David O'Byrne

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David O'Byrne
Member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly
for Franklin
Assumed office
3 March 2018
In office
20 March 2010 – 30 March 2014
Personal details
Born (1969-03-17) 17 March 1969 (age 49)
Launceston, Tasmania
Political partyLabor Party
RelationsMichelle O'Byrne (sister)
Alma materUniversity of Adelaide

David O'Byrne (born 17 March 1969) is an Australian trade unionist and politician. A prominent union leader prior to entering politics and the brother of fellow politician Michelle O'Byrne, he has been an Labor Party member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly since 2018 and previously served from 2010 to 2014, representing the electorate of Franklin.

He served as a minister under Premiers David Bartlett and Lara Giddings, variously holding the portfolios of environment, parks and heritage; workplace relations; arts; sport and recreation; hospitality; economic development and infrastructure, and innovation, science and technology. He was widely tipped as a potential future Labor leader before losing his seat to Liberal Paul Harriss at the 2014 election.

He served in cabinet with his sister Michelle O'Byrne, one of a very few pairs of siblings serving in cabinet together anywhere in the world.[1]

In 2018 David was re-elected to the House of Assembly with a strong personal vote topping the Labor ticket.

Early life[edit]

O'Byrne was born in Launceston, where his father was a painter, a shop steward, and a life member of a union. O'Byrne grew up in Launceston and studied at the University of Adelaide where he gained a degree in Labour Studies. He moved to Hobart in 1994.

Union official and leader[edit]

David O'Byrne was initially employed by the Health and Community Services Union, and then with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU).

David was elected as Tasmanian Secretary of the LHMU in 2001 and was re-elected unopposed in 2002 and 2006. He also served as National Vice President of the union between 2008 & 2010.

David also served as State President of the ALP Tasmanian Branch from 2004–2006 and Senior Vice President of Unions Tasmania between 2001 and 2009. David’s leadership has also steered successful outcomes in campaigns to get better wages and conditions for child care workers, casino workers and cleaners. He has fought for job security for public school cleaners and grounds people, as well as for greater recognition for early years professionals. He also played a lead role in the Your Rights at Work Campaign.

While with the LHMU, David led the Union’s campaign to make Tasmania the first state to protect hospitality workers and the public by introducing a ban on smoking in enclosed areas of bars and casinos.

O'Byrne has made significant contributions to the community through his roles as Chair of Smoke Free Tasmania, member of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Child Care, member of the State Facilitating Group Anti-Poverty Week Organising Committee, Co Chair of the Anti-Poverty Week Organising Committee, Founding member and Chair of the Peace Coalition (a group established to protest the invasion of Iraq), and Treasurer of the Tasmanian Peace Trust. He has held leadership positions of National Vice President of the LHMU since 2007, Senior Vice President of Unions Tasmania 2001-2008, ALP State President 2004-2006 and ALP Vice President 2001-2004.

Member for Franklin[edit]

O'Byrne was preselected as an endorsed Labor candidate for the Tasmanian House of Assembly electorate of Franklin on 21 July 2009. He was subsequently elected at the 20 March 2010 state election, polling second on the Labor ticket to defeat incumbent Labor MHAs Ross Butler and Daniel Hulme.

O'Byrne's ministerial responsibilities originally encompassed Environment, Parks and Heritage; Workplace Relations; Arts; Sport and Recreation and the newly created Hospitality portfolio. Following a ministerial reshuffle in December 2010, he was promoted to the portfolios of Economic Development and of Infrastructure, whilst retaining the portfolio of Workplace Relations. In February 2011 he was granted the additional portfolio of Innovation, Science and Technology upon the resignation of Premier David Barlett, who had held that portfolio. He also assumed the portfolio of Police and Emergency Management shortly thereafter.

O'Byrne held the portfolios of Economic Development, Infrastructure, Workplace Relations, Innovation, Science and Technology, and Police and Emergency Management.[2]

O'Byrne lost his seat at the March 2014 election. He was returned to parliament in 2018.

United Voice National Secretary[edit]

In May 2014 it was announced that O'Byrne would take on the role of National Secretary of his former union United Voice. O'Byrne will be Acting National Secretary until September when it is expected he will be formally elected into the role.[3]

He was elected to National Secretary at the Unions National Council meeting held in September.[4][5]

After commuting from his home in Hobart to Sydney for the role for over a year, with a young family based in Hobart he made the decision to resign from the position of National Secretary to return to live permanently in Tasmania.[6]

Not For Profit Role[edit]

In July 2015 O'Byrne was appointed Chief Operating Officer for the highly regarded not for profit Beacon Foundation http://beaconfoundation.com.au/ a foundation whilst founded and based in Hobart works with disadvantaged communities in every state across Australia working to assist schools and industry work together to help young Australians on a positive pathway post secondary education.[7]


O'Byrne lives in Hobart with wife Tonia and two daughters Lily and Ava.


  1. ^ http://www.premier.tas.gov.au/cabinet/david_obyrne
  2. ^ http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/opposition-treasury-spokesman-peter-gutwein-tops-pollie-vote-count/story-fnj4f7k1-1226787804626/
  3. ^ "Former Tasmanian Labor minister David O'Byrne takes United Voice union national job". The Mercury. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  4. ^ http://www.unitedvoice.org.au/news/national-secretarys-address-national-council/
  5. ^ http://preview.brw.com.au/p/national/going_beyond_the_call_of_duty_P0zO5AYLXQZ1BmZiNeRsBO/
  6. ^ http://www.unitedvoice.org.au/news/thank-you-david-o%E2%80%99byrne-outgoing-national-secretary/
  7. ^ http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/david-obyrne-on-mission-to-lift-kids-into-work/news-story/76cc182a746f966bdb484d2197db950e/

External links[edit]