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John Brogden

In office
28 March 2002 – 1 September 2005
Preceded by Kerry Chikarovski
Succeeded by Peter Debnam

Member of the NSW Parliament
for Pittwater
In office
25 May 1996 – 28 September 2005
Preceded by Jim Longley
Succeeded by Alex McTaggart

Born 28 March 1969(1969-03-28)
Sydney, New South Wales New South Wales
Political party Liberal Party

John Gilbert Brogden (born 28 March 1969) is an Australian businessman and former politician, who was Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales from 2002 to 2005. He was a Liberal Party member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from May 1996 until his resignation in August 2005, representing the electorate of Pittwater.

Brogden's resignation as leader followed a public outcry over alleged sexual harassment and a remark calling the Malaysian-born wife of Bob Carr (the then Premier of NSW), a "mail-order bride".[1] Soon after his resignation he is reported to have engaged in self-harm, which is widely reported to have been a suicide attempt.[2] Shortly afterwards, he resigned from parliament.


Early life and family

Brogden was born and raised in Sydney. He was educated at St Patrick's College, Strathfield.

He is married to Lucy Brogden, daughter of Frank Hooke, a former Liberal Party state treasurer, and they have one son.[3]


Brogden joined the Liberal Party in his final year of high school at St Patrick's College Strathfield and, after graduating, worked as an adviser to then-Attorney-General John Hannaford, then-Premier John Fahey and Legislative Council member Ted Pickering. In 1992, he became President of the state branch of the Young Liberals, and a member of the party's state executive. In 1994, he served a year as Treasurer of the federal movement. During this period, he also worked as a public relations consultant for several years.

Brogden was elected to the Legislative Assembly in May 1996, but it was not until 1999 that he was promoted to the shadow ministry, when he became the Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs, Urban Affairs, Planning and Sydney Water. In the leadup to the 2003 election, then-Opposition Leader Kerry Chikarovski was struggling in the polls against Premier Bob Carr. On 25 March 2002, Brogden announced a challenge. Three days later on 28 March 2002[4], he succeeded in a 15-14 vote, becoming the youngest ever leader of a state or federal Liberal Party. On becoming Opposition Leader, he resigned from his previous portfolios, but took on the new shadow ministries of Ethnic Affairs and Treasury.

John Brogden was not only unable to defeat Carr's Labor government at the 2003 election, but led the Liberal Party opposition to a landslide loss. Despite this, he remained Opposition Leader. He later improved his standing in the polls and at some stages in 2005 the Coalition was in front of Labor, with many people believing that he would win the next state election, especially when Bob Carr resigned from politics and Morris Iemma was elected as the new Premier.[5]

After becoming party leader, he confronted the government over a number of issues, often focussing on health and police corruption. He aggressively pursued the Carr government over its involvement in the Orange Grove affair, in which a shopping centre was shut down, allegedly for zoning reasons, amidst claims of political pressure from The Westfield Group, which ran a neighbouring shopping centre. In October 2004, Westfield launched defamation action against Brogden as a result of comments he made about the affair.

Controversy, resignation and aftermath

John Brogden came under fire for offensive behaviour at a function in Sydney on 29 July 2005. He allegedly described Helena Carr, the Malaysian-born wife of the then NSW Premier Bob Carr, as a "mail-order bride".[1] Fully, Brogden said Bob Carr could "ship his mail-order bride back to where she came from, for all I care". Brogden later publicly apologised for this remark.[6] He was also accused of unwelcome sexual advances to two unnamed female journalists at the same function (ABC's Lateline reported that he "propositioned" one journalist, and pinched another's buttocks).[1] Brogden alleged that Young Liberal Alex Hawke was responsible for leaking information to the media.[7]

As a consequence of the controversy, John Brogden resigned as Leader of the NSW Opposition on 29 August 2005, but announced his intention to remain as the Member for Pittwater.[8][9]

The next day, 30 August 2005, police attended Brogden's electorate office at around 10.30 pm, after concerns were raised by members of his family. They found him apparently unconscious in a back room, having slit his wrists, apparently in a drug and alcohol induced stupor.[2][10]

When the Sydney Morning Herald called Barry O'Farrell at about 11 pm to question him about possible leadership contention, he told them, "Excuse me if I say I don't care about the leadership at the moment, but I am following an ambulance with John Brogden inside. He has attempted self-harm. It sort of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?".[11][12]

Brogden was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital that night, and discharged the following day into respite care in a North Shore psychiatric facility. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Brogden's actions were a suicide attempt, however whether this is the case (or whether his actions were some other form of self-harm) is yet to be officially confirmed. On 1 September, Brogden and his wife issued a short statement thanking people who had sent messages of support, and inviting people wishing to help further to donate to beyondblue, an anti-depression organisation.[13]

Brogden later reversed his previously stated intention of remaining a member of parliament, resigning from politics altogether on 28 September. During the by-election campaign for the seat of Pittwater, Brogden was reported to be not actively supporting his replacement as Liberal Party candidate, Paul Nicolau. Many believe that his failure to do so was a major contributor to the seat being won by an independent candidate, Alex McTaggart.

On 21 July 2006 it was announced that John Brogden would return to public life as the CEO of Manchester Unity (MU), a health and financial services company. His appointment became effective from 14 August 2006. In 2007, Brogden spoke publicly about his decade-long battle with depression and became a patron for Lifeline NSW.

Post-political career

Brogden served as CEO of Manchester Unity, an Australian health services company, from 2006 until December 2008 when the company was taken over by HCF Health Insurance. He also served as chairman of ABACUS, an industry body for credit unions and building societies, from 2006 to 2009, before his appointment as CEO of the Investment & Financial Services Association in July 2009.[14]

Brogden has also been named as the inaugural Patron of the counselling service Lifeline.


  1. ^ a b c "NSW politician quits after slur". BBC News. 29 August 2005.  
  2. ^ a b "Shattered Brogden's suicide bid". The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 August 2005.  
  3. ^ ""Politics in her genes a wife stands loyal" date=1 September 2005". The Sydney Morning Herald.  
  4. ^!OpenDocument
  5. ^ "The challenge for John Brogden". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 August 2005.  
  6. ^ "'Ship her back for all I care', says Brogden". The New Zealand Herald. 31 August 2005.  
  7. ^ "Brogden's parting swipe at Lib enemy". The Sydney Morning Herald. 30 August 2005.  
  8. ^ "'Dishonourable' behaviour forces Brogden to quit". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 August 2005.  
  9. ^ "Brogden steps down over racist slur". The 7.30 Report. 29 August 2005.  
  10. ^ "Brogdens thank public for their support". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1 September 2005.  
  11. ^ "Leadership fight to be cliffhanger". The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 August 2005.  
  12. ^ "Brogden prepares for return to politics". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 March 2006.  
  13. ^ "Shattered Brogden's suicide bid". The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 August 2005.  
  14. ^ The Age (2009). John Brogden named as IFSA chief. Retrieved 15 July 2009.
Political offices
Preceded by
Kerry Chikarovski
Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales
Succeeded by
Peter Debnam
Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Jim Longley
Member for Pittwater
Succeeded by
Alex McTaggart
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kerry Chikarovski
Leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Peter Debnam


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