Greg Combet comes from a wine making family, growing up at Penfold’s Minchinbury cellars in the western suburbs of Sydney.
He studied mining engineering at the University of New South Wales, working in the coal industry and later in community organisations. After working in the field of occupational health and safety, he went on to become a union official, at the same time graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Sydney. He also has a Graduate Diploma in Labour Relations and the Law.
After working for the Waterside Workers Federation for some years, Greg joined the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in 1993 and was leader of the ACTU from 1999 to 2007.
During his time at the ACTU, Greg oversaw numerous national wage cases to secure pay rises for low-paid Australian workers.
Greg also led the union movement in the high profile 1998 waterfront dispute, the union campaign that secured employee entitlements for 16,000 workers after the collapse of Ansett, and the campaign that secured a multi-billion dollar settlement for Australian asbestos victims from James Hardie.
As ACTU leader he conducted the successful “Rights at Work” campaign against the Howard Government’s workplace relations laws.
Greg is a former director of Members Equity Bank and the $30 billion superannuation fund, Australian Super.
He was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2006.
Following the Labor Party’s Federal Election win in November 2007, Greg was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement in the Rudd Labor Government.
In February 2009 he was appointed the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and in June 2009 was appointed Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and the Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change.
On 26th February 2010 he was awarded additional responsibility within the Climate Change and Energy Efficiency portfolio, giving him the direct responsibility for winding up the insulation program and putting the new Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme in place.
After the 2010 Federal Election, the Gillard Labor Government was formed on 7th September. Greg was promoted to Cabinet in the role of Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
Greg is a keen student of Australian labour history, a long time fancier of Gouldian finches and has a natural interest in the méthode Champenoise as it is applied to the production of sparkling Shiraz.
Articles by Greg Combet
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