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Richard Michael Di Natale (born 6 June 1970) is an Australian Senator and leader of the Federal Greens party room since 6 May 2015, replacing Christine Milne.

Di Natale was elected to the Australian Senate in the 2010 Australian federal election.[1] A former general practitioner, he was the lead Greens Senate candidate in Victoria in the 2007 federal election but was narrowly defeated, despite achieving a primary vote above 10 percent.

Early life, education and pre-parliamentary careerEdit

Di Natale was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to Catholic[2] Italian immigrant parents and grew up in Melbourne. He attended Parade College, graduating in 1987, and Monash University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree in 1993.[3] Di Natale later obtained Master of Public Health and Master of Health Science degrees from La Trobe University.[3]

Prior to entering parliament, Di Natale was a general practitioner and public health specialist. Dr Di Natale worked in Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory, on HIV prevention in India and in the drug and alcohol sector.[4]

Political careerEdit

In 2004, Di Natale was the Greens' second Senate candidate, behind David Risstrom, who missed out on winning a Senate spot.[5][6]

Di Natale also ran for the position of Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 2004, coming second to the elected John So.[7]

In both 2002 and 2006, Di Natale was narrowly defeated in the seat of Melbourne in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, almost unseating ALP health minister Bronwyn Pike. Richard received 48% of the two-party preferred vote in both elections, missing out on a win.[8][9] Di Natale has acted as health spokesperson for the Greens in Victoria and in 2002 spoke about the Greens' support for harm reduction policies to manage illicit drug use.[10]

In April 2007, Di Natale spoke out about the health implications of climate change,[11] and later that year voiced concerns about terror laws in relation to the then suspect Dr Mohamed Haneef.[12][13]

Di Natale was nominated as the Australian Greens' lead senate candidate for Victoria for the 2010 federal election. Greens leader Senator Bob Brown described Dr Di Natale as the Greens' "next strongest hope" at this election.[14]

At the 2010 Australian Federal Election held on 21 August 2010, Dr Di Natale won a Senate seat representing Victoria. His term began on 1 July 2011. Upon taking up his seat in the Senate, Di Natale became the Greens' federal spokesperson for health. Dr Di Natale's other portfolios include sport, gambling, youth and multiculturalism.

Di Natale was elected unopposed as parliamentary leader of the Greens party room on 6 May 2015 following the resignation of Christine Milne from the position.[15]

Parliamentary careerEdit

In the 2010 Federal Election, the Australian Greens achieved balance of power in the House of Representatives and the Senate. This placed the party in a unique position to pursue its progressive legislative agenda.

Di Natale's achievements in parliament so far include securing almost $5 billion towards Medicare-funded dentistry, which he described as "laying the foundations for Denticare" – the Greens' policy of universally available Medicare-funded dentistry.

Senator Di Natale campaigned against the Australian government Future Fund's holdings in tobacco funds, a campaign that was ultimately successful with the Fund divesting the entirety of its tobacco holdings (approximately AUD $250 million) in 2012.[16]

Senator Di Natale has also secured and spearheaded Senate inquiries into many issues of public significance such as budget cuts, medicinal cannabis, the emergence of "superbugs",[17] hospital funding,[18] air pollution,[19] pharmaceutical transparency,[20] sports science[21] and gambling reform.[22] Senator Di Natale conducts ongoing campaigns for improved human rights in West Papua,[23] timely access to cost-effective drugs through Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,[24] and science-based public health policies in areas such as wind farms[25] and vaccination policy.[26]

Di Natale is the Chair of the Senate Select Committee into the Abbott Government's Budget Cuts and Deputy Chair of the Senate Select Committee into Health. He is the co-convenor of the Parliamentary Friends for Drug Policy and Law Reform, the Parliamentary Friends of West Papua and the Parliamentary Friends of Medicine.

Personal lifeEdit

Richard, his wife and two young sons live on a working farm in the foothills of Victoria's Otway Ranges.

Growing up in Melbourne, Richard played Australian rules football for the Coburg and Oakleigh Football Clubs in the Victorian Football Association (VFA) and is a supporter of the Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL).[27][4]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit