Nicholas Hugh Minchin (born 15 April 1953) is a former Australian politician and currently serves as the Australian Consul-General in New York, USA. He previously served as a Liberal member of the Australian Senate representing South Australia from July 1993 to June 2011, and a former cabinet minister in the Howard Government.
|Leader of the Opposition in the Senate|
3 December 2007 – 3 May 2010
|Preceded by||Chris Evans|
|Succeeded by||Eric Abetz|
|Leader of the Government in the Senate|
27 January 2006 – 3 December 2007
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||Robert Hill|
|Succeeded by||Chris Evans|
|Vice-President of the Executive Council|
18 July 2004 – 3 December 2007
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||David Kemp|
|Succeeded by||John Faulkner|
|Minister for Finance and Administration|
26 November 2001 – 3 December 2007
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||John Fahey|
|Succeeded by||Lindsay Tanner|
|Minister for Industry, Science and Resources|
21 October 1998 – 26 November 2001
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||John Moore as Minister for Industry, Science and Technology|
Warwick Parer as Minister for Resources and Energy
|Succeeded by||Ian Macfarlane as Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources|
Peter McGauran as Minister for Science
|Special Minister of State|
9 October 1997 – 21 October 1998
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||No immediate predecessor|
|Succeeded by||Chris Ellison|
|Senator for South Australia|
1 July 1993 – 30 June 2011
|Preceded by||Graham Maguire|
|Born||15 April 1953|
|Political party||Liberal Party of Australia|
|Alma mater||Australian National University (BEc, LLB)|
Early life and education
Minchin was born in Sydney and was educated at the Australian National University, Canberra, where he gained degrees in law and economics. Minchin attended Knox Grammar School and spent a year in the United States as an exchange student with AFS International Scholarships. While at university, he was a resident of Burgmann College at the same time as Peter Garrett. He was a solicitor before entering politics.
Minchin was a staff member for the Liberal Party's Federal Secretariat 1977–83, Deputy Federal Director of the Liberal Party in 1983, South Australian State Director and Campaign Director of the Liberal Party 1985–93. On 13 March 1993, Minchin was elected to the Australian Senate for South Australia, with his term starting on 1 July.
Minchin was a member of the Opposition Shadow Ministry 1994–96, holding the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, John Howard. He was Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister John Howard 1996–97, Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister 1997–98, and Minister for Industry, Science and Resources 1998–2001, with a seat in the Cabinet. He was Minister for Finance and Administration from November 2001 until the defeat of the Howard government at the 2007 federal election. Until that election he also held the posts of Leader of the Government in the Senate and Vice-President of the Executive Council.
Minchin was a right faction leader in the Liberal Party, and supported the abolition of Australia's compulsory voting system, on the stated basis that "compulsory voting is a fundamental breach of ... civil liberties". He supported states' rights in Cabinet. As Leader of the Government in the Senate he played a significant role in pursuing and defending its reforms of the Senate committee system, implemented in 2006 following his government's success in securing a majority of Senate seats at the 2004 election.
Minchin announced on 24 March 2010 that he would not be contesting his Senate seat at the next Australian federal election. His term ended on 30 June 2011. He also resigned his Opposition portfolios and addressed the media saying that: "I love politics. This is not an easy decision to make ... when something like that happens and when one of your children, quite frankly, has a near-death experience, it does make you reassess your life and your priorities". His son, Oliver was seriously injured in a boat accident while training with the Australian Defence Force Academy in February 2010.
On 14 February 2014 Minchin was appointed to the role of Australian Consul-General in New York following the controversial termination of the Labor-appointed nominee to the position, Steve Bracks, by the incoming Abbott Government in September 2013.
Minchin has been a strong proponent of privatisation and wholesale labour market deregulation. He has defended the full privatisation of Telstra, and argued that the Commonwealth should sell its Telstra shares to buy a portfolio of other income-earning investments rather than spend the profits on national infrastructure.
In March 2006, Minchin received extensive media coverage when he highlighted the dilemma his government faced in the field of industrial relations and aired his views about future policy proposals. Speaking at a conference of the H. R. Nicholls Society where he told the audience that the coalition "knew its reform to WorkChoices were not popular but the process of change must continue", and that "there is still a long way to go... awards, the IR commission, all the rest of it...", he went on to say "The fact is the great majority of the Australian people do not support what we are doing on industrial relations. They violently disagree."
In 1995 Minchin submitted a dissenting Senate report on the tobacco industry and the costs of tobacco-related illness that disputed the Committee's statements that it believes cigarettes are addictive and that passive smoking is harmful. Minchin claimed the tobacco industry was over-regulated. He also disagreed with the conclusions about the addictiveness of nicotine and the harmfulness of passive smoking:
Senator Minchin wishes to record his dissent from the committee's statements that it believes cigarettes are addictive and that passive smoking causes a number of adverse health effects for non-smokers. Senator Minchin believes these claims (the harmful effects of passive smoking) are not yet conclusively proved ... there is insufficient evidence to link passive smoking with a range of adverse health effects.— Nick Minchin, Senate Committee's Minority Report on Tobacco-related Illnesses
In 2007, Minchin admitted to smoking cannabis at high school and university.
In a March 2007 letter to the founder of Clean Up Australia, Ian Kiernan, Minchin expressed doubts that climate change was caused by human activity. In the letter, Minchin cited the writings of the Canadian newspaper columnist Lawrence Solomon, who in turn cited the disputed theories of Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark. Minchin said that the ETS bill was "the work of madman" and an "abomination", and observed that "Mr Rudd's arrogance and vanity in wanting to lead the world in cutting CO2 emissions is really sickening".
Minchin campaigned against an emissions trading scheme (ETS) bill.
On 22 September 2008, the parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party, Malcolm Turnbull, appointed Minchin as Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Minchin had been previously Shadow Minister for Defence. However, on 26 November 2009, Minchin resigned from the shadow cabinet in protest at Turnbull's position on the government's emissions trading scheme.
When Turnbull was subsequently defeated for the Liberal Party leadership by Tony Abbott, Turnbull stated on ABC Radio: "As Tony [Abbott] observed on one occasion, 'climate change is crap', or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it's cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world".
Nuclear fuel cycle
As Minister for Industry Science and Resources (1998-2001), Minchin became the first Commonwealth minister to have had responsibility for the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Activity at this time included uranium mining, management of Australia's only nuclear reactor and the management of radioactive waste. During this period, Minchin approved the Beverley uranium mine in South Australia, commissioned a replacement research reactor at Lucas Heights and identified a future site for a national radioactive waste repository. In his valedictory speech, Minchin reflected on this period, saying:
Nick Minchin is a distant cousin of Australian comedian Tim Minchin.
His wife, Kerry Wakefield, is a journalist and blogger who writes for The Spectator and is on the advisory council of Advance Australia. They married in 1984, having met while she was working in the Canberra press gallery when her boyfriend was Peter Garrett.
- Australian Consulate-General, New York Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- Yes, I was a teenage stoner, says candid Minchin. The Age. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
- Senator Nick Minchin, Official biography, Senate website. Retrieved September 2007.
- Minchin begs Peter Costello to return to front bench: Herald Sun 3/8/2008 Archived 6 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Senator Nick Minchin, 'Senate majority used responsibly' Archived 29 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine, media release, 26 June 2007. Retrieved September 2007.
- "Minchin to quit politics – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". www.abc.net.au. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
- "Consul-General in New York". Media Release. Australian Government - Minister for Foreign Affairs. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
- Former Howard minister Nick Minchin to replace former Labor premier Steve Bracks as Consul General to New York ABC News, 14 February 2014. Accessed 14 February 2014.
- Nick Minchin gets Consul-General posting in New York AdelaideNow, 14 February 2014. Accessed 14 February 2014.
- John Garnaut, 'Use Telstra sale to fund shares buy-up – Minchin', Sydney Morning Herald, 14 March 2005. Retrieved September 2007.
- Sid Marris (11 October 2007). "Think-tank invite infuriates union | The Australian". Theaustralian.news.com.au. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- "Union dominance a danger: PM – FederalElection2007News – Federal Election 2007". Smh.com.au. 14 October 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- ABC AM, Minchin seeks 'new wave' of IR change, 8 March 2006. Retrieved September 2007.
- Workers Online, Scoop-idity: How The Truth Was Nicked, 10 March 2006. Retrieved September 2007.
- The Tobacco Industry and the Costs of Tobacco-related Illness, Report of the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee, December 1995
- "Nick Minchin was a sceptic on tobacco". The Australian. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
- "Minister admits to smoking dope". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 July 2007.
- Frew, Wendy (15 March 2007). "Minchin denies climate change man-made". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- "'No Sun link' to climate change". news.bbc.co.uk. 3 April 2008. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
- "Minchin may vote for emissions scheme 'abomination'". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
- "Minchin faces Liberals backlash over climate change". The Australian. 10 November 2009.
- Coalition Shadow Ministry Archived 10 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Nelson unveiling his new look ministry, 'LiveNews.com.au, 6 November 2007
- Liberal Leadership Challenge, The Age, 27 November 2009
- Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers. "Defiant Turnbull takes on climate rebels – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- "Turnbull ups the white-ante – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". www.abc.net.au. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
- "Minchin delivers final Senate speech - The Stump". 22 June 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- "9 Life Lessons - Tim Minchin UWA Address". 7 October 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
- Wakefield, Kerry. "About". Tip of the Spear: Cutting-Edge News for Freethinkers. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
- "Kerry Wakefield". The Spectator Australia. Press Holdings. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
- "Advisory Council". Advance Australia. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
- Murphy, Damien (21 January 2006). "In the wings, the pragmatist with a ruthless streak". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media Limited. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
- Minchin, N. (1996) 'A Denial of Rights, A Detriment to Democracy', The Parliamentarian, 77(3) : 244–248.
| Special Minister of State
as Minister for Industry, Science and Technology
| Minister for Industry, Science and Resources
as Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources
as Minister for Resources and Energy
as Minister for Science
| Minister for Finance and Administration
| Vice-President of the Executive Council
|Party political offices|
| Leader of the Liberal Party in the Senate
| Australian Consul General in New York
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Nick Minchin|