The Hon. Lawrence John Porter, MP (b. May 17, 1950, Port Louis, Mauritius) is the Prime Minister of Georgeland. He was elected to the position on August 6, 2010 and sworn into office a week later. Porter is the first black Prime Minister of Georgeland and, after Barack Obama, the second black head of government in a predominantly white nation.
|Position||27th Prime Minister of Georgeland|
|Term in office||August 13, 2010 -|
|Preceded by||Luke Macaulay|
|Political party||Liberal Democrat|
|Total time in office||Incumbent|
|Born||17 May 1950|
|Spouse||June Porter (married 1975)|
Early life and education
Porter was born Laurent-Jean Poolamuth in Port Louis, Mauritius to Paul Poolamuth, a Mauritian Creole, and Eva Michelle Saint-Claire , a French national working as a secretary in the French consulate. Paul Poolamuth had not attended school after the age of 12, instead working to supplement his mother's meagre income and support his seven siblings; his father had been killed during World War II fighting for the British Army in Malaya. In 1949, at the age of 24, he began working as a gardener, and in this capacity was employed by the French consulate, where he met his wife. Their eldest son, Laurent-Jean, was born on 17 May 1950. They went on to have eight more children in twenty years; their young son David was killed in a car accident in 1964 aged just six; his death deeply affected the family and was a factor in their decision to emigrate.
Settlement in Georgeland
In April of 1964, the family moved to Georgeland. Paul had by this time been able to save a considerable sum of money and had operated a successful small business. They elected to move to Georgeland because it was close to Mauritius but more prosperous and would not prevent them from seeing their extended family regularly. They arrived in Doubledance in May 1964 and settled in the Coxford area. Poolamuth established himself as a clerk, but struggled with the new culture and took to alcoholism. He Anglicised his family's surname to Porter in 1965 - at the same time, his 15-year-old eldest son changed his name to the more English Lawrence John Porter. Despite this, he continued to be referred to as Laurent for some time, and this name was often shortened to Lo, a nickname Porter has retained ever since.
In August 1967, Paul Porter committed suicide after a long battle with alcohol and depression. The family was devastated. Lawrence Porter abandoned his plans to attend university, instead taking a series of jobs to support the family. In 1968, Porter began working on a construction site and found he had a natural aptitude for not only the work but for organising and managing the construction. Though only eighteen and black (at the time, Georgeland's black population was very small, and struggled with overt racism from many areas), Porter was fortunate to have a foreman who respected his work and the two became firm friends. The foreman, Joe Castles, eventually became a Senate colleague of Porter's and the two remained friends until Castles' death in 2005.
Trade union career
Due to Castles' influence, Porter was able to find work in a sheet metal factory in 1970. In that same year, the election of Victor Howard as Prime Minister gave new hope to the country's black population; Howard had pledged to legislate for equal protection for black workers and this indeed happened in 1972. Porter was overwhelmed by this news, and immediately joined the United Islands Labour Party as one of Howard's, and his successor Bradley Van Goen's, most enthusiastic supporters.
Around this time, Porter also joined the Factories and Manufacturing Alliance, as it then was, the local union in Mainland for his industry. His enthusiasm, charisma and organisational skills were well-noticed and he rose quickly through union ranks. Porter has spoken frankly about his union career in interviews and stated that he encountered remarkably little racism. In 2003 he was quoted as saying that the union officials "saw past the colour of [his] skin; they saw that while I had the skin of a Creole, I had the soul of a Socialist, and that was what they most respected."
In 1978, Porter was elected to be the FMA representative to Mainland's trade union conference, where he impressed delegates with his authoritative speaking style and personal charisma. He met his idol, Van Goen, around this time, and was photographed with the Prime Minister and personally praised for his commitment to the Labour and the union cause by Van Goen. Porter was devastated when Van Goen was killed in a climbing accident later that year.
Porter was elected as Secretary of the Mainland branch of the FMA in June 1983 and President in 1985. He had a higher media profile than previous leaders of his union. In 1985 the FMA voted to amalgamate with the Mining and Industrial Workers Union, becoming the Allied Industrial and Manufacturers Union (AIMU) that same year - as part of the deal to amalgamate the two unions, Porter stood down as President in January 1986. Shortly thereafter he was elected as National Secretary of the Labour Party and took an active role in its re-election campaign of 1987.
During that same campaign, Porter was second on the Labour Senate ticket and campaigned on behalf of himself as well as his party. He was elected third out of five Senators from the state chosen that year. He took his Senate seat on January 1, 1988. In his maiden speech to the Senate, made on March 22, he said:
"I was not elected as a black man, or as a Creole man, or as a Mauritian man. I was not chosen by my state's voters as the son of a clerk or the father of children. I was chosen as a Labour man, a man who believes in the principles of equal work for equal pay, and of the idea that a country and a society is only as strong as its working class. For every man who earns millions, there are men below him who make that possible."
Porter was only the second black person, after Joseph Carter, to have served in the Senate and the fourth black person elected to the federal Parliament. For the entire period of his sixteen-year Senate career, he was its only black member.
Porter served on a number of policy committees and became known as a maverick, particularly on issues of industrial relations. Porter was heavily identified with the party's Left-wing, becoming one of his faction's powerbrokers by the early 1990s. Despite this Porter did not serve as a Minister for a number of years; he is reported to have turned down a junior ministry in 1991 due to family commitments. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1993 at the special election held that year - at the time, Senate elections were staggered as Senators served six years as opposed to MPs who served four. At the 1993 election he was Labour's lead candidate.
In 1994, Porter was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Security, a position which allowed him to continue his long advocacy of that topic. In 1995, when the Quarton government was defeated, he retained the position as Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Minister; eight months later when Labour returned to power under Campbell Rhodes he once again became Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister.
He voluntarily relinquished that job in 1996 in order to take on the position of Chairman of the House Committee on Workplace Relations (ministers and parliamentary secretaries cannot serve on committees). In 1998 he was appointed as Minister for Tourism, an appointment criticised in some sectors because he had shown no interest in tourism policy.
In the Labour split of 1999, brought on by the Left faction's overthrow of Campbell Rhodes as leader, Porter sided against his own faction and joined Rhodes' new Liberal Party, becoming its Industrial Relations spokesman during the election, as well as spokesman for Transport and Energy. After the Liberals won power at the Second Georgeland legislative election, 1999, Porter became Minister for Industrial Relations, a job he had desired for more than a decade.
Porter served in his ministerial job for three years and attracted some acclaim from the media, who began to see Porter as a viable party leader. In 2000, when Rhodes was replaced by Michael Elderton, Porter retained his job and retained it again when Rhodes regained the leadership a year later. In August 2001, Porter was appointed as the Liberal Party's deputy leader in the Senate, though the post of Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate remained with Warren Barker, a Democrat.
On November 4, 2002, shortly after the recent election, Porter was named as Minister for Defence following the resignation of Sarah Atwater over the leaking of defence information to the press. He took on her role as Leader of the Government of the Senate as well.
Porter's term as Minister of Defence was marked by a move away from the purchase of ex-Soviet military equipment and into European marketplaces.
In 2004, with an election imminent, Porter sought to move from the Senate to the House of Commons. He sought the Liberal Democratic preselection for the seat of Dance, in inner Doubledance, when the sitting MP decided not to contest re-election. He was easily chosen by his local party. At the election, Porter was elected to the seat with a slightly decreased majority, though the swing was less than in many other government seats. In the post-election reshuffle, Porter was made Minister for Home Affairs - this was seen by many as a demotion. Porter continued in this role after Zoe Parker became Prime Minister in July 2005.
In November 2006, Porter was appointed as Minister for Foreign Affairs, effectively becoming the fifth-most-senior member of Cabinet.
Around this time, Porter began to be seen by many as a potential Liberal Democratic Party leader. He has been speculated as a leadership candidate several times, most notably in 2005 after Campbell Rhodes announced his retirement. Porter opted not to run, instead endorsing fellow Broad Leftist Clare Price, the Health Minister, and later supporting Zoe Parker. He was seen as the leading candidate to replace Parker as Deputy Prime Minister; the position went to Tom McCully, speculated as a reward for his orchestration of the government's re-election campaign.
Parker kept Porter as Home Affairs minister until November 2006, when Porter was appointed to replace Charlotte LeBeau as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Porter continued in this position until the 2007 election, at which the government was defeated.
Porter initially announced, on July 5, 2007, along with Adam St. John and Andrea Perkins that he would stand for the party leadership in the wake of the government's defeat. The following day, Porter withdrew his candidacy and declared he would support Robin Sales. This fuelled speculation that a deal had been struck between Sales' supporters and Porter's faction. This speculation increased when Sales named Porter as interim Leader of the Opposition, as Sales was not at that time a member of the House of Commons.
When Sales won Zoe Parker's seat of Peterson at a by-election a short time later, Porter became the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Defence spokesman. After serving two years in this position, Porter was elected to succeed Sales after the party leader called, and then withdrew from, a leadership contest to silence his critics.
Porter's performance in Parliament had always been strong, and against Luke Macaulay he proved a formidable opponent. Porter's approval ratings continued to rise buoyed by growing dissatisfaction with the government's performance and the perception that the government was dominated by interest groups such as business leaders and the powerful Scoitan Catholic lobby groups. Furthermore, Porter had always been a popular figure and his personal level of support eroded that of Macaulay.
Porter had not been expected to win the 2007 election; despite his personal ratings the polls showed a majority support for the Conservatives. However, during the campaign Porter was consistently rated higher on issues such as health and education, and his policy on climate change was seen by the generally centre-left constituency as more effective. Another significant factor at the election was an unusually high level of participation from the black community, especially in Bradmarch, Capitalia and East Mainland which some commentators suggested could have swung at least ten seats to the Liberal Democrats.
The election's final result saw the LDP win 137 seats out of 265, with the Tories 124. Though the LDP won a minority of the two-party-preferred vote, it won a majority of nine seats. Porter was sworn in as the country's first black leader on August 13. Due to the date being "Friday the 13th", it was referred to in a tongue in cheek manner as black Friday by some sections of the media.
Porter's first significant act as Prime Minister was to announce on August 14 that the government would withdraw its contingent of troops from Afghanistan by April 2011.
Family and personal life
Porter met his wife June (nee Wilson) in 1973 when they were introduced by a mutual friend. They were married in 1975. Lawrence and June Porter have three children - Paul (b. 1977), Eileen (b. 1980) and Wendy (b. 1985). Paul and Eileen Porter are active in the Liberal Democratic Party; Wendy Porter-Simpson is an aspiring actress and writer.
In 1982, Porter began studying part-time at the University of Mainland, reading law and economics. He gained his degree in both in 1990.
Porter speaks fluent French and Mauritian Creole, and is passably fluent in German and Portuguese. When speaking English, Porter still has a notable accent; this has enhanced, rather than detracted from, his charismatic image and imposing stature.
At six foot five inches (193 cm), Porter is the tallest member of federal Parliament.
- Prime Minister: Hon. Lawrence Porter MP
- Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance and Economic Sustainability: Hon. Robbie Jones MP
- Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for Health, Families and Community Services: Sen. Hon. Janet Hunt
- Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Minister for Defence: Sen. Hon. Mark Duffy
- Treasurer: Hon. Adam St. John MP
- Minister for Foreign Affairs: Hon. Robin Sales MP
- Minister for Education and Skills: Hon. Geraldine McLean MP
- Attorney General: Hon. David Brennan MP
- Minister for the Environment, Resources and Sustainability, Leader of the House of Commons: Hon. Dr. Erica Lucas MP
- Minister for Home Affairs and Administration: Sen. Hon. Geoff Davis
- Minister for Industry, Trade and Commerce: Hon. Dr. Clare Price MP
- Minister for Employment and Business: Hon. Dr. David Keeler MP
- Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Social Inclusion: Sen. Hon. Joshua Chan
- Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Hon. Wendy Chamberlain MP
- Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Arts: Hon. Deborah Rhodes MP
- Minister for Constitutional Affairs and Special Minister of State: Sen. Hon. Leanne Pershaw
- Minister for Mental Health, Aged Care and Social Security: Hon. Greg Ryder MP
- Minister for Higher Education: Hon. George Forrester MP
- Minister for Science and Technology: Russell Wong MP
- Assistant Treasurer: Hon. William Aston MP
- Minister for Territories and Local Government: Sen. Hon. Sally Parnis
- Minister for Transport and Infrastructure: Hon. Joan Kavanagh MP
- Minister for Citizenship and Human Rights: Hon. Robert Young MP
- Minister for Defence Science and Industry: Sen. Hon. Mohammed Katar
- Minister for Broadcasting and Communications: Hon. Kelly Houston MP
- Minister for Customs: Janet Pickett MP
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister: Alison Mackey MP
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health, Families and Community Services:
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Skills: Timothy Lafferty MP
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer: Melissa Little MP
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Sen. Hon. Zelda Mitchell
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Economic Sustainability: Molly Salvador MP
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Trade and Commerce: Candice Healy MP
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Resources and Sustainability:Marie Keenan MP
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations: Walter Parkhill MP
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Social Inclusion:
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Lawrence McCallum MP
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence: Sen. Derek Matthews
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Arts: Peter Miller MP
- Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General: Sen. Linda Dunne
- Chief Whip: Steve Derrick MP
- Deputy Chief Whip: Brian Durand MP
- Chief Senate Whip: Sen. Yuri Farjenko
- Whips: Melissa Dunleavy MP, Robert Young MP, Sen. Alex Stoneman
|Prime Minister of Georgeland|
August 13, 2010-
|Leader of the Georgeland Opposition|
October 2, 2009 - August 13, 2010
|Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of the United Islands|
October 2, 2009 -
|Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of the United Islands|
July 10, 2007 - October 2, 2009