Greg Combet

Gregory Ivan Combet AM (/ˈkɒmb/; born 28 April 1958) is a former Australian politician and trade unionist. He was Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions between 1999 and 2007. He was elected member for the New South Wales Federal seat of Charlton for the Australian Labor Party at the 2007 election and was immediately appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement in the First Rudd Ministry on 3 December 2007. Combet was the Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation in the Second Gillard Ministry[1] before announcing his resignation from the ministry on 26 June 2013[2][3] following Julia Gillard's defeat in a leadership ballot. He previously served as Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, when Penny Wong was the Minister.

Greg Combet

Minister for Industry and Innovation
In office
14 December 2011  26 June 2013
Prime MinisterJulia Gillard
Preceded byKim Carr
Succeeded byKim Carr
Minister for Energy and Climate Change
In office
14 September 2010  26 June 2013
Prime MinisterJulia Gillard
Preceded byPenny Wong
Succeeded byMark Butler
Minister for Defence Materiel and Science
In office
9 June 2009  14 September 2010
Prime MinisterKevin Rudd
Julia Gillard
Preceded byWarren Snowdon
Succeeded byJason Clare
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Charlton
In office
24 November 2007  5 August 2013
Preceded byKelly Hoare
Succeeded byPat Conroy
Personal details
Gregory Ivan Combet

(1958-04-28) 28 April 1958
Sydney, New South Wales
Political partyAustralian Labor Party
Children1 daughter, 1 stepdaughter, 1 stepson
Alma materUniversity of New South Wales
University of Sydney
ProfessionTrade unionist,

He retired from politics at the 2013 election.[4]

Early life

Greg Combet was born in Sydney and attended Eastern Creek Primary school, then Rooty Hill High School from years 7 to 10.[5] He completed his secondary education at Baulkham Hills High School.[5] He was later educated at the University of New South Wales where he studied mining engineering,[6] and then graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Economics, and a Graduate Diploma in Labour Relations and the Law. He was a project officer for the New South Wales Tenants' Union, before working for the Lidcombe Workers' Health Centre. In 1987, he was employed by the Waterside Workers' Federation, now part of the Maritime Union of Australia.

Union activity

Combet's association with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) began in 1993 when he became a Senior Industrial Officer. In 1996 he was elected Assistant Secretary and in 1999 following the retirement of Bill Kelty, he became Secretary. Over his time at the ACTU, Combet has co-ordinated many union campaigns, and rose to prominence during the 1998 Australian waterfront dispute. Combet also led successful campaigns to secure entitlements and compensation for the staff of the collapsed airline Ansett Australia and asbestos victims of the James Hardie company. In his capacity as Secretary of the ACTU, Combet led the Rights at Work campaign against the Howard Government's WorkChoices industrial relations law changes.


On 4 May 2007 Combet announced his intention to run for the safe Labor seat of Charlton in Newcastle, New South Wales.[7] The sitting member for Charlton, Kelly Hoare, expressed anger at losing preselection for her seat,[8] and for a time considered running as an independent.

Combet stood down as ACTU Secretary to campaign full-time in Charlton in the lead up to the federal election. On 14 June 2007 Jeff Lawrence, National Secretary of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU) was elected unopposed as the next Secretary of the ACTU.[9]

Combet was elected as the new member for Charlton on 24 November 2007 as part of the ALP's victory in the 2007 Australian federal election, achieving a two party preferred swing of 4.47 per cent, winning 62.87 per cent of the two party vote.[10] Following the election, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd appointed Combet as Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement in the First Rudd Ministry. He was sworn in on 3 December 2007.[11] In February 2009, Combet was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, with a focus on emissions trading, to assist Climate Change Minister Senator Penny Wong.

As a result of the resignation of Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon and the subsequent ministerial reshuffle, Combet was promoted to the ministry on 6 June 2009, as Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change. Combet's portfolio was amended into April 2010 to Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Minister for Defence Materiel and Science[12] and to help him focus on the Government's energy efficiency programs, he axed part of this scheme—Home Insulation Program (HIP) in late April due to the safety risks and the blow-out in funding.[13][14]

Combet was re-elected to Charlton at the 2010 federal election, suffering a post-redistribution two party swing of 0.24 per cent, winning 62.67 per cent of the two party vote.[15] After Labor was returned to government in this election, Combet entered Cabinet, succeeding Wong as Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Following the passage of the government's Clean Energy Bill, the portfolio of Industry and Innovation was added to Combet's responsibilities. Combet had decided to step down over health concerns prior to Prime Minister Gillard's defeat in a leadership spill on 26 June 2013, but brought this decision forward and announced he would step down as minister and not contest his seat in the upcoming election.[2][3][16] The seat of Charlton was subsequently won for the ALP by Combet's former advisor and chief-of-staff Pat Conroy.[17]

Since leaving Parliament Combet has worked as a consultant to unions, governments and business and as a company director. Combet works primarily with industry superannuation funds and in December 2018 became chair of Industry Super Australia and Chair of IFM Investors, a global asset management business owned by the industry superannuation funds.


On 12 June 2006, Combet was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for service to industrial relations and through advocacy for the improved health and safety of workers, including people affected by asbestos-related diseases, and to the community.[18]

Combet is separated from his second wife and in 2012 began a relationship with ABC-TV newsreader Juanita Phillips.[19]

Combet is the son of a winemaker and grew up on the Penfolds Minchinbury Estate in western Sydney. He is well known for breeding Gouldian finches.

In 2014, Combet published his autobiography The Fights of My Life.[20]

In the 2007 ABC-TV series Bastard Boys, dramatising the 1998 Australian waterfront dispute, in which Combet was heavily involved, the role of Combet was played by Daniel Frederiksen.

See also


  1. "Gillard announces her team". Brisbane Times. AAP. 11 September 2010. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  2. Griffith, Emma (26 June 2013). "Kevin Rudd defeats Julia Gillard 57-45 in Labor leadership ballot, paving way for a return to PM". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  3. Peatling, Stephanie (26 June 2013). "Politics live: June 26, 2013". The Age. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  4. Federal Labor frontbencher Greg Combet to retire from politics, ABC News, 29 June 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013
  5. Stavrou, Nikolaos (21 July 2010). "Shining Star - Tireless Pursuit of Justice". Mt Druitt St Marys Standard. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  6. Greg Combet's MP website Archived 13 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine, 27 June 2010.
  7. Combet confirms he'll stand for ALP, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 4 May 2007.
  8. Combet painted as Charlton outsider, The 7:30 Report, 31 May 2007
  9. Shaw, Meaghan (13 June 2007). "Little-known Lawrence confirmed as ACTU head". The Age. Retrieved 25 November 2007.
  10. "NSW Division – Charlton". Australian Electoral Commission. 13 December 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  11. "Rudd Ministry" (PDF). Government of Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  12. Parliament of Australia, House of Representatives 2 July 2010. Archived 8 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  13. "Combet moved out of Defence portfolio". ABC News. Australia. 1 April 2010.
  14. Rodgers, Emma (22 April 2010). "Combet defends insulation backflip". ABC News. Australia.
  15. Charlton 2010 election results: AEC
  16. Kelly, Paul (2014). Triumph and Demise: The Broken Promise of a Labor Generation. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. p. 470. ISBN 978-0-522-86210-2.
  17. Kelly, Matthew (8 September 2013). "CHARLTON: Conroy to stick to local issues". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  18. "COMBET, Gregory Ivan: Member of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 12 June 2006. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  19. Le Marquand, Sarrah (29 September 2012). "ABC news presenter Juanita Phillips and climate change minister Greg Combet are Australia's newest power couple". The Daily Telegraph.
  20. Combet, Greg (2014). The Fights of My Life. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 9780522866179.
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Kelly Hoare
Member of Parliament for Charlton
Succeeded by
Pat Conroy
Political offices
Preceded by
Warren Snowdon
Minister for Defence Materiel and Science
Succeeded by
Jason Clare
Preceded by
Penny Wong
Minister for Energy and Climate Change
Succeeded by
Mark Butler
Preceded by
Kim Carr
Minister for Industry and Innovation
Succeeded by
Kim Carr
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Bill Kelty
Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions
Succeeded by
Jeff Lawrence
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