’s De-Anne Kelly has been dropped from the Ministry and becomes a Parliamentary Secretary, as a result of yesterday’s defection of Nationals Senator Julian McGauran to the Liberal Party. In a move that will cause further angst for the junior coalition partner, the Nationals lose a place in the ministry but gain an additional Parliamentary Secretary’s position. Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile remains Minister for Trade.

Other major positions in the government remain unchanged, with Peter Costello (Treasurer), Alexander Downer (Foreign Affairs), Tony Abbott (Health), Nick Minchin (Finance), Philip Ruddock (Attorney-General) and Kevin Andrews (Workplace Relations) all unchanged.

Senator Amanda Vanstone has had her wings clipped. She retains Immigration but loses Indigenous Affairs which goes to Mal Brough’s expanded Families portfolio. [Read more…]


Coonan Signals New Media Ownership Laws

The Federal Communications Minister, Senator Helen Coonan, has revealed she is considering changes to media ownership laws that would allow a single company to own newspapers and radio and television stations in the same market.

CoonanAddressing the National Press Club in Canberra, Coonan outlined technological changes which she argued have altered the media playing field. She said: “The evolution of media presents both challenges and opportunities for the industry that, in my view, mean we cannot stand still. Digital technologies allow completely new ways of packaging and delivering audio-visual services, entertainment and information.” [Read more…]


Howard Under Pressure As Polls Show Slipping Support

Prime Minister John Howard has conceded that his government has experienced the worst weeks of its 5 years in office.

Sunday TelegraphSunday MailIn the wake of the massive coalition defeats in the Western Australian and Queensland elections over the past two weeks, the media is today full of a spate of new opinion polls which show that Howard and his deputy, John Anderson, are both in danger of losing their seats.

A poll published in the Sunday Telegraph shows support for Anderson in his NSW rural seat of Gwydir at 29%, down from the 46.1% the National Party leader polled in 1998.

The poll has the ALP on 33% (up 7%) and One Nation on 27% (up 6%). The poll suggests that the ALP would win the seat on preferences. Anderson won the seat on preferences in 1998, securing 63.58% of the two-party-preferred vote. The ALP last held Gwydir between 1937-49.

Anderson faces a strong threat from One Nation, but may also be opposed by the independent State MP, Tony Windsor. Anderson has committed himself to placing One Nation last on his how-to-vote cards, a move that is certain to invite retaliation from the Hanson forces.

There is no doubt that Anderson is in grave danger, as are other National Party members, including Arts Minister, Peter McGauran, in the Victorian electorate of Gippsland, and Larry Anthony, the Minister for Family Services, in the NSW electorate of Richmond. [Read more…]


Meg Lees On Parliamentary Reform: The Baby And The Bathwater

The following speech on parliamentary reform was given by Senator Meg Lees, Leader of the Australian Democrats, to the Sydney Institute.

Senator Meg LeesThere are many Australians who believe that our electoral system needs to change.

I am one of them.

The fact is that there are problems with our democracy, and the eve of the Centenary of Federation is an appropriate time to address them. However, in doing so, we should acknowledge, upfront, that in comparison to many other nations, Australia enjoys a healthy, stable and robust democracy.

We can work to make it better, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. [Read more…]