Michael Atkinson (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Michael Atkinson
Michael Atkinson Portrait 2008.JPG
34th Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly
In office
5 February 2013 (2013-02-05) – 16 March 2018 (2018-03-16)
PremierJay Weatherill
Preceded byLyn Breuer
Succeeded byVincent Tarzia
46th Attorney-General of South Australia
In office
5 March 2002 – 30 June 2003
PremierMike Rann
Preceded byRobert Lawson
Succeeded byPaul Holloway
In office
29 August 2003 – 21 March 2010
PremierMike Rann
Preceded byPaul Holloway
Succeeded byJohn Rau
Member of the South Australian Parliament
for Croydon
In office
9 February 2002 – 17 March 2018
Preceded byNew District
Succeeded byPeter Malinauskas
Member of the South Australian Parliament
for Spence
In office
25 November 1989 – 9 February 2002
Preceded byRoy Abbott
Succeeded byDistrict Abolished
Personal details
Michael John Atkinson

(1958-06-17) 17 June 1958 (age 62)[1]
Political partyAustralian Labor Party (SA)
Domestic partnerJennifer Rankine
EducationBA (Hons), LLB

Michael John Atkinson (born 17 June 1958), a former Australian politician in the South Australian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, was a member of the Parliament of South Australia from 1989 to 2018.[3]

Atkinson was the 34th Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly in the Jay Weatherill government from 2013 to 2018. Before this post, he was the 46th Attorney-General of South Australia, Minister for Justice, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, and Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the Mike Rann Labor Government. A day after the 2010 election, he stepped down as Attorney-General and resigned from the Cabinet. Atkinson represented the South Australian House of Assembly seat of Croydon from the seat's creation in 2002 until 2018, and previously Spence from 1989 until the seat was abolished and replaced by Croydon in 2002.[4][5]

He was a member of the Australian Journalists Association whilst working for the Adelaide Advertiser. He is currently a member of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association.

Early life[edit]

Atkinson attended Glenelg Primary School and Unley High School. He then studied at the Australian National University and received a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in history and also a Bachelor of Laws degree.

He worked as a sub-editor and journalist for the Adelaide Advertiser from 1982 to 1985, an adviser and press secretary to federal minister Chris Hurford from 1985 to 1987, before becoming an advocate for the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) in 1989.

Parliamentary career[edit]

A founding member of the Labor Right faction, Atkinson was first elected to Parliament at the 1989 election. Following the 1993 election, he was shadow minister in a range of portfolios until Labor won government at the 2002 election. He subsequently became Attorney-General, Minister for Justice, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the Rann cabinet. In a minor cabinet reshuffle in 2004, Atkinson lost his portfolio of Consumer Affairs. He became Minister for Correctional Services in 2006.

Atkinson earlier in his political career.

He was re-elected at the 2006 election landslide in his seat of Croydon with a 76 percent two-party vote from a 6.9 percent two-party swing toward him. At the 2010 election Atkinson was again re-elected, but with a 12 percent two-party swing against him,[6] significantly higher than the statewide 8.4 percent two-party swing.[7] Following his re-election, he announced he would resign from the Rann ministry but remain on the backbench.[4] Atkinson was re-elected at the 2014 election where he picked up a 3.5 percent two-party swing toward him.

On 5 February 2013 Atkinson replaced Lyn Breuer as Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly.[3]

In September 2016, Peter Malinauskas moved house and into Atkinson's electorate of Croydon. He said of Atkinson: "Mick [Atkinson] knows the movements of every single one of his constituents – I suspect I’m no exception.”[8]

Atkinson announced in February 2017 that he would be retiring from parliament as of the 2018 election.[9]

Political views[edit]

Media classification and censorship[edit]

Atkinson had blocked several attempts to introduce a R18+ for video games in Australia.[10] In a letter on the subject, Atkinson stated, "I don't support the introduction of an R18+ rating for electronic games, chiefly because it will greatly increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages."[11] He also withdrew his support for a discussion paper released for public consultation on the subject of an R18+ rating.[12][13]

Unanimity from Atkinson and his fellow state and federal Attorneys-General is required for the introduction of the rating (or a change to that requirement).[11] Australia's rating system lacked a classification for games above MA15+ at the time.[14] It therefore lacked not only an equivalent rating to the ESRB's AO (adults only) rating but also an equivalent to its Mature (17+) rating.[14] After Atkinson stepped down as Attorney-General in 2010, an R18+ rating for video games in Australia was eventually implemented in 2013.[15]

In 2009, Atkinson, in his role as attorney-general of South Australia, introduced laws into parliament that made internet commentary on the upcoming 2010 election illegal unless the commenter provided their real name and postcode. The laws were passed, and came into effect on 6 January 2010.[16] Following public criticism, Atkinson later promised to repeal the section following the 2010 South Australian election and indicated it would not be enforced during the electoral period.[17]

Victims' rights[edit]

In 2008, Atkinson introduced legislation aimed at increasing the rights of victims of crime. The legislation purported to allow victims to suggest a suitable sentence for the offender and made it compulsory for judges to consider imposing a restraining order on convicted sex offenders.[18]

Casting votes[edit]

Since accepting his role as speaker, Atkinson has used his casting vote in Parliament to oppose several bills presented during the Weatherill government. These include a bill which would have allowed transgender people to have their gender officially changed on their birth certificates[19] and another bill intended to enable voluntary euthanasia.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Atkinson is separated from his wife, Joan[21] (née Phyland), with whom he has three sons and a daughter.[22] Atkinson's long-term and current de facto partner is fellow state Labor MP Jennifer Rankine.[23]

Atkinson is a member of the Traditional Anglican Communion, and was formerly its chancellor.[2]


  1. ^ Who's Who in Australia 2008. 2008. p. 164.
  2. ^ a b Livingstone, Tess (19 March 2010). "Anglican-Catholic union has a following". The Australian.
  3. ^ a b "New parliamentary speaker Michael Atkinson criticised for partisan tweets". AdelaideNow. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b Kelton, Greg (22 March 2010). "Attorney-General Michael Atkinson quits front bench". The Advertiser. AdelaideNow. Archived from the original on 13 August 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Michael Atkinson – Member and Candidate for Croydon". Australian Labor Party South Australian Branch. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  6. ^ Green, Antony (29 March 2010). "Croydon 2010 Election Results". ABC News. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  7. ^ Green, Antony (29 March 2010). "2010 South Australian Election State of the Parties". ABC News. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  8. ^ "Off the Record: SA's home of political, legal and business gossip". The Advertiser. 24 September 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  9. ^ State Labor MPs Michael Atkinson, Jennifer Rankine and Steph Key quitting politics at next election: The Advertiser 3 February 2017
  10. ^ Moses, Asher (15 July 2008). "Fallout continues from ban on game". The Age. The Age Company Ltd. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  11. ^ a b Parker, Laura (26 January 2009). "Michael Atkinson talks Aussie game classification". Gamespot. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  12. ^ Hill, Jason (30 October 2008). "Censoring the censorship debate". The Age Blogs: Screen Play. The Age. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  13. ^ "An R18+ Classification for Computer Games – Public Consultation". Attorney-General's Department. 1 March 2010. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  14. ^ a b McCauley, Dennis (10 August 2009). "Upcoming RPG Risen Smacked by Australian Banhammer". gamepolitics.com. Entertainment Consumer's Association (ECA). Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  15. ^ "Gamers get adults-only R18+ classification". AAP. 18 June 2012.
  16. ^ Dowdell, Andrew; McGuire, Michael (2 February 2010). "Outrage as Rann Government, Opposition unite to gag internet election debate" (PDF). The Advertiser. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  17. ^ Kelton, Greg; Pedley, Derek (2 February 2010). "Attorney-General Michael Atkinson vows to repeal election internet censorship law amid reader furore" (PDF). The Advertiser. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  18. ^ "Revamped victims' rights bill unveiled". ABC Adelaide. 28 October 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  19. ^ "Jay denies rift after colleagues help kill "culture war" gender bill - InDaily". InDaily. 23 September 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  20. ^ Novak, Lauren (17 November 2016). "Voluntary euthanasia Bill voted down: Why Speaker Michael Atkinson voted against it". The Advertiser. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  21. ^ SA Gov (n.d.). "Minister Profile: Hon Michael Atkinson MP". Archived from the original on 11 April 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2009.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  22. ^ ABC News (16 Feb 2010). Attorney-General steps up fight with gamers. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  23. ^ Veteran SA MPs Michael Atkinson, Jennifer Rankine to retire from politics: ABC 4 February 2017

External links[edit]

South Australian House of Assembly
Preceded by
Roy Abbott
Member of Parliament
for Spence

District abolished
New district Member of Parliament
for Croydon

Succeeded by
Peter Malinauskas
Preceded by
Lyn Breuer
Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly
Succeeded by
Vincent Tarzia
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Lawson
Attorney-General of South Australia
Succeeded by
Paul Holloway
Preceded by
Paul Holloway
Attorney-General of South Australia
Succeeded by
John Rau