Glen Sheil

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Glen Sheil
Senator for Queensland
In office
18 May 1974 – 6 February 1981
Succeeded by Florence Bjelke-Petersen
In office
1 December 1984 – 30 June 1990
Personal details
Born (1929-10-21)21 October 1929
Sydney, New South Wales
Died 29 September 2008(2008-09-29) (aged 78)
Brisbane, Queensland
Nationality Australian
Political party National Party of Australia
Occupation Medical practitioner

Tennis career
Country (sports)  Australia
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open 1R (1949, 1950, 1952, 1956)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open 2R (1949)[1]

Glenister Fermoy (Glen) Sheil (21 October 1929 – 29 September 2008[2]) was an Australian politician, representing the National Party in the Senate for the state of Queensland from 1974 to 1981, and again from 1984 to 1990. He was also an amateur tennis player who competed at the Australian Championships in the 1940s and 1950s.


Glen Sheil was born in Sydney and moved to Queensland at a young age. He attended The Southport School on the Gold Coast and studied medicine at the University of Queensland, after which he was a medical practitioner. He also owned the Dungarvan Private Hospital in Brisbane.

He was elected to the Senate at the 1974 election, taking his seat immediately on 18 May because the election followed a double dissolution. In an early parliamentary speech, he read the Lord's Prayer in nine South African languages. He was re-elected in 1975.

After the 1977 election, Malcolm Fraser announced the make-up of the new ministry that he would be recommending to the Governor-General. Sheil was to be Minister for Veterans' Affairs. This announcement was made at 5 p.m. on 19 December 1977. On 20 December he was sworn as a member of the Federal Executive Council, a constitutional pre-requisite for appointment as a minister. That same day, in an interview on ABC Radio, he professed his support for the South African apartheid system, which was very much at odds with the Fraser government’s position. Fraser decided not to proceed with Sheil's appointment to the ministry. In a very rare move, he advised the Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen, to terminate Sheil's appointment as an Executive Councillor (such appointments are normally for life). Cowen was required by convention to act on the Prime Minister's advice, and the termination occurred at midday on 21 December.

This was widely described as "the shortest ministerial career in Australia's history". In fact, Sheil was never a minister at all, but he was a member of the Executive Council for two days, during which time he was entitled to be known as "Senator the Hon Glenister Sheil".

On 6 February 1981 he resigned from the Senate to contest a by-election for the House of Representatives seat of McPherson; he was defeated by Liberal Party candidate Peter White. The casual vacancy caused by his resignation was filled by Florence Bjelke-Petersen, the wife of the then Premier of Queensland, Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

At the 1984 election on 1 December, he was re-elected to the Senate, again taking his seat immediately because the Senate was being increased from 64 to 76 members. He was defeated at the 1990 election, his term expiring on 30 June 1990.

Glen Sheil led the joint Australian Monarchist League (AML) and Queenslanders for Constitutional Monarchy (QCM) ticket in the campaign to send candidates to the Australian Constitutional Convention 1998 which was held in Canberra from 2–13 February in that year.

Active in tennis, rugby and cricket in Queensland, he was known as "Thumpa", a nickname from a rabbit-farming company he part-owned.

He died in 2008.


  • Footnotes to History (3 vols.)
  • A Companion to the Australian Constitution on Understanding the Constitution.


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