Peter van Onselen

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Peter van Onselen
Born1976 (1976) (age 48)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
EducationPhD, Masters, Bachelor of Arts
Alma materUniversity of New South Wales
University of Western Australia
  • Journalist
  • Author
  • Academic
  • Commentator
Known for10 News First
The Project

Peter van Onselen is an Australian academic, author, and commentator and a political journalist. He is professor of politics and public policy at the University of Western Australia and was a weekly columnist at The Australian newspaper. Between 2010 and 2017, he hosted several programs at Sky News Australia. From 2018 to 2023 he served as Network 10's political editor and a co-host of The Project.

Early life[edit]

Van Onselen was born in 1976 in Sydney and grew up in Coogee in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.[1] He graduated from Scots College in Bellevue Hill in 1993,[2] later continuing his studies via the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the University of Western Australia.[3][4]

He was awarded a PhD in political science from the University of Western Australia, converting his dissertation into a book. Van Onselen also holds a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours in political science, majoring in philosophy, and a Masters in Policy Studies (with Distinction). Both degrees were obtained from the University of New South Wales. He has also completed a Master of Commerce (with Distinction) and was included in the Dean's honours list.[4][5]


Before completing his PhD and commencing his academic career, van Onselen worked for Tony Abbott as an adviser when Abbott was the Minister for Workplace Relations in the Howard government in 2001.[6] Van Onselen also previously worked as an intelligence analyst at the New South Wales Crime Commission.[4]

Academic career[edit]

Van Onselen began an academic career at University of New South Wales in 2002, and became an associate professor at Edith Cowan University in 2004, organising the politics and government program. From 2007 to 2008, van Onselen presented stories on the Nine Network's Sunday and wrote a column for The Bulletin.[7] In early 2011, van Onselen left Edith Cowan University to become a Winthrop Professor and Foundation Chair of Journalism at the University of Western Australia.[4]

Van Onselen has written several politically themed books, including John Winston Howard (co-written with Wayne Errington), which was rated by The Wall Street Journal Asia as the best biography of 2007.[8] Van Onselen has also written numerous refereed journal articles and conference papers, including articles for the Australian Journal of Political Science, the British Journal of Legislative Studies.[9] He has also written columns and opinion pieces for a range of newspapers, including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Australian Financial Review, The Canberra Times and The Courier-Mail.[4]

In May 2018, he was appointed Professor of Policy at Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Brisbane.[10]

Media career[edit]

Van Onselen has featured as a television commentator across numerous broadcasters, including as a panelist for state, federal and United States election coverages for both the Seven Network and Nine Network.[4][11] In 2008, Van Onselen was a special investigator for the Perth edition of A Current Affair.[12] He also presented cover stories for the Sunday program on the Nine Network in 2007 and 2008.[citation needed]

In 2009, Van Onselen joined The Australian as contributing editor.[13] He wrote his last column for the paper in April 2024.[14]

For the 2010 federal election he was the host of the National Tally Room panel for Sky News Business.[15] The coverage was plagued by technical errors, and was satirised by the ABC1 comedy group The Chaser during their election parody program Yes We Canberra!.[16]

Following the 2010 election, Van Onselen became a regular presenter at Sky News, co-hosting Australian Agenda from 2010[17] as well as his own programs The Contrarians and The Showdown.[18]

In 2014, Van Onselen stepped down from hosting The Contrarians (which would later become Keneally and Cameron) and The Showdown was axed, when he was given his own four-times-weekly primetime program PVO Newshour, which premiered on 20 January 2014.[19]

On 1 June 2015, Van Onselen voluntarily moved his program from primetime to daytime, with the program being retitled PVO NewsDay. Additionally, he co-hosts To The Point with Kristina Keneally, which aired in between his self-titled daytime show.[20] In November 2015, Foxtel confirmed that PVO NewsDay would return for a second season in 2016.[21]

In July 2016, Van Onselen added a fourth hosting role at Sky News, presenting morning program Sunday Edition.[22] but relinquished the role in February 2017. In October 2017, it was announced that Van Onselen will step down from all his Sky News programs, to become a contributing editor to Sky News as well as revive The Contrarians as a weekly format.[23] However, it was subsequently announced Van Onselen had left Sky News after his contract expired at the end of 2017.[24]

In 2018, Van Onselen had a weekly segment on Radio National Breakfast, and appeared regularly on The Drum, Insiders and The Project. On 3 December 2018, it was announced that Van Onselen was joining Network 10 as their political editor.[citation needed]

In January 2020, Van Onselen replaced Hamish Macdonald as co-host of The Sunday Project with Macdonald becoming host of Q&A on ABC.[citation needed]. Van Onselen stepped aside as co-host of The Sunday Project 18 months later, continuing as Network 10 Political Editor and a co-host of The Project.[25]

On 25 January 2022, Van Onselen was called out by The Project co-host Carrie Bickmore about an article he had written about 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame. He had described her behaviour as “childish”, after seeing her apparently deliberate refusal to smile for press photos with the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, in Canberra. Van Onselen suggested that she would have done better not to attend the event.[26]

In 2023, Van Onselen was accused of breaching his departure agreement with Network Ten after he wrote a scathing opinion column about the network. On his departure from the network, Van Onselen signed an agreement agreeing not to disparage or ridicule Network Ten or its staff.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Van Onselen is of Dutch heritage.[28] He is married to Ainslie van Onselen, the chief executive of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and has two daughters.[3]

Published works[edit]

  • John Winston Howard: The Biography (with Wayne Errington, 2007) (Melbourne University Press)
  • Howard's End: The Unravelling of a Government (with Philip Senior, 2008) (Melbourne University Press)
  • Liberals and Power: The Road Ahead (editor, 2008) (Melbourne University Press)
  • Professionals or Part-timers? Major Party Senators in Australia (2015) (Melbourne University Press) ISBN 978-0-52286-899-9
  • Battleground: Why the Liberal Party Shirtfronted Tony Abbott[29] (with Wayne Errington, 2015) (Melbourne University Press) ISBN 978-0-52286-971-2


  1. ^ "Peter van Onselen". Q+A. 20 December 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  2. ^ "Graduation of the Class of 2018". Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b O'Dwyer, Erin (29 July 2007). "'I'm as boring as John Howard. I like sport and politics'". The Sun-Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2012 – via
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Keynote Speakers". RI Connect. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  5. ^ "Peter van Onselen". ICMI. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Connect: Peter van Onselen". Sky News Australia. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Master of International Journalism teaching team". University of Western Australia. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  8. ^ "John Winston Howard: The Biography". Good Reads. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Dr Peter Van Onselen: UWA Academic Publications". Archived from the original on 18 April 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  10. ^ Professor of Policy, Griffith Business School
  11. ^ Knox, David (9 November 2007). "Election Night: Who's Got What". TV Tonight. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  12. ^ Knox, David (20 October 2008). "WIN launches ACA in Perth". TV Tonight. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  13. ^ Styles, John (30 March 2009). "Peter van Onselen joins The Australian". Australian Conservative. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  14. ^ van Onselen, Peter (20 April 2024). "Thanks for the freedom to be a contrarian". The Australian. p. 30.
  15. ^ Knox, David (21 August 2010). "Election 2010: Guide". TV Tonight. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  16. ^ "The Chaser's Yes We Canberra Full Episode 5 – Part 3". YouTube. 28 October 2010. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  17. ^ Knox, David (2 July 2010). "Airdate: Australian Agenda". TV Tonight. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  18. ^ Knox, David (12 September 2011). "Airdate: The Showdown". TV Tonight. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  19. ^ "PVO News Hour". YouTube. 16 January 2014. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  20. ^ "Sky News shakes up line up with Peter Van Onselen moving to daytime show". Mumbrella. 18 May 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  21. ^ Knox, David (5 November 2015). "Foxtel Upfronts 2016: Local thrillers, Lifestyle & US Drama". TV Tonight. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  22. ^ Knox, David (18 July 2016). "New weekend line-up on SKY News". TV Tonight. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Sky News changes: New set, new schedule, expanded lineup". Mediaweek. 30 October 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  24. ^ Brook, Stephen (5 February 2018). "Sam Neill, Laura Tingle an item". The Australian. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  25. ^ Meade, Amanda (21 July 2021). "Hamish Macdonald's return to The Project forces Ten to dump Peter van Onselen from show". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  26. ^ Rizzo-Smith, Julian (25 January 2022). "Watch the journo behind that terrible Grace Tame take get absolutely obliterated on his own show". Pedestrian TV.
  27. ^ Nick, Bonyhady (5 June 2023). "Network Ten wants Peter van Onselen to stop talking about it". The Age. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  28. ^ Peter van Onselen (6 January 2024). "Time you're told the truth about the economy". The Australian. Retrieved 20 April 2024.
  29. ^ "Battleground". Melbourne University Press. Retrieved 8 October 2015.

External links[edit]