Don Farrell

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Don Farrell
Don Farrell.jpg
Senator for South Australia
Assumed office
2 July 2016
In office
1 July 2008 – 30 June 2014
Minister for Sport
In office
1 July 2013 – 18 September 2013
Preceded byKate Lundy
Succeeded byPeter Dutton
Personal details
Donald Edward Farrell

(1954-06-06) 6 June 1954 (age 65)
Murray Bridge, South Australia, Australia
Political partyLabor Party
Alma materUniversity of Adelaide
OccupationUnion leader

Donald Edward Farrell (born 6 June 1954) is an Australian politician and a former trade union leader.

He was a Labor member of the Australian Senate from 2008 to 2014, representing the state of South Australia and re-elected at the 2016 double dissolution election.

Appointed the Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water on 14 September 2010, Farrell was promoted into the outer ministry on 25 March 2013 as the Minister for Science and Research and the Minister Assisting on Tourism, in the Second Gillard Ministry. On 1 July 2013 Farrell was appointed the Minister for Sport as well as remaining Minister Assisting on Tourism in the Second Rudd Ministry.[1][2] Farrell failed in his attempt to be re-elected to the Senate at the 2013 federal election, and his first term concluded on 30 June 2014.[3]

Political career[edit]

Before entering the Senate, Farrell was the South Australian Secretary and the National President of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) union and a leader of Labor Unity in South Australia.[4]

Farrell first ran for parliament at the 1988 Adelaide by-election but was unsuccessful.

In June 2007, Farrell won preselection for the first position on Labor's Senate ticket in the 2007 election and he was subsequently the first elected senator for South Australia at the general election.

Following the 2010 federal election, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water.[5][6] On 25 March 2013, Farrell was promoted into the Outer Ministry as the Minister for Science and Research and the Minister Assisting on Tourism.[7] On 1 July 2013 as part of the Second Rudd Ministry, Farrell was appointed the Minister for Sport as well as remaining Minister Assisting on Tourism.[1]

In 2011 Farrell was listed as number six on the top ten political fixers as identified by The Power Index website. Where the article states that Labor's former deputy leader, Ralph Clarke commented:[8]

"He controls the pre-selection directly or indirectly of every MP in South Australia. If you want to get on, you get on with Don."

In 2012, he was again selected as the first candidate on Labor's Senate ticket in the 2013 federal election, causing some controversy as he defeated Penny Wong for the leading Senate position. At the time, Wong was a senior minister in the Second Gillard Ministry and a member of the Australian Cabinet. Anthony Albanese accused union powerbrokers of not listening to the electorate and instead focusing on its own ructions. He labelled the move as:[9]

"...gross self-indulgent rubbish.... [taken by] ....those who should care more about the party and less about themselves."

He stated that he would demand that Labor's national executive overturn the decision and promote Senator Wong to the number one spot. On 30 October 2012, Farrell stepped aside to give Wong the number one spot on Labor's senate ticket for the 2013 election. He was quoted as saying:[10]

"I was concerned that the issue was damaging the Labor Party. ..... I was prepared to do a swap with Penny. This is a case whereby modern Labor can't be seen to be concentrating on our internals at the expense of what is going on out there in the electorate and what is expected."

Wong later expressed favourable sentiments about Farrell after his decision to stand aside:[10]

"Throughout his career, Don has always put the Labor Party first and he has demonstrated that principle again today."

Farrell was subsequently defeated at the 2013 federal election and his term in the Senate ended on 30 June 2014.[3]

In January 2014 it was announced that Michael O'Brien offered Farrell his state seat of Napier, so that Farrell could contest the 2014 South Australian election, representing Labor. Premier Jay Weatherill threatened to resign if Farrell was successfully preselected.[11][12] A few hours later, Farrell withdrew his nomination.[13]

In 2016 Farrell was endorsed as a Labor candidate for the Senate in South Australia in the 2016 federal election,[14] and was subsequently re-elected.[15]

Farrell opposes same-sex marriage and supports the view of "traditional marriage as being between a man and a woman". He has publicly stated that he will vote against marriage equality in the parliament regardless of the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.[16] However from 2019 he will follow the Labor Policy Platform from that time which will not permit a conscience vote on the issue.[17]


  1. ^ a b "Kevin Rudd's new-look ministry". ABC News, 1 July 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Second Rudd Ministry" (PDF). Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Commonwealth of Australia. 1 July 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b Labor "Godfather" hints at political return. ABC News Online, 2 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013
  4. ^ Manning, Haydon (2005). Yes, Premier: Labor Leadership in Australia's States and Territories. UNSW Press. p. 215.
  5. ^ "Second Gillard Ministry" (PDF). 14 September 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Administrative Arrangements Order" (PDF). COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 September 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Full list of changes to the Gillard ministry". The Sydney Morning Herald. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Political fixers, no. 6". The Power Index. 13 July 2011. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012.
  9. ^ Wright, Jessica (27 October 2012). "Wong senate snub risks factional flare-up". Sydney Morning Herald.
  10. ^ a b Osborne, Paul (30 October 2012). "Labor avoids stoush over SA Senate post". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Premier Weatherill tells 891 Breakfast he will reconsider leadership if Farrell accepts preselection". 891 ABC Adelaide radio. 31 January 2014. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Labor in pre-election crisis as Premier Jay Weatherill threatens to resign if Labor Senator Don Farrell is endorsed for state seat". ABC News. Australia. 31 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Labor Senator Don Farrell withdraws bid to enter SA Parliament". ABC News. Australia. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  14. ^ Rebecca Puddy (12 May 2016). "Federal election 2016: Don Farrell wins No 2 spot on Senate list". The Australian. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  15. ^ Karp, Paul (2 August 2016). "Family First's Bob Day edges Labor out for final South Australian Senate seat". Guardian Australia. Australia. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  16. ^ "How your MP will vote if Australia says Yes to same-sex marriage". ABC News. 14 November 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  17. ^ Maiden, Samantha (15 October 2016). "Marriage equality: ALP bigwig Don Farrell will vote for change after next election". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 20 October 2016.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Political offices
Preceded by
Kate Lundy
Minister for Sport
Succeeded by
Peter Dutton
New ministerial post Minister Assisting on Tourism
Succeeded by
Office abolished