Ben Humphreys

Benjamin Charles Humphreys AM (17 August 1934 – 17 November 2019) was an Australian politician. He was a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and served in the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1996, representing the Division of Griffith in Queensland. He was Minister for Veterans' Affairs in the Hawke and Keating Governments from 1987 to 1993.

Ben Humphreys

Minister for Veterans' Affairs
In office
24 July 1987  24 March 1993
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded byArthur Gietzelt
Succeeded byJohn Faulkner
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Griffith
In office
10 December 1977  29 January 1996
Preceded byDon Cameron
Succeeded byGraeme McDougall
Personal details
Benjamin Charles Humphreys

(1934-08-17)17 August 1934
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Died17 November 2019(2019-11-17) (aged 85)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Political partyLabor

Early life

Humphreys was born in Brisbane and worked as a mechanic before entering politics.[1]


Humphreys was elected to federal parliament at the 1977 federal election.[1]

Humphreys served a six-year term as Minister for Veterans' Affairs in the ministries of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. In May 1992, that ministry and Humphreys along with it was promoted to Cabinet, and Humphreys also took over the duties of Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Northern Australia from Senator Bob Collins. Humphreys' elevation to Cabinet was because he was a Queenslander and there was a push to get at least one other Queenslander to Cabinet as Queensland in Cabinet prior to the May 1992 reshuffle was underrepresented. Despite this promotion to Cabinet, Humphreys was not reselected for a place in the ministry by the ALP caucus after the ALP's 1993 election victory ten months later.

After 18 years in parliament, Humphreys intended to leave politics in 1994, but delayed his retirement when the man he considered his ideal successor was ready to stand for preselection for Griffith – Kevin Rudd in 1995, later to become leader of the ALP and Prime Minister of Australia, lost the 1996 election to Liberal candidate Graeme McDougall but later won the seat in 1998.[2]

Humphreys would perhaps have retired from Parliament in 1995 after Kevin Rudd's preselection in Griffith but decided against it as that would have meant an unwanted by-election not long after the ALP's loss of the seat of Canberra in a by-election earlier that year.

Later life

Humphreys was known for his close contact with Australia's South Pacific neighbours, and in August 2001 he was part of a Commonwealth Observer Group sent to oversee the 2001 election in Fiji.[3] He served on the board of the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame.[1]

Humphreys died on 17 November 2019, aged 85.[4]



  1. Layt, Stuart (17 November 2019). "Ben Humphreys, former federal Labor MP for Griffith, dies aged 85". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  2. Gordon, Michael: "One determined bastard", The Age, 19 April 2003.
  3. Media Release: Australia Welcomes Commencement of Fiji Elections Archived 12 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia), 24 August 2001.
  4. Layt, Stuart (17 November 2019). "Ben Humphreys, former federal Labor MP for Griffith, dies aged 85". The Age. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  5. It's an Honour, Australian Government.
  6. It's an Honour, Australian Government.
Political offices
Preceded by
Arthur Gietzelt
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Succeeded by
John Faulkner
Preceded by
Bob Collins
Minister assisting the Prime Minister
for Northern Australia

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Don Cameron
Member for Griffith
Succeeded by
Graeme McDougall
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