David Johnston (politician)

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David Johnston
Hires 131022-M-EV637-246-cropped.jpg
Minister for Defence
In office
18 September 2013 – 23 December 2014
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Preceded by Stephen Smith
Succeeded by Kevin Andrews
Minister for Justice and Customs
In office
9 March 2007 – 3 December 2007
Prime Minister John Howard
Preceded by Chris Ellison
Succeeded by Bob Debus (Home Affairs)
Personal details
Born (1956-02-14) 14 February 1956 (age 58)
Perth, Australia
Political party Liberal Party
Other political
affiliations
Coalition
Alma mater University of Western Australia

David Albert Lloyd Johnston (born 14 February 1956) is an Australian politician who has been a Liberal Party member of the Australian Senate since 2002, representing the state of Western Australia. Johnston was the Minister for Defence from 18 September 2013 to 23 December 2014, when he was replaced by Kevin Andrews.[1][2]

Background and career[edit]

Johnston was born in Perth and was educated at University of Western Australia, where he graduated in law. He was a barrister in Kalgoorlie before entering politics,[3] representing companies such as Gold Mines of Kalgoorlie LTD and North Kalgurli Mines LTD.[4] He unsuccessfully contested the House of Representatives at the 1987 federal election, polling 37.3% of first preferences to finish second behind the then Labor incumbent Graeme Campbell in the Division of Kalgoorlie.[5]

Johnston successfully stood for a WA Senate seat in the federal election on 10 November 2001. He assumed office on 1 July 2002 and on 6 March 2007 was made Minister for Justice and Customs (effective 9 March), following the move of former Justice minister Chris Ellison to the Human Services portfolio.[6]

Malcolm Turnbull, on becoming Leader of the Opposition, promoted Johnston to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Defence. In September 2010 he was re-appointed to that role by Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, after the 2010 election.[7]

Following the 2013 federal election, Johnston was sworn in as Minister for Defence, effective 18 September 2013.

Comments on ASC[edit]

In November 2014, Johnston came under fire for comments regarding the government owned defence building company, the Australian Submarine Corporation. In comments to the senate he stated "You wonder why I'm worried about ASC and what they're delivering to the Australian taxpayer, you wonder why I wouldn't trust them to build a canoe?".[8] The South Australian Liberal Party demanded an apology for the senators remarks[9] and the federal Labor opposition called for the senators resignation from the Defence portfolio.[10] Johnston indicated he regretted his comments the next day. Opposition Senate Leader Penny Wong moved a motion to censure Johnston for his remarks on the ASC, as well as his handling of the ADF staff pay cut. The motion passed 37 to 31 votes.[11]

Leaked dinner receipts[edit]

In December 2014, less than a month after his comments on the ASC were made, News Corp leaked images of receipts totalling thousands of dollars allegedly used by Senator Johnston's government issued credit card to pay for the dinners of a number of companies vying for a contract to build the Collins-class submarine replacement project. Items on the receipts came to a total of $6,384 and sometimes cost up to $300 a head as well as including $200 bottles of wine.[12] After the leak was released two staffers from the senators office resigned but neither were accused of being responsible for the leak.[13] A spokesperson for Senator Johnston responded by saying "All hospitality hosted by the Defence Minister and extended to foreign dignitaries or industry heads, including at the time of the Albany Commemoration, has been within guidelines and is consistent with previous defence ministers' practice" and that the senator's office was investigating the leaks and would not comment any further.[14]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Winston Crane
Australian Senator for
Western Australia

2002–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Chris Ellison
Minister for Justice and Customs
2007
Succeeded by
Bob Debus
as Minister for Home Affairs
Preceded by
Stephen Smith
Minister for Defence
2013–2014
Succeeded by
Kevin Andrews