Peter Garrett is a long-time advocate and campaigner on a range of local and global issues. A member of Midnight Oil, one of Australia’s most successful bands, he served as a cabinet minister in the Rudd/Gillard Labor governments from 2007 to 2013.
The ‘Oils’ were renowned for their fierce independent stance and active support of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and protection of the environment.
The band’s protest and benefit shows, most notably the anti-Exxon performance on the back of a truck in the streets of New York, and the ‘Sorry suits’ appearance at the closing of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, were hallmarks of a 13 album career leading to an ARIA lifetime achievement award in 2006.
Peter Garrett was appointed the youngest ever President of the Australian Conservation Foundation (1989-96). Significant results were achieved in his first term for many threatened areas of Australia’s natural heritage including Queensland’s Wet Tropics and Jervis Bay in NSW. The second term saw ACF’s profile expand with the development of partnerships with non-government and business organisations and increased focus on marine issues and Northern Australia.
Peter entered Parliament as the Member for Kingsford Smith in 2004. In 2007 Labor won government and he was appointed Minister for the Environment, Heritage & the Arts.
This role saw substantial additions to Australia’s national reserve system, particularly to Indigenous Protected Areas, along with increased investment and new programs for conservation of the Great Barrier Reef.
As Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett was instrumental in the campaign against so called “scientific whaling” in the Antarctic, culminating in Australia’s successful challenge to Japanese whaling in the International Court of Justice in 2014. He secured agreement to a national waste policy leading to Australia’s first ever e-waste recycling scheme, and delivered a long awaited resale royalty scheme for visual artists.
Following the 2010 election Peter was sworn in as Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth.
In that role he secured a broad suite of education reforms. These included legislating for the first time, a needs based funding system for all Australian schools, as well as implementing a national curriculum and initiating indigenous ranger cadetships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
A member of the Order of Australia for contributions to the music industry and environment, and an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (France), in 2010 he received the ‘Leaders for a Living Planet’ award from WWF Australia & International.
Married with three daughters, Peter Garrett is currently writing his memoirs due for publication in 2015.
Find out more about Peter via the following links.
- Kitchen Cabinet, ABC2, 24 October 2012
- Entertain Us, Sun Herald, 21 October 2012
- Read Peter’s Q&A for the House of Representatives ‘Meet Your MP’ Touchscreen in Parliament House, Canberra, 2009
- Listen to ABC Radio’s Shauna Stafford interview Peter for “Who on earth are you”, December 2009, (16mb MP3 file)
- Peter’s First Speech, House of Representatives, Canberra, 8 December 2004
Words + music
For me, music is still the food of life and books remain the great reservoir of imagination and insight, ie the good stuff for us all to draw on. I’m not listening or reading as much as I’d like but here’s a sample.
Zeitoun, Dave Eggers Jackson’s Track, Carolyn Landon and Daryl Tonkin The Boat, Nam Le People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks March, Geraldine Brooks The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island, Chloe Hooper Cloudstreet, Tim Winton Jamaica, Malcolm Knox Remembering Babylon, David Malouf The Lost Boys, Sam de Brito A Fraction of the Whole, Steve Toltz The Bookseller of Kabul, Asne Seierstad Raindance: Australia’s longest summer, A C Flanagan Other Country, Stephen Scourfield The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama
Gurrumul, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu I Believe, Tyrone Noonan Sentimental Horses, The Millionaires The Last Ghost Train Home, Perry Keyes Memories & Dust, Josh Pyke Grand National, John Butler Trio California, Something For Kate
I’m often asked for ‘Top 10′ lists. These lists change over time but here are a couple of my ‘Top 10s’ from the last few years
My 2009 TripleJ Top 10
- God of Small Things, Dragon From the new album ‘Happy I Am’: how neat to take Arundhati Roy and give her the Dragon classic pop rock treatment. Suits all ages.
- Bapa, Gurrumul I know this was a 2008 release but he has been touring in the UK/Europe in 2009, and is homesick. It’s a very beautiful record from a beautiful man.
- Someone So Much, Bob Evans Talk about multi-talented – the Jebs used to rip your heart out! The song-writing continues from the last solo album to be really evocative and warm. Wraps you up in blackbutt honey.
- Resistance, Muse I guess it was only a matter of time before someone channelled Queen. But Muse are more than that; very original, incredible playing and production skills, and so dramatic.
- Shark Fin Blues (live at the Hi-Fi), The Drones Bare boned, raw, and with lots of gut-movement. It would be great to sneak away and hear in a sweaty club.
- Losing Touch, The Killers They’re a very good band by the sounds of things. Can they keep it up? Who knows, but it’s great listening.
- 21 Guns, Green Day They just keep on delivering and straddling the line between their punk heritage, pop sensibilities, and a very fine ear for what makes a great song.
- Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse, Revenge The weird little keyboard really adds in this kind of hypnotic and very atmospheric song.
- Out The Airlock, Paul Dempsey Kind of interesting that singers and writers from really good bands are coming out and making really rich solo albums. And this is another one: strong and evocative.
- Hey Baby Come On, Kram See the above for Paul – but Kram plays the drums too!
And another Top 10
- Flame Trees, Cold Chisel This is Chisel at their best. Evocative country town narrative, two great voices, swing, and a glorious middle eight.
- All Along the Watchtower, Bob Dylan Poetry in motion – still utterly absorbing.
- Blue in Green, Miles Davis Hasn’t been touched, and isn’t likely to be while I’m still alive.
- Maybe I’m Amazed, Paul McCartney and Wings Great love song. Starts and stops and starts again like love encounters can.
- Evie, Parts I, II & III Harry Vanda and George Young, performed by Stevie Wright. Vanda and Young go bitter-sweet, and its got a great riff.
- Shipbuilding, Robert Wyatt performed by Elvis Costello. Costello does Robert Wyatt: a stunning song on the futility of war.
- Wide Open Road, The Triffids Sound of my Australia – aching big spaces.
- Heroes and Villains by the Beach Boys Brian was a gifted composer, and they were great singers.
- A Day in the Life, The Beatles Narrative from British life in the 50s and psychedelic jamming out: Lennon at his best.
- Anyone who had a Heart, Dusty Springfield Epic love pop song. Real emotion, sensational production.