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Members’ biographical register

Mr Brian Thomas Burke

Principal Honours
Awarded Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 1988 for services to government and politics and to the Parliament of Western Australia but honour removed in 2006
Active Jaycee's Outstanding Young Western Australian Award 1982
Date: 25 February 1947
Place: Perth, Western Australia
Son of Thomas Patrick Burke, personnel officer and Member of the House of Representatives (MHR) for Perth (1943–1955), and Madeline Muirson
Brother of Terence Joseph Burke
Marriage and Family
Married 11 September 1965, St Francis Xavier's Church, East Perth to Suzanne May Nevill (born circa June 1947), daughter of Aloysius John Nevill and Alma Enid Smith
Children: four sons and two daughters
Educated Brigidine Convent, Wembley 1952–1954; Marist Brothers Subiaco 1955–1964
University of Western Australia 1965 (Law) and part-time 1966–1969 (Economics), 1980 (Law)
Employment History
Assistant proof reader at West Australian 1966 and cadet journalist 1967–1970
Journalist 6PM 1969

Journalist TVW Channel 7, Perth 1970–1973
Australian Ambassador to Republic of Ireland and the Holy See July 1988–April 1991
Subsequently over the years consultant on projects in Russia, China and Ireland, and for various trade unions including the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and Shop Assistants’ Union
After 1997 active lobbyist and consultant for WA business interests
Joined Australian Labor Party (ALP) 1963
Delegate and proxy delegate representing PKIU and Government Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Employees on State Executive ALP
Trustee (WA) branch 1974–1979
Member Administration Committee 1974–1988
Delegate to National Conference 1977, 1982, 1984, 1986
Member National Executive 1986–1988
Convenor Economics Committee 1986–1988
Resigned from ALP in November 2006
Date Elected
28 July 1973
Inaugural Speech
Burke, Brian Thomas, Inaugural Speech.pdf
Inaugural Video
Search for speeches by Brian Burke
Burke, Brian Thomas, Valedictory Speech.pdf
Year Retired/Resigned
Parliamentary Service
  • MLA Balcatta 28 July 1973 (by-election)–30 March 1974 (constituency abolished in redistribution); Balga 30 March 1974–19 February 1977 (constituency abolished in redistribution); Balcatta 19 February 1977–19 February 1983 (constituency abolished in redistribution); Balga 19 February 1983–18 February 1988 (resigned)

  • Premier 1983–1988
  • Leader of the Opposition 1981–1983, Opposition spokesman for Works, Water Supplies and Housing April 1977–March 1978; for Housing and Chief Secretary March 1978–1980; for Water Resources, Housing and Consumer Affairs 1980–September 1981
  • Leader of the Opposition 18 September 1981–25 February 1983
  • Opposition spokesman for Treasury, Ethnic Affairs, Economic Affairs, Federal Affairs, and Aboriginal Affairs September 1981–February 1983
  • Premier, Minister for Cabinet (until 26 February 1986), Treasurer, Minister Coordinating Economic and Social Development (until 16 March 1987), for Women's Interests, Forests and Tourism (until 20 December 1984), and for Public Sector Management (from 29 October 1986) 25 February 1983–25 February 1988

  • Member Library Committee 1980–1981
  • Member Select Committee of Privilege on Allegations Against a Minister or Ministers November 1976

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
  • Represented WA branch Commonwealth Parliamentary Association at General Conference, Jamaica, 1978

Historical Notes
  • WA's third youngest Premier ever when sworn in on his 36th birthday
Convicted July 1994 and sentenced to prison for two years for offences related to Parliamentary travel account
Later conviction February 1997 for stealing quashed on appeal
Awarded AC in 1988 for services to government and politics and to the Parliament of WA but honour removed 2006
Justice of the Peace
Active Jaycee's Outstanding Young Western Australian Award 1982
In April 2010 found guilty of giving false testimony to the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) and fined
D Black and G Bolton, eds, Biographical register of members of the Parliament of Western Australia: volume two 1930-2010, Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Perth, WA, 2011, p. 30-31.
Q Beresford, The Godfather:The Life of Brian Burke, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 2008.
J Hamilton, Burkie. A Biography of Brian Burke,St George Books, Perth, 1988.
West Australian, 25 May and 1 June 2002.