Gary was born in Melbourne, Victoria and received a Bachelor of Economics and a M.A. from Monash University. He was elected as the member for Petrie in 1987, and held it for the Australian Labor Party until his defeat in 1996. He served as Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations from December 1993 and Special Minister of State and Vice-President of the Executive Council from March 1994 until the defeat of the Keating government in 1996, in which he lost his seat to Liberal candidate Teresa Gambaro.
Always considered a “right-winger” of the Labor Party, Gary is now often critical of his old party. From 1997 to 2006, he was a senior fellow the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). Within the IPA, he was head of the Non-Government Organisations unit. From 2006-2009 Gary worked with a consultancy firm, ACIL Tasman. In 2009 he was appointed Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Australian Catholic University’s Public Policy Institute. In 2012 he was appointed visiting fellow at QUT Business School. He was president of the Bennelong Society, an organisation that advocated the provision of welfare for Indigenous Australians under the same rules as for all other Australians. From 2002-2004 he was appointed Associate Commissioner of the Commonwealth Productivity Commission, an Australian government policy research and advisory body, with the responsibility for an inquiry into the national workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety framework. He is currently a board member of the Australian Institute for Progress.
He was awarded a PhD in political science in 2001 from the University of Queensland, in 2002 the Fulbright Professional Award in Australian-United States Alliance Studies, Georgetown University in Washington D. C., and in 2003 the Centenary Medal for ‘service to Australian society through the advancement of economic, social and political issues’.
He is a columnist for The Australian newspaper and The Spectator, the author of numerous papers, and books published by Connor Court: Right Social Justice, Really Dangerous Ideas, Recognise What?, The Charity Ball, No Contraception, No Dole.