Frank Walker (Australian politician)
|41st Attorney General of New South Wales|
14 May 1976 – 1 February 1983
|Preceded by||John Maddison|
|Succeeded by||Paul Landa|
|Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Georges River
19 September 1970 – 22 February 1988
|Preceded by||Douglas Cross|
|Succeeded by||Terry Griffiths|
|Member of the Australian Parliament
24 March 1990 – 2 March 1996
|Preceded by||Barry Cohen|
|Succeeded by||Jim Lloyd|
7 July 1942|
|Died||12 June 2012
|Political party||Australian Labor Party|
|Alma mater||University of Sydney
Francis John Walker, QC (7 July 1942 – 12 June 2012) was an Australian politician and judge. He was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing Georges River between 1970 and 1988 and subsequently a member of the Australian House of Representatives representing Robertson between 1990 and 1996, both for the Australian Labor Party. During his parliamentary careers, Walker held a range of ministerial responsibilities. He was the first New South Wales Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and was responsible for some of the first legislation that recognized the obligation to financially compensate indigenous Australians for the loss of their land.
Walker was born in Sydney and spent early formative years with his father, a blacklisted communist, and Walker's brother in a jungle village in Papua New Guinea. Aged 12, the family moved to the New South Wales north coast regional centre of Coffs Harbour where he completed his secondary schooling. As a teenager, he was beaten by police for sitting with Aborigines in the segregated part of the local theatre. Walker developed early empathy for the budding Aboriginal rights movement.
He graduated from the University of Sydney in 1964, with an LLB, progressing to an LLM in 1969. An articled clerk from 1960 to 1965, a solicitor from 1965 to 1976 and a barrister from 1976 to 1988, he was appointed as a Queens Counsel in 1981.
New South Wales political career
A prominent figure of the left-wing, Walker was elected as the member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1970 to 1988, representing Georges River for the Australian Labor Party. He became the Attorney General with the election of Neville Wran's government in 1976 and was the youngest person to have held this post, aged 34. During his term as Attorney General between 1976 to 1983, Walker was notable for a reform agenda that included the first state-based land rights legislation, repealing the Summary Offences Act (NSW), which allowed police to act with impunity against the poor and homeless, major changes to the so-called "rape" laws, and opening up corporate fraud to greater scrutiny. Walker suffered a number of reprisals as a result of his reform agenda.
He served as Minister for Justice from 1978 to 1983, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs from 1981 to 1984, Minister for Youth and Community Services from 1983 to 1986, Minister for Housing from 1983 to 1988 and Minister for the Arts from 1986 to 1988. When the Unsworth government was defeated at the 1988 poll, he lost his seat.
Federal political career
Walker was elected as the member for Robertson in the Federal Parliament in 1990. He was Special Minister of State and Vice-President of the Executive Council from March 1993 to March 1994 and then Minister for Administrative Services until the defeat of the Keating government in 1996, when he also lost his seat.
Career after politics
Frank Walker served as a Judge of the Compensation Court of New South Wales between 1997 and 2003. On the abolition of the Compensation Court in 2003, he was appointed to the District Court of New South Wales and the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales. His caseload in Dust Diseases Tribunal predominantly consisted of mesothelioma-related cases, and he retired in 2006.
Walker died of cancer, aged 69. His family accepted the offer of a state funeral that was held on 19 June 2012 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and was attended by several hundred people, including former Prime Minister Paul Keating, and three ex-premiers, including Nick Greiner, Aborigines, lawyers, judges (including former High Court Judge, Mary Gaudron QC), party faithful, unionists, friends and family. Michael Gallacher MLC represented the NSW Premier, and Anthony Albanese MP represented the Prime Minister.
- Snow, Deborah (14 June 2012). "Labor MP made battlers' rights his passion". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- "The Hon. (Frank) Francis John Walker (1942 – 2012)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. 15 September 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- Ireland, Judith (13 June 2012). "Frank Walker dies at 69". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- "Walker, the Hon. Francis (Frank) John, QC". Parlinfo Web. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 21 February 2010.
- http://www.medicolegal.org.au/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=45[dead link][dead link]
- Humphries, David (20 June 2012). "Activist politician delivered a better future for others". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 June 2012.