Catherine Cusack (politician)

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The Honourable
Catherine Cusack
Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council
Assumed office
22 Mar 2003
Personal details
Born (1963-10-26) 26 October 1963 (age 55)
Political partyLiberal Party

Catherine Eileen Cusack (born 26 October 1963)[1] is a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, representing the Liberal Party. She was first elected as an opposition member on 22 March 2003 and was re-elected in 2011 when her party won government.[2] Her term is due to expire on 1 March 2019.[3] She is married to Chris Crawford, the Chief Executive of the Northern New South Wales Local Health District (NNSW LHD) and they have two sons. The family home is at Lennox Head in the Northern Rivers region.[4] She is a member of Lennox Head-Alstonville Surf Life Saving Club, the 1st Lennox Head Scout group and Ballina RSL Club. Her pastimes include playing the guitar, swimming, bushwalking, reading and skating.[4]


In her inaugural parliamentary speech, Catherine identified herself as the great-granddaughter of a former Labor politician, John Cusack.[4][5] She grew up near Yass in southern New South Wales,[6] daughter of Greg Cusack[4] (born 1930), a former Australian motor racing and motor rally champion. She joined the Young Liberals while studying Economics at Sydney University and was elected their first female president in 1985.[4] Cusack worked for Greiner government minister Virginia Chadwick in the Community Services and Education portfolios. She left in 1992 to work in the private sector, moving to the NSW Far North Coast in 2000 following the appointment of her husband to the Northern Rivers Area Health Service.

In 2003, the then Liberal leader John Brogden appointed her to Shadow Cabinet in the Juvenile Justice and Women's portfolios. She later served as Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability.[7] When her party won government at the 2011 election, she was controversially dumped from the front bench by premier Barry O'Farrell, allegedly for having alienated the Shooters and Fishers Party by saying she would not allow hunting in national parks.[8]

In May 2011, Catherine Cusack received wide political support for a strong critique of her government's controversial decision to retrospectively alter a Solar Bonus Scheme, by cutting tariffs from 60 to 40 cents for customers who had signed up before November 2010 under the defeated Labor government.[9] In a letter to the premier she wrote that "It is a central tenant (sic) of Liberal and Conservative philosophy that any retrospective legislation to alter contracts is unprecedented and repugnant" and that "The politics of the decision are unacceptably high risk for the Government." [10]

At a hearing of the NSW Parliament's Standing Committee on Social Issues in March 2013, Cusack reiterated her support for gay marriage, but went on to state that she feels "very excluded and often looked down upon by gay culture." She also accused the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) and the gay community in general of "'looking down' on women and deliberately excluding them from efforts to combat AIDS." ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill was "taken aback" when questioned about whether the organisation "was delivering HIV/AIDS programs to the 20 per cent of people who contract the disease every year who are heterosexual." When questioned in April, Cusack stood by her comments, explaining that "Gay culture is very strong and vibrant in Sydney and I was just asking whether that was an inclusive culture."[11] Parkhill defended that "there's always room for improvement for how women are treated in society, but to characterise the gay community as having some sort of issue over and above the rest of society I think was unnecessary."[12]


  1. ^ Catherine Cusack
  2. ^ "The Hon. Catherine Eileen Cusack, BEc(SocSc) MLC". 9 December 2009. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2010. at Parliament of NSW
  3. ^ Legislative Council Members (by Expiry of Term of Service) Archived 6 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine. at Parliament of NSW
  4. ^ a b c d e Catherine Cusack's inaugural speech Archived 17 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine. 20 May 2003. At Parliament of NSW
  5. ^ "Mr John Joseph Cusack (1868 - 1956)". 27 November 2009. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2010. at Parliament of NSW
  6. ^ "Commission for Children and Young People Amendment Bill 2007" (PDF). 21 December 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Catherine Cusack personal page". Retrieved 28 Jan 2010.
  8. ^ Julie Ray Cusack dumped from environment ABC Local News, 4 April 2011
  9. ^ Stand against scheme gets support The Northern Star, 20 May 2011
  10. ^ Critical letter to Premier Barry O'Farrell At Sydney Morning Herald, 17 May 2011
  11. ^ Aston, Heath (2 April 2013). "Gay slurs take AIDS fighter by surprise". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  12. ^ McKinnon, Alex (18 March 2013). "Gays look down on women: Liberal MP". Sydney Star Observer. Retrieved 2 April 2013.