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Peter Nixon

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Peter Nixon
Nixon in 1967
Minister for Primary Industry
In office
27 September 1979 – 11 March 1983
Prime MinisterMalcolm Fraser
Preceded byIan Sinclair
Succeeded byJohn Kerin
Minister for Shipping and Transport
In office
11 November 1975 – 8 December 1979
Prime MinisterMalcolm Fraser
Preceded byCharles Jones
Succeeded byRalph Hunt
In office
5 February 1971 – 5 December 1972
Prime MinisterJohn Gorton
William McMahon
Preceded byCharles Jones
Succeeded byRalph Hunt
In office
11 November 1975 – 22 December 1975
Prime MinisterMalcolm Fraser
Preceded byReg Bishop
Succeeded byVictor Garland
Minister for the Interior
In office
16 October 1967 – 5 February 1971
Prime MinisterHarold Holt
John McEwen
John Gorton
Preceded byDoug Anthony
Succeeded byRalph Hunt
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Gippsland
In office
9 December 1961 – 4 February 1983
Preceded byGeorge Bowden
Succeeded byPeter McGauran
Personal details
Born (1928-03-22) 22 March 1928 (age 96)
Orbost, Victoria
Political partyCountry / NCP
Sally Dahlsen
(m. 1954⁠–⁠2013)
ChildrenJoanne, Mark & Christopher
EducationWesley College, Melbourne
OccupationGrazier, company director

Peter James Nixon AO (born 22 March 1928) is an Australian former politician and businessman. He served in the House of Representatives from 1961 to 1983, representing the Division of Gippsland as a member of the National Country Party (NCP). He held ministerial office as Minister for the Interior (1967–1971), Shipping and Transport (1971–1972), Postmaster-General (1975), Transport (1975–1979), and Primary Industry (1979–1983).[1]

Nixon is the earliest elected Country MP still alive,[2] and along with Ian Sinclair he is one of the last two surviving ministers who served under Holt and McEwen, as well as in the First Gorton and First Fraser Ministry.

Early life

Nixon grew up on a farming property outside Orbost, Victoria. He was educated at Wesley College, Melbourne. At the age of 18 he sustained a severe injury to his left hip while playing Australian rules football, requiring him to spend eight months in hospital. He passed the time by reading and playing chess.[3] Following his recovery Nixon took up farming, the fourth generation of his family to farm in Gippsland.[4] He had a 500-acre (200 ha) property named Macclesfield, where he grew seed beans and maize. He later switched to mixed farming, growing lucerne and keeping dairy cattle.[5] In 1952 he married Jacqueline "Sally" Dahlsen, with whom he had three children.[6]


Nixon was elected to parliament at the 1961 federal election, following the resignation of George Bowden, the incumbent Country Party MP in Gippsland. He had initially not been a candidate for preselection, agreeing to stand only when the presumed nominee suffered a fatal heart attack three days before nominations closed.[3]

Nixon quickly became a senior member of the Country Party and first entered the ministry as Minister for the Interior in October 1967 before moving to the Shipping and Transport portfolio in 1971 under John Gorton. He retained this portfolio under William McMahon. He is mentioned in the song Gurindji Blues, saying "Buy your land back, Gurindji" referring to his assessment of the Wattie Creek land rights strike.[7]

In opposition from 1972 to 1975, Nixon was a prominent figure in persuading his National Party colleagues to help pass Australian Labor Party legislation opposed by the Nationals' coalition partner, the Liberal Party. This helped prove to voters the National Party's independence from the Liberal Party[citation needed] and in cases such as when the Nationals supported Labor's policy on educational grants to public schools, helped to show the National Party's connection with core voter issues.[citation needed] Nixon was also a longtime critic of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which he accused of being biased against the National Party.

When Malcolm Fraser became caretaker prime minister and then followed by the Coalition victory in 1975, Nixon served as Minister for Transport until 1979 and then Minister for Primary Industry, both in Malcolm Fraser's government.

On the floor of parliament, Nixon was known for trading insults with opposition members and particularly his verbal stoushes with Fred Daly.

Later life

Following his retirement from politics in 1983, Nixon returned to the business world, including spending seven years from 1984 as a commissioner of the Australian Football League (AFL). In 1996, he was chosen to chair a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry into the Tasmanian economy. The report became known as the Nixon Report: Tasmania into the 21st Century.Trustee of MCC 86–91. Freeman City of Jakarta, Athens.Chief Commissioner East Gippsland Shire 95–97


On 26 January 1993, Nixon was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his service to the Australian parliament and to the community.[8]


  1. ^ "Parliamentary Handbook: Historical Information on the Australian Parliament". Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  2. ^ Malcolm Farnsworth (2020). "Living Former Members Of The House Of Representatives (1949–1972)".
  3. ^ a b "'Tough' Minister thrives on deep policy issues". The Canberra Times. 10 July 1968.
  4. ^ "The new 'Mayor'". The Canberra Times. 17 October 1967.
  5. ^ "New 'mayoress' a country girl at heart". The Canberra Times. 19 October 1967.
  6. ^ "Choral service for wedding". The Herald. 27 July 1954.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2008.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "It's an Honour: AO". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2008.
Political offices Preceded byDoug Anthony Minister for the Interior 1967–1971 Succeeded byRalph Hunt Preceded byIan Sinclair Minister for Shipping and Transport 1971–1972 Succeeded byGough Whitlam Preceded byReg Bishop Postmaster-General 1975 Succeeded byVictor Garland Preceded byCharles Jones Minister for Transport 1975–1979 Succeeded byRalph Hunt Preceded byIan Sinclair Minister for Primary Industry 1979–1983 Succeeded byJohn Kerin Parliament of Australia Preceded byGeorge Bowden Member for Gippsland 1961–1983 Succeeded byPeter McGauran
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Peter Nixon
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