Penelope Ying-Yen Wong (born 5 November 1968) is an Australian politician who has been a Senator for South Australia since 2002. She has served as Senate leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) since 2013, and is currently Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. She was a cabinet minister in the Rudd and Gillard Governments from 2007 to 2013.
Born in Malaysia to an Australian mother and Malaysian father, Wong was educated at Scotch College in Adelaide, and then attended the University of Adelaide, graduating with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees. Prior to entering Federal parliament, Wong worked as a lawyer and political advisor. Wong is the first Asian-born member of an Australian cabinet. She is the first female openly-LGBTI Australian federal parliamentarian and federal government cabinet minister, and supported legalising same-sex marriage in Australia despite having previously opposed it.
First elected to the Senate at the 2001 federal election (and sitting from July 2002), Wong was named Minister for Climate Change and Water following Labor's victory under Kevin Rudd at the 2007 election. She went on to be Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water in early 2010 . On 13 September 2010, Wong was sworn in as Minister for Finance and Deregulation following the reelection of the Gillard Government. Wong retained the position after Kevin Rudd's successful leadership spill in June 2013, and became Leader of the Government in the Senate, holding these roles until Labor's defeat at the 2013 federal election.
Wong was born in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, to Jane (née Chapman), an Australian, and Francis Wong, a Malaysian of Chinese origin. Her father was an architect. After her parents separated, she moved to Adelaide, South Australia, at the age of eight with her mother and younger brother.
Education and student politics
After starting at Coromandel Valley Primary School, Wong gained a scholarship to Scotch College, Adelaide where she studied chemistry, physics and mathematics, and was accepted into the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Adelaide. After spending a year on exchange in Brazil, Wong found she had an aversion to blood. She then studied and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence and a Bachelor of Laws with Honours at the University of Adelaide, and completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the University of South Australia.
While at university, she became involved with the leadership of the Adelaide University Labor Club in 1988, and has been a delegate to the South Australian Labor Party State Convention every year since 1989, (with the exception of 1995). She also worked part-time for the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), and won a position on the National Executive of the National Union of Students. A number of her contemporaries at university went on to become Australian politicians. Former senator for South Australia, Natasha Stott Despoja, was a contemporary, along with former Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill (with whom she had a relationship) and Mark Butler, Labor MP for Port Adelaide.
Wong graduated from the University of South Australia in 1992, and continued her association with the CFMEU as an industrial officer. She was admitted to the South Australian Bar in 1993. During 1995 and 1996, Wong acted as an advisor to the CFMEU and to the newly elected New South Wales state government, specialising in the area of forest policy in the middle of the fierce 1990s environmental battles over logging in NSW.
On returning to Adelaide, Wong began practising law, working as a solicitor at the firm Duncan and Hannon (1996–1999). From 1999 to 2002, she worked as a legal officer with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union. During this time she also won a position on the ALP's state executive.
During her legal career (1996–2002), Wong appeared as counsel in 11 reported decisions of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, 15 reported decisions of the South Australian Industrial Relations Court, 8 reported decisions of the South Australian Industrial Relations Commission, 3 reported decisions of the South Australian Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal and 10 reported decisions of the South Australian Workers Compensation Tribunal.
Wong ran for pre-selection for the Senate in 2001, and was selected for the top position on the Labor Party's South Australian ticket. She was elected at the 2001 election, her term commencing on 1 July 2002. Wong is a member of EMILY's List Australia, the support network for Labor women, and sat on a number of Senate committees, primarily those related to economics.
In June 2005, Wong was appointed Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation, and Shadow Minister for Corporate Governance and Responsibility. Following the reshuffle in December 2006, she became responsible for the portfolios of Public Administration and Accountability, Corporate Governance and Responsibility, and Workforce Participation.
In December 2007, in the wake of the Labor Party victory in the 2007 election, Wong was appointed Minister for Climate Change and Water. She accompanied then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to Bali for the international climate change talks. Wong led final negotiations as Chair of the United Nations Working Group in the closing days of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2007, shortly after her appointment as minister.
In February 2013, Wong was elected as the ALP's deputy Senate leader following the resignation of Chris Evans, thus becoming Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. In June 2013, following Stephen Conroy's resignation, she became the first woman to be elected as ALP Senate leader, and the first woman to serve as Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Wong is a practising Christian, attending Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide. She held Malaysian citizenship until 2001.
Wong is a lesbian and came out publicly a month after she assumed her Senate seat in 2002. In 2010, Wong was selected by readers of Samesame website as one of the 25 most influential lesbian Australians. Wong's domestic partner, Sophie Allouache, is a public servant and former University of Adelaide Students' Association president. In December 2011, Allouache gave birth to their first child, after announcing the IVF-assisted pregnancy using donor sperm in August 2011. Allouache gave birth to their second daughter in 2015, at the Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital. While at university, Wong dated Jay Weatherill, who later became Premier of South Australia.
- "The 45th Parliament Shadow Ministry". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
- "The Hon. Penny Wong Lecture on Climate Change". Faculty of Law. Queensland University if Technology. Archived from the original on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
- "Panellist: Penny Wong - Q&A - ABC TV". www.abc.net.au. Archived from the original on 9 January 2014.
- Farouque, Farah (10 June 2006). "Why, oh why can't I have a civil union?". The Age. Australia. Archived from the original on 24 February 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
- "Australia's Rudd sworn in as PM". BBC News. 3 December 2007. Archived from the original on 3 December 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- "Brown "horrified" at Wong's anti-gay marriage stance". Sydney Morning Herald. 26 July 2010. Archived from the original on 6 November 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- "Garrett pays price for insulation debacle". ABC News. Australia. 26 February 2010. Archived from the original on 24 June 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
- White, Cassie (11 September 2010). "Gillard unveils major frontbench shake-up". ABC News. Australia. Archived from the original on 15 September 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
- "Profile". Asian Currents. Asian Studies Association of Australia. August 2004. Archived from the original on 1 October 2004. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- Grattan, Michelle (25 September 2007). "Labor voice inspired by the fight for ideas". The Age. Australia. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- "lumen -- Making their Mark". www.adelaide.edu.au. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011.
- "Penny Wong - Q&A". 20 December 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
- "lumen -- Australian experience builds global perspective". www.adelaide.edu.au. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015.
- "First Day: Penny Wong's journey from shy student to Senator". 27 January 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
- "Kitchen Cabinet: Episode 3 Penny Wong". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 7 March 2012. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "Freakish powers of a formidable operator". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 December 2007. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2008.
- "ALP personal profile". ALP.org.au. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "Australian Parliament personal profile". Aph.gov.au. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- Gordon, Josh (5 July 2008). "Can Wong avert carbon-fuelled train wreck?". WA Today. Australia. Archived from the original on 8 June 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
- "Senator Penny Wong: Biography". Australian Labor Party. Archived from the original on 13 February 2006.
- Taylor, Lenore (23 May 2009). "Racism driving force for Penny Wong". The Australian. Archived from the original on 29 March 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
- Figures from AustLII, accessed at http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinosrch.cgi?query=%22P%20Wong%22;results=50;submit=Search;mask_world=;mask_path=;callback=on;method=auto;meta=%2Fau;view=database-natural;offset=0.
- Topsfield, Jewel (30 November 2007). "Garrett Stripped of Climate Change Role". The Age. Australia. Archived from the original on 4 November 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
- Dick, Tom (26 July 2010). "Married to the mob". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Hayward, Andrea (26 July 2010). "Brown "horrified" at Wong's anti-gay marriage stance". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 27 July 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Abrahams, Scott (25 July 2010). "Penny Wong labelled a hypocrite". Star Observer.
- "The Gillard ministry". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 September 2010. Archived from the original on 12 September 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
- Gillard, Julia MP (11 September 2010). "Prime Minister announces new Ministry" (Press release). Archived from the original on 14 September 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
- Ministerial Representation & Senate Office Holders in the Senate 43rd Parliament • 25 March 2013 • The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia Archived 1 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 8 September 2013
- Senator The Hon Penny Wong Archived 26 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine, directory.gov.au, accessed 8 September 2013
- "Tanya Plibersek elected deputy Labor leader, Penny Wong re-elected to lead Labor in Senate". ABC News. 14 October 2013. Archived from the original on 31 July 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Penny Wong and Jordon Steele-John celebrated for political leadership". Retrieved 30 March 2019.
- "Labor leader Anthony Albanese announces frontbench in wake of federal election 2019". 2 June 2019. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
- Lewis, Rosie; Hutchinson, Samantha (21 August 2017). "Bill Shorten won't produce UK citizenship renunciation proof". The Australian. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
- "Penny Wong biography: SameSame". Archived from the original on 9 February 2016.
- "Samesame 25: The 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians 2010". Samesame. Archived from the original on 2 April 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
- Murphy, Katharine (14 December 2011). "Wong's joyous vote for new parenthood". The Age. Australia. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
- Kenny, Mark (9 August 2011). "Baby joy for Finance Minister Penny Wong and partner Sophie Allouache". AdelaideNow. Australia. AAP. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- "Senator Penny Wong welcomes new baby girl into family". The Advertiser. News Limited. 7 April 2015. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Penny Wong.|
- Parliamentary Profile: Australian Parliament website
- Parliamentary Profile: Labor website
- Penny Wong in The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia
- Summary of parliamentary voting for Senator Penny Wong on TheyVoteForYou.org.au
|New ministry|| Minister for Climate Change,
(Energy Efficiency) and Water
as Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
as Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
| Minister for Finance and Deregulation
as Minister for Finance