John Woodley

John Woodley (b. Brisbane, Queensland 9 February 1938 - ) is a Christian Minister of religion and was a Senator representing the state of Queensland, Australia, in the Australian Senate.

Life before politics

Woodley was briefly in the Australian Defence Force from 1957-1959.


Woodley was educated at the Melbourne College of Divinity and Brisbane College of Theology.

Christian Ministry

Prior to entering politics, Woodley had been a Christian minister with the Methodist Church and its successor, the Uniting Church in Australia.

During his ministry, Woodley worked mainly in rural churches and had extensive contact with Aboriginal people. However, he also held a part time UCA Assembly (national secretariat) paid position as Convenor of the National Social Justice Committee between 1977 and 1982 while also working in a Queensland parish.

After his election, Woodley wished to remain a "Minister of the Word" and the church deemed his parish to be the Senate and his parishioners to be the people of Queensland.


Before his election Woodley had been Queensland President of the Australian Democrats.

Woodley was elected in March 1993 as the second Australian Democrats Senator for Queensland and appointed to his seat in July 1993. Woodley was for a time the Democrats' spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Family Services, Regional Development and Agriculture.

Woodley resigned from the Senate in August 2001 with three years to run in his second term, not long after the party's members voted for Natasha Stott Despoja to replace Meg Lees as the Parliamentary Leader of the Democrats. The reason given for his resignation was health reasons, but he also stated that "I don't have the same commitment to the new leadership team. Woodley was among the Democrat Senators who voted with Meg Lees to introduce the GST. The casual vacancy for his seat for the Democrats was filled by Senator John Cherry.

After politics

Woodley made several public statements about Democrats' internal politics, consistently voicing support for former Leader Meg Lees. He left the Democrats not long after retiring from the Senate and soon joined the Australian Progressive Alliance, the breakaway party set up by Meg Lees after she resigned from the Democrats. He served as the National President of this Party, which wound up after unsuccessfully contesting the 2004 federal election.

In retirement, Woodley continues to be active in church circles in Queensland.


  • Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee
  • Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation (October 1997-February 1999)


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