Peter Debnam

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Peter Debnam
Debnam at the ANZAC dawn service, Sydney, 25 April 2006
Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales
Elections: 2007
In office
1 September 2005 – 2 April 2007
Monarch Elizabeth II
Premier Morris Iemma
Deputy Barry O'Farrell
Preceded by John Brogden
Succeeded by Barry O'Farrell
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Vaucluse
In office
9 April 1994 – 4 March 2011
Preceded by Michael Yabsley
Succeeded by Gabrielle Upton
Personal details
Born (1954-04-21) 21 April 1954 (age 64)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Political party Liberal Party
Spouse(s) Deborah Debnam
Website Personal site
Military service
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch  Royal Australian Navy
Years of service 1972 – 1980
Rank Lieutenant
Unit HMAS Melbourne
HMAS Torrens
HMAS Vampire
HMAS Anzac
HMAS Attack
HMAS Barricade

Peter John Debnam (born 21 April 1954), is a former Australian politician. He was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing Vaucluse between 1994 and 2011. Debnam is a former Leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Western Sydney, Redfern/Waterloo and Citizenship. He also held the shadow portfolios of Infrastructure and Energy.


Debnam's early years of schooling were at Frenchs Forest Public School and The Forest High School. Debnam was educated at the Royal Australian Naval College, where he graduated in 1974. He served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1972 to 1980. During his Naval career, Debnam served on many ships including the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, destroyer escort HMAS Torrens, destroyers HMAS Vampire and HMAS Anzac and patrol boats HMAS Attack and HMAS Barricade. After leaving the Navy, Debnam studied at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, where he gained an MBA. He held positions at Dalgety Farmers Limited, Hawker de Havilland and Australian Aircraft Consortium before entering politics.[1]

In 1994 Debnam was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly as Liberal member for Vaucluse. The following year the Liberal government was defeated by Labor under Bob Carr. Between 1997 and 2005 Debnam was successively Shadow Minister for Housing and for Planning and Urban Affairs, Shadow Treasurer, Shadow Minister for Transport, Shadow Minister for Police and Shadow Minister for Transport Services.[2]

Following John Brogden's sudden resignation as Liberal Leader in August 2005, the Deputy Leader, Barry O'Farrell, was initially the favourite to become leader, but Debnam steadily gained ground as he lobbied Liberal MPs, and on 31 August O'Farrell withdrew from the contest.

Allegations against Attorney-General[edit]

On 16 November 2006, Debnam suggested under Parliamentary Privilege that NSW Attorney-General Bob Debus was under investigation by the Police Integrity Commission. In response, the Government released a police report stating that a minister had been the subject of complaints (not an investigation), and that they were dismissed in 2003 as spurious and groundless. The report did not name the minister concerned as it was, deemed to be 'not in the public interest'.[3] When Mr Debnam declined to provide evidence to support his claims, he was censured by Parliament for misleading the House.[4]

It was subsequently reported that Debnam's source for the accusation was a convicted child sex offender and bank robber with a history of making unsubstantiated allegations.[5] Opinion poll support for the Opposition leader declined markedly in the wake of the allegations,[6] which also distracted attention from a campaign against the Government over the sacking of Ministers Milton Orkopoulos and Carl Scully.

2007 election[edit]

Peter Debnam led the Liberal/National coalition to defeat in the 2007 state election. The Coalition gained a total of four seats from Labor and independents—too few to significantly reduce Labor's majority. Following the election, his deputy, O'Farrell, announced he would challenge Debnam for the Liberal leadership. When it was apparent that Debnam did not have enough support to keep his post, he withdrew from the contest on 2 April 2007, effectively handing the leadership to O'Farrell. On 11 April 2007 O'Farrell appointed Debnam as opposition infrastructure and energy spokesman.[7] He resigned in May 2008 because of his party's decision to support the Labor Government's plan to privatise the electricity system.[8]

He retired from Parliament prior to the 2011 state election.


  1. ^ "Peter Debnam, Opposition Leader". Liberal Party. Archived from the original on 2007-02-23. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  2. ^ "Mr Peter John Debnam, MBA MP". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  3. ^ "Allegations against Debus 'spurious'". The Australian. News Limited. 2006-11-17. Retrieved 2006-11-17. 
  4. ^ "Parliament censures Debnam over Debus claims". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  5. ^ ""Rotten" Debnam refuses to apologise". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 2006-11-21. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  6. ^ "Election becomes race for the biggest loser". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 2006-11-21. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  7. ^ "Debnam lands role in O'Farrell cabinet". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 11 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  8. ^ "Debnam's backbench retreat over power plan". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 


  • Marr, David (2 September 2006). "Interview with Peter Debnam". "Debnam's not drowning, he's waving", The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 25. Retrieved 2006-09-02. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Michael Yabsley
Member for Vaucluse
1994 – 2011
Succeeded by
Gabrielle Upton
Political offices
Preceded by
John Brogden
Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales
2005 – 2007
Succeeded by
Barry O'Farrell
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Brogden
Leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party
2005 – 2007
Succeeded by
Barry O'Farrell