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Peter Garrett

Peter Garrett is a long-time advocate and campaigner on a range of local and global issues. A member of Midnight Oil, one of Australia’s most successful bands, he served as a cabinet minister in the Rudd/Gillard Labor governments from 2007-13.

The ‘Oils’ are renowned for their fierce independent stance and active support of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and protection of the environment. The band’s protest and benefit shows, most notably the anti-Exxon performance on the back of a truck in the streets of New York, and the ‘Sorry suits’ appearance at the closing of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, were hallmarks of a 13-album career leading to an ARIA lifetime achievement award in 2006. Peter Garrett was appointed the youngest-ever President of the Australian Conservation Foundation (1989-96). Significant results were achieved in his first term for many threatened areas of Australia’s natural heritage including Queensland’s Wet Tropics and Jervis Bay in NSW. The second term saw ACF’s profile expand with the development of partnerships with non-government and business organisations and increased focus on marine issues and Northern Australia. Peter entered federal parliament as the Member for Kingsford Smith in 2004.

In 2007, Labor won government and he was appointed Minister for the Environment, Heritage & the Arts. This role saw substantial additions to Australia’s national reserve system, particularly to Indigenous Protected Areas, along with increased investment and new programs for conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. As Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett was instrumental in the campaign against so called “scientific whaling” in the Antarctic, culminating in Australia’s successful challenge to Japanese whaling in the International Court of Justice in 2014. He secured agreement to a national waste policy leading to Australia’s first ever e-waste recycling scheme, and delivered a long awaited resale royalty scheme for visual artists. Following the 2010 election Peter was sworn in as Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. In that role he secured a broad suite of education reforms. These included legislating, for the first time, a needs-based funding system for all Australian schools, as well as implementing a national curriculum and initiating indigenous ranger cadetships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. A member of the Order of Australia for contributions to the music industry and environment, and an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (France), in 2010 he received the ‘Leaders for a Living Planet’ award from WWF Australia & International.

In 2015, Peter Garrett’s best selling memoir ‘Big Blue Sky’ was published described as “something much greater than a political autobiography. It is a true memoir…a beautifully written autobiography, but also a social, cultural and political history of great depth and moment.”

In 2016 Peter’s debut solo album ‘A Version of Now’ was released and toured nationally with his band the Alter Egos. In 2017, Midnight Oil embarked on The Great Circle World Tour – with most dates selling out within 24 hours, the band played across 16 countries. The band then recorded two new albums – “The Makarrata Project” (with First Nations Collaborators), and “Resist” – which each reached #1 on the ARIA charts. Across 2022 the Oils performed their final concert tour, calling for social justice and environmental sustainability.

In March 2024 Peter will release his second solo album “The True North”; a deeply personal reflection on his singular journey, drawing inspiration and sustenance from the living colours of Australia’s natural environment and the sights and sounds of modern Oz. The release will be accompanied by a national tour with his band The Alter Egos which features Midnight Oil’s Martin Rotsey on guitar.

Peter remains a prominent advocate for causes including ending the climate crisis, opposition to the AUKUS agreement, and the implementation of the Uluru Statement From The Heart to provide long overdue recognition and healing to Indigenous Australians.