Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parliamentarians in Australia: a quick guide

8 August 2022

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Lisa Richards
Politics and Public Administration Section

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this paper contains the names of people who have died.

This Quick Guide lists the name, party, chamber, state/electorate, dates in office, significant firsts and identity (where readily available) of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parliamentarians in federal and state/territory parliaments in Australia.

For the purposes of this Quick Guide, I have included parliamentarians (MPs) who identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person or as having Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander ancestry.

This information is compiled from a range of publicly available sources including the Parliamentary Handbook, the Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate, the websites of Australian state and territory parliaments, political websites and personal biographies. Additionally, I am grateful to the staff at each of the Australian state and territory parliamentary libraries for their assistance in compiling this Quick Guide.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this Quick Guide, it cannot be guaranteed to be exhaustive. Note also that all percentages are rounded.

Party and chamber abbreviations

AD        Australian Democrats JLN       Jacqui Lambie Network
ALP       Australian Labor Party LIB        Liberal Party of Australia
CLP       Country Liberal Party LNP       Liberal National Party
GRN     Australian Greens NP         National Party
IND       Independent PUP      Palmer United Party
HA        House of Assembly LC          Legislative Council
LA         Legislative Assembly Reps     House of Representatives

Current representation

There are an estimated 26 MPs in Australian parliaments who identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (3.1% of all federal, state and territory parliamentarians).

The Australian Parliament is the only jurisdiction in Australia that has more Indigenous parliamentarians than the proportion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population (1.7% higher).

The NT Legislative Assembly has the highest proportion of Indigenous MPs of any Australian parliament (24.0%), which is perhaps unsurprising given the NT is home to the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia (24.5% of the NT population).

Tasmania has the largest discrepancy (5.3%) between the portion of Indigenous parliamentarians relative to the population who identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, followed by the ACT (2.0%) and NSW (2.0%).

Table 1 lists the number and proportion of parliamentarians who identify as Indigenous or as having Indigenous identity, ordered by the ratio of Indigenous MPs to Indigenous population.

Table 1: Current number of Indigenous parliamentarians in Australia, by parliament

Parliament Total MPs (no.) Current Indigenous MPs (no.) Current Indigenous MPs (%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: total population (%)
Federal 227 11 4.8% 3.2%
Australia (total) 837 26 3.1% 3.2%
Victoria 128 1 0.8% 1.0%
NT 25 6 24.0% 24.5%
SA 69 1 1.4% 2.4%
WA 95 2 2.1% 3.2%
Queensland 93 3 3.2% 4.5%
NSW 135 2 1.5% 3.4%
ACT 25 0 0.0% 2.0%
Tasmania 40 0 0.0% 5.3%

Source: Compiled by the Australian Parliamentary Library. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Census and National, state and territory population (Canberra: ABS, 2021).
*Percentages are rounded.
^Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander population percentage is based out of the total population for each jurisdiction. Federal and Australia (total) jurisdictions include other territories.

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parliamentarians: significant firsts

First Member of parliament in Australia (Senate, Federal Parliament)

•      Neville Bonner (LIB; IND, Qld) appointed to the Senate in June 1971.

David Kennedy was first elected at a by-election as the ALP member for Bendigo in the House of Representatives in 1969. However, Kennedy’s Indigenous heritage was unknown when he entered parliament, nor did he self-identify as Indigenous at that time. For these reasons Neville Bonner is recorded as the first Indigenous parliamentarian.

First Member of a state/territory parliament
  • Hyacinth Tungutalum (CLP), elected to the NT Legislative Assembly in October 1974.
First Member of the House of Representatives
  • Ken Wyatt (LIB, Hasluck, WA), elected in August 2010.

First woman in any parliament in Australia (WA Legislative Assembly)

  • Carol Martin (ALP), elected to the WA Legislative Assembly in February 2001.
First woman in Federal Parliament (Senate)
  • Nova Peris (ALP, NT), elected to the Senate in 2013.
First woman to be elected to the House of Representatives
  • Linda Burney (ALP, Barton NSW), elected in July 2016.

First Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander to hold a ministerial and Cabinet role

  • Ernie Bridge (ALP; IND, WA Legislative Assembly): (Cabinet) Minister for Water Resources, the North-West and Aboriginal Affairs, appointed July 1986.
First (Cabinet) minister in Federal Parliament
  • Ken Wyatt (LIB, Hasluck WA):
    • Assistant Minister for Health, appointed 30 September 2015
    • Minister for Aged Care, appointed 24 January 2017
    • (Cabinet) Minister for Indigenous Australians, appointed 29 May 2019
First woman to hold a (Cabinet) ministerial role (NT Legislative Assembly)
  • Marion Scrymgour (ALP; IND; ALP, NT Legislative Assembly): (Cabinet) Minister for Family and Community Services, and Environment and Heritage, appointed December 2003.
First woman to hold a (Cabinet) ministerial role in Federal Parliament
  • Linda Burney (ALP, Barton NSW): (Cabinet) Minister for Indigenous Australians, appointed 1 June 2022.

First deputy and head of government

  • Marion Scrymgour (ALP; IND; ALP, NT Legislative Assembly) was appointed Deputy Chief Minister of the NT on 26 November 2007 and served until 8 February 2009 (p. 2). In January 2008, Scrymgour also served as Acting Chief Minister.
  • Adam Giles (CLP, NT Legislative Assembly) served as Chief Minister of the NT from 14 March 2013 to 26 August 2016 (p. 2).

Presiding Officers


On this special occasion, I make my presence known as an Aborigine and to this chamber I say, perhaps for the first time: Nyandi baaliga Jaingatti. Nyandi mimiga Gumbayynggir. Nya jawgar yaam Gumbayynggir. Translated, it means: My father is Dhunghutti. My mother is Gumbayynggir. And, therefore, I am Gumbayynggir.

Political party

Australian federal parliament

Table 1: List of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander federal parliamentarians

Name Party Chamber Division/State Dates in office^ Identity[1]
Andrew (David) Kennedy ALP Reps Bendigo (Vic) *7.6.1969–2.12.1972 defeated  
Neville Bonner LIB, IND Senate Qld *11.6.1971–4.2.1983 defeated Jagera
Aden Ridgeway AD Senate NSW 1.7.1999–30.6.2005 defeated Gumbaynggirr
Kenneth (Ken) Wyatt LIB Reps Hasluck (WA) 21.8.2010–21.5.2022 defeated Noongar, Yamatji, and Wongi
Nova Peris ALP Senate NT 7.9.2013–9.5.2016 resigned Gija, Yawuru, and Iwatja
Jacquiline (Jacqui) Lambie PUP, IND, JLN Senate Tas 1.7.2014–14.11.2017 resigned#
Joanna Lindgren LIB Senate Qld *21.5.2015–9.5.2016 defeated Mununjali and Jagera
Patrick (Pat) Dodson ALP Senate WA *28.4.2016–current Yawuru
Linda Burney ALP Reps Barton (NSW) 2.7.2016–current Wiradjuri
Malarndirri McCarthy ALP Senate NT 2.7.2016–current Yanyuwa and Garrawa
Lidia Thorpe GRN Senate Vic *4.9.2020–current Djab Wurrung, Gunnai, and Gunditjmara
Dorinda Cox GRN Senate WA *14.9.2021–current Noongar, Bibbulmen, and Yamatji (clans of the Kaneyang, Yued, Amangu and Wajarri peoples)
Jana Stewart ALP Senate Vic *6.4.2022–current Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba
Kerrynne Liddle LIB Senate SA 1.7.2022–current Arrente
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price CLP [LIB] Senate NT 21.5.2022–current Warlpiri
Gordon Reid ALP Reps Robertson (NSW) 21.5.2022–current Wiradjuri
Marion Scrymgour ALP Reps Lingiari (NT) 21.5.2022–current Tiwi Islander, Miyartuwi (pandanus) yiminga (skin group), and links to Central Australia

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library.

*Selected under Section 15 of the Australian Constitution in the Senate or at a by-election in the House of Representatives.

^Dates in office for state Senators reflect when their term began, not when they were elected, e.g. Aden Ridgeway was elected to the Senate 3.10.1998, his term began 1.7.1999.

#Jacqui Lambie resigned on 14.11.2017 and was subsequently disqualified by the High Court on 8.12.2017, pursuant to section 44(i) of the Constitution

State/territory parliaments

The information in Table 2 is derived from state/territory parliament websites, as such the data has not been standardised. Parliamentarians are listed under each state/territory in order of date first elected.

Table 2: List of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander state/territory parliamentarians

Northern Territory[2] (23 parliamentarians)
Name Party Chamber (Division) Dates in office Identity
Hyacinth Tungutalum CLP LA (Tiwi) 19.10.1974–13.8.1977 resigned  
Neville Perkins ALP LA (Macdonnell) 13.8.1977–6.3.1981 resigned  
Wesley Lanhupuy ALP LA (Arnhem) 3.12.1983–25.8.1995 resigned  
Stanley Tipiloura ALP LA (Arafura) 7.3.1987–20.9.1992 died in office  
Maurice Rioli ALP LA (Arafura) *7.11.1992–17.8.2001 resigned  
John (Jack) Ah Kit ALP LA (Arnhem) *7.10.1995–17.6.2005 resigned Jawoyn
Marion Scrymgour ALP, IND, ALP LA (Arafura) 18.08.2001–24.8.2012 resigned  
Elliot McAdam ALP LA (Barkly) 18.8.2001–8.8.2008 resigned  
Matthew Bonson ALP LA (Millner) 18.8.2001–8.8.2008 defeated  
Malarndirri McCarthy ALP LA (Arnhem) 18.6.2005–24.8.2012 defeated Yanyuwa and Garrawa
Alison Anderson ALP, IND, CLP, PUP, IND LA (Macdonnell)
LA (Namatjira)
25.8.2012–26.8.2016 resigned
Karl Hampton ALP LA (Stuart) *23.9.2006–24.8.2012 defeated  
Adam Giles CLP LA (Braitling) 9.8.2008–26.8.2016 defeated Gamilaroi
Francis Kurrupuwu CLP, PUP, CLP LA (Arafura) 25.8.2012–26.8.2016 defeated  
Kenneth (Ken) Vowles ALP LA (Johnston) 25.8.2012–31.1.2020 resigned  
Larisa Lee CLP, PUP, IND LA (Arnhem) 25.8.2012–26.8.2016 defeated  
Bess Price CLP LA (Stuart) 25.8.2012–26.8.2016 defeated Walpiri
Lawrence Costa ALP LA (Arafura) 27.8.2016–current  
Selena Uibo ALP LA (Arnhem) 27.8.2016–current Nunggubuyu
Ngaree Ah Kit ALP LA (Karama) 27.8.2016–current  
Chanston (Chansey) Paech ALP LA (Namatjira)
LA (Gwoja)
Eastern Arrente and Gurindji
Yingiya Mark Guyula IND LA (Mulka) 27.8.2016–current Yolŋu man of the Djambarrpuyŋu clan and the Liya-Dhalinymirr people
Dheran Young ALP LA (Daly) *11.9.2021–current Yaegl
Queensland (5 parliamentarians)
Name Party Chamber (Division) Dates in office Identity
Eric Deeral NP LA (Cook) 7.12.1974–12.11.1977 defeated Elder of the Gamay clan of the Guugu Yimithirr nation
Leeanne Enoch ALP LA (Algester) 31.1.2015–current Nunukul/Nughi woman of the Quandamooka nation
William (Billy) Gordon ALP, IND LA (Cook) 31.1.2015–24.11.2017 resigned Barbarrum
Cynthia Lui ALP LA (Cook) 25.11.2017–current Iamalaig woman from the Kulkalgau Clan of Iama (Yam Island) and the Kulkalgal Tribe of the Torres Strait
Lance McCallum ALP LA (Bundamba) 28.3.2020–current Gubbi Gubbi
Victoria (4 parliamentarians)
Name Party Chamber (Division) Dates in office Identity
Cyril Kennedy ALP LC (Waverley) 5.5.1979–2.10.1992 defeated  
David Kennedy ALP LA (Bendigo)
LA (Bendigo West)
2.3.1985–2.10.1992 defeated
Lidia Thorpe GRN LA (Northcote) 18.11.2017–19.12.2018 defeated Djab Wurrung, Gunnai, and Gunditjmara
Sheena Watt ALP LC (Northern Metropolitan) 13.10.2020–current Yorta Yorta
Western Australia (7 parliamentarians)
Name Party Chamber (Division) Dates in office Identity
Ernest (Ernie) Bridge ALP, IND LA (Kimberley) 23.2.1980–10.2.2001 resigned Gidja
Carol Martin ALP LA (Kimberley) 10.2.2001–9.3.2013 resigned Yamatji and Noongar
Benjamin (Ben) Wyatt ALP LA (Victoria Park) *11.3.2006–13.3.2021 resigned Yamatji
Josephine (Josie) Farrer ALP LA (Kimberley) 9.3.2013–13.3.2021 resigned Gidja
Zak Kirkup LIB LA (Dawesville) 11.3.2017–13.3.2021 defeated Yamatji
Divina D’Anna ALP LA (Kimberley) 13.3.2021–current Yawuru with Bardi, Nimanburru and Kija connections
Rosetta Shahanna ALP LC (Mining and Pastoral) 22.5.2021–current Ngarinyin and Bardi Jawi, connected to the Kitja and Gooniyandi tribes in the Kimberley and the Yamatji in the south.
Tasmania (3 parliamentarians)
Name Party Chamber (Division) Dates in office Identity
Andrew (Paul) Harriss IND, LIB LC (Huon)
HA (Franklin)
30.3.2014–18.2.2016 resigned
Kathryn Hay ALP HA (Bass) 20.7.2002–18.3.2006 resigned  
Jennifer Houston ALP HA (Bass) 3.3.2018–1.5.2021 defeated  
New South Wales (4 parliamentarians)
Name Party Chamber (Division) Dates in office Identity
Linda Burney ALP LA (Canterbury) 22.3.2003–6.5.2016 resigned Wiradjuri
Lynda Voltz ALP LC
LA (Auburn)
Jai Rowell LIB LA (Wollondilly) 26.3.2011–17.12.2018 resigned  
Gregory (Greg) Warren ALP LA (Campbelltown) 28.3.2015–current  
Australian Capital Territory (1 parliamentarian)
Name Party Chamber (Division) Dates in office Identity
Christopher (Chris) Bourke ALP LA (Ginninderra) *2.6.2011–14.10.2016 defeated Gamillaroi
South Australia (1 parliamentarian)
Name Party Chamber (Division) Dates in office Identity
Kyam Maher ALP LC 17.10.2012–current  

Source: Compiled by the Parliamentary Library with assistance from the Australian state and territory libraries.
*By-election or selected to fill a casual vacancy, including via a recount/countback.
Note 1: retired parliamentarians are listed as ‘resigned’.
Note 2: The ACT, NT and Queensland are unicameral parliaments.


See also


[1] The spelling is sourced from Hansard records or the linked source. The AIATSIS Austlang thesaurus provides alternative spellings.

[2].    Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory, Members of the Legislative Assembly: 1st Assembly 1974 to 13th Assembly, updated 21 August 2020.


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