Ian Macdonald (Australian politician)

Ian Douglas Macdonald (born 29 November 1945) is a former Australian politician who served as a Senator for Queensland from 1990 to 2019, representing the Liberal Party. He was Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government (1998–2001) and Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation (2001–2006) in the Howard Government. He was defeated at the 2019 federal election, having been the longest-serving incumbent member of parliament for the final years of his career.

Ian Macdonald
Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation
In office
26 November 2001 – 27 January 2006
Preceded byWilson Tuckey
Succeeded byEric Abetz
Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government
In office
21 October 1998 – 26 November 2001
Preceded byAlex Somlyay
Succeeded byWilson Tuckey
Senator for Queensland
In office
1 July 1990 – 30 June 2019
Personal details
Born (1945-11-29) 29 November 1945 (age 74)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Political partyLiberal Party of Australia

Early lifeEdit

Macdonald was born in Brisbane, Queensland, and was a solicitor before entering politics. He was also a Councillor in the Burdekin Shire Council 1979–90. He was Vice-President of the Liberal Party in Queensland from 1987 to 1990.

Early political careerEdit

In 1992, Macdonald was appointed to the Opposition Shadow Ministry[1] under Liberal leader John Hewson as Shadow Minister for Local Government and the Australian Capital Territory. In 1994, following Alexander Downer's accession to the party leadership, Macdonald was given the positions of Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and continued to serve at these positions under Opposition leader John Howard.[1]

Howard GovernmentEdit

Following the election of the Howard Government, Macdonald was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment in 1996. In 1998, MacDonald was appointed to the Second Howard Ministry as Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government.

In 2001, Macdonald was appointed Minister for Forestry and Conservation in the Third Howard Ministry. His portfolio was renamed Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation in November 2002. He continued in this position in the Fourth Howard Ministry until January 2006 when he lost his position in a Cabinet reshuffle triggered by the retirement of Robert Hill.[2]

Return to OppositionEdit

Following the defeat of the Howard Government in 2007, Macdonald was appointed to the Opposition Shadow Ministry of Brendan Nelson as Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Northern Australia. On 22 September 2008, following the election of Malcolm Turnbull as Opposition Leader, Macdonald lost his position as Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader of the Opposition but retained the position of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern Australia.[3]

In 2009, Macdonald lost his position in the Shadow Cabinet following Tony Abbott's accession to the Liberal leadership, but was appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern and Remote Australia.[1] In 2010, he also took on the position of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Defence Force and Defence Support.

Final years in parliamentEdit

On 16 September 2013, following the election of the Abbott Government, it was announced that despite Tony Abbott's stated aim of ministry continuity Macdonald had been dropped from the frontbench. Senator Macdonald described this day as the "one of the worst" days in his life.[4]

In June 2014, Macdonald joined Senator Cory Bernardi in expressing opposition to the Government's proposed deficit levy, claiming that he did not believe the increase "goes far enough."[5] He also threatened to cross the floor over the proposed fuel excise hike.[6]

In July 2018, Macdonald was demoted to fourth position on the LNP ticket, from which victory was considered very unlikely.[7] In the 2019 federal election he lost his senate seat, and ceased to be a senator from 1 July 2019.


On 3 November 2011 during debate on carbon tax legislation, Macdonald stated "GetUp! is the Hitler Youth wing of the Greens political movement."[8] Senator Macdonald stood by his comments when challenged.[9] While he later apologised to the Jewish community for this remark, he did not withdraw the comment in Parliament.[10] He also once likened Stephen Conroy to Joseph Goebbels.[11]

In September 2015 during Senate Question Time, Senator Ian Macdonald made an interjection toward NSW Labor Senator Doug Cameron based on Cameron's strong and distinctive Scottish accent. Macdonald interjected 'learn to speak Australian'. SA Labor Senator Penny Wong interrupted proceedings later to have Macdonald withdraw his comment. Macdonald revised his comment to say "learn to speak Australian, mate".[12]

On 9 February 2017, Senator Ian Macdonald stated that he was likely to oppose the Federal Government move to abolish the lifetime gold pass, entitling politicians who had been elected prior to 2012 to 10 free business class flights per year. ABC News reported that Macdonald stated in the Liberal Party Room that "it's about time someone stood up for politicians entitlements".[13]

On 30 May 2017, the senator was on ABC Local Radio Darwin discussing the benefits of shifting public servants from Canberra to more regional areas such as Darwin and regional Queensland. He further went on to say that public servants should be sacked if they refuse to "get out of their very privileged lives" in Canberra, Sydney or Melbourne, after no public servants volunteered to move.[14][15]

On 9 April 2019, Senator Ian Macdonald asked if Penny Wong is related to Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo.[16]


  1. ^ a b c "Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Ministers depart ahead of reshuffle". The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax Media. AAP. 22 January 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
  3. ^ Appointment of Shadow Ministry
  4. ^ Calligeros, Marissa (16 September 2013). "'Worst day of my life': Queensland Senator misses frontbench seat". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  5. ^ Griffiths, Emma. "Coalition senators Ian Macdonald and Cory Bernardi won't support debt tax". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  6. ^ Bourke, Latika (17 June 2014). "LNP senator Ian Macdonald threatens to cross the floor on fuel excise hike". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 18 August 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  7. ^ "LNP dumps Ian Macdonald and Barry O'Sullivan from Senate ticket". Guardian Australia. 6 July 2018. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Hansard" (PDF). Parliament of Australia. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Greens and GetUp! demand apology over Hitler youth slur". Herald Sun. News Limited. AAP. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  10. ^ "GetUp outraged by Hitler Youth comments". 774 ABC Melbourne. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Senator aims 'Nazi' slur at minister during question time". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. AAP. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  12. ^ "Liberal Senator tells Labor colleague to 'learn to speak Australian'". Mail Online. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Ian Macdonald speaks up to defend politician's Life Gold Pass entitlements". ABC News. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  14. ^ Towell, Noel (1 June 2017). "Darwin or dole: Senator says Canberra public servants should be forced north". Canberra Times. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  15. ^ Move to Darwin or get the sack: Senator, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 30 May 2017, retrieved 1 June 2017
  16. ^ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-09/ian-macdonald-asks-if-penny-wong-related-to-huang-xiangmo/10985096

External linksEdit

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
John Faulkner
Father of the Senate
Succeeded by
Kim Carr
Preceded by
Philip Ruddock
Father of the Parliament
Succeeded by
Kevin Andrews
Political offices
Preceded by
Alex Somlyay
as Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government
Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government
Succeeded by
Wilson Tuckey
Preceded by
Wilson Tuckey
Minister for Forestry and Conservation / Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation
2001–2002 / 2002–2006
Succeeded by
Eric Abetz