Parliamentary relations: political families in the Commonwealth Parliament

31 October 2012

PDF version [260KB]

Martin Lumb
Politics and Public Administration Section

Contents
Introduction
Political families
Abbreviations

Introduction

Since Federation there have been a number of political families in the Commonwealth Parliament. The first parliament included eight sons of state parliamentarians, and seven members who had brothers in state parliaments. In 2012 at least fifteen members of the Parliament have, or have had, a relative or spouse in federal or state parliament.

On 30 occasions since 1901 a son has succeeded his father into parliament and on two occasions a daughter has succeeded her father. Of these, 14 were Labor Party families, 17 non-Labor.  In the other case there was a significant shift in party allegiance: James Guy (Senator, Tas, 1914–20; ALP) was succeeded by his son, Allan Guy. Allan was initially elected as the Labor Member for Bass, but in 1931 joined Joseph Lyons, James Fenton and two other Labor members in forming the United Australia Party. He subsequently became a Liberal Senator for Tasmania.  In one unusual case, a father succeeded his son in Parliament: Francis Matthew John Baker (MHR, Oxley, 1931–34; Griffith, 1934–39; FLP) died in office, the result of a motor accident. Eighteen months later, his father Francis Patrick Baker (MHR, Maranoa, 1940–43; ALP) was elected.

In two cases, there have been three successive generations in the Commonwealth Parliament: the Anthonys: Hubert Lawrence (MHR, Richmond, 1937–57; CP), John Douglas (MHR, Richmond, 1957–84; CP, NCP, NPA) and Lawrence James (MHR, Richmond, 1996–2004; NPA, NP); and the Downers:  Sir John William (Senator, SA, 1901–03; Protectionist), Alexander Russell (MHR, Angas, 1949–64; LIB) and Alexander John Gosse (MHR, Mayo, 1984–2008; LIB).

Dame Enid Lyons (MHR, Darwin, 1943–51; UAP, LIB) and Doris Blackburn (MHR, Bourke, 1946–49; IND LAB), the first two women elected to the House of Representatives, were the widows of previous members.

There have also been a number of notable families involved in both federal and state parliaments:

  • Sir Robert Menzies (MHR, Kooyong, 1934–66; UAP, LIB) was the son of James Menzies (Vic MLA, Lowan, 1911–20; LIB, Nationalist)
  • brothers Laurie Ferguson (MHR, Reid 1990–2010 and Werriwa 2010– ; ALP) and Martin Ferguson (MHR, Batman, 1996– ; ALP) are the sons of former Deputy Premier of New South Wales, Laurie John (Jack) Ferguson (NSW MLA, Merrylands 1959–62, 1968–84 and Fairfield 1962–68; ALP)
  • Kevin Newman (MHR, Bass 1975–84; LIB) and Jocelyn Newman (Senator, Tas, 1986–2002; LIB) are the parents of Queensland State Premier Campbell Newman (Qld MLA, Ashgrove 2012– ; LNP)
  • Robert Cummin Katter (MHR, Kennedy, 1966–90; CP, NCP, NPA) is the father of Bob (Robert Carl) Katter (MHR, Kennedy, 1993– ; NPA, IND, AUS) and the grandfather of Rob (Robert Ignatius) Katter (Qld MLA, Mount Isa 2012– ; AUS)
  • Michaelia Cash (Senator, WA, 2008– ; LIB) is the daughter of George Cash (WA MLA, Mount Lawley 1984–89; WA MLC, North Metropolitan 1989–2009; LIB) and the granddaughter of Doug Cash (MHR, Stirling, 1958–61; WA MLA, Mirrabooka, 1968–71; LIB)
  • Dan Tehan (MHR, Wannon, 2010– ; LIB) is the son of Marie Tehan (Vic MLC, Central Highlands 1987–92 and Vic MLA, Seymour 1992–99; LIB). This was the first time a mother and son were elected to Australian parliaments.

Although political families are sometimes viewed pejoratively as ‘dynasties’, perhaps as political scientist Professor John Warhurst proposes, there is ‘a political gene that not only attracts members of the same family to politics but gives them the personal attributes to succeed’.[1]  In 1986 political historian Joan Rydon observed that most members of political families have been active in their parties well before their election and suggested that family background may have led to membership of those parties at an early age.[2]

Political families

The following is a list of political families in the Commonwealth Parliament since 1901. This table also indicates the 13 occasions when relatives served concurrently for at least some period of their terms in office. The table does not include members of state parliaments.[3]

Surname

First names

Division/State

Period of service

Party

Relationship

Adermann

Charles Frederick (later Sir Charles)

Maranoa and Fisher (Qld)

1943–72

CP

father and son

Adermann

Albert Evan

Fisher and Fairfax (Qld)

1972–90

CP; NCP; NPA

Anthony

Hubert Lawrence (Larry)

Richmond (NSW)

1937–57

CP

grandfather, father and son

Anthony

John Douglas

Richmond (NSW)

1957–84

CP; NCP; NPA

Anthony

Lawrence (Larry) James

Richmond (NSW)

1996–2004

NPA; NP

Baker

Francis Matthew John

Oxley (Qld) and Griffith (Qld)

1931–39

FLP

son and father (the only case of a father elected after the son)

Baker

Francis Patrick

Maranoa (Qld)

1940–43

ALP

Barnard

Herbert Claude

Bass (Tas.)

1934–49

FLP; ALP

father and son

Barnard

Lance Herbert

Bass (Tas.)

1954–75

ALP

Baume

Michael Ehrenfried

Macarthur (NSW) and Senator (NSW)

1975–83 and 1985–96

LIB

Cousins
(served concurrently)

Baume

Peter Erne

Senator (NSW)

1974–91

LIB

Beale

Oliver Howard

Parramatta (NSW)

1946–58

LIB

father and son

Beale

Julian Howard

Deakin and Bruce (Vic.)

1984–96

LIB

Beazley

Kim Edward

Fremantle (WA)

1945–77

ALP

father and son

Beazley

Kim Christian

Swan and Brand (WA)

1980–2007

ALP

Blackburn

Maurice McCrae

Bourke (Vic.)

1934–43

FLP; ALP;  IND LAB

husband and wife

Blackburn

Doris Amelia

Bourke (Vic.)

1946–49

IND LAB

Bonython

Sir John Langdon

South Australia and Barker (SA)

1901–06

PROT

great grandfather and great grandson

Wilson

Ian Bonython Cameron

Sturt (SA)

1966–69 and 1972–93

LIB

Brennan

Frank

Batman (Vic.)

1911–31 and 1934–49

ALP; FLP

Brothers
(served concurrently)

Brennan

Thomas Cornelius

Senator (Vic.)

1931–38

UAP

Brown

Robert (Bob) James

Hunter and Charlton (NSW)

1980–98

ALP

father and daughter

Hoare

Kelly Joy

Charlton (NSW)

1998–2007

ALP

Cameron

Clyde Robert

Hindmarsh (SA)

1949–80

ALP

brothers
(served concurrently)

Cameron

Donald Newton

Senator (SA)

1969–78

ALP

Cameron

Cyril St Clair

Senator (Tas.)

1901–03 and 1907–13

PROT

brothers 
(served concurrently)

Cameron

Donald Norman

Tasmania and Wilmot (Tas.)

1901–03 and 1904–06

FT

Cameron

Eoin Harrap

Stirling (WA)

1993–98

LIB

cousins

Cameron

Martin Bruce

Senator (WA)

1969[4]

LIB

Cameron

Malcolm Duncan

Barker (SA)

1922–34

LIB; NAT; UAP

great grandfather and great grandson

Cameron

Eoin Harrop

Stirling (WA)

1993–98

LIB

Cash

Earl Douglas

Stirling (WA)

1958–61

LIB

grandfather and granddaughter

Cash

Michaelia Clare

Senator (WA)

2008–

LIB

Chaney

Frederick Charles

Perth (WA)

1955–69

LIB

father and son

Chaney

Frederick Michael

Senator (WA) and Pearce (WA)

1974–90 and 1990–93

LIB

Corser

Edward Bernard Cresset

Wide Bay (Qld)

1915–28

LIB; NAT

father and son

Corser

Bernard Henry

Wide Bay (Qld)

1928–54

CP

Crean

Frank

Melbourne Ports (Vic.)

1951–77

ALP

father and son

Crean

Simon Findlay

Hotham (Vic.)

1990–

ALP

Downer

Sir John William

Senator (SA)

1901–03

PROT

grandfather, father and son

Downer

Alexander Russell

Angas (SA)

1949–64

LIB

Downer

Alexander John Gosse

Mayo (SA)

1984–2008

LIB

Ewing

Norman Kirkwood

Senator (WA)

1901–03

FT

brothers
(served concurrently)

Ewing

Thomas Thomson (later Sir Thomas)

Richmond (NSW)

1901–10

PROT

Fairbairn

George

Fawkner (Vic.)

1906–13

IND PROT; LIB

George Fairbairn was uncle of James and grandfather of David

Fairbairn

James Valentine

Flinders (Vic.)

1933–40

UAP

Fairbairn

David Eric

Farrer (NSW)

1949–75

LIB

Ferguson

Laurie Donald

Reid (NSW) and Werriwa (NSW)

1990–

ALP

brothers 
(served concurrently)

Ferguson

Martin John

Batman (Vic.)

1996–

ALP

Fisher
see Vallentine

 

 

 

 

 

Fisken

Archibald Clyde Wanliss

Ballaarat (Vic.)

1934–37

UAP

grandfather and grandson

Ronaldson

Michael John Clyde

Ballarat (Vic.) and Senator (Vic.)

1990–2001 and 2005–

LIB

Fitzgibbon

Eric John

Hunter (NSW)

1984–96

ALP

father and son

Fitzgibbon

Joel Andrew

Hunter (NSW)

1996–

ALP

Fraser

Allan Duncan

Eden-Monaro (NSW)

1943–66 and 1969–72

ALP

brothers
(served concurrently)

Fraser

James (Jim) Reay

Australian Capital Territory

1951–70

ALP

Fraser

Simon

Senator (Vic.)

1901–13

PROT; ANTI-SOC

grandfather and grandson

Fraser

John Malcolm

Wannon (Vic.)

1955–83

LIB

Groom

William Henry

Darling Downs (Qld)

1901[5]

PROT

father and son

Groom

Littleton Ernest (later Sir Littleton)

Darling Downs (Qld)

1901–29 and 1931–36

PROT; LIB; NAT; IND; UAP

Gullett

Henry Somer (later Sir Henry)

Henty (Vic.)

1925–40

NAT; UAP

father and son

Gullett

Henry Baynton Somer

Henty (Vic.)

1946–55

LIB

Guy

James

Senator (Tas.)

1914–20

ALP

father and son

Guy

James Allan

Bass and Wilmot (Tas.) and Senator (Tas.)

1929–34; 1940–46 and 1949–56

ALP; UAP; LIB

Harrison

Eric John

Wentworth (NSW)

1931–56

UAP; LIB

father and daughter

Walters

Mary Shirley

Senator (Tas.)

1975–93

LIB

Hoare
see Brown

 

 

 

 

 

Howse

Sir Neville Reginald

Calare (NSW)

1922–29

NAT

father and son

Howse

John Brooke

Calare (NSW)

1946–60

LIB

James

Rowland

Hunter (NSW)

1928–58

ALP; LANG LAB

father and son

James

Albert (Bert) William

Hunter (NSW)

1960–80

ALP

Jenkins

Dr Henry (Harry) Alfred

Scullin (Vic.)

1969–85

ALP

father and son

Jenkins

Henry (Harry) Alfred

Scullin (Vic.)

1986–

ALP

Katter

Robert (Bob) Cummin

Kennedy (Qld)

1966–90

CP; NCP; NPA

father and son

Katter

Robert (Bob) Carl

Kennedy (Qld)

1993–

NPA; IND; AUS

Kemp

David Alistair

Goldstein (Vic.)

1990–2004

LIB

brothers
(served concurrently)

Kemp

Charles Roderick

Senator (Vic.)

1990–2008

LIB

Leckie
see Menzies

 

 

 

 

 

Lyons

Joseph Aloysius

Wilmot (Tas.)

1929–39

ALP; UAP

husband and wife

Lyons

Dame Enid Muriel

Darwin (Tas.)

1943–51

UAP; LIB

McClelland

Douglas

Senator (NSW)

1962–87

ALP

father and son

McClelland

Robert Bruce

Barton (NSW)

1996–

ALP

McGauran

Peter John

Gippsland (Vic.)

1983–2008

NPA; NP

brothers
(served concurrently)

McGauran

Julian John James

Senator (Vic.)

1987–90 and 1993–2011

NPA; NP; LIB

McLeay

George

Senator (SA)

1935–47 and 1949–55

UAP; LIB

brothers
(served concurrently)

McLeay

John (later Sir John)

Boothby (SA)

1949–66

LIB; LCL

Menzies

Robert Gordon (later Sir Robert)

Kooyong (Vic.)

1934–66

UAP; LIB

Robert Menzies was nephew of Sydney Sampson and son-in-law of John Leckie

Sampson

Sydney

Wimmera (Vic.)

1906–19

IND PROT; LIB; NAT

Leckie

John William

Indi (Vic.) and Senator (Vic.)

1917–19 and 1935–47

NAT; UAP; LIB

Morris

Peter Frederick

Shortland (NSW)

1972–98

ALP

brothers
(served concurrently)

Morris

Allan Agapitos

Newcastle (NSW)

1983–2001

ALP

Nelson

Harold George

Northern Territory

1922–34

ALP

father and son

Nelson

John Norman

Northern Territory

1949–66

ALP

Newman

Kevin Eugene

Bass (Tas.)

1975–84

LIB

husband and wife

Newman

Jocelyn Margaret

Senator (Tas.)

1986–2002

LIB

O’Byrne

Justin Hilary

Senator (Tas.)

1947–81

ALP

cousins (Michelle’s father was Justin’s first cousin)

O’Byrne

Michelle Anne

Bass (Tas.)

1998–2004

ALP

Pearce

George Foster (later Sir George)

Senator (WA)

1901–38

ALP; NAT; UAP

great grandfather and great granddaughter

Prentice

Jane

Ryan (Qld)

2010–

LIB

Pratten

Herbert Edward

Senator (NSW); Parramatta and Martin (NSW)

1917–21; 1921–28

NAT

uncle and nephew

Pratten

Frederick Graham

Martin (NSW)

1928–29

NAT

Prentice
see Pearce

 

 

 

 

 

Riley

Edward

South Sydney (NSW)

1910–31

ALP

father and son
(served concurrently)

Riley

Edward Charles

Cook (NSW)

1922–34

ALP

Riordan

David

Kennedy (Qld)

1929–36

ALP; FLP

uncle and nephew

Riordan

Joseph Martin

Phillip (NSW)

1972–75

ALP

Ronaldson see Fisken

 

 

 

 

 

Sampson
see Menzies

 

 

 

 

 

Sherry

Raymond Henry

Franklin (Tas.)

1969–75

ALP

father and son

Sherry

Nicholas John

Senator (Tas.)

1990–2012

ALP

Spender

Percy Claude

Warringah (NSW)

1937–51

IND UAP; UAP; LIB

father and son

Spender

John Michael

North Sydney (NSW)

1980–90

LIB

Spooner

Eric Sydney

Robertson (NSW)

1940–43

UAP

brothers

Spooner

William Henry (later Sir William)

Senator (NSW)

1949–65

LIB

Street

Geoffrey Austin

Corangamite (Vic.)

1934–40

UAP

father and son

Street

Anthony Austin

Corangamite (Vic.)

1966–84

LIB

Vallentine

Josephine

Senator (WA)

1985–92

NDP; IND; G(WA)

aunt and niece

Fisher

Mary Josephine

Senator (SA)

2007–12

LIB

Vardon

Joseph

Senator (SA)

1907 and    1908–13

ANTI-SOC;  LIB

father and son

Vardon

Edward Charles

Senator (SA)

1921–22

NAT

Walters
see Harrison

 

 

 

 

 

Watkins

David

Newcastle (NSW)

1901–35

ALP; FLP

father and son

Watkins

David Oliver

Newcastle (NSW)

1935–58

FLP; ALP

Whitlam

Edward Gough

Werriwa (NSW)

1952–78

ALP

father and son
(served concurrently)

Whitlam

Antony Philip

Grayndler (NSW)

1975–77

ALP

Wilson

Keith Cameron (later Sir Keith)

Sturt (SA)

1949–54 and 1955–66

LIB; LCL

father and son

Wilson
see also
Bonython

Ian Bonython Cameron

Sturt (SA)

1966–69 and 1972–93

LIB

 

Source: Parliamentary Handbook of the Commonwealth of Australia, Parliamentary Library, Department of Parliamentary Services, Commonwealth of Australia [various editions]. The current edition is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/Parliamentary_Handbook

Abbreviations



[1].       J Warhurst, ‘Dangers in politics being dominated by dynasties’, The Canberra Times, 9 August 2012, p. 15.

[2].       J Rydon, A Federal Legislature: The Australian Commonwealth Parliament 1901–80, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1986, p. 121.

[3].       The list is believed to be complete, but information about any omissions will be gratefully received. More details on family links between state and federal members can be found at ‘Political families of Australia’, Wikipedia website, 28 October 2012, viewed 31 October 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_families_of_Australia
Note: Preferred names are underlined.

[4].       Selected under section 15 of the Constitution 23 May 1969; term expired 24 October 1969.

[5].       Elected 30 March 1901; died 8 August 1901.

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