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Biography for BUTTON, the Hon. John Norman

Senator for Victoria 1974-93

Australian Labor Party

Parliamentary Service

Elected to the Senate for Victoria 1974 (term deemed to have begun 1.7.73), 1975, 1977, 1983 and 1987. Resigned 31.3.93.

Ministerial Appointments

Minister for Industry and Commerce from 11.3.83 to 13.12.84.

Minister Assisting the Minister for Communications from 11.3.83 to 13.12.84.

Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce from 13.12.84 to 24.3.93.

Committee Service

Senate Standing: Privileges from 18.7.74 to 15.6.84 (Chairman from 22.7.75 to 11.11.75); Regulations and Ordinances from 18.7.74 to 11.11.75; Disputed Returns and Qualifications from 22.8.78 to 4.2.83; Standing Orders from 26.11.80 to 5.6.87; Appropriations and Staffing from 11.5.83 to 31.3.93; Procedure from 9.10.87 to 31.3.93.

Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing: Constitutional and Legal Affairs from 22.8.74 to 6.6.78; Education, Science and the Arts from 18.2.75 to 11.11.75; Education and the Arts from 24.3.76 to 7.3.79.

Senate Select: Government Clothing and Ordnance Factories from 24.9.81 to 14.10.82; Industrial Relations Legislation from 18.5.82 to 26.10.82.

Senate Estimates: B from 3.10.74 (Chairman from 15.10.74) to 11.11.75 and from 20.9.78 to 26.8.81.

Joint Standing: New and Permanent Parliament House from 30.9.75 to 11.11.75.

Conferences, Delegations and Visits

Member, Commonwealth Parliamentary Delegations to the Australian Constitutional Conventions, Hobart, October 1976, Perth, July 1978, and Adelaide, April 1983.

Official visits to USSR, March 1985; Hong Kong, China and Japan, June 1985; Japan, November 1986; Europe, January-February 1987; Sweden and USA, October-November 1987; Singapore, November 1987; New Zealand, November 1987; China and Asia, March 1988; Japan, September 1988; China, December 1988; Japan, the Philippines, USA, Italy, France and Germany, January-February 1989; UK, Ireland and Belgium, June 1989; India, October 1989; Vietnam and Japan, June 1990; Singapore, October 1990; Japan, February 1991; UK and Europe, August 1991; Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, December 1991; Hong Kong, China, Korea, Vietnam and Laos, April 1992.

Parliamentary Party Positions

Member, Opposition Shadow Ministry from 27.1.76 to 11.3.83. Spokesman on Construction from 27.1.76 to 25.3.76; on Media and Films from 25.3.76 to 22.12.77; on Science from 29.12.77 to 19.3.80; on Education from 29.12.77 to 23.11.80 and on Communications and Rural and Provincial Development from 23.11.80 to 11.3.83.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 22.12.77 to 7.11.80.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 7.11.80 to 4.2.83.

Leader of the Government in the Senate from 11.3.83 to 24.3.93.

Party Positions

President, ALP Hawthorn Branch 1968-71.

Member, ALP Federal Advisory Council and Reconstruction of the Victorian Branch 1970.

Member, ALP Administrative Committee (Vic) 1971-74.

Chairman, Urban Affairs Policy Committee 1971-74.

Delegate, ALP State Council (Vic) 1970-76.

Delegate, ALP Federal Conferences from 1973.

Member, ALP National Executive from 1977.


Born 30.6.32, Ballarat, Vic.

Died 8.4.08.

Qualifications and Occupation before entering Federal Parliament

BA, LLB (Melb).

Barrister and solicitor.


Flying the kite: travels of an Australian politician, Milsons Point: Random House, 1994.

On the loose, Melbourne: Text Publishing, 1996.

As it happened, Melbourne: Text Publishing, 1998.

Beyond belief - the future of the Labor Party (Quarterly Essay) 2002.