Dean Brown

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For other people named Dean Brown, see Dean Brown (disambiguation).
The Honourable
Dean Brown
41st Premier of South Australia
Elections: 1993
In office
14 December 1993 – 28 November 1996
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor Dame Roma Mitchell
Sir Eric Neal
Deputy Stephen Baker
Preceded by Lynn Arnold
Succeeded by John Olsen
10th Deputy Premier of South Australia
In office
22 October 2001 – 5 March 2002
Premier Rob Kerin
Preceded by Rob Kerin
Succeeded by Kevin Foley
34th Leader of the Opposition (SA)
In office
11 May 1992 – 4 September 1992
Preceded by Dale Baker
Succeeded by Lynn Arnold
Deputy Leader of the Opposition (SA)
In office
6 March 2002 – 21 November 2005
Preceded by Annette Hurley
Succeeded by Iain Evans
Member for Finniss
In office
11 December 1993 – 18 March 2006
Preceded by New District
Succeeded by Michael Pengilly
Personal details
Born (1943-04-05) 5 April 1943 (age 73)
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia (SA)

Dean Craig Brown, AO (born 5 April 1943) was the Premier of South Australia between 14 December 1993 and 28 November 1996, having won the 1993 election landslide, and also served as 10th Deputy Premier of South Australia between 22 October 2001 and 5 March 2002, representing the South Australian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia. John Olsen successfully challenged Brown for the premiership a year prior to the 1997 election but the party was reduced to minority government, though he too would lose the premiership, due to the Motorola affair where he misled parliament, to Rob Kerin, several months before the Liberals lost government at the 2002 election.

Early life[edit]

Prior to entering politics Brown was a research scientist.[1]

Political career[edit]

Dean Brown's political career was marked by his rivalry with John Olsen, the two representing the moderate and conservative wings of the South Australian Liberal Party respectively. He was first elected to the House of Assembly for the safe Liberal seat of Davenport in east Adelaide on 10 March 1973, and joined the Liberal Movement faction of the party. He served in the ministry of David Tonkin from 1979 to 1982. After Tonkin lost the 1982 election and retired from politics, Brown ran in the ensuing leadership election, losing to Olsen. For the 1985 election, an electoral redistribution left both Brown and Stan Evans, the member for Fisher, vying for Liberal preselection in Davenport. In the ensuing factional battle (Evans is a member of the conservative wing), Brown won preselection, but Evans remained in the race as an "Independent Liberal." At the election, Brown suffered a swing of 30 percent on the primary vote and 24 percent on the two-party vote, enough to lose the seat to Evans.

Dean Brown returned to politics in 1992. The Labor government of John Bannon was embarrassed by the losses of the State Bank of South Australia, but incumbent Opposition Leader Dale Baker was unable to capitalise. Baker resigned and called a spill for all leadership positions. It initially appeared that Olsen, who had been appointed to the Australian Senate after losing the 1989 state election, would return to his old post with little difficulty. The Liberal Party's conservative faction persuaded Roger Goldsworthy to resign his safe seat of Kavel and hand it to Olsen. However, the moderate wing was not willing to let Olsen take the leadership unopposed, and persuaded Ted Chapman to stand down from his equally safe seat of Alexandra on the Fleurieu Peninsula and hand it to Brown so he could challenge Olsen for the leadership.[1] This allowed both Brown and Olsen to re-enter parliament at by-elections on the same day, the 1992 Kavel by-election and 1992 Alexandra by-election respectively. In the ensuing ballot, Brown narrowly defeated Olsen.

Bannon retired in late 1992 and was succeeded by Lynn Arnold. However, Arnold was unable to change Labor's fortunes, and Brown went into the 1993 election as an unbackable favourite to be the state's next premier. At that election, Brown led the Liberals to one of the biggest landslides ever recorded at the state level in Australia. They took 14 seats from Labor and won a record 61 percent of the two-party vote. They also won all but nine seats in Adelaide, Labor's power base for more than half a century—in some cases, taking seats where Labor had not been seriously threatened in decades. At this election, Brown was elected for Finniss, a reconfigured version of Alexandra. With a 14-seat majority—the largest in South Australia's history—Brown seemed to be in a formidable position. Indeed, there was talk that the Liberals would be in power for a generation.

However, he had considerable difficulty reining in his large party room, which was torn by the factional battles that have long plagued the SA Liberals. He didn't seem to project an image of confident leadership. By late 1996, the Liberals' poll numbers had stalled. Well aware that the Liberals had a year at most to recover before a statutory general election, two prominent moderate backbenchers, Joan Hall and Graham Ingerson, threw their support to Olsen. With Hall and Ingerson's backing, Olsen launched a successful party-room coup against Brown in November.[1] As a sop to Brown, Olsen named him Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in his government. In a post-election reshuffle, Brown became Minister for Human Services.

After Olsen was forced to resign as premier in 2001, Brown sought to regain the premiership but lost out to Deputy Premier Rob Kerin. As a concession to Brown, Kerin named Brown deputy leader of the Liberal Party, and hence Deputy Premier. He took on the added portfolios of Disability Services and Ageing. After the Liberal Party lost government at the 2002 election, Brown became Deputy Opposition Leader until 2005 when he announced that he would leave politics at the 2006 election, and resigned the deputy leadership.

In October 2007, Brown was appointed special drought adviser to South Australian Premier Mike Rann.[2]


  1. ^ a b Kingston, Charles Cameron. The unluckiest politician in Australia. Crikey, 2001-10-21.
  2. ^ Former Lib premier takes Labor support role, ABC Online, 17 October 2007

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Lynn Arnold
Premier of South Australia
Succeeded by
John Olsen
Preceded by
Rob Kerin
Deputy Premier of South Australia
Succeeded by
Kevin Foley
Preceded by
Dale Baker
Leader of the Opposition in South Australia
1992 – 1993
Succeeded by
Lynn Arnold
Preceded by
Annette Hurley
Deputy Leader of the Opposition in South Australia
2002 – 2005
Succeeded by
Iain Evans
Parliament of South Australia
Preceded by
Joyce Steele
Member for Davenport
Succeeded by
Stan Evans
Preceded by
Ted Chapman
Member for Alexandra
District abolished
New district Member for Finniss
Succeeded by
Michael Pengilly
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dale Baker
Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia (South Australian Division)
Succeeded by
John Olsen