Early years and background
Whelan was born and raised in Ashbury, a suburb of Sydney, Australia to Mary Bridget and John Joseph Whelan. He is the last of their six children. He was educated at St Francis Xavier Primary School, Ashbury, De La Salle College, Ashfield, and the University of Sydney, where he received an LL.B. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1968 and barrister in 1988. He married Colleen Mary Healey in 1968 and has two daughters, two sons and five grandchildren. He was an alderman on the Ashfield Municipal Council from 1970 to 1976 and Mayor from 1971 to 1976.
He represented Ashfield from May 1976 to March 1999 and Strathfield from March 1999 to February 2003 for the Australian Labor Party. He was Minister Consumer Affairs and Minister for Roads from October 1981 to February 1983 and then Minister for Water Resources and Minister for Forests until April 1984 during the Wran government. He was also Minister for Aboriginal Affairs from February to April 1984. He was Minister for Police from April 1995 to November 2001 during the Carr government. The seat was held by Virginia Judge.
|Parliament of New South Wales|
|Member for Ashfield
1976 – 1999
|Member for Strathfield
1999 – 2003