Brian MacDonell

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Brian MacDonell

Brian MacDonell.jpg
MacDonell in 1963
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Dunedin Central
In office
30 November 1963 – 14 July 1984
Preceded byPhilip Connolly
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born19 May 1935
Dunedin, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Joan Banwell

Brian Peter MacDonell, QSO (born 19 May 1935), is a former New Zealand Member of Parliament for Dunedin Central in the South Island.


Early life and career[edit]

He was born in Dunedin on 19 May 1935, the son of Roderick MacDonell. He received his education at Christian Brothers High School, since renamed Kavanagh College. He became active with the labour movement in 1950. In 1958, he married Joan Banwell, the daughter of William Banwell. The MacDonells have four sons.[1] MacDonell worked for a bank from 1953 to 1963, and was a national councillor for the New Zealand bank officers union.[1]

Political career[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1963–1966 34th Dunedin Central Labour
1966–1969 35th Dunedin Central Labour
1969–1972 36th Dunedin Central Labour
1972–1975 37th Dunedin Central Labour
1975–1978 38th Dunedin Central Labour
1978–1981 39th Dunedin Central Labour
1981–1983 40th Dunedin Central Labour
1983–1984 Changed allegiance to: Independent

MacDonell first attempted to enter politics at the 1959 local-body elections when he stood unsuccessfully for the Dunedin City Council on the Labour Party ticket. He stood for the council again in 1962 and was likewise unsuccessful.[2][3]

He represented the Dunedin Central electorate in Parliament for 21 years from 1963 to 1984.[4] He was Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Trade and Industry (1973–1975) and to the Minister of Energy Resources (1974–1975).[5] Following the Royal Commission on Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion, parliament discussed legislation to legalise abortion, and MacDonell supported his pro-life stance by holding a jar with a pickled 12-week-old foetus during the debate.[6][7] Parliament passed the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977. MacDonell was Shadow Minister of Customs and Shadow Postmaster-General from 1975 to 1983 under Bill Rowling.

The Dunedin Central electorate was abolished in the 1983 electoral redistribution, and the electorate of Dunedin West was established in its place.[8] MacDonell was not selected as the Labour candidate for the new electorate of Dunedin West; instead, the party's president, Jim Anderton, installed his personal friend Clive Matthewson.[9] MacDonell stood as an Independent in the 1984 general election but was not successful.

Later activities[edit]

In the 1993 New Year Honours, MacDonell was made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services.[10] MacDonell now resides in Tasmania, Australia.[11] MacDonell enjoys fishing for recreation.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Traue 1978, p. 178.
  2. ^ "City Council". Otago Daily Times. 23 November 1959. p. 5.
  3. ^ "New City Council". Otago Daily Times. 15 October 1962. p. 5.
  4. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 214.
  5. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 94.
  6. ^ Guest, Michael (6 October 2008). "Weird and wonderful 19th-century laws". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  7. ^ O'Neil, Andrea (10 July 2015). "Abortion law reform features pickled foetus in 1977 - 150 years of news". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  8. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 262.
  9. ^ Bassett 2008, chapter 5.
  10. ^ New Zealand and Cook Islands lists: "No. 53154". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1992. p. 30.
  11. ^ Manins, Rosie (28 October 2013). "Scots determination helped bring MacDonell clan together". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 18 June 2015.


  • Bassett, Michael (2008). Working with David: Inside the Lange Cabinet. Auckland: Hodder Moa. ISBN 978-1-86971-094-1.
  • Traue, James Edward, ed. (1978). Who's Who in New Zealand (11th ed.). Wellington: Reed.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand parliamentary record, 1840–1984 (4 ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Philip Connolly
Member of Parliament for Dunedin Central
Constituency abolished