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Darren Chester

Darren Chester
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Gippsland
Assumed office
28 June 2008
Preceded byPeter McGauran
Minister for Veterans' Affairs &
Minister for Defence Personnel
In office
5 March 2018 (2018-03-05) – 2 July 2021 (2021-07-02)
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byMichael McCormack
Succeeded byAndrew Gee
Minister for Regional Development
In office
27 October 2017 – 20 December 2017
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byFiona Nash
Succeeded byJohn McVeigh (as Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government)
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
In office
18 February 2016 (2016-02-18) – 20 December 2017
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byWarren Truss (Infrastructure and Regional Development)
Succeeded byBarnaby Joyce
Assistant Minister for Defence
In office
21 September 2015 – 18 February 2016
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byStuart Robert
Succeeded byMichael McCormack
Minister for Local Government and Territories
In office
27 July 2017 – 20 December 2017
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byFiona Nash
Succeeded byJohn McVeigh (as Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government)
Personal details
Darren Jeffrey Chester

(1967-09-13) 13 September 1967 (age 56)
Sale, Victoria, Australia
Political partyNational
OccupationJournalist and political advisor

Darren Jeffrey Chester (born 13 September 1967) is an Australian politician. He has been a member of the House of Representatives for Gippsland in Victoria, representing the Nationals since 2008. Chester had served as the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and the Minister for Defence Personnel between March 2018 and July 2021 in the Turnbull and Morrison governments.[1] He was also Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC until May 2019.[2]

Chester served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence in the Abbott ministry from September 2013 to September 2015.[3] In the Turnbull government he was appointed Assistant Minister for Defence from 21 September 2015;[2] and between 18 February 2016 and 20 December 2017, Chester served as the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport following a rearrangement in the First Turnbull Ministry.[4][5] He briefly served in the Second Turnbull Ministry as the acting Minister for Regional Development and as the acting Minister for Local Government and Territories between October and December 2017, following the resignation of Fiona Nash.[6]

Chester was viewed as a potential candidate to replace Barnaby Joyce as National Party leader in February 2018; however he chose not to contest the leadership.[7]

Early life

Chester was born in Sale, Victoria, the son of a plumber, and was one of five children.

Prior to entering federal politics, he worked as a newspaper and television journalist throughout Gippsland and was chief of staff to Peter Ryan, the leader of the Nationals in the Victorian state parliament.[citation needed]


Early involvement

Chester contested Gippsland East as the National Party candidate at the 2002 Victorian state election, losing to independent Craig Ingram.[8] In 2004, he unsuccessfully stood for National Party preselection for the Senate position held by Julian McGauran. McGauran retained his party endorsement and was re-elected later that year, only to defect to the Liberals in 2006.[9]

House of Representatives

Chester was elected to the House of Representatives at the 2008 by-election caused by the resignation of Peter McGauran, and re-elected at the 2010 and 2013 elections.

He was appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Roads and Regional Transport in September 2010;[10] and appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence in September 2013.[3]

In June 2015 he became the first member of the National Party to announce support for same-sex marriage and a conscience vote on the issue for members of the Coalition.[11] The move catalysed a public breakdown in Chester's relationship with his local Nationals branches in Gippsland, who moved a motion to revoke his party endorsement for the 2016 election. Chaotic scenes ensued at a Gippsland Nationals branch meeting where Chester was reported to have verbally abused local party members, with Chester subsequently attacking The Australian newspaper for its coverage of the controversy.[12][13]

Public scrutiny of taxpayer-funded travel allowances usage by MPs has embroiled Chester in controversy. The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that between 2008 and 2016, Chester charged taxpayers $407,000 on private air charters to travel to Canberra for parliamentary sittings, despite most MPs using normal commercial air services or driving.[14] On 27 January 2016, Chester charged taxpayers $876 for a work trip to Melbourne on which he completed the purchase of a two-bedroom apartment in Ivanhoe as an investment property and to later attended a Melbourne Victory soccer match.[15]

During the ongoing leadership tensions between Barnaby Joyce and Michael McCormack after the former resigned in February 2018 and the latter became federal leader, Chester has been a prominent leader of the McCormack faction and was notably rewarded with a ministerial appointment when McCormack first become leader. He won a subsequent promotion to Cabinet after McCormack defeated a leadership challenge by Joyce in February 2020. It would later emerge in May 2020 during the recriminations over McCormack's refusal to support a planned run for federal parliament by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro in the 2020 Eden-Monaro by-election that Chester was in a WhatsApp group where messages about Barilaro and his wife were exchanged with colleagues Damian Drum and Kevin Hogan.[16]

For supporting incumbent McCormack in the 2021 Nationals leadership spill, Chester was stripped of his ministerial portfolios by new leader Joyce.

Chester has been a frequent critic of Barnaby Joyce, labelling him ‘incoherent’, criticising his leadership style and scepticism of climate science.[17][18][19]

Chester was comfortably re-elected at the 2022 Australian federal election.[20]

Chester challenged incumbent Nationals Party leader Barnaby Joyce along with David Littleproud, the incumbent deputy leader in a three-way race for the leadership of the party on Monday 30 May 2022, after the incumbent Liberal/National Coalition government lost office to the Labor opposition. The Nationals party room got bigger, however, their coalition partner suffered seat losses. Chester along with Joyce lost to Littleproud on that day.[21] Chester was eventually not included in the subsequent shadow ministry. However, on 4 January 2023, he was appointed to the outer shadow ministry as Shadow Minister for Regional Education and Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories.[22]

Personal life

Chester lives in Lakes Entrance, Victoria, with his wife, Julie, and their four children.[23][24]

Chester supports the Sydney Swans in the Australian Football League.[25]


  1. ^ Turnbull, Malcolm (1 March 2018). "Changes to the Ministry" (Press release). Government of Australia. Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018. The Hon Darren Chester MP will return to the Ministry as Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel and Minister Assisting for the Centenary of ANZAC.
  2. ^ a b "Parliament of Australia website for Darren Chester". Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Tony Abbott's cabinet and outer ministry". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  4. ^ Massola, James (13 February 2016). "Cabinet reshuffle: Malcolm Turnbull announces new frontbench as Mal Brough resigns". The Age. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Ministerial Swearing-in Ceremony". Events. Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. 18 February 2016. Archived from the original on 1 March 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  6. ^ Turnbull, Malcolm (19 December 2017). "Ministerial Arrangements" (Press release). Government of Australia. Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018. I take this opportunity to thank Darren Chester for his significant contributions to the Cabinet as the outgoing Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. I know that we will all continue to call on his wisdom and experience.
  7. ^ McIlroy, Tom (23 February 2018). "Nationals leadership: who could replace Barnaby Joyce?". The Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Gippsland East District". State Election 2002. Victorian Electoral Commission. 2002. Archived from the original on 1 August 2008.
  9. ^ Wright, Tony (28 June 2008). "Timely political payback by McGauran?". The Age.
  10. ^ Parliament House Library Archived 17 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Darren Chester first National MP to announce support for same-sex marriage". ABC News. Australia. 9 June 2015.
  12. ^ Ferguson, John (21 July 2015). "Nationals MP Chester faces sack over gay marriage row". The Australian. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  13. ^ Ferguson, John (24 July 2015). "Gay marriage: Bid to sack Nationals MP Darren Chester". The Australian. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Two MPs run up $200,000 tab on private flights to work in Canberra". Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 28 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Cabinet minister Darren Chester picked up keys to new investment property on taxpayer-funded Melbourne trip". Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 10 January 2017.
  16. ^ "Deputy Premier's wife dragged into bitter Nats fued [sic]". Sky News. 6 May 2020.
  17. ^ "'Brace yourself' for 'incoherent' Barnaby, dumped Darren Chester warns". 28 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Labor's secret weapon? Defeated Liberal MP claims Barnaby Joyce even less popular than Scott Morrison | Barnaby Joyce | the Guardian".
  19. ^ "Agitated Nationals grapple with climate debate, as former minister Chester takes 'a break' from party room".
  20. ^ "Gippsland - Federal Electorate, Candidates, Results". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  21. ^ "Concerns about contentious water ministry punted from Cabinet, and Veterans Minister dumped as royal commission looms". ABC News. 28 June 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  22. ^ "Changes to Shadow Ministry". The Nationals. 4 January 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
  23. ^ "About Darren Chester". Darren Chester MP. Darren Chester. 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  24. ^ Chester, Darren (26 August 2008). "First Speech to Parliament" (PDF). Hansard: House of Representatives. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  25. ^ "Each AFL Teams Biggest Political Fan".
Parliament of Australia Preceded byPeter McGauran Member for Gippsland 2008–present Incumbent Political offices Preceded byMichael McCormack Minister for Veterans' Affairs 2018–2021 Succeeded byAndrew Gee Minister for Defence Personnel 2018–2021 Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC 2018–2019 Succeeded byNone Preceded byWarren Trussas Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister for Infrastructure and Transport 2016–2017 Succeeded byBarnaby Joyce Preceded byStuart Robert Assistant Minister for Defence 2015–2016 Succeeded byMichael McCormack
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Darren Chester
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