Don Dunstan - Former Premier of South Australia, Facts and Family

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Don Dunstan's Personal Details

Don Dunstan was a South Australian politician, best-known as the 35th Premier of South Australia

InformationDetail
BirthdaySeptember 21, 1926
Died onFebruary 6, 1999
NationalityAustralian
FamousFormer Premier of South Australia, Leaders, Political Leaders
SpousesAdele Koh, Gretel Dunstan
Childrens Andrew Dunstan, Bronwen Dunstan, Paul Dunstan
Universities
  • St Peter's College
  • Adelaide
  • 1948 - University of Adelaide
  • University of Adelaide
Birth PlaceSuva
Born CountryFiji
Political IdeologyAustralian Labor Party
GenderMale
Sun SignVirgo
Born inSuva
Famous asFormer Premier of South Australia
Died at Age72

// Famous Former Premier of South Australia

Don Dunstan's photo

Who is Don Dunstan?

Don Dunstan was a South Australian politician, best-known as the 35th Premier of South Australia and the 38th Attorney-General of the same state. He is largely recognized as an unusually charismatic and outspoken politician, committed to the causes of public education and public health, reduced censorship laws, anti-discrimination legislation, environmental causes, universal suffrage, Aboriginal land rights, the decriminalization of homosexuality, consumer protection, electoral reforms, lower voting ages and other reforms. Aside from his political stances, he is widely associated with tendencies of the so-called “Dunstan Decade”, such as increased cultural exchange with Asia and increased multiculturalism within Southern Australia.

// Famous Political Leaders

Childhood & Early Life

Don Dunstan was born on September 21, 1926, in Suva, Fiji to Australian parents of Cornish ancestry.

His parents, Francis Vivian Dunstan and Ida May Dunstan, raised their son in Fiji, where Francis had a position for the Adelaide Steamship Company, until Don became ill at the age of 7.

From the age of seven till ten, he lived in Murray Bridge, South Australia, with his maternal grandparents, where it was hoped the drier climate would improve his condition.

At the age of ten, he moved back to Fiji, with the intention of beginning his secondary schooling there. However, he instead returned to Australia to attend St. Peter’s College, as he had succeeded in securing a full scholarship on the merit of his public speaking abilities.

During his private school years in Australia, he lived with relatives at Glenelg, a beach-side suburb of Adelaide, instead of boarding at the institution.

He graduated in 1943, and he was among the top 30 graduates from that year, from throughout the state.

Career

Following secondary schooling, Dunstan enrolled at the University of Adelaide, where he studied law and arts and became increasingly involved in student political organizations.

In 1949, he moved to Fiji with his wife Gretel, where he was admitted to the bar and began working as an attorney.

In 1951, he returned to Adelaide and began establishing a legal practice in Australia, briefly taking in boarders while he worked to get his law office started.

In 1953, he began his political career when he was nominated as the Norwood electoral district’s Labor Party candidate, winning the seat and joining the South Australian House of Assembly.

In 1953, he criticized the LDL’s introduction of the ‘Government Electoral Bill’ with unusually strong language, gaining attention for his outspoken approach to politics.

In 1958, he again received ample press coverage for his strong opposition to the handling of the Max Stuart trial, which further established his reputation as a reformer and champion of social welfare issues.

In 1960, he became president of the State Labor Party and, though he strove to be either Opposition Leader or Deputy Leader, he could not get either of the two.

Between 1961 and 1965, he campaigned to bring an end to the “White Australia Policy”, finally achieving success in 1965 and largely taking credit for the accomplishment.

In the run-up to the 1968 elections, he emerged as a popular favorite, with polls showing an 84 percent approval rating. However, the elections resulted in a hung parliament, with evenly divided party lines, and he was simply the Leader of the Opposition.

In the elections of 1970, he led his party with 27 seats, giving it the majority.

From 1970 until 1979, the so-called “Dunstan Decade”, he held the post of Premier of South Australia, making him the 35th individual to hold the office.

In 1975, he became the 38th Attorney-General of South Australia, returning to his roots in law.

In 1979, following the death of his wife in 1978 and his own declining health, he announced his retirement from office.

Awards & Achievements

From 1980 to 1981, he briefly edited the magazine POL, the first post of his “life after politics”.

In 1982, he became the director of tourism of Victoria, moving away from the state of South Australia, which he had served for so many years, to many constituents’ surprise.

In the 1980s and 1990s, he chaired several community-oriented organizations as well as holding academic positions related to politics and public policy.

In the 1990s, he also wrote for ‘Adelaide Review’ magazine, addressing a range of political and social themes.

Personal Life & Legacy

Dunstan was married to Gretel Dunstan from 1949 until 1974, having one daughter and two sons together.

In 1973, he remarried, this time to Adele Koh, a Malaysian journalist - they remained together until Adele’s sudden death in 1978.

In 1986, he met Stephen Cheng, the man he became partners with during his final years of life, living together in Norwood throughout Dunstan’s bout with cancers of the throat and lung.

On 6 February 1999, he died of inoperable lung cancer, following several years of severe sickness.

The University of Adelaide established their Don Dunstan Foundation in his memory.

Since 2003, the Adelaide Film Festival has given ‘The Don Dunstan Award’ to exceptional individuals working in the Australian film industry.

The Electoral Commission of South Australia renamed the Norwood seat as the Dunstan seat in his honor.

Trivia

In 1994, he opened a restaurant called “Don’s Table” together with Stephen Cheng, his partner.

From his years in private school, he was identified as a “maverick”, or, in the words of one of his schoolteachers, a “congenital rebel”.

He didn’t like identifying himself according to his family background; when once asked about his roots, he replied, “I’m a refugee from it and thank God for somewhere honest to flee to!”

As a student, prior to joining the Labor Party, he was a member of the University Socialist Club and, for two weeks, the Communist Party.

// Famous Leaders

Don Dunstan biography timelines

  • // 21st Sep 1926
    Don Dunstan was born on September 21, 1926, in Suva, Fiji to Australian parents of Cornish ancestry.
  • // 1943
    He graduated in 1943, and he was among the top 30 graduates from that year, from throughout the state.
  • // 1949
    In 1949, he moved to Fiji with his wife Gretel, where he was admitted to the bar and began working as an attorney.
  • // 1949 To 1974
    Dunstan was married to Gretel Dunstan from 1949 until 1974, having one daughter and two sons together.
  • // 1951
    In 1951, he returned to Adelaide and began establishing a legal practice in Australia, briefly taking in boarders while he worked to get his law office started.
  • // 1953
    In 1953, he began his political career when he was nominated as the Norwood electoral district’s Labor Party candidate, winning the seat and joining the South Australian House of Assembly.
  • // 1953
    In 1953, he criticized the LDL’s introduction of the ‘Government Electoral Bill’ with unusually strong language, gaining attention for his outspoken approach to politics.
  • // 1958
    In 1958, he again received ample press coverage for his strong opposition to the handling of the Max Stuart trial, which further established his reputation as a reformer and champion of social welfare issues.
  • // 1960
    In 1960, he became president of the State Labor Party and, though he strove to be either Opposition Leader or Deputy Leader, he could not get either of the two.
  • // 1968
    In the run-up to the 1968 elections, he emerged as a popular favorite, with polls showing an 84 percent approval rating. However, the elections resulted in a hung parliament, with evenly divided party lines, and he was simply the Leader of the Opposition.
  • // 1970
    In the elections of 1970, he led his party with 27 seats, giving it the majority.
  • // 1970 To 1979
    From 1970 until 1979, the so-called “Dunstan Decade”, he held the post of Premier of South Australia, making him the 35th individual to hold the office.
  • // 1973 To 1978
    In 1973, he remarried, this time to Adele Koh, a Malaysian journalist - they remained together until Adele’s sudden death in 1978.
  • // 1975
    In 1975, he became the 38th Attorney-General of South Australia, returning to his roots in law.
  • // 1978 To 1979
    In 1979, following the death of his wife in 1978 and his own declining health, he announced his retirement from office.
  • // 1980 To 1981
    From 1980 to 1981, he briefly edited the magazine POL, the first post of his “life after politics”.
  • // 1982
    In 1982, he became the director of tourism of Victoria, moving away from the state of South Australia, which he had served for so many years, to many constituents’ surprise.
  • // 1986
    In 1986, he met Stephen Cheng, the man he became partners with during his final years of life, living together in Norwood throughout Dunstan’s bout with cancers of the throat and lung.
  • // 1994
    In 1994, he opened a restaurant called “Don’s Table” together with Stephen Cheng, his partner.
  • // 6th Feb 1999
    On 6 February 1999, he died of inoperable lung cancer, following several years of severe sickness.
  • // 2003
    Since 2003, the Adelaide Film Festival has given ‘The Don Dunstan Award’ to exceptional individuals working in the Australian film industry.

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Don Dunstan's FAQ

  • What is Don Dunstan birthday?

    Don Dunstan was born at 1926-09-21

  • When was Don Dunstan died?

    Don Dunstan was died at 1999-02-06

  • Where was Don Dunstan died?

    Don Dunstan was died in Norwood

  • Which age was Don Dunstan died?

    Don Dunstan was died at age 72

  • Where is Don Dunstan's birth place?

    Don Dunstan was born in Suva

  • What is Don Dunstan nationalities?

    Don Dunstan's nationalities is Australian

  • Who is Don Dunstan spouses?

    Don Dunstan's spouses is Adele Koh, Gretel Dunstan

  • Who is Don Dunstan childrens?

    Don Dunstan's childrens is Andrew Dunstan, Bronwen Dunstan, Paul Dunstan

  • What was Don Dunstan universities?

    Don Dunstan studied at St Peter's College, Adelaide, 1948 - University of Adelaide, University of Adelaide

  • What is Don Dunstan's political ideology?

    Don Dunstan's political ideology is Australian Labor Party

  • What is Don Dunstan's sun sign?

    Don Dunstan is Virgo

  • How famous is Don Dunstan?

    Don Dunstan is famouse as Former Premier of South Australia