John Aquilina

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The Hon
John Aquilina
AM
Member for Riverstone
In office
25 May 1991 – 26 March 2011
Preceded by Richard Amery
Succeeded by Kevin Conolly
Member for Blacktown
In office
19 September 1981 – 3 May 1991
Preceded by Gordon Barnier
Succeeded by Pam Allan
Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
In office
29 April 2003 – 7 May 2007
Preceded by John Murray
Succeeded by Richard Torbay
Minister for Fair Trading and
Minister for Land and Water Conservation
In office
21 November 2001 – 2 April 2003
Preceded by John Watkins
(Fair Trading)
Richard Amery
(Land and Water Conservation)
Succeeded by Reba Meagher
(Fair Trading)
Craig Knowles
(Natural Resources)
Minister for Education and Training
In office
4 April 1995 – 21 November 2001
Preceded by Virginia Chadwick (Education, Training and Youth Affairs)
Succeeded by John Watkins
Minister for Youth and Community Services and
Assistant Minister for Ethnic Affairs
In office
4 July 1986 – 21 March 1988
Preceded by Peter Anderson
Succeeded by Virginia Chadwick
(Family and Community Services)
Terry Metherell (Education and Youth Affairs)
Minister for Natural Resources
In office
6 February 1986 – 4 July 1986
Preceded by Janice Crosio
Succeeded by Janice Crosio
(Water Resources)
Jack Hallam (Forests)
Personal details
Born (1950-03-12) 12 March 1950 (age 64)
Malta
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Anne (dec'd);
Ann (m 13 May 2006)
Children Three;
Bede and Jeremy (m); Bridget (f)
Website NSW Parliamentary website

John Joseph Aquilina (born 12 March 1950, in Malta), a former Australian politician, is a former member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing the electorate of Blacktown between 1981 and 1991 and the electorate of Riverstone between 1991 and 2011 for the Australian Labor Party.

Between 1986 and 1988 and again between 1995 and 2003, he served in a range of ministerial portfolios including Minister for Natural Resources and Minister for Youth and Community Services in the Wran and Unsworth Labor governments and Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Fair Trading, and Minister for Land and Water Conservation in the Carr Labor government.

From 2003 to 2007, he was Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly, and was Leader of the House from 2007 until his retirement in 2011.

Early years and background[edit]

In 1956, aged 12 years, Aquilina migrated from Malta to Australia with his parents and younger brother.[1] Studying at the University of Sydney, Aquilina completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education in 1971 and was a member of the University of Sydney Regiment between 1968 and 1970, although did not see active duty. He commenced teaching as a high school teacher, initially in a country location before returning to Sydney. Whilst at university in 1970, Aquilina joined the Blacktown Branch of the Australian Labor Party.[1][2] In 1974, he became an Australian citizen.[3]

In 1977, he was elected as an alderman to Blacktown City Council representing the Labor Party up until 1983; and went on to become Mayor of the Council between 1977 and 1981. In 1979, he was appointed a member of the Ethnic Affairs Commission of New South Wales (now the Community Relations Commission of New South Wales) and at various times has held positions with the State Records Authority (2003–2006); Sydney Grammar School Board of Trustees; appointed a Fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney; an Honorary Associate of the University of Sydney Graduate School of Government; a member of the Advisory Board of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music; a Life Member of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children and a member of Blacktown City Lions Club.[2]

Aquilina married Anne Michelle Sutcliffe in 1977, and together they had two sons. Following the death of Anne Sutcliffe in 2003, he remarried Ann Elizabeth Moran in 2006.[1]

New South Wales political career[edit]

Elected as Member for Blacktown in 1981, Aquilina held a number of junior portfolios including Chair of various committees before being appointed Minister for Natural Resources in the Wran government in 1986. In that same year, following the retirement of Wran and Unsworth becoming Premier, Aquilina was appointed Minister for Youth and Community Services and Assistant Minister for Ethnic Affairs. He held these portfolios up until the 1988 state election when Labor lost government to the Greiner-Murray Liberal-National coalition.[2]

In opposition, Aquilina held the shadow portfolios of Education and Training, Youth and Ethnic Affairs.

In 1990, following an electoral redistribution, a new electorate of Mount Druitt was created. Richard Amery moved to contest this new safe Labor seat. Aquilina decided to contest Amery's old seat of Riverstone; and Pam Allan contest Aquilina's old seat of Blacktown. Aquilina was successful at the 1991 state election and has subsequently defended the seat at the 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections.

Following the election of the Carr Labor government in 1995, Aquilina was appointed Minister for Education and Training (a position he held for over six years) and also Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs (over four years). In 2001, he was appointed Minister for Land and Water Conservation and Minister for Fair Trading. Aquilina held both these position until the retirement of John Murray, when he assumed the position of Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 2003.

After the 2007 state election, there was considerable political pressure for the appointment of an independent Speaker. Aquilina stood aside in favour of independent Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay.[4]

In 2007, he became Leader of the House. On 25 October 2010, Aquilina announced that he would not be contesting the next state election.[1][5]

Controversy[edit]

In the 1982 John Aquilina wrote in the Daily Mirror that it was his electorate's and his personal view that homosexuality should not be decriminalised in New South Wales and he would vote against it in any case. Gay rights activists Garry Wotherspoon and fabian Lo Schiavo confronted him with a petition with 132 against his stance which was shown on ABC's Four Corners program. He has voted against any legislation in favour of homosexual rights since.[citation needed]

In March 2010, it was reported that Aquilina's 25–year old son, Jeremy, was charged with five counts of sexual assault and one count of indecency on a 22–year old woman in a park in St Clair in western Sydney.[6][7]

On 10 April 2001 John Aquilina raised the issue in parliament of a foiled plot by a high school student to replicate the Columbine High School Massacre. He alleged that the student's diary contained plans to kill fellow students and teachers. His staff embellished the story, telling reporters the student had access to a gun. On this, the Police Commissioner contradicted Aquilina's version of events, and the boy's family subsequently threatened the sue the Government.[8]

Aquilina was later the subject of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigation that explored possible false statements to the media and political interference in police procedures.[9] The investigation concluded in August 2001 and found no evidence of corrupt conduct. However, Aquilina relinquished the Education and Training portfolio in late 2001 and was shifted to the Ministries of Land and Water Conservation, and Fair Trading.

Railway overpass[edit]

Riverstone is one of the few suburbs left in the Sydney region with a level crossing with old-fashioned boom gates. On 28 February 2008, Aquilina made a private members statement, reaffirming the Labor Party's commitment to build a railbridge overpass at the current level crossing at Garfield Road East, Riverstone. There has been much scepticism whether the bridge will be built, particularly from the conservative side of politics, as Aqulina concludes in his speech "... by stating emphatically once again that the Government will go ahead with the elimination of the level crossing and the construction of the overpass despite the claims by the Member for Hawkesbury"[10] As at 24 October 2014, the railway overpass is yet to be constructed with planning still under way.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Election shock: John Aquilina says farewell to Riverstone". Blacktown Advocate (Australia). 25 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Hon. John Joseph Aquilina MP". Members of the Legislative Assembly. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  3. ^ Aquilina, John (4 November 1981). "Maiden Speech". Hansard. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  4. ^ "Iemma's surprise: an independent Speaker". The Sydney Morning Herald. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  5. ^ Nicholls, Sean (25 October 2010). "John Aquilina to stand down in March". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  6. ^ Hall, Louise (11 March 2010). "Aquilina's son charged with sexual assault". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  7. ^ "MP's son assaulted woman in park, court hears". ABC News (Australia). 29 March 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  8. ^ Peacock, Matt (20 April 2001). "John Aquilina under the gun" (transcript). AM (Australia). Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  9. ^ "Report on an investigation into matters arising from a Ministerial Statement to the Legislative Assembly on 10 April 2001". Independent Commission Against Corruption. 20 April 2001. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  10. ^ Aquilina, John (28 February 2008). "Private Members Statements: Riverstone Railway Level Crossing". Hansard. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  11. ^ Minister for Transport and Roads (16 June 2010). "Riverstone Rail Overpass". Hansard. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 

External links[edit]

Civic offices
Preceded by
Peter Shinnick
Mayor of Blacktown
1977 – 1981
Succeeded by
James Lynch
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Gordon Barnier
Member for Blacktown
1981 – 1991
Succeeded by
Pam Allan
Preceded by
Richard Amery
Member for Riverstone
1991 – 2011
Succeeded by
Kevin Conolly
Preceded by
John Murray
Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly
2003 – 2007
Succeeded by
Richard Torbay
Political offices
Preceded by
Janice Crosio
Minister for Natural Resources
1986
Succeeded by
Janice Crosio
as Minister for Water Resources
Succeeded by
Jack Hallam
as Minister for Forests
Preceded by
Peter Anderson
Minister for Youth and Community Services
1986 – 1988
Succeeded by
Virginia Chadwick
as Minister for Family and Community Services
Succeeded by
Terry Metherell
as Minister for Education and Youth Affairs
Preceded by
Virginia Chadwick
as Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs
Minister for Education and Training
1995 – 2001
Succeeded by
John Watkins
Preceded by
Richard Amery
Minister for Land and Water Conservation
2001 – 2003
Succeeded by
Craig Knowles
as Minister for Natural Resources
Preceded by
John Watkins
Minister for Fair Trading
2001 – 2003
Succeeded by
Reba Meagher