Brian Howe (politician)

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For other people with this name, see Brian Howe (disambiguation).
The Honourable
Brian Howe
8th Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
In office
3 June 1991 – 20 June 1995
Prime Minister Bob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded by Paul Keating
Succeeded by Kim Beazley
Deputy Leader of the Labor Party
In office
3 June 1991 – 20 June 1995
Leader Bob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded by Paul Keating
Succeeded by Kim Beazley
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Batman
In office
10 December 1977 – 29 January 1996
Preceded by Horrie Garrick
Succeeded by Martin Ferguson
Personal details
Born (1936-01-23) 23 January 1936 (age 78)
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Alma mater University of Melbourne
Occupation Minister
Religion Methodist Church of Australasia
Uniting Church

Brian Leslie Howe, AO (born 23 January 1936) is a former Australian politician. He was Deputy Prime Minister in the Labor government of Paul Keating from 1991 to 1995.

Howe was born in Melbourne. He spent his early childhood in the suburb of Malvern and was educated at Melbourne High School and the University of Melbourne. He later studied theology in Chicago (1967–69) and then returned to Australia. He served as a minister with the Methodist Church and the Uniting Church in various parts of VictoriaMorwell, Eltham and Fitzroy.

Howe was elected to the House of Representatives in 1977 representing the northern Melbourne metropolitan electoral Division of Batman. He defeated the incumbent Horrie Garrick for Labor preselection in a hard-fought contest.[1] A member of the Socialist Left faction of the Labor Party, he was Minister for Defence Support in the government of Bob Hawke from 1983. In 1984 he became Minister for Social Security and carried out various radical reforms to Australia's welfare system.[2]

Howe appeared to face significant opposition within his electorate in 1988, when up to 60 members of the Greek Westgarth branch of the ALP defected to join the Australian Democrats. One of the defectors, tram-conductor George Gogas, contested Batman as a Democrat candidate in 1990, but polled only 12.9 per cent of the vote.[3]

After the 1990 election Howe was appointed to the post of Minister for Community Services and Health. When Paul Keating resigned from Cabinet in 1991, Howe succeeded him as Deputy Prime Minister. He became Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services in the Keating government in December 1991, dropping the health part of the portfolio in 1993. In June 1995 he resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and was succeeded by Kim Beazley. He did not stand for re-election at the 1996 election.[2]

The ACTU commissioned Mr Howe to chair their inquiry into insecure work. In this capacity he has spoken widely about the issue to the media and addressed the National Press Club.[4]

Howe is a member of the Patrons Council of the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria.


Howe was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in January 2001,[5] and promoted to Officer level (AO) in January 2008.[6]


  1. ^ Lyle Allan (1978), "Ethnic Politics – Migrant Organization and the Victorian ALP", Ethnic Studies Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 27.
  2. ^ a b "Biography for Howe, the Hon. Brian Leslie". ParlInfo Web. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  3. ^ Ainsley Symons (2012), "The Democrats and Local Government. Were they ever a threat to the ALP?" in Recorder (Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Melbourne Branch) No. 274, Page 7.
  4. ^
  5. ^ It’s an Honour: AM
  6. ^ It’s an Honour: AO
Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Keating
Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
Succeeded by
Kim Beazley
Preceded by
Ian Viner
Minister for Defence Support
Succeeded by
Ros Kelly
Preceded by
Don Grimes
Minister for Social Security
Succeeded by
Graham Richardson
Preceded by
Neal Blewett (community
services and health)

Peter Staples (housing)
Minister for Community Services and Health
Succeeded by
Graham Richardson
Minister for Health, Housing
and Community Services

Preceded by
David Simmons
local government
Minister for Housing, Local Government
and Community Services

Succeeded by
Carmen Lawrence
human services
John Sharp
regional development
Minister for Housing and
Regional Development

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Horrie Garrick
Member for Batman
Succeeded by
Martin Ferguson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Paul Keating
Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party
Succeeded by
Kim Beazley