Former defence minister and ‘stalwart’ Peter Reith has died aged 72


  • Former Member for Flinders and defence minister Peter Reith has died aged 72, his family announced on Tuesday.
  • He served as a Member of the House of Representatives for more than 17 years, and held several portfolios.
  • His family confirmed he had been battling Alzheimer’s disease.
Former Liberal Party defence minister Peter Reith has died aged 72.
“It is with deep sadness that we confirm that following a brave battle with Alzheimer’s disease Peter Reith died peacefully on the afternoon of 8 November 2022”, his family said in a tweet on Tuesday evening.
Mr Reith served under Liberal leaders Malcolm Fraser, Andrew Peacock, John Hewson, Alexander Downer and John Howard.
After being elected to the seat of Flinders in 1982, Mr Reith served as a Member of the House of Representatives for more than 17 years.

He was the Liberal party’s deputy leader from 1990 to 1993 and served as a minister in the Howard government, having the portfolios of industrial relations, small business, employment and workplace relations and finally defence.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton paid tribute to the ‘stalwart’ on Tuesday night.
“If ever there was a stalwart of the Liberal Party, it was Peter Reith,” Mr Dutton wrote in a statement.
“He was loyal to each leader as he was to his party, whether in government or opposition.”
During his time as Minister for Industrial Relations, one of his most high profile acts was introducing tough reforms following the 1998 waterfront dispute.
In the 2001 election campaign Mr Reith became embroiled in the “children overboard affair”.
The Howard government claimed that asylum seekers threw children overboard but failed to correct the record when advised there was no evidence for the claims.

After leaving politics Mr Reith served as a company director and political commentator.

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