Philip Ruddock

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The Honourable
Philip Ruddock
Philip Ruddock.jpg
Father of the Australian Parliament
Assumed office
1 September 1998
Preceded by Ian Sinclair
Father of the Australian House of Representatives
Assumed office
1 September 1998
Preceded by Ian Sinclair
Special Envoy to the Prime Minister for Human Rights
Taking office
Nominated by Malcolm Turnbull
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Succeeding Office established
Special Envoy to the Prime Minister for Citizenship and Community Engagement
Assumed office
27 May 2015
Nominated by Tony Abbott
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by TBA
Chief Government Whip in the House of Representatives
In office
18 September 2013 – 13 February 2015
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Preceded by Chris Hayes
Succeeded by Scott Buchholz
Attorney-General of Australia
In office
7 October 2003 – 3 December 2007
Prime Minister John Howard
Preceded by Daryl Williams
Succeeded by Robert McClelland
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
In office
11 March 1996 – 7 October 2003
Prime Minister John Howard
Preceded by Nick Bolkus
Succeeded by Amanda Vanstone
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Berowra
Assumed office
13 March 1993
Preceded by Harry Edwards
Majority 19.07% (2013)[1]
Member of the Australian Parliament for Dundas
In office
10 December 1977 – 13 March 1993
Preceded by Seat Created
Succeeded by Seat Abolished
Member of the Australian Parliament for Parramatta
In office
22 September 1973 – 10 December 1977
Preceded by Nigel Bowen
Succeeded by John Brown
Personal details
Born (1943-03-12) 12 March 1943 (age 72)
Canberra, Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s) Heather Ruddock
(m. 1970)
Children Kirstie Ruddock
Caitlin Ruddock
Parents Maxwell Ruddock
Emmie Chappell
Residence Pennant Hills, New South Wales
Education Barker College
Alma mater Sydney Law School
University of Sydney
Profession Lawyer
Religion Anglican
Website Official website

Philip Maxwell Ruddock (born 12 March 1943) is an Australian politician who is a member of the House of Representatives representing the Division of Berowra, New South Wales, for the Liberal Party of Australia. First elected in a 1973 by-election, he is the only Member of Parliament from the period of the Whitlam government (1972–75) and the Fraser government (1975–83) still serving. He has been the Father of the House of Representatives since 1998. He is the second longest-serving parliamentarian in the history of the Australian Parliament (only Billy Hughes served longer).[2] Ruddock served continuously in federal cabinet during the Howard Government, as Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs from 1996 to 2003, and then Attorney-General from 2003 to 2007.

Early life and education[edit]

Ruddock was born in Canberra and was the son of Emmie (née Chappell) and Maxwell "Max" Ruddock, a Liberal member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly between 1962 and 1976. He was educated at Barker College in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby before entering University of Sydney, after which he practised as a solicitor. He was articled to the firm Berne, Murray and Tout and was promoted to partner.

Political career[edit]

Early career; Member of Parliament & First term in Government 1973–2007[edit]

On 22 September 1973, Ruddock was elected to the House of Representatives at a by-election for the seat of Parramatta. He narrowly held it at the 1974 general election, but was returned with a large swing in 1975. A redistribution ahead of the 1977 election, however, erased Ruddock's majority and turned it into a notional Labor seat. Ruddock shifted to the new, comfortably safe Liberal seat of Dundas, which included most of the Liberal-friendly areas of his old seat. He held it without serious difficulty until its abolition in 1993. Ruddock then transferred to the equally safe seat of Berowra, a seat he holds to the present day.

Shadow Minister (1983–1996)[edit]

Ruddock was a member of the Opposition Shadow Ministry from 1983 to 1985 and from 1989 to 1996. In the 1980s and early 1990s, he was an active member of the parliamentary group of Amnesty International. In 2000, Ruddock was disavowed by Amnesty International due to the treatment of refugees by the Howard Government and asked not to wear his Amnesty International badge whilst performing ministerial duties.[3]

In August 1988, while Ruddock was still a backbencher, the Leader of the Opposition, John Howard, commented that he believed the rate of Asian immigration was too high. The Hawke Labor government sought to embarrass Howard and introduced a bill to Parliament to ensure that immigration did not discriminate on the basis of race. Ruddock along with fellow Liberals Steele Hall and Ian Macphee crossed the floor to support the Labor motion.[4][5] In 1989, following Andrew Peacock's ascension to the leadership, Ruddock became Shadow Minister for Immigration and proposed a settlement scheme for Australia's far north.[6]

Cabinet Minister, Second term in Government (1996–2007)[edit]

Minister for Immigration[edit]

Following the Coalition's rise to government at the 1996 election, Ruddock was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. In this role, he administered the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and presided over the Howard government's policies on asylum seekers. During his time in office, the previous Keating Labor Government's practice of mandatory detention of asylum seekers was continued and extended. In October 1999, the Australian government introduced Temporary Protection Visas for persons who applied for refugee status after making an unauthorised arrival in Australia, and was the main type of visa issued to refugees when released from Australian immigration detention facilities. Many Afghan and Iraqi refugees who are not Australian citizens were affected by this policy.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs[edit]

In 2001 Ruddock was also appointed to the role of Minister for Indigenous Affairs. By 2001 he had become a high-profile figure enjoying considerable support within the Liberal Party, while being strongly opposed by left-wing activists and some human rights advocates. His "Pacific Solution" – which prevented asylum seekers receiving legal access – was condemned by Human Rights Watch as contravening international law, as being a human rights violation: Oxfam and the UNHCR (United Nations refugee agency) agreed with this viewpoint.[7] At one point he was one of the few senior ministers (besides the prime minister) to have needed personal security details.[citation needed]

Areas in Ruddock's portfolio and some of his decisions were highly controversial in Australian politics, and led to Amnesty International's public attempt to distance the organisation from him by asking him to remove his lapel badge.[8] In 2003, Ruddock was accused by the Labor immigration spokesperson, Julia Gillard, of personally intervening to give a Filipino with a criminal record, Dante Tan, favourable treatment in exchange for donations to the Liberal Party.[9] Ruddock denied that there was a connection between the donations and his actions, and noted that the donation had been properly declared.[10] In 2004 an Australian Federal Police investigation cleared Ruddock of any wrongdoing, and a Senate inquiry, composed of a majority of Labor members, found that "there was no way to determine whether Mr Ruddock was influenced by money to grant visas."[11]


In 2003, Ruddock became Attorney-General in a cabinet reshuffle. On 27 May 2004, Ruddock introduced the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill to prevent any possible court rulings allowing same-sex marriages or civil unions.[12]

In July 2007, he remarked that Australia needs to improve its legislation to deal with pro-terrorist literature and media. "People who may be susceptible to carrying out a terrorist act ought not to be instructed in how to do it, how to use household products to produce a bomb, or be encouraged to think about violent jihad and taking their own life", he said.[13]

Opposition, 2007–2013[edit]

Following the Howard government's defeat at the November 2007 election, Ruddock did not seek a shadow cabinet role. He returned to the frontbench as Shadow Cabinet Secretary after Tony Abbott captured the Opposition leadership in December 2009. The Coalition was returned to government iin 2013.

Third term in government, 2013–present[edit]

Chief Government Whip (2013–2015)[edit]

Ruddock was named the Chief Government Whip in the House of Representatives in the Abbott Government, which took office on 18 September 2013. Ruddock was replaced as Chief Government Whip by Queensland MP Scott Buchholz on 13 February 2015.[14][15]

Special Envoy for Citizenship and Community Engagement (2015)[edit]

On 27 May 2015, Ruddock was appointed to the new office of Special Envoy for Citizenship and Community Engagement.[16]


On 8 February 2016, Ruddock announced that he would not contest the next federal election and was retiring from politics. On the same day, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that Ruddock would be appointed Australia's first special envoy for human rights.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Ruddock is married to Heather. They have two children, Kirstie and Caitlin [18]


  1. ^ "Berowra, NSW". Election 2013. Australian Electoral Commission. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Will Glasgow, "Malcolm Turnbull intervenes to save the Festival of Philip Ruddock", AFR Weekend, 14 September 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015
  3. ^ Kirk, Alexandra (18 March 2000). "Ruddock stripped of amnesty International badge". AM: ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "IMMIGRATION POLICY: Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders". Parliament Hansard. 25 August 1988. Retrieved 3 August 2007. 
  5. ^ "Howard turns dissent into democracy". The Age. 21 June 2005. Retrieved 3 August 2007. 
  6. ^ Ward, Ian (August 1990). "Australian Political Chronicle: July–December 1989". Australian Journal of Politics and History 36 (2): 235. ISSN 0004-9522. 
  7. ^ Streatfield, D. (2011) A History of the World Since 9/11, Chapter 2., pp.70–73
  8. ^ "Ruddock stripped of Amnesty International badge". ABC News. 18 March 2000. Retrieved 26 May 2007. 
  9. ^ Banham, Cynthia; Riley, Mark (27 June 2003). "Ruddock's friend accused of taking $220,000". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  10. ^ Banham, Cynthia (18 September 2003). "Inquiry told of agent's 50% strike rate with Ruddock". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  11. ^ Banham, Cynthia (1 April 2004). "Ruddock cleared amid obstruction claims". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "Marriage Amendment Bill 2004". Parliament of Australia. 24 June 2004. Retrieved 26 May 2008.
  13. ^ Ruddock, Philip (27 July 2007). "Toughen up on terrorism". Herald Sun. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  14. ^ Uhlmann, Chris; Kirk, Alexandra; Glenday, James (13 February 2015). "Philip Ruddock sacked as chief government whip in wake of spill motion against Tony Abbott". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Kenny, Mark (13 February 2015). "Coalition elder statesman Philip Ruddock axed as Chief Whip following Liberal Party spill attempt". The Age. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Ruddock retires, gets envoy role". Nine News. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016. 
  18. ^

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Nick Bolkus
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural
and Indigenous Affairs

Succeeded by
Amanda Vanstone
Preceded by
Daryl Williams
Attorney-General of Australia
Succeeded by
Robert McClelland
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Ian Sinclair
Father of the House of Representatives
Preceded by
Nigel Bowen
Member for Parramatta
Succeeded by
John Brown
New division Member for Dundas
Division abolished
Preceded by
Harry Edwards
Member for Berowra