Peter Collins (New South Wales politician)

Captain Peter Edward James Collins, AM, RFD, QC, RANR (born 10 May 1947) was the Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 4 April 1995 to 8 December 1998.

Peter Collins

Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales
In office
4 April 1995 – 8 December 1998
PremierBob Carr
DeputyRon Phillips
Preceded byBob Carr
Succeeded byKerry Chikarovski
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Willoughby
In office
19 September 1981 – 22 February 1988
Preceded byEddie Britt
Succeeded byDistrict abolished
In office
25 May 1991 – 21 March 2003
Preceded byNew district
Succeeded byGladys Berejiklian
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Middle Harbour
In office
22 February 1988 – 25 May 1991
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded byDistrict abolished
Personal details
Born (1947-05-10) 10 May 1947 (age 73)
Lismore, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyLiberal Party
Military service
Allegiance Australia
Branch/serviceAustralia Australian Army Reserve
Naval Ensign of Australia.svg Royal Australian Naval Reserve
Years of service1964 – 2012
RankLieutenant (Army)
Generic-Navy-O7.svg Captain (Navy)
UnitSydney University Regiment
1st Commando Regiment
Australian Naval Intelligence
Royal Australian Naval Reserve
CommandsDirector Naval Reserve Support
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsMember of the Order of Australia
Commander of the Order of St John
Reserve Force Decoration

Early yearsEdit

Peter Collins was born the eldest son of Ronald and Mavis Collins. He was educated at Marist College Kogarah, Saint Patrick's, Bathurst and Waverley College from 1960 to 1964. From 1965 to 1972 Collins was a student at the University of Sydney, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws and residing at St John's College. After university, Collins went on to be a journalist and researcher for Four Corners and Monday Conference on ABC TV and was a media consultant for several major companies.

Army and Navy ReserveEdit

During his university years from 1965–1972, Collins joined the Army Reserve gaining the rank of Lieutenant. In 1969 Collins qualified as a parachutist in the 1st Commando Company. In 1988, after being promoted to Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander, and then to Commander in 1994. Collins retired from the Navy in 2012 in the senior rank of Captain.[citation needed]

Political careerEdit

Collins was elected to the seat of Willoughby in the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1981 as a Liberal. This traditional blue-ribbon Liberal seat had been swept up in the "Wranslide" of 1978, with Labor's Eddie Britt becoming the first Labor member ever to win it. However, a redistribution erased Britt's already paper-thin majority and made Willoughby notionally Liberal. At the election, Collins narrowly defeated Britt, and actually came within a few hundred votes of winning on the first count. However, he easily dispatched Britt in a 1984 rematch, picking up a swing large enough to revert Willoughby to its traditional status as a comfortably safe Liberal seat. He held Willoughby until his retirement (though it was called Middle Harbour from 1988 to 1991).

Collins served in opposition until the election of Nick Greiner as Premier in 1988. He was also deputy Liberal leader under Greiner. Collins served as Health Minister, Treasurer, and other portfolios throughout the Liberal Government until its defeat by Labor under Bob Carr in 1995. Collins was immediately elected opposition leader on 4 April 1995, but he was deposed by Kerry Chikarovski on 8 December 1998 without having faced an election. Collins remained in Parliament until the 2003 state election, which he did not contest.

Parliamentary Summary[1]
  • Member for Willoughby (1981–2003);
  • Shadow Special Minister of State (2002);
  • Shadow Minister for the Arts (2002);
  • Member, Standing Committee on Public Works (2002–03);
  • Leader of the Opposition (1995–98);
  • Treasurer of New South Wales (1993–95);
  • Minister for the Arts (1988–1995);
  • Minister for State Development (1992–93);
  • Attorney General (1991–92);
  • Minister for Consumer Affairs (1991–92);
  • Minister for Health (1988–1991);
  • Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party (1986–1992);
  • Shadow Special Minister of State (2002);
  • Shadow Minister for the Arts (1981–88, 1995–98, 2002);
  • Shadow Minister for Health (1986–88);
  • Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations and Employment (1984–86);
  • Shadow Minister for Planning and Environment (1983–84);
  • Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs (1981–83).

Collins had ambitions for federal politics and an opportunity presented itself when Liberal MP Michael Mackellar retired from his seat of Warringah which encompassed Collins's state seat of Willoughby.

Collins, despite expressing interest, chose not to seek Liberal preselection for the ensuing by-election due to the State Coalition holding office as a minority government.

If Collins had become the preselected candidate it would have required him to resign from State Parliament in order to contest this federal by-election and placed in question the stability of the minority Coalition government.

The Warringah preselection and by-election was instead won by future Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Later careerEdit

After his time in politics, the Australian Government appointed Collins Chair of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2004–11); the NSW Government appointed him to the Cancer Council of NSW (2004–06), then Chair of the Cancer Institute of NSW (2005–08); and, he has been Chairman of St. John Ambulance NSW (2007–current). He is Chairman of the Advisory Board for National Patient Transport (NPT) Pty Ltd and a Member of the St Vincents & Mater Health Sydney Advisory Council. Collins is also the founder and national chairman of Barton Deakin, a government relations firm that provides strategic advice to business and not-for-profits on working with Liberal and Coalition governments.[2]

In 2009, he was appointed Chair of Legal Aid NSW on the recommendation of the Attorney General; and, in 2010, was appointed Deputy Chair of the Centenary of ANZAC Commemoration Committee for NSW. From 2006–09 he was a Board member of Macquarie Generation, Australia's largest electricity generator.

He has been a Director of the leading Industry Superannuation fund HOSTPLUS since 2006; and a Board member of the Workers Compensation Insurance Fund Investment Board of NSW (2005–12). He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (FAIST) and Chairman of the Sydney Financial Forum. Maintaining a long association with the University of Sydney, he was made an Associate of the Graduate School of Government (2004–08). Peter Collins is also Chairman of Barton Deakin Government Relations, which he established in 2009.

With an active, lifelong interest in the ADF, he has served as both an Army and Navy Reserve officer – during a 37-year RAN career he was Honorary Colonel of the elite 1st Commando Regiment (1995–2000) and saw active service in Iraq as a legal officer in 2007. He left the Navy in 2012 in the senior rank of Captain. He was awarded the US Joint Service Commendation Medal for his service in Iraq. The Australian Government appointed him to the Defence White Paper Consultative Committee in 2008.

For his civilian service, Peter Collins was made a Member of the Order of Australia (2004); was made a Commander in the Order of St John (2012); and, received the Centenary Medal.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Collins has married three times. In 1973 he married Jennifer Ruth White, with whom he has two sons. In 1983 he married Dominique Fisher with whom he also has two sons. Both these marriages ended in divorce. Since 2002 Collins has been married to Jennine Leonarder. Collins' interests include: military and naval history, contemporary dance, visual arts, film and literature.[4]

Honours and awardsEdit

  Member of the Order of Australia (AM) 2004[3]
  Commander of the Order of St John 2012[3]
  Australian Active Service Medal
  Iraq Medal
  Centenary Medal 2001
  Reserve Force Decoration (RFD) with two rosettes
  Australian Defence Medal
  Joint Commendation Medal (United States)


  1. ^ Collins, Peter (2000). The Bear Pit: A Life in Politics. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. p. 339. ISBN 1-86508-208-2.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 March 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b c Collins, Peter. "Chairman". National Patient Transport. Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  4. ^ "The Hon. Peter Edward James Collins (1947- )". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Eddie Britt
Member for Willoughby
1981 – 1988
District abolished
New district Member for Middle Harbour
1988 – 1991
District abolished
New district Member for Willoughby
1991 – 2003
Succeeded by
Gladys Berejiklian
Party political offices
Preceded by
Rosemary Foot
Deputy Leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party
1986 – 1992
Succeeded by
Bruce Baird
Preceded by
John Fahey
Leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party
1995 – 1998
Succeeded by
Kerry Chikarovski
Political offices
Preceded by
Frank Walker
Minister for the Arts
1988 – 1995
Succeeded by
Bob Carr
Preceded by
Peter Anderson
Minister for Health
1988 – 1991
Succeeded by
John Hannaford
Preceded by
John Dowd
Attorney General of New South Wales
1991 – 1992
Preceded by
John Fahey
Treasurer of New South Wales
1993 – 1995
Succeeded by
Michael Egan
Preceded by
Bob Carr
Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales
1995 – 1998
Succeeded by
Kerry Chikarovski