Santo Santoro

Santo Santoro (born 27 April 1956) is a former Australian politician and a former deputy leader of the Liberal Party in Queensland. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland from 1989 to 2001; and a member of the Australian Senate from 2002 to 2007, representing the state of Queensland. He resigned from John Howard's ministry and from the Senate in the wake of a number of breaches of the Ministerial Code of Conduct and of the Register of Senators' Interests. He now works as a lobbyist.

Santo Santoro
Minister for Ageing
In office
27 January 2006 – 16 March 2007
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byJulie Bishop
Succeeded byChristopher Pyne
Senator for Queensland
In office
29 October 2002 – 11 April 2007
Preceded byJohn Herron
Succeeded bySue Boyce
Minister for Training and Industrial Relations of Queensland
In office
26 February 1996 – 26 June 1998
PremierRob Borbidge
Preceded byNev Warburton
Succeeded byPaul Braddy
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
for Merthyr
In office
13 May 1989 – 19 September 1992
Preceded byDon Lane
Succeeded bySeat abolished
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
for Clayfield
In office
19 September 1992 – 17 February 2001
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded byLiddy Clark
Personal details
Born (1956-04-27) 27 April 1956 (age 64)
Sicily, Italy
NationalityItalian Australian
Political partyLiberal Party of Australia
Alma materUniversity of Queensland

Early lifeEdit

Born in Sicily, Italy in 1956, Santoro emigrated to Australia with his family at the age of 5.[1] He was educated at Marist College Rosalie in Brisbane before attending the University of Queensland, where he was awarded the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Economics with honours.

Queensland state politicsEdit

Santoro was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland as Liberal member for Merthyr in Brisbane from 13 May 1989 until 19 September 1992. He was then elected as member for Clayfield from 19 September 1992 until he was defeated on 17 February 2001 by Liddy Clark. From 26 February 1996 to 26 June 1998, he was the State Minister for Training and Industrial Relations.

He was also the deputy leader of the State Liberal Party from 1992 to 1995.

Australian SenateEdit

On 29 October 2002, Santoro was selected by the Queensland Parliament to replace Liberal Party of Australia Senator John Herron, who had resigned from the Senate to become Australia's Ambassador to Ireland.[2]

As a senator, Santoro was a strident critic of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, using parliamentary privilege in 2003 to accuse the national broadcaster of "sloppy and shoddy" journalism, and disloyalty to Australian soldiers serving in Iraq, after an internal memo to ABC news staff instructed them to refrain from referring to soldiers as "our troops".[3]

Santoro was sworn in as Federal Minister for Ageing in John Howard's government on 27 January 2006.

Share trading scandal and resignationEdit

On 14 March 2007, Senator Santoro disclosed that he had breached the government's ministerial code of conduct[4] by holding shares in CBio, a biotechnology company related to his portfolio. Santoro claimed he had received the shares in January 2006, had failed to declare or divest them when he became Minister for Ageing, until he sold them in January 2007 after realising three months earlier that there might be a conflict of interest. Initially Prime Minister John Howard and other government ministers defended the breach on the grounds that it was inadvertent.[5]

However, further controversy arose over the fate of the profits derived from the sale of the shares in question. Santoro claimed he had donated the proceeds of the sale to a "charity", the Family Council of Queensland. Although this organization is registered as a non-profit entity, it is not registered as a charity.[6]

It was subsequently found during an audit of his finances that Santoro had failed to declare 72 other share trades, and he resigned from the ministry on 16 March 2007[7] and was replaced as Minister for Ageing by Christopher Pyne. The failures to declare his share trading were in breach of Australian Senate's requirement that Senators' interests be registered, viz: "Any alteration to a senator’s registrable interests, or those of the senator’s spouse or partner, or dependent children, must be notified to the registrar within 35 days of the change occurring."[8]

On 20 March, Santoro announced he would resign from the Senate, and federal politics altogether.[9] This meant that he had served as a Commonwealth Minister without ever facing election.[10] He was replaced in the Senate by Sue Boyce.

Later careerEdit

Santo Santoro was federal Liberal Party vice-president[11] until resigning in 2014 when he was forced to choose between that and being a paid lobbyist. He owns Santo Santoro Consulting and is registered as a lobbyist on both the Queensland and federal registers.[12] Santoro has provided "Introductory services" for access to politicians. He has boasted having a direct line to the immigration minister Peter Dutton who can help expedite immigration applications. Santoro charged at least $20,000 for this service. In 2016, suspected Chinese agent and billionaire businessman, Huang Xiangmo put Santoro on a retainer during which time he arranged a lunch with Dutton to discuss his application for Australian citizenship.[13][14]


  1. ^ "Profile: Santo Santoro". Ministry of Health. Archived from the original on 2 March 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2007.
  2. ^ Biography: SANTORO, the Hon. Santo, Parliament of Australia.
  3. ^ Annabel Crabb: ABC accused of disloyalty to troops, The Age, 14 August 2003.
  4. ^ Prime Minister John Howard's Ministerial Code Of Conduct Archived 28 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Peta Donald: Santoro urged to quit over undeclared shares, The World Today (ABC Local Radio), 13 March 2007.
  6. ^ Kathryn Roberts: Senator Santoro's 'charity' not a charity, PM (ABC Local Radio), 13 March 2007.
  7. ^ Phillip Coorey: Santoro resigns from ministry, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March 2007.
  8. ^ Parliament of Australia: Senate: Registration of Senators' Interests Archived 5 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Santoro quits federal politics, The Age, 20 March 2007.
  10. ^ Green, Anthony. "Senate Casual Vacancies and the Impact of Constitutional Change". Antony Green's Election Blog. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  11. ^ Fraser, Kelmeny, & Vogler, Sarah (30 November 2012). "Santo Santoro lobbies for rule changes". Courier Mail. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  12. ^ Amy Remeikis (21 March 2014). "Santo Santoro quits as Liberals vice president". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  13. ^ Nick McKenzie (8 April 2019). "Interference". Four Corners.
  14. ^ Nick McKenzie (9 April 2019). "Special treatment and a one-on-one lunch with Peter Dutton: how Huang lobbied for a visa". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 April 2019.

External linksEdit

Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
Don Lane
Member for Merthyr
New seat Member for Clayfield
Succeeded by
Liddy Clark
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
John Herron
Senator for Queensland
Succeeded by
Sue Boyce
Political offices
Preceded by
Julie Bishop
Minister for Ageing
Succeeded by
Christopher Pyne