Jennie George

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Jennie George
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Throsby
In office
10 November 2001 – 19 July 2010
Preceded by Colin Hollis
Succeeded by Stephen Jones
Personal details
Born Eugenie Sinicky
(1947-08-28) 28 August 1947 (age 70)
Trani, Italy
Political party Australian Labor Party
Profession Teacher, union official

Jennie George, AO (born 28 August 1947) is an Australian politician, and former Australian Labor Party member of the Australian House of Representatives from November 2001 to July 2010, representing the Division of Throsby, New South Wales.

Early life[edit]

Jennie George was born Eugenie Sinicky in Trani, Italy, where her parents Oleg and Natasha were displaced persons from the Soviet Union. Oleg and Natasha separated in 1955 and divorced in 1958. Oleg died in 1960, aged 39, after years of heavy drinking and smoking, during which he was frequently violent towards his wife and sometimes his daughter.[1] She was educated at the Burwood Girls High School (where she was first called Jennie, as Eugenie was deemed too hard to pronounce),[1] Sydney University and the Sydney Teachers College.

In February 1968 she married Paddy George, a full-time activist for the Communist Party and NSW State Secretary of the Eureka Youth League, of which she was also a member.[1] Jennie George was a secondary school teacher and an active member of the teacher's union.

In April 1979 she began an affair with Jack Mundey, which continued for some months. Paddy confronted her about it, and she freely admitted it. Paddy moved out of the marital home but took only his clothes and personal items, and still visited her regularly. When he became ill with cancer in November 1979, Jennie put her relationship with Mundey on hold to care for Paddy. He died in June 1980. Jack Mundey continued to provide support for her, but when he ultimately chose not to leave his wife, she terminated their relationship.[1]

George was elected General Secretary of the New South Wales Teachers Federation 1980-82. During the 1960s and early 1970s she was a member of the Communist Party of Australia.[2]


George was Vice President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in 1987, Assistant Secretary of the ACTU 1991-96 and President of the ACTU 1996- March 2000. She was the first woman to hold this position. She was Assistant National Director, Trade Union Training Authority 1989-91 and a board member of Delta Electricity from 2000 to 2001.

In November 1994 she was endorsed as the Left faction's candidate for a Victorian Senate seat. When Victorian Senator Olive Zakharov, also a member of the Left, was killed in a road accident in March 1995, it was assumed that George would be nominated to fill the casual vacancy. However, factional negotiations resulted in the seat going to a member of the Right faction, Jacinta Collins. George then withdrew her candidacy and did not reconsider a political career until returning to Sydney after leaving the ACTU. She sought support for a seat in either of the houses of the NSW Parliament, but this came to nothing. She was then offered a chance to stand for the federal seat of Throsby in New South Wales in 2001.[3]

George served on the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage from 20 March 2002, on the Standing Committee on Family and Community Services from 20 March 2002 to 31 August 2004 and on the Standing Committee on Family and Human Services from 2 December 2004. She was Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Heritage from 2004 to 2007.

She retired from Parliament at the 2010 federal election.[4][5]

Unlike other ACTU Presidents (including most notably former Prime Minister Bob Hawke) who went on to be elected to Federal Parliament, George did not hold a ministerial position during her federal parliamentary career.

She was made an Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia on 10 June 2013.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Brad Norington, "Unions of the Heart", Sydney Morning Herald, Spectrum, 7 November 1998, p. 7s
  2. ^ Norrington, Brad (2001-04-27). "Instant History". Workers Online. Retrieved 2006-06-20. 
  3. ^ Alan Ramsey, "Labor's just a big, big man's world", Sydney Morning Herald, 10 June 2000, Opinion, p. 41
  4. ^ Levy, Megan (2009-11-19). "Throsby MP Jennie George to retire". Illawarra Mercury. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  5. ^ "Biography for GEORGE, Jennie". Parlinfo Web. Parliament of Australia. 4 October 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-07. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2013". Sydney Morning Herald. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Colin Hollis
Member for Throsby
Succeeded by
Stephen Jones
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Martin Ferguson
President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions
Succeeded by
Sharan Burrow