Brendan Nelson: Difference between revisions

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'''Brendan John Nelson''', [[Member of Parliament#Australia|MP]] (born [[19 August]] [[1958]]) is the [[Leader of the Opposition]] in the [[Parliament of Australia]], as leader of the [[Liberal Party of Australia]]. Nelson has been a member of the [[Australian House of Representatives]] since [[Australian general election, 1996|2 March 1996]], representing the [[Division of Bradfield]], [[New South Wales]], and was elected Leader of the Opposition following his party's defeat at the [[Australian federal election, 2007|2007 federal election]].<ref name="SMH_Nelson_wins">{{cite news |title=Nelson wins Liberal leadership |url= |publisher=''[[The Sydney Morning Herald]]'' |date=2007-11-29|accessdate=2007-11-29 }}</ref>
'''Brendan John Nelson''', [[Member of Parliament#Australia|MP]] (born [[19 August]] [[1958]]) is the [[Leader of the Opposition]] in the [[Parliament of Australia]], as leader of the [[Liberal Party of Australia]]. Nelson has a member of the [[Australian House of Representatives]] since [[Australian general election, 1996|2 March 1996]] under the sink, representing the [[Division of Bradfield]], [[New South Wales]], and was elected Leader of the Opposition following his party's defeat at the [[Australian federal election, 2007|2007 federal election]].<ref name="SMH_Nelson_wins">{{cite news |title=Nelson wins Liberal leadership |url= |publisher=''[[The Sydney Morning Herald]]'' |date=2007-11-29|accessdate=2007-11-29 }}</ref>
==Early life==
==Early life==

Revision as of 03:08, 30 July 2008

The Honourable

Dr. Brendan Nelson

30th Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
3 December 2007
Preceded by Kevin Rudd
12th Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia
Assumed office
29 November 2007
Deputy Julie Bishop
Preceded by John Howard
50th Minister for Defence
In office
27 January 2006 – 3 December 2007
Preceded by Robert Hill
Succeeded by Joel Fitzgibbon
20th Minister for Education, Science and Training
In office
26 November 2001 – 27 January 2006
Preceded by David Kemp
Succeeded by Julie Bishop
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Bradfield
Assumed office
2 March 1996
Preceded by David Connolly
Personal details
Born (1958-08-19) 19 August 1958 (age 59)
Melbourne, Victoria
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s) Gillian[1]
Alma mater Flinders University
Profession GP

Brendan John Nelson, MP (born 19 August 1958) is the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Australia, as leader of the Liberal Party of Australia. Nelson has a member of the Australian House of Representatives since 2 March 1996 under the sink, representing the Division of Bradfield, New South Wales, and was elected Leader of the Opposition following his party's defeat at the 2007 federal election.[2]

Early life

Nelson was born in Melbourne, Victoria.[1]. His father's strong involvement in the union movement and the Australian Labor Party[3] led Nelson to join the party in 1988.[1] Nelson attended Saint Ignatius' College, Adelaide and The University of Adelaide. He commenced, though did not complete, a Bachelor of Finance in Economics at Flinders University, Adelaide where he graduated in medicine (BM BS). He was a general practitioner in Hobart, Tasmania 1985-95, Director of Hobart and Launceston After Hours Medical Services 1987-91, Tasmanian State President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) 1990-92, Federal Vice-President 1991-93 and Federal President 1993-95.

Political career

His partner in his medical practice was Dr. David Crean, brother of Labor politician Simon Crean and later a Tasmanian state Labor minister. Nelson in 1988 was a member of the Australian Labor Party. By 1994, however, Nelson was a member of the Liberal Party and in 1995 he gained the party's endorsement for Bradfield, one of the safest Liberal electorates in Australia. It is speculated he joined the Labor Party in the hope of winning Denison, the strongest Labor seat in Tasmania (held by Duncan Kerr), and that when he was rejected he defected to the Liberal Party.[4]

Nelson was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence in 2001.

Minister for Education, Science and Training

After the 2001 federal election he was promoted directly to Cabinet with the senior portfolio of Minister for Education, Science and Training. He introduced a series of radical changes to Australia's higher education system that simultaneously imposed more direct government control over the management of universities while also allowing them to earn more revenue by charging higher fees to students. He extended the government's policy of directing more federal funding to non-government schools, as well as becoming more involved in reviewing the state education systems. In 2005 he introduced Voluntary Student Unionism. He was a popular target for student activism because of these changes.[5][6]

In 2005 Nelson expressed support for the teaching the controversial theory of intelligent design alongside evolution if parents wished it.[7] He later said it should only be taught in religion or philosophy classes.[8]

Minister for Defence

After his rapid promotion to Cabinet, Nelson was spoken of as a possible future Liberal leader. On 24 January 2006, former Prime Minister John Howard announced Nelson's promotion from the Education, Science and Training portfolio to the high profile Defence portfolio.

As Defence Minister, he made the controversial decision to purchase Boeing's Super Hornet aircraft instead of a fighter perceived by some to be more capable.[9]

Leader of the Opposition

Following the defeat of the Howard government at the 2007 federal election, he was elected party leader and therefore Leader of the Opposition, narrowly defeating Malcolm Turnbull in a 45 to 42 vote[2], after the withdrawal from the race of Tony Abbott. After Nelson's election, his political past resurfaced, with him claiming he came from a Labor family.[10]

Nelson became the first person since Billy Snedden in 1972 to become Opposition Leader without prior experience in Opposition. Nelson is also the first Catholic to lead the Liberal Party.[11]

On 1 December 2007 Nelson attempted to distance himself from some of the conservative policies of his predecessor, saying "I don't support gay marriage, adoption or IVF. But I believe in addressing the social and economic injustices affecting homosexuals."[12]

Nelson declared that the Liberal Party had "listened and learned" from the Australian public and that WorkChoices is "dead", and called on the Government to move quickly to introduce draft industrial relations legislation.[13]

In January 2008, Nelson opposed making any formal apology to the indigenous Australians known as the "Stolen Generations". Nelson said such an apology would fuel guilt among middle Australia, and cause a mentality of "victimhood" among indigenous Australians.[14] In early February 2008, Nelson changed his stance, and declared that he supported the apology, first personally[15][16][17], then also on behalf of his party:

I, on behalf of the Coalition, of the alternative government of Australia, are [sic] providing in-principle support for the offer of an apology to the forcibly removed generations of Aboriginal children.[18]

Nelson's leadership came under increased pressure in January 2008, after an MP shifted loyalties to Turnbull, and taking into consideration that former MP David Tollner was still allowed to vote, the leadership vote would now be deadlocked at 43-43.[19] Newspoll polling in February 2008 set a record low "Preferred Prime Minister" rating for any opposition leader at 9 percent, with March polling setting another record of 7 percent, with two party preferred setting another Newspoll record at 37-63 percent.[20] Nelson responded by declaring himself the underdog.[21] In response to increased speculation about his leadership Nelson commented in April that he "will keep fighting and standing up for everyday Australians.".[22]

Nelson used his 2008 budget reply to declare the Rudd government budget a "tax and spend" budget, as well as arguing for a 5 cent reduction in petrol excise, and pledging to block an increase in the "alcopop" tax.[23]. Nelson's performance prompted Deputy Leader Julie Bishop to declare that Nelson's leadership was "not in question"[24]

In May 2008, Nelson gave his approval to a merger occurring between the Queensland Liberal Party and Queensland National Party.[25]

Personal life

  • Nelson has been married three times and has two children.[1]
  • In 1995, his brother, Philip, died after a long battle with AIDS.[1]
  • He owns five guitars, including four Fender Stratocasters.[26][27]
  • His hobbies also include riding motorcycles, which he started doing after he dropped out of an economics degree at Adelaide University and needed a cheap form of transport. [28]

Photo gallery

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e The evolution of Brendan Nelson, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 December 2005
  2. ^ a b "Nelson wins Liberal leadership". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2007-11-29. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  3. ^ Brendan Nelson, House of Representatives Debates, 20 May 1996.
  4. ^ BBC NEWS | The Reporters | Nick Bryant
  5. ^ Nelson too chicken to face us, say students Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 28 September 2005
  6. ^ 'Safety fear' stops Nelson talking at uni again, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 2005
  7. ^ 'Intelligent design' an option: Nelson, The Age, 11 August 2005
  8. ^ Intelligent design not science: experts, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 October 2005
  9. ^ 'Flying Blind', Four Corners, 29 October 2007
  10. ^ "Nelson dogged by Labor party past". ABC News. 2007-11-29. 
  11. ^ Holy oversight, Brendan: The Australian 29/7/2008
  12. ^ 'Nelson backs gay legal rights', Sunday Herald Sun, 2 December 2007
  13. ^ Nelson declares WorkChoices dead– ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  14. ^ Schubert, Misha (2008-01-30). "Liberal division grows on apology". The Age. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  15. ^ "Howard will not attend apology", Sydney Morning Herald, February 8, 2008
  16. ^ "Nelson agrees to 'sorry'", Phillip Coorey, Sydney Morning Herald, February 6, 2008
  17. ^ "Nelson rubbishes 'sorry' switch claims", Glenn Milne,, February 10, 2008
  18. ^ "Opposition joins rush to say sorry", Daniel Hoare, ABC News, February 7, 2008
  19. ^ Nelson's leadership shaky as MPs shift loyalties, Dennis Shanahan, The Australian, 12 February 2008
  20. ^ Brendan Nelson and Liberal-Nationals Coalition hit all-time low in Newspoll
  21. ^ Nelson defends record low poll figures | The Australian
  22. ^ Nelson vows to stay on as Liberal leader - Breaking News - National - Breaking News
  23. ^ Nelson's Budget reply: slash petrol tax
  24. ^ Nelson's leadership 'safe'
  25. ^ Nelson removes a merger caveat | The Australian
  26. ^ Franklin, Matthew (2008-04-02). "Brendan on stairway to Kevin". The Australian. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  27. ^ Brendan Nelson's Interests - Playing the Guitar
  28. ^ Brendan Nelson's Interests - Riding Motorcycles
  29. ^ Fury over Nelson's 'sorry' response: The Age 13/2/2008

External links

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
David Connolly
Member for Bradfield
1996 – present
Political offices
Preceded by
David Kemp
Minister for Education, Science and Training
2001– 2006
Succeeded by
Julie Bishop
Preceded by
Robert Hill
Minister for Defence
2006– 2007
Succeeded by
Joel Fitzgibbon
Preceded by
Kevin Rudd
Leader of the Opposition
2007 – present
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Howard
Leader of the Liberal Party
2007 – present