Rex Patrick

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Rex Patrick
Senator for South Australia
Assumed office
14 November 2017 (2017-11-14)
Preceded byNick Xenophon
Personal details
Rex Lyall Patrick

(1967-05-08) 8 May 1967 (age 51)
Whakatane, New Zealand
Political partyNick Xenophon Team / Centre Alliance
ProfessionBusinessman, Submariner
Military service
Branch/serviceRoyal Australian Navy
Years of service1983–1994

Rex Lyall Patrick (born 8 May 1967) is a New Zealand-born Australian Senator for the state of South Australia. He has held this position since November 2017 when he was appointed to replace NXT leader Nick Xenophon. Before entering politics, Patrick was a businessman and senior business executive officer, as well as a submariner in the Royal Australian Navy.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Patrick was born in New Zealand and moved to South Australia as a child. He attended school in Whyalla then joined the Royal Australian Navy.[3][4]

Early career[edit]

Patrick served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1983 to 1994.[5][6] He trained as an electronic technician and volunteered for submarine service.[7] He served on several Oberon class submarines before being selected and posted as a member of the trials crew of the first Collins class submarine at Osborne in Adelaide. [8]

From 1995 to 2008, he worked for Sonartech Atlas as a project manager.[5] The company was focused on the design and development of sonar systems.[7]

In 2008, Patrick started a company called Acoustic Force,[9] which provided training in sonar and acoustics to domestic and international customers.[6]

In 2009, Patrick began writing articles calling for Australia to buy cheap, off-the-shelf submarines to replace the Collins-class submarine fleet. He believes that attempts were made by naval personnel to muzzle his criticisms of the Collins-class vessels. He said of the Navy's attitude towards freedom of speech and policy debate: "I presume that, from (the navy’s) perspective, the public is better served if debates about defence are devoid of any contributions from people who know about the subject.”[9] In 2012, he noted that American nuclear-powered submarines would be more cost effective for Australia to purchase and maintain and would offer strategic advantages.[10]

In 2013, Patrick took over a training contract with Quantum Ark Technologies, a company that trained members of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

In 2015, Patrick wrote several articles for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) which were published in The Strategist.[11]

Political career[edit]


Before joining the Xenophon team, Patrick had been a staffer for Liberal Senator David Johnston.[12] Patrick assisted Johnston when he was the Shadow Defence Minister to expose the very high annual cost of Collins sustainment v the very low availability rates (well over $500 million per annum and at one stage, unable to put a single submarine to sea) and due to the pressure they were able to put on Defence, the Coles review was commissioned in 2012 and the problems associated with the Collins-class submarine were then rectified.[13]

Xenophon refers to Patrick by the nickname "Inspector Rex" owing to his investigative skills and use of Freedom of Information laws to obtain information in the public interest.[7]

On inheriting the Quantum Ark Technologies' files in 2013, Patrick discovered a mass data breach of classified documents from the French manufacturer DCNS related to the new Indian Navy's Scorpène submarines. Patrick took the data on a disc to a senior Defence official who declined to take it and so Patrick retained the disc, even though he knew of the leak during the competition to select the international partner for the Future Submarine Project, and didn't act on it until after the contract was awarded so as not to affect France's chances in the contract. [14] In 2016, after the contract was awarded, and the security breach became directly relevant to Australia from a national security perspective, Patrick, then an adviser to then Senator Nick Xenophon, provided some of the documents, carefully redacted, to The Australian newspaper after which Xenophon handed the disc to Defence Minister Marise Payne. [15]

Patrick was not investigated for his handling of the sensitive material, and retained his security clearance as a Naval contractor.[12]

Australian Senate (2017–present)[edit]

On 30 October 2017 Xenophon announced Patrick as his replacement. The nomination was lodged to the South Australian Parliament on 1 November. Premier Jay Weatherill revealed that an NXT Senate candidate from the 2016 election, Tim Storer, had "assert[ed] rights" to the vacancy.[16] Patrick was confirmed as the replacement senator on 14 November by a joint sitting of the SA Parliament.[17] He became a senator on 15 November when he was sworn in by the Senate.[18]

Within three days of coming to office Senator Patrick defended the appointment of Xenophon as an advisor on a part-time contract.[19] Xenophon subsequently announced that he would leave the role "within weeks".[20]

Patrick used his first speech to call for more parliamentary oversight of the Australian Intelligence Community.[21]

In December 2017, Patrick informed the Turnbull Government that NXT would suspend negotiations on welfare reform because a minister had failed to answer "reasonable questions". Patrick said this was part of "a broader problem with regard to the government’s preparedness to be appropriately open and accountable".[22]

Patrick has been critical of the Future Submarine programme, suggesting that the Rear Admiral overseeing the project, Gregory Sammut, has no professional experience in project management.[23] The project was revealed by Xenophon to have a requirement that 50% of the submarine's manufacture be Australian, down from the publicity stated figure of 60%. Patrick called this "treachery" by the Turnbull Government.[24]


  1. ^ Doran, Matthew (31 October 2017). "Nick Xenophon readies NXT for his Canberra departure, announcing Senate replacement and new name". ABC News. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  2. ^ @AuSenate. "The South Australian Parliament has chosen Rex Patrick to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of former Senator Xenophon". Twitter. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  3. ^ Shepherd, Tory (30 October 2017). "Senator Nick Xenophon to be replaced by longtime adviser Rex Patrick in Senate". The Advertiser. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "Rex Patrick". LinkedIn. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  6. ^ a b "SA's latest Senator Rex Patrick". News. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  7. ^ a b c "New SA Senator for Nick Xenophon Team outlines history, priorities". ABC News. 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  8. ^;query%3DId%3A%22chamber%2Fhansards%2Fedae7f53-a8b7-4b18-ad81-3c62f6968091%2F0159%22
  9. ^ a b Stewart, Cameron (2014-07-05). "Collins-class submarine critic calls in AFP over navy 'plot'". The Australian. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  10. ^ Ellery, David (2012-12-10). "Keeping Collins afloat ludicrous: expert". Canberra Times. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  11. ^ "Rex Patrick Archive | The Strategist". Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  12. ^ a b Wroe, David (9 December 2016). "Revealed: Senator Nick Xenophon, the staffer and the national security leak". The Maitland Mercury. Fairfax Regional Media. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
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