Richard Di Natale

Last updated

Richard Di Natale
Richard Di Natale 2020 (cropped).jpg
Di Natale in 2019
Leader of the Australian Greens
In office
6 May 2015 3 February 2020
Deputy Scott Ludlam
Larissa Waters
Adam Bandt
Preceded by Christine Milne
Succeeded by Adam Bandt
Senator for Victoria
In office
1 July 2011 26 August 2020
Succeeded by Lidia Thorpe
Personal details
Richard Luigi Di Natale [1]

(1970-06-06) 6 June 1970 (age 51)
Melbourne, Australia
Political party Greens
Lucy Quarterman
(m. 2007)
Residence Otway Ranges, Victoria, Australia
Education Parade College
Alma mater Monash University
La Trobe University
Occupation Senator
ProfessionPolitician, public health physician

Richard Luigi Di Natale (born 6 June 1970) is a former Australian politician who was a senator for Victoria. He was also the leader of the Australian Greens from 2015 to 2020. Di Natale was elected to the Senate in the 2010 federal election. [2] A former general practitioner, Di Natale became federal parliamentary leader of the Australian Greens on 6 May 2015 following the resignation of Christine Milne. [3] He was the leader of the Greens during the 2016 and 2019 federal elections.


Early life

Di Natale was born in Melbourne to Italian immigrants. His mother was born in San Marco in Lamis, Apulia, while his father was born in Syracuse, Sicily. [4] Di Natale attended Parade College, graduating in 1987, and Monash University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree in 1993. [5] He later obtained Master of Public Health and Master of Health Science degrees from La Trobe University. [5]

Prior to entering parliament, Di Natale was a general practitioner and public health specialist. [6] He worked in Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory, on HIV prevention in India and in the drug and alcohol sector. [7]

Political career

Di Natale was a Greens' Senate candidate from 2004. [8] [9]

Di Natale also ran for the position of Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 2004, coming second to the elected John So. [10]

In both 2002 and 2006, Di Natale was narrowly defeated in the seat of Melbourne in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, almost unseating ALP health minister Bronwyn Pike. He received 48% of the two-party preferred vote in both elections. [11] [12] Di Natale acted as health spokesperson for the Greens in Victoria and in 2002 spoke about the Greens' support for harm reduction policies to manage illicit drug use. [13]

In April 2007, Di Natale spoke out about the health implications of climate change, [14] and later that year voiced concerns about terror laws in relation to the then suspect Dr. Muhamed Haneef. [15] [16]

Di Natale was nominated as the Australian Greens' lead senate candidate for Victoria for the 2010 federal election. Greens leader Senator Bob Brown labelled Di Natale as the Greens' "next strongest hope" at this election. [17]

At the 2010 election, Di Natale won a Senate seat representing Victoria. [18] His term began on 1 July 2011. Upon taking up his seat in the Senate, Di Natale became the Greens' federal spokesperson for health. His other portfolios include sport and multiculturalism.

Di Natale was elected unopposed as parliamentary leader of the Greens party room on 6 May 2015 following the resignation of Christine Milne from the position. [3]

The Greens achieved mixed results at the 2016 federal election. The Party targeted several House of Representatives seats, but did not win any additional seats despite achieving large swings. The party also lost a senator. Di Natale argued that the Greens' election strategy had been successful, with voters now seeing them as a major party. [19] [20]

Parliamentary career

Di Natale with Senator Bob Brown in Melbourne during the 2010 federal election campaign. Bob Brown and Richard Di Natale DSC 2958.JPG
Di Natale with Senator Bob Brown in Melbourne during the 2010 federal election campaign.

At the 2010 federal election, the Australian Greens achieved a shared balance of power in the House of Representatives and the sole balance of power in the Senate. In the Senate, they were in a shared balance of power position after the 2007 federal election and the 2013 federal election.

Di Natale secured almost $5 billion towards Medicare-funded dentistry, [21] which he described as "laying the foundations for Denticare" – the Greens' policy of universally available Medicare-funded dentistry.

Di Natale campaigned against the Future Fund's holdings in tobacco funds, a campaign that was ultimately successful with the Fund divesting the entirety of its tobacco holdings (approximately AUD $250 million) in 2012. [22]

Di Natale also helped establish Senate inquiries into a number of issues of public significance including budget cuts, medicinal cannabis, the emergence of "superbugs", [23] hospital funding, [24] air pollution, [25] pharmaceutical transparency, [26] sports science [27] and gambling reform. [28] Di Natale conducts ongoing campaigns for improved human rights in West Papua, [29] timely access to cost-effective drugs through Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, [30] and science-based public health policies in areas such as wind farms [31] and vaccination policy. [32]

Di Natale was the Chair of the Senate Select Committee into the Abbott Government 2014 federal budget budget cuts and Deputy Chair of the Senate Select Committee into health. He is the co-convener of the Parliamentary Friends for Drug Policy and Law Reform, the Parliamentary Friends of West Papua and the Parliamentary Friends of Medicine. [33] [34]

On 3 February 2020, Di Natale resigned as leader of the Greens and announced his intention to resign from the Senate, citing family responsibilities. [35] Adam Bandt was elected unopposed to replace Di Natale for the leadership role. [36] Lidia Thorpe was selected by Greens members to fill the Senate vacancy caused by Di Natale's resignation. [37] Di Natale resigned from the Senate on 26 August 2020. [38] [39] [40]

Personal life

Di Natale, his wife and two sons live on a hobby farm in the foothills of Victoria's Otway Ranges. [41]

Growing up in Melbourne, Di Natale played Australian rules football for the Coburg and Oakleigh Football Clubs in the Victorian Football Association (VFA) [7] and is a long time Richmond Tigers fan. [42]

See also

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Party political offices
Preceded by
Christine Milne
Federal Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens
Succeeded by
Adam Bandt