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Don is a fourth generation South Australian, who is honoured to be representing the people of his home state in Federal Parliament.
While studying law at the University of Adelaide, Don worked as a shop assistant and joined the South Australian Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association. This was the start of a 32-year career working for the rights of retail and fast food workers. Don led the union at the state and national level, overseeing the introduction of the 38-hour week for retail workers and universal superannuation.
Don was elected to the Senate in 2008, serving as Minister for Science and Research, Minister for Sport, Minister Assisting on Tourism, and Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water during his six-year term.
Following his first term in the Senate, Don spent time tending his small vineyard in South Australia’s Clare Valley and knows firsthand the daily challenges faced by local growers and primary producers.
But Don could not sit back and watch Australian manufacturing jobs disappear under the Liberal Government. He again nominated for the Senate in 2016, knowing that only a Labor Government would fight for local jobs.
Don was re-elected to the Senate at the 2016 election, and again at the 2022 election. As part of an Albanese Labor Government, Don is currently the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for Trade and Tourism and Special Minister of State.
Don lives in Adelaide with his wife Nimfa and enjoys working in his Clare Valley vineyard, spending time with his three daughters, and doting on his grandchildren.
Donald Edward Farrell, commonly known as Don Farrell, is an Australian politician and former trade unionist who was born on 6 June 1954 in Murray Bridge, South Australia. His father, Edward William Farrell, was a member of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) and had unsuccessfully stood for federal parliament on six occasions.
Farrell completed his schooling at Blackfriars Priory School and went on to study law at the University of Adelaide, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree. He then worked for six years in his uncle’s kiosk at Cleland Wildlife Park, and also worked as a mail sorter, council worker, and waiter at various times.
Farrell’s political career began when he joined the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in 1976 and was elected as a delegate to state conference and state council in the same year. He was a delegate to the Australian Labor Party National Conference from 1984 and was elected state president of the ALP in 1988. Farrell quickly became a senior figure in the Labor Right faction in South Australia.
In 1976, Farrell joined the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) as an industrial officer. He was promoted to assistant secretary in 1980 and became state secretary in 1993, serving until his election to the Senate.
Farrell first ran for parliament at the 1988 Adelaide by-election but was unsuccessful. However, he was elected as a Senator for South Australia at the 2007 federal election, after winning preselection for the first position on Labor’s Senate ticket.
Farrell’s time in parliament has been marked by a number of ministerial and parliamentary secretary appointments, including Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water in the Gillard government from 2010 to 2013, and Minister for Science and Research and Minister for Sport in the Rudd government from 2013 to 2013.
In 2012, Farrell was controversially selected as the first candidate on Labor’s Senate ticket in the 2013 federal election, defeating Penny Wong for the leading Senate position. Wong was a senior minister in the Second Gillard Ministry and a member of the Australian Cabinet at the time. However, Farrell later stepped aside to give Wong the number one spot on Labor’s senate ticket for the 2013 election.
Farrell lost his seat at the 2013 federal election but was returned to the Senate in 2016 following a double dissolution. He was elected as the ALP’s deputy Senate leader in 2016 and is a senior figure in the Labor Right faction. In 2022, following the ALP’s victory at the federal election, Farrell was appointed Minister for Trade and Tourism and Special Minister of State in the Albanese government.
Throughout his career, Farrell has been known for his strong ties to the union movement and the Labor Right faction, as well as his controversial selection for the top position on Labor’s Senate ticket in 2012. Despite this, he remains a key figure in the Australian Labor Party and continues to serve as a Senator for South Australia.
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