Penny Wong Biography

Penelope Ying-Yen “Penny” Wong is a Malaysia born Australian politician who currently serves as the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Senate. With a background in law and arts, Wong has dedicated her career to fighting for the rights of union members and advocating for various issues such as economics, environmental concerns, gender equality, and international relations. Notably, she made history as the first woman to be appointed as the Leader of the Government in Senate. Wong is also known for her openness about her sexual orientation, identifying as a lesbian. As a strong advocate for equality, she actively supports women’s rights, LGBT rights, and a multicultural Australia.

Quick Facts

  • Name: Penelope Ying-Yen Wong
  • Age: 55 years
  • Gender: Female
  • Family: Spouse – Sophie Allouache, Children – Alexandra Wong
  • Born Country: Malaysia
  • Occupation: Political Leader
  • Political Party: Australian Labor Party
  • Ancestry: Malaysian Australian
  • Education: University Of Adelaide, University Of South Australia

Childhood & Early Life

Penelope Ying-Yen “Penny” Wong was born in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia on November 5, 1968. Her father, Francis Wong was a Malaysian Chinese Hakka and her mother, Jane Wong was a European Australian.

Penny’s parents separated in 1976 and she moved to Adelaide, South Australia with her mother and younger brother Toby.

Initially she planned to study medicine but later she changed her mind on realizing that she had an aversion to blood. She then graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Adelaide in 1992.

While studying, she joined the Adelaide University Labor Club in 1988 and has been a delegate to the South Australian Labor Party State Convention since 1989. She also worked for the ‘Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’ (CFMEU), on a part time basis.

She was admitted to the South Australian Bar in 1993.


In 1995–96 Penny acted as the advisor to CFMEU and to the newly elected New South Wales state government in Sydney.

After returning to Adelaide, she practiced law at the ‘Duncan and Hannon’ firm from 1996 to 1999. For the next three years, she worked as the legal officer for the ‘Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union’.

Running for pre-selection for the Senate, she was selected for the top position on the Labor Party’s South Australian ticket in 2001, and after being elected, she commenced her term on July 1, 2002.

In June 2005 she became the Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation and Shadow Minister for Corporate Governance and Responsibility. Later on she held the portfolios of Public Administration and Accountability, Corporate Governance and Responsibility, and Workforce Participation.

She was appointed as the Minister for Climate Change and Water after the Labor Party’s victory in the 2007 election. During her stint in the ministry, she expanded the renewable energy target and was instrumental in bringing significant investment in wind and solar power.

In September 2010, she became the Minister for Finance and Deregulation and in February 2013 she was appointed as the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate.

In June 2013 she became the first female to be appointed Leader of the Government in the Senate.

In September 2013, after the Labor Party’s defeat in the federal elections, Penny Wong was appointed the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and became the first woman in Australia to hold this position.

Awards & Achievements

In June 2010, she was named as one of the 25 most influential lesbian Australians.

Personal Life & Legacy

Penny Wong is a lesbian and was the first member of the Australian Labor Party to ‘come out’ while in parliament. Her partner, Sophie Allouache, is a public servant and together they have two daughters, Alexandra and Hannah.

Her brother, Toby, committed suicide in 2001.

She is a practicing Christian and attends the Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide.


She is the first Asian-born member of an Australian cabinet.

Penny Wong is the first openly lesbian member of the Australian cabinet.

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