Nick Minchin

The Honourable
Nicholas Minchin
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
In office
3 December 2007  3 May 2010
Deputy Eric Abetz
Leader Brendan Nelson
Malcolm Turnbull
Tony Abbott
Preceded by Chris Evans
Succeeded by Eric Abetz
Leader of the Government in the Senate
In office
27 January 2006  3 December 2007
Prime Minister John Howard
Deputy Helen Coonan
Preceded by Robert Hill
Succeeded by Chris Evans
Vice-President of the Executive Council
In office
18 July 2004  3 December 2007
Prime Minister John Howard
Preceded by David Kemp
Succeeded by John Faulkner
Minister for Finance and Administration
In office
26 November 2001  3 December 2007
Prime Minister John Howard
Preceded by John Fahey
Succeeded by Lindsay Tanner
Minister for Industry, Science and Resources
In office
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
In office
9 October 1997  21 October 1998
Prime Minister John Howard
Preceded by No immediate predecessor
Succeeded by Chris Ellison
Senator for South Australia
In office
1 July 1993  30 June 2011
Preceded by Graham Maguire
Personal details
Born (1953-04-15) 15 April 1953
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s) Kerry Minchin
Alma mater Australian National University (BEc, LLB)
Profession Lawyer, Politician

Nicholas Hugh "Nick" Minchin (born 15 April 1953) is a former Australian politician and currently serves as the Australian Consul-General in New York, USA.[1] 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.

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.[2] He was a solicitor before entering politics.

Political career

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.[3] On 1 July 1993, Minchin was elected to the Australian Senate for South Australia.

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,[4] 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.[5]


Minchin announced on 24 March 2010 that he would not be contesting his Senate seat at the next Australian federal election.[6] 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.[6]

After politics

On 14 February 2014[7] 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.[8][9]

Policy positions

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.[10]

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",[11] and that "there is still a long way to go... awards, the IR commission, all the rest of it...",[12] 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."[13][14]

Tobacco sceptic

In 1995 Minchin submitted a dissenting Senate report[15] 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.[16] 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

A 2009 article in The Australian drew parallels between his stance on tobacco and his stance as a global warming skeptic.[16]

In 2007, Minchin admitted to smoking cannabis at high school and university.[17]

Climate-change view

In a March 2007 letter, Minchin expressed doubts that climate change is caused by human activity.[18] In the letter, Minchin cites the writings of the Canadian newspaper columnist Lawrence Solomon, who in turn cites the disputed[19] theories of Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark.[18] Of the effectiveness and sensibility of ETS bill, Minchin said that it is unsound and an "abomination", and of the motives behind its tabling that "Mr Rudd's arrogance and vanity in wanting to lead the world in cutting CO2 emissions is really sickening"[20]

Minchin campaigned against an emissions trading scheme (ETS) bill.[21]

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.[22] Minchin had been previously Shadow Minister for Defence.[23] However, on 26 November 2009, Minchin resigned from the shadow cabinet in protest at Turnbull's position on the government's emissions trading scheme.[24][25]

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".[26]

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:

"Responsibility for all matters radioactive was certainly testing... I failed in my responsibility to establish a national radioactive waste repository in the central north of South Australia, one of the best sites in the world for such a facility."[27]


  1. Australian Consulate-General, New York Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  2. Yes, I was a teenage stoner, says candid Minchin. The Age. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  3. Senator Nick Minchin, Official biography, Senate website. Retrieved September 2007.
  4. Minchin begs Peter Costello to return to front bench: Herald Sun 3/8/2008 Archived 6 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. Senator Nick Minchin, 'Senate majority used responsibly', media release, 26 June 2007. Retrieved September 2007.
  6. 1 2 "Minchin to quit politics – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 2010-03-24.
  7. "Consul-General in New York". Media Release. Australian Government - Minister for Foreign Affairs. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  8. 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.
  9. Nick Minchin gets Consul-General posting in New York AdelaideNow, 14 February 2014. Accessed 14 February 2014.
  10. John Garnaut, 'Use Telstra sale to fund shares buy-up – Minchin', Sydney Morning Herald, 14 March 2005. Retrieved September 2007.
  11. Sid Marris (11 October 2007). "Think-tank invite infuriates union | The Australian". Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  12. "Union dominance a danger: PM – FederalElection2007News – Federal Election 2007". 14 October 2007. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  13. ABC AM, Minchin seeks 'new wave' of IR change, 8 March 2006. Retrieved September 2007.
  14. Workers Online, Scoop-idity: How The Truth Was Nicked, 10 March 2006. Retrieved September 2007.
  15. The Tobacco Industry and the Costs of Tobacco-related Illness, Report of the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee, December 1995
  16. 1 2 "Nick Minchin was a sceptic on tobacco". The Australian. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  17. "Minister admits to smoking dope". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 July 2007.
  18. 1 2 Minchin denies climate change man-made, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 March 2007
  19. "'No Sun link' to climate change". 3 April 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-24.
  20. Minchin may vote for emissions scheme 'abomination', ABC News Online, 20 November 2009
  21. "Minchin faces Liberals backlash over climate change". The Australian. 10 November 2009.
  22. Coalition Shadow Ministry Archived 10 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. Nelson unveiling his new look ministry, ', 6 November 2007
  24. Liberal Leadership Challenge, The Age, 27 November 2009
  25. Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers. "Defiant Turnbull takes on climate rebels – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  26. "Turnbull ups the white-ante – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 2009-12-07.
  27. "Minchin delivers final Senate speech - The Stump". 2011-06-22. Retrieved 2016-09-19.


Political offices
Preceded by
Gary Johns
Special Minister of State
Succeeded by
Chris Ellison
Preceded by
John Moore
as Minister for Industry, Science and Technology
Minister for Industry, Science and Resources
Succeeded by
Ian Macfarlane
as Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources
Preceded by
Warwick Parer
as Minister for Resources and Energy
Succeeded by
Peter McGauran
as Minister for Science
Preceded by
John Fahey
Minister for Finance and Administration
Succeeded by
Lindsay Tanner
Preceded by
David Kemp
Vice-President of the Executive Council
Succeeded by
John Faulkner
Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert Hill
Leader of the Liberal Party in the Senate
Succeeded by
Eric Abetz
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Steve Bracks
Australian Consul General in New York
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