2023 — 4 speeches
Peter FitzSimons AM
Peter FitzSimons is the passionate, energetic Chair of the National Committee of the Australian Republican Movement, a non-party political not-for-profit that is working to transition Australia to a republic.
A well-respected columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and Sun-Herald, Peter speaks four languages, has played rugby for Australia, has co-hosted radio shows, has interviewed every Australian Prime Minister from Gough Whitlam through to Julia Gillard, and written 25 best-selling books.
He is the biographer not only of World Cup-winning Wallaby captains Nick Farr-Jones and John Eales, but also former Opposition Leader Kim Beazley, boxer Les Darcy, aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, war heroine Nancy Wake and Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson. In 2001 he was Australia's biggest selling non-fiction author, and duplicated that feat in 2004, with his book on Kokoda. He has been Australia's best-selling non-fiction author in the last decade and in November 2013 released his current best-seller on Ned Kelly.
Born on a farm in Peat's Ridge, Peter went to Knox Grammar School, before accepting an American Field Service Scholarship to go to Ohio for a year. He returned to complete an Arts degree at Sydney University majoring in government and political science. In 1984 he broke into the Wallabies under the coaching of Alan Jones, then lived in France and Italy playing rugby for the next five years whilst learning both languages as well as Spanish. Upon his return to Australia, he again played for the Wallabies, under Bob Dwyer, going on to play seven Tests.
In 1989, Peter joined The Sydney Morning Herald full-time and has been one of their most popular columnists since. Andrew Denton has called him "Australia's finest sports journalist."
Peter boasts an impressive list of interview credits including ex-president George Bush, Sir Edmund Hillary, Jodie Foster, Nicki Lauda, Joe Montana and Carl Lewis as well as all the major Australian sporting figures from Shane Gould to Lionel Rose to Herb Elliot.
He has the distinction of being the only Wallaby sent from the field in a match against the All Blacks - unjustly, he swears. He was the co-host of the Today Show 15 years before his wife, Lisa Wilkinson - even if it did last for only a day. He has fought a Sumo wrestler at the Opera House, danced on ice with Torville and Dean, told Alan Jones to his face that he is dead freaking wrong and opened a door for the redoubtable Germaine Greer... and lived to tell the tale!