Melissa Parke

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The Honourable
Melissa Parke
Melissa Parke Portrait 2010.jpg
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Fremantle
In office
24 November 2007 – 9 May 2016
Preceded by Carmen Lawrence
Succeeded by Josh Wilson
Minister for International Development
In office
1 July 2013 – 18 September 2013
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Office abolished
Personal details
Born (1966-08-11) 11 August 1966 (age 50)
Donnybrook, Western Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Alma mater Curtin University
Murdoch University
University of New South Wales
Occupation Lawyer

Melissa Parke (born 11 August 1966) is a former Australian politician. Parke was an Australian Labor Party member of the Australian House of Representatives, representing the Division of Fremantle, Western Australia, from the 2007 federal election until her retirement in May 2016. Parke was the Minister for International Development in the second Rudd ministry, from July 2013.

She has previously expressed views on human rights, refugees, animal welfare, public services integrity, and foreign policy.

Prior to entering politics, Parke worked as a lawyer for the United Nations. Between 1999 and 2007 she worked for the UN in Kosovo, Lebanon, Gaza, and New York. She also worked as a law lecturer at Murdoch University, the principal solicitor at the Bunbury Community Legal Centre, and in private legal practice in Sydney and Western Australia.

She retired from politics at the 2016 federal election.[1]

Background and early career[edit]

Parke grew up in the south-west of Western Australia on her parents' apple farm in Donnybrook. She attended public schools in Donnybrook and Bunbury and completed a Bachelor of Business (with Distinction) at Curtin University in 1989. This was followed by a law degree at the University of New South Wales and subsequently in 1998 a Master of Laws (LLM) in public international law at Murdoch University where she lectured in 1999.

From 1990 to 1994 Parke worked in law offices in Sydney and Bunbury and from 1994 to 1997 as solicitor-in–charge at the Bunbury Community Legal Centre. It was during this period that she unsuccessfully contested the WA Legislative Assembly seat of Mitchell for Labor at the 1996 election.

United Nations[edit]

Parke began her employment as an international lawyer with UNMIK, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo from 1999 to 2002 and subsequently worked in Gaza with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from 2002 to 2004.

In 2004 Parke became a legal adviser in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management in the UN headquarters, New York. In this role, Parke was responsible for aspects of management reform and for the provision of advice and oversight in respect of the UN system of justice administration.

In 2005 and 2006, Parke was seconded from the Department of Management to establish the new UN Ethics Office, laying the foundations for a permanent unit within the UN that would eventually serve 29,000 personnel worldwide in relation to issues of ethics, transparency and good governance.[2]

From mid-2006 to early 2007, Parke worked as the deputy chief of staff and legal adviser in the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) in Beirut, Lebanon, investigating the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and other terrorist attacks in Lebanon.

Parke returned to her post in New York in early 2007 and left the United Nations in June of that year to return to Fremantle, Australia to stand for parliament.

Political career[edit]

Parke was elected as the Member for the Division of Fremantle in the 2007 Australian federal election,[3] in the 2010 Australian federal election[4] and again in the 2013 Australian federal election.[5] Some notable achievements include negotiating the return of Cantonment Hill from the Australian Defence Force to the City of Fremantle[6] and organising a community cabinet forum in Fremantle in March 2011 attended by prime minister Julia Gillard and key cabinet ministers.[7]

In June 2011 Parke publicly raised concerns about the government's proposal to send asylum-seeker children to Malaysia and in July 2011 Parke was one of nine backbenchers to raise concerns about the government's decision to resume the live export of cattle to Indonesia after the ABC Four Corners program exposed cruel and inhumane treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesian abattoirs.[8]

In February 2013 Parke was promoted to Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health, Homelessness and Social Housing.[9]

Parke has previously sat on the Joint Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade,[10] the Joint Standing Committee for Treaties,[11] and the Joint Statutory Committee: Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.[12]

When Parke was pre-selected as the ALP's candidate for Fremantle in May 2007, there was some initial disquiet; she was seen by some party members as an "outsider", notwithstanding the fact that she had been a party member since 1995 and contested the state seat of Mitchell for the ALP in 1996.[13] Parke was also President of Labor Lawyers in Western Australia for several years.[14] In September 2007, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke campaigned with Parke in Fremantle and said that she was "a lady of extreme talent and she's got the experience of dealing with practical situations which will stand her in very good stead in the Parliament".[citation needed]

Kevin Rudd appointed Parke as Minister for International Development in his second ministry, a role she served in until Labor lost office in September 2013.[15]

On 22 January 2016, Parke announced her retirement at the next federal election, to spend more time with her family, following her marriage to Perth businessman and patron of the arts, Warwick Hemsley.[1]

Other activities[edit]

Over the years Parke’s community activities have included acting as a Western Australian representative on the National Council of the Australian Conservation Foundation, as the spokesperson for the Communities for Coastal Conservation, and serving on the management committee of the Waratah Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Referral Centre.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Fremantle MP Melissa Parke to quit federal politics". ABC News. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  2. ^ "United Nations Office of Ethics". United Nations. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "WA Division – Fremantle". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 30 November 2007. 
  4. ^ "WA Division – Fremantle". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "WA Division – Fremantle". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Contonment Hill Returned". Australian Labor Party. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Community Cabinet Meeting". Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Backbencher revolt over lifting live export ban". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  9. ^ "Parliamentary Secretary". Australian Parliament House. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Joint Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence, & Trade". Australian Parliament House. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  11. ^ "Joint Standing Committee for Treaties". Australian Parliament House. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "Joint Statutory Committee: Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity". Australian Parliament House. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  13. ^ "Speech Melissa Parke MP". Melissa Parke MP. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  14. ^ "John Curtin Library Profile". John Curtin Library. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  15. ^

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Carmen Lawrence
Member for Fremantle
Succeeded by
Josh Wilson
Political offices
New ministerial post Minister for International Development
Ministry abolished