Michael Organ

Michael Keith Organ (born 22 September 1956) is a former Australian politician. He was an Australian Greens member of the Australian House of Representatives between 2002 and 2004, representing the Division of Cunningham, New South Wales. He was the first member of the Greens to win a seat in the House of Representatives, having won a by-election which the Liberal Party did not contest.[1]

Michael Organ
Member of the Australian Parliament for Cunningham
In office
19 October 2002  9 October 2004
Preceded byStephen Martin
Succeeded bySharon Bird
Personal details
Michael Keith Organ

(1956-09-22) 22 September 1956
Bulli, New South Wales
Political partyAustralian Greens
ChildrenAndrew, Kyle, India, Emma
OccupationUniversity library archivist
WebsiteHome page (2011)

Life and education

Organ was born in Bulli, New South Wales. His mother was a hospital domestic and his father was a brickworker.[2] He studied geology at the University of Wollongong and completed a post-graduate diploma in archive administration at the University of New South Wales, where he subsequently took up a post as an archivist.[2] He has been employed at the University of Wollongong library, as an archivist (1996–2002) and, as of 5 May 2013, manager, repository services.[3]

Three months prior to the Cunningham by-election, he unsuccessfully contested the local government election for the lord mayorship of Wollongong.

In 2005, Organ discovered a print of the 1927 film Metropolis containing missing scenes.[4] This print was used to create a restored version of the film, which re-premiered in 2010.

He has four children, Andrew (b. 1991), Kyle (b. 1993), India (b. 2008) and Emma (b. 2011).[2]

Electoral history

Cunningham by-election

The federal division of Cunningham has been a safe Labor seat since its creation in 1949.[5] On 16 August 2002, the sitting member, Dr Stephen Martin, unexpectedly resigned, causing a by-election.

The ALP preselected a TAFE teacher, Sharon Bird, by decision of the party executive rather than the usual rank-and-file nomination procedure, and the Liberal party opted not to contest the by-election.

Organ was endorsed by the South Coast Labour Council and received strong preference flows from two popular independent candidates, David Moulds and Peter Wilson. He gained 23% of the primary vote and 52% after allocation of preferences, defeating Bird and becoming the first Green elected to the House of Representatives, at the same time making Cunningham a marginal seat.[6]

During his term, he was one of three Greens federal parliamentarians (with Senator Bob Brown and Senator Kerry Nettle).

Subsequent elections

Organ ran for a full term as member for Cunningham in the 2004 general election. He received 20.1% of the primary vote, placing third behind the Labor (39.6%) and Liberal (28.8%) candidates. This was a swing of 13.5% to the Greens compared to the 2001 federal election, but a 2.9% swing away from Organ compared to the 2002 by-election. Organ was eliminated on the ninth count, with his voters' preferences flowing overwhelmingly to Labor's Sharon Bird, allowing her to win with a 61.5% two-party-preferred vote.[7]

He was again selected as the Greens candidate for Cunningham in the 2007 federal election, but failed to regain the seat from Bird, who was re-elected on first preferences. Organ won 14.6% of the primary vote.[8]

Political positions

Sandon Point

In his first speech, Organ credited his win to community opposition to a planned development by the Stockland Trust Group at Sandon Point.[9] The campaign included a tent embassy by the local Kuradji nation, and a community blockade of around 300 people which was confronted by a force of around sixty police officers and police dogs.[10] Organ said that the development was inappropriate, threatened European and Indigenous cultural heritage, threatened wetlands and a green corridor.[9]


Organ supports free tertiary education and opposes the privatisation of public utilities like Telstra, as well as what he calls "two decades of Canberra's obsession with economic rationalism".[9]

Iraq war

In his first speech, Organ condemned the Iraq War as unjust, in breach of United Nations resolutions, and likely to lead to higher risks of terrorism.[9]


Organ co-authored a Greens policy on Tibet, which supported the right of Tibetans to self-determination and the Dalai Lama's Middle Way approach.[11] He participated to the Save Tibet Asia Pacific Forum in Tokyo 1 –3 July 2008.[12]

Marriage Equality

Organ was the only member of the House of Representatives to propose anti-discrimination amendments to the Howard Government's amendments to the Marriage Act in 2004.

See also


  1. Cunningham By-Election, Adam Carr's election archive. Accessed 24 November 2013
  2. Meet Michael Organ, the boy from Bulli who brought a breath of fresh air to the Cunningham electorate, Canberra Times, 26 October 2002 Archived 4 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. UoW Library Staff, University of Wollongong website. Accessed 24 November 2013
  4. Pennells, Steve (14 February 2010). "Cinema's Holy Grail". Sunday Star Times. New Zealand. p. C5.
  5. Cunningham electoral profile, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2004. Accessed 24 November 2013
  6. Cunningham 2002 by-election, Australian Electoral Commission, 19 January 2011. Accessed 24 November 2013
  7. House of Representatives 2004 – Cunningham, Australian Electoral Commission, 2005
  8. House of Representatives 2007 – Cunningham, Australian Electoral Commission, 2007
  9. First speech Archived 21 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine, on personal website, February 2003
  10. Save Sandon Point Community Website Archival campaign site, 2003–2005
  11. Australian Greens' policy on Tibet (2005) University of Wollongong website. Accessed 24 November 2013
  12. SAVE TIBET: ASIA-PACIFIC FORUM sent out the resolution to G8 leaders
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Stephen Martin
Member for Cunningham
Succeeded by
Sharon Bird
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