Whether it be as a country police officer, grazier, business operator or member of the LNP executive, Barry O’Sullivan brings a wealth of experience to his role as Senator for Queensland.
During his first 100 days in the position, Barry has explained his clear objective is to advocate and initiate policies that lift the standard of living, including service-delivery and economic sustainability, across rural and regional Queensland, which has sustained generations of his family for more than a century.
Born in Gogango, Central Queensland, Barry was educated at St Joseph’s Wanda Convent and the Christina Brother College (now Cathedral College) at Rockhampton.
Upon leaving school, he was employed as an office boy at The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin and The Longreach Leader newspapers before joining a road construction crew building the Beef Development Road from the Five Ways north of Cloncurry to the Gregory River Crossing.
Barry joined the Queensland police in 1976, the same year he married Annie Van Lathum of Barcaldine.
His commenced his policing career in Brisbane serving in Inala, the City Beat, the Metro CIB the Burglary Unit, the Fraud Squad and the Drug Squad.
However, wanting to return his young family to regional Queensland, Barry transferred to the Rockhampton Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) in 1979 and later served in the Moranbah CIB region (a one man detective office), which included the districts of Nebo, Glenden, Dysart, Moranbah, Clermont and Charters Towers.
Among his achievements during this period was a research grant to attend the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) National Academy to study the profiling of serial offenders.
Following the Fitzgerald Inquiry, Barry was appointed to be among the Queensland “change” agents to implement the recommendations in the Central Police Region, which stretched from Bowen to Gladstone and across to the Northern Territory border.
He was appointed Acting Staff Officer to the Assistant Commissioner in the central region, having the responsibility of supervising the project that restructured the framework of the Queensland Police Service in line with the Fitzgerald recommendations.
In 1990 Barry worked with the Corrective Services Commission by the Queensland Public Service to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations from the Black Deaths in Custody Royal Commission and the Kennedy Review into Queensland prisons.
Over some 15 years of police service, Barry was awarded – two imperial honours (Bronze medal for Bravery, the Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal); a Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery, an additional Commissioner’s Commendation for Service and two Commissioner’s Favourable Records.
Upon retiring from the police force, Barry established an Insurance Loss Adjusting practice which specialised in the preparation of briefs of evidence in civil litigation cases associated with world-wide catastrophic aviation accidents (principally international flights). He has worked on crash investigations all over the world.
Barry also established Jilbridge (currently NewLands) – a vertically integrated construction and development business (both civil and structural) based in Toowoomba, which currently employs over 100 staff.
Barry and his family have also operated livestock properties and contracted earthmoving services across leased and owned holdings at Cooyar, Ravensborne and Goondiwindi.
In the lead up to the merger of the Liberal and National Parties, Barry was asked to assist in overseeing the registration of the new entity, the LNP. He was appointed honorary Treasurer.
He served in role during the 2008 merger until his pre-selection to the Senate seat vacated by Barnaby Joyce, who had resigned to contest the House of Representatives seat of New England at the 2013 federal election.
Barry served on the Candidate Review Committee between 2009 and 2013, going on to be appointed Chair of the Committee in 2010, before winning pre-selection himself in 2013 to take over the senate seat made available following Current-Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce’s decision to challenge the Lower House seat of New England in regional New South Wales.
Barry was officially appointed to the Senate by the Queensland Parliament on 11 February 2014.
Barry used his maiden speech the following month to state his primary focus during his time in Federal Parliament would be dedicated to pushing for policies that enable the ‘rehydration’ of rural and regional Queensland.
As Barry said in his Maiden speech: “decades of progressive restructuring of government agencies with an emphasis on a corporatized model – compounded by the overarching principles of economic rationalism – have seen us significantly and aggressively reduce government based and government funded services to many parts of regional and rural Australia.
“Whilst all levels of Government acknowledge community services obligations and a responsibility to distribute the wealth of our nation evenly amongst its citizens, we tend to struggle in the delivery of these commitments the further we get away from places where the postcodes end in three zeroes.
“During my time in this chamber, I will be applying the test of fairness and equity to policies and legislation that has the potential to impact the great people of regional and rural Queensland.
“I will be particularly looking for things that support the rejuvenation of non-metropolitan communities, things that will help small family businesses and the family corporations – particularly those in agriculture and allied support industries. In short, I intend to support businesses that underpin this Nation’s wealth and economic security. Those enterprises that directly impact on the fortunes of our standard of living.”
Barry and Annie, who passed away in 2008, raised four children together. The extended O’Sullivan family now includes eight grandchildren. He lives in Toowoomba.