Nick Greiner

The Honourable
Nick Greiner
37th Premier of New South Wales
Elections: 1988, 1991
In office
25 March 1988 – 24 June 1992
Monarch Elizabeth II
Deputy Wal Murray
Preceded by Barrie Unsworth
Succeeded by John Fahey
Member of the New South Wales Parliament
for Ku-ring-gai
In office
13 September 1980 – 24 June 1992
Preceded by John Maddison
Succeeded by Stephen O'Doherty
Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales
Elections: 1984, 1988
In office
15 March 1983 – 24 March 1988
Deputy Rosemary Foot
Peter Collins
Preceded by John Dowd
Succeeded by Bob Carr
Personal details
Born 27 April 1947 (1947-04-27) (age 64)
Budapest, Hungary
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s) Kathryn Greiner AO

Nicholas "Nick" Frank Hugo Greiner AC, (born 27 April 1947) is an Australian businessman and former politician. He was the 37th Premier New South Wales from 1988 to 1992. He was Leader of the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party from 1983 to 1992 and Leader of the Opposition from 1983 to 1988.[1] He is married to Kathryn Greiner AO, a former Councillor in the Sydney City Council. The couple have one son and one daughter.


Early life

Greiner was born in Budapest, Hungary.[2] His parents subsequently moved to Vienna before arriving in Australia in the early 1950s. He was educated at a Sydney school, St Ignatius' College, Riverview, before successfully completing a Bachelor of Economics honours degree (B.Ec. (Hons)) at the University of Sydney. Later he attended Harvard Business School. After briefly working for an Idaho timber company, he returned to Australia, where he joined the timber company that his family owned. Greiner has also held the position of Australian chairman of British American Tobacco.[3]

Political career

A member of the Liberal Party of Australia, Greiner unsuccessfully sought to enter the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for the safe Liberal seat of Willoughby in 1978. Although defeated in his first bid to enter the legislature by local bus driver, Eddie Britt, Greiner achieved his goal of entering Parliament by successfully contesting a 1980 by-election for the electorate of Ku-ring-gai.

In 1981 Greiner unsuccessfully ran for the Liberal leadership but was narrowly defeated by John Dowd. Greiner subsequently succeeded Dowd as Opposition Leader in 1983. Highlighting allegations of corruption against the Australian Labor Party government of Premier Neville Wran during the 1984 election campaign, Greiner managed to reduce significantly the Wran government's previously overwhelming majority in the Legislative Assembly; and he placed his party within striking distance of winning the next state election. At this election (held in 1988), his LiberalNational Party Coalition achieved a landslide victory over the Labor incumbent, Barrie Unsworth. As a result, Greiner became Premier.

As Premier

In one of the first acts of his premiership, Greiner established the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to investigate allegations of corruption and graft against the government and within the state. Some critics[who?] have alleged that ICAC was established for an expressly political purpose, that Greiner was trying to embarrass the Labor Party by establishing a commission to investigate allegations of branch stacking and political corruption while they were in government. However the establishment of some form of independent corruption commission had been a longstanding policy of the Liberal Party while in opposition[citation needed].

The Greiner government pursued a number of social and economic reforms. Most notable of these was a series of reforms to the education system, including the closure of schools, that provoked much controversy and brought his government into conflict with teachers. A series of strikes on the part of teachers and the growing unpopularity of Education Minister Terry Metherell caused problems for the Greiner government during the latter stages of its first term. Metherell resigned from his position in 1990 but the disputes with teachers continued.

Regarded as a fiscal conservative, Greiner was still considered much further to the left than many of his fellow Liberals in terms of social policy. He criticised then Federal Opposition Leader John Howard's controversial comments on immigration policy during the late 1980s, and was widely respected within the ethnic community.

Buoyed by his government's strong performance in the polls, Greiner called a snap election for 25 May 1991. Despite widespread predictions by political and media commentators that Greiner would be easily re-elected to a second term, the outcome produced a hung Parliament. Thus, Greiner was forced to form a minority government with the support of four Independent MPs. His parliamentary majority was further eroded with the decision of Terry Metherell to become an Independent Member of the Legislative Assembly in late 1991, and with the loss of The Entrance in a 1992 by-election.

Greiner was the first head of government in Australia at either federal or state level, born outside the Commonwealth of Nations (apart from Chris Watson).[citation needed]

ICAC investigation and resignation

Greiner and Environment Minister Tim Moore decided to offer Terry Metherell an executive position in the Environmental Protection Authority. Metherell's decision to accept the position would create the need for him to resign his parliamentary seat, which the Liberal Party was confident of winning in a by-election. While Metherell initially agreed to the position, it sparked widespread controversy, and led to an investigation by the ICAC. In 1992 the ICAC ruled against Greiner and found that the job offer had been an act of corruption. Although Greiner was inclined to contest the rulings, the four Independent MPs whom he relied upon to form a government made it clear that they would no longer support the government if he continued in office. Accordingly, Greiner resigned, and was succeeded by John Fahey.[citation needed]

Greiner successfully appealed against the finding in the NSW Supreme Court, Court of Appeal.[4] The court found that ICAC had "exceeded its jurisdiction"[5] and granted "declaratory relief that the Commission's report was wrong in law".[6]

Subsequent career

In 1994 Nick Greiner was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday honours list "For service to public sector reform and management and to the community".[7]

He went on to hold directorships with many of Australia's leading companies. In 2011, he was Chairman of Bradken, Citigroup Australia, The Nuance Group, QBE Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance, Blue Star Print Group and Playup; and Deputy Chairman of CHAMP Private Equity.[8] After Barry O'Farrell was elected Premier in that year he appointed Greiner chairman of Infrastructure NSW.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Parliament of NSW - Facts and Figures - Leaders of the Opposition in the NSW Legislative Assembly
  2. ^ "Mr (Nick) Nicholas Frank Hugo GREINER [Former Member"]. Department of Parliamentary Services, Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Brown, Kevin (22 August 1992). "Former NSW premier cleared". The Financial Times (London: The Financial Times Limited): pp. 3. 
  5. ^ Michael, Sexton (30 August 2006). "ADMINISTRATIVE LAW: THE NEW SOUTH WALES LANDSCAPE". Australian Institute of Administrative Law. pp. 33. 
  6. ^ Greiner v ICAC, 10 NSW 7 Australian Current Law Reporter (Supreme Court, NSW, Court of Appeal 21 Aug 1992).
  7. ^ "GREINER, Nicholas Frank". It's an Honour: AC. Australian Government. Retrieved 23 February 2009. 
  8. ^ The Hon Nick Greiner AC
  • Gleeson, Michael; Allan, Toni, Wilkins, Michael (1992) An Act of Corruption?: Nick Greiner's Years In Power and His Unorthodox Demise (Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Corporation) ISBN 0-7333-0263-7

External links

Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
John Maddison
Member for Ku-ring-gai
1980 – 1992
Succeeded by
Stephen O'Doherty
Political offices
Preceded by
John Dowd
Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales
1983 – 1988
Succeeded by
Bob Carr
Preceded by
Barrie Unsworth
Premier of New South Wales
1988 – 1992
Succeeded by
John Fahey
Preceded by
Ken Booth
Treasurer of New South Wales
1988 – 1992
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Dowd
Leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party
1983 – 1992
Succeeded by
John Fahey

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