John Fahey (politician)

John Joseph Fahey, AC (born 10 January 1945) is a former Premier of New South Wales and an Australian Minister for Finance. He was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1984 to 1996 and the federal House of Representatives from 1996 to 2001. Fahey is a former President of the World Anti-Doping Agency and was also a notable rugby league player and coach in his youth.

John Fahey

38th Premier of New South Wales
Election: 1995
In office
24 June 1992  4 April 1995
Preceded byNick Greiner
Succeeded byBob Carr
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Southern Highlands
In office
24 March 1984  1 February 1996
Preceded byNew district
Succeeded byPeta Seaton
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Macarthur
In office
2 March 1996  8 October 2001
Preceded byChris Haviland
Succeeded byPat Farmer
Personal details
Born (1945-01-10) 10 January 1945
Wellington, New Zealand
Political partyLiberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s)Colleen Fahey
Children2 (f) – 1 dec'd, 1 (m)

Fahey has served as the Chancellor of Australian Catholic University since September 2014.

Early life

Fahey was born in Wellington, New Zealand, the son of Stephen Fahey, farmer, and his wife Annie Fahey of Galway, Ireland. In 1956, Fahey migrated with his family to Picton, New South Wales. He was educated at Chevalier College, Bowral and the University of Sydney. He married Colleen Maree McGurren in 1968 and they had two daughters and one son. He became a naturalised Australian in 1973.[1]

State politics

He won the seat of electoral district of Camden for the Liberal Party in 1984. Fahey was elected member for Southern Highlands at the 1988 general election, and re-elected at the 1991 and 1995 state elections. During this period, Fahey was Minister for Industrial Relations from March 1988 and Minister for Further Education, Training and Employment from July 1990 in the Premier Nick Greiner led coalition government.

In June 1992, Fahey was appointed Premier of New South Wales after Greiner was forced to resign as a result of an Independent Commission Against Corruption of New South Wales investigation. Among those that Fahey defeated for the Liberal leadership in order to become Premier was Bruce Baird, who was then elected as Fahey's Liberal deputy and whose son Mike would become Premier in 2014.[2]

On the day that he had replaced Greiner, Fahey described it as "the saddest day of his life."[3]

In 1994 NSW Parliament was prorogued on 7 December when the Fahey government was attempting to stop a committee's work.[4]

In March 1995 Fahey's government was narrowly defeated in a state election by the Labor opposition, led by Bob Carr.[1]

Fahey is noted for having thwarted an attack on Charles, Prince of Wales, thereby preventing a potential assassination attempt. On Australia Day 1994, Charles, Prince of Wales was about to commence handing out awards at a ceremony in Sydney's Darling Harbour when a former anthropology student, David Kang, lunged onto the stage towards the Prince, simultaneously firing two shots from a starter's pistol. Fahey, sitting next to the Prince, subsequently assisted by the then Australian of the Year, Ian Kiernan, tackled Kang and wrestled him to the ground, after which Kang was subdued and arrested. Although the attack proved less dangerous than it was first thought to be, Fahey was nonetheless widely praised for his unthinking bravery.

Fahey played a key role in the bidding process for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and is also noted for his reaction when Sydney won, jumping up and down enthusiastically.

Federal politics

Fahey resigned from State politics just under a year after his State Government was defeated at the polls and successfully sought endorsement for the Liberal Party, to serve in the federal House of Representatives in the seat of Macarthur. Fahey was elected at the 1996 federal election, and served as Minister for Finance and Administration in the Howard government.[5]

A redistribution in late 2000 radically altered Macarthur, cutting out most of the Southern Highlands and turning it into a notionally Labor seat centered on southwest Sydney. Believing this made Macarthur impossible to hold, Fahey sought to contest neighboring Hume, which had absorbed much of his old Southern Highlands base. Hume was held by first-term MP Alby Schultz, a fellow Liberal who had also served in state parliament alongside Fahey. As a minister, Fahey was entitled to a seat. However, Schultz refused to hand Hume to Fahey, triggering a fight between the two. Prime Minister John Howard ordered an end to the feud.

Soon afterward, Fahey announced in May 2001 that he was retiring, citing family, personal, and health reasons, after having one of his lungs removed in February due to cancer.[6] He retired in October 2001, prior to the November 2001 election.


A Roman Catholic, he is married to a former Anglican, Colleen, and stirred some controversy when he declared his opposition to both abortion and birth control.

John and Colleen Fahey's daughter, Tiffany, was killed in a road accident, at the age of 27, on 26 December 2006. John and Colleen Fahey are now the legal guardians of Tiffany's children, Campbell and Amber.[7] His eldest son is Matthew Fahey and middle daughter Melanie J Fahey.

Career after politics

Fahey was appointed as the fourth Chancellor of Australian Catholic University for a five-year term from 4 September 2014.[8] On 17 October 2007, Fahey was confirmed as the next President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, a position that he held until November 2013.[9][10] Fahey has also served as a Director of the Bradman Foundation since 2001. In 2010 Fahey gave the 12th annual Tom Brock Lecture.[11]


Fahey was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia in 2002 for service to the Australian and New South Wales Parliaments, particularly through landmark reform of industrial relations, facilitation of high technology and industry growth, and for raising the international profile of Australia as Chairman of the Bid for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.[12]


  1. "Mr John Joseph Fahey (1945– )". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  2. Editorial (18 April 2014). "After promising start, Baird has it all to do". The Age. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  3. Dodkin, Marilyn (2003). Bob Carr: The Reluctant Leader. ISBN 9780868407579.
  4. Parliament of New South Wales Hansard Consideration of Urgent Motion Page 5810 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 March 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "The Hon John Fahey MP". Senators and Members. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  6. "John Fahey retires from politics after 17 years". The World Today. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 May 2001. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  7. Kennedy, Les (26 December 2006). "Crash Claims Fahey's Daughter". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  8. "Hon John Fahey AC appointed Chancellor" (Press release). Australian Catholic University. 3 September 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  9. "WADA Appoints Sir Craig Reedie as its new President". Play True Magazine, 15 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  10. Nicole, Jeffrey; Norrington, Brad (18 October 2007). "Fahey proves he's no dope at lobbying". The Australian. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
  11. Lane, Daniel (26 September 2010). "We've got to do better in next Storm, says Fahey". The Age. Retrieved 16 October 2010.
  12. "Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) entry for The Honourable John Joseph Fhaey". It's an Honour, Australian Honours Database. Canberra, Australia: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 January 2002. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Ralph Brading
Member for Camden
1984  1988
Succeeded by
Peter Primrose
New district Member for Southern Highlands
1988  1996
Succeeded by
Peta Seaton
Political offices
Preceded by
Pat Hills
as Minister for Industrial Relations
Minister for Employment
Minister for Industrial Relations and Employment
1988  1990
Succeeded by
as Minister for Industrial Relations
Minister for Further Education, Training and Employment
Preceded by
Ray Aston
Minister for Corrective Services
Succeeded by
Michael Yabsley
Preceded by
as Minister for Industrial Relations and Employment
Minister for Industrial Relations
1990  1992
Succeeded by
John Hannaford
Minister for Further Education, Training and Employment
1990  1992
Succeeded by
Virginia Chadwick
as Minister for Employment and Training
Preceded by
Nick Greiner
Premier of New South Wales
1992  1995
Succeeded by
Bob Carr
Treasurer of New South Wales
1992  1993
Succeeded by
Peter Collins
Minister for Ethnic Affairs
Succeeded by
George Souris
New title Minister for Economic Development
1993  1995
Post abolished
Party political offices
Preceded by
Nick Greiner
Leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party
1992  1995
Succeeded by
Peter Collins
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Chris Haviland
Member for Macarthur
1996  2001
Succeeded by
Pat Farmer
Political offices
Preceded by
Kim Beazley
Minister for Finance and Administration
1996  2001
Succeeded by
Nick Minchin
Academic offices
Preceded by
Ted Exell
Chancellor of Australian Catholic University
2014  present
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