Peter Garrett

Quick Facts

  • Name: Peter Garrett
  • Born: 16 April 1953, Sydney   
  • Australian Labor Party (ALP) member of the House of Representatives
  • Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth since 2010
  • Co-founder of the Nuclear Disarmament Party (NDP)
  • Former President of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) 
  • Former member of the band Midnight Oil, also known as 'The Oils'
  • Honoured with an Order of Australia in 2003
  • Appointed an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by French Government in 2009.


Since he was a teenager Peter Garrett has been interested in social and political issues. He studied to become a lawyer but realised that it was not the career for him. He joined a band called The Farm which became Midnight Oil (The Oils) and for 25 years he was lead singer and co-wrote their songs. Midnight Oil's music deals with issues such as the environment, Indigenous rights, homelessness and nuclear disarmament. The band was internationally known and performed in countries such as Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. When they performed at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, they wore black tracksuits emblazoned with the word ‘Sorry’ to make a point about the need for reconciliation with Indigenous Australians. After the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2009 Victorian bushfires, Garrett and other members of Midnight Oil re-formed for fundraising performances.

In 1984, Garrett ran for the Senate for the Nuclear Disarmament Party but lost by a narrow margin. His passion for the environment led him to the role of President of the Australian Conservation Foundation from 1989 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2004. In 2000, Garrett received the Australian Humanitarian Foundation Award (Environment Category) and in 2003 the Order of Australia for his contribution to the environment and music.

Garrett once said ‘he was the most famous politician not be elected’, but he tried again. In the 2004 federal election, he was successful in his attempt to become the ALP member for the House of Representatives' seat of Kingsford Smith. In 2005 he was appointed as Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Heritage, Arts. In 2007 he was appointed Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts (later  Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts) following the election of a Federal Labor Government. After the 2010 federal election, he was sworn in as the Minister for School Education, and Early Childhood and Youth.

Peter Garrett has achieved much but says his greatest achievement has been ‘staying sane after spending 25 years in a rock ‘n' roll band’.



  • Garrett, Peter 1987, Political blues, Hodder & Stoughton, Sydney