[Senator Nick Minchin was a Senator for South Australia from 1 July 1993 to 30 June 2011. His talents were very soon recognised by the then leader of the opposition and subsequently Prime Minister John Howard. Always a man of principle, Senator Minchin has been a strong advocate for the causes in which he believes. His valedictory speech ranged over many of the matters with which he was concerned, but above all it was his defence of Australia's constitutional system which is of principal concern to us, and is one interest which he has indicated he will continue.
A short videoed extract from his speech concerning the 1998 constitutional convention and the referendum may be found in this introduction. Videos of the full speech as well as an interview with Young ACM spokesman, Jai Martinkovits, are accessible at the foot of this column]
Elected to the Australian Senate in 1993 as a Senator for South Australia, Senator Nick Minchin was soon appointed to the Opposition Shadow Ministry in 1994 as Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, John Howard.
On the election of the Howard Liberal-National Party government in 1996 he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, John Howard, followed by appointment the next year as Special Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister.
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From 1997 to 1999, he was charged with guiding the process to allow Australians to vote on whether we should become a republic, more precisely a politicians' republic. He designed the Constitutional Convention, half of which was elected by a voluntary postal ballot. The remainder consisted of ex officio members from all parliaments – mainly republican, as well as a number of prominent Australians and others from groups not otherwise represented, for example youth and indigenous people.
Although both the Prime Minister and Senator Minchin are constitutional monarchists, the majority of appointed delegates supported one or other republican model. This contrasts with the Keating government Repubic Advisory Committee to which only republicans were appointed. It also contrasts with the Rudd government 2020 Summit. There, 98 members of the 100 person governance panel were republicans, one abstained and it is supected the government was surprised that one member, Senator Brandis, turned out to be a monarchist.
After the 1998 convention almost approved a model, Senator Minchin was closely involved in the referendum, with the actual proposal including the question, being approved by both houses, two thirds or so of the members of which were republicans. The republicans could not have hoped for a fairer process, and Senator Minchin is to be congratulated for ensuring this.
"Nothing in my long career in campaigning has given me greater pleasure than the comprehensive rejection of that republican model," Senator Minchin said in his Valedictory Speech on 29 June 2011.
"One cause I will remain actively involved in after I leave this place is the advocacy of our current constitutional arrangements."
Senator Minchin has accepted appointment as an ACM Patron and to the ACM National Council.
From 1998 to 2001 he was Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, a Cabinet appointment. From 2001 until the defeat of the Howard government at the 2007 federal election he was Minister for Finance and Administration, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Vice-President of the Executive Council.
In opposition he was successively Shadow Minister for Defence and Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications as well as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. On 26 November 2009, he resigned from the shadow cabinet in protest at Malcolm Turnbull's decision as Leader to support the government's emissions trading scheme before the Copenhagen Conference.
This led to the defeat of Mr. Turnbull as leader and the rise of Tony Abbott.
After his son, a soldier, was seriously injured while on manouvres, Senator Minchin indicated he would not stand at the 2010 election. His term ended on 30 June 2011.
Senator Minchin’s valedictory speech was delivered on 21 June 2 011. The full text may be seen here; videos of his speech are posted below.
His speech ranged over matters such as the finance portfolio, uranium mining and the disposal of nuclear waste, moves for a republic, the Constitutional Convention and the referendum, advocacy of the virtue of our constitutional arrangements, his commitment to federalism, the relationship between federalism and Work Choices, voluntary voting, the level of immigration, the invasion of Iraq, the retirement of the Prime Minister, carbon dioxide and an emission trading scheme, the treatment of deniers to the theory of anthropogenic global warming, his suggestion that he may establish an organisation, The Friends of Carbon Dioxide, and the role of CO2 in the demise of Kevin Rudd’s and Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership.
…interview with young ACM…
Senator Minchin granted the following interview on our constitutional arrangements to Young ACM spokseman, Jai Martinkovits in March 2011.
[ This is an expanded version of a column first published on 9 August 2011]