Bridget McKenzie

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Bridget McKenzie
Bridget McKenzie 2014-01.jpg
Minister for Agriculture
Assumed office
29 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byDavid Littleproud
Deputy Leader of the National Party
Assumed office
7 December 2017
LeaderBarnaby Joyce
Michael McCormack
Preceded byFiona Nash
Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government
In office
26 August 2018 – 26 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
MinisterMichael McCormack
Preceded byJohn McVeigh
Succeeded byMark Coulton
Minister for Sport
In office
20 December 2017 – 29 May 2019
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
MinisterGreg Hunt
Preceded byGreg Hunt
Succeeded byRichard Colbeck
Minister for Rural Health &
Regional Communications
Assumed office
20 December 2017
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byFiona Nash
Senator for Victoria
Assumed office
1 July 2011
Personal details
Born (1969-12-27) 27 December 1969 (age 49)
Alexandra, Victoria, Australia
Political partyThe Nationals
Alma materDeakin University

Bridget McKenzie (born 27 December 1969) is an Australian National Party politician serving as Minister for Agriculture since 2019, and has served as Senator for Victoria since 2011.

She has served as Deputy Leader of the National Party in the Parliament of Australia since December 2017, and shortly after her election to that position was appointed to Cabinet as Minister for Sport, Minister for Rural Health, and Minister for Regional Communications in the Turnbull Government.

Following the appointment of the Second Morrison Ministry in May 2019, Scott Morrison announced David Littleproud's previous ministerial positions were separated, with McKenzie appointed Minister for Agriculture and Littleproud as Minister for Water Resources.

Early life[edit]

McKenzie was born in Alexandra, Victoria. She grew up in Benalla, where her mother was a primary school teacher and her father was a dairyman. She attended Tintern Grammar, on the outskirts of Melbourne, where she was a house captain and swimming captain. After starting a family, McKenzie began studying at Deakin University as a mature-age student, completing a double degree in applied science (specialising in human movement) and teaching (specialising in mathematics). She served as the president of the Deakin University Student Association in 2003.[1] McKenzie subsequently taught physical education and mathematics for several years at Yarram Secondary College, Gippsland. She later lectured in education at Monash University.[2]

Politics[edit]

McKenzie in November 2014

McKenzie joined the National Party at the age of 18, and was a junior vice-president of the Victorian branch from 2006 to 2009. She first stood for parliament at the 2004 federal election, unsuccessfully standing for the House of Representatives in the Division of McMillan.[3] At the 2010 election, McKenzie was elected to the Senate in the third place on a joint Coalition ticket. Her term began on 1 July 2011.[4]

McKenzie was her party's Senate whip from September 2013 to June 2014, when she was replaced by Barry O'Sullivan. She was elected deputy leader to Barnaby Joyce in December 2017, replacing Fiona Nash after her disqualification from parliament due to dual citizenship.[5] She reportedly defeated several other candidates, including Matt Canavan and Michael McCormack.[6] Under the terms of the Coalition Agreement with the Liberals, she was subsequently elevated to cabinet as Minister for Sport, Minister for Rural Health, and Minister for Regional Communications.[7]

In July 2018, as Minister for Sport, McKenzie unveiled the National Sport Plan in a speech to the National Press Club. The plan includes the transformation of the current Australian Sports Commission into an expanded agency called Sport Australia.[8][9]

Controversies[edit]

McKenzie's electorate office is in the regional city of Bendigo, and she was described as "Bendigo-based" on a number of occasions. However, in 2016 it was noted that her primary residence was a flat in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Elwood, and she stayed in hotels when she visited Bendigo.[10]

In 2017, McKenzie was accused of using parliamentary travel entitlements for personal benefit, in a weekend trip to the Gold Coast in September 2014.[11] Also questioned was a February 2017 trip to Sydney to speak at a Shooting Australia awards ceremony, which was claimed as "electorate business"; media reports suggested that it did not fall under the usual category of parliamentary business.[12]

Political positions[edit]

Gun rights[edit]

McKenzie is a shooting enthusiast, and is chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting. She owns several shotguns, and has taken part in hunting expeditions in New Zealand and Scotland. In 2015, she said that the National Firearms Agreement was "not perfect", although she supports it in principle.[13] McKenzie opposed the federal government's import ban on the Adler A110 lever-action shotgun. In November 2016, she and John Williams crossed the floor to vote for a motion that would have overturned the ban; the motion was defeated 54–7. In the debate over the motion, she said that she was "not arguing for a weakening of gun laws and I never have".[14]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

McKenzie is opposed to same-sex marriage, and publicly campaigned for the "No" vote in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. In 2015, she promised "to oppose any such bill which seeks to legislate for same sex marriage", but also stated that she supported allowing a conscience vote on the issue.[15] She abstained from voting on the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017, which legalised same-sex marriage.[16] McKenzie's younger brother Alastair is gay, and has publicly confronted her on her views on several occasions, including in a letter to the Bendigo Advertiser and in an appearance on the panel discussion program Q&A.[17][18]

Personal life[edit]

McKenzie has four children from her first marriage, which ended in divorce.[19] Since 2015, she has been in a long-distance relationship with David Bennett, a member of the New Zealand Parliament.[20][21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Degree of Rivalry", Sunday Age, 10 August 2003.
  2. ^ Senator Bridget McKenzie, Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  3. ^ Women in Politics: Bridget McKenzie, National Party Senator for Victoria, Australian Women Online. Retrieved 18 August 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Senate Results - Victoria - 2010 Federal Election". Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  5. ^ Gun-loving senator Bridget McKenzie elected Barnaby Joyce's new deputy, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 December 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Nationals elect Bridget McKenzie new deputy leader". The Weekly Times. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  7. ^ Turnbull, Malcolm (19 December 2017). "Ministerial Arrangements" (Press release). Government of Australia. Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018. Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie joins Cabinet as Minister for Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications. Bridget has long campaigned for better services for regional communities.
  8. ^ Mary Gearin (1 August 2018). "National Sport Plan: Map of Australian sport's future high on ideals but light on detail". ABC News. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  9. ^ Nadia Cameron (1 August 2018). "How Sport Australia plans to build out a new national sporting agenda". CMO. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie responds to criticism she lives in the inner-city". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Nationals new deputy silent on weekend trip to Gold Coast". The Australian. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Nationals deputy Bridget McKenzie charged taxpayers to attend shooting awards". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  13. ^ Meet Bridget McKenzie, the Turnbull government senator out to change your mind about guns, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  14. ^ Nationals stage a late-night revolt in the Senate over the Adler shotgun ban, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 November 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  15. ^ McKenzie against same sex marriage, supports conscience vote, Bendigo Advertiser, 10 June 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  16. ^ "SENATE - Hansard". Record of Proceedings (Hansard). Australia: Australian Senate. 29 November 2017. p. 33-34.
  17. ^ Q&A recap: Coalition senator Bridget McKenzie confronted by gay brother over plebiscite, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 September 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  18. ^ Brother of Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie hits out against sister's comments on same-sex marriage, ABC News, 13 June 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Meet Bridget McKenzie, the Turnbull government senator out to change your mind about guns". Sydney Morning Herald. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Trans-Tasman relations: Long-distance love for Hamilton East MP David Bennett, who confirms he is in a relationship with Australian senator". NZ Herald. 24 December 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  21. ^ Bridget McKenzie: New Zealand enchants another National, The Australian, 9 December 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2017.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
David Littleproud
as Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
Minister for Agriculture
2019–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Greg Hunt
Minister for Sport
2017–present
New title Minister for Rural Health
2017–present
Preceded by
Mitch Fifield
Minister for Regional Communications
2017–present
Party political offices
Preceded by
Fiona Nash
Deputy Leader of the National Party of Australia
2017–present
Incumbent