Chris Hurford

Christopher John Hurford AO (born 30 July 1931) was a Labor member of the Australian House of Representatives seat of Adelaide from 1969 to 1987. He played a key role in the development of Australia's skills-oriented immigration policy, and founded the ALP Labor Unity faction in SA.

Chris Hurford

Opening of the Chris Hurford exhibition at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library in 2011.
Minister for Community Services
In office
16 February 1987  24 July 1987
Preceded byDon Grimes
Succeeded byNeal Blewett
Minister for Immigration
In office
13 December 1984  16 February 1987
Preceded byStewart West
Succeeded byMick Young
Minister for Housing & Construction
In office
11 March 1983  13 December 1984
Preceded byTom McVeigh
Succeeded byStewart West
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Adelaide
In office
25 October 1969  31 December 1987
Preceded byAndrew Jones
Succeeded byMike Pratt
Personal details
Christopher John Hurford-Jones

(1931-07-30) 30 July 1931
Mhow, Indore Residency, British India
Political partyAustralian Labor Party

Early life

Hurford was born in Mhow, India, to an English father and Australian mother. In 1940, his mother took the children to Perth, Western Australia where Hurford attended school, before returning to India, then to England. In 1949, his whole family migrated to Western Australia as 'ten-pound poms', despite their Australian heritage.[1] After studying at the London School of Economics, Chris Hurford worked in accountancy. He entered federal parliament in 1969, representing the Division of Adelaide, South Australia.[2] The seat had fallen to Liberal Andrew Jones during the massive Coalition landslide of 1966. However, Jones' strong conservatism didn't play well in this ancestrally Labor seat, and Hurford retook the seat for Labor on a resounding 14.3 percent swing, turning it into a safe Labor seat in one stroke. Hurford actually won enough votes on the first count to take the seat without the need for preferences. He held Adelaide until his resignation in 1987.

Ministerial record

Hurford was Minister for Housing and Construction, outside Cabinet in the first Hawke Ministry from March 1983 to December 1984. In the second Hawke Ministry, he was promoted to Cabinet as Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs until February 1987, when he replaced Don Grimes as Minister for Community Services.

As Immigration Minister, Hurford's major achievement was the introduction of the "points system" for skilled immigration—a system which provided transparency in decisions on skilled migration and brought a new focus to immigration's role in developing human capital. The system has since been adopted in other jurisdictions.

Hurford's period in Immigration was also notable for his attempt to have Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly deported,[3] but was unsuccessful. He also made an early, unsuccessful attempt to reduce ministerial discretions in the granting of immigration visas.

In July 1987, Hurford,for personal reasons, withdrew from the third Hawke ministry. He retired from Parliament at the end of the year and became Australia's Consul-General in New York for four years.[4]

Internal ALP role

Within the South Australian ALP, Hurford is arguably an important modernising figure. He led the creation of the Labor Unity faction, a group variously described as "right-wing", moderate or (after the ascension of the UK Blair Government) "Third Way". A Catholic, Hurford won support from the socially conservative leadership of the Shop Distributive and Allied Trades Union in forming the faction.

In the 1980s Hurford led the SA Labor Unity group in vigorously defending within the ALP the policy direction of the Hawke Government, a direction with which the larger Centre-Left and Left factions were uncomfortable. By the 1990s Labor Unity became a substantial counterweight to the other factions in SA.


  1. Don Dunstan Oral History Project, Flinders University.
  2. "Members of the House of Representatives since 1901". Parliamentary Handbook. Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
  3. "Former minister outlines reservations over sheik". Insiders. ABC. 29 June 2003. Archived from the original on 18 May 2006. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
  4. "Chris Hurford". Insiders. The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
Political offices
Preceded by
Ralph Hunt
Minister for Housing and Construction
Succeeded by
Stewart West
Preceded by
Stewart West
Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
Succeeded by
Mick Young
Preceded by
Don Grimes
Minister for Community Services
Succeeded by
Neal Blewett
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Andrew Jones
Member for Adelaide
Succeeded by
Mike Pratt
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Taylor
Australian Consul General in New York
Succeeded by
Peter Curtis
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