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Nyunggai Warren Stephen Mundine AO (born 11 August 1956 in Grafton, New South Wales) is an Australian Aboriginal leader and the former National President of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). He quit the Labor Party in 2012 and was appointed into the position of chairman of the Australian Government's Indigenous Advisory Council by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
A member of the Bundjalung people, the traditional owners of country covering much of coastal northern New South Wales, Mundine was the ninth of 11 children in his family, which consisted of eight boys and three girls. Mundine was raised a Catholic, and in 1963 the family moved to Sydney and settled in the western suburb of Auburn. Mundine went to the Catholic Benedict Marist Brothers College and found work as a fitter and turner after leaving school. He is also a descendant of the Gumbaynggirr, Yuin and Irish peoples through his mother's family.
Mundine worked in the New South Wales public service, including a stint as the CEO of the New South Wales Native Title Service. In 1995, he successfully stood as an independent candidate for Dubbo City Council in central-west NSW, later becoming deputy mayor, a position he held until 2004. He was a long-time member of the ALP and before becoming National President of the party, he previously served as its Senior Vice-President and as a member of the Australian Government's National Indigenous Council. He won the 2005 Bennelong Medal for service to the Aboriginal community.
He succeeded Barry Jones as President of the ALP, beginning his term on 28 January 2006, and became the first Indigenous Australian to serve as President of an Australian political party. Mundine served one term as national President, stepping down in 2007.
Mundine expressed an interest in becoming Labor's first federal indigenous parliamentarian when Mark Arbib resigned from the Senate in March 2012, but Bob Carr was selected for the position. In November 2012, Mundine told The Australian newspaper that he had quit the Labor Party. He said he had been a supporter of "Hawke-Keating Labor, where it was about economic development, and progress, and working with unions to get good outcomes for everyone", but that the ALP by 2012 was "no longer the party I joined" and had failed to keep up with the Conservative parties in selecting indigenous candidates. Mundine maintained his interest in indigenous advocacy in his role as Andrew Forrest's Pilbara Mining indigenous charity Generation One.
Following the election of the Abbott-led Liberal-National coalition in 2013, Abbott appointed Mundine chairman of the Australian Government's Indigenous Advisory Council.
Nuclear industrial advocacy
In the late 2000s, Mundine emerged as a public supporter of nuclear industrial development in Australia, arguing that nuclear power should not be ruled out of Australia's future energy mix in response to climate change. His statements on nuclear industrial development have been criticised by members of the anti-nuclear movement in Australia, who have also drawn attention to his former directorship of the Australian Uranium Association. Mundine wrote in an opinion editorial published in the Australian Financial Review in 2012:
"By looking after the full life cycle of the uranium, with the support of the traditional owners of the lands on which it is mined and stored, not only will we play a responsible role within the global community, but we can ensure that Australian uranium is not sold to states seeking to produce weapons."
In 1975 Mundine married Jenny Rose and they have two children. He worked as a barman at night and as an office trolley boy during the day, and later attended night college to earn his Higher School Certificate. Following a job at the Australian Taxation Office, Mundine moved to Adelaide, studying at the South Australian Institute of Technology, which later became the University of South Australia. After separating from Rose, Mundine gained custody of their two children.
In 1983 Mundine met his second wife Lynette Riley, marrying her in 1984. They raised seven children: two from Mundine's first marriage, four of their own and a foster child. The couple wed a second time in 2003, because when they first married, it was not in a Catholic church, but in St Andrew's Congregational Church in Balmain. This had bothered Mundine, so to celebrate 20 years together, they renewed their vows in St Brigid's Catholic Church in Dubbo. Mundine informed The Catholic Weekly: "I pray to God every night, to thank him for what I have and talk about my issues and problems".
His second marriage broke down while he was serving on the Presidential Panel of the Australian Labor Party. When he spoke about his second divorce, Mundine had admitted he was the cause of the marriage breakdown, saying that he had succumbed to temptation and deserved the eventual outcome. He said: "I never thought of myself as a bloke who was attractive to women but after I became president [of the ALP] it was like I became sexy to some people. And if you look at pictures of me back then, I was 30kg heavier, so I don't really get it. But I was getting offers. And the ego got the better of me and I took one of those offers, and I got what I deserved, which was a divorce." Riley, a senior lecturer in Aboriginal education at Sydney University, has remained silent on the disintegration of their marriage, but when asked about her view of Mundine's ongoing political career, she replied: "I think he has sold out his family and his culture. I think he gave up his good Aboriginal wife and kids so he could do that."
In October 2013, Mundine married for the third time. His third wife, Elizabeth Henderson, is the daughter of Anne and Gerard Henderson, directors of The Sydney Institute. Mundine has described his third marriage as the creation of "a new life".
- "Mundine wants what's best for his people", The Australian, p. 2.
- Australian Labor Party (2006). Warren Mundine Begins Term As ALP National President. Retrieved 28 May 2006.
- "Board of Directors". Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- "Our people". Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- Natasha Robinson (3 November 2012). "Sick at heart: why a disillusioned Warren Mundine quit the Labor Party". The Australian. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- "Don't shut down nuclear debate: Mundine". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
- "Warren Mundine is Tony Abbott's political love-child | Green Left Weekly". www.greenleft.org.au. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
- "Nuclear lobby's Aboriginal stooge, Warren Mundine, joins Tony Abbott's campaign". Nuclear Australia. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
- "Step into the nuclear age". Financial Review. Retrieved 2015-11-27.
- Rintoul, Stuart (5 October 2013). "Game changer". The Canberra Times. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 31 January 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- Rintoul, Stuart (5 October 2013). "'Shattered': lingering pain of Mundine divorce". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 18 March 2014.