Warren Mundine

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Warren Stephen Mundine (born 11 August 1956 in Grafton, New South Wales) is an Australian Aboriginal leader and the former National President of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). He quit the Labor Party in 2012 and was appointed into the position of chairman of the Australian Government's Indigenous Advisory Council by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.


Early life[edit]

A member of the Bundjalung people, the traditional owners of country covering much of coastal northern New South Wales,[1] Mundine was the ninth of 11 children in his family, which consisted of eight boys and three girls. Mundine was raised a Catholic, and in 1963 the family moved to Sydney and settled in the western suburb of Auburn. Mundine went to the Catholic Benedict Marist Brothers College and found work as a fitter and turner after leaving school.[1]

Political career[edit]

Mundine worked in the New South Wales public service, including a stint as the CEO of the New South Wales Native Title Service. In 1995, he successfully stood as an independent candidate for Dubbo City Council in central-west NSW, later becoming deputy mayor, a position he held until 2004. He was a long-time member of the ALP and before becoming National President of the party, he previously served as its Senior Vice-President and as a member of the Australian Government's National Indigenous Council. He won the 2005 Bennelong Medal for service to the Aboriginal community.[2]

He succeeded Barry Jones as President of the ALP, beginning his term on 28 January 2006, and became the first Indigenous Australian to serve as President of an Australian political party.[3] Mundine served one term as national President, stepping down in 2007.[1]

Warren Mundine is also a Chairman of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation[4] and the Chairman of the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. [5]

Mundine expressed an interest in becoming Labor's first federal indigenous parliamentarian when Mark Arbib resigned from the Senate in March 2012, but Bob Carr was selected for the position. In November 2012, Mundine told The Australian newspaper that he had quit the Labor Party. He said he had been a supporter of "Hawke-Keating Labor, where it was about economic development, and progress, and working with unions to get good outcomes for everyone", but that the ALP by 2012 was "no longer the party I joined" and had failed to keep up with the Conservative parties in selecting indigenous candidates. Mundine maintained his interest in indigenous advocacy in his role as Andrew Forrest's Pilbara Mining indigenous charity Generation One.[6]

Following the election of the Abbott-led Liberal-National coalition in 2013, Abbott appointed Mundine chairman of the Australian Government's Indigenous Advisory Council.[1]

Personal life[edit]

In 1975 Mundine married Jenny Rose and they have two children. He worked as a barman at night and as an office trolley boy during the day, and later attended night college to earn his Higher School Certificate.[7] Following a job at the Australian Taxation Office, Mundine moved to Adelaide, studying at the South Australian Institute of Technology, which later became the University of South Australia. After separating from Rose, Mundine gained custody of their two children.[7]

In 1983 Mundine met his second wife Lynette Riley, marrying her in 1984. They raised seven children: two from Mundine's first marriage, four of their own and a foster child.[7] The couple wed a second time in 2003, because when they first married, it was not in a Catholic church, but in St Andrew's Congregational Church in Balmain. This had bothered Mundine, so to celebrate 20 years together, they renewed their vows in St Brigid's Catholic Church in Dubbo.[7] Mundine informed The Catholic Weekly: "I pray to my cousin every night, to thank him for what I have and talk about my issues and problems".[7]

After multiple affairs during his second marriage, Mundine left Riley, who reverted to her maiden name.[7] When he spoke about his second divorce, Mundine was contrite, saying that he had succumbed to temptation and deserved the eventual outcome.[7] Riley, a senior lecturer in Aboriginal education at Sydney University, has remained silent on the disintegration of their marriage, but when asked about her view of Mundine's ongoing political career, she replied: "I think he has sold out his family and his culture. I think he gave up his good Aboriginal wife and kids so he could do that."[8]

In October 2013, Mundine married for the third time. His third wife, Elizabeth Henderson, is the daughter of Anne and Gerard Henderson, directors of The Sydney Institute. Two of Mundine's daughters refused to attend the wedding; one of them also refuses Mundine access to her baby daughter. Mundine has admitted that his second divorce was "not bad", but describes his third marriage as the creation of "a new life".[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Mundine wants what's best for his people", The Australian, p. 2.
  2. ^ The Bennelong Society (2006). Recipients of the Bennelong Medal. Retrieved 28 May 2006.
  3. ^ Australian Labor Party (2006). Warren Mundine Begins Term As ALP National President. Retrieved 28 May 2006.
  4. ^ "Board of Directors". Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Our people". Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Natasha Robinson (3 November 2012). "Sick at heart: why a disillusioned Warren Mundine quit the Labor Party". The Australian. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Rintoul, Stuart (5 October 2013). "Game changer". The Canberra Times (Fairfax Media). Archived from the original on 31 January 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  8. ^ Rintoul, Stuart (5 October 2013). "'Shattered': lingering pain of Mundine divorce". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 18 March 2014. 

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