The Fifth Estate: Philip Ruddock

The Fifth Estate: Philip Ruddock

Earlier this year, Philip Ruddock declared his intention to retire from politics after a 42-year career. As ‘Father of the House’ – the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives in Canberra – Ruddock has served in Fraser, Howard and Abbott/Turnbull governments, as a key player in several turbulent and transformative periods of Australian politics. Best known as the architect of the controversial ‘Pacific Solution’ during his time as Immigration Minister in the Howard era, Ruddock has also been a vocal advocate on several human rights issues, especially the abolition of the death penalty.

After the election, Ruddock will take up a new role as Australia’s Special Envoy for Human Rights. As Ruddock opens a new chapter, and Australia seeks a seat on the UN Human Rights Council for 2018, what are Ruddock’s aspirations and priorities in the role – and how does he respond to criticism of his new position? Hear from this elder statesman of the Australian conservative movement, in the first days of his post-political life.

In conversation with Sally Warhaft, Ruddock discusses human rights, the death penalty, and the changing Australian political landscape.


Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

Portrait of Philip Ruddock

Philip Ruddock

Philip Ruddock was first elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for Parramatta, New South Wales, at a by-election on 22 September 1973. Since 1992, he has held the seat of Berowra.

Having held a number of Shadow Ministry portfolios Ruddock was appointed Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs from 11 March 1996 through to 7 October 2003. This made him the longest serving Federal Immigration Minister. During this period he also had responsibility for Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. 

On 7 October 2003, he was sworn in as the Federal Attorney-General, an appointment he held until the Federal Election on 3 December 2007. Following the election of the Coalition Government, Ruddock held the position Chief Government Whip from September 2013 until February 2015. On 26 May 2015 the Prime Minister appointed Ruddock as Special Envoy for Citizenship and Community Engagement.

Listen to The Fifth Estate: Philip Ruddock


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