Philip Ruddock

Philip Maxwell Ruddock (born 12 March 1943 in Canberra) is an Australian politician who is currently mayor of Hornsby Shire. He previously was a Liberal member of the House of Representatives from 1973 to 2016. First elected in a 1973 by-election, by the time of his retirement he was the last parliamentary survivor of the Whitlam and Fraser Governments. He was both the Father of the House and the Father of the Parliament from 1998 to his retirement. He is the second longest-serving parliamentarian in the history of the Australian Parliament (only Billy Hughes served longer).[2] Ruddock served continuously in federal cabinet during the Howard Government, as Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs from 1996 to 2003, and then Attorney-General from 2003 to 2007. He is also the Vice Chair of the Global Panel Foundation Australasia—with Sir Donald Charles McKinnon ONZ GCVO as Chair.

Philip Ruddock
Mayor of Hornsby Shire
Assumed office
10 September 2017
Preceded bySteve Russell
Father of the Australian Parliament
In office
1 September 1998  9 May 2016
Preceded byIan Sinclair
Succeeded byIan Macdonald
Father of the Australian House of Representatives
In office
1 September 1998  9 May 2016
Preceded byIan Sinclair
Succeeded byKevin Andrews
Special Envoy to the Prime Minister for Human Rights
Assumed office
8 February 2016
Nominated byMalcolm Turnbull
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byOffice established
Special Envoy to the Prime Minister for Citizenship and Community Engagement
In office
27 May 2015  8 February 2016
Nominated byTony Abbott
Prime MinisterTony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byVacant
Chief Government Whip in the House of Representatives
In office
18 September 2013  13 February 2015
Prime MinisterTony Abbott
Preceded byChris Hayes
Succeeded byScott Buchholz
Attorney-General for Australia
In office
7 October 2003  3 December 2007
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byDaryl Williams
Succeeded byRobert McClelland
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs
In office
11 March 1996  7 October 2003
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byNick Bolkus
Succeeded byAmanda Vanstone
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Berowra
In office
13 March 1993  9 May 2016
Preceded byHarry Edwards
Succeeded byJulian Leeser
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Dundas
In office
10 December 1977  13 March 1993
Preceded bySeat created
Succeeded bySeat abolished
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Parramatta
In office
22 September 1973  10 December 1977
Preceded byNigel Bowen
Succeeded byJohn Brown
Personal details
Born (1943-03-12) 12 March 1943
Canberra, Australia
Political partyLiberal Party of Australia
Heather Ruddock
(m. 1970)
ParentsMax Ruddock (father)
ResidencePennant Hills, New South Wales
EducationBarker College
Alma materSydney Law School
University of Sydney
WebsiteOfficial website

Early life and education

Philip Ruddock is the son of Emmie (née Chappell) and Maxwell "Max" Ruddock. He was born in Canberra, where his father was at the time the Deputy Prices Commissioner working for the Commonwealth Government; he was later a Liberal member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1962 to 1976.

He was educated at Barker College in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby before entering University of Sydney, after which he practised as a solicitor. He was articled to the firm Berne, Murray and Tout and was promoted to partner.

Political career

Early career; Member of Parliament and First term in Government 1973–1996

On 22 September 1973, Ruddock was elected to the House of Representatives at a by-election for the seat of Parramatta. He narrowly held it at the 1974 general election, but was returned with a large swing in 1975. A redistribution ahead of the 1977 election, however, split Parramatta almost in half. The western half retained the Parramatta name and became a marginal Labor seat anchored in heavily pro-Labor west Sydney. The eastern half, including most of the old Parramatta's Liberal-friendly areas, became the comfortably safe Liberal seat of Dundas.[3][4] Ruddock transferred to Dundas, and held it without serious difficulty until its abolition in 1993. Ruddock then transferred to the equally safe seat of Berowra, a seat he held for the remainder of his federal political career.

Shadow Minister (1983–1996)

Ruddock was a member of the Opposition Shadow Ministry from 1983 to 1985 and from 1989 to 1996. In the 1980s and early 1990s, he was an active member of the parliamentary group of Amnesty International. In 2000, Ruddock was disavowed by Amnesty International due to the treatment of refugees by the Howard Government and asked not to wear his Amnesty International badge while performing ministerial duties.[5]

In August 1988, while Ruddock was still a backbencher, the Leader of the Opposition, John Howard, commented that he believed the rate of Asian immigration was too high. The Hawke Labor government sought to embarrass Howard and introduced a bill to Parliament to ensure that immigration did not discriminate on the basis of race. Ruddock along with fellow Liberals Steele Hall and Ian Macphee crossed the floor to support the Labor motion.[6][7] In 1989, following Andrew Peacock's ascension to the leadership, Ruddock became Shadow Minister for Immigration and proposed a settlement scheme for Australia's far north.[8]

Cabinet Minister, Second term in Government (1996–2007)

Minister for Immigration

Following the Coalition's rise to government at the 1996 election, Ruddock was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. In this role, he administered the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and presided over the Howard government's policies on asylum seekers. During his time in office, the previous Keating Labor Government's practice of mandatory detention of asylum seekers was continued and extended. In October 1999, the Australian government introduced Temporary Protection Visas for persons who applied for refugee status after making an unauthorised arrival in Australia, and was the main type of visa issued to refugees when released from Australian immigration detention facilities. Many Afghan and Iraqi refugees who are not Australian citizens were affected by this policy.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs

In 2001, Ruddock was also appointed to the role of Minister for Indigenous Affairs. By 2001 he had become a high-profile figure enjoying considerable support within the Liberal Party, while being strongly opposed by left-wing activists and some human rights advocates. His "Pacific Solution" – which prevented asylum seekers receiving legal access – was condemned by Human Rights Watch as contravening international law, as being a human rights violation: Oxfam and the UNHCR (United Nations refugee agency) agreed with this viewpoint.[9] At one point he was one of the few senior ministers (besides the prime minister) to have needed personal security details.

Areas in Ruddock's portfolio and some of his decisions were highly controversial in Australian politics, and led to Amnesty International's public attempt to distance the organisation from him by asking him to remove his lapel badge.[5][10] In 2003, Ruddock was accused by the Labor immigration spokesperson, Julia Gillard, of personally intervening to give a Filipino with a criminal record, Dante Tan, favourable treatment in exchange for donations to the Liberal Party.[11] Ruddock denied that there was a connection between the donations and his actions, and noted that the donation had been properly declared.[12] In 2004, an Australian Federal Police investigation cleared Ruddock of any wrongdoing, and a Senate inquiry, composed of a majority of Labor members, found that "there was no way to determine whether Mr Ruddock was influenced by money to grant visas."[13]


In 2003, Ruddock became Attorney-General in a cabinet reshuffle. On 27 May 2004, Ruddock introduced the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill to prevent any possible court rulings allowing same-sex marriages or civil unions.[14]

Ruddock also defended a decision to deny a gay veteran's partner a spousal pension, despite their 38-year same-sex relationship. The UN Human Rights Commission found the Australian government in violation of equality and privacy rights under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, but Ruddock insisted the government was not bound by the ruling.[15]

In May 2006, Ruddock blocked a gay Australian man from marrying in Europe. Ruddock refused to grant a gay man living in the Netherlands a 'Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage' document required by some European countries before marriage, to prove foreigners are in fact single. Under Ruddock's instructions, no such documents were to be released to gay and lesbians individuals intending to marry overseas.[16]

In July 2007, he remarked that Australia needs to improve its legislation to deal with pro-terrorist literature and media. "People who may be susceptible to carrying out a terrorist act ought not to be instructed in how to do it, how to use household products to produce a bomb, or be encouraged to think about violent jihad and taking their own life", he said.[17]

Opposition, 2007–2013

Following the Howard government's defeat at the November 2007 election, Ruddock did not seek a shadow cabinet role and returned to the backbench, having spent 18 consecutive years as a minister or opposition frontbencher.

He returned to the frontbench as Shadow Cabinet Secretary after Tony Abbott captured the Opposition leadership in December 2009. The Coalition was returned to government in 2013.

Third term in government and retirement, 2013–2016

Ruddock was named the Chief Government Whip in the House of Representatives in the Abbott Government, which took office on 18 September 2013. Ruddock was replaced as Chief Government Whip by Queensland MP Scott Buchholz on 13 February 2015.[18][19]

On 27 May 2015, Ruddock was appointed to the new office of Special Envoy for Citizenship and Community Engagement.[20] The office was created in the wake of controversial proposals by the government to strip sole Australian nationals of their citizenship.

On 8 February 2016, Ruddock announced that he would not contest the next federal election and would be retiring from politics. On the same day, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that Ruddock would be appointed Australia's first special envoy for human rights.[21]

Post federal political career

Ruddock has served as the Special Envoy for Human Rights since 8 February 2016. During this period he has represented Australia abroad for the promotion and protections of Human Rights.[1]

In August 2017, Ruddock announced his candidacy for Mayor of Hornsby Shire and was elected on 9 September 2017.[22]

In November 2017, Ruddock accepted an invitation from the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to chair a review of religious freedoms in Australia in light of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey and the introduction into federal parliament a private member's bill to enact the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017.[23][24][25]

Personal life

Ruddock is married to Heather. They have two children, Kirstie and Caitlin. In 2002, it was reported that one of Ruddock's daughters found it difficult to reconcile her father's hard line on immigration with the values of compassion she was raised with.[26][27][28]


  1. Julie Bishop (9 February 2016). "Special Envoy for Human Rights" (Press release). Australian Government. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  2. Glasgow, Will (14 September 2015). "Malcolm Turnbull intervenes to save the Festival of Philip Ruddock". AFR Weekend. Australia. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  3. Bowe, William (2016). "Parramatta". The Poll Bludger. Crikey Media. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  4. Bowe, William (2016). "Berowra". The Poll Bludger. Crikey Media. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  5. Kirk, Alexandra (18 March 2000). "Ruddock stripped of amnesty International badge". AM: ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  6. "IMMIGRATION POLICY: Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders". Parliament Hansard. 25 August 1988. Archived from the original on 19 July 2005. Retrieved 3 August 2007.
  7. "Howard turns dissent into democracy". The Age. 21 June 2005. Retrieved 3 August 2007.
  8. Ward, Ian (August 1990). "Australian Political Chronicle: July–December 1989". Australian Journal of Politics and History. 36 (2): 235. ISSN 0004-9522.
  9. Streatfield, D. (2011) A History of the World Since 9/11, Chapter 2., pp.70–73
  10. Radcliffe, Russ, ed. (2 February 2005). "The transformation of Philip Ruddock". New Matilda. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  11. Banham, Cynthia; Riley, Mark (27 June 2003). "Ruddock's friend accused of taking $220,000". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  12. Banham, Cynthia (18 September 2003). "Inquiry told of agent's 50% strike rate with Ruddock". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  13. Banham, Cynthia (1 April 2004). "Ruddock cleared amid obstruction claims". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  14. "Marriage Amendment Bill 2004". Parliament of Australia. 24 June 2004. Retrieved 26 May 2008.
  15. "Denied a pension after 20 years, gay man heads to UN - National -". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  16. "Govt defends block to same sex marriage (January 18, 2006 – 9:29 am)". The Age. Melbourne, Australia. 18 January 2006. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
  17. Ruddock, Philip (27 July 2007). "Toughen up on terrorism". Herald Sun. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  18. Uhlmann, Chris; Kirk, Alexandra; Glenday, James (13 February 2015). "Philip Ruddock sacked as chief government whip in wake of spill motion against Tony Abbott". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  19. Kenny, Mark (13 February 2015). "Coalition elder statesman Philip Ruddock axed as Chief Whip following Liberal Party spill attempt". The Age. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  20. Ruddock, Phillip (27 May 2015). "Philip Ruddock appointed Special Envoy for Citizenship and Community Engagement". Radio National Breakfast (Interview). Interviewed by Fran Kelly. Radio National, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  21. "Ruddock retires, gets envoy role". Nine News. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  22. "Former federal MP Philip Ruddock to be Hornsby Mayor". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 September 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  23. "Philip Ruddock to review religious protections amid same-sex marriage debate". ABC News. Australia. 22 November 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  24. Hutchens, Gareth (22 November 2017). "Philip Ruddock to examine if Australian law protects religious freedom". The Guardian. Australia. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  25. Koziol, Michael (2 January 2018). "Public submissions to Philip Ruddock's review of religious freedom to be kept secret". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  26. O'Malley, Nick (16 September 2002). "How Ruddock's policy helped drive daughter overseas". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  27. Douez, Sophie (17 September 2002). "Ruddock tells daughter: 'I care, too'". The Age. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  28. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 April 2007. Retrieved 11 February 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
Political offices
Preceded by
Nick Bolkus
Minister for Immigration and Multicultural
and Indigenous Affairs

Succeeded by
Amanda Vanstone
Preceded by
Daryl Williams
Attorney-General for Australia
Succeeded by
Robert McClelland
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Ian Sinclair
Father of the Parliament
Succeeded by
Ian Macdonald
Preceded by
Ian Sinclair
Father of the House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Kevin Andrews
Preceded by
Nigel Bowen
Member for Parramatta
Succeeded by
John Brown
New division Member for Dundas
Division abolished
Preceded by
Harry Edwards
Member for Berowra
Succeeded by
Julian Leeser
Civic offices
Preceded by
Steve Russell
Mayor of Hornsby Shire
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