Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Peter Garrett (born 16 April 1953), Australian musician and politician, has been an Australian Labor Party member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Kingsford Smith , New South Wales, since October 2004.
Garrett was educated at the Australian National University in Canberra and at the University of New South Wales, where he graduated in arts and law. He was a rock singer and environmental activist before entering politics. He became lead singer of the successful Australian rock band Midnight Oil in 1973. As well as its great musical and commercial success, the band became well known for its commitment to environmentalist and left-wing causes, was particularly critical of policies of the United States during the 1980s.
Garrett was one of the founders of the Nuclear Disarmament Party and stood for a seat in the Australian Senate in New South Wales at the December 1984 federal election. He needed 12.5 percent of the vote to win a seat, but received just over 9 percent.
Garrett served as president of the Australian Conservation Foundation from 1989 to 1993 and 1998 to 2004. He also joined the International Board of Greenpeace in 1993 for a two-year term. He served as adviser and patron to various cultural and community organisations including Jubilee Debt Relief , and was a founding member of the Surfrider Foundation .
Midnight Oil under Garrett's leadership had a history of making political statements through their music and performances. For example, at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the group performed before Prime Minister John Howard and a television audience of hundreds of millions, wearing black tracksuits bearing the word "sorry." This referred to the Howard Government's refusal to apologise to Aboriginal Australians for the former policy of removing of Aboriginal children from their families (see Stolen Generation).
In 2000 Garrett was awarded the Australian Humanitarian Foundation Award in the Environment category and in 2001 he received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of New South Wales. He left Midnight Oil in 2002 to concentrate on his environmental and social activism. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003.
In June 2004 Labor leader Mark Latham announced that Garrett would become an Australian Labor Party candidate for the House of Representatives at the 2004 federal election, in the safe New South Wales seat of Kingsford Smith which was being vacated by the former Cabinet minister Laurie Brereton. Despite some initial criticism from Labor members in the electorate, he won an easy victory on October 9, increasing the Labor majority there.
Garrett has modified many of his earlier radical views and says he is now a "team player" in the Labor Party. He now supports the U.S.-Australia alliance, and no longer opposes the Joint U.S-Australian Defence Facility at Pine Gap. He says he will argue for environmental causes inside the Labor Party.
- Australian Conservation Foundation
- Peter Garrett profile on ACF site
- Garrett's maiden speech in the House of Representatives
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