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Penny Wong


Australia's first Asian-born woman in Parliament leads the country in talks about Climate Change.

Born of a Malaysian father and Australian mother, Penny Wong moved to Australia at the age of eight after her parents divorced. There she gained an interest in politics, and later earned her law degree.

In November 2007, Wong was named Australia's first minister specifically dedicated to climate change and water conservation by Australia's Prime Minister-elect, Kevin Rudd. She accompanied Rudd to Bali for the international climate change talks and led the final negotiations as Chair of the United Nations Working Group in the closing days of the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Wong, a member of the Labour Party, is also Australia's first gay Cabinet minister and well known for slamming the John Howard government for its anti-gay stance in 2006.

The Labour Party supports changes to the law to remove inequities in the tax and benefits system that discriminate against same-sex couples, but currently recognises only heterosexual marriages as legit – a change the gay community hopes Wong will be able to motivate.


First Published: 
August 2008

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debby ngDebby Ng is an environmental photojournalist whose work has been published in several regional and international magazines, including the award-winning Lebanese magazine, Environment & Development. She has also worked with numerous Asian and international non-government organisations such as the TRAFFIC, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

[email protected]

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