|Senator for Tasmania|
13 December 1975 – 30 June 2005
9 January 1935 |
Quorn, South Australia
Richard William Brian Harradine (born 9 January 1935) was an Australian politician who served as an independent member of the Australian Senate, from 1975 to 2005, representing the state of Tasmania. He was the longest-serving independent federal politician in Australian history and a Father of the Senate.
Harradine was born in Quorn, South Australia before moving to Tasmania in 1959. He worked as an official for the Federated Clerks Union and then went on to serve as Secretary-General of the Tasmanian Trades and Labour Council from 1964 to 1976 and, by virtue of this position, a member of the executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
While a member of the Australian Labor Party, Harradine's social conservative politics, driven by his Roman Catholic background, made him a prime target for accusations of sympathy for the Democratic Labor Party. His own accusation, in 1968, that "friends of communists" were out to get him led to a bitter fight. He was censured by the ACTU in a move headed by Ray Gietzelt, and later expelled from the ALP by the Federal Executive. Gough Whitlam (then in charge of the ALP Opposition, and seeking to rebut allegations that Labor was "soft on communism") risked his own power when he tried to save Harradine from expulsion. This attempt resulted in Whitlam being faced with a leadership challenge from the overtly left-wing Jim Cairns. Whitlam survived the challenge, but only just: his winning margin was a mere five votes.
Harradine decided to contest the 1975 election as an independent for the Senate. He won comfortably. Thereafter he remained a senator until deciding not to contest the 2004 election. His term expired on 30 June 2005.
Harradine was a particularly important figure in the Senate between 1994 and 1999. (See Australian Senate for the Senate numbers.) From December 1994 to March 1996, the makeup of the Senate meant that Harradine's vote combined with that of Labor and the Australian Democrats was just enough to pass Labor government legislation, making his support extremely valuable to either side of politics. Then, after the March 1996 elections and the resignation from the Labor Party by the disgraced Colston, Harradine's and Colston's votes were sufficient to pass Coalition legislation, notably the Native Title Amendment Act 1998 (also known as the "Wik 10 Point Plan") and the partial privatisation of Telstra. After 1 July 1999, the Coalition needed four extra votes to pass Senate legislation, so Harradine's vote became less important.
- Rimon, Wendy: Brian Harradine, The Companion to Tasmanian History, University of Tasmania, 2006.
- Green, Antony: Retiring MPs, 2004 Federal Election Guide, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2004.
- United Voice, SMH Obituary
- Scott, Keith (1999). Gareth Evans. Melbourne: Allen & Unwin. p. 68. ISBN 1-86448-714-3.
- Grattan, Michelle: "Harradine and the political power of one", The Age, 30 June 2004.
|Father of the Australian Senate
with Mal Colston (1993–1999)