Simon Findlay Crean (born 26 February 1949) is a former Australian politician and trade unionist. He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1990 to 2013, representing the Labor Party, and served as a minister in the Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard Governments. He was the leader of the Labor Party from November 2001 to December 2003.
|Leader of the Opposition|
22 November 2001 – 2 December 2003
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||Kim Beazley|
|Succeeded by||Mark Latham|
|6th President of the ACTU|
|Preceded by||Cliff Dolan|
|Succeeded by||Martin Ferguson|
Simon Findlay Crean
26 February 1949
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Education||Melbourne High School|
|Alma mater||Monash University|
Crean was born in Melbourne and attended Melbourne High School. His father Frank Crean was also a Labor Party politician. After studying law and economics at Monash University, Crean joined the labour movement, becoming general secretary of the Storemen and Packers' Union in 1979. He became vice-president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in 1981, and in 1985 was elected as the organisation's president, succeeding Cliff Dolan. Crean was elected to parliament at the 1990 federal election, and almost immediately entered the ministry. He was promoted to cabinet the following year, serving until the Labor government's defeat at the 1996 election.
Following the 1998 election, Crean replaced Gareth Evans as deputy leader to Kim Beazley. He was elected unopposed as Beazley's successor after the party's defeat at the 2001 election, thus becoming Leader of the Opposition. Crean struggled in opinion polling, and in June 2003 Beazley challenged him for the leadership. He won a comfortable victory, but speculation about his position continued and in November 2003 he announced his resignation. He was replaced by Mark Latham. Crean remained a senior figure in the Labor Party after losing the leadership, and returned to cabinet as Minister for Trade when the party won the 2007 election.
Crean supported Julia Gillard's ascension to the prime ministership in 2010, and also voted for her at the 2012 leadership spill. However, in March 2013 he announced that he was switching his support to Kevin Rudd, sparking another leadership spill. Gillard removed him from cabinet in response. Rudd eventually returned as prime minister in June 2013. Crean was an unsuccessful candidate for the deputy leadership, and subsequently announced his intention to retire from politics at the 2013 election.
Early life and education
Crean was born in Melbourne. He is the son of Frank Crean, a federal Labor MP 1951–77, who was at separate times Treasurer, Minister for Overseas Trade, and Deputy Prime Minister in the Gough Whitlam government. Dr David Crean, a former Labor member of the Parliament of Tasmania, is his brother. Another brother, Stephen Crean, died while skiing alone at Charlotte Pass, New South Wales in 1985, aged 38, and his body was not found for two years.
Following his graduation from Monash University, Crean worked in a number of trade unions before becoming an official with the Storeman and Packers Union, of which he became General Secretary in 1979.
In 1977, his father, Frank Crean, retired from Federal politics. Simon contested the Labor preselection for his father's comfortably safe seat of Melbourne Ports, but lost to former state Labor leader Clyde Holding.
In 1981, Crean became Vice-President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), and in 1985 he was elected the organisation's president. As President, he played a key role in negotiating agreements on wages and other industrial issues with the Labor government of Bob Hawke. In 1990, he left the ACTU to go into politics.
Hawke and Keating Governments
At the 1990 election, Crean was elected to Parliament as the member for the safe Labor seat of Hotham. He immediately entered the Hawke ministry as Minister for Science and Technology. He became Minister for Primary Industries and Energy in 1991, a portfolio he kept under Paul Keating. He became Minister for Employment, Education and Training in 1993.
Following the Labor Party's 1996 election defeat, Crean contested the deputy leadership of the party but was defeated by Gareth Evans, 42 votes to 37. Crean was an Opposition frontbencher until Labor's defeat at the 1998 election. He was then elected Deputy Leader of the Opposition and became shadow Treasurer in succession to Evans. In January 2001, Crean was awarded the Centenary Medal.
In November 2001, following Labor's third consecutive election defeat, Crean was elected unopposed as the Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition, after the resignation of Kim Beazley. Jenny Macklin was elected as his deputy, also unopposed.
Through most of 2003, consistently poor polling led to constant speculation of a leadership challenge by Beazley, though a reasonably successful Budget reply speech and the controversy over Peter Hollingworth gave Crean a small boost in popularity. Nevertheless, to end the constant rumblings over a challenge, Crean called for a leadership spill. Polls continued to suggest that the public much preferred Beazley to Crean; nevertheless, when the vote was taken on 16 June 2003, Crean won by 58 votes to 34.
By November, however, polls continued to show Crean losing more ground to Howard as preferred Prime Minister. On 27 November 2003 a group of his senior colleagues told Crean that he had lost the party's support and should resign. Crean said he would "sleep on it". On 28 November 2003, Crean announced that he would resign as Leader of the Labor Party, becoming the first federal Labor leader to be replaced without having contested an election since the expulsion of Billy Hughes in 1916.
After Crean's resignation, Beazley and the Labor Party's Treasury spokesperson, Mark Latham, announced that they would contest the Labor leadership. At the meeting of the federal Labor caucus on 2 December 2003, Latham defeated Beazley by 47 votes to 45.
Latham appointed Crean as Shadow Treasurer, which gave him a continued prominent role in Australian politics. In the aftermath of Labor's defeat in the 2004 election, Crean resigned from his Shadow Treasurer position. However, at Latham's insistence he was re-elected to the Opposition front bench as Shadow Minister for Trade.
Crean retained this position when Beazley returned to the leadership in January 2005. However, in a reshuffle of the shadow ministry in June 2005, Crean was demoted to Shadow Minister for Regional Development. He faced a preselection challenge for his seat from Martin Pakula, a member of his former union, a move which he blamed on Beazley, Hong Lim, and the Labor Right. Beazley refused to publicly support either candidate, but several frontbenchers, including Julia Gillard, supported Crean. Crean recorded around 70% of the votes in the first stage of voting, which led to his opponent's withdrawal. Since his victory Crean has singled out Senator Stephen Conroy for his part in the preselection challenge, describing his front bench colleague as "venal" and "one of the most disloyal people I've ever worked with in my life".
Following the defeat of Kim Beazley and election of Kevin Rudd as Federal Labor leader in December 2006, Crean was reappointed as Shadow Minister for Trade and also retained responsibility for regional development.
Rudd and Gillard Governments
In 2007 after Labor's election victory, Crean was appointed Minister for Trade in Kevin Rudd's ministry.
Crean visited Singapore and Vietnam from 21–26 July 2009 to pursue Australia's trade and economic interests at a range of ministerial and other high level meetings. From 21–23 July, Crean attended the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade and the OECD Roundtable on Sustainable Development in Singapore. On 24 July, Crean co-chaired the 8th Joint Trade and Economic Cooperation Committee with the Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Võ Hồng Phúc in Hanoi. The aim of the meeting was to discuss key sectors in the bilateral relationship including education and training, infrastructure and environmental management, financial services and agribusiness.
Following Julia Gillard's election unopposed as Prime Minister in June 2010, Crean was appointed Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, and Minister for Social Inclusion, with the Trade portfolio moving to Stephen Smith. After the 2010 federal election, Crean was made Minister for the Arts and Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government.
On 21 March 2013, amidst disunity within the Gillard Labor Government arising from sinking public opinion polls, Crean called for a spill of the Labor Party leadership, with the aim of encouraging Kevin Rudd to challenge for the position of Prime Minister. This was a marked shift on Crean's part, as his attacks on Rudd had been a factor in Rudd being forced to resign as Foreign Minister a year earlier. Crean said he would challenge Wayne Swan for the Deputy Leader's position if Rudd ran for the leadership. However, Rudd declined to run for the leadership, leaving Gillard to retain the leadership unopposed. After Crean asked for a leadership spill, Gillard sacked Crean from Cabinet, citing "disloyalty" to her. Before his sacking, Crean had been one of the few federal politicians to have never spent a day on the backbench, having spent his entire parliamentary career as either a minister (1990-1996, 2007-2013), opposition frontbencher (1996-2001, 2003-2007) or opposition leader (2001-2003).
Crean is the first person to serve as a minister under four Labor Prime Ministers (Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard) since Jack Beasley (who served under James Scullin, John Curtin, Frank Forde and Ben Chifley).
On 26 June 2013, after Kevin Rudd was re-elected as party leader replacing Julia Gillard, Crean stood for the position of Deputy Leader, and hence Deputy Prime Minister (a job once held by his father) but was defeated in the Caucus vote by Anthony Albanese by 61 votes to 38.
On 1 July after failing to become Deputy Prime Minister, Crean announced that he would retire from Parliament at the 2013 election.
Career after politics
- ABC News, 1 July 2013 Archived 31 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine
- "Biography – The Hon. Simon Crean MP, Australian Minister for Trade". Trademinister.gov.au. Archived from the original on 30 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- "The Hon Simon Crean MP". Members and Senators. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- "Biography of Hon Gareth Evans AO QC". United Nations. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- "It's Hardly The Fix They're Used To". Australianpolitics.com. 14 June 2003. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- "Simon Findlay Crean – Centenary Medal". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 1 January 2001. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
- Clarke, Sarah (22 November 2001). "Crean officially endorsed as Labor leader". Lateline. Australia: ABC TV. Archived from the original (transcript) on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- "War on Iraq". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 18 March 2003. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- "Crean falls on treasury portfolio sword". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 13 October 2004. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- "Factionalism stirs up anger in ALP". ABC Radio. Australia. 7 March 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
- Australian minister for trade to visit Vietnam this week
- "Gillard reshuffles cabinet, without Rudd". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 28 June 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
- "The Gillard ministry". The Age. 11 September 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
- Harrison, Dan; Hurst, Daniel (21 March 2013). "Rudd refuses to run for leadership, PM prevails". The Age. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Simon Crean.|
- Search or browse Hansard for Simon Crean at OpenAustralia.org
- Australian Trade Union Archives biographical entry
- Crean resigns as shadow Treasurer
- Mark Latham steps in to save Crean