Richard Kenneth Robert Alston (born 19 December 1941 in Perth, Western Australia) was a member of the Australian Senate from 1986 to 2004, representing the state of Victoria for the Liberal Party. He is now a regular political commentator on Network Ten's Breakfast show.
Alston was educated at Xavier College (Kew), the University of Melbourne and Monash University, graduating with Bachelor degrees in law, arts and commerce from Melbourne University and Master degrees in Law and Business Administration from Monash University. He was a barrister before entering politics.
On 7 May 1986 Alston was appointed by the Parliament of Victoria under section 15 of the Australian Constitution to fill the vacancy in the Australian Senate caused by the death of Senator Alan Missen. He was re-elected in 1987, 1990, 1996 and 2001.
Alston was a member of the Opposition Shadow Ministry from 1989 to 1996, and was Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate 1993?96. Shadow Minister for Social Security, Child Care and Superannuation, as well as Communications and the Arts, were among the positions he held in the shadow ministry. He was Minister for Communications and the Arts 1996?97, Minister for Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts 1997?98 and Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts 1998?2003. He was also Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate 1996?2003.
Alston resigned from the Senate on 10 February 2004, and he was replaced by Mitch Fifield. From February 2005 to February 2008, Alston served as Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Since 2004 he has been an Adjunct Professor of Information Technology at Bond University.
Since leaving Parliament, Alston has served as a non executive director of Australian public listed companies Hansen Technologies and Broadcasting Services Australia (Chairman). He is currently Chairman of TFS Ltd and a non executive director of Chime Communications plc. He is also a member of the international advisory board of London based hedge fund CQS, as well as a director of CQS Australia Pty Ltd and Nanuk Asset Management Pty Ltd.
2013, Alston became the non-executive chairman of Waratah Group.