Senator for New South Wales

Senator Deborah O’Neill Deborah is a Labor Senator for New South Wales.

She first entered federal politics in 2010 when she was elected as the Member for Robertson.

During the 45th Parliament, Deborah was Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate, Shadow Assistant Minister for Innovation and Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health.

Deborah continues her hard work to build strong economy and fair society – tackling wage theft, rebuilding trust in franchising and auditing in Australia.

Before entering Federal Parliament, Deborah was a high school teacher on the Central Coast for the best part of three decades. She was also a lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Newcastle where she co-ordinated courses in teacher education. In addition to her teaching background Senator O’Neill owned a successful lawn mowing business with her husband.

Deborah grew up in Western Sydney before moving to the Central Coast. Her connection to the Central Coast community through education guided her into politics. Here she saw the power of the Parliament, combined with her passion for social justice, in bringing people together to create a more inclusive society free from inequality of opportunity.

She is passionate about ensuring all Australian men and women, regardless of their circumstances, have access to secure work, income and a world-class health and education system.


Parliamentary service

  • Elected to the House of Representatives for Robertson, New South Wales, 2010. Defeated at general elections 2013.
  • Chosen by the Parliament of New South Wales on 13.11.2013 under section 15 of the Constitution to represent that State in the Senate, vice the Hon. RJ Carr (resigned)(term ended 30.6.2014).
  • Chosen by the Parliament of New South Wales on 2.7.2014 under section 15 of the Constitution to represent that State in the Senate, vice the Hon. RJ Carr (resigned) (term ended 9.5.2016). Elected 2016.

Parliamentary positions

  • Member, Speaker’s Panel from 13.3.12 to 5.8.13.
  • Temporary Chair of Committees from 7.7.14 to 9.5.16.

Committee service

  • Senate Standing: Senators’ Interests from 7.7.14 to 9.5.16 and from 1.9.16; Substitute member Environment and Communications References on 18.11.16.
  • Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing: Education and Employment: Legislation and References Committees from 7.7.14 to 9.5.16, from 1.9.16 to 8.11.16, and from 5.12.17; substitute member Environment and Communications Legislation from 20.11.17 to 24.11.17.
  • Senate Select: School Funding from 12.12.13 to 30.6.14; Health from 26.6.14 to 30.6.14 and from 7.7.14 to 9.5.16 (Chair from 7.7.14 to 9.5.16); School Funding Investment from 4.2.16 to 9.5.16.
  • House of Representatives Standing: Education and Employment from 25.10.10 to 5.8.13; Health and Ageing from 25.10.10 to 5.8.13.
  • Joint Statutory: Public Accounts and Audit from 25.10.10 to 5.8.13; Corporations and Financial Services from 14.3.12 to 5.8.13, from 15.7.14 to 9.5.16 and from 12.9.16.
  • Joint Standing: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade from 7.7.14 to 9.5.16 and from 12.9.16; Electoral Matters from 12.9.16 to 15.9.16; National Broadband Network from 15.9.16.
  • Joint Select: Northern Australia from 9.12.13 to 30.6.14 and from 27.8.14 to 9.5.16.

Parliamentary party positions

  • Shadow Assistant Minister for Innovation from 14.9.16.
  • Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health from 14.9.16.

Party positions

  • Delegate, ALP State Conference (NSW) from 1996.
  • President, ALP Terrigal State Electorate Committee.
  • Member, ALP Health Policy Committee (NSW).
  • Delegate, ALP National Conference 2007 and 2009.


  • Born 4.6.1961, Parramatta, NSW.
  • Married.

Qualifications and occupation before entering Federal Parliament

  • BA (Syd./UNE), MA (ACU), DipT (ACU), GradDipLitEd (Deakin).
  • High school teacher.
  • Lecturer, School of Education, University of Newcastle Central Coast Campus.