Wilson Tuckey

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Wilson Tuckey
Wilson Tuckey official portrait.jpg
Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government
In office
25 January 2002 – 7 October 2003
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byIan Macdonald
Succeeded byIan Campbell
Minister for Forestry and Conservation
In office
21 October 1998 – 26 November 2001
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byNew title
Succeeded byIan Macdonald
Member of the Australian Parliament
for O'Connor
In office
18 October 1980 – 21 August 2010
Preceded byNew division
Succeeded byTony Crook
Mayor of Carnarvon Shire
In office
23 May 1964 – 5 June 1971
Personal details
Born (1935-07-10) 10 July 1935 (age 84)
Perth, Western Australia
Political partyLiberal

Charles Wilson "Ironbar" Tuckey (born 10 July 1935) is a former Australian politician who was a member of the House of Representatives from 1980 to 2010, representing the seat of O'Connor in Western Australia for the Liberal Party. He was a minister in the Howard Government.

Early life[edit]

Tuckey was born in Perth, Western Australia, and was a businessman and hotelier before entering politics.

Tuckey was the last mayor of the Town of Carnarvon from 23 May 1964 until 1 March 1965, when the Town was amalgamated into the Shire, and then was the first president of the Shire of Carnarvon from 22 May 1965 until June 1971. He continued to serve as a councillor for Commercial Ward until 1979.

In 1967, while a publican in Carnarvon, he was convicted of assault after striking an Aboriginal man with a length of steel cable and fined $50.[1][2][3][4] The man was allegedly being held down by Tuckey's brother at the time.[5] He has had the nickname "Ironbar" ever since.

Political career[edit]

Tuckey was endorsed in 1979 by the Liberal Party ahead of the 1980 election for the then-new seat of O'Connor, covering a large section of rural Western Australia. The demographics of the seat suggested it should have been a National Country seat. However, a split between the federal and state branches of the National Country Party allowed Tuckey to win on Labor preferences.[6][7]

Tuckey was one of the most controversial figures in Australian federal politics. In 1986 he taunted the then Labor Treasurer, Paul Keating, in Parliament about a former girlfriend called "Christine," leading Keating to call him "a piece of criminal garbage."[8] In one notorious exchange, Tuckey told Keating: "You are an idiot, you are a hopeless nong", to which Keating replied: "Shut up! Sit down and shut up, you pig... Why do you not shut up, you clown?... This man has a criminal intellect... this clown continues to interject in perpetuity."[9] The enraged Keating demanded that John Howard, who the previous year had become Leader of the Opposition, discipline Tuckey; but Howard refused. Keating then promised to make Howard "wear his leadership like a crown of thorns". Keating and Howard's relationship, previously a civil one, deteriorated to the point where the two men refused to speak to one another. Reportedly, the last time they talked privately was when Keating stormed into Howard's office, furiously berated him for not disciplining Tuckey, and walked out.[2]

Tuckey was a member of the Opposition shadow ministry from 1984 to 1989 and again from 1993 to 1996. He was Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House from 1988 to 1989 and 1993 to 1994. In 1989 a group of Liberal parliamentarians, including Tuckey, plotted to remove Howard from the Opposition leadership and give the position back to Andrew Peacock (who had already held it from 1983 to 1985). After the plan succeeded, Tuckey boasted about his actions in a Four Corners interview, which privately infuriated Howard.[10]

Tuckey addressed an AIDS conference and opened by saying "you don't catch AIDS, you let somebody give it to you".[1][11]


As Minister for Forestry and Conservation from 1998 to 2001, Tuckey angered conservation groups through his support for the forestry industry. In 2002 he blamed the environmentalist movement for Australia's severe bushfire problem, saying that their opposition to controlled burning in national parks increased the risk of fires.[1][12]

In a reshuffle after the 2001 election, Tuckey was made Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government. His ministerial demise came in August 2003, when it was revealed that Tuckey had written to South Australian Police minister Patrick Conlon on ministerial letterhead, asking Conlon to "review" his son's conviction on a traffic charge.[1] Howard said that Tuckey's actions were foolish but refused to dismiss him. Tuckey resigned shortly afterwards and returned to the backbench.[13]


Tuckey in 2007

In 2005 when the Australian parliament passed a motion asking Singaporean authorities that Van Tuong Nguyen not be executed for drug smuggling, Tuckey was the only member of parliament not to support it.[14]

Tuckey was often quoted in the media as supporting free markets and less government intervention in the economy. He is also well known for criticising the National Party on a number of issues. He was the most outspoken critic of the AWB in Federal Parliament, and he led the push for this board to be stripped of its export monopoly for wheat. Tuckey labelled National Party politicians who supported the single-desk system as "drongos".[15] He also labelled National Party senator Barnaby Joyce a "lightweight" for arguing in favour of foreign ownership restrictions on Medibank Private after privatization.[16]

In August 2006, Tuckey had a public argument with Labor leader Kim Beazley over new immigration laws, ending with Tuckey calling Beazley a "fat so and so".[1][17] A year later, Tuckey sent a fax to John Howard and several Liberal MPs suggesting the Prime Minister relinquish the leadership.[18]

Queensland Aboriginal activist Sam Watson, in January 2008, branded Tuckey an "extreme racist" after Tuckey had publicly deplored the decision to display traditional dancers from one of the Aboriginal tribes which historically resides near Parliament House at the opening of Federal Parliament. Watson concluded, "Mr Tuckey and his extremist racist views really do belong to another generation."[19]

On 13 February 2008, Tuckey walked out during the opening of the 42nd Australian Federal Parliament immediately after prayers, and pointedly before the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a motion of apology to the Stolen Generation. He was one of six Liberal MPs (including fellow West Australian MPs Luke Simpkins, Dennis Jensen and the late Don Randall as well as Sophie Mirabella and the late Alby Schultz) to leave the house in protest to the apology to the Stolen Generations, thereby boycotting the motion.[1][20] On the steps of parliament, Tuckey was sarcastic about what the apology would achieve for indigenous people:

"I'm there to say hallelujah. Tomorrow there'll be no petrol sniffing, tomorrow little girls can sleep in their beds without any concern — it's all fixed. The Rudd spin will fix it all. I've read it, I'm convinced. I think it's wonderful."[20]

The following May, Tuckey was expelled from the house for 24 hours after breaching standards. His remarks against the Speaker arose during a heated question time in relation to the Rudd Government's 'Fuel Watch Scheme'.[21] On 24 September 2008, Tuckey was again expelled from the house, this time for one hour, for an outburst during House of Representatives Question Time.[citation needed]

In March 2010, Tuckey said that acknowledging traditional landowners at official events was a "farce" and that he had "never thanked anyone for the right to be on the soil that is Australian".[22]


From 1983 to 2007, Tuckey held O'Connor without serious difficulty, usually taking between 62 and 75 percent of the two-party preferred vote. At the 2007 federal election, Tuckey was reelected with 46 percent of the primary vote and a two-party margin of 67 percent against Labor.

However, at the 2010 federal election, Tuckey was defeated by Nationals WA candidate Tony Crook.[23][24] He suffered a post-redistribution primary vote swing of 10 percent and a two-candidate swing of 20 percent, finishing on a primary vote of 38 percent and a two-candidate vote of 46 percent against Crook. He was 75 years old at the time of his defeat, making him the oldest sitting MP.[25]

Tuckey broke his self-imposed silence after the election, verbally attacking Crook on a range of fronts.[26] Tuckey described Crook as "a nobody who would be lucky to have his relatives turn up to hear his maiden speech in parliament".[27]

In 2009 the year before his defeat he said he might seek to become the longest serving member of parliament by breaking the record held by former Prime Minister Billy Hughes.[28] However his defeat in 2010 dashed hopes of him achieving this record as it ended his 30 years in Parliament no where near the 51 years served by Hughes from 1901 til his death in 1952.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Feneley, Rick (28 August 2010). "Nasty and deserved end for our wild Uncle Wilson". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b Crabb, Annabel (23 August 2003). "Heckler from hell lives to torment another day". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
  3. ^ "Tuckey's dreams in ruins". Australian Associated Press. 22 August 2010.
  4. ^ "PM takes his feather duster to 'Iron Bar'". Sunday Mail. 24 August 2003.
  5. ^ "Tough tactics". Sun Herald. 26 May 1991.
  6. ^ "O'Connor - Australia Votes Federal Election 2013". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  7. ^ http://psephos.adam-carr.net/countries/a/australia/1980/1980repswa.txt
  8. ^ Papers on Parliament No 34 – Chapter 14 Archived 11 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine Parliament of Australia, Senate
  9. ^ Madigan, Michael (27 February 2009). "Barking, biting dog House". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  10. ^ Brent, Peter (15 February 2012). "Pointless hypothetical polling". Mumble. The Australian. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  11. ^ "O'Connor: 2010 Federal Election 2010". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  12. ^ Woodford, James (6 September 2003). "Lessons from the burning bush". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media.
  13. ^ Seccombe, Mike (20 August 2003). "Tuckey's worrying version of family values". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
  14. ^ Peake, Ross (1 November 2005). "Tuckey alone against clemency for Nguyen". Canberra Times. Fairfax Media. p. 2.
  15. ^ Overington, Caroline; Hart, Cath (19 October 2006). "Coalition split on AWB monopoly". The Australian. News Limited.
  16. ^ Cronin, Danielle (6 September 2006). "Fears cost of health insurance will rise". The Canberra Times. Fairfax Media.
  17. ^ "'Iron Bar' wins on points: PM". The Age. Fairfax Media. 10 August 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
  18. ^ Coorey, Phillip (15 August 2007). "Tuckey blames staff for fax". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
  19. ^ "Tuckey labelled racist over Indigenous dance comments". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 January 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  20. ^ a b Grattan, Michelle; Schubert, Misha (14 February 2008). "Rudd staff rebuked for shunning Nelson". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  21. ^ "Fireworks as Wilson Tuckey is kicked out of the House". May 2008. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udN4h0YzXDg. Missing or empty |series= (help)
  22. ^ Rodgers, Emma (15 March 2010). "Aboriginal recognition a face: Tuckey". ABC News. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  23. ^ Barrass, Tony (21 August 2010). "'Fat lady is warming up' for Wilson Tuckey". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  24. ^ "Tuckey's dreams in ruins". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 22 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  25. ^ O'Connor 2010 federal election results: AEC
  26. ^ "Tuckey refuses to be gracious in defeat". Abc.net.au. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  27. ^ O'Brien, Amanda (9 September 2010). "Wilson Tuckey exits politics with a spray at nationals MP Tony Crook". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  28. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2008/s2663251.htm

External links[edit]

Political offices
New title Minister for Forestry and Conservation
Succeeded by
Ian Macdonald
Preceded by
Ian Macdonald
Minister for Regional Services,
Territories and Local Government

Succeeded by
Ian Campbell
Parliament of Australia
New division Member for O'Connor
Succeeded by
Tony Crook