Bridget McKenzie

Bridget McKenzie (born 27 December 1969) is an Australian politician who has been deputy leader of the National Party since December 2017. She has been a Senator for Victoria since 2011 and Minister for Agriculture in the Morrison Government since May 2019.


Bridget McKenzie
Deputy Leader of the National Party
Assumed office
7 December 2017
LeaderBarnaby Joyce
Michael McCormack
Preceded byFiona Nash
Minister for Agriculture
Assumed office
29 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byDavid Littleproud
Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government
In office
28 August 2018  29 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
MinisterMichael McCormack
Preceded byJohn McVeigh
Succeeded byMark Coulton
Minister for Sport
In office
20 December 2017  29 May 2019
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byGreg Hunt
Succeeded byRichard Colbeck
Minister for Rural Health
Minister for Regional Communications
In office
20 December 2017  28 August 2018
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byFiona Nash
Succeeded by(abolished)
Senator for Victoria
Assumed office
1 July 2011
Personal details
Born (1969-12-27) 27 December 1969
Alexandra, Victoria, Australia
Political partyThe Nationals
Alma materDeakin University

McKenzie was a schoolteacher and university lecturer before entering politics. She was elected to the Senate at the 2010 federal election, and served as party whip from 2013 to 2014. She was elected as her party's deputy leader in 2017 in place of Fiona Nash, and subsequently appointed to Cabinet as Minister for Sport, Rural Health, and Regional Communications in the Turnbull Government. After Scott Morrison became prime minister, she was appointed Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government. She became agriculture minister after the 2019 federal election, the first woman to hold the position.

Early life

McKenzie was born in Alexandra, Victoria. She grew up in Benalla, where her mother was a primary school teacher and her father was a dairyman. She attended Tintern Grammar, where she was a house captain and swimming captain. After starting a family, McKenzie began studying at Deakin University as a mature-age student, completing a double degree in applied science (specialising in human movement) and teaching (specialising in mathematics). She served as the president of the Deakin University Student Association in 2003.[1] McKenzie subsequently taught physical education and mathematics for several years at Yarram Secondary College, Gippsland. She later lectured in education at Monash University.[2]

Politics

McKenzie joined the National Party at the age of 18, and was a junior vice-president of the Victorian branch from 2006 to 2009. She first stood for parliament at the 2004 federal election, unsuccessfully standing for the House of Representatives in the Division of McMillan.[3] At the 2010 election, McKenzie was elected to the Senate in the third place on a joint Coalition ticket. Her term began on 1 July 2011.[4]

McKenzie was her party's Senate whip from September 2013 to June 2014, when she was replaced by Barry O'Sullivan. She was elected deputy leader to Barnaby Joyce in December 2017, replacing Fiona Nash after her disqualification from parliament due to dual citizenship.[5] She reportedly defeated several other candidates, including Matt Canavan and Michael McCormack.[6] Under the terms of the Coalition Agreement with the Liberals, she was subsequently elevated to cabinet as Minister for Sport, Minister for Rural Health, and Minister for Regional Communications.[7]

In July 2018, as Minister for Sport, McKenzie unveiled the National Sport Plan in a speech to the National Press Club. The plan includes the transformation of the current Australian Sports Commission into an expanded agency called Sport Australia.[8][9]

When Scott Morrison replaced Turnbull as prime minister in August 2018, McKenzie was appointed Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government. She also retained the sport portfolio.[10] After the Coalition retained office at the 2019 election, she was appointed Minister for Agriculture, the first woman to hold the position.[11]

Controversies

McKenzie's electorate office is in the regional city of Bendigo, and she was described as "Bendigo-based" on a number of occasions. However, in 2016 it was noted that her primary residence was a flat in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Elwood, and she stayed in hotels when she visited Bendigo.[12]

In 2017, McKenzie was accused of using parliamentary travel entitlements for personal benefit, in a weekend trip to the Gold Coast in September 2014.[13] Also questioned was a February 2017 trip to Sydney to speak at a Shooting Australia awards ceremony, which was claimed as "electorate business"; media reports suggested that it did not fall under the usual category of parliamentary business.[14]

Political positions

Gun rights

McKenzie is a shooting enthusiast, and is chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting. She owns several shotguns, and has taken part in hunting expeditions in New Zealand and Scotland. In 2015, she said that the National Firearms Agreement was "not perfect", although she supports it in principle.[15] McKenzie opposed the federal government's import ban on the Adler A110 lever-action shotgun. In November 2016, she and John Williams crossed the floor to vote for a motion that would have overturned the ban; the motion was defeated 54–7. In the debate over the motion, she said that she was "not arguing for a weakening of gun laws and I never have".[16]

Same-sex marriage

McKenzie is opposed to same-sex marriage, and publicly campaigned for the "No" vote in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. In 2015, she promised "to oppose any such bill which seeks to legislate for same sex marriage", but also stated that she supported allowing a conscience vote on the issue.[17] She abstained from voting on the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017, which legalised same-sex marriage.[18] McKenzie's younger brother Alastair is gay, and has publicly confronted her on her views on several occasions, including in a letter to the Bendigo Advertiser and in an appearance on the panel discussion program Q&A.[19][20]

Personal life

McKenzie has four children from her first marriage, which ended in divorce.[21] She was subsequently in a long-distance relationship with David Bennett, a member of the New Zealand Parliament.[22][23]

References

  1. "A Degree of Rivalry", Sunday Age, 10 August 2003.
  2. Senator Bridget McKenzie, Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  3. Women in Politics: Bridget McKenzie, National Party Senator for Victoria, Australian Women Online. Retrieved 18 August 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  4. "Senate Results - Victoria - 2010 Federal Election". Retrieved 12 September 2010.
  5. Gun-loving senator Bridget McKenzie elected Barnaby Joyce's new deputy, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 December 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  6. "Nationals elect Bridget McKenzie new deputy leader". The Weekly Times. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  7. Turnbull, Malcolm (19 December 2017). "Ministerial Arrangements" (Press release). Government of Australia. Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018. Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie joins Cabinet as Minister for Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications. Bridget has long campaigned for better services for regional communities.
  8. Mary Gearin (1 August 2018). "National Sport Plan: Map of Australian sport's future high on ideals but light on detail". ABC News. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  9. Nadia Cameron (1 August 2018). "How Sport Australia plans to build out a new national sporting agenda". CMO. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  10. "Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  11. "Bridget McKenzie Australia's first female Agriculture Minister". Farm Online. 26 May 2019. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  12. "Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie responds to criticism she lives in the inner-city". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  13. "Nationals new deputy silent on weekend trip to Gold Coast". The Australian. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  14. "Nationals deputy Bridget McKenzie charged taxpayers to attend shooting awards". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  15. Meet Bridget McKenzie, the Turnbull government senator out to change your mind about guns, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  16. Nationals stage a late-night revolt in the Senate over the Adler shotgun ban, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 November 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  17. McKenzie against same sex marriage, supports conscience vote, Bendigo Advertiser, 10 June 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  18. "SENATE - Hansard". Record of Proceedings (Hansard). Australia: Australian Senate. 29 November 2017. p. 33-34.
  19. Q&A recap: Coalition senator Bridget McKenzie confronted by gay brother over plebiscite, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 September 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  20. Brother of Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie hits out against sister's comments on same-sex marriage, ABC News, 13 June 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  21. "Meet Bridget McKenzie, the Turnbull government senator out to change your mind about guns". Sydney Morning Herald. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  22. "Trans-Tasman relations: Long-distance love for Hamilton East MP David Bennett, who confirms he is in a relationship with Australian senator". NZ Herald. 24 December 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  23. Bridget McKenzie: New Zealand enchants another National, The Australian, 9 December 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
Political offices
Preceded by
David Littleproud
as Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
Minister for Agriculture
2019–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Greg Hunt
Minister for Sport
2017–present
New title Minister for Rural Health
2017–present
Preceded by
Mitch Fifield
Minister for Regional Communications
2017–present
Party political offices
Preceded by
Fiona Nash
Deputy Leader of the National Party of Australia
2017–present
Incumbent
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