Federal Politician, Singer and Social Activist
Peter Garrett is the Federal Minister for School, Education, Early Childhood and Youth.
“Scouting gave me as much responsibility as I could handle. It didn’t set any limits on my desire for adventure. I remember we built a raft and took it from the Central Coast down to Sydney. It was an incredible adventure. Another time, when I was about 10 or 11, I accompanied a Queen’s Scout from Bundeena, through the Royal National Park, and then up the escarpment. It gave me a lot of self-esteem.
“It’s that side of Scouting that attracted me. I liked the philosophy and the altruism, but it also gave me the chance to test myself in the bush. You were left to your own initiative to do fairly incredible things. It really instilled a sense of your own capabilities and gave you a chance to overcome your fears and insecurities.”
Before formally entering Federal Politics, Peter managed to combine a successful career as a singer with his lifelong interest in civil liberties, disarmament and protecting the environment. For many years he was the lead singer in the internationally acclaimed rock group Midnight Oil, and was the winner of five Aria awards in 1991.
He received the Australian Humanitarian Foundation Award (environment category) in 2000, and in 2003 received the Order of Australia (Member General Division) for his contribution to the environment and music industry.
He was President of the Australian Conservation Foundation from 1989 to 1993, a member of the International Board of Greenpeace, and the Nuclear Disarmament Party candidate for the Australian Senate in 1984. As convener of the National Save Jervis Bay Campaign, he led the drive to create a National Park at Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast.
He was writer-narrator of the documentary film Shoalwater Bay – Up for Grabs and co-writer of the ABC radio drama Outlanders. He has been working with a Cape York coalition of Aboriginal Land Councils and environmental groups, who are trying to preserve the wilderness values of the area.
"I was a Scout in the Second West Pymble Scouts and spent quite a lot of time out in the bush and playing in the Lane Cove River valley. Along with surfing I did later as a teenager, that gave me a real appreciation of nature," he told the North Shore Times newspaper.