BEc, LLB (Monash)
|48th Australian Defence Minister|
30 January 2001 – 26 November 2001
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||John Moore|
|Succeeded by||Robert Hill|
|Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party|
|Preceded by||Fred Chaney|
|Succeeded by||Michael Wooldridge|
|Member of Parliament
4 December 1982 – 5 March 1983
|Preceded by||Philip Lynch|
|Succeeded by||Bob Chynoweth|
1 December 1984 – 10 November 2001
|Preceded by||Bob Chynoweth|
|Succeeded by||Greg Hunt|
15 July 1950 |
|Political party||Liberal Party of Australia|
|Spouse(s)||Julie Reith (separated)|
|Alma mater||Monash University|
Peter Keaston Reith (born 15 July 1950) is a former Australian politician and lawyer. He was a Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in Australia.
Born in Melbourne, Reith was educated at Brighton Grammar School and at Monash University, from which he obtained bachelor's degrees in economics and law. He then practised as a solicitor in Cowes, a small town on Phillip Island. First elected as a Councillor of the Shire of Phillip Island from 1976, he remained in this role till 1981, and during his last year in office was also shire president.
Representing the Liberal Party, Reith entered the House of Representatives via a by-election in December 1982, caused by the resignation of ex-Treasurer Sir Phillip Lynch. Although Reith lost the seat of Flinders only three months later at the 1983 general election, he was not out of parliament for long. He regained the seat in the December 1984 election, which saw a substantial swing towards the Liberals (though not enough to win them government), and he continued to hold the seat for the next 17 years.
Except for a few months in 1993, Reith was a shadow minister without a break from 1987 until 1996. His posts included that of Shadow Attorney-General in 1988; in this capacity, he led the successful "no" campaign at the 1988 referendum. After the defeat of Andrew Peacock at the 1990 federal election, and Peacock's subsequent resignation from the Liberal leadership, Reith sought the leadership himself, but was easily vanquished by John Hewson, who won 62 votes to Reith's 13. After this he was elected deputy opposition leader and appointed Shadow Treasurer; the latter job he held from 1990 to 1993. Along with Hewson, Reith was one of the architects of the Liberal Party's "Fightback" policy, including the Goods and Services Tax. He resigned as Shadow Treasurer after the Liberals were defeated in the 1993 election. In addition, he lost the deputy Liberal leadership in the post-election ballot, and was replaced by Michael Wooldridge.
Following the landslide victory of John Howard at the 1996 election, Reith became Minister for Workplace Relations. In that role, he was one of the best-known and most influential members of Howard's cabinet. His responsibilities involved drafting and implementing the government's industrial relations policy and is perhaps best known for the significant productivity reforms which followed the 1997 dispute. Reith's handling of the 1998 Australian waterfront dispute, in which he openly supported Patrick Corporation in its contest with the Maritime Union of Australia, led to criticism from unions and the Australian Labor Party (ALP). Reith also introduced and implemented reforms to the Commonwealth public service.
In 2000 Reith was embroiled in an investigation over the improper use of a phone card with a bill totalling $50,000 AUD. Reith admitted that about $1,000 of phone calls were attributed to his son's access to the PIN associated with the phone card. However, Reith didn't admit that $1,000 of unauthorized phone calls by his son should be his responsibility.
PETER REITH: In the nine month period to the 30th of August there were 619 to Malaysia, 448 calls from Singapore, 317 calls to Singapore, 389 calls from various mobile phones, 478 calls from various countries back to Australia - 2,301 calls in total costing $9,100.45. So my immediate reaction was - well, obviously I haven't been using the card and obviously this card has fallen into, you know, the wrong hands as it were and there was an unauthorised use. http://www.abc.net.au/pm/stories/s197803.htm
Howard transferred Reith to the Defence portfolio in 2000. The following year, Reith announced his impending retirement, and did not contest the 2001 election. Late in the election campaign Reith became embroiled in the "children overboard" controversy, in which the government made unsubstantiated claims that asylum seekers had thrown children overboard in a ploy to secure passage to Australia. Reith defended his actions. He made public statements about this matter in the documentary series The Howard Years, which screened in Australia in November and December 2008, in Leaky Boat in July 2011 and in the 2012 Logie award winning documentary "Go back to where you came from". Reith was succeeded as Liberal MP for Flinders by Greg Hunt and as Minister of Defence by Senator Robert Hill.
After leaving parliament, Reith had a number of part-time interests, including advising a Sydney government relations firm, Tenix, a major defence supplier and others. From 2003 to 2009 he was an executive director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (based in London); in this capacity he represented Australia, the Republic of Korea, Egypt and New Zealand. While in London, Reith was also a member of an independent commission that reported to the Tories on UK tax reform.
During 2011, after writing a report for the Liberal Party on the 2010 election, Reith challenged Alan Stockdale (who in the 1990s had been State Treasurer of Victoria) for the presidency of the Liberal Party. In that contest, Reith lost to Stockdale by just one vote: 56 to 57. Liberal leader Tony Abbott effectively made his vote for Stockdale public, when he was recorded on camera showing his vote to Stockdale.
Since July 2011, Reith has been writing regularly for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and appears regularly as a political commentator on the ABC’s Drum, Sky AM Agenda, Paul Murray Live and the Bolt Report. Reith is also Special Counsel to First State Advisors and Consultants, a leading government and corporate advisory firm based in Sydney.
Reith was married to Julie (Reith), but they separated in 2003. Reith has four sons from this marriage - Paul, Simon, David and Robert.
- "Major Party Leadership Ballots since 1966". Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- Williams, Philip (10 October 2000). "Just who will pay Peter Reith's $50,000 phone bill?". PM (Radio National) (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2007-11-27.
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2007)|
Laurie Brereton (industrial relations)
David Kemp (employment)
Geoff Prosser (small business)
|Minister for Industrial Relations
1996 – 1997
Tony Abbott (employment
and workplace relations)
Ian Macfarlane (small business)
|Minister for Employment and Workplace
Relations and Small Business
1997 – 2001
|Minister for Defence
|Parliament of Australia|
|Member for Flinders
1982 – 1983
|Member for Flinders
1984 – 2001