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Mark Alexander Birrell (born 7 February 1958) is a solicitor, company director and a former Cabinet Minister in the Australian state of Victoria.

Birrell, a small-l liberal, joined the Liberal Party's youth wing, the Young Liberal Movement in 1974, inspired by Rupert Hamer's reformist government.

Birrell studied at Monash University obtaining a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws. Whilst studying, Birrell worked for Senator Alan Missen and also served terms as President of the Victorian and Federal Young Liberals. He was admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor in 1983


When long serving MP William Campbell resigned his safe Legislative Council seat of East Yarra Province in 1983, Birrell won Liberal preselection and succeeded him as its member. Just 25 years old, he was Australia's youngest MP. Just two years later he entered the shadow Cabinet in the high profile position as shadow Health Minister.

Birrell became the Leader of the Liberal Party in the Legislative Council from 1988 and in 1992 he became the Government Leader of the Upper House, a position he would hold through to 1999. During this period he served as Minister for Conservation and Environment, creating the Yarra Ranges National Park, pioneering laws for coastal protection in the State, overseeing Albert Park’s revitalisation, and handling key stakeholder issues.

During the first term of the Kennett government he also served as the Minister for Major Projects. He was responsible for the 'Agenda 21' infrastructure projects like the new Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, Melbourne Museum, City Circle Tram, the Regent Theatre, Docklands, Beacon Cove and the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

After the 1996 election he swapped his Ministerial portfolios for the Industry, Science and Technology portfolio. As minister he oversaw the State's first "Science, Engineering and Technology policy," legislating for 7-day shop trading, and overseeing a successful investment attraction program.

After the defeat of the Kennett Government at the 1999 election, Birrell continued as Liberal Upper House leader and served as shadow Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Widespread media commentary called for him to switch to the lower house and take the Leadership of the Victorian Liberal Party as his predecessor Sir Rupert Hamer had done. However, Birrell decided to leave Parliament and return to private enterprise after the 2002 election.

In private enterprise

Birrell is currently practising as a solicitor in Melbourne and is the Chairman of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the nation's largest infrastructure advocacy body. He is on the Board of Australia Post, is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and serves on the Executive Council of the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Previously he's held positions as a Trustee of both the Melbourne Cricket Ground (1992-96) and the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust (1995-99).



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