Victor Perton

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Victor John Perton (born 2 December 1958) is a former parliamentarian in the Australian state of Victoria, and formerly the Victorian Government's Commissioner to the Americas,[1] based in San Francisco.

Early life[edit]

Perton was raised in Melbourne and is the son of refugees from Latvia and Lithuania, part of the large Baltic migration to Australia from refugee camps in western Europe after the Second World War. Perton attended Catholic schools, of which St. Joseph's Junior College was one, later studying economics and law at Monash University, Melbourne University and Peking University.

Political career[edit]

He was a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 1988 to November 2006, representing the electorate of Doncaster for the Liberal Party of Australia.

Political aspirations[edit]

He joined the Liberal Party in 1976 and served on the State Executive as State President of the Young Liberal Movement and in various state and local constituency offices over the next decade. He graduated from university in 1982, and began practicing as a solicitor, as well as being a part-owner of a retail business. In 1984 Perton was called to the Bar and became a barrister at the Victorian Bar. Perton subsequently gained admission to practice law in five states and in 1987 gained a Diploma of Chinese Law from Peking University in the People's Republic of China.

He remained active within the Liberal Party after graduating, serving on its state council and state policy assembly, and in 1988 stood as the Liberal candidate in the safe Liberal seat of Doncaster. He was easily elected. In Opposition, he became well known for his use of freedom of information legislation and Government Scrutiny.[2][3] He was a member of the Liberal Party Investigatory Committee on Casino Policy in 1990 and became a critic of the introduction of gaming machines and casinos into Victoria. He was a Member of the Coalition Tricontinental Taskforce[4] and served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Treasurer with special responsibility for manufacturing industry and economic development.[5]

Kennett Government[edit]

During the Kennett Government, Perton was active in regulatory scrutiny,[6] regulatory reform,[7] technology policy and e-democracy.[8][9][10]

Perton was the first Australian Parliamentarian with a web-site[11] and later the first to use an electronic town hall.[12]

Perton served as the first Chairman of the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee.[13] His wide interpretation of the "rights" to be protected was criticised by some within the government, including Committee member and rising backbencher Louise Asher, who produced a dissenting report. Then Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans, appointed Perton as an Australian delegate to the Second UN Conference on Human Rights.[14]

From 1996 he served as Chairman of the Law Reform Committee,[15] the Multimedia Committee, the Data Protection Advisory Committee[16] and the Electronic Business Framework Group.

During the Kennett Government, there was media criticism that the Government was reversing some of the transparency provisions introduced over the previous decades including the Freedom of Information and the Audit Act. Within the Government, young MPs like Steve Elder, Robert Doyle and Perton were seen as "small-l liberal" voices against controversial changes to the Auditor General's Act and the Freedom of Information Act.


In 1999, after the defeat of the Kennett government, Perton became Shadow Minister for Conservation and Environment and Shadow Minister for Multimedia (later retitiled "Shadow Minister for Technology & Innovation." Perton performed well in these positions, and in August 2002, when Robert Doyle (Napthine's successor as leader) embarked on a major reshuffle in a last-ditch bid to boost the party's flagging fortunes before the state election due late that year, he was promoted to Shadow Attorney-General while also holding the positions of Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Shadow Minister for Technology and Innovation.

Doyle's attempt to prevent a landslide defeat failed, and the party suffered the worst loss in its history, with several Shadow Ministers losing their seats, and Perton coming very close to losing his own. In the aftermath of the defeat, Perton was promoted to Shadow Minister of Education. He regularly appeared in the media with vocal criticism of the government, and remained amongst the opposition's most high-profile members.

Within the spectrum of Liberal Party thought, Perton is regarded as a "small-l liberal",[17][18] a position more common in the Victorian Liberal Party than the more aggressively right-wing New South Wales branch.[citation needed]

In February 2006, Perton announced that he would not contest the next election and relinquished his shadow ministry.[19] Mary Wooldridge was elected as the Liberal Member for Doncaster at the 2006 State Election.

After politics[edit]

After Perton left politics he became an independent Company Director and practiced as a barrister. He remained active in supporting democracy movements in Asia.[20]

In December 2008 Victorian Premier John Brumby announced Perton's appointment as Victorian Government Commissioner to the Americas, based in San Francisco.[21]

His other appointments include to the Transport Accident Commission, the Federal Government's Council on Australia-Latin America Relations, the Global Integrity Summit and the Australian Centre for Financial Studies.[22] He became a board member of Yarra Valley Water on 1 October 2015.[23]


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