Michael Tate

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For the Christian musician, see Michael Tait.
Reverend The Honourable
Michael Tate
AO, LLB (Hons), MA, LLD (Hon)
Minister for Consumer Affairs
In office
4 April 1990 – 27 May 1992
Prime Minister Bob Hawke (1990–1991)
Paul Keating (1991–1992)
Preceded by Nick Bolkus
Succeeded by Jeannette McHugh
Minister for Justice
In office
18 September 1987 – 24 March 1993
Prime Minister Bob Hawke (1990–1991)
Paul Keating (1991–1993)
Succeeded by Duncan Kerr
Special Minister of State
In office
16 February 1987 – 24 July 1987
Prime Minister Bob Hawke
Preceded by Mick Young
Succeeded by Frank Walker
Senator for Tasmania
In office
1 July 1978 – 5 July 1993
Succeeded by Kay Denman
Personal details
Born Michael Carter Tate
(1945-07-06) 6 July 1945 (age 69)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Political party Australian Labor Party
Alma mater University of Tasmania
University of Oxford
Occupation Priest, Law professor

Rev Fr The Hon. Michael Carter Tate AO (born 6 July 1945) is a former Australian Labor Party politician who later became an ambassador and then a Catholic priest.

Michael Tate was born in Sydney in 1945. He studied at the University of Tasmania, where he resided at St. John Fisher College, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours in 1968. He gained a Master of Arts from Oxford before studying Theology at the University of Cambridge in 1996. He worked as a Lecturer in Law at the University of Tasmania from 1972 to 1978, becoming Dean of the Faculty in 1977. He currently works as Professor of Law at the university. He also served as Legal Adviser to the Tasmanian Parliamentary Delegation to the Constitutional Conventions 1973–77.

He was a member of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace 1972–78.

He was elected to the Senate representing Tasmania, at the 1977 election, his term commencing on 1 July 1978. He was re-elected in 1983, 1987 and 1993. He was President of the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship 1985–88.

He served as Minister for Justice 1987–93 in the Hawke and Keating governments, in addition to other portfolios.

He resigned from the Senate on 5 July 1993. After leaving politics he was appointed Australian Ambassador to the Netherlands and the Holy See, before retiring early to enter the priesthood.

In 1992, Fr Tate was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Tasmania, and in the Australia Day Honours of 1996, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

On 19 May 2000 he was ordained by the Archbishop of Hobart, the Most Rev. Adrian Leo Doyle in St Mary's Cathedral, Hobart. Guests included former Governor-General Bill Hayden, former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, and former Attorneys-General Lionel Bowen and Michael Duffy. Congratulatory messages were received Pope John Paul II and former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.[1] That night, he told the ABC's 7.30 Report that during his last audience with Pope John Paul II as Ambassador to the Holy See, the pontiff asked him what his next posting would be. John Paul was somewhat surprised when Tate told him he would be studying for the priesthood.[2]

On 18 November 2010 Rev Professor Tate was appointed as Tasmania's first Parliamentary Standards Commissioner. The role was established under the Integrity Commission Act 2009. The Commissioner is independent of the Integrity Commission and provides advice to Members of Parliament and the Integrity Commission about conduct, propriety and ethics and the interpretation of any relevant codes of conduct and guidelines relating to the conduct of Members of Parliament.[3]

As of April 2012, Tate was the parish priest of the Roman Catholic Parish of the Holy Spirit in Sandy Bay, Tasmania.


  1. ^ Former Politician Ordained Priest Catholic News accessed 11 April 2012
  2. ^ Father Michael Tate on religion and politics, The 7.30 Report (ABC TV), 19 May 2000.
  3. ^ Tasmania’s first Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Integrity Commission accessed 11 April 2012

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Mick Young
Special Minister of State
Succeeded by
Frank Walker
Preceded by
New title
Minister for Justice
Succeeded by
Duncan Kerr
Preceded by
Nick Bolkus
Minister for Consumer Affairs
Succeeded by
Jeannette McHugh
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Terence McCarthy
Australian Ambassador to the Netherlands and the Holy See
Succeeded by
Edward Stevens