Les Johnson

The Honourable Leslie Royston "Les" Johnson AM (born 22 November 1924) is a former Australian politician, minister and High Commissioner.

In his mid-twenties, Les Johnson was elected as a Councillor for Sutherland Shire, New South Wales, where he served for five years.

Johnson was elected for the Australian Labor Party as the first member for the House of Representatives seat of Hughes at the 1955 election and held it until his defeat at the 1966 election. He regained Hughes at the 1969 election. He was re-elected on ten subsequent occasions, effectively serving in the National Parliament for 25 years.

During his Parliamentary career, Les Johnson was a member of Parliamentary Delegations to Papua New Guinea (1956), Japan (1958), ten Pacific Island countries (1977), USSR, Hungary and Romania (1978) and Peru, Venezuela, Chile and Brazil (1980). He was an Australian delegate to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conferences in Canada (1966) and Malaysia (1977). He visited allied forces in Vietnam (1966). He was an Australian delegate to the Delhi International COnference on Bangladesh (1971) and subsequently undertook an extensive study tour of India as a special guest of the Indian Government.

Les Johnson led Australian Parliamentary Delegations to Iran, Pakistan and India (1974) and participated in a Labor Party delegation to China (1979). He represented the ALP as an observer at political conferences held in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia (1982).

He was an adviser to, and member of, the Australian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly (1982).

Following Labor's win at the December 1972 election, he was appointed to the Whitlam ministry as Minister for Housing. In October 1973, he was appointed to the additional portfolio of Works. In November the two portfolios were combined and he was appointed Minister for Housing and Construction. In June 1975 he was appointed Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. He lost this position as a result of the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in November 1975. He subsequently became the Chief Opposition Whip for seven years. Labor returned to government at the March 1983 election, but he did not stand for a place in the ministry. However, under the Hawke Government, he was appointed Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Chairman of Committees. He also served as Acting Speaker of the House of Representatives. He resigned from Parliament in December 1983 and, shortly after, was appointed Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand. His position as High Commissioner was cut short following the serious illness of his daughter, Sally Anne Penman, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, and subsequently died in February 1988. However, he served as Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand from 1984–1987.

Les Johnson married Gladys (Peg) Jones, a nursing sister, formerly from Tenterfield, NSW, in 1947, and she died in 2002. They had three children, Grant, Sally (deceased) and Jenny. In 2003 Les Johnson married Marion Sharkey, and they now live at Shoal Bay, NSW.

Johnson was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in June 1990.

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