Federal Election: Everything you need to know about Penny Wong

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·News Reporter
·5-min read
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With the next Federal Election to take place by May 2022, Yahoo News Australia has answered the most popular questions people are Googling about shadow foreign minister Penny Wong.

How old is Penny Wong?

Penny Wong is 53 years old. She was born November 5, 1968.

What nationality is Penny Wong?

Penelope Ying-Yen Wong was born in Malaysia to an Australian mother and Malaysian father with Chinese ancestry.

Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong smiling.
Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong is among Anthony Albanese's four-person leadership team of the Labor Party. Source: Getty Images.

Where did Penny Wong grow up?

Her family moved to Australia in 1976 when she was eight years old, and settled in Adelaide.

Ms Wong said she experienced bullying at school due to her heritage.

Who is Penny Wong’s partner?

Ms Wong's partner, Sophie Allouache, is a public servant and former University of Adelaide Students' Association president.

They have two daughters together who were born through IVF from an anonymous sperm donor.

Who was Penny Wong's brother?

Ms Wong’s brother Toby took his own life 10 days after his 30th birthday, which was also the day on which she was elected to the senate in 2001.

Ms Wong had stated her brother was also the victim of bullying due to his heritage, paying tribute to him in her maiden speech in parliament where she also attacked former prime minister John Howard for his politicisation of race.

Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong points her finger in parliament.
Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong has been a harsh critic of the Morrison government over its bellicose stance on China. Source: Getty Images.

Why did Penny Wong clash with former PM Paul Keating?

Former prime minister Paul Keating – known for his dovish position on China's expansion – recently took aim at his own party for backing the government's plan to build nuclear submarines to counter China's military posturing, accusing Ms Wong of blindly following the Coalition.

"Penny Wong has taken the position that there shouldn't be an ounce of daylight between her and the Liberal Party," Mr Keating told the National Press Club.

"That way, you end up with a reasonably quiet political life.

"You have no big disputes because you're glued to the government, but you make no national progress."

Is Penny Wong a future leader of the Labor Party?

Ms Wong is part of the four-person leadership team of the Labor Party along with leader Anthony Albanese, Richard Marles and Kristina Keneally.

Her position in the senate would normally rule her out as a potential prime minister.

While there is no rule against the prime minister being a senator, anyone elected to the role traditionally sits in the lower house where government is formed.

What is Penny Wong's position on China?

Ms Wong has been a vocal critic of the Morrison government’s stance on China.

She recently called on the Morrison government to change its tack in China dealings, saying that defence minister Peter Dutton is "amping up" the possibility of war for domestic political gain.

"Amping up the prospect of war against a superpower is the most dangerous election tactic in Australian history," she said in November. 

What was Penny Wong's job before she entered politics?

Ms Wong studied law and arts at the University of Adelaide, graduating with honours in 1992.

She worked for the trade union covering furniture industry employees before moving to Sydney in 1995 to work as a ministerial adviser to the then NSW Labor government.

When did Penny Wong enter politics?

Ms Wong was elected to the senate for the Labor Party in 2001 and has been re-elected twice, in 2007 and 2013.

What positions has Penny Wong held in politics?

In June 2005, Ms Wong was appointed shadow minister for employment and workforce participation, as well as for corporate governance and responsibility.

After the December 2006 reshuffle she added the portfolios of public administration and accountability.

With the Labor election victory in 2007, Ms Wong was made minister for climate change and water, adding energy efficiency to the mix in early 2010.

She was the first Asian-born person to serve in an Australian cabinet.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese sits with shadow foreign minister Penny Wong.
Penny Wong (pictured with Labor leader Anthony Albanese) has strong leadership credentials but her position in the senate traditionally rules her out as a potential prime minister. Source: Getty Images.

Under Julia Gillard’s government in 2010, Ms Wong was promoted to minister for finance and deregulation.

In 2013 she retained these positions after being elected deputy leader in the senate.

Following Kevin Rudd’s return to the Labor leadership in 2013, Ms Wong was further promoted to leader in the senate, the first woman to hold the role.

She then went on to become the leader of the opposition in the senate and shadow foreign minister following Labor’s 2013 election defeat.

She retained her positions under new leader Anthony Albanese and was appointed to his four-person leadership team.

Ms Wong was also a strong voice for same-sex marriage when the legislation was passed in 2017, despite supporting the Labor Party’s traditional marriage policy prior to the 2013 election.

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