Sunday, July 14, 2013

Australian trade ministers

The first trade ministers belonged to parties that, at least by name, appeared to be organised by their trading practices: Charles Kingston, William Lyne, and Austin Chapman were in the Protectionist Party, while Allan McLean (1904-05) was part of the Free Trade Party. In between Andrew Fisher, whom most know was from the ranks of the Australian Labor Party; not defined by trade but possessing a philosophy that takes it into consideration.
Ministers return to this portfolio so there is no neat line of succession; at least not in the early stages.

The ministry was Trade and Customs for the first 55 years, suggesting a strong connection. The ministers who followed Chapman were Frank Tudor (thrice), Robert Best, Littleton Groom, Billy Hughes, William Archibald, Jens Jensen, William Watt, Walter Massy-Greene, Arthur Rodgers, Herbert Pratten, Stanley Bruce, Henry Gullett, James Fenton, Frank Forde, Thomas White, John Perkins, John Lawson, Robert Menzies, George McLeay, Eric Harrison, Richard Keane, John Dedman, James Fraser, Ben Courtice, and Neil O'Sullivan.

John McEwen (a well known name round these parts) was in charge of Trade for a whopping fifteen years: first as Minister for Trade, then in 1963, Minister for Trade and Industry.
"Black Jack" was followed in this expanded portfolio by another ubiquitous fellow, Doug Anthony, but he was only in the job for a year. Of course, that could be because his Party was tipped out and the leader of the victors, Gough Whitlam, assumed the mantle, passing it only too quickly to Jim Cairns, who was dubbed Minister for Overseas Trade. As was Frank Crean.

After Anthony had returned to the portfolio and stayed for thirteen years - turning it into Trade and Resources halfway through - Lionel Bowen and John Dawkins presided as generic Minister for Trade, and Michael Duffy and Neal Blewett as Minister for Trade Negotiations; Blewett becoming Minister for Trade and Overseas Development, the title also held by John Kerin.

The idea of returning to a vanilla Minister for Trade for the third time was sustained for seventeen years: this title taken in turn by Peter Cook, Bob McMullan, Tim Fischer, Mark Vaile, Warren Truss, Simon Crean, Stephen Smith, and Craig Emerson. Under Gillard, Emerson became Minister for Trade and Competitiveness (2012-13). Under the Rudd resurgence, Trade it is, with new chum Richard Marles touting for business.


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