John Ryan (politician)

John Francis Ryan is an Australian politician. He was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council from 1991 to 2007, representing the Liberal Party of Australia.

Political career

John Ryan joined the Liberal Party in 1983 while a high school teacher in Sydney's western suburbs. Member of the NSW State Executive 1988-1992, and 1999-2000. Was a chairman of Joint Standing Committee on State Policy 1999 - , Chairman, Parliamentary Policy Review Committee, Liberal candidate for Earlwood (1984) and Camden (1988).Elected to the NSW Legislative Council as a Liberal Party representative on 19 March 1991 and served for 16 years.He was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in the Legislative Council for four years between 2003-2007. At the time of his retirement he was Parliamentary Secretary for Disability Services and Ageing, but prior to that he had been a Shadow Minister and a member of the Opposition Shadow Cabinet holding a number of portfolios including Community Services, Disability Services, Youth, Ageing, Commerce and Western Sydney. [http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/Parlment/Members.nsf/6c569b4ba197ed7bca2569000003f60f/10b3ef13daa256eb4a25672e0002e1d4?OpenDocument] [http://www.parliament.curriculum.edu.au/parl.php3?srch=&list_params=&ID=172] [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20786783-2702,00.html]

Whilst a Member of Parliament he took a great interest in social justice issues and was highly regarded for his advocacy on behalf of people with disability, child protection and for reforms to the regulation of boarding houses. As a backbencher he also conducted a long running campaign to enhance protection for consumers in the resident home building industry against unscrupulous builders.

Although a committed evangelical Christian towards the end of his career he was frequently at odds with representatives of the so called “religious right” for supporting socially progressive initiatives such as a bill to codify how parents might smack children, a bill to trial medically supervised injecting rooms for heroin addicts and a Bill to lower the age the age of consent for homosexual sex. His open commitment to Christianity and physical likeness to the cartoon character “Ned Flanders” from “The Simpsons’ led to him becoming affectionally known by the nick name “Ned”. [http://stoush.net/jason/469/rip-john-ryan-mlc]

In the year 2000 he chaired an all party Select Committee on the Increase in the NSW Prison Population that unanimously recommended the abolition of gaol sentences shorter than six months as had occurred already in the State of Western Australia and the introduction of Canadian house style prisons for female inmates. The Committee’s report also exposed the information that up to 75 per cent of female inmates suffered from an episode of mental illness prior to entering the criminal justice system. In 1999 he chaired a Joint Select Committee of the NSW Parliament on waste water management (Joint Select Committee on the Northside Storage Tunnel). The Committee recommended the use of high technology water filtration and recycling storm water in place of storing and discharging it without further treatment into the sea through deep ocean outfalls. He was the instigator of a Joint Select Committee into the Quality of Building that resulted in a comprehensive rewriting of NSW consumer protection laws for the residential home building industry.

As the Shadow Minister for Disability he advocated strongly to have young people with disabilities removed from aged care nursing homes. The campaign bore fruit in 2006 when the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a $244 million five-year program to move hundreds of people aged under 50 out of nursing homes across Australia. He successfully campaigned against savage budget cuts to day training programs for school leavers with disability that were introduced by the NSW Government in July 2004. He advocated for the establishment of an Upper House Parliamentary inquiry into Post School Training programs that successfully recommended the restoration of funding to the programs and several other beneficial reforms. In a speech to the ACROD conference in February 2006 he outlined some new policies for disability services including direct funding of services to disability clients to enable them to have more choice and control over the services they received. [http://www.pwd.org.au/publications/atlas_pso_changes.html] [http://www.ypinh.org.au/index.php?/content/view/172/2/]

Ryan was one of the longest serving Liberal Party representatives to come from Western Sydney a traditional Labor voting stronghold in Sydney.

On 18 November 2006, despite strong endorsement from the NSW Liberal Leader Peter Debnam, John Ryan was defeated in a preselection ballot for the Liberal Party Legislative Council ticket by a “right wing” candidate Marie Ficarra. His term in the NSW Legislative Council expired with the dissolution of the 53rd Parliament in March 2007 and he retired from the House at the General Election conducted on 24 March 2007. [http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/extreme-path-will-leave-voters-by-the-wayside/2005/09/09/1125772688675.html] [http://abc.net.au/news/items/200611/1791915.htm?nsw] [http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/nsw/content/2006/s1886328.htm] [http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/shadow-cabinet-fading-under-rightwing-attack/2006/11/06/1162661615911.html] [http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/dropped-liberal-pans-rightwing-cancer/2006/11/21/1163871403138.html]

In June 2007 the right wing dominated NSW Liberal State Executive suspended John Ryan's membership of the Liberal Party for two years in response to comments he made in the media after the State Liberals loss in the March 2007 election. He had attacked right wing Upper House Liberals David Clarke and Charlie Lynn for "diverting the party's intellectual firepower" from winning the State Election by concentrating on internal factional disputes. [http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/critics-of-lib-right-face-harsh-penalties/2007/06/30/1182624231637.html] [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21975121-2702,00.html] [http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/nsw/content/2006/s1886328.htm]

Personal profile

John Francis Ryan was born in Canada in 1956, migrated to Australia 1961. Married to Alexandra, they have 2 children Elizabeth and Nicholas. After graduating from the University of Sydney he was a high school teacher and he has been resident of Sydney's western suburbs. He was appointed as a Senior Research Officer to the former Minister for Police and Emergency Services, the Hon. Ted Pickering. Member of NSW Archives Authority. Member of Western Sydney Economic Development Committee: 1991 - 1995.

A Member of the NSW Aboriginal Reconciliation Committee 1999 -2003. President (Honorary) Boys' Brigade NSW, Member of the Lansdowne Club (Irish Australian business association). Leader of Youth Business and Political Delegation to Guangdong, China in 1994. Member of Amnesty International. Company Director for a church-based non-profit youth accommodation service and director of Guthrie House an accommodation for women involved in the criminal justice system. Member of NSW Police Legacy Board: 1988–91.

Interests include bushwalking, Music and the visual arts.


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