Graham Richardson

Graham Richardson

infobox person

nationality = Australian

Graham Frederick Richardson (27 September 1949) is a former Australian politician for the Australian Labor Party.

Early life

Richardson was born in Sydney and spent his early life in Kogarah, New South Wales. His father Fred Richardson was the New South Wales secretary of the Almagamated Postal and Telecommunications Union (APTU), "the most internally divided union in the New South Wales labour movement" [Richardson, Graham: Whatever It Takes, (Bantam Books, 1994) p. 3] " but during most of his career was not a member of the Labor PartyRichardson, Graham: op. cit., p. 9] ; indeed, when Richardson joined the Labor Party in November 1966 he was "the first member of family to do so"".

Richardson attended the Marist Brothers' School. In November 1965, aged sixteen, Richardson was seriously injured in a car accident at Doll's Point, Sydney, which resulted in the removal of his spleen. Richardson has written that "... it is probably also accurate to put down my abysmal academic performance over the next few years to my state of mind induced by the accident and its aftermath. Two successive enrolments in arts at the University of Sydney were doomed to failure because I rarely went near the university"."

In 1966 he passed his Leaving Certificate with honours and credits at Sydney Technical High School. In 1969 he began studies for a Bachelor of Law at Sydney University. He writes:

"... during those years I became one of the world's greatest bludgers ... indolence is habit-forming and, had it not been for my growing interest in the Labor Party, I would have continued to be its victim"".

Political career

Richardson has written:

"Success in trade union politics has always involved a capacity for bastardry" [Richardson, Graham: op. cit., p. 6] "


"In September 1971, Kerry Sibraa rang me to tell me that an election for ALP state organiser was coming up at the state council meeting, and that I should consider standing for the position" [Richardson, Graham: op. cit., p. 16] ".

Richardson joined the Monterey branch of the Australian Labor Party in 1966 (aged 17) and became assistant general secretary of the New South Wales (NSW) Labor Party in 1976. He was elected as an Labor Party Senator for New South Wales in 1983 at the age of 33. In July 1987, he was appointed Minister for the Environment and the Arts in the Hawke ministry, a position in the outer ministry. In January 1988, he became Minister for Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories, in Cabinet. In April 1990, he became Minister for Social Security. In December 1991, he became Minister for Transport and Communications. He had also been appointed Vice-President of the Executive Council February 1991. Richardson resigned both positions on 18 May 1992 over the Marshall Islands affair.

In March 1993, Richardson became Minister for Health the first Keating Ministry and in March 1994, he took in the position of Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories as well on the resignation of Ros Kelly. Four weeks later, on 25 March 1994, he resigned both positions and retired from parliament, citing ill-health.

During the 1980s and 1990s Richardson was often referred to as a 'numbers man' for the right wing of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party. He was highly effective in this position and became known as a 'king maker'. Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke said he was helped twice by Richardson, first to become Prime Minister and then to become not Prime Minister.

Post-parliament career

Richardson is now primarily seen by the Australian public through election night television coverage. He is a political commentator for the Nine Network and broadcaster with 2GB. He has also authored a book of memoirs titled "Whatever it Takes", published by Bantam Books, Sydney, 1994. For the 2000 Sydney Olympics he was the chairman of the Olympic ticketing operations, Mayor of the Olympic village and had a seat on the Sydney Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (SOCOG).

He has continued a role as a broker in other aspects of NSW public life, including the high profile contract dispute between the Rugby League player Sonny Bill Williams and his club, the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Political scandals

Richardson's reputation has been tainted by association with several highly publicised scandals.

Peter Baldwin assault

Peter Baldwin was a former Australian Labor politician who was brutally bashed by unknown assailants in his home on July 16, 1980. It was subsequently alleged by Joe Meissner, the then-Secretary of the Enmore ALP branch and one of the central figures in the controversy, that the bashing was undertaken by underworld figure Tom Domican acting on suggestions from Richardson. [ [ Lid lifted on the ugly '80s - National - ] ] In March 2007 Richardson won a settlement against Fairfax of $50,000 AUD for defamation on the basis of this report. [ [,20867,21331779-7582,00.html Richo wins $50k from Fairfax for defamation | The Australian ] ]

Love Boat scandal

This was an infamous scandal of the 1980s, in which it was alleged that senior NSW ALP figures had consorted with organised crime figures and prostitutes on board the boat "the Kanzen" in Sydney Harbour. "The Kanzen" was owned by the aforementioned Joe Meissner, a convicted criminal (for theft of submachine-guns and assault) with alleged organised crime links.

The Marshall Islands affair

In 1992 Gregory Symons was jailed for forging government documents related to a migration scam. A judicial inquiry was necessary to resolve allegations of ministerial impropriety. As a direct result Richardson was forced to resign from the ministry when it was revealed he had used his position to attempt to help Symons, his cousin, avoid penalty. [ [ Col Pot boils - ] ]

Conflict of interest

Richardson was criticised for not declaring his directorship of radio station 2HD while he was Minister of Communcations in 1992. Hansard [ [ 403 Forbidden ] ]

ydney Olympics ticketing fiasco

In 1999, as chairman of the 2000 Sydney Olympics ticketing operations, Richardson oversaw a deal where over 500,000 select tickets were withheld from the public ticket lottery for high-paying package deal customers. This resulted in considerable public criticism at the time and the tickets were eventually made available to the general public. [ [ Sydney Olympics ticketing fiasco: premium seats reserved for the rich ] ] [ [ Media Watch 1999 ] ]

Cash for comment

Richardson was implicated in the Cash for comment scandal in Australian radio broadcasting, where prominent radio personalities - such as John Laws and Alan Jones - were found to have been promoting certain companies while on the companies' payroll, while keeping the deal secret from listeners to make it look like the comments were genuine opinion/editorial pieces, or that they had demanded payments from companies in exchange for refraining from making negative comments. Richardson was being paid by Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL), and spruiked for PBL-owned companies Channel 9 and Crown Casino during his radio show.

Tax evasion

Recently Richardson has become embroiled in allegations of tax evasion involving the late Rene Rivkin. [cite news | url = | title = Judge exposes Richo's secret tax case | publisher = The Sydney Morning Herald | date = 2006-09-23 | accessdate = 2006-09-23 ] . Federal Court Judge James Allsop released a document on 27 September 2006 showing that Richardson had an undeclared Swiss bank account containing $1.4 million. [cite news | url = | title = Richo's $1.4m Swiss bank deposit | publisher = The Sydney Morning Herald | date = 2006-09-27 | accessdate = 2006-09-27 ] .

Personal life

His father Fred Richardson was state secretary of the Postal Workers' Union.Graham is married to Cheryl and lives in Paddington, Sydney.


On being a politician and the Westminster System of Government:

"You have to lie to keep your job. If you have to lie, it is probably a good system." From Graham Richardson book, "Whatever it Takes", published by Bantam Books, Sydney, 1994.


Further reading

* [ Searching For Sources] - Concerning allegations of corruption concerning the former Labor Cabinet minister Graham Richardson.
*Graham Richardson, "Whatever It Takes" (Bantam, 1994) - An autobiography that plays down or omits many of the discreditable details
*Marian Wilkinson, "The Fixer: the untold story of Graham Richardson" (1996) - A biography that includes some of the omitted details
*James McClelland, "An Angel Bit The Bride" (Penguin, 1989) - A collection of McClelland's newspaper columns; see pages 59-62 "On The Road To The Damascus Rainforest" for a hostile account of Richardson.
*Neil Chenoweth, "Packer's Lunch" (Allen & Unwin, 2006) - Concerning the activities of several high-profile Australian businesspeople in the 1980s and 1990s.

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