Joel Fitzgibbon

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The Honourable
Joel Fitzgibbon
JoelFitz.JPG
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
In office
2 July 2013 – 18 September 2013
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Joe Ludwig
Succeeded by Barnaby Joyce
Chief Government Whip in the House of Representatives
In office
27 September 2010 – 14 May 2013
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Preceded by Roger Price
Succeeded by Chris Hayes
Minister for Defence
In office
3 December 2007 – 4 June 2009
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Brendan Nelson
Succeeded by John Faulkner
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Hunter
Incumbent
Assumed office
2 March 1996
Preceded by Eric Fitzgibbon
Personal details
Born Joel Andrew Fitzgibbon
(1962-01-16) 16 January 1962 (age 52)
Bellingen, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Website JoelFitzgibbon.com

Joel Andrew Fitzgibbon (born 16 January 1962) is an Australian politician and Australian Labor Party member of the Australian House of Representatives since March 1996, representing the Division of Hunter in New South Wales. From December 2007 to June 2009 he was the Minister for Defence in the First Rudd Ministry. He resigned from cabinet in June 2009 after several controversies related to his ministerial conduct.[1] In July 2013, following Kevin Rudd's election as Labor Leader, he was appointed the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in the Second Rudd Ministry.

Background[edit]

Fitzgibbon was born in Bellingen, New South Wales, and is the son of Eric Fitzgibbon who was MP for Hunter 1984–96. Before entering politics Fitzgibbon was an automotive electrician, electorate officer, part-time technical education lecturer and small business operator. He was a member of the Cessnock City Council in the period 1987–95.

Political career[edit]

Eric Fitzgibbon retired before the 1996 election, and Joel won Labor preselection for the seat. Hunter is one of Labor's few country strongholds; it has been in Labor hands without interruption since 1910. While Fitzgibbon suffered a seven-point swing in 1996, he has been reelected with little trouble since then, with the exception of the 2013 election, where his margin was significantly reduced.

Fitzgibbon was elected to the Opposition Shadow Ministry in October 1998 and was appointed Shadow Minister for Mining, Energy and Forestry in 2003–05. In June 2005 he was appointed Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Revenue and for Small Business and Competition. In early December 2006, when Kevin Rudd became Leader of the Opposition, Fitzgibbon was appointed Shadow Minister for Defence. He was subsequently appointed Minister for Defence when Labor won office at the 2007 federal election.[2]

Minister for Defence[edit]

In 2008 Fitzgibbon expressed dissatisfaction with an unclassified briefing he received on an assessment of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). He subsequently ordered and received a classified report that addressed his concerns, and then expressed confidence in the JSF project.[3] In the same interview, he also denied personal involvement in the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raid on the home of Canberra Times' journalist Philip Dorling, although he did not guarantee that his department had not contacted the AFP.[3] Dorling was accused of receiving confidential cabinet documents intended for Fitzgibbon.[4]

On 22 October 2008 Fitzgibbon instructed the Department of Defence to cease debt recovery procedures against SAS soldiers that had been accidentally overpaid. A subsequent audit by KPMG discovered that the soldiers' pay continued to be docked after the ministerial instruction.[5]

Controversy[edit]

On 26 March 2009, Fairfax Media newspapers reported that officers in the Department of Defence had conducted a covert and unauthorised investigation into Fitzgibbon's friendship with a Chinese-Australian businesswoman in the belief that it constituted a security risk. This was alleged to have included officers from the Defence Signals Directorate accessing the computer network in Fitzgibbon's office to obtain the woman's bank details.[6][7] The Department launched an urgent inquiry into the reports. Nick Warner, the Department's Secretary, stated that he had not seen any information to confirm the claims and that there were no circumstances in which secret investigations into Ministers could be authorised.[8] Fitzgibbon was reported to be "furious" about the investigation, and has suggested that it may have been conducted by officials opposed to his reforms to the Australian Defence Organisation.[7][9]

Fitzgibbon resigned as Minister for Defence on 4 June 2009 after admitting that meetings held between his brother, the head of the health fund NIB, and Defence officials concerning business opportunities had breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct.[10]

In 2013 Fitzgibbon reflected on his term as Defence Minister and said that the defence chiefs had an obsession for the JSF, and refused to consider other alternatives.[11]

43rd Parliament[edit]

Following his reelection in the 2010 Federal election, Fitzgibbon was elected by the Labor Caucus as Chief Government Whip.[12]

Following the June 2013 Labor leadership spill, Fitzgibbon was appointed as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in the Second Rudd Ministry.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sharp, Ari (4 June 2009). "Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon resigns". The Age (Australia). Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Rudd hands out portfolios". ABC News (Australia). 29 November 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Fitzgibbon, Joel (24 September 2008). Joel Fitzgibbon joins Lateline (transcript). Interview with Leigh Sales. Lateline. ABC TV. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Veness, Peter (23 September 2008). "Police raid home of Canberra Times journalist Philip Dorling". Herald Sun. AAP. 
  5. ^ Blenkin, Max (31 March 2009). "Govt reveals SAS pay bungle details". Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Rodgers, Emma (26 March 2009). "Defence investigating Fitzgibbon spying claims". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 26 March 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Baker, Richard; Dorling, Philip; McKenzie, Nick (26 March 2009). "Defence leaks dirt file on own minister". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2009. 
  8. ^ Rodgers, Emma (26 March 2009). "'No information' to support Fitzgibbon spy claims". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 26 March 2009. 
  9. ^ Snow, Deborah (26 March 2009). "Reforms behind Liu leak: minister". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2009. 
  10. ^ Rodgers, Emma (4 June 2009). "Fitzgibbon resigns as Defence Minister". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 4 June 2009. 
  11. ^ Lester, Tim (20 February 2013). "Defence chiefs 'obsessed' with troubled fighter jet: Fitzgibbon". The Border Mail (Australia). Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "Biography for FITZGIBBON, the Hon. Joel Andrew". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Eric Fitzgibbon
Member for Hunter
1996–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Brendan Nelson
Minister for Defence
2007–2009
Succeeded by
John Faulkner
Preceded by
Joe Ludwig
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
2013
Succeeded by
Barnaby Joyce (as Minister for Agriculture)