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John Dawkins

Treasurer of Australia
In office
27 December 1991 – 22 December 1993
Prime MinisterPaul Keating
Preceded byRalph Willis
Succeeded byRalph Willis
Minister for Employment, Education and Training
In office
24 July 1987 – 27 December 1991
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded bySusan Ryan
Succeeded byKim Beazley
Minister for Trade
In office
13 December 1984 – 24 July 1987
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Preceded byLionel Bowen
Succeeded byMichael Duffy
Minister for Finance
In office
11 March 1983 – 13 December 1984
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Preceded byDame Margaret Guilfoyle
Succeeded byPeter Walsh
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Fremantle
In office
10 December 1977 – 4 February 1994
Preceded byKim Beazley
Succeeded byCarmen Lawrence
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Tangney
In office
18 May 1974 – 13 December 1975
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded byPeter Richardson
Personal details
Born (1947-03-02) 2 March 1947 (age 74)
Perth, Western Australia
Political partyAustralian Labor Party
Alma materUniversity of Western Australia

John Sydney "Joe"[1] Dawkins, AO (born 2 March 1947) is an Australian former politician who was Treasurer in the Keating Labor government from December 1991 to December 1993. He is notable for his reforms of tertiary education as Minister for Employment, Education and Training, his period as Treasurer when he attempted to increase taxes in order to balance the budget and his abrupt exit from politics.[citation needed]

Early life

Dawkins was born in Perth, Western Australia. He attended Roseworthy Agricultural College in South Australia, gaining a Diploma in Agriculture, and then went on to the University of Western Australia, where he graduated in economics.[2]

Political career

In 1974, aged 27, Dawkins was elected to the House of Representatives for the marginal seat of Tangney. He was defeated at the 1975 election by Liberal Peter Richardson.[2]

In 1977 Dawkins returned to the House as member for the safe Labor seat of Fremantle, succeeding Kim Beazley (senior), and defeating his son, Kim Beazley, for the Labor preselection. In 1980 he was promoted to the Opposition front bench and was Shadow Education Minister from 1980 to 1983. He became Minister for Finance following the election of the first Hawke government in 1983. In the second Hawke Ministry (1984–1987) he was Minister for Trade. From 1987 to 1991 he was Minister for Employment, Education and Training.[2] It was in this position where he brought in a series of reforms of the higher education sector, which included expansion of Australian universities, the forced mergers of universities and colleges of advanced education, and the re-introduction of university fees (abolished by Kim Beazley senior in 1973) in the form of the HECS. This later became known as the Dawkins Revolution and aroused bitter opposition among academics and university administrators.

A key supporter of Paul Keating, Dawkins became Treasurer following Keating's unseating of Hawke as ALP leader and Prime Minister, in his second and successful leadership challenge in December 1991. After Keating's unexpected victory in the 1993 federal election, Dawkins brought down a budget which contained a series of highly unpopular revenue measures which were seen as an attack on Labor's traditional supporters. The Cabinet, which had hitherto grudgingly accepted Keating's neo-liberal policies, rebelled against the Dawkins budget. Dawkins did not help his stock when he taunted Liberal MP Kathy Sullivan by calling her "sweetheart", angering several female MPs from his own party.

In December 1993 Dawkins, frustrated at what he saw as the lack of economic realism of his colleagues, suddenly announced his resignation, and quit politics altogether soon after. It was during his farewell speech that he suggested that the date of presenting the Budget be moved from August to May, a practice that would be started by his successor Ralph Willis in May 1994. He was succeeded in Fremantle by former West Australian Premier Dr Carmen Lawrence.

Post political career

Since leaving politics, Dawkins has had an active business career. He has been non-executive Chair of Elders Rural Bank, LawCentral, Integrated Legal Holdings, The Retail Energy Market Company which operates the retail gas markets in South Australia and Western Australia, Fortuna Funds Management and director of Cbus superannuation, Genetic Technologies and MGM Wireless.[3]

In 2000 he was a made an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to the reform of international trade as foundation Chairman of the Cairns Group, to the reform of the federal budget, education and training, and to the Australian Parliament.[4]

In 2000, Dawkins's family agreed to use 104 hectares of their sizeable holdings of grazing land in Forrestdale outside Perth in a property venture where the profits from land sales would be invested in research and development for technology that is conducted at the CY O'Connor ERADE Village, including research laboratories, offices and accommodation, at the entrance of the twelve hectare estate. The development was believed to be worth around $100 million.[5]

In 2013 Dawkins was chairman of Vocation and earnt over a million dollars when it listed on the stock exchange. The company collapsed in 2015 and Dawkins has civil proceedings from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission regarding claimed contravention of disclosure provisions.[6]

His principal employment is as Director of Government Relations Australia, now GRACosway, a lobbying firm.[7] He has also worked as a consultant to large Australian and foreign companies and the World Bank and the OECD. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of South Australia, Federation University Australia and the Queensland University of Technology.

He is currently board chairman of the gold exploration company Sovereign (ASXSOC).[8]

A cousin of the same name, John Dawkins, is a currently the independent presiding officer of the South Australian Legislative Council.


  1. ^ Ramsey, Alan (1 March 2003). "A stroll back up the stairs". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Biography for Dawkins, the Hon. John Sydney". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  3. ^ "The Hon John Dawkins AO Bec". Integrated Legal Holdings Limited. Archived from the original on 10 December 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Dawkins, John Sydney". Officer of the Order of Australia. It's an Honour. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  5. ^ "Dawkins family commits to $100m high-technology park". The Australian. 3 November 2000. p. 41.
  6. ^ Ross, John (30 November 2016), "Dawkins-led consultancy spruiking for business", The Australian
  7. ^ "John Dawkins, Director". Our People. Government Relations Australia. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  8. ^ "Sovereign Gold Company website". Retrieved 2 December 2013.
Political offices
Preceded by
Margaret Guilfoyle
Minister for Finance
Succeeded by
Peter Walsh
Preceded by
Lionel Bowen
Minister for Trade
Succeeded by
Michael Duffy
Preceded by
Susan Ryan
Minister for Employment, Education and Training
Succeeded by
Kim Beazley
Preceded by
Ralph Willis
Succeeded by
Ralph Willis
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Member for Tangney
Succeeded by
Peter Richardson
Preceded by
Kim Beazley (senior)
Member for Fremantle
Succeeded by
Carmen Lawrence
This page was last edited on 6 May 2021, at 21:32
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