Fran Bailey

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Fran Bailey
Fran Bailey.jpg
Minister for Small Business and Tourism
In office
26 October 2004 – 3 December 2007
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byJoe Hockey
Succeeded byCraig Emerson (Small Business)
Martin Ferguson (tourism)
Minister for Employment Services
In office
18 July 2004 – 26 October 2004
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byMal Brough
Succeeded byPeter Dutton
Member of the Australian Parliament
for McEwen
In office
2 March 1996 – 19 July 2010
Preceded byPeter Cleeland
Succeeded byRob Mitchell
In office
24 March 1990 – 13 March 1993
Preceded byPeter Cleeland
Succeeded byPeter Cleeland
Personal details
Born (1946-05-21) 21 May 1946 (age 76)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Political partyLiberal
Alma materUniversity of Queensland

Frances Esther Bailey (born 21 May 1946) is a former Australian politician. She is a member of the Liberal Party and served in the House of Representatives from 1990 to 1993 and 1996 to 2010, representing the Division of McEwen in Victoria. She held ministerial office in the Howard Government as Minister for Employment Services (2004) and Small Business and Tourism (2004–2007).

Early life[edit]

Bailey was born in Brisbane and attended All Hallows' School there,[1] where she was regarded as a champion swimmer.[2] She graduated from the University of Queensland[3] and Kelvin Grove Teachers' College,[2] later studying sociology at La Trobe University.[3]

Bailey worked as a secondary school teacher, retailer and cashmere goat breeder before entering politics.[2]


Bailey was secretary of the Yarra Glen branch of the Liberal Party from 1984 to 1988 and President of the branch from 1988 to 1989. She also worked as the campaign director for the Victorian state seat of Evelyn at the 1988 election.

Bailey was first elected at the 1990 election, defeating Labor incumbent Peter Cleeland in McEwen. She became the first female Liberal candidate elected to a Victorian seat, and the first woman elected to represent a rural electorate.[4]

She was promoted to Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs, and was heavily involved with the Liberals' Fightback! campaign to regain power. Cleeland defeated her in the 1993 election, a rematch of 1990. However, she won the seat back in 1996, defeating Cleeland in another rematch. She served on the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade from 1998 to 2002.[citation needed]

Before her return to McEwen, she sought preselection for the 1994 Kooyong by-election [5] but the preselection and then the by-election was won by her future parliamentary colleague Petro Georgiou.

Ministerial career[edit]

In 2001, Bailey was promoted to Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence. In July 2004 she was promoted to Minister for Employment Services and Assistant Minister for Defence. She became Minister for Small Business and Tourism in October 2004.

Tourism Minister and clash with Scott Morrison[edit]

During her stint as tourism minister, Bailey clashed with the future prime minister, Scott Morrison, who was the managing director of Tourism Australia (TA).

It was described that Morrison was trying to "steal the limelight" from Bailey and did press releases without approval of Bailey who was his boss and bypassed her office on key decisions. Morrison and the TA board pushed for the "So where the bloody hell are you?" ad campaign to be awarded to M&C Saatchi, reportedly bypassing Bailey and government procurement guidelines for three contracts with a total value of $184 million. [6]

In 2006, she flew to London with Lara Bingle to successfully lobby the British Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) for the right to use the word "bloody" in advertisements promoting Australia for the "So where the bloody hell are you?" campaign, as the word "bloody" breached the BACC's guidelines. However, privately Bailey believed that Morrison and his team had failed to do the proper research into Britain's advertising code before rolling out the ad campaign in Britain. Morrison also repeatedly kept critical information from the Tourism Australia board. As the minister and the TA board lost confidence in Morrison, Bailey advised to Prime Minister John Howard that Morrison be sacked. Howard accepted the advice and Morrison was fired in August 2006.[7]

In 2022, following Morrison's multi-ministerial positions controversy, Bailey revealed that Morrison showed no respect for his colleagues at Tourism Australia and he left her feeling bullied, also confirming that he “point-blank refused” to provide her or the board with any documentation or to answer questions about how the ad campaign was awarded to Saatchi. She said she was "gobsmacked when he became prime minister" and called for Morrison to resign from Parliament. She described that Morrison had "the supreme belief that only he can do a job, the lack of consultation with those closest to him – those characteristics were evident 16 years ago, and perhaps we’re seeing the end result of those now.”[8]

2007 election controversy and final term[edit]

Her period as minister ended with the defeat of the Howard government at the 2007 election. Her hold on McEwen was always somewhat tenuous due to its demographics. Although classed as rural by the Australian Electoral Commission, it is actually a hybrid urban-rural seat. It includes several outer northern suburbs of Melbourne that tilt heavily to Labor, while the more rural portion votes equally heavily for the Liberals and Nationals. However, the 2007 election resulted in McEwen becoming the most marginal seat in the country. Initially, it appeared that Bailey had lost to former Labor state MP Rob Mitchell by six votes. Bailey requested and was granted a full recount, which gave her the win by 12 votes.

The result was challenged in the High Court of Australia in its capacity as the Court of Disputed Returns, and was referred to the Federal Court of Australia. Over seven months after the election and a review of 643 individual votes, the court altered the formal status of several dozen, eventually declaring Bailey the winner by 27 votes. Following the resolution of the long-running dispute, Bailey called for a total overhaul of the voting system.[9][10][11]

Bailey announced in October 2009 that she would retire at the 2010 election.[12]


  1. ^ Perkin, Corrie. (28 February 2009). "Member at the seat of the fire". The Australian. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Gleeson, Peter. (27 November 2004). "Minister to rekindle Coast affair". The Gold Coast Bulletin, Southport, Queensland. p20.
  3. ^ a b "Life so far for an All Hallows girl" (26 October 2004). The Gold Coast Bulletin, Southport, Queensland. p5.
  4. ^ "Liberal Party – profile of Fran Bailey" at the Wayback Machine (archived 11 November 2007), Liberal Party of Australia. Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  5. ^ "11th-hour rush for Kooyong preselection". Canberra Times (Act : 1926 - 1995). 24 September 1994. p. 5.
  6. ^ Annika Smethurst (11 September 2021). "How clashes with a minister helped get the future PM fired". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  7. ^ Annika Smethurst (11 September 2021). "How clashes with a minister helped get the future PM fired". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  8. ^ Jon Faine (28 August 2022). "'I was gobsmacked when he became prime minister'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  9. ^ Doherty, Ben (3 July 2008). "Court confirms Bailey win". Melbourne: Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  10. ^ "Labor loses bid to win back McEwen". 2 July 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  11. ^ "Mitchell v Bailey (No 2) 2008 FCA 692: Federal Court of Australia Decisions". Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  12. ^ "Fran Bailey announces retirement". 7 October 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2010.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Employment Services
Succeeded byas Minister for Workforce Participation
Preceded by Minister for Small Business and Tourism
Succeeded byas Minister for Small Business,
Independent Contractors and the Service Economy
Succeeded byas Minister for Tourism
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by Member for McEwen
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member for McEwen
Succeeded by