Linda Burney

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The Honourable
Linda Burney
Linda Burney MP.jpg
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Canterbury
Assumed office
Preceded by Kevin Moss
Majority 8.3%
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
8 April 2011
Leader John Robertson
Luke Foley
Preceded by Andrew Stoner
Minister for the State Plan
In office
8 December 2009 – 28 March 2011
Minister for Community Services
In office
8 September 2008 – 28 March 2011
Preceded by Kevin Greene
Minister for Women
In office
14 September 2009 – 4 December 2009
Preceded by Verity Firth
Succeeded by Verity Firth
Minister for Fair Trading
In office
2 April 2007 – 5 September 2008
Preceded by Diane Beamer
Succeeded by Virginia Judge
Minister for Youth
In office
2 April 2007 – 5 September 2008
Preceded by Reba Meagher
Succeeded by Graham West
Minister for Volunteering
In office
2 April 2007 – 5 September 2008
Preceded by New portfolio
Succeeded by Graham West
Personal details
Born (1957-04-25) 25 April 1957 (age 58)
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Rick Farley (dec'd)
Children 1 (m); 1 (f)
Occupation Teacher
Website Parliamentary webpage

Linda Jean Burney (born 25 April 1957[1]), an Australian politician, is a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing Canterbury for the Australian Labor Party since 2003. Upon her election, she became the first Aboriginal person to serve in the New South Wales Parliament.[2]

Burney is the New South Wales Deputy Leader of the Opposition and also Shadow Minister for Education and Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.[3] In the Keneally ministry, she was the Minister for the State Plan and Minister for Community Services. During 2008 and 2009, Burney was National President of the Australian Labor Party.[4][5]

Early life and background[edit]

Burney is of Wiradjuri descent and grew up in Whitton, a small town in south west NSW near Leeton.

In her inaugural speech to Parliament she said:

I did not grow up knowing my Aboriginal family. I met my father, Nonny Ingram, in 1984. His first words to me were, "I hope I don't disappoint you." I have now met 10 brothers and sisters. We grew up 40 minutes apart. That was the power of racism and denial in the fifties that was so overbearing. I now have two sets of brothers and sisters. I was raised by my old aunt and uncle, Nina and Billy Laing. They were brother and sister. These old people gave me the ground on which I stand today—the values of honesty, loyalty and respect.[6]

Burney attended the local primary school in Whitton. She did her first four years of secondary school at Leeton High School and final two at Penrith High School. She was the first Aboriginal graduate from the then Mitchell College of Advanced Education where she obtained a Diploma of Teaching.

She began her career teaching at Lethbridge Park public school in western Sydney in 1979. She has been involved in the New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group since the mid-1980s and has participated in the development and implementation of the first Aboriginal education policy in Australia.[7]

She has held senior positions in the non-government sector, serving on a number of boards including SBS, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board and the NSW Board of Studies. Burney was an executive member of the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, President of the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and is a former Director-General of the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs,[8] and in 2006 she was elected National Vice President of the Australian Labor Party.

Political career[edit]

When Burney was elected as the Member for Canterbury in 2003, she became the first Aboriginal person to serve in the NSW Parliament.[2] In her inaugural speech to the Legislative Assembly she said, referring to the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) Act, 1967:

I am a member of the mighty Wiradjuri aboriginal nation ... For the first 10 years of my life, like all indigenous people at that time, I was not a citizen of this country. We existed under the Flora and Fauna Act of New South Wales. Growing up as an Aboriginal child looking into the mirror of our country was difficult and alienating. Your reflection in the mirror was at best ugly and distorted, and at worst nonexistent.[6]

She was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Training in 2005. Following the 2007 election Burney became Minister for Fair Trading, Minister for Youth, and Minister for Volunteering. In September 2008 she was promoted to Minister for Community Services and in December 2009 she was appointed Minister for the State Plan. She lost her portfolios following the change of government at the 2011 state election.

Burney was appointed to the Community Services portfolio in December 2008 just prior to the handing down of the report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services by retired Supreme Court Justice James Wood.[9] She was the lead Minister in a whole of government reform plan, "Keep Them Safe", that commenced implementing the recommendations of the inquiry.[10]

Following the ALP's landslide defeat at the 2011 state election, Burney was elected as Deputy Leader of the Labor Party after former Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt chose not stand for the position. She also became the Shadow Minister for Planning, Infrastructure and Heritage, Shadow Minister for the Central Coast and the Hunter and Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation.

As Minister, Burney was the inaugural patron of the NSW Volunteer of the Year Award, a major NSW Government supported initiative.[11] In 2006 she gave the seventh Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture,[2] and in 2008 gave the sixth Henry Parkes Oration.[12]

Burney is an ambassador of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation.

As part of the 2012 Sydney Festival Burney performed as herself delivering her inaugural speech to the NSW Parliament in a theatrical production called I am Eora.[13]

On 23 December 2014, Burney became the interim leader of the opposition after the resignation of John Roberson.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Burney has a son and a daughter. Her partner for a number of years, until his death, was Rick Farley.


  1. ^ "Dr Linda Jen BURNEY MP". Parliament @ Work. Australian Government. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Browning, Daniel (12 January 2007). "7th Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture: Linda Burney MP" (STREAMING AUDIO). AWAYE! (Australia: ABC Radio National). Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "New ALP president spells out her agenda". The Age (Australia). AAP. 28 January 2009. 
  5. ^ "The new ALP National Presidential team". Australian Labor Party. 
  6. ^ a b "Inaugural Speeches: Linda Burney". Hansard. Parliament of New South Wales. 6 May 2003. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
  7. ^ "Burney, Linda Jean (c. 1957 – )". Australian Women. Retrieved 26 February 2007. 
  8. ^ "Linda Burney". University of Western Sydney. Archived from the original on 19 February 2007. Retrieved 26 February 2007. 
  9. ^ "Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection in NSW". NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  10. ^ "Keep Them Safe". NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  11. ^ "Past Awards: Inaugural NSW Volunteer of the Year Award". The Centre for Volunteering. 2007. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  12. ^ Burney, Linda (17 October 2008). Weaving the Australian Tapestry: Creating a society 'of beauty rich and rare' from threads of harmony and contradiction (PDF) (Speech). The 6th Henry Parkes Oration. National Library of Australia, Canberra. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Shand, John (10 January 2012). "Review: Archetypes evoke spirit of place". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "John Robertson stands down as NSW Opposition Leader following leadership speculation". ABC News (Australia). 23 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Kevin Moss
Member for Canterbury