Kate Carnell: Wikis


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Kate Carnell

In office
2 March 1995 – 18 October 2000
Preceded by Rosemary Follett
Succeeded by Gary Humphries

Born 30 May 1955 (1955-05-30) (age 54)
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party
Spouse(s) Ray Kiley
Profession Pharmacist

Anne Katherine (Kate) Carnell AO (born 30 May 1955) was the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) from 1995 to 2000. She is currently CEO of the Australian Food and Grocery Council.


Pharmacy career

Carnell received a BPharm from the University of Queensland in 1976. The same year she moved to Canberra from Brisbane, and she bought her own pharmacy business in 1981. She owned and managed the Red Hill Pharmacy in Canberra through to 2002.

She served as the head of the ACT Branch of the Australian Pharmacy Guild as well as National Vice-President of the guild. She also served on the ACT Chamber of Commerce and on the boards of charities and community organisations.[1]

Chief Minister

Carnell continued her work as a pharmacist while she joined the Liberal Party in 1991. She was elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly in 1992, and became Leader of the Opposition in 1993.[1]

Among other positions she was: Chairman of the Canberra and Southern District Pharmacists Company Ltd (1982-1992), Vice-President of the Retail Industry and Training Council, ACT (1987-1991), Councillor at the Australian Institute of Pharmacy Management (1990-1991), Member of the ACT Board of Health (1990-1991), Member of the Pharmacy Restructuring Authority (1990-1991) and Board member of the Canberra Chamber of Commerce (1991-1992).[1]

After winning a plurality of seats in the 1995 ACT election, the Liberal Party formed a minority government with Carnell as Chief Minister. The government was re-elected in the 1998 election.

She held the portfolios of Minister for Health and Community Care (1995-1998), Minister Responsible for Multicultural and International Affairs (1995-2000), Minister for Business and Employment (1997-1998) and Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts (2000).


Canberra hospital implosion

The Carnell Government was severely criticised following the death of twelve year old Katie Bender, when the Canberra Hospital was imploded on 13 July 1997 to make way for the National Museum of Australia. Katie Bender died instantly when she was struck by a one kilogram fragment of steel which had been thrown about 430 metres across Lake Burley Griffin by the force of the explosion.[2]

The Coroner cleared Carnell as Chief Minister of any personal responsibility.[2] The Coroner did find in his report that the Government had turned the implosion into a 'public circus' and that this was with the approval of the Chief Minister.[2] The public was invited by the Government to attend and witness the event, resulting in the largest crowd in Canberra's history, in excess of 100,000. The Coroner found that the Government had been cavalier in its attitude to the warnings from a health union about the possible dangers of some aspects of the proposed implosion.[3]

The Coroner summarised that, "the evidence on this topic leads me to conclude that Carnell was poorly briefed and advised on this subject matter. The quality of the reply to the HSUA was sacrificed in the interests of speed and expediency."[3]

Bruce Stadium development

On October 2000, when faced with a no-confidence motion due to the blowout in costs of the Bruce Stadium development in Canberra, Carnell chose to resign her post. Carnell initially claimed a $12.3 million cost to taxpayers, with an additional $15 million to be provided by private sector organisations. However, the work eventually blew out to cost taxpayers $82 million.

In his report on the matter, Auditor-General John Parkinson found that the $27.3 million cost was estimated by Carnell, and had not undergone any assessment, review or analysis. While Carnell had factored in the $15 million in private funding for the project, no funds had been offered or provided by private companies. The Auditor-General found that, by 1998, funding for the project was being sought so rapidly that funds that had not been allocated were being spent. The ACT Auditor-General also found that an overnight loan provided by the Commonwealth Bank and signed for by Ms Carnell, for $9.7 million, was illegal.

Further controversy arose in relation to the Stadium prior to the holding of soccer matches associated with the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Some areas of turf died during the Canberra winter. Replacement turf was flown in from Cairns. The replacement turf was damaged by frost. It was subsequently admitted by Ms Carnell that attempts had been made to address this problem by spraying some areas of dead grass with green paint.(Legislative Assembly Hansard, 31.8.2000, p.2736-7.)


The Futsal field which was built next to the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge has had only a few games of Futsal hosted on it. It is commonly used to stage circuses and travelling theatre shows.

V8 Supercar Series

$17 million of Canberra taxpayers' money were spent on the V8 Supercar series, in which five races were to be staged on the roads around the Parliamentary Triangle. Despite the large investment and the disruption that this series caused to the lives of Canberrans, the ACT Auditor-General found that many of the promises that the series offered, including international television interest and international tourists flocking to the event, never eventuated. The Auditor-General found that the event was not telecast in any overseas countries.

Despite forecasting that the race series would provide the ACT economy with $52 million profit, after only 3 races were staged, the Auditor-General found that the series had in fact cost taxpayers $29 million. The Carnell Government had entered into an agreement with race organisers in which the ACT Government, and eventually ACT taxpayers, would bear all responsibility for financial risk.

When the Australian Labor Party won government and learned of the losses sustained by ACT taxpayers from this event, it cancelled the last 2 rounds of the series and settled with race organisers to keep the taxpayers from the burden of further losses which would be incurred if the race series were to continue.

Career after politics

After resigning her post as the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, Carnell was elected as a Director on the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) board of directors (2001-2002). She subsequently lost a further election for the board, thereby ceasing to be a Director. Another popularly elected member of the board resigned their post after this, which resulted in an available position on the board, to which Carnell was again appointed. It was anticipated that she would once again be defeated in a forthcoming election, resulting in her withdrawing from her position, in September 2002.[4]

She has also held the post of Chief Executive of TransACT Development (2000-2001)[5], and later the positions of Chairperson, General Practice Education and Training Ltd and Executive Director, National Association of Forest Industries.[6]

She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Australia Day Honours list of 2006, for her services and contributions to the Australian Capital Territory.[7]

Nearly a decade after Ms Carnell's first marriage was dissolved, on Sunday, 29 July 2007, Carnell and her long-term partner, Ray Kiley, married at a ceremony conducted at Old Parliament House in Canberra. Guests included local and federal politicians (both Labor and Liberal) along with a small crowd of family and friends - including Ms Carnell and Mr Kiley's children and ex-spouses. Also present was the 'former' Canberra Times editor Crispin Hull and former staff of the Prime Minister's office.[8]

Carnell was the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian General Practice Network in Canberra until 2008. In this role she was seen by some GPs as bringing the Divisions of General Practice too close to government, especially over her support for fundholding programs. The president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, described her as "a mouthpiece for the government". She announced her resignation on 20 May 2008 to take up a position as CEO of the Australian Food and Grocery Council.[9]

Political offices
Preceded by
Trevor Kaine
Opposition Leader of the Australian Capital Territory
Succeeded by
Rosemary Follett
Preceded by
Rosemary Follett
Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory
Succeeded by
Gary Humphries
Chief Ministers of the Australian Capital Territory Flag of the Australian Capital Territory.svg
Follett | Kaine | Carnell | Humphries | Stanhope



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