|Member of the New South Wales Parliament
24 March 2007 – 26 March 2011
|Preceded by||New district|
|Succeeded by||Jamie Parker|
|Minister for Education and Training|
8 September 2008 – 28 March 2011
|Preceded by||John Della Bosca|
|Succeeded by||Adrian Piccoli|
|Minister for Climate Change and the Environment|
27 February 2008 – 5 September 2008
|Preceded by||Phil Koperberg|
|Succeeded by||Carmel Tebbutt|
|Minister for Science and Medical Research and Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer)|
2 April 2007 – 5 September 2008
|Preceded by||Frank Sartor|
|Succeeded by||Tony Stewart|
|Minister for Women|
2 April 2007 – 14 September 2009
|Preceded by||Sandra Nori|
|Succeeded by||Linda Burney|
|Born||Verity Helen Firth
28 August 1973
|Political party||Australian Labor Party|
|Relations||Charles Firth (brother)
Meredith Burgmann (aunt)
|Residence||Glebe, New South Wales|
|Alma mater||University of Sydney|
Verity Helen Firth (born 28 August 1973) is the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Education Foundation in Australia and a former politician.
Firth served as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing the electorate of Balmain for the Australian Labor Party from 2007 to 2011. During this period, she served as Minister for Women, Minister for Science and Medical Research, and Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer) from 2007 to 2008, Minister for Climate Change and the Environment in 2008, and as the Minister for Education and Training from 2009 to 2011.
Firth became a member of the Labor Party at the age of 15. She studied at North Sydney Girls High between 1986 and 1991, before studying Arts/Law at the University of Sydney between 1992 and 1998. While at university, she was active in student politics. After graduating, she worked as a political staffer, prior to working as an articled clerk at Slater & Gordon in 2001; she then worked as a campaign organiser for the Australian Labor Party (2001–2004). Between 2004 and 2007, she practised as a solicitor with Slater & Gordon, specialising in asbestos litigation and industrial law.
Firth was elected as a councillor of the City of Sydney in 2004. During her tenure on Council, she served for a period as Deputy Lord Mayor. Prior to entering state politics, she served on the board of the Law and Justice Foundation and Aidwatch.
Firth was elected to the new seat of Balmain on 24 March 2007. Though there was a swing away from the Labor, she won the seat with a majority of just below 4%. She was sworn in on 2 April 2007, receiving simultaneous appointment as Minister for Women, Minister for Science and Medical Research, Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer) and Minister Assisting the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water (Environment).
On 22 February 2008, Phil Koperberg, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, resigned from cabinet due to ill health. Firth was subsequently appointed as Minister for Environment and Climate Change.
Following the caucus election of Nathan Rees as Leader of the NSW Labor Party and Premier in September 2008 and ensuing New South Wales government reshuffle, Firth was appointed as Minister for Education and Training. She won early praise for her demand to the federal government that it fund state public schools to the same level as private schools. During her tenure as Education Minister, she was regarded as a future Labor leader. Firth retained the Education portfolio under Rees' successor, Kristina Keneally.
During early 2009, the then Rees Labor Government announced the CBD Metro project. Controversial from the start, the CBD Metro project dominated the Sydney news for much of the year. Firth received media coverage for her opposition to the CBD metro, in the event that it would mean a bus interchange at Rozelle (due to the urban density of the area). Firth was also perceived as being at odds with economically conservative sections of the NSW Cabinet after her opposition to the privatisation of Sydney Ferries became public; at the time, the option of privatising Sydney's ferry fleet was examined by the NSW government against the opposition of unions and some residents. The Keneally government subsequently announced that the ferries would not be privatised.
Firth was defeated by Jamie Parker (representing the NSW Greens) as the Member for Balmain at the 2011 state election. After her defeat, Firth considered returning to work as a solicitor. Instead, however, she was appointed as CEO of the Public Education Foundation, an advocacy organisation providing scholarships for students in need of financial assistance.
Her brother is Charles Firth, a comedian and member of The Chaser. Her aunt is Meredith Burgmann, the former NSW upper house president. Firth is the great-granddaughter of Anglican Bishop Ernest Burgmann.
In January 2011 Firth's husband, Matthew Chesher, was charged by police for possession of the illegal drug, ecstasy. Chesher resigned immediately as chief of staff to Minister for Roads David Borger. Firth said she was "angry, hurt and very disappointed". Verity refused to say how many tablets Chesher was buying and her reputation was damaged when she refused to say whether she had ever taken drugs. Chesher was charged with the possession of one ecstasy tablet and subsequently placed on a 12-month good-behaviour bond with no conviction being recorded. Chesher was later described as a "habitual cocaine user".
- Mitchell, Alex (7 May 2006). "I'm not going anywhere". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- "The Hon. Verity Helen Firth, MP". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
- Benson, Simon (22 February 2008). "'Sick' Phil Koperberg resigns from NSW Cabinet". The Daily Telegraph (Australia).
- Parker, Maralyn (15 September 2008). "Minister Firth asks Rudd for More Money for Public Schools". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). Retrieved 2008-09-20.
- West, Andrew (11 December 2009). "Firth takes an axe to pillar of CBD Metro". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- West, Andrew (13 November 2009). "Divisions deepen as minister opposes Sydney Ferries sale". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Patty, Anna (30 June 2011). "Life not a popularity contest outside the bear pit". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
- "Crossroads: Short shift". The Sydney Morning Herald. 27 February 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- "Verity Firth's husband charged with drug possession". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
- "Can't say no: Why Verity Firth is far from ecstatic". Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Scheikowski, Margaret (1 April 2011). "Verity Firth's husband on bond for drugs". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
|Parliament of New South Wales|
|New district||Member for Balmain
2007 – 2011
|Minister for Women
2007 – 2009
|Minister for Science and Medical Research
2007 – 2008
|Minister for Climate Change and the Environment
John Della Bosca
|Minister for Education and Training
2008 – 2011
as Minister for Education