Mary Jo Fisher

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Mary Jo Fisher
Senator for South Australia
In office
12 June 2007 – 14 August 2012
Preceded byAmanda Vanstone
Succeeded byAnne Ruston
Personal details
Born (1962-12-25) 25 December 1962 (age 57)
Beverley, Western Australia
Political partyLiberal

Mary Josephine Fisher (born 25 December 1962) is a former Australian politician. She was a Liberal member of the Australian Senate from June 2007, representing the state of South Australia, but resigned in August 2012, after twice being charged with shoplifting.


Fisher was born in the Western Australian town of Beverley. She is a great-granddaughter of George Miles, a long-serving former member of the Western Australian Legislative Council,[1] and a niece of former Nuclear Disarmament Party and Greens WA Senator Jo Vallentine.[2] She worked as a barrister and specialist in industrial relations before the start of her political career. She subsequently served as a senior adviser to the then Industrial Relations Minister, Peter Reith. At the time of her selection, Fisher was General Manager of Business Services for Business SA.[3]

Political career[edit]

Fisher was chosen on 6 June 2007 to fill a vacancy in the Australian Senate caused by the resignation of the Hon. Amanda Vanstone.[4] This preselection was the subject of an internal party appeal by fellow candidate Maria Kourtesis.[5] On 5 June 2007 the appeals tribunal set up by the SA Liberal Party dismissed Mrs Kourtesis appeal in a 4-1 vote. A joint sitting of the Parliament of South Australia officially nominated Fisher as a senator on 6 June 2007.[6] Fisher was sworn in as a South Australian Senator on 12 June. Maria Kourtesis remained fourth on the SA Liberal Party Senate ticket for the 2007 election.

Fisher served on the Senate's Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts committee, and was a member of the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and Legal and Constitutional Affairs Standing committees.[7] She is the former Chair of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network,[8] and she also served as the Chair of the Senate Standing Environment and Communications References Committee.[9]

Fisher made headlines in March 2011 when she mocked Prime Minister Julia Gillard by dancing the Hokey Pokey and the Time Warp in the Australian Senate during a speech arguing against the Government's climate change policy.[10]

First shoplifting charge[edit]

In July 2011, it was revealed that Fisher had been charged with shoplifting and the alleged assault of a security guard at an Adelaide supermarket in December 2010.[11] Fisher said she would vigorously defend the claims.[12] If convicted on either charge, Fisher would have lost her seat in the Senate.[11] Senator Fisher's defence was that she was suffering from depression and a severe panic attack at the time of the offence.[13] On 18 November, magistrate Kym Boxall cleared Fisher of shoplifting charges, but found her guilty of assault, although no conviction was recorded and no penalty was imposed.[14]

Second shoplifting charge and resignation[edit]

On 21 June 2012, ABC News announced that police had confirmed Fisher had been involved in a second shoplifting incident, and she would resign from Parliament on 10 August 2012.[15] She said she was still trying to recover from her depressive illness and continuing to serve in public office would not be conducive to her recovery. On 10 August she delayed her resignation until 14 August.[16][17]

In February 2013 it was reported that the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) had launched an investigation into the prosecution of Fisher, in particular the actions of senior police in overruling prosecutor advice not to pursue the case. The matter was referred to the PCA by John Rau the South Australian Attorney-General after receiving a letter from Fisher's husband, John Crosby.[18]


  1. ^ McGuire, Michael. "How such a bright career flamed out". Adelaide Now. News Limited. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  2. ^ Fisher, Mary Jo. "First Speech". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Workplace barrister to replace Vanstone". The Age. Melbourne. 26 May 2007.
  4. ^ "Fisher replaces Vanstone". The Advertiser. 25 May 2007.
  5. ^ Kelton, Greg (29 May 2007). "Preselection row delays Vanstone successor". The Advertiser.
  6. ^ Adelaide Advertiser "Vanstone seat resolved" 6 June 2007
  7. ^ Senator Mary Jo Fisher, Official biography[permanent dead link], retrieved January 2009.
  8. ^ Department of the Senate, committee memberships Archived 22 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved January 2009.
  9. ^ Archived 22 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Hunt, Nigel. "Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher Arrested for Shoplifting, Assault". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  12. ^ "SA Senator charged with assault". 22 July 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
  13. ^ "SA Senator Mary Jo Fisher guilty of assault but cleared of shop-lifting". 18 November 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  14. ^ "Liberal senator found guilty of assault". 18 November 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  15. ^ "Fisher to quit after fresh shoplifting incident". 18 November 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  16. ^ "Senator to stay on for few more days". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  17. ^ "Fisher farewells parliamentary colleagues". The Sydney Morning Herald. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  18. ^ Hunt, Nigel (8 February 2013). "New probe into ex-senator Mary Jo Fisher's shoplifting and assault prosecution". The Advertiser. Retrieved 31 March 2014.

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