The Right Honourable
AC, PC, MP
| Prime Minister of Australia|
Member for Forde
|Full title||The Right Honourable Chris Marshall, AC, PC, MP|
|Term of office||21 April 2008 - present|
|Political party||Liberal Democratic Party of Australia|
|Preceded by||Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen|
|Born||18 January 1959 (age 52)|
|Spouse||Aishwarya Marshall (née Rai)|
|Languages||English, French, Cantonese, Hindi|
Christopher William Marshall AC, PC, MP (1959- ) is the 25th Prime Minister of Australia. He has been the Treasurer.
Marshall was born in Lismore, New South Wales in 1959. He is the son of a public servant, and has one brother, who owns and operates a security company in Southern New South Wales. Marshall was educated at state schools, and graduated Lismore High School in 1977. He studied law at the Griffith University in Mount Gravatt, Queensland, graduating in 1981. While at university, Marshall became interested in student politics, at first flirting with Young Labor, and then the Young Liberals. In 1981, his last year, he, with a group of Liberals and Labor members at Griffith founded a student branch of the Liberal Democratic Party of Australia.
After university, Marshall went into a suburban law practice in Beenleigh, and started a local branch of the LDP, and was its driving force.
Marshall campaigned extensively in 1983, and narrowly lost. An electoral redistribution in 1984 created the seat of Forde, which Marshall won.
After three years on the backbench, Marshall had increased his majority to 62%, making Forde the safest LDP seat in Australia. Marshall was increasingly a driving force behind the party, pushing hard for more free market policies, and heavily attacking the Hayden government in Parliament. Shortly before the 1987 election, the Courier Mail predicted that Marshall would move on to the front bench, and they were proven right. Marshall had campaigned hard in 1987, and after the election was appointed to the relatively senior shadow portfolio of Trade.
Robert Snedden, the Opposition Leader, and leader of the LDP was seen as a moderate, and Marshall believed that his moderation was costing the party votes. In a 1988 party room meeting, Marshall challenged Snedden for the opposition leadership, and lost with 10 votes against Snedden's 25. Marshall was relegated to the backbench.
During 1989, Marshall had reestablished his position in the party and then backed the challenge of the popular conservative Joh Bjelke-Petersen against Snedden. Bjelke-Petersen won easily, with 30 votes to Snedden's 5 votes. Marshall was promoted to Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs. Bjelke-Petersen never explained why Marshall, the man instrumental in Bjelke-Petersen's rise to the leadership, was not made deputy leader, and Shadow Treasurer. It has been speculated that Bjelke-Petersen saw Marshall as a threat due to his 1988 challenge to Snedden.
As Minister of Foreign AffairsEdit
The 1990 election was a resounding victory for the LDP, and Marshall was commissioned as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He moved Australia into a more independent foreign policy, opening new missions in South East Asia, and reconciliated with Vietnam, and condemned French nuclear tests in the South Pacific. Although the government never mentioned it, condemning French nuclear tests helped the LDP win two New Zealand byelections.
Marshall also condemned the Burmese military dictatorship, long before it became fashionable. He championed closer ties with Japan, and Britain.
1990 also saw another important event in Marshall's life, he married former Air India hostess Aishwarya Rai. The couple have four children, all of whom live at The Lodge.
As Minister of DefenceEdit
The 1993 election produced another victory for the LDP, and a move for Marshall, this time to the Defence portfolio. As Minister of Defence, Marshall initiated an upgrade programs for the P-3C Orion. He started a procurement program to replace Australia's aging F-111 strike aircraft, C-130E transport aircraft, and Macchi MB-326H trainers. Marshall started the outsourcing of some defence functions, and corporatised some defence functions, he was responsible for the creation of Australian Defence Industries.
Marshall also fixed flaws in Labor government defence purchases, Marshall ensured that the ANZAC class frigates were more comprehensively equipped with anti-ship missiles, and surface to air missiles, as well as initiating the acquisition of AEGIS destroyers for the Navy. He started AIR87, which provided the ADF with an attack helicopter capability. He also persuaded the Americans to sell Australia cruise missiles. He started a program to increase the size of the Army, and bring the armies incorporated into the Australian Army in 1988 up to the standards of the mainland's Army. He also initiated a program of dispersing personnel of the new states throughout the defence force. Marshall upgraded New Zealand's P-3K Orions to the same standard as Australian Orions.
In naval field, apart from the acquisition of AEGIS destroyers, Marshall started the acquisition of extra amphibious ships, starting with HMA Ships Kanimbla and Manoora, and on to HMA Ships Canberra, and Wellington.
Marshall's legacy as Defence Minister was one of reform. He was regarded as far reaching, and anticipated most of the trends on defence in the region. According to some, defence contractors called him "the ball breaker" due to his tendency to squeeze defence contractors, and ignore governments lobbying on their behalf. For instance, he refused to see the French, British, and American Defence Attaches on the AIR4000 project, saying he, and the department would see only defence contractors. He insisted that to get the contract, Dassault, British Aerospace integrate Harpoon, and ASRAAM at their expense before their proposals would even be evaluated.
Between 1990 and 1996, Australia had four Treasurers, each surviving in office for 18 months on average. They had achieved little, and managed to be blamed for most of the problems that came up during the first six years of the Bjelke-Petersen Government. Rumours surfaced during 1995, first in the Courier Mail, and later in The Australian, that Marshall would make a grab for the Prime Ministership. Bjelke-Petersen thought he had achieved what he privately "elevation, aprobation, and castration" by moving Marshall into the Treasury portfolio vacated by Helen Coonan. Marshall however outflanked Bjelke-Petersen in winning the position of Deputy Leader of the LDP, and therefore becoming Deputy Prime Minister as well as Treasurer. Bjelke-Petersen hoped Marshall would find Treasury as impossible as previous Treasurers had, especially since Marshall would at 37 be the youngest Treasurer in history.
Marshall moved into Treasury with a zeal for reform. He had for years been developing a plan for structural change for the economy, and had largely developed the LDP's economic policies over the years. Marshall moved slowly and quietly, his first Budget, brought before the house less than two months after the 1996 election, was conservative in terms of the cuts in spending and taxation it contained. Marshall announced in his budget speech that he would over his term as Treasurer make "fundamental structural changes to the Australian economy". The speech was voted by economists as the best first Budget Speech delivered by a Treasurer.
Marshall's first big move however came in December 1996, when he announced the floating of the Australian Dollar. The only exchange reform the LDP has brought in during its first year in office was handing exchange rate policy over to the Reserve Bank of Australia. On December 8, 1996, the Reserve Bank of Australia closed Australia's money markets, to allow Marshall to formally float the dollar, and to enact the lifting of all exchange controls. The value of the Australian dollar would now be determined by market forces, and not the government via the RBA. The Treasury were strongly against the decision, as was the RBA, however Marshall overruled all opposition, and went ahead with the float.
Months afterwards, the Asian financial crisis hit, and as a result of Marshall's floating of the dollar, Australia came out of the crisis relatively unscathed. The Australian Financial Review said "if Marshall had not floated the dollar, Australia would be a banana republic." Marshall was named "Finance Minister of the Year" by Euromoney mangazine, and the Australian Financial Review called him "The Greatest Treasurer in Australian History".
Marshall's next target was the tariff wall. Although the LDP was a pro-free trade, its approach in the previous six years was to get free trade via foriegn policy. Marshall opposed this approach, which was an irony considering Marshall's position as Foreign Minister for the first three years of the Bjelke-Petersen Government. In the post of Foreign Minister, he argued passionately for free trade, and he took great pains to ensure that the diplomatic corps were furnished with the arguments too, however all he managed was a free trade agreement with Singapore, and Great Britain, two overwhelmingly pro-Australian countries. Marshall took the view that Australia should simply lower its tariffs unilaterally. As Treasurer, he did this one by one so that by 1999, Australia had among the most free trade arrangements in the world.
In 2000, Marshall set his sights on centralised wage fixing. Australia had the same wages policy in 2000 as it had in 1910, wages were fixed by the central government. In bringing in a new industrial relations policy, Marshall had to contend with everyone, the Labor Party (which in 2000 had control of the Senate), the unions, the Business Council, the public service, and forces within his own party. Marshall's policy (in the end) had a lot of compromises. In using the corporations power of the Constitution, Marshall enacted a policy which contained an indexed minimum wage (essential to gain the votes of two key New Zealand Labour Party Senators), minimum conditions for sick leave, and annual leave, and an Industrial Relations Commission to examine, and help arbitrate wage disputes. Marshall also opened the door to individual contracts, or collective contracts. It deinstitutionalised unions, removing any legal protection for pickets, protecting bosses who hired strike breakers, but forbidding the use of government personnel as strike breakers, except as a replacement for government contractors.
2001 was an election year for the Bjleke-Peteresen/Marshall government, and Marshall intended to make it his biggest year yet. The 2001 Budget delivered the biggest surplus per capita in Australian history, along with major tax cuts. Marshall "flattened and gutted" the income tax system, leaving only two rates intact, and vastly increasing thresholds. He also launched indexation of the tax system to prevent bracket creep. In Marshall's words, it was the budget that "brought home the bacon". The budget headed off any change of a Labor victory, and precipitated the defection of Labor backbencher Kim Beazley.
The budget was particularly important for Marshall not only because it substantially helped win an election, and brought together all his economic reforms, and his defence reforms, but he believed it might be his last budget. Marshall was pessimistic about the 2001 election, and his relationship with Bjelke-Petersen had become strained almost to breaking point. He once called Bjelke-Petersen a "bible-bashing bumpkin", and likened his efforts to start a Parliamentary Prayer Society to "turning Australia's Parliament into some bloody Sunday school out the back of fuckin' Whoop Whoop."
Marshall brought down six more budgets, either matching his 2001 performance, or beating it.
On His Way To The LodgeEdit
For some time in 2005, rumours began to circulate about strange donations deals in the LDP. The PM was often seen with property developers, and some inside Canberra suspected there was a lot going on. At this time, the Government was heavily engaged in selling off sites left vacant by the progressive shrinking of the government. The land in question was often extremely valuable, and had great development potential. Government process was to either auction off the land, or put the site up to tender, with the government determining the winning tender. The Canberra rumourmongers suspected that donations to the LDP were used by developers to steer the process. This came to a head after the March 2006 Federal Election which left the Labor Party, and the Greens in control of the Senate. They pushed for, and got an independent judicial enquiry.
This enquiry's report, along with the testimony of businessman Robert Sng galvanised Marshall into making a move for the Lodge. With the cooperation of the Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, Marshall successfully moved for the LDP leadership. Bjelke-Petersen resigned on the afternoon of 21 April 2008 after losing the party room election. Governor-General Major General Sir Michael Jeffery swore Marshall in as Prime Minister shortly after.
Marshall retained the Treasury portfolio until after the 2008-9 budget. Winston Peters will bring down his first budget as Treasurer in May 2009.
Australia went to the polls in November 2009, and the LDP was once again returned, this time with a reduced majority.
Marshall is a minarchist. He is opposed to government intervention in most areas of society. He believes that government should confine itself to the enforcement of contracts, defence, law enforcement, and the provision of a basic safety net of social welfare (mainly through the 30/30 tax system).
Marshall is a staunch monarchist, and was behind the revival of the title of Australian Knight in the Order of Australia.
While Treasurer (1996-2008), Marshall introduced key reforms of the Australian economy. He ended centralised wage fixing, floated the dollar, deregulated the airlines, lowered the tariff wall, reformed taxes and welfare, opened the financial sector to foreign competition.
- December 1 1984: Marshall elected as Member for Forde
- 11 July 1987: 1987 Federal Election; Liberal Democrats become the official opposition. Marshall appointed to the Opposition Frontbench, Shadow Minister of Trade
- 1988: Marshall mounts unsuccessful leadership challenge against Robert Snedden
- 1989: Marshall backs Joh Bjelke-Petersen against Snedden, Bjelke-Petersen successful, and appoints Marshall Shadow Minister of Foriegn Affairs
- 24 March 1990: 1990 Federal Election; Liberal Democrats under Bjelke-Petersen defeat the Australian Labor Party (led by Bob Hughes). Marshall commissioned as Minister of Foreign Affairs
- 13 March 1993: 1993 Federal Election; Liberal Democrats gain control of the Senate, Marshall becomes Minister of Defence
- 2 March 1996: 1996 Federal Election; Liberal Democrat majority in House of Reps falls to a 15 seat majority, Marshall becomes Treasurer
- 4 September 2005: Marshall elected Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Australia
- 21 April 2008: Marshall becomes Prime Minister
- 15 May 2008: Marshall leaves Treasury portfolio
- 14 November 2009: Marshall's first election as Prime Minister
- 15 November 2009: Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd concedes defeat in election
- 13 May 2010: Appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)
- Patrick (1992)
- Caroline (1994)
- Katherine (1997)
- Alexandra (2000)