|Birth Day:||November 5, 1968|
Australian politician who became a Senator for South Australia in 2002. Penny Wong went on to become the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate becoming the first woman in the country's history to hold the title.
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Penny Wong attended the University of Adelaide where she became involved with the University Labor Club.
While at university, she became involved with the leadership of the Adelaide University Labor Club in 1988, and has been a delegate to the South Australian Labor Party State Convention every year since 1989, (with the exception of 1995). She also worked part-time for the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), and won a position on the National Executive of the National Union of Students. A number of her contemporaries at university went on to become Australian politicians. Former senator for South Australia, Natasha Stott Despoja, was a contemporary, along with former Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill (with whom she had a relationship) and Mark Butler, Labor MP for Port Adelaide.
Wong graduated from the University of South Australia in 1992, and continued her association with the CFMEU as an industrial officer. She was admitted to the South Australian Bar in 1993. During 1995 and 1996, Wong acted as an advisor to the CFMEU and to the newly elected New South Wales state government, specialising in the area of forest policy in the middle of the fierce 1990s environmental battles over logging in NSW.
Wong ran for pre-selection for the Senate in 2001, and was selected for the top position on the Labor Party's South Australian ticket. She was elected at the 2001 election, her term commencing on 1 July 2002. Wong is a member of EMILY's List Australia, the support network for Labor women, and sat on a number of Senate committees, primarily those related to economics.
Wong is a lesbian and came out publicly a month after she assumed her Senate seat in 2002. In 2010, Wong was selected by readers of Samesame website as one of the 25 most influential lesbian Australians. Wong's domestic partner, Sophie Allouache, is a public servant and former University of Adelaide Students' Association president. In December 2011, Allouache gave birth to their first child, after announcing the IVF-assisted pregnancy using donor sperm in August 2011. Allouache gave birth to their second daughter in 2015, at the Adelaide Women's and Children's Hospital. While at university, Wong dated Jay Weatherill, who later became Premier of South Australia.
In 2002, Wong's brother Toby took his own life ten days after her election to the Senate.
In June 2005, Wong was appointed Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation, and Shadow Minister for Corporate Governance and Responsibility. Following the reshuffle in December 2006, she became responsible for the portfolios of Public Administration and Accountability, Corporate Governance and Responsibility, and Workforce Participation.
In December 2007, in the wake of the Labor Party victory in the 2007 election, Wong was appointed to the Cabinet of Australia in the First Rudd Government as the Minister for Climate Change and Water and later, for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water in early 2010. She later remarked that her own father was most proud, not so much at her become the first Asian-born person to serve in an Australian Cabinet, but because she was subsequently given "a fleeting mention" in a book by Lee Kuan Yew. She accompanied then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to Bali for the international climate change talks. Wong led final negotiations as Chair of the United Nations Working Group in the closing days of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2007, shortly after her appointment as minister. She was said to be one of the "Rudd gang of four", who made "the key decisions."
Shortly after the commencement of the Gillard Government in June 2010, Julia Gillard promoted Wong to succeed Lindsay Tanner as Minister for Finance and Deregulation. At this time, Wong said she agreed with the Labor Party policy on marriage because there was a, "cultural, religious and historical view of marriage being between a man and a woman".
In February 2013, Wong was elected as the ALP's deputy Senate leader following the resignation of Chris Evans, thus becoming Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. Wong retained the position of Minister for Finance after Kevin Rudd's successful leadership spill in June 2013. Following Stephen Conroy's resignation and the beginning of the Second Rudd Government, she also became the Leader of the Government in the Senate. She was first woman to be elected as ALP Senate leader, and the first woman to serve as Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Following Labor's defeat at the 2013 Australian federal election, Wong was elected Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, becoming the first woman to hold the position. She was also appointed Labor's foreign affairs spokesperson. In this role, she helped negotiate Australia's interests in the Trans-Pacific Partnership which was ratified in late 2018. When a journalist noted that this was unexpected, given she is a member of her party's Labor Left faction, she replied, "I know, it's odd isn't it." In March 2019, Wong was named the 2018 McKinnon Political Leader of the Year.
Following the 2019 Labor leadership contest, Wong retained her positions as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs in the new cabinet of Anthony Albanese. At this point she was named part of Albanese's four-person ALP leadership team, along with Richard Marles and Kristina Keneally. In this role, Wong has delivered "forthright" views on Australia–United States relations. While she believed the election of Donald Trump meant there should be a "global rethink" on working with the US, she maintains a very high view of the alliance, which has been a feature of Australian Labor Party thinking since it began under wartime leader, John Curtin, saying, "I think America has been the key guarantor in an international system which has enabled more peace and prosperity than probably any period in the world’s history.” Similarly, she strongly believes in both Australian and US engagement with South East Asia through ASEAN. During a speech to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in January 2018, Wong said: "it is in the interests of all South East Asian nations that the US remains strategically engaged with the region." She sets both the US alliance, and the need for engagement with Asia in historical terms:
Currently, Penny Wong is 52 years, 8 months and 23 days old. Penny Wong will celebrate 53rd birthday on a Friday 5th of November 2021.
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