Bernard Finnigan

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Bernard Finnigan
Minister for Industrial Relations, State / Local Government Relations and Gambling
In office
8 February 2011 – 21 April 2011
Premier Mike Rann
Preceded by Paul Holloway
Succeeded by Patrick Conlon, Gail Gago
Member of the South Australian Legislative Council
Assumed office
2 May 2006
Preceded by Terry Roberts
Personal details
Born 1972
Mount Gambier, South Australia
Political party Australian Labor Party (2006–11)
Independent (2011– )
Alma mater University of Adelaide
Occupation Union official
Religion Roman Catholic

Bernard Vincent Finnigan (born 1972) is an Australian politician. He has been a member of the South Australian Legislative Council since 2006. He was elected as a member of the Australian Labor Party, and briefly served as a minister in the government of State Premier Mike Rann, but was suspended from the party in 2011 after being charged with child pornography offences. He currently sits in the Legislative Council as an independent.

Early life[edit]

One of twelve children, Finnigan was born in 1972 in Mount Gambier, South Australia and grew up in nearby Eight Mile Creek on the family's dairy farm. He attended Allendale East Area School and Tenison Woods College in Mount Gambier before attending the University of Adelaide. In 1993 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. While still at university he joined the Australian Labor Party.[1]

Finnigan began working for the South Australian branch of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association in 1995 as a union official, before becoming the same union's assistant secretary in 2000. This latter position was one he held for five years.[1] There, he was a protégé of future Senator Don Farrell.[2][3]


On 2 May 2006, Finnigan was appointed to the upper house of South Australia's parliament as the Labor Party's choice to fill the remainder of the term left vacant by the death of Terry Roberts,[3] who had been a former Aboriginal Affairs Minister. Finnigan described his own policy interests as including "economic development, industrial relations, federal-state relations, family issues and building social capital".[1] Having participated in a number of parliamentary committees, he served as Parliamentary Secretary to Premier Rann from April 2010 until he was appointed as a Minister.[4] He was third on Labor's upper house ticket at the 2010 election and was subsequently re-elected with an eight-year term, expiring in 2018.[1][5]

A Catholic, Finnigan is a member of the ALP's right-wing (Labor Unity) faction. In his maiden speech on 8 May 2006 Finnigan told the Parliament that "I am a servant of Christ and subject of His reign in history".[3][6] During June 2008 on a conscience vote, he was among a number of Labor MLCs who joined Liberal and Family First MLCs to vote down an amendment to give same-sex couples legal access to gestational surrogacy.[7] Finnigan has opposed the legalisation of euthanasia.[8] In 2009 he was described as "one of the most influential figures in Parliament" and a likely backbench candidate for the ministry, after the promotion of Tom Koutsantonis.[9]

Promoted to the Rann cabinet on 8 February 2011, Finnigan was appointed to several ministerial portfolios simultaneously: Industrial Relations, State/Local Government Relations, and Gambling. As well as those, he became the ALP's leader in the Legislative Council,[10] and served as acting police minister while Kevin Foley, the serving police minister, was overseas.[2]

Criminal charges and ministerial resignation[edit]

Finnigan resigned as a minister and as a member of the South Australian Executive Council on 21 April 2011.[2][11] The night before his resignation, Finnigan was arrested and charged with four child pornography offences.[12][13] Premier Mike Rann requested that Finnigan be suspended from the Australian Labor Party while his case was before the courts, with the suspension endorsed by the party's state executive on 3 May 2011.[14] As the alleged offences are considered a sex crime, South Australian law prohibited publication of his name in connection with the charges until he had entered a plea. He was committed for trial pleading not guilty,[15] and remains a member of parliament.[16]

The four charges he originally faced were dropped in favour for seven counts of obtaining access to child pornography and five for possession, some counts of which are aggravated by the alleged age of the children depicted.[17] On 29 June 2012, Finnigan was charged with 14 additional counts of obtaining access to child pornography, seven of them aggravated to be heard in the District Court of South Australia before a jury.[18]

On 24 September 2012, Finnigan was committed to stand trial on five aggravated counts of taking steps to obtain child pornography and one aggravated count of obtaining child pornography,[19] at which point the statutory suppression on naming the accused within South Australia expired.[20] Eight other charges were dropped.[20] Five of the six charges of taking steps to obtain access to child pornography were dismissed by the magistrate handling the case on 13 May 2013.[21] In June 2013 prosecutors refiled previously dismissed charges against Finnigan.[22]

Finnigan is now charged with one count of obtaining access to child pornography, and one count of attempting to access child pornography. He will stand trial in April 2015.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d "Profile: Hon Bernard Finnigan". Parliament of South Australia. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Kelton, Greg (22 April 2011). "Minister's resignation rocks Labor government". Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "How the drama unfolded". InDependent Daily. 24 October 2008. pp. 4–5. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Compass Newsletter – Issue 8". Department of Planning and Local Government. 15 April 2011. p. 7. Mr Finnigan... was Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier from April 2010 until his appointment as Minister on 8 February 2011. 
  5. ^ "Australian Labor Party". 2010 Legislative Council Candidates – Voting Tickets. Electoral Commission South Australia. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Bernard Finnigan (8 May 2006). |chapter-url= missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). South Australia: Legislative Council. pp. 108–111. 
  7. ^ Joanna Vaughan (19 June 2008). "Gay couples lose surrogacy access". AdelaideNow (News Limited). Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  8. ^ Christopher Pearson (7 November 2009). "Embroiled in a lethal argument". The Australian. 
    Michael Owen (26 March 2011). "Right MPs warn against euthanasia push". The Australian. 
  9. ^ Greg Kelton (4 March 2009). "ALP's new Dons make their play". The Advertiser. 
  10. ^ The Hon M.D. Rann, Premier (8 February 2011). |chapter-url= missing title (help). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). South Australia: House of Assembly. 
  11. ^ "Rann makes portfolio changes". ABC News. 21 April 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "Minister's Child Porn Charges". Daily Telegraph. 21 April 2011. Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Finnigan was charged with one aggravated count of possessing child pornography, another of possession of child pornography, and two counts of taking steps to obtain child pornography. 
  13. ^ "Rann to speak about scandal". Canberra Times. 27 April 2011. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. South Australian Premier Mike Rann says he will make a major statement to state parliament next week on the arrest of a Labor MP on child pornography charges. Bernard Finnigan quit as industrial relations minister last week after being charged with four offences. 
  14. ^ "MP suspended". Townsville Bulletin. 3 May 2011. Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. A SOUTH Australian Labor MP charged with child pornography offences has been suspended from the ALP. The party state executive unanimously endorsed the move against former industrial relations minister Bernard Finnigan yesterday after a request from Premier Mike Rann. 
  15. ^ Tim Dick (23 April 2011). "Nonsensical law keeps state in the dark". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. 
  16. ^ Daniel Wills, Sarah Martin (8 June 2011). "Former State Cabinet minister Bernard Finnigan turns up at South Australia Parliament". AdelaideNow. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "State MP faces aggravated new child pornography charges". AdelaideNow. 29 June 2012. 
  19. ^ "SA Labor MP Bernard Finnigan ordered to stand trial over child pornography". AdelaideNow. 24 September 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "MP on child porn charges now named". ABC Online. 24 September 2012. 
  21. ^ "Most charges thrown out in MP porn case". ABC News. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  22. ^ "Prosecutors refile child pornography charge against Bernard Finnigan". AdelaideNow. 17 June 2013. 
  23. ^ SA MP Bernard Finnigan will stand trial on child pornography charges in April 2015, almost four years after his arrest: The Advertiser 31 July 2014

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