Ted Mack (politician)

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Ted Mack
Member of the Australian Parliament
for North Sydney
In office
24 March 1990 – 29 January 1996
Preceded by John Spender
Succeeded by Joe Hockey
Personal details
Born (1933-12-20) 20 December 1933 (age 81)
Nationality Australian
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Wendy
Alma mater University of New South Wales
Occupation Architect

Edward Carrington (Ted) Mack (born 20 December 1933) is an Australian politician. He is the only person ever to have been elected and re-elected as an independent to local, state, and federal government in Australia, and is often referred to as the "father of the independents".

Early life[edit]

Mack was born in the Sydney suburb of Paddington and educated at Sydney Boys High School, graduating in 1950. He completed national service in the RAAF in 1951-1952 at Albury NSW.[1] At the University of New South Wales, he trained as an architect, graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) in 1958. Following graduation, he married Wendy, with whom he has two sons and two daughters.He and his wife travelled to Europe and worked in London 1958-61. Returning to Australia he worked as an architect mainly on hospitals and public housing until 1974 and in private practice until 1980.[2]

Political career[edit]

Mack began to take an interest in politics in 1970 after the North Sydney Council approved construction of a 17-storey office block near his back fence. He subsequently ran for election to the council in 1974 and was successful. He was re-elected in 1977, 1980, 1983 and 1987. He was elected by the council as mayor in 1980 and re-elected by popular vote in 1983 and 1987 and retired in 1988.[2] During his term as mayor, Mack sold the mayoral Mercedes-Benz car, buying buses instead and instituting reforms to improve accountability.

He introduced open government policies making all council meetings, committees and council files open to the public. Public participation in decision making was created through the establishment of some 24 precinct committees, some 3000 public meetings and 36 referenda over his 8 years as mayor. He initiated a policy of raising funds from sources other than rates, with the result that rates fell from 66% of councils income in 1980 to 38% in 1987. In that year North Sydney was named as the top Sydney council in an independent financial analysis. This enabled the council to establish a large public works program without using rates or loans to fund it. Mack received a 90% vote at the 1987 mayoral election.

In 1981, Mack decided to run as an independent for the recently created New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat of North Shore, based around North Sydney.[2] On paper, it was a comfortably safe Liberal seat; the North Shore has been the power base for the Liberals (and their predecessors) in Sydney for over a century. Mack nominated for the seat after noticing that it was virtually coextensive with the North Sydney LGA. He faced Bruce McDonald, the leader of the Liberal opposition in NSW. Mack considered that being both mayor and state member for electorates that covered nearly identical boundaries would made both positions more effective. The voters apparently agreed, and elected him over McDonald in one of the few times a major-party leader has been defeated at any level in Australia. Mack was returned by handsome margins in 1984 and 1988, the latter election coming as the Coalition won government in a landslide. Shortly after his 1988 victory, he abruptly retired from all of his offices. He did so just two days before he was due to qualify for his parliamentary pension entitlements in excess of $1,000,000, and decided to retire as a protest against the excesses of public political office. His retirement from both local and state government resulted in three by-elections for ward alderman, mayor and state member. All three people he recommended for these positions were elected.

Despite living nearby, for a time, he refused to travel across the Sydney Harbour Bridge or through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel in protest at the secret contract and awarding of all tolls to Kumagai Transfield for 30 years.

Federal politics[edit]

After two years of being out of politics, Mack achieved even broader fame by winning the federal seat of North Sydney in 1990. The seat had long been reckoned as a blue-ribbon Liberal seat; it had been held by the Liberals or their predecessors since Federation. However, Mack defeated incumbent Liberal MP and Shadow Foreign Minister John Spender on a large swing. He was re-elected in 1993.[3] During his tenure in federal Parliament, Mack opposed unilateral tariff removal, privatisation, Australian involvement in the Gulf War[4] and the appointment of an Indonesian general involved in East Timor, as ambassador to Australia.He also introduced a private members bill for citizen initiated referendums as practised in Switzerland. Mack retired at the 1996 election for the same reasons he had quit state politics eight years previously.

Mack was elected as an independent Republican delegate to the 1998 Constitutional Convention.[3] He opposed the model favoured by the Australian Republican Movement. Along with Clem Jones, he was a director of Real Republic and was appointed to the official ten person "no" committee for the 1999 referendum.

In 1997 Ted Mack was elected as 1 of 100 "National Living Treasures" in an election organised by the National Trust of Australia. Since his retirement from federal parliament he has been an occasional media political commentator and was chosen to deliver the 2014 Sir Henry Parkes Memorial lecture entitled "The State of the Federation" at Tenterfield N.S.W.[5]


  1. ^ Members of Parliaments and Legislatures
  2. ^ a b c "Mr (Ted) Edward Carrington Mack (1933– )". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Biography for Mack, Edward Carrington". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  4. ^ In his speech on 22 Jan 1991, Mack said

    This war is about oil, because 40 per cent of the world's oil reserves are in this area. This war is about years of greed, of intrigue, of malevolence by local despots and the developed world. Saddam Hussein is a Frankenstein monster created over the last decade by the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other western European countries that supplied him with billions of dollars of armaments, and with the technology for chemical and nuclear warfare. France built Saddam's nuclear reactor. In the years 1983 to 1989, United States trade with Iraq increased from $571M to $3.6 billion. Only one month before the invasion, the United States Department of Commerce tried to push through a $7.6m deal to sell Iraq nuclear parts.

  5. ^ "Ted Mack – The Independent". Selwyn Johnston. Retrieved 19 April 2007. 
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
New seat
Member for North Shore
Succeeded by
Robyn Read
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
John Spender
Member for North Sydney
Succeeded by
Joe Hockey