H.C. Coombs Lecture - 1987

John Dawkins was going to deliver a lecture titled “Education and Economic Growth” however listeners were either relieved or disappointed to learn that he had change of heart on what he wanted to speak about that night. Instead, he wished to pay a personal tribute to one of the greatest living Australians and one whose life and works have been a source of inspiration to me for more than half his life – Herbert Cole Coombs (or Nugget as he was known).

About John Dawkins

John Dawkins was born in Perth, Western Australia, on 2 March 1947. He was educated at Scotch College in Perth; Roseworthy Agriculture College in South Australia, where he was awarded a Diploma in Agriculture; and the University of Western Australia, where he gained a degree in economics.

He was active in student politics and for two years was a member of the Senate of the University of Western Australia. While at University he managed a small family farm near Perth.

Mr Dawkins worked briefly with the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and Department of Trade and Industry (1971- 72) and was later a trade union official.

He was first elected to the House of Representatives for the seat of Tangney, WA in 1974, but was defeated in the 1975 election.

During 1976-1977, Mr Dawkins worked as the press officer for the WA Trades and Labour Council. He was again elected to the House of Representatives for the seat of Fremantle, WA, in 1977.

Mr Dawkins became a member of the Opposition shadow ministry in November 1980. He was spokesman for education and later for industry and commerce.

He was a member of the ALP National Executive for two years and became a Vice President of the party in 1982.

He was appointed Minister for Finance on 11 March 1983, following Labor's victory in the general election. On 1 July 1983, he was appointed Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Public Service Matters.

Mr Dawkins was appointed Minister for Trade and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Youth Affairs on 13 December 1984 after the election on 1 December and was Minister for Employment, Education and Training from 24 July 1987 until Prime Minister Hawke was unseated by a party room vote.

In 1991 Dawkins was appointed Treasurer, resigning in December 1993.

He has lived in Adelaide since 1996, pursuing a various business interests.

Black, D. (2010) John Dawkins Member for Fremantle 1977-1993. The Federal Electorate of Fremantle a History since 1901. https://john.curtin.edu.au/fremantle/dawkins.html

Dawkins, J. (1987, October 16). Education and Economic Growth [Conference Presentation]. Herbert Cole Coombs Annual Lecture, Churchlands, WA, Australia.

John Dawkins - Education and Economic Growth

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