Frank Sartor

Francesco Ernest "Frank" Sartor AO (born 9 November 1951)[1] a former Australian politician, was New South Wales Minister for Climate Change and the Environment and Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer) between 2009 and 2011. He was a Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly representing Rockdale for the Labor Party between 2003 and 2011. Sartor has previously been Minister for Planning, Redfern Waterloo and the Arts, and Minister for Water and Utilities in the Iemma and Carr governments. Before being elected to the New South Wales Parliament, Sartor is the second longest-serving Lord Mayor of Sydney after Clover Moore, having held the post for nearly 12 years from September 1991 to March 2003. Sartor retired from politics at the 2011 state election.[2][3]

Frank Sartor

Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Rockdale
In office
22 March 2003 – 26 March 2011
Preceded byGeorge Thompson
Succeeded byJohn Flowers
80th Lord Mayor of Sydney
In office
September 1991 – April 2003
DeputyLucy Turnbull
Preceded byJeremy Bingham
Succeeded byLucy Turnbull
Personal details
Francesco Ernest Sartor

(1951-11-09) 9 November 1951 (age 68)
Yenda, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyLabor Party
ChildrenWilliam, Isabella, Oliver

Early lifeEdit

Sartor was born in Yenda near Griffith, New South Wales.[4] His migrant parents named him Francesco Ernest Sartor, but he decided life would be easier if he called himself Frank.[5] He attended St Therese's (Catholic) Primary School, Yenda, followed by Griffith High School.[6] His mother died of melanoma when Sartor was 16.[7]

He attended the University of Sydney, residing at St John's College and graduating with a degree in chemical engineering, and a later qualification in accounting. From 1976-1983 he was employed as a chemical engineer and in management roles by Colgate-Palmolive and oil company Total Australia Ltd.[4]

Local governmentEdit

Sartor served on the Council of the City of Sydney from 1984 to 2003, and was Lord Mayor of Sydney for almost 12 years, from September 1991 to April 2003.[8] During his time on the council he served as Vice-President of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, Chairman of the Sydney Festival, Chairman of the Central Sydney Planning Committee, and Board Member of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

During his tenure as Lord Mayor, unfounded claims were made in an effort to discredit Sartor, in relation to alleged sexual harassment, by Liberal politician, John Hannaford. These accusations were unfounded and never supported with any evidence, and were never raised in a court of law nor raised by Hannaford outside the protection of parliamentary privilege.[9] Hannaford subsequently failed to provide any evidence to support his allegations, and was in turn investigated by the NSW Parliament for abuse of parliamentary privilege.[10]

Upon the departure of Sartor as Mayor, he was succeeded by Deputy Mayor, Lucy Turnbull, who served the remainder of the term between 2003 and 2004. Turnbull did not seek election by popular vote.

New South Wales politicsEdit

Sartor first sought to enter state politics in 1988, when he contested the inner-city Electoral district of McKell as an Independent, running against the endorsed Labor candidate, Sandra Nori. Sartor came second, winning 23.5% of the primary vote and 43.4% of the two-candidate preferred vote[11] In 2003, Sartor joined the NSW Labor Party[3] and entered parliament after successfully contesting the safe Labor seat of Rockdale at the 2003 State election[5][8] and was subsequently sworn in as Minister for Energy and Water Utilities, Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer) and Minister for Science and Medical Research.

Anti-cancer reformsEdit

As Assistant Health Minister, Sartor was responsible for the formation of the Cancer Institute NSW in 2003 and the introduction of smoking bans in NSW pubs and clubs in 2004, reforms he would later describe as among his proudest achievements.[3][12] Many of these achievements were driven by personal tragedy and loss of his former partner, Hephzibah Tintner, and his mother, to cancer. In his final speech to parliament, Sartor broke down when talking about their loss, and how it influenced his political career.[3] In his time as a Minister in all of his various portfolios, Sartor became known for his blunt and often crude language, but also his drive to improve cancer survival rates.[7] However his smoking bans drew vehement criticism from publicans who argued they would harm profitability, and from anti-cancer groups which said they did not go far enough.[13] In announcing his resignation, NSW Premier Kristina Keneally paid tribute to Mr Sartor’s work as Australia’s first cancer minister. As Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer) he oversaw restrictions on the retailing of cigarettes in NSW, including forcing them to be kept under the counter.[3]

Water UtilitiesEdit

As Minister for Water Utilities, Sartor introduced a number of sweeping changes to the water supply system, and championed water conservation, recycling and innovation in Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains. Sartor's changes in water and energy included: oversighting the introduction of an energy and water sustainability index for new homes; implementing a government energy and water savings fund to support innovative ideas to reduce water and energy consumption; encouraging the uptake of water conservation rebates, household devices and rainwater tanks; and requiring all local councils in the Sydney metropolitan area to develop water savings plans. Sartor also oversaw the development of water infrastructure projects - including large recycling projects in Sydney. He also released the Metropolitan Water Plan which first envisaged the potential for a desalination plant to supplement Sydney's water supplies. After Sartor left the Water portfolio and became Planning Minister, despite an extremely vocal anti-desalination campaign in Kurnell during the 2007 State election, the government was returned. Desalination was Labor policy established by Sartor, whereas Opposition Liberal policy advocated the human consumption of recycled sewage. Sartor and the NSW Government rejected and ruled out human consumption of recycled effluent in Sydney.

Redfern WaterlooEdit

In 2005 Premier Bob Carr appointed Sartor as the first Minister for Redfern Waterloo overseeing the Redfern Waterloo Authority and exercising planning powers over an area of inner Sydney.[14] In this role he invoked the ire of the Redfern indigenous population with his rejection of a plan by the Aboriginal Housing Company to redevelop "The Block" and for suggesting on Koori Radio that the Company's chairman, Mick Mundine should "Get off your backside ... and bring your black arse in here to talk about it." Sartor later apologised for this remark. The creation of the Redfern Waterloo portfolio was greeted with some cynicism given the long history of similar attempts to rejuvenate the area. Despite this, the Authority was able to deliver urban renewal projects for a number of derelict sites including the former Redfern Public School and a substantial redevelopment of the Australian Technology Park to incorporate headquarters for the Sydney television station Channel Seven. As part of Sartor's broader reforms in the area, the Australian Technology Park was established, and due to the reforms established by Mr Sartor, the NSW Government is able to continue active investigations into better use of disused land in the inner-west, such as the former Eveleigh railway workshops and disused industrial land.

Minister for PlanningEdit

Upon the appointment of Morris Iemma as Premier in late 2005, Sartor relinquished the Energy and Water portfolios and was sworn in as Minister for Planning. His administration was marked by a series of planning reforms to reduce the concurrence and consultation processes required for major developments in NSW. In a column in the Sydney Morning Herald, journalist and former City of Sydney Councillor Elizabeth Farrelly was scathing of Sartor for his support for advertising billboards along NSW roadways, his approval of the Anvil Hill Coal Mine, and for his moves to reduce the planning powers of local government.[15]

Sartor was re-elected as Member for Rockdale at the 2007 State election with a slightly reduced majority,[16][17] and was sworn in as Minister for Planning, Minister for Redfern Waterloo and Minister for the Arts.

In 2008 the NSW Greens demanded a Royal Commission into alleged links between Sartor's planning approvals and Labor Party donations by major developers.[18] Sartor denied his planning decisions had been influenced by developer donations and threatened legal action against media outlets which repeated the claims.[19] In 2009, Sartor was damaged by a Land and Environment Court judgment that described a decision he made to allow development at Catherine Hill Bay by a political donor, Rose Group, in exchange for conservation land as being influenced by a "land bribe". On announcing his resignation, Sartor described his time as planning minister as the most difficult of his career.[3]

On 7 September 2008 Frank Sartor was defeated in a ballot for ministerial positions and returned to the backbench[20] with reports of internal polling by Labor revealing that Sartor was one of the government's most unpopular ministers.[3]

Minister for Climate Change and the EnvironmentEdit

In December 2009, a no confidence motion was passed; and Nathan Rees stood down as Leader of NSW Labor.[21] Sartor contested a Labor right faction ballot and narrowly lost the ballot to Kristina Keneally, who was then made Premier.[3] Keneally returned Sartor to the NSW Cabinet; appointed to the role of Minister for Climate Change and the Environment. He was also returned to his old role of Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer), an area of personal interest and commitment.

Personal lifeEdit

The dancer Hephzibah Tintner was his partner until her death from cancer in 2001. She was the daughter of the Austrian-born orchestral conductor Georg Tintner.[22][23]


  1. ^ Mitchell, Alex (10 November 2002). "Exclusive poll a gift for Sartor's Rockdale bid". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media.
  2. ^ Nicholls, Sean (4 December 2010). "Keneally begs for second chance". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Nicholls, Sean (4 December 2010). "Frank Sartor quits Parliament". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
  4. ^ a b "City of Sydney Archives". City of Sydney. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 4 July 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Sydney's Lord Mayor joins ALP". ABC News 'AM' program. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 November 2002. Retrieved 4 July 2007.
  6. ^ "Italy Down Under - Profile: Frank Sartor". Italy Down Under magazine. Archived from the original on 14 August 2007. Retrieved 5 July 2007.
  7. ^ a b "The end of pub smoking in Australia: a tribute to Frank Sartor". Centre for Policy Development. June 2004. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
  8. ^ a b "The Hon. Frank Ernest Sartor (1951- )". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Lord Mayor of Sydney Sexual Harassment Allegations". New South Wales Legislative Council Hansard. New South Wales Parliament. 8 September 1999.
  10. ^ "Report of Parliamentary Ethics Committee". New South Wales Legislative Council Hansard. New South Wales Parliament. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Smith, Alexandra (8 September 2008). "'There were a lot of tears. I told the Premier it's a mistake'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
  13. ^ Dempster, Quentin (17 March 2006). "Smoke Screen". Stateline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
  14. ^ "Redfern-Waterloo Austhority Bill". New South Wales Legislative Assembly Hansard. New South Wales Parliament.
  15. ^ Farrelly, Elizabeth (4 July 2007). "Should Sartor have his cake? No, no and no". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 5 July 2007.
  16. ^ "State Electoral District - Rockdale Results 2003". New South Wales Electoral Commission. 2003. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  17. ^ "2007 State Election Results: State Electoral District of Rockdale". New South Wales Electoral Commission. 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  18. ^ Benns, Matthew (6 April 2008). "The developer donations the Greens say the minister must explain". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  19. ^ "Donations row: Sartor snaps at 'scumbags'". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 February 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  20. ^ AAP (7 September 2008). "I feel cheated: Sartor". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media.
  21. ^ Jerga, Josh (3 December 2009). "Katrina [sic] Keneally is Catholic feminist with American twang". The Daily Telegraph. News Limited. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
  22. ^ Hephzibah Tintner Foundation
  23. ^ Miranda Devine, Cancer fight gets personal for Sartor, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 2002

External linksEdit

Civic offices
Preceded by
Jeremy Bingham
Lord Mayor of Sydney
1991 – 2003
Succeeded by
Lucy Turnbull
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
George Thompson
Member for Rockdale
Succeeded by
John Flowers