David Russell describes his childhood in Dalby and education at Jimbour State School, the Anglican Church Grammar School and the University of Queensland. He discusses his involvement with the university union movement and the Liberal and National parties.
|Robert Sparkes, student unionism, University of Queensland|
David Russell describes the journey from joining the National Party to becoming National Party President. He discusses his work on creating a new National Party constitution. He details his work on the State election committee and his subsequent election as National Party President.
|Ian Prentice, Party President, Robert Sparkes, Russell Cooper|
David Russell discusses the revelations of the Fitzgerald Inquiry. He details the discussions over who should conduct the Commission of Inquiry and what the Terms of Reference should be.
|Eric Pratt, Fitzgerald Inquiry, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Midnight State, Russ Hinze, Tony Fitzgerald|
David Russell discusses the events prior to the Fitzgerald Inquiry. He notes the choice to appoint Tony Fitzgerald as the commissioner. He discusses the outcomes of the Inquiry and the review of National Party documents.
|Eric Pratt, Terry Lewis, Tony Fitzgerald|
David Russell discusses the transition to Mike Ahern as National Party leader. He details the final period of the Bjelke-Petersen Government and the challenges to Governor Walter Campbell at the time.
|Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Mike Ahern, Walter Campbell|
David Russell discusses the events leading up to the demise of the Bjelke-Petersen Government. He discusses the role of the National Party executive and its constitution in forcing the resignation of Bjelke-Petersen.
|Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Dormer Andrews, Edward Lyons, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, leadership, Robert Sparkes, Walter Campbell|
David Russell reflects on the Bjelke-Petersen era which he compares to the Nicklin era. He discusses the contribution of the Bjelke-Petersen Government, particularly Russ Hinze, to the development of Brisbane.
|Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Francis Nicklin, Nicklin Government 1957-68, Russ Hinze, Southbank|
David Russell discusses the SEQEB dispute.
|Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, SEQEB dispute, Wayne Gilbert|
David Russell discusses the legislative measures used by the government in the SEQEB dispute and the cabinet meeting where these were discussed. He details the involvement of Mike Ahern in the cabinet discussions.
|Mike Ahern, Neville Harper, Russ Hinze, SEQEB dispute, Vince Lester|
David Russell discusses the court orders that were delivered to strikers during the SEQEB dispute. He describes the end of the strike and the importance of Joh Bjelke-Petersen in the dispute.
|Joh Bjelke-Petersen, SEQEB dispute|
David Russell describes his support for the Ahern leadership and his subsequent removal of that support.
|Fitzgerald Inquiry, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, leadership, Mike Ahern, Russell Cooper|
David Russell details the review of the National Party conducted by academic Margaret Cribb.
David Russell describes the feelings after the Borbidge Government was elected. He discusses the 1995 election campaign of the Labor Party and the Borbidge government's preparedness to govern. He discusses the Transition to Government team and public service appointments.
|1995 election, Borbidge Government 1996-98|
David Russell notes the influence of gun control legislation upon the National Party during the Borbidge era and the lack of flexibility by the Howard government.
|Borbidge Government 1996-98, gun laws, John Howard|
David Russell discusses Native Title Act and the challenges this posed to National Party members. He discusses gun control debates with the Howard Government.
|gun laws, John Howard, land rights, Native Title, Noel Pearson|
David Russell discusses his knowledge of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the police union during the Mundingburra by-election. He discusses the politicisation within the CJC at the time.
|Connolly-Ryan Inquiry, Criminal Justice Commission, Memorandum of Understanding, Mundingburra by-election 1996, Russell Cooper|
David Russell discusses the sale of Suncorp-Metway and Telstra.
|privatisation, Suncorp Metway, Telstra|
David Russell describes the rise of One Nation. He details his experiences at the time when he was president of the Asia-Oceania Tax Consultants' Association.
|Native Title, One Nation, Pauline Hanson|
David Russell discusses how the National Party tried to combat the policies of One Nation. He discusses Bob Katter's Australian Party in light of the One Nation experience.
|Australian Party, Bob Katter, One Nation|
David Russell discusses the issue of preferences in the 1998 election and 2001 election.
|1998 election, 2001 election, One Nation, preferences|
David Russell discusses the formation of the LNP and the events and conflicts that preceeded the amalgamation.
David Russell discusses the first failed attempt at the LNP merger and the subsequent successful merger two years later. He notes the LNP merger and the SEQEB dispute as his primary achievements in politics.
|Bruce Scott, LNP formation, Mark Vaile|
David Russell details his views regarding an internationally competitive and simplified taxation system. He compares the Australian tax system to the Singapore system.
David Russell discusses his regrets in politics, particularly his inaction on corruption.
|corruption, Robert Sparkes|
David Russell discusses the preparedness of the LNP coming into the 2012 election.
David Russell discusses cabinet debates during the Bjelke-Petersen Government, including one over 1080 poisoning and the problem of feral dogs.
|Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Don Lane, Rosemary Kyburz, Russ Hinze|
David Russell discusses corruption in the National Party. He discusses being appointed to the Mortgage Secondary Market Board and working with Edward Lyons. He details a meeting with Premier Bjelke-Petersen discussing the corruption of Russ Hinze and Bjelke-Petersen's response and his subsequent relationship with Bjelke-Petersen.
|Bob Andrews, corruption, Edward Lyons, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Russ Hinze, Terry Lewis|
David Russell discusses the Joh for PM campaign. He details the views of John Howard toward a Liberal-National Party and the broader views towards the federal coalition.
|Coalition, Don McDonald, Joh for Canberra, John Howard, Robert Sparkes|
David Russell discusses the aftermath of the Midnight State program on ABC. He also notes who Bjelke-Petersen considered as a suitable replacement had the Joh for PM campaign been successful.
|Ian Henderson, Joh for Canberra, Lionel Powell, Midnight State|
David Russell QC was the Queensland State President (1995-99) and Federal President (2005-06) of the National Party and a key player in the formation of the Queensland LNP. In this interview he discusses his work on party reforms and his role as a power broker within the National Party.
David Russell was born in Dalby in 1950 and was educated at Jimbour State School and the Anglican Church Grammar School. He graduated from the University of Queensland with degrees in Arts and Law. He became a member of the Queensland Bar and Queens Council, primarily dealing with taxation and industrial relations matters.
At university he was active in the student union movement as a member of the Liberal Party. He spent time overseas and engaged with minor political parties. Despite earlier links with the Liberal Party, Russell joined the National Party and became an active player in the organisation. He was involved with rewriting the National Party constitution and served on a number of party committees. He served as Vice-President of the Federal National Party (1990-95 and 1999-2005) and later President of both the Queensland State (1995-99) and Federal (2005-06) branches of the National Party, serving in the upper echelons of the party from 1990 to 2006.
As a key power broker within the National Party, Russell was involved in a number of important political episodes. He was a mastermind, largely due to his legal knowledge, of the Bjelke-Petersen Government’s response to the SEQEB dispute in 1985. He was also heavily involved in the removal of Bjelke-Petersen as leader of the party in 1987 and with the success of the subsequent series of leaders from Ahern to Borbidge.
Russell was a supporter of the push to form the LNP, both the first failed attempt in 2006 which forced him to stand down as president, and the second successful attempt. David Russell continued his involvement with the National Party, also contributing to a number of boards and committees. He was appointed as a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2012 for service to the National Party, politics, taxation law, legal education and the community.
Copyright © Centre for the Government of Queensland, University of Queensland, 2012.
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