Richard Marles

Richard Donald Marles (born 13 July 1967[1]) is an Australian politician serving as the 19th deputy prime minister of Australia and the Minister for Defence.[2] He has been the deputy leader of the Labor Party since 2019 and previously served as Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Marles has served as a Member of the Australian Parliament for Corio in Victoria since the 2007 election.

Richard Marles
Marles in October 2022
19th Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
Assumed office
23 May 2022
Prime MinisterAnthony Albanese
Preceded byBarnaby Joyce
Minister for Defence
Assumed office
1 June 2022
Prime MinisterAnthony Albanese
Preceded byPeter Dutton
Deputy Leader of the Labor Party
Assumed office
30 May 2019
LeaderAnthony Albanese
Preceded byTanya Plibersek
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
In office
30 May 2019  23 May 2022
LeaderAnthony Albanese
Preceded byTanya Plibersek
Succeeded bySussan Ley
Minister for Trade
In office
27 June 2013  18 September 2013
Prime MinisterKevin Rudd
Preceded byCraig Emerson
Succeeded byAndrew Robb
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Corio
Assumed office
24 November 2007
Preceded byGavan O'Connor
Personal details
Richard Donald Marles

(1967-07-13) 13 July 1967
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Political partyLabor
Spouse(s)Rachel Schutze
Lisa Neville
Parent(s)Donald Marles
Fay Marles
Residence(s)East Geelong, Victoria, Australia
EducationGeelong Grammar School
Alma materMelbourne University (BSc, LLB)
  • Lawyer
  • unionist
  • politician

He was a Parliamentary Secretary from 2009 to 2013, and served as Minister for Trade in the second Rudd Government from June to September 2013. He was a member of the Shadow Cabinet from Labor's defeat at the 2013 election to their victory at the 2022 election.

Early life

Marles was born in Geelong, Victoria. He is the son of Donald Marles OAM,[3] a former headmaster of Trinity Grammar School, and Fay Marles AM (née Pearce), Victoria's first Equal Opportunity Commissioner and later Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.[4]

Marles was educated at Geelong Grammar School and the University of Melbourne where he resided at Ormond College. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws with Honours. He joined the Melbourne University Labor Club in his first week at university[4] and served as president of the Melbourne University Student Union in 1988.[5] He was also the General Secretary of the National Union of Students in 1989. He started his career as a solicitor with Melbourne industrial law firm Slater and Gordon. In 1994, he became legal officer for the Transport Workers Union (TWU). He was elected TWU National Assistant Secretary four years later. In 2000 he joined Australia's peak national union body, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), as assistant secretary, remaining in the position until 2007.[4]


Marles in August 2012 with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully

Early career

In March 2006, Marles nominated for Labor preselection against the sitting member for Corio, Gavan O'Connor, as part of a challenge to several sitting members organised by the right-wing Labor Unity faction of the party. In the local ballot Marles polled 57% of the vote, and his endorsement was then confirmed by the party's public office selection committee.[6][7]

Marles was elected member for Corio on 24 November 2007 in the election that returned the Labor Party to office under the leadership of Kevin Rudd. From February 2008 to June 2009 he was chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

Parliamentary secretary and Minister for Trade

In June 2009 Marles was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry. He retained his seat in the 2010 election and was sworn in as Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs in the First Gillard Ministry on 14 September 2010.[8] In July 2011, Marles became the first Australian member of parliament to visit Wallis and Futuna.[9] Marles arrived in Wallis and Futuna to attend a ceremony with King Kapiliele Faupala in Mata-Utu marking the 50th anniversary of the islands' status as a French Overseas collectivity.[9] Marles had previously visited New Caledonia in October 2010 and French Polynesia in March 2011.[9]

In the ministerial reshuffle of 2 March 2012, Marles was given the additional role of Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs.[10] On 21 March 2013 he resigned these roles after expressing support for Kevin Rudd to challenge Julia Gillard for the leadership; a challenge that did not eventuate.[11]

In June 2013, he was appointed the Minister for Trade and a member of the Cabinet,[12] succeeding Craig Emerson, who resigned following the June 2013 leadership spill that saw Kevin Rudd defeat Julia Gillard for leadership of the Labor Party.

Shadow minister

After the ALP's defeat at the 2013 federal election, Marles was appointed Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection under opposition leader Bill Shorten.[1] In February 2016, he began co-hosting the weekly television program Pyne & Marles on Sky News Live with Liberal MP Christopher Pyne.[13] Marles had his portfolio changed after the 2016 election, becoming Shadow Minister for Defence.[1] He has been cited as holding pro-U.S. views and as a "somewhat of a hawk".[4][14]

Deputy Leader of the Opposition

In May 2019, after Labor lost the 2019 federal election, it was reported that Marles would stand for the deputy leadership of the party, and would likely be elected unopposed following Clare O'Neil's decision not to run.[15] He was formally endorsed as deputy to Anthony Albanese on 30 May, and selected the portfolio of Defence in the shadow cabinet.[16][17]

Following a shadow cabinet reshuffle in January 2021, Marles was placed in charge of a new "super portfolio" relating to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,[18] encompassing a "broad brief across national reconstruction, jobs, skills, small business and science".[19]

Deputy Prime Minister

Two days after the 2022 federal election, Albanese had himself, Marles and three other senior Labor frontbenchers sworn in as an interim five-person government. Although counting was still underway, it was apparent by this time that no other party could realistically form even a minority government. The transfer of power was expedited due to the upcoming Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, with the full ministry due to be sworn in after the Quad. As Albanese flew to Tokyo to take part in the Quad soon after being sworn in, Marles served as Acting Prime Minister until Albanese returned to lead the nation full-time. He continues to return to the role whenever Albanese leaves the country. [20]

Political positions

Marles is a senior figure in his state's Labor Right faction.[14]

Refugees and asylum seekers

Marles supports the turning back of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat and a Pacific Solution for the resettlement of refugees.[21]

Marles was supportive of an Australian War Memorial commemorating Operation Sovereign Borders navy personnel who undertook activities to stop asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat. That position was criticised by several Labor Left MPs as well as the Greens.[22]

National defence

Malres (center) speaks with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (left) and Japanese Minister of Defense Yasukazu Hamada (right) in 2022

In 2020, as shadow defence minister, Marles was critical of the Morrison government's handling of the programme to purchase French submarines, which, he said, had "profoundly compromised" Australia's national security. Marles otherwise supported the bipartisan consensus on national defence matters.[23]

Fossil fuels and energy

On an interview on Sky News on 20 February 2019, Marles stated that it would be "a good thing" if the thermal coal market in Australia collapsed.[24] He later back-tracked on this statement, saying that his "attack on coal was tone-deaf".[25]

Following the 2019 Federal Election, Marles maintained that public funds should not be used to subsidise coal, saying "a Labor government is not going to put a cent into subsidising coal-fired power", and the market should be allowed to make its own decisions, while also saying that if a private company decided to push forward with a mine and gained the necessary approvals that Labor would not stand in its way.[26]

Detained Australian academic in Myanmar Sean Turnell

Shortly after the Labor Party formed government in May 2022, both the new prime minister Anthony Albanese and foreign minister Penny Wong issued statements expressing strong support for the Australian economist professor Sean Turnell who had been detained in Myanmar while working for Aung San Suu Kyi at the time of the coup in Myanmar in February 2021. In early August, in his position as Acting Australian Prime Minister, Richard Marles underlined the Australian Government's position by saying that the Government "would not rest" until Sean Turnell was returned to Australia.[27] Marles said that the Australian Government continued to "mull imposing sanctions" on Myanmar over the case of Turnell. However, when asked when the federal government would make a decision on any sanctions, Marles said, "All of that is a matter that's being worked through right now. Our concern in terms of engagement with Myanmar is to ensure the safe return of Professor Turnell to this country." Marles added that he couldn't provide details of the Australian consular assistance being provided to Professor Turnell.

Personal life

Marles lives in Geelong with his wife Rachel Schutze. He has three children from his current marriage and one from his first marriage to Lisa Neville, who was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 2002 and later became a state minister.[28]

Marles is a supporter and member of the Geelong Football Club.[29]


    1. "Hon Richard Marles MP". Senators and Members of the Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
    2. "Anthony Albanese's first ministry brings housing and NDIS portfolios into cabinet, but veterans affairs removed". ABC News. Melbourne. 31 May 2022. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
    3. Vale Don Marles OAM Retrieved 13 July 2022.
    4. Bramston, Troy (29 June 2019). "'First grieve, then learn from election mistakes'". The Weekend Australian. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
    5. "Crikey List: which MPs were involved in student politics?". Crikey. 1 October 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
    6. "Two more fall in faction battles". The Age. Melbourne. 10 March 2006. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
    7. McManus, Gerard (19 October 2007). "Gavan O'Connor targets Labor party". Herald Sun. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
    8. "Department of the Parliamentary Library - Ministry". Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
    9. "Australia reaffirms cooperation with France in Pacific". Tahitipresse. 1 August 2011. Archived from the original on 18 September 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
    10. Gillard, Julia (2 March 2012). "Changes to the Ministry" (Press release). Prime Minister of Australia. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
    11. Best, Cameron (22 March 2013). "Corio MP backs the wrong side". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
    12. "Second Rudd Ministry" (PDF). Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Commonwealth of Australia. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
    13. Molloy, Shannon (28 January 2016). "Christopher Pyne ... the TV star? The colourful MP lands his own weekly show, alongside rival Richard Marles". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
    14. "The 12 Labor figures who will do the heavy lifting in government". The Australian Financial Review. 14 December 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2019. Marles is very pro-US and a touch hawkish on China
    15. "Clare O'Neil pulls out of Labor deputy race, paving the way for Richard Marles". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 May 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
    16. "Labor factional boss steps aside to make way for gender balance in Anthony Albanese's ministry". ABC News. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
    17. "Labor leader Anthony Albanese announces frontbench in wake of federal election 2019". 2 June 2019. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
    18. Murphy, Katharine (28 January 2021). "Labor reshuffle: Anthony Albanese elevates Richard Marles to new super portfolio". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
    19. Snape, Jack (28 January 2021). "Labor set for climate change shift as architect of emissions target Mark Butler is moved on". ABC News. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
    20. "Five Labor MPs to be immediately sworn in first ahead of key Quad trip". Sky News. 21 May 2022. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
    21. "The Refugee Question That Richard Marles Couldn't Answer". New Matilda. 27 July 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
    22. "Richard Marles under attack for support of war memorial display honouring boat turnbacks". the Guardian. 26 April 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
    23. "Labor misses opportunity to offer new perspectives on Australia's defence policy". The Strategist. 5 August 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
    24. "Collapse of thermal coal market a 'good thing': Marles". 20 February 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
    25. Ferguson, Richard (27 May 2019). "Richard Marles admits attack on coal was 'tone deaf'". The Australian. Archived from the original on 30 August 2021.
    26. "Labor's Richard Marles won't rule out supporting new coal developments". the Guardian. 9 February 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
    27. Catie McLeod, 'Australia considering sanctioning Myanmar over detained academic', The West Australian, 12 August 2022.
    28. "Richard Marles". Q&A. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 December 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2019.


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