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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cabinet Unpacked: Peter Garrett

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Cabinet Unpacked :: Peter Garrett

This post looks at Midnight Oil Front Man-turn-Labor party MP Peter Garrett.




Portfolio: Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Held position since: 2007
Constituency: Kingsford Smith (NSW) In Parliament since: 2004
21st Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts House: House of Representatives
Peter Garrett became famous as the lead singer for popular Australian protest band Midnight Oil. He has been the president of the Australian Conservation Foundation and involved with Greenpeace.   

Midnight Oil was famous for its political statements, including performing at the 2000 Sydney Olympics wearing clothes opposing former Prime Minister John Howard’s refusal to apologise to the Aboriginal Stolen Generation.

Garrett first tried to become involved in politics in 1984, when he stood for a Senate position for the Nuclear Disarmament Party. He was not elected.

Garrett joined the Australian Labor Party in 2004, winning the Labor safe seat of Kingsford Smith and increased the Labor majority in the electorate. According to the Australian Electoral Commission website, Garrett also received a 4.24% swing towards him in the 2007 election.

As a shadow minister in the Labor Opposition between 2004 and 2007, Garrett held the portfolio of Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment, Heritage and the Arts. When the Labor party gained power in the 2007 election, Garrett lost the Climate Change portfolio to Penny Wong.

Garrett has been commented as back-flipping on his opposition to Uranium mining and the Pine Gap US-Australian Defence Facility. Garratt has explained that he will fight these issues internally, however will accept the Labor caucus’ vote. Garrett told 2UE radio broadcaster Steve Price that the Labor party would change its policies if elected, possibly a reason why he lost the climate change portfolio. Garrett described this as a “short and jocular conversation.” Greens leader Bob Brown described Garrett as a “sell out”, saying that “the Labor Party machine has taken him over and turned him into an anti-green campaigner."

(Most information from: Source)

Present Issues 

  • Environmental issues (largely excluding Climate Change): This is part of his job as environment minister.
  • Arts related: All forms of art including music, dance and dramatic arts. This includes funding and recognition of each.
  • Heritage related: Maintaining, protecting and educating about Australia’s history.

Recent action includes:

  • $32 million in funding for “non-lethal whale research” in response to Japan’s deployment of a fleet of whaling ships heading for the Southern Ocean. (19th November 2009)
  • Recognition of Dr Ron Radford for “his selection as a recipient of the French Honour, L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres.” (19th November 2009)
  • Giving $439,928 in funding toward protecting Australia’s underwater cultural heritage. (20th November 2009)
  • Commissioning and acting on reports regarding environmental issues, such as the Montara oil leak. (30th October 2009)

Significant Speeches
Peter Garrett has not yet made any pivotal speeches since becoming a politician, however his maiden speech to the House of Representatives marks his entry to Parliament. A transcript of this can be accessed from the Parliament of Australia website.


  • "This separation is a principle I firmly believe in, while also believing that someone's personal values should and do inform one's day to day thought processes and decision-making." - Garrett explaining the influence of his Christian beliefs on his actions and opinions with reference to the separation of church and state. (From:
  • “Team player.” - Garrett describing how he will stand for his beliefs in the party room, however will accept the vote of caucus.
  • "Short and jocular." - How Garrett described his conversation with 2UE broadcaster Steve Price in which he said the Labor party would change its policies once it gains power.


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