Jon Stanhope: Wikis


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Jon Stanhope


Assumed office 
12 November 2001
Deputy Katy Gallagher, MLA
Preceded by Gary Humphries

Born 29 April 1951 (1951-04-29) (age 58)
Gundagai, New South Wales
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Spouse(s) Robyn[1]
Children Four children[1]

Jonathan Ronald Stanhope (born 29 April 1951) is the current, and longest serving, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, representing the Australian Labor Party.[2] He is the only ACT Chief Minister to have governed with a majority in the ACT assembly (The ACT Labor Party achieving this between 2004 and 2008).

Jon Stanhope was born in Gundagai, New South Wales. One of nine children of schoolteacher parents, much of his junior education was spent at one-teacher schools in country NSW. He attended Mullumbimby Public School and Bega High School before coming to Canberra to undertake studies at the Australian National University, graduating as a Bachelor of Laws.

Prior to entering the ACT Legislative Assembly, Stanhope worked as Senior Adviser and Chief of Staff for the Federal Attorney General, Michael Lavarch, and spent a period as an adviser on native title to then Federal Opposition Leader, Kim Beazley. Before this, Stanhope was the Secretary of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, a position in which he initiated and managed the inquiry that led to Half Way to Equal, a detailed analysis of issues relating to equality for women. Before that, Stanhope had served in a public service career, working as a legal officer for 15 years in various Commonwealth departments. He spent two years as Deputy Administrator and Official Secretary of Norfolk Island.[3]


Election to the ACT Assembly and Leader of the ACT Opposition

The 1998 ACT general election saw Stanhope elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly in 1998 as a Member for Ginninderra and was elected Opposition Leader by the Labor Caucus in that year. He led the Labor Party to victory in the 20 October 2001 election, with a 16 per cent swing. He was elected Chief Minister of the ACT at a sitting of the Legislative Assembly on 12 November 2001. Jon Stanhope played a major role in the downfall of Kate Carnell's Liberal government, concentrating heavily on her involvement in the Bruce Stadium affair.[4]

2001 ACT Assembly Election and Chief Minister

Stanhope was elected ACT Chief Minister in 2001 when Labor won 8 of the 17 seats in the Assembly but failed to win a ninth, which would have secured a majority government for the first time in ACT history.


Helicopter Rescue

On 13 January 2003 Stanhope rescued a helicopter pilot after he had crashed in a dam during a firefighting operation. Stanhope who was in a second helicopter with crew and the ACT head of the bushfire services, Peter Lucas-Smith, had responded to the stricken pilot's Mayday call. The pilot has serious head injuries and was taken to the Canberra Hospital in a critical condition. After the rescue Stanhope praised the emergency services: "It provided to me a very stark awareness of the enormous risks that many in our community take, the extent to which so many people put their lives on their line to ensure the protection of our communities," .[5]

2003 Canberra bushfires

Canberra's suburban hills engulfed in flames

Canberra was hit by bushfires in January 2003. Four people died and 500 houses were destroyed. Stanhope faced a no-confidence motion in the Assembly from the Liberal opposition, which if passed meant he would have been forced to resign as Chief Minister. Instead, the motion was downgraded to a censure motion by the combined vote of the ALP and the Democrats and passed in the Assembly. The coronial inquest into the bushfire was released in mid-December 2006, and found significant bureaucratic failings contributed to the devastation, although it also claimed shortcomings at a political level.[6] In February 2007 Stanhope faced another no-confidence motion from the Liberal opposition which was again defeated in the Assembly, this time with the support of the Greens. The debate provided him with the opportunity to correct some of the inaccurate assumptions in the coroner's report concerning the warning he had received and given and the coroner's misunderstanding of the Westminster system of government and of the ministerial arrangements in the ACT.[7]

ACT Human Rights Act

The ACT was the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce a Human Rights Act, in 2004.[1] The Act's main influence has been on policy development, ensuring legislative changes comply with the requirements of the Act.[citation needed]

2004 ACT Assembly Election and Majority Government

At the 2004 ACT election, the Stanhope-led ALP won sufficient seats to form a majority government, the first such government in the Territory's history.[citation needed]

Opposition to the Federal Anti-Terrorism Act

On 14 October 2005, Stanhope took the step of publishing the confidential draft of the Federal Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 on his website,[8] so that the community had a chance to consider and debate the proposed legislation. Citing concerns about the removal of basic human rights, he later refused to sign a revised version of the legislation, becoming the only state or territory leader to do so.[citation needed]

2006-07 Budget

In June 2006 Stanhope came under fire over the 2006-07 ACT Budget which was crafted to address ongoing budget deficits. The budget included massive rate rises, across the board fee hikes, a change in the ACT's emergency services management and the proposed closure of 38 schools and colleges through consolidation. He also announced that a further three new schools would open at some stage in the future, with one, a new $54 million P-10 school, to be built on the site of the current Kambah High School. On 10 March 2007 he announced that planning and development of a new Gungahlin College and a new West Belconnen P-10 school was underway, with construction about to begin.[9]

The budget outcome led to ratings agency Standard & Poor's having to add qualification before reaffirming the ACT's AAA credit rating. Additionally the decision regarding distribution of the education budget prompted outcry in one Australian newspaper, with the Sydney-based Daily Telegraph labelling him "Stanhope-less" and an "economic vandal" on the front page of a special ACT edition.[citation needed]

Same-sex unions

Soon after the budget the ACT's Civil Unions Act, to allow formal recognition of same-sex relationships, was overturned by the Federal Liberal/National Howard government despite the objections of the ACT Government and its federal senators.[10] The new Rudd government had advised it is not Labor policy to stifle state legislation, and that it would not block attempts by the ACT government on this issue.[11] Despite this, the Rudd Government later threatened to override any laws introduced in the ACT that legislated for same-sex ceremonies.[12] As a result, the Stanhope Government removed provisions for ceremonies in its proposal, and ultimately allowed for civil partnerships that did not include legislated ceremonies. The Stanhope Government reported that the number of new civil partnerships entered in to "exceeded expectations".[13]

Longest Serving ACT Chief Minister and Head of Government

On 26 November 2007, following the resignation of the Northern Territory's Clare Martin, Stanhope became Australia's longest-serving current state or territory leader. When Kevin Rudd was sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia on 3 December 2007, replacing John Howard, Stanhope became the country's longest-serving current head of government.[14]

2008 Australian Capital Territory general election

Stanhope led the ACT ALP to the 2008 ACT general election on the 18 October, 2008 retaining the largest number of seats in the ACT Assembly and winning the popular vote with 37.6% over the ACT. Both major parties saw a decrease in their vote, with a surge to the Greens. Labor won 7 seats, the Liberals won 6 seats, while the Greens won 4 seats, giving them the balance of power, and negotiated with both major parties for the formation of a minority government.[15][16] After almost two weeks of deliberations, the Greens chose to support a minority Labor government.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Topsfield, Jewel (22 October 2005). "Sticking to his guns". The Age. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  2. ^ Singleton, Gwynneth (June 2001). "Australian Capital Territory". The Australian Journal of Politics and History (University of Queensland Press) 47 (2): 303.;col1. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Singleton, Gwynneth (June 2001). "Australian Capital Territory". The Australian Journal of Politics and History (University of Queensland Press) 47 (2): 303.;col1. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  4. ^ Singleton, Gwynneth (June 2001). "Australian Capital Territory". The Australian Journal of Politics and History (University of Queensland Press) 47 (2): 303.;col1. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Stanhope helps rescue helicopter crash victim
  6. ^ ACT govt admits failure in fire warnings - Breaking News - National - Breaking News
  7. ^ Hansard, 28 February 2007, page 14
  8. ^ "Stanhope fires up debate over secretive terror laws". The Sun-Herald. 16 October 2005. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  9. ^ Government's commitment to new schools going strong | Mary Porter AM MLA - Labor Member for Ginninderra
  10. ^ PM - Bid to save ACT civil unions fails
  11. ^ Rudd won't block ACT gay unions law: The Australian 7/12/2007
  12. ^ Rudd may block ACT civil unions: The Australian 2/5/2008
  13. ^ Civil partnerships 'exceed expectations': ABC News 13/8/2008
  14. ^ "Election night updates". City News. 10 October 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2009. 
  15. ^ 2008 Australian Capital Territory Election - ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  16. ^ Greens take extra seat in ACT election: ABC News 25/10/2008
  17. ^ Labor to form minority government in ACT: The Age 31/10/2008

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Wayne Berry
Opposition Leader of the Australian Capital Territory
1998 – 2001
Succeeded by
Gary Humphries
Preceded by
Gary Humphries
Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory
2001 – present
Chief Ministers of the Australian Capital Territory Flag of the Australian Capital Territory.svg
Follett | Kaine | Carnell | Humphries | Stanhope


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