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Anne Ruston
Anne Ruston 2018-11-21.jpg
Ruston in 2018
Minister for Families and Social Services
Assumed office
29 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byPaul Fletcher
Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific
In office
28 August 2018 – 26 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byConcetta Fierravanti-Wells
Succeeded byAlex Hawke
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
In office
21 September 2015 – 28 August 2018
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byRichard Colbeck
Senator for South Australia
Assumed office
5 September 2012
Preceded byMary Jo Fisher
Personal details
Born (1963-06-10) 10 June 1963 (age 58)
Renmark, South Australia, Australia
Political partyLiberal
Alma materUniversity of Southern Queensland
OccupationChief executive

Anne Sowerby Ruston (born 10 June 1963) is an Australian politician who has served as Minister for Families and Social Services in the Morrison Government since 2019. She has been a Senator for South Australia since 2012.

Prior to entering politics Ruston was a commercial rose-grower and chief executive of the National Wine Centre. She was appointed to the Senate to fill a casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Mary Jo Fisher. She served as Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources in the Turnbull Government from 2015 to 2018 and as Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific in the Morrison Government from 2018 to 2019. She was elevated to cabinet following the 2019 election.

Early life

Ruston was born on 10 June 1963 in Renmark, South Australia. She went to Renmark High School where she was a classmate of future army chief Rick Burr.[1] She holds the degree of Bachelor of Business from the University of Southern Queensland.[2]


In 1987, Ruston began working as an electorate officer for state Liberal MP Peter Arnold.[2][3] She joined the staff of state tourism minister Graham Ingerson in 1993 as a tourism policy adviser, and in 1996 was appointed as an executive officer at the Wine and Tourism Council. Her appointment was controversial as Ingerson was accused by the state opposition of interfering in the selection process in her favour.[4][5]

Ruston was closely involved with the creation of the National Wine Centre of Australia, initially as project director and then as the centre's inaugural CEO.[4] It was publicly announced by Premier John Olsen in 1998 as a centre for wine tourism and education, as well as office space for various wine industry groups.[6] Ruston oversaw the construction phase of the centre, announcing three months prior to its opening in 2001 that she would not renew her contract.[7] In 2000 she and the centre's chairman Rick Allert were called before a parliamentary committee over possible breaches of procurement guidelines.[4] By the time of her departure the centre was employing over 100 people,[8] but was reportedly struggling to break even and required a bailout from the state government. Its financial difficulties were attributed to a decline in air travel following the September 11 attacks and the collapse of Ansett Australia. However, independent MP Peter Lewis stated that the business plan approved by Ruston and Allert overstated likely visitor numbers.[9]

In 2003, Ruston and her husband purchased Ruston's Roses, a commercial rose-growing property in Renmark established by her uncle David Ruston in 1948.[10] He was the first Australian to serve as president of the World Federation of Rose Societies.[11] At the time of purchase it reportedly contained 50,000 rose bushes of 4,000 varieties and over 700 varieties of iris, spread over 11 hectares (27 acres).[12] However, as a result of the Millennium drought she had to suspend commercial growing for three years, and the gardens subsequently evolved into "primarily a retail-tourism business" with the addition of a tourism centre, function rooms and cafe.[13] She was managing director until her appointment to the Senate in 2012, after which she remained as a co-owner.[14]


Ruston became a vice-president of the Liberal Party of Australia (South Australian Division) in 2011. In May 2012 she won preselection in third place on the party's Senate ticket for the next federal election, a position seen as "unsafe" due to the candidacy of independent senator Nick Xenophon.[15] However, incumbent senator Mary Jo Fisher resigned the following month and she was instead chosen for the resulting casual vacancy,[16] receiving support from the party's moderate faction in what The Australian described as a "factional brawl".[15] She was formally appointed by a joint sitting of the Parliament of South Australia on 5 September 2012.[17]

Ruston was a deputy whip from September 2014 to May 2016.[2] She became Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources in the First Turnbull Ministry in September 2015.[13] During the August 2018 Liberal leadership spills, she served as Manager of Government Business in the Senate for five days. She was subsequently appointed Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific in the First Morrison Ministry.[2]

Following the 2019 election, Ruston was elevated to the Cabinet and was appointed Minister for Families and Social Services in the Second Morrison Ministry.[18] She was additionally reappointed as Manager of Government Business in the Senate. In March 2021 she was also made Minister for Women's Safety, a new position.[2]

Political positions

In 2017, when Cory Bernardi moved a motion to ban sex-selective abortion, Ruston was one of the ten senators who voted in favour. The motion was defeated by a vote of 10 – 36.[19][20]

Personal life

Ruston is married to Richard Fewster with one son.[21]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e "Senator the Hon Anne Ruston". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  3. ^ "First speech". Hansard. Parliament of Australia. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  4. ^ a b c James, Colin (17 November 2001). "Wine centre woes". The Advertiser. Adelaide.
  5. ^ "Senator-elect Anne Ruston is no stranger to political controversies". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  6. ^ "$40m Centre For The Industry Planned For Adelaide". The Canberra Times. 15 November 1998.
  7. ^ Clarke, Craig (8 July 2001). "Search starts for wine centre boss". The Sunday Mail. Adelaide.
  8. ^ Austin, Nigel (5 October 2001). "New centre at the cutting edge of national culture". The Advertiser. Adelaide.
  9. ^ Williams, Thea; DiGirolamo, Rebecca (27 December 2001). "Wine centre bailout flows". The Australian.
  10. ^ "Ruston's to stay in family". ABC News. 15 July 2003. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  11. ^ "Tributes pour in for David Ruston, the man who brought roses to the people". ABC News. 20 May 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  12. ^ Kerr Forsyth, Holly (29 November 2003). "Life is a bed of roses". Weekend Australian.
  13. ^ a b Kotsios, Natalie (10 November 2015). "Perfect pathway for assistant Agriculture and Water Minister Senator Anne Ruston". The Weekly Times. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  14. ^ Evans, Simon (25 September 2015). "Rose-growing senator says thorns removed and Mr X faces harder task". Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  15. ^ a b Owen, Michael (25 June 2012). "SA Lib factions at war over Senate vacancy caused by retiring Mary Jo Fisher". The Australian. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  16. ^ Owen, Michael (27 July 2012). "Liberals choose Anne Ruston as Mary Jo Fisher replacement in Senate". The Australian. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  17. ^ "Ruston formally appointed to Senate". ABC News. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  18. ^ Dennett, Harley (26 May 2019). "New cabinet, machinery of government changes: Second Morrison Ministry". The Mandarin. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Keogh, Melissa (26 August 2014). "Showtime for Richard". The Murray Pioneer. Retrieved 6 January 2016.

External links

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Mary Jo Fisher
Senator for South Australia
Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Fletcher
Minister for Families and Social Services
Preceded by
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells
as Minister for International Development and the Pacific
Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific
Succeeded by
Alex Hawke
as Minister for International Development and the Pacific
New ministerial post Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
Succeeded by
Richard Colbeck
This page was last edited on 12 August 2021, at 19:24
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