We’ve tracked 68 former journalists who’ve made it into politics over the years and only 28 who’ve tried and failed. Therefore, the odds are in favour of Maxine McKew and the trend is increasingly moving towards more journalists.

Journalists who made it into Parliament

Tony Abbott: was a journalist with The Bulletin and The Australian before becoming press secretary and political adviser to the Leader of the Opposition, Dr John Hewson, and then entering the parliament and rising to Health Minister in the Howard Government.

Peter Andren:
Federal Independent member for Calare was a local TV presenter on Channel 8 in Orange (now Prime) from 1976 until 1996 and before that a radio news editor from 1968.

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Bruce Atkinson: Victorian Liberal in the upper house who continues to work on a retail trade magazine.

Michael Atkinson: the South Australian Labor Attorney General and media junkie was once The Advertiser’s industrial reporter but is very coy about this background on his website.

Ian Baker: the former ABC news chief of staff in Victoria was Agriculture Minister in the Kirner Government and gloated about creating the WorkCare monster. Flopped as an independent in the 1999 campaign in his old seat of Sunshine and now on the outer with Labor.

Ezekiel Alexander Baker: a journalist who who later became the Minister for Mines in NSW but was expelled from the NSW Parliament following an enquiry into payments from the Mines Department to some mines in which he had an interest at Bumbaldry, between Grenfell and Cowra.

Michael Baume: a former Investment Editor of The AFR who also started The Bulletin’s Speculator column, Baume was a Liberal politician from 1975 to 1996 and is back writing columns for The AFR after a stint in New York as Consul-General.

Tony Benneworth: Former Tasmanian state cricketer and journalist, who rose to become the uninspiring Liberal member for the state seat of Bass. Now a newsagent and turned up at the 2005 Gunns AGM to heap praise on the giant tree-lopping outfit.

Craig Bildstein: The party boy former Liberal MP for Mildura was a regional TV reporter who took his eye off the ball and let Independent Russell Savage win his seat in 1996. After various other political and spinning jobs he’s now back in journalism for The Advertiser in Adelaide.

John Bowler : formerly of the ABC and now proprietor of The Golden Mail and ALP Member for Eyre in the WA Parliament.

Brian Burke: Channel Seven journalist to dodgy WA Labor Premier, to jail and now working for the CFMEU and as a controversial Perth lobbyist who still wields a lot of power in the Right faction.

Brian Cahill: former TV news reader in Brisbane who became a National Party MLA and is now a part-time actor.

Eoin Cameron: From radio broadcaster to Federal Liberal backbencher and then back to 6PR and ABC Radio in Perth where he now does Breakfast.

Alan Carpenter: Daily News Perth, Channel Seven, ferocious 7.30 Report presenter and then Labor Minister for Education in WA, just like Mary Delahunty in Victoria. Moved to state development after the 2005 election and then replaced Geoff Gallop as Premier.

Bob Carr: The Bulletin and ABC news and current affairs to NSW Labor Premier who made it into a third term but then retired to join Macquarie Bank on a lucrative consultancy.

Bob Cheek: the former Liberal leader in Tasmania is best remembered for his 2005 book lifting the lid on political perks but before that he was a businessman who had previously spent time as a journalist with The Mercury in Hobart, a profession two of his children have followed him into.

Senator John Cherry: The former Queensland Democrat senator was a hack on Rupert’s Townsville Daily Bulletin and is now CEO of the Queensland Farmers’ Federation after losing his seat at the 2004 federal election.

Peter Collins: The former Liberal leader in NSW and state Treasurer was a television journalist and researcher for Four Corners .

Ian Cover : from 3AW broadcaster on The Coodabeen Champions to Liberal Upper House MP in Victoria and now back on the ABC.

James Cox : Tasmanian Labor MHA for Bass, previously on 7EX in Launceston.

John Curtin: Was an accomplished journalist before becoming PM, including stints on The Westralian Worker and was president of the Perth division of the Australian Journalists’ Association from 1920 until 1925.

Alfred Deakin: journalist on The Age and then the Morning Post in London before rising to become Premier of Victoria and then Prime Minister.

Bob Debus: Energy Minister and Attorney General in the Carr Government who was an ABC broadcaster, Executive Producer of the ABC’s Department of Radio Talks and Documentaries in the 1970s.

Mary Delahunty : Labor’s Education Minister and later Planning and Arts Minister in Victoria, was a former presenter of The 7.30 Report and Four Corners reporter who won a Walkley.

Charles Gavan Duffy: owner of The Nation (Dublin), The Advocate (Melbourne), Premier of Victoria.

Jeannie Ferris: The Liberal Senator was a New Zealand journalist who crossed the Tasman to work at The Canberra Times . She then became a biting editor of the Yass Tribune , in its more leftish days. She then did PR for the National Farmers Federation and Ian McLachlan MP before landing that cosy Senate sinecure.

Kerry Finch: independent member for Rosevears in the Tasmanian upper house who was dumped as a morning presenter on the ABC in Launceston in 1999 after 15 years.

Bernie Finn: the two term Liberal MP in Victoria was a panel operator at 3AW before being an MP from 1992 until 1999. He briefly worked on air at 3AK on losing office and is now back in Parliament as an upper house MP.

Alan Fitzgerald: elected to the pre-self-government ACT Advisory Council in 1968 and 1970, running as a True Whig. He’d been a columnist published in The Canberra Times, The SMH, The Age, The Bulletin and The Sun-Herald . Was also President of the National Press Club 1969-71 and contested the 1970 by-election for the federal seat of the ACT (Jim Fraser having died in harness) and again the 1972 general election, both times as an Australia Party candidate. Re-emerged in recent years as a staunch monarchist and the publisher of The Australian National Review .

Bill Forwood: the outgoing Liberal member for the Victorian Legislative Council seat of Templestowe Province worked for The Herald doing business and general in the 1970s and also for the sports pages of The Advertiser in Adelaide.

Allan Fraser: ALP member for Eden-Monaro 1943-66 and 1969-72 who worked for The Mercury, The Argus, The Age, The Times, The Sun , was also sacked from The Telgraph , then wrote for The Truth and The Mirror . Has any journalist, let alone a politician, racked up that many different titles in a career. Was also a Labor staffer.

Jim Fraser: ALP member for the ACT 1951-70 and the brother of Allan. Worked on a paper in Glen Innes before entering Parliament and was also a Labor staffer.

Senator Mervyn George Everett: was a journalist before he took up law. Became Tasmanian Attorney General before becoming a Supreme Court and then Federal Court judge.

Pru Goward: Former ABC journalist about to enter NSW parliament. 

Joan Hall: TV political reporter and radio producer turned disgraced SA Tourism Minister in the Olsen government.

Gary Hardgrave: the Federal Liberal member for Morton always gets up on ABC debates and goes on about how he used to work there but we’re not sure if he was a journo or just fetched the coffee. However, he did work as a reporter on Channel 7 news and State Affair (current affairs show) in Brisbane in the 1980s and ran the student radio station at school in the ’70s. He was also a reporter on kids shows such as Wombat and Rewind and spent time with Sea FM on the Gold Coast.

Les Haylen: the federal ALP member for Parkes from 1943 until 1963 was new editor of Australian Women’s Weekly from 1933 to his entry into parliament.

John Hyde:
former sub on The West Australian (sacked and/or resigned 3 times), The Scotsman in Edinburgh and the Geraldton Guardian, but now the Labor member for Perth in WA. Still an MEAA member.

Richard Jones: Editor and/or Publisher of Simply Living Magazine from 1983-89 and is now Independent Parliamentary Nudist and Upper House Hippie in NSW.

David Jull: the axed Howard Minister for Administrative Services was a newsreader for Channel 0, (now 10) in Brisbane more than 30 years ago. The Marlboro Man, as he’s known, would have made a great speaker if only he had the numbers.

CR Bert Kelly: the absolute legend was a columnist (though not a full ‘journo’), before and after entering parliament and a prolific writer during and after his time in parliament.

Rod Kemp: John Howard’s Sports Minister was a junior finance hack with The Age in the early 1970s, and even rubbed leather patched elbows in the Melbourne Stock Exchange with the late Chris Skase. His journalistic career is omitted from his Who’s Who entry, yet in the same entry he boasts about being a director of the Institute of Public Affairs in the 1980s.

Delia Lawrie: Northern Territory Minister for Family and Community Services, and Sport and Recreation, was a journalist with the Northern Territory News, The Advertiser and The South China Morning Post before she won the Darwin seat of Karama for Labor off the CLP in 2001. Also worked for the AJA in Melbourne.

Peter Lindsay: Federal Liberal MP for Herbert who was general manager of Townsville Television for 24 years before entering federal parliament in 1996.

Robert Lowe: owner and editor of The Atlas (Sydney), Member of the NSW Legislative Council.

Clare Martin: The ALP’s chief minister in the Northern Territory was the morning presenter on ABC 666 Canberra in the1980s before becoming media adviser to chief minister Rosemary Follet in the first ACT government in 1989. She later moved to Darwin where she returned to the ABC and was at one stage presenter of The 7.30 Report.

Barbara McCarthy: Northern Territory Labor MLA for Arnhem and one of the first Indigenous women in an Australian Parliament. Barbara was strongly promoted by Emily’s List and was an ABC news presenter in Sydney and Darwin and a contributing reporter to the ABC series Blackout.

John McGrath: WA Liberal member for South Perth since 2005 who was once sports editor of The West Australian and is now shadow minister for Shadow Minister for Racing, Gaming, Liquor and Seniors.

Rob Messenger: ABC radio broadcaster in Bundaberg who is now representing the National Party as the member for Burnett in the Queensland Parliament.

Eddie Obeid: Vice-President Ethnic Press Association of Australia: 1981-86, Publisher of El Telegraph to parliamentary backroom man for NSW Right and dumped Fisheries Minister.

Steve O’Doherty: a former 2GB breakfast and drive time afternoon host who was shadow treasurer and shadow education Minister for the Liberals in NSW before resigning to become CEO of Christian Schools Australia in 2002.

Neville Oliver: the former head of sport at the ABC failed when he ran as Labor’s candidate in the Tasmanian lower house seat of Franklin in 1998 but in 2002 he achieved his goal by replacing Fran Bladen as is explained in this St Patricks school newsletter.

Clyde Packer: After surrendering his media proprietor role at PBL to his brother Kerry for $4 million in 1976, the elder Packer son quickly went into the NSW Upper House as one of the youngest ever Liberal MPs.

Sir Henry Parkes : owner and editor of The Empire (Sydney), 3 times Premier of NSW.

Alister Paterson : Victorian Liberal MP for South Barwon who read the Channel 10 News in the 1980s.

Phillip Pendal: the Independent Liberal MP for South Perth in the WA Parliament loves recalling his days at The Daily News .

Mike Rann: The Labor Premier in SA was a political journalist with the News Zealand Broadcasting Corporation before moving to Adelaide in 1977 to be a speechwriter for then South Australian Labor Premier Don Dunstan.

Tony Rundle: The Liberal premier of Tasmania in the mid-1990s was a television reporter in the 1980s.

Jillian Skinner: Shadow health spokesperson for Health in NSW who worked on The Herald in Melbourne, Radio Hong Kong, The Associated Press and the ill-fated Sunday Australian.

Ray Sherry (Nick’s dad): was Member for Franklin from 1969 to 1975 and before that a journalist.

Fiona Simpson: The National Party MP for Maroochydore in the Queensland Parliament says she was ” an award winning journalist ” before entering Parliament in 1992.

Cameron Thompson:
Liberal Member for Blair who took the seat off Pauline Hanson and before that worked for the ABC in Darwin and Longreach. Also was a staffer to Shane Stone in the Northern Territory parliament and Joan Sheldon in Queensland.

John Tingle:
The Shooters Party member of the NSW Upper House was an announcer on 2GB and is the dad of journalist Laura

Malcolm Turnbull:
the member for Wentworth and Environment Minister worked as a journalist during and after his studies at The Bulletin , 2SM, Channel Nine and The Sunday Times in London but he made his name as a lawyer, investment banker and Republican.

Diana Warnock: long time ABC radio personality and subsequent MLA for Perth in the WA Parliament from 1993 until retiring in 2001.

Bruce Webster : the NSW Liberal member for Pittwater in the mid-1970s actually punctuated a 30-year plus career at the ABC as a sports broadcaster with his three-year stint in the NSW Parliament.

William Charles Wentworth: owner and editor of The Australian (the original one, Sydney) and member of the NSW Legislative Council

Grant Woodhams: the new National Party member for Greenough in WA worked with ABC radio in Tasmania, South Australia, NSW and Victoria as well as being the Channel 7 weatherman in Perth for many years.

Journalists who tried and failed to get into Parliament or Local Government

Sallyanne Atkinson:
the former journalist at The Telegraph and Brisbane Lord Mayor was defeated when she ran as the Liberal candidate in Rankin as part of the John Hewson Fightback! team and then returned to the media to host Sallyanne’s Brisbane on 4BC before the station switched to playing country music.

Shane Brennan: the former news director for Win Television in Victoria ran for the Liberals in Ballarat West in 1999 but his campaign was hit by an on-air gaffe when he dropped the f-word while reading the sports news in Shepparton. Now the CEO of the Ballarat Turf Club, Brennan failed to win Liberal Party preselection in Ballarat for the 2006 state poll.

Elaine Canty: the former ABC broadcaster ran unsuccessfully as Peter McMullin’s deputy in the 2001 Melbourne City Council elections.

Bob Cronin: the former editor of The West Australian , the Western Mail and The Sun in Melbourne failed to win the Federal seat of Stirling for the Liberals in 2001 and also failed to be elected deputy president of the party in 2003, mainly because of this article on Crikey pointing out his former editorial support for WA Inc and the discredited Labor Government.

Dennis Driver: the former Darwin ABC reporter ran for the ALP in Lyne in 1993, but was beaten by beaten by Mark Vaille. Bobbed up in the Territory again as a media advisor to various ministers in the Martin Government.

Bob Ellis: whilst he’s more an author than a journalist, the Labor luvvie famously ran against Bronwyn Bishop in Mackellar at a 1993 by-election.

Alan Fitzgerald: the prominent columnist and former National Press Club President lost the Federal seat of ACT twice for the Australia Party in 1970 and 1972.

Chloe Fox: needing a swing of 5%, we’re predicting Labor’s candidate in the South Australian seat of Bright will join the losers list. The daughter of Mem Fox spent 3 years at The Advertiser.

Graeme Gilbert: 2SM’s syndicated night time shock and a former news director of 2CC. Was an unsuccessful Liberal candidate in Tasmania in the 1990s.

Bruce Grant : the former journalist announced his candidacy for a Federal seat in 1975 whilst still High Commissioner to India.

Alan Jones:
Famously ran for the Liberal Party in the 1978 Earlwood by-election but lost, as Wikipedia notes in its profile of the 2GB shock jock.

John Harker: Shock jock and Napisan spruiker who beat John Brogden in preselection for the NSW Seat of Pittwater but then quit.

Rod Henshaw: the former Breakfast presenter on 612 ABC Brisbane lost narrowly to Cheryl Kernot when running for the Liberals in Dickson in 1998.

Peter Holland: the Perth newsreader with the ABC and now Channael Nine ran for Labor in the seat of Forrest during the 1984 state election.

Peter Kennedy: the former Bendigo Advertiser chief of staff ran for the Libverals in the Victorian upper house seat of North West Province in 2002 but was well beaten by Nationals candidate Damian Drum, the former coach of the Freemantle Dockers.

Stephen Mayne: the Crikey founder ran for Jeff Kennett’s old seat of Burwood in 1999 and also failed when running for Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 2001 and for People Power in the 2006 Victorian election.

Gary Neat: former ABC foreign correspondent who ran on the Liberals’ 1987 senate ticket only to be pipped at the post. Now has a swag of business interests and is national President of the Australian Institute of Management.

Joanne Painter: feisty former reporter for Leader and The Age who ran for Melbourne City Council in the late 1990s.

Margaretta Pos: Journalist for The Mercury in Hobart who stood unsuccessfully for Hobart City Council in 2005 and also missed out with just 2.81% of the vote in a tilt for the Tasmanian Legislative Council seat of Queenborough in 1995.

John Remus: Tasmanian newsreader who has tried and failed to win the seat of Denison in Tasmania for the Liberals on a couple of occasions.

Phillip Satchell: was given a send off from ABC Adelaide at The Italian Centre in October 2003 where 250 listeners had been encouraged to pay $65 a head for a three course nosh up celebrating his 43-year career. Surprised many by announcing on the night that he’d be running on Nick Xenophon’s No Pokies ticket in this year’s SA election. We’re predicting he’ll lose, although Xenophon will probably get another 8 years.

John Sevior:
the man who now runs Perpetual’s Australian equities portfolio spent several years as a business journalist for Fairfax in the 1990s and before that he ran unsuccessfully for the old Richmond City Council in Melbourne.

Pat Sheil: the former editor of The SMH’s Column 8 had a run for the Federal seat of Wentworth in 2004 but missed out to another former journalist, one Malcolm Turnbull.

Georgi Stickels: The former BRW reporter was the defeated Liberal candidate in the Federal seat of Maribyrnong in 1996 but is now an active member of the Victorian Greens.

Karalee Tilvern: the former Channel Seven reporter lost a preselection battle to represent the Victorian Liberals in Prahran at the 2006 state election.

Chris Uhlman: ABC radio’s chief political reporter was an unsuccessful candidate in 1988 for the Paul Osborne Group in the ACT Assembley. Osborne was a right to life footballer who played for the Canberra Raiders and served two terms. Uhlman worked as a staffer for Osborne and also presented the Breakfast program on ABC 666, after earlier working for The Canberra Times.

David Utting: edited The West Australian’s gadgets sections in the early 1990s and then started the Western Beacon in late 2004, a free monthly giveaway in Fremantle. Ran for Fremantle council in 2005 but on losing closed the paper then sold his South Fremantle home.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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