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Peter FitzSimons

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Peter FitzSimons

FitzSimons in 2013
FitzSimons in 2013
BornPeter John FitzSimons
(1961-06-29) 29 June 1961 (age 62)
Sydney, Australia
  • Journalist
  • writer
  • radio and television personality
  • former rugby union football player
EducationKnox Grammar School
Findlay High School
Alma materUniversity of Sydney
Years active1987–present
(m. 1992)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Lock
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Sydney University Football Club ()
Manly RUFC ()
1985–1989 CA Brive ()
International career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1989–1990 Australia 7

Peter John Allen FitzSimons[1] AM (born 29 June 1961) is an Australian author, journalist, and radio and television presenter. He is a former national representative rugby union player and was the chair of the Australian Republic Movement from 2015 to 2022.[2]

Early life[edit]

FitzSimons grew up in Peats Ridge,[3] in the Central Coast of New South Wales. He was one of seven children. He attended Peats Ridge Public School and Knox Grammar School before going in 1978 to Findlay High School, Ohio,[4] for a year as an exchange student on an American Field Service Scholarship. He then completed an arts degree at the University of Sydney,[5] residing at Wesley College from 1980 to 1982.[6]



FitzSimons first played club rugby with the Sydney University Football Club and then with the Manly RUFC in Sydney in the 1980s under the coaching of Alan Jones.[1] Between 1985 and 1989 he played with CA Brive in France for four seasons as the club's first foreign player. He played seven test matches at lock for the Australian national rugby union team between 1989 and 1990, debuting against France in Strasbourg in November 1989, on the Wallabies 1989 tour of Europe. His final Test match was against the All Blacks in Christchurch.[7]

In On a Wing and a Prayer, former Wallabies winger David Campese criticised FitzSimons for starting a brawl in Australia's first Test against France in 1990.[8]: 117, 166  Campese labelled FitzSimons' actions "a disgrace to the good name of rugby"[8]: 117  and asserted that "he was doing the game and its reputation enormous damage."[8]: 166  Campese cautioned that if such fights "turn even one family away from the game, then they have been too costly".[8]: 166 

Former Wallabies backrower Willie Ofahengaue said of FitzSimons: "He's a big character. Funny guy. Talkative. One thing I remember about rooming with him was he used to get his suitcase, tip it up and pour everything out on to the floor. When it was time to go home he would chuck everything back in any old way. Fitzy was a real roughie, but he is married now so he must have changed."[9]


FitzSimons has written for The Sydney Morning Herald since 1988,[10] and has been a sports columnist for that publication since 1987.[11] He regularly appears on the Australian Foxtel program The Back Page, formerly hosted by rugby league journalist Mike Gibson and now Tony Squires. For the Saturday edition of The Sydney Morning Herald, FitzSimons writes a column titled "The Fitz Files" which looks at all the happenings over the past seven days in sport. He writes a more general version of "The Fitz Files" in The Sun-Herald on Sundays, focusing on community activities and events in Sydney. Andrew Denton has called him "Australia's finest sports journalist".[12] On 25 September 2001 he wrote a thought-provoking opinion editorial piece titled Memo world: try saying sorry to avoid a sorry end.[13]

In August 2022 FitzSimons threatened to sue Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price for defamation when she said that he had been rude and aggressive in a telephone interview. Price urged FizSimons and The Sydney Morning Herald to release the recording of the interview but they declined to do so.[14]


In January 2006 FitzSimons began co-hosting a breakfast radio program with Mike Carlton on Sydney radio station 2UE. He was brought onto the 2UE breakfast show in an attempt to boost the program's dwindling ratings.[15] However, the Mike and Fitz Breakfast Show still trailed a long way behind the number one program on 2GB, hosted by FitzSimons' former coach Alan Jones.[16] After two years, FitzSimons quit to become a stay-at-home dad and focus on his writing.[17]


FitzSimons is a prolific writer and is one of Australia's best-selling non-fiction writers.[18] He has written books about subjects such as Nancy Wake, the shipwreck of the Batavia, Sir John Monash, Breaker Morant, Charles Kingsford Smith and John Eales.[19]

Selected books[edit]

Community and political activism[edit]

FitzSimons is or was involved with a range of community organisations. At the University of Sydney he was a fellow of the Senate from 2009 to 2013,[30] as well as Pro-Chancellor,[31] a patron of The Russell Prize for Humour Writing, State Library of New South Wales, since 2015[32] and chairman of the Australian Republic Movement from 2015 to 2022.[33][2] Additionally, he served on the council of the Australian War Memorial[34] and founded the Cauliflower Club with Nick Farr-Jones.[35]

In the lead-up to 2019 New South Wales state election, FitzSimons began a campaign to prevent the demolition of the Sydney Football Stadium and Stadium Australia. He began by launching a petition in late 2017 on Change.org that reached approximately 220,000 signatures prior to the election as well as numerous editorial articles decrying the demolitions. The stadium issue became a major element of the campaign with Labor leader Michael Daley calling the election a "referendum on stadiums".[36] On 5 December 2017, FitzSimons remarked on Twitter that the incumbent Gladys Berejiklian government could "bulldoze and rebuild three new stadiums, including Parra, for $3 billion—on no demand—or they can win the next election, but they can't do both."[37]

On 23 March, Berejiklian and her coalition were easily returned to government, with political commentators suggesting that the issue did not resonate with the wider community of the state.[38] The campaign had a minor success, however, as the government changed the original plan for a complete knock down rebuild of Stadium Australia, and instead would go ahead with a billion-dollar refurbishment. The refurbishment would also be cancelled, although no funds were allocated to any grassroots sports facilities as FitzSimons wished, and later had a similar level of funding directed to a new stadium in Penrith.

Personal life[edit]

FitzSimons is married to Australian journalist and TV presenter Lisa Wilkinson.[39] They have three children and live in Sydney.[40]

FitzSimons has identified himself as an atheist and a Republican.[41][42]


FitzSimons is well renowned for wearing a red bandana.[43][44] He has explained his regularly wearing of the bandana due to his children giving it to him to wear, so he wears it for them.[45][46] He is at times referred to informally as "Pirate Pete" due to his wearing of the headwear.[47]


On 13 June 2011 FitzSimons was named a Member of the Order of Australia for service to literature as a biographer, sports journalist and commentator, and to the community through contributions to conservation, disability care, atheism, social welfare and sporting organisations.[48][49]


  1. ^ a b "Player profile of Peter FitzSimons". ESPN. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Peter FitzSimons to step down as ARM chair as Abetz attacks republic campaign's 'elitism' | Republicanism | The Guardian". amp.theguardian.com. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  3. ^ Mosman Sporting Wall of Fame: Peter FitzSimons' profile Archived 3 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ FitzSimons, Peter (21 May 2016). "Sorry if I offended anyone, but we're all a mob of bastards". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  5. ^ Speaker Profile of Peter FitzSimons at The Celebrity Speakers Bureau
  6. ^ FitzSimons, Peter (9 November 2013). "Given time, great colleges learn to fix their problems". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Match report: New Zealand Australia, 21 July 1990". ESPN. Retrieved 4 May 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ a b c d Campese, David; Bills, Peter (1991). On a Wing and a Prayer. Queen Anne Press. ISBN 0-356-17958-3.
  9. ^ "Big O far from the end of the line" by Robert Craddock, The Courier-Mail, 8 October 2011
  10. ^ His first article as a Herald correspondent was "From the Wilds of France": FitzSimons, P., "The survivors of la Besse still remember", The Sydney Morning Herald, (Tuesday, 22 November 1988), p. 23.
  11. ^ His first article as a Herald sports journalist was: FitzSimons, P., "French give Scots some pointers", The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 March 1987, p. 53.
  12. ^ "Panelist: Peter FitzSimons". Q&A. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  13. ^ FitzSimons, Peter (25 September 2001). "Memo world: try saying sorry to avoid a sorry end". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 5 February 2003. Retrieved 20 May 2019. We accept that such hate as drove the planes into the World Trade Centre towers can only have come from incredible suffering, and we are desperately sorry for that suffering
  14. ^ Meade, Amanda (12 August 2022). "The Peter FitzSimons interview with Jacinta Price that sparked a week-long culture war". The Guardian (Australian edition). Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  15. ^ Javes, Sue (23 January 2006). "The odd couple". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  16. ^ "Mike Carlton quits 2UE radio breakfast slot". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. 7 September 2009.
  17. ^ Connolly, Fiona (7 November 2007). "Radio battle for Fitz vacancy". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney.
  18. ^ "Peter FitzSimons". Hachette. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  19. ^ "Peter FitzSimons". Biblio. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  20. ^ Review:
  21. ^ Review: Koster, Pieter (January 2013). "Batavia [Book Review]". Studies in Western Australian History (28): 155–157. ISSN 0314-7525.
  22. ^ Interview: "Peter FitzSimons Batavia Interview". female.com.au. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  23. ^ Reviews:
  24. ^ Review:
  25. ^ Excerpt:
  26. ^ Reviews:
  27. ^ Review:
  28. ^ Reviews:
  29. ^ Review:
  30. ^ "Fellows of the Senate: Peter John FitzSimons". University of Sydney.
  31. ^ "University appoints six alumni to governing body". University of Sydney. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  32. ^ "NSW State Library launches humour-writing prize", Books + Publishing, 17 December 2014
  33. ^ "Peter FitzSimons appointed head of Australian Republican Movement". The Guardian. 20 July 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  34. ^ "Hawke, FitzSimons appointed to War Memorial council". The Canberra Times. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  35. ^ "The Wrap: Cauliflower Club a shining light in Australian rugby". The Roar. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  36. ^ Smith, Alexandra (3 December 2018). "'I will not be bullied': Daley holds firm on stadiums policy". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 April 2019. The new Labor leader says the state election would be a referendum on stadiums
  37. ^ Peter FitzSimons [@Peter_Fitz] (5 December 2017). "(untitled)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  38. ^ Hinds, Richards (25 March 2019). "Sydney stadium wars ended by Coalition's NSW election victory as people vote for an upgrade". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 April 2019. it is possible to say with confidence there was one thing Sydneysiders did not vote against – new or refurbished stadiums.
  39. ^ "Galleries: 1992 Weddings". Perth Now. 5 October 2012. p. 4. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  40. ^ Clune, Richard (25 July 2010). "Today show hosts a perfect match". The Sunday Telegraph. Sydney. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  41. ^ "Is Religion a Con? A special evening with Peter FitzSimons", 12 June 2012, The Independent Theatre
  42. ^ "Peter FitzSimons, the atheist fire-and-brimstone preacher". 15 April 2018.
  43. ^ Lewis, Charlie (6 September 2021). "Tips and Murmurs: FitzSimons' approach lacking Grace". Crikey. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  44. ^ "Peter FitzSimons – Meet Lisa Wilkinson Husband". New Idea. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  45. ^ Stewart, Brittany (30 June 2016). "Lisa Wilkinson on why husband Peter Fitzsimons always wears that red bandana". Mamamia. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  46. ^ FitzSimons, Peter (31 December 2013). "Peter FitzSimons: Why I wear the red bandanna". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  47. ^ "Favourite Books of Peter FitzSimons". weekendnotes.com. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  48. ^ "Peter FitzSimons AM". Australian Honours Database. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  49. ^ "Former Wallaby FitzSimons honoured". Australian Rugby Union. Australian Associated Press. 13 June 2011. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.

External links[edit]