First time former opposing state/territory leaders in the same chamber


On 17 June 2015 Senator Katy Gallagher gave her first speech to the Senate. On 25 March 2015, the former Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister was chosen by the ACT Legislative Assembly to represent the ACT in the Senate following the resignation of Senator Kate Lundy (ALP). Senator Gallagher's fellow ACT Senator is Zed Seselja (LIB), who was formerly Leader of the Opposition in the ACT Legislative Assembly.

 

Gallagher’s appointment marks the first time since Federation (despite the numerous State and Territory politicians who have moved into federal politics over time) that a Premier or Chief Minister has faced their former adversary—the opposition leader during their time in office—in the same Chamber during the same Parliament.

 

From May 2011 until December 2014 Senator Gallagher was the Chief Minister of the ACT; from December 2007 to June 2013 Senator Zed Seselja was the Leader of the Opposition. Senator Seselja resigned from the ACT Legislative Assembly in June 2013 and was subsequently elected to the Senate at the 2013 election.

 

Senators Gallagher and Seselja are, however, not the first such combination to have been present in the same Parliament. Prior to becoming Prime Minister Joseph Lyons (ALP; UAP) was the leader of the opposition in the Tasmanian Parliament (1916–23) opposite Premier John Blyth Hayes (1922–23) (LIB; NPA). Lyons was elected as the Member for Wilmot (Tasmania) in 1929, becoming Prime Minister in 1932—a position he held until his death in 1939. Hayes served as a Senator for Tasmania from 1923 to 1947. However, Lyons and Hayes were in different chambers (Lyons in the House of Representatives, and Hayes in the Senate).

 

Many members of the first Parliament were prominent state politicians. The first Speaker of the House of Representatives (1901–09), Frederick Holder (AFTLA; Premier of South Australia 1892, 1899–1901; Opposition Leader 1890–92), was joined in the first Parliament by his Protectionist Party adversaries from the South Australian House of Assembly John Downer and Thomas Playford, who were both elected as Senators.  

 

Both originally Protectionists, Downer and Playford each had stints as Premiers and Opposition Leaders for South Australia (Downer was Premier from 1885–87, 1892–93 and Opposition Leader from 1887–89, 1893–95; Playford was Premier from 1887–89 and Opposition Leader in 1887 and 1889–90). Additionally, Downer and Playford had faced Frederick Holder in the South Australian Parliament as Opposition Leader (Downer), and as Premier (Playford), and had also opposed each other when Downer joined the Conservative Party in 1887 following Playford’s usurpation of Downer as Premier. Despite this, both eventually entered federal politics as senators for the Protectionist Party.

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