Don Farrell

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The Honourable
Don Farrell
Don Farrell.jpg
Minister for Sport
In office
1 July 2013 – 18 September 2013
Preceded by Kate Lundy
Succeeded by Peter Dutton
Senator for South Australia
In office
1 July 2008 – 30 June 2014
Personal details
Born (1954-06-06) 6 June 1954 (age 61)
Murray Bridge, South Australia, Australia
Political party Australian Labor Party
Alma mater University of Adelaide
Occupation Union leader
Religion Roman Catholic

Donald Edward Farrell (born 6 June 1954) is a former Australian politician and trade union leader. He was a Labor member of the Australian Senate from 2008 to 2014, representing the state of South Australia. 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]

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.[3]

He was defeated at the 2013 federal election, his term concluding 30 June 2014.[4]

Federal parliament[edit]

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 Australian 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]

He was defeated at the 2013 federal election. His term in the Senate ended 30 June 2014.[4]


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 beat Penny Wong, a senior minister in the Second Gillard Ministry and a member of the Australian Cabinet for the top spot. Anthony Albanese accused union power brokers 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."

State politics[edit]

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


  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. 
  3. ^ Manning, Haydon (2005). Yes, Premier: Labor Leadership in Australia's States and Territories. UNSW Press. p. 215. 
  4. ^ a b Labor "Godfather" hints at political return. ABC News Online, 2 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013
  5. ^ "Second Gillard Ministry" (PDF). 14 September 2010. 
  6. ^ "Administrative Arrangements Order" (PDF). COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA. 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. 
  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
  12. ^ Labor in pre-election crisis as Premier Jay Weatherill threatens to resign if Labor Senator Don Farrell is endorsed for state seat: ABC 31 January 2014
  13. ^ "Labor Senator Don Farrell withdraws bid to enter SA Parliament". ABC News Online. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 

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