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Anna Burke
A photograph of Anna Burke
28th Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
In office
9 October 2012 – 5 August 2013
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Kevin Rudd
Tony Abbott
Deputy Bruce Scott
Preceded by Peter Slipper
Succeeded by Bronwyn Bishop
Deputy Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
In office
24 November 2011 – 9 October 2012
Preceded by Peter Slipper
Succeeded by Bruce Scott
In office
12 February 2008 – 28 September 2010
Preceded by Harry Jenkins
Succeeded by Peter Slipper
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Chisholm
In office
3 October 1998 – 9 May 2016
Preceded by Michael Wooldridge
Succeeded by Julia Banks
Personal details
Anna Elizabeth Burke

(1966-01-01) 1 January 1966 (age 58)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Political party Labor Party
Stephen Burgess
(m. 1994)
Children Two
Residence Box Hill South
Education Presentation College, Windsor
Alma mater University of Melbourne
Monash University
Occupation Union representative, Politician

Anna Elizabeth Burke AO (born 1 January 1966) is a former Australian politician and Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives. She is a current Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and an Officer of the Order of Australia. Burke was a member of the Australian House of Representatives from 1998 to 2016, representing the Division of Chisholm, Victoria for the Australian Labor Party. From 2012 to 2013, she was Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives. She was the second woman to become Speaker.

Burke began her career working as a trade union official and human resources manager for several organisations, before being pre-selected for the Division of Chisholm by the Labor Party in 1997. She was elected at the 1998 federal election to the House of Representatives.

..... She held the office until the 2013 federal election, where the Rudd government she was part of was defeated. Burke retired from politics at the 2016 federal election.

While in parliament, both as a member of the government and opposition, Burke campaigned against offshore processing and mandatory detention of refugees, policies supported by all major parties at the time.

After politics, Burke has served as a Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and has served on the boards of several foundations and companies.

Early life

Burke was born in Melbourne and educated at Presentation College, Windsor. She graduated from Monash University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in English Literature, and later from the University of Melbourne in 1994 with a Master of Commerce with Honours in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management.

Before entering politics, Burke worked as a trade union official and human resources manager. In this capacity, she worked for Victoria Roads from 1988 to 1993 and for Victoria University (then the Victorian Institute of Technology) from 1993 to 1994. In 1994, she joined the Finance Sector Union as their National Industrial Officer.


Entry into politics

She had joined the Ashwood branch of the Labor Party in 1986, and in 1997 she was preselected for the Division of Chisholm by the Labor Party. The division was then held by Liberal Minister for Health and Family Services Michael Wooldridge. She was not expected to win, as Woolridge had held the seat for more than 11 years, but after Wooldridge switched to the electorate of Casey, she won the seat at the 1998 federal election against Peter Vlahos of the Liberal Party with a 4.67% swing to Labor (2PP).

Time in parliament

In 2005, Burke submitted a private member's bill to the house that proposed an early form of the subsequently-created Do Not Call Register, which allowed homeowners to exempt their landlines from telemarketing. After Labor's win at the 2007 federal election, Burke was elected as Deputy Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, and thus presided over the House in the Speaker's absence. In 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was absent from the house as he was visiting victims of a flood in Mackay, Queensland. In protest of Rudd's absence, the Opposition brought a cardboard cut-out of Rudd into the chamber. Burke requested that the "offensive article" be removed from the house, along with the Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker. Hartsuyker's refusal to leave the house caused Burke to suspend the sitting of parliament completely. While Deputy Speaker, Burke argued for websites that promoted eating disorders to be banned, but was not successful. Burke continued to advocate for awareness around eating disorders throughout her time in parliament.

In 2011, Speaker Harry Jenkins announced his resignation from the Speakership, citing a desire to be more involved in Labor Party matters as a backbencher. The member for the division of Fisher, Peter Slipper, was nominated by the government to become Speaker. In response, the Manager of Opposition Business, Christopher Pyne, nominated a number of government members to become Speaker, starting with Burke. All government members nominated declined their nominations. Slipper accepted his, and took the chair as Speaker. Burke accepted the Government's nomination for the position of Deputy Speaker on the same day, and was elected to that position following a ballot.

In April 2012 the Speaker, Peter Slipper, announced he was standing aside, meaning he would remain Speaker but would not attend sessions of the House, until fraud allegations made against him with respect to travel expenses were resolved. ..... In October 2012, Peter Slipper resigned as Speaker of the House. Later that evening, Burke was nominated and elected the new Speaker of the House of Representatives unopposed, becoming the second woman to do so, after Joan Child. As Speaker, Burke instructed members to not use "Madam Speaker" to refer to her, but rather just "Speaker". This precedent was not followed by her successor Bronwyn Bishop, who requested to be called "Madam Speaker". Burke also gained a reputation as "straight-talking" and for using a "death stare" as Speaker.

In May 2012, embattled (see Health Services Union expenses affair) Labor-turned-independent Member Craig Thomson unexpectedly sided with the Opposition during a parliamentary division. In order to not accept the "tainted vote" of Thomson, several Opposition members, including the leader Tony Abbott, ran for the doors; Burke had however already requested them to be locked, and so the members were prevented from leaving the chamber. While Speaker, Burke unsuccessfully called for a national ban on child beauty pageants. In August 2012, Burke invoked Standing Order 94A to eject the then-Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott from the House for 1 hour for refusing to withdraw a statement "without qualification". The ejection of an opposition leader was rare, and had not occurred since the ejection of John Howard in 1986. In 2013, question time was interrupted several times by members of the public gallery calling the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, a liar. This led to Burke stating "This is Question Time. It is not a football match", as several individuals were removed from the gallery. In August 2013, Burke's parliamentary office was vandalised with "fre the refugee [sic]" graffiti and the windows were smashed, in protest of the federal government's asylum seeker policies. Opposition finance spokesperson Andrew Robb's office was also vandalised similarly.

In the 2013 federal election, Burke suffered a 4.18% swing (2PP) against her in Chisholm, but was re-elected with 51.6% of the 2PP vote. Her tenure as Speaker ended with the defeat of the Rudd government, and the Abbott government appointed Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker. She then sought to become chief opposition whip in the Shorten's opposition, but was not successful. Burke stated that she had been unsuccessful in being appointed to the frontbench because of factional manoeuvring, and that Labor had "failed women" by not appointing based on merit, overlooking qualified women. In 2014, Burke appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's panel show Q+A, which was disrupted by protesters unfurling a banner and voicing criticism of then-education minister Christopher Pyne. In 2015, Burke announced that she would not re-contest her seat at the 2016 federal election. She was replaced as the Member for Chisholm by Liberal Julia Banks, who was the only Liberal-National Coalition candidate to win a seat held by an opposition party in 2016.

Career after politics

Burke's official portrait as Speaker of the House was painted in 2015 by the Sydney artist Jude Rae, making it the first portrait in Parliament's Historical Memorials Collection that both depicts and was painted by a woman. The portrait was unveiled at Parliament House in 2017. In the 2019 Australia Day Honours, Burke was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for "distinguished service to the Parliament of Australia, particularly as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and to the community".

From 2016-2018, Burke served as the chair of Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia. Burke is currently a board member of the Institute for Breathing and Sleep (since 2016), a board member of RedR Australia (since 2018), and chair of the Monash University Accident Research Centre (since 2019). In 2017, Burke was appointed as a full-time Member of the General, Freedom of Information, and Veterans' Appeals Divisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, with her term to end in 2024.

Political beliefs

Refugee policy

Burke is an outspoken critic of Labor policy on asylum seekers. She is an opponent of offshore detention, a policy supported by all major parties during her time in parliament. Burke opposed the Gillard Government's 'Malaysia Solution', a deal by which Malaysia would take 800 asylum seekers from Australia. Burke stated that she felt "deeply uneasy with the [government's] approach" of using Manus Island as an offshore detention site, and that she was "not in favour of mandatory detention, particularly of women and children." She added that her role as Speaker prevented her from advocating strongly in parliament on this matter. In 2013, Burke joked at a community forum in her electorate that she "sometimes wondered [why she ran for the Labor party]" in a discussion about refugee policy. Following the death of an asylum seeker in Australian detention on Manus Island in 2014, Burke wrote an article for The Guardian to call for a total end to offshore detention. Together with fellow Labor parliamentarian Melissa Parke, Burke moved a motion at Labor caucus in 2014 to cease the transfer of asylum seekers to Manus Island and Nauru and to close the detention centres there. The motion was defeated. In 2016, Burke joined a working group that included Members of Parliament and religious leaders, to formulate new policy around asylum seekers. In responding to Burke's announcement of retirement from parliament in 2016, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described Burke as a "fearless and tireless advocate for the rights of asylum seekers". In her parliamentary valedictory speech, she described offshore detention centres as a "festering wound".

Food allergies

Due to her son having a severe peanut allergy, Burke became interested in policy around food allergies. In 2014, Burke proposed the creation of a National Allergen register, and in 2015, Burke established the Parliamentary Allergy Alliance, in cooperation with Greens leader Richard Di Natale and Tony Zappia.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Anna Burke para niños

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