Natasha Stott Despoja felt ‘blindsided’ as high-profile 20-year marriage ends

Matt Shrivell
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Natasha Stott Despoja and husband Ian Smith have announced they have separated.
Natasha Stott Despoja and husband Ian Smith have announced they have separated. Credit: Supplied

Former high-profile Senator Natasha Stott Despoja has announced her 20-year marriage to political power-broker Ian Smith has ended.

Stott Despoja who enjoyed a meteoric rise in the Australian political landscape during the early 2000’s, told The Daily Telegraph she felt ‘blindsided’ by the decision, with Smith commenting the separation was a ‘mutual’ decision.

The Adelaide-based ‘power-couple’ had been married for over two decades and have two teenage children.

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The Stott Despoja story captured the hearts and minds of Australia as she quickly rose through the ranks before securing a position in the Australian Senate. At the time she was the youngest person to ever hold a seat in the Australian Parliament, aged 26.

She went on to lead the Federal Democrat Party in 2001/2002 after an upheaval which saw her challenge and oust party leader Meg Lees, before retiring from parliament in 2008.

Smith, who has held various global roles as a political advisor after emigrating from the UK as a journalist, began a relationship with Stott Despoja before the two married in a celebrated beachside event at Byron Bay in 2003.

Stott Despoja has been anything but idle post politics, and was awarded the Order of Australia for her work as founding chair of Our Watch, a national foundation acting to stamp out violence against women and children. This work led her to a coveted role with the UN and a seat on the Committee to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women in 2020.

Earlier this year she was appointed as South Australia’s Royal Commissioner into Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence.


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