Craig Kelly (politician)

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Craig Kelly

Member of the Australian Parliament
for Hughes
Assumed office
21 August 2010
Preceded byDanna Vale
Personal details
Born (1963-09-29) 29 September 1963 (age 55)[1]
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyLiberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s)Vicki Kelly
Children1 son and 1 daughter
ProfessionBusiness owner

Craig Kelly (born 29 September 1963), an Australian federal politician, is a member of the Australian House of Representatives. Since the 2010 federal election, he has represented the electorate of Hughes, in New South Wales, for the Liberal Party of Australia, succeeding Danna Vale.

Kelly is considered to be part of the informal conservative right-wing faction inside the Liberal party, and is a frequent guest on Sky News and other Sky programs, often speaking on subjects related to the parliamentary environment and energy committee.

Early years and background[edit]

Before his election, Kelly was a first grade rugby union player with Southern Districts, and a small business owner in the manufacturing and trade sector. He was the founder and president of the Southern Sydney Retailers Association,[2] and a well-known advocate for small business, including making recommendations to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.[3][4] He was a furniture salesman prior to entering parliament.[5] In 2008, he was critical of the Rudd Government changes to the definition of market power.[6]

Political career[edit]

Kelly was elected to Federal Parliament as the Member for Hughes in 2010, which was considered a marginal seat.[4] In his maiden speech, he spoke about raising his son, who has Down's syndrome.[7] In 2012, Kelly was referred to the parliamentary privileges committee over a range of allegations, including a failure to declare on his register of interests his directorship of several companies.[8] The Leader of the House, Anthony Albanese, alleged Kelly failed to disclose his directorship of three entities which he had not officially relinquished until March 2011, eight months after the 2010 election.[9] Kelly denied the allegations and the Parliamentary Privileges Committee did not pursue the matter further.[10] The press suggested the move was an attempt by the Labor government to divert attention from accusations against Craig Thomson.[11]

In 2013 Kelly was nominated by then Opposition leader Tony Abbott as the representative of the Coalition on the bipartisan committee overseeing the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Kelly was the only sitting member of the House of Representatives with firsthand knowledge of raising a child with severe disabilities and said that he would use this experience in the position.[12] Kelly has suggested the greater use of 457 visas for disability care workers.[13]

In the Liberal Party of Australia leadership spill, September 2015, Kelly supported Tony Abbott as prime minister.[14]

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, the moderate faction of the Liberal party planned to challenge Kelly in his seat.[15] Radio commentator Alan Jones threw his support behind Kelly,[16] and Prime Minister Turnbull wrote a letter of endorsement, stating that Kelly was one of the government's "most consistent performers" and that Kelly had a "fine reputation".[17] The redistribution of Hughes was thought to strengthen Kelly's hold on the seat,[18] and Kelly was returned with a margin greater than 9%, despite a small swing against him.[7]

Kelly traveled to Azerbaijan for a week to observe the 2016 referendum, listing the trip on his statement of members' interests.[19] Kelly returned to Azerbaijan to observe the presidential election in 2018, praising the use of photographic ID to obtain a ballot paper.[20]

Kelly will be challenged for preselection for his seat for the next Australian federal election, and former prime minister Tony Abbott has supported him in this.[21] Again being challenged by the moderate faction of the Liberal party, Kelly has reportedly threatened to join the crossbench as an independent if he does not win preselection, but has stated that he has confidence in the preselection committee.[22]

On 18 July 2018, Kelly commented on Sky News, in response to a Facebook post by the father of three children killed aboard MH17: 'if some of the things that Russia has gotten away with in the past has to be slightly looked over, well I'm sorry that's the price that we have to pay sometimes to have good relations going forward'.[23]

In the Liberal Party of Australia leadership spill, 2018 on 21 August, Kelly confirmed he voted for Peter Dutton to become leader of the Coalition and therefore Prime Minister.[24] In the second spill on 24 August, Kelly was one of the first few to sign the petition calling for a party room meeting to vote on the leadership of the Liberal Party.[25] While he voted for Dutton in the second spill, Kelly stated that he would throw his support behind Scott Morrison.[26] Kelly criticised Julia Banks' decision to retire following the spill in a Sky News interview, defending politics as a "rough-and-tumble game."[27]

As of August 2018, Kelly's electoral conference had raised $5,000 of a $75,000 fundraising target for the Liberal Party.[28] Kelly has been approached to run for the electoral district of East Hills, a state seat, but has declined.[29] Scott Morrison has reportedly intervened in the pre-selection process for Hughes, indicating that he wants Kelly to run unchallenged,[30] but local branch members have argued that as Kelly was an important figure in the August leadership spills, he should go.[31] The pre-selection contest is reportedly being delayed by the party as long as possible, and Kelly has been advised by former Liberal Party presidential candidate John Ruddick to quit the party and run as an independent.[32] Kelly affirmed that he intends to remain in the Liberal Party, although he refused to rule out a move to the crossbench if he lost pre-selection.[33] Morrison reportedly floated using state executive powers to save Kelly from a pre-selection challenge, taking the decision-making process away from grassroots members.[34] This has been described by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull as unacceptable.[35] Turnbull dismissed comparisons to his own 2016 intervention to save Kelly, and cited recent campaigns in NSW to allow grassroots members more say in pre-selection contests as the reason for his intervention.[35]

When the government moved to head off a dispute by using state executive powers to automatically endorse sitting members, Turnbull launched a failed intervention to prevent the outcome, hoping Kelly, a Dutton backer, would be ousted. When Turnbull's representations were leaked to the press, Turnbull confirmed them,[36][34] and the intervention made it harder for the moderates to do anything other than tacitly re-endorse Kelly.[37]


Kelly is considered to be part of the informal conservative right-wing faction inside the Liberal party,[38] and is a frequent guest on Sky News[39] and other Sky programs, often speaking on subjects related to the parliamentary environment and energy committee,[40] notably criticising the Turnbull Government's position on energy.[41] Kelly replaced Ross Cameron on Sky program Outsiders after Cameron was fired, becoming a regular co-host.[42]

Defence travel leave entitlements 2012[edit]

Kelly and the President of the NSW Commandos Association, Barry Grant, fought Labor Government cuts in the 2012 budget to entitlements for defence personnel to travel home during holiday times. Kelly and Grant put together a petition in favour of reinstating the entitlements that was circulated Australia-wide, attracting well over 10,000 signatures. With Kelly's help a disallowance motion was moved in the House of Representatives that forced the Labor Government to reinstate the entitlements. This affected upwards of 22,000 service men and women.[43]

Carbon pricing[edit]

Kelly opposed carbon pricing in Australia and addressed a rally of about 2,000 people on the issue in Hyde Park, describing the reform as a "poisonous, toxic tax" and claiming the Federal Labor Government was destroying Australia's prosperity by undermining the country's competitive advantage. He also stated that "Every Coalition member will sign a blood oath to get rid of this tax."[44]

2013 proposed constitutional amendment on local government[edit]

Kelly was one of only three members of the House of Representatives to speak against the proposal to change the Australian Constitution to enable the Federal Government to place any terms and conditions on financial assistance given to local government councils. He cited the built in checks and balances of the constitution and its longevity as a reason for opposing the change.[45]

Wind farms[edit]

Kelly has been a critic of federal subsidies for industrial wind farms. In a speech in parliament he criticised the use of federal funds to obtain wind power of "questionable reliability" in favour of spending on other critical social needs.[46] He attended a "wind power fraud rally" of 150 people in front of Parliament House, Canberra, which called for the abolition of the renewable energy target and a ban on new wind farms.[47]

Chair of parliamentary inquiry into methamphetamine[edit]

Kelly has chaired a parliamentary inquiry into methamphetamine,[48] and has urged his colleagues to look at the drug policy of Portugal.[49]

Chair of environment and energy committee[edit]

Kelly has been described as a "climate sceptic". He was appointed chair of the backbench environment and energy committee, giving advice to environment minister Josh Frydenberg. He has previously written that convict arrivals to Australia in the 18th century found the weather warmer than in recent years,[50] and has invited climate sceptics from the Institute of Public Affairs to present to the government prior to the Paris Agreement.[51] Kelly has criticised renewable energy, saying that it causes higher electricity bills. He has furthermore stated that this could kill people who are afraid to turn on their heaters.[52]

Tobacco tax[edit]

Kelly has stated that government taxes on tobacco are driving the creation of a black market.[53]

Marriage law reform[edit]

Kelly has stated his support for a plebiscite into same-sex marriage, and predicted the majority would vote against it.[54] He stated on his Facebook page that he would vote with his electorate in the marriage survey.[55] In the conscience votes which sought to amend the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017, Kelly voted for all the amendments, none of which passed.[56]


Kelly is a constitutional Monarchist.[57]

Proposal for signage warning about car stealing[edit]

Speaking in relation to his position as chairman of the Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, Kelly proposed that signs at Mildura should warn drivers of an increased risk of car theft in the town.[58]

Liddell Power Station Closure[edit]

Kelly is strongly critical of AGL's decision to close the Liddell Power Station in 2022. Kelly has stated that it is anti-competitive of AGL not to consider selling Liddell before retiring it.[59]

Monash forum ginger group and NEG[edit]

Kelly is one of the members of the Monash Forum ginger group which aims to influence the design of the National Energy Guarantee.[60] The group advocates for a "Hazelwood 2.0" to be built.[61] Other confirmed members of the forum include Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews, Barnaby Joyce, George Christensen, and Ian Goodenough.[62] Kelly has stated that Labor's proposed increases in the emissions reduction target undermines policy certainty, and has stated that the emissions reduction target for the agriculture industry in Australia could result in farmers having to cull their livestock.[63] Kelly has warned that Josh Frydenberg's offer to the states of a review of the NEG emissions target in 2024 could lead to the target being reduced from its current level of 26%.[64]

Petrol prices[edit]

Kelly has suggested that the fuel excise should be reduced by 10 cents per litre,[65] and that divestiture powers should apply to the petrol industry.[66]

Personal life[edit]

Kelly has a daughter and a son. His son, Trent, has Down syndrome and has been diagnosed with autism.[67]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "The toothless Trade Practices Act". Grants and Opportunities. Nett magazine. 23 October 2008. Archived from the original on 19 September 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Lib select Craig Kelly for Hughes seat". 9 News. ninemsn. 10 May 2010. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  4. ^ a b Rice, Margaret (22 August 2010). "Royal cheer for Hughes Liberal candidate Craig Kelly". Liverpool Leader. News Limited. Archived from the original on 24 August 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  5. ^ Davies, Anne (9 November 2018). "Craig Kelly MP mocks climate change 'exaggeration' in presentation to Liberal party members". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  6. ^ Horrigan, Darren (19 August 2008). "Predatory pricing: who's crying wolf?". Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Five things you might not know about controversial backbencher Craig Kelly". ABC News. 3 December 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  8. ^ Jessica Wright (20 August 2012). "'No grounds' to pursue Thomson: committee". Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  9. ^ "Court documents conflict with Liberal MP statement on company". Crikey. 10 September 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  10. ^ Personal Explanations Hansard, 21 May 2012
  11. ^ Coorey, Phillip (21 May 2012). "Tit for tat as Liberal MP cops it as pay back". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  12. ^ Kelly Keen to support carers on NDIS June 25, 2013
  13. ^ "Interview: Craig Kelly". 16 February 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Abbott, Turnbull fight for leadership". The Australian. 2015-09-14. Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  15. ^ Kelly, J. (2016, Feb 17). Challenge to PM's authority on Kelly. The Australian Retrieved from
  16. ^ Robertson, Sean Nicholls, James (3 February 2016). "Alan Jones attack threat to potential Craig Kelly challengers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  17. ^ Stephanie, Anderson; Donald, Peta (16 February 2016). "PM steps into New South Wales preselection row". ABC News. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  18. ^ Hitchings, Anna (July 2, 2016). "In South-west Sydney the candidates are campaigning up to the wire". Liverpool Leader. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  19. ^ (PDF) Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ Koziol, Michael (17 April 2018). "Australia should learn from 'coherent, democratic' Azerbaijan election, says Liberal MP after state-sponsored visit". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  21. ^ Murphy, Katharine (30 May 2018). "Abbott backs Craig Kelly as preselection battles hot up". the Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Backbencher Craig Kelly backtracks on threat to join the crossbench if he is dumped - ABC News". Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  23. ^ "MH17: Liberal MP Craig Kelly angers colleagues with comments on Russia's role in accident". ABC News. 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  24. ^ "EXCLUSIVE | Liberal MP Craig Kelly confirms he voted for Peter Dutton in leadership spill". 2GB. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  25. ^ "The 43 Liberal MPs that brought down Malcolm Turnbull". ABC News. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  26. ^ @7NewsBrisbane (24 August 2018). ""I voted for @PeterDutton_MP, but I'm now prepared to throw my support 100% behind our new Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP" - @CraigKellyMP speaking to @michaelusher on @Channel7. #auspol #7News" (Tweet). Retweeted by Craig Kelly MP. Retrieved 25 August 2018 – via Twitter.
  27. ^ Doran, Matthew; Sweeney, Lucy (29 August 2018). "Liberal MP Julia Banks not contesting next federal election, says leadership spill was 'the last straw'". ABC News. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  28. ^ Loussikian, Kylar (21 August 2018). "The Liberal Party is short of cash just months out from a federal election". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  29. ^ "Liberal pre-selection battle looms as federal MP refuses to budge". Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  30. ^ Coorey, Philip (24 October 2018). "Morrison intervenes to save maverick MP Craig Kelly from preselection defeat". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  31. ^ Coorey, Philip (6 November 2018). "Moderates defy Scott Morrison's call to save Craig Kelly". Financial Review. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  32. ^ Koziol, Michael (28 November 2018). "Craig Kelly planning to quit the Liberal Party as government braces for more defections". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  33. ^ Bickers, Claire (29 November 2018). "Craig Kelly evokes spirit of Menzies to reassure nervous Liberals that he won't defect to crossbench". The Mercury. Retrieved 30 November 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
  34. ^ a b Shields, Bevan (2 December 2018). "Liberal Party in turmoil over plan to save Craig Kelly through emergency powers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  35. ^ a b Shields, Bevan (2 December 2018). "'Worst and weakest response': Malcolm Turnbull intervenes to kill Craig Kelly peace deal". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  36. ^ Turnbull intervenes in pre-selection process, tells PM to call early election; RN Breakfast; ABC Radio; 3 December 2018
  37. ^ "Trent Zimmerman on NSW re-endorsement". RN Drive. ABC News. 3 December 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  38. ^ Robertson, James (4 January 2016). "Knives out for Hughes MP Craig Kelly after branch battles". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  39. ^ "Divided on the right – the Liberal Party's conservative factions can't agree". Australian Financial Review. 30 June 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  40. ^ Koziol, Michael (7 November 2018). "'It's all done for love': Liberal MP Craig Kelly to regularly co-host Outsiders on Sky News". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  41. ^ Grattan, Michelle. "Turnbull versus Morrison in Liberal crisis over Craig Kelly". The Conversation. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  42. ^ Davies, Anne (7 November 2018). "Liberal MP Craig Kelly to replace Ross Cameron as co-host of Sky News' Outsiders". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  43. ^ Battle lines drawn over travel cuts 16 July 2012
  44. ^ Lema Samandar (1 July 2012). "Sydney carbon tax protesters out in force". Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  45. ^ "Constitution Alteration (Local...: 5 Jun 2013: House debates". 5 June 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  46. ^ Delingpole, James (25 June 2012). "Aussies drive another stake into the heart of the wind-farm vampire – Telegraph Blogs". Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  47. ^ Lenore Taylor (18 June 2013). "Canberra windfarm protesters demand end to 'renewable energy scam'". Guardian. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  48. ^ (PDF) Missing or empty |title= (help)
  49. ^ "Conservative MP open to drug 'decriminalisation'". Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  50. ^ Chan, Gabrielle (29 August 2016). "Climate sceptic MP appointed chair of environment and energy committee". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  51. ^ "Coalition committee tries to balance climate science briefings by inviting denialists from thinktank". The Guardian. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  52. ^ Slezak, Michael (12 July 2017). "Liberal MP says people will die of cold because renewable energy drives up fuel prices". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  53. ^ "Govt turbocharging illegal tobacco: Lib MP". News.
  54. ^ "'This would be a breach in our election commitment': Kelly". Radio National. 7 August 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  55. ^ "Craig Kelly".
  56. ^ "How does Craig Kelly vote on issues that matter to you?". They Vote For You. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  57. ^ "Monarchists downplay Turnbull's support for republic movement". ABC News. 18 December 2016.
  58. ^ Whiting, Melanie (16 January 2018). "Border dispute: NSW MP wants car stealing warning at Victorian border". Sunraysia Daily. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  59. ^ "Craig Kelly says AGL needs to sell Liddell: 'There is a clear argument'". Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  60. ^ Murphy, Katharine (4 April 2018). "Key backbencher warns Frydenberg to tread carefully on energy policy". the Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  61. ^ "Monash manifesto: Coal subsidies good, renewable targets bad". RenewEconomy. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  62. ^ Crowe, David (5 April 2018). "Monash Forum trick leaves conservatives divided". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  63. ^ Murphy, Katharine (25 June 2018). "Coalition dissidents demand national energy guarantee meeting be open to all". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  64. ^ Murphy, Katharine (26 July 2018). "Liberal MP Craig Kelly calls Frydenberg emissions deal a 'double-edged sword'". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  65. ^ "Petrol prices surge 20pc this year, but analysts say not much can be done". ABC News. 5 November 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  66. ^ Karp, Paul (30 October 2018). "Petrol prices: Craig Kelly pushes Coalition to consider $3.5bn reduction in excise tax". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  67. ^ "CRAIG KELLY MP TO VISIT MORAN RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE, ENGADINE". 24 August 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2017.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Danna Vale
Member for Hughes