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Andrew Phillip Olexander (born 26 February 1965) was an Australian politician. He was an independent member of the Victorian Legislative Council representing Silvan Province from November 2005 to November 2006, after being expelled from the parliamentary Liberal Party, which he had represented since 1999.
His career has been dogged by controversy after a 2004 drink-driving incident, which ultimately saw him lose Liberal Party pre-selection to contest his seat at the 2006 state election. He was subsequently expelled from the parliamentary party and forced to sit as an independent after criticising the party's pre-selection decision, and accusing the party of being homophobic.
Olexander, who is openly gay, was born in the regional city of Geelong, though he attended high school in suburban Melbourne. He studied economics at the University of Melbourne before pursuing a career in market research. He became heavily involved with the Young Liberal movement, acting as its State President from 1989 to 1990. He also served on its Federal Policy Committee, as well as the broader party's Federal Council during the same period.
In the late 1980s Olexander, who was of Hungarian and Ukrainian descent, helped form the Australian Chernobyl Children's Relief Foundation which provided financial and medical help to victims of the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine. He became the honorary inaugural secretary of that foundation in 1990.
In 1999, Olexander won pre-selection for the safe Liberal Legislative Council seat of Silvan Province, and was subsequently elected. After the Liberal Party's crushing defeat at the 2002 election, Olexander was promoted to the shadow ministry, taking on the portfolios of Youth, Arts and Consumer Affairs in December 2002. During 2002 to 2004, he also served on the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee.
In the early hours of 11 July 2004, Olexander had been drinking and was driving home when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his taxpayer funded car into four parked cars in Port Melbourne. He was fined $500 and lost his licence for 12 months.
He attracted some attention in late 2004 for advocating for greater funding for gambling support groups and his criticism of the government's backdown on their election promise to extend the Epping railway line to South Morang.
On 7 January 2009, Olexander appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates' Court, accused of driving on the CityLink tollway three times without a pass. Magistrate Sharon Cure ordered Olexander pay a $100 fine on each of the three counts of using an unregistered vehicle on a tollway plus $40 in court costs.
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Olexander kept a relatively low profile throughout the remainder of 2005, and despite past controversy, attempted to retain Liberal preselection to contest his seat at the 2006 state election. He received some initial support when Opposition Leader Robert Doyle backed his bid to remain in parliament, but failed to reach double figures in a ballot of the 150 preselection delegates; not enough to even gain him the bottom position on the ticket.
In mid-November 2005 Liberal state leader Robert Doyle convened a meeting of the Parliamentary Liberal Party and asked Olexander to show cause why he should not be expelled from the Parliamentary Party for "bringing the Party into disrepute". Subsequently Doyle convened a second meeting of the PLP on 29 November and moved that Olexander be expelled. This motion was carried (votes not released). Olexander served out the remainder of his term in the Upper House sitting on the cross benches. Olexander commented that he "would continue working as the member for the outer-suburban seat of Silvan and would sit on Parliament's cross-benches as an independent".
Since his expulsion from the Parliamentary Liberal Party Olexander has made several statements alleging that he was expelled because of anti-gay sentiment among Liberal parliamentarians, naming Philip Davis, Bill Forwood, Bruce Atkinson and Gordon Rich-Phillips. All four have strongly denied these allegations. [permanent dead link]
In June 2006, Olexander was reported to have drafted a Private Member's Bill that would allow gay civil unions in Victoria. The bill is unlikely to pass, let alone be debated due to Labor control of both Houses of Parliament.
Despite threatening to run against Liberal members in the reformed Upper House, Olexander failed to nominate for the 2006 State Election. He retired from Parliament on 25 November 2006, the day of the poll.
- Dowling, Jason (27 November 2005). "Gay MP fights to survive". The Age. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- Victorian Parliamentary Hansard for Tuesday, 3 May 2005
- "Drink-driving Lib MP fell asleep at wheel". The Sydney Morning Herald. 30 March 2005.
- "Ex-Liberal MP fined for traffic offences". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 January 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2009.