Frank Donovan (politician)

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Frank Donovan
Member of the Legislative Assembly
of Western Australia
In office
9 May 1987 – 4 February 1989
Preceded byArthur Tonkin
Succeeded byNone (seat abolished)
In office
4 February 1989 – 6 February 1993
Preceded byNone (new seat)
Succeeded byClive Brown
Personal details
Born (1947-01-28) 28 January 1947 (age 76)
Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, England
Political partyLabor (to 1991)
Other political
Independent (from 1991)

Francis Anthony "Frank" Donovan (born 28 January 1947) is a former Australian politician who was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia from 1987 to 1993. A Vietnam veteran, Donovan worked as a social worker before entering politics. He was a member of the Labor Party until 1991, when he resigned to sit as an independent.

Early life[edit]

Donovan was born in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, England, to Cecelia Mary (née Fletcher) and James Francis Donovan. In 1964, after leaving school, he moved to Australia and enlisted in the Australian Army. He served a tour of duty with the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment during the Vietnam War, and on his return was posted to the Balmoral Naval Hospital in Sydney as a welfare officer. Donovan left the army in 1969, and moved to Western Australia the following year. After a few years as a self-employed cabinet-maker, he moved to Roebourne (a small town in the Pilbara), where he was employed as a welfare officer by the state government. In 1977, Donovan began studying at the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT), graduating with a Bachelor of Social Work in 1980. He subsequently worked as a researcher for Graeme Campbell, a federal Labor MP, and then as a social worker. He was also involved in the formation of a statewide association for Vietnam veterans.[1]


Donovan first stood for parliament at the 1983 state election, but lost to Peter Coyne (the sitting Liberal member) in the seat of Murchison-Eyre. Four years later, he won the 1987 Morley-Swan by-election, which had been caused by the resignation of Arthur Tonkin (a former Labor minister). Donovan was re-elected at the 1989 state election, winning the renamed seat of Morley.[2] He was subsequently made deputy chairman of committees in the Legislative Assembly, holding the position until October 1991, when he resigned from the Labor Party to sit as an independent.[1] Donovan had been a prominent opponent of the federal Labor government's decision to send troops to the Gulf War, although the "last straw" for him before his resignation from the party was the state Labor government's decision to grant land to the fledgling University of Notre Dame Australia, a private Catholic university in Fremantle.[3] He was the third Labor MP to leave the party in 1991, along with Pam Buchanan and Ian Alexander, and their combined resignations meant the Labor Party (led by Carmen Lawrence) was reduced to a minority government.[4] Donovan did not re-contest his seat at the 1993 state election, and subsequently returned to social work. He moved to Victoria in 1995.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Francis Anthony Donovan – Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  2. ^ Black, David; Prescott, Valerie (1997). Election statistics : Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, 1890-1996. Perth, [W.A.]: Western Australian Parliamentary History Project and Western Australian Electoral Commission. ISBN 0730984095.
  3. ^ Frank Noakes, "WA MP quits Labor", Green Left Weekly, 16 October 1991. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  4. ^ The Lawrence Government: Other Perspectives, The Carmen Lawrence Collection, Curtin University Library. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
Parliament of Western Australia
Preceded by Member for Morley-Swan
New seat Member for Morley
Succeeded by