Ian Macfarlane
Macfarlane in 2015
Minister for Industry and Science
In office
18 September 2013 – 21 September 2015
Prime MinisterTony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Preceded byKim Carr
Succeeded byChristopher Pyne
Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources
In office
26 November 2001 – 3 December 2007
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byNick Minchin
Succeeded byKim Carr Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
Martin Ferguson Minister for Resources and Energy
Minister for Small Business
In office
30 January 2001 – 26 November 2001
Prime MinisterJohn Howard
Preceded byPeter Reith
Succeeded byJoe Hockey
Member of the Australian Parliament for Groom
In office
3 October 1998 – 9 May 2016
Preceded byBill Taylor
Succeeded byJohn McVeigh
Personal details
Born (1955-04-05) 5 April 1955 (age 69)
Kingaroy, Queensland, Australia
Political partyLiberal (federal)
Liberal National (state, 2010–present)
Residence(s)Toowoomba, Queensland

Ian Elgin Macfarlane HonFAusIMM (born 5 April 1955) is an Australian former politician who was a member of the House of Representatives from 1998 to 2016, representing the Liberal Party. He served as a minister in the Howard and Abbott governments.

Macfarlane was born in Kingaroy, Queensland, and was a farmer before entering politics. He was elected to parliament at the 1998 federal election, representing the Division of Groom. Macfarlane was appointed Minister for Small Business in January 2001. After the 2001 election, he was made Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, a position he held until the Howard government's defeat at the 2007 election. Macfarlane returned to cabinet in 2013 as Minister for Industry (later Industry and Science) in the Abbott government. He lost his position when Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister in September 2015, and retired from politics at the 2016 election. He is currently chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council.

Early life

Macfarlane was born in Kingaroy, Queensland, and was a farmer and president of the Queensland Graingrowers Association before entering politics. He acquired the nickname "Chainsaw" from ABC rural reporter Judy Kennedy due to his raspy voice. He now attributes the moniker to his ability to "cut through red tape",[1] and it was alluded to in his 1998 election campaign through the slogan "The Right Voice for Groom".


Macfarlane was elected to the House of Representatives at the 1998 federal election, representing the Division of Groom for the Liberal Party. As a minister in the Coalition government under John Howard he held the portfolio of Minister for Small Business from January 2001, before being promoted to the Cabinet role of Industry, Tourism and Resources in November 2001.[2] After the defeat of the Coalition in the 2007 federal election he served in the shadow portfolios of Trade as well as Infrastructure and Water, and was the Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources.[3]

In an interview with Four Corners on 9 November 2009, Macfarlane said that his position on global warming had changed "a bit", since he had recognised a greater importance for mankind's contribution.[4] Acting as Climate Change Spokesman for the Coalition in 2009, he spent 5 weeks in negotiations around a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme with Minister for Climate Change Penny Wong,[5] before a leadership spill deposed party leader Malcolm Turnbull and replaced him with Tony Abbott,[6] and the policy was overturned.

With the election of the Abbott Coalition government in September 2013 he was appointed Minister for Industry.[7] He was later sworn in as the Minister for Industry and Science on 23 December 2014. Upon the ascension of the Turnbull government in September 2015, he was dropped from the new ministry despite being a Turnbull supporter. On 3 December 2015, Macfarlane announced his intention to sit with the federal Nationals. He claimed that his experience representing regional interests was "second only to" retiring federal Nationals leader and fellow Queenslander Warren Truss.[8][9] Although local party members overwhelmingly supported Macfarlane's decision, the Liberal National Party of Queensland executive blocked the move. LNP officials said that even with the overwhelming support of LNP members in Macfarlane's seat, "the interests of our party beyond his electorate" required that Macfarlane stay in the Liberal party room.[10]

On 15 February 2016, Macfarlane announced he would retire from parliament and not contest the 2016 federal election.[11]

Later career

In September 2016, it was announced that Macfarlane had been appointed chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council.[12] Greens Senators Larissa Waters and Lee Rhiannon claimed[13] that the appointment seemed to breach the current statement of ministerial standards, which requires that ex-ministers not engage in lobbying for an eighteen-month period after ceasing to be a minister.[14] Macfarlane is also chairman of the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre,[15] a position he has held since May 2016.

Despite retaining his position as Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council, in which he lobbies on behalf of some of Australia's largest carbon emitters, in late 2021 the Morrison government appointed Macfarlane to the board of the CSIRO, Australia's lead science agency.[16] As head of that Council, he authorised an ad campaign against the Queensland Government's coal royalty policy (calling it a "tax"), even though his former political party was happy with the policy.[17] The campaign, extending over more than a year, cost over A$40m.


  1. ^ "Biography". Ian Macfarlane MP. Archived from the original on 29 July 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
  2. ^ "The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Member for Groom (Qld)". Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 1 September 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
  3. ^ "Ian Macfarlane MP". Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  4. ^ "Program Transcript". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 9 November 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  5. ^ "Debate conducted on old-school rules". The Australian. 18 November 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  6. ^ "The Cloud of Climate of Change". The Courier Mail. 28 November 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  7. ^ "Tony Abbott's cabinet and outer ministry". smh.com.au. AAP. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  8. ^ Coorey, Phil (3 December 2015). "Ian Macfarlane defects to Nationals in shock for Malcolm Turnbull". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Liberal MP Ian Macfarlane defects to Nationals in shock move against Malcolm Turnbull". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 December 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  10. ^ Anderson, Stephanie. "Ian Macfarlane blocked from moving to Nationals by LNP executive". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Ian Macfarlane won't contest 2016 election". Sky News. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Former resources minister Ian Macfarlane appointed to run Queensland mining lobby". ABC. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Macfarlane's new job at Queensland Resources Council is revolving door in action". greensmps.org.au. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  14. ^ "Statement of Ministerial Standards" (PDF). Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC). December 2015. Retrieved 26 September 2016. See Section 2.24
  15. ^ "About". IMCRC. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Board members".
  17. ^ "Mining's New Campaign Against Coal Royalties". Retrieved 16 November 2023.
Parliament of Australia Preceded byBill Taylor Member for Groom 1998–2016 Succeeded byJohn McVeigh Political offices Preceded byPeter Reith Minister for Small Business 2001 Succeeded byJoe Hockey Preceded byNick Minchin Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources 2001–2007 Succeeded byKim Carras Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Succeeded byMartin Fergusonas Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism Preceded byKim Carras Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Minister for Industry 2013–2015 Succeeded byChristopher Pyneas Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science