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Nugget Coombs


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Table of Contents

Part I. Learning and Teaching: 1. Childhood and youth; 2. Schooling; 3. Self-possession; 4. Busselton; 5. Claremont; 6. Wheat belt days; 7. Night student; 8. Finding the words; 9. Representing; 10. Murdoch; Part II. Liberalism's Crisis: 11. LSE student; 12. Politics v. economics; 13. The money power and its critics; 14. Poor Britain; Part III. The Experts we Need: 15. A vacancy?; 16. The economists; 17. From people's bank to central bank; 18. Sweden and Australia; Part IV. New Orders: 19. Trusting the people; 20. Reconstruction and feminism; 21. Fighting for 'yes'; 22. Soldiers and workers; Part V. Internationalist: 23. Labor's new internationalism; 24. The diplomacy of security; 25. Success in London; 26. Global temptations; 27. Geneva; 28. Havana; 29. An official community; 30. Coombs the Keynesian; Part VI. From Labor to Liberal: 31. Chifley's 'family'; 32. The commanding heights?; 33. The Cold War and CSIRO; 34. Vice Chancellor?; 35. Reconstructing Papua New Guinea; 36. Governor and father; 37. Chifley's man; 38. Menzies' man?; 39. Corporate Elizabethan; Part VII. Other People's Money: 40. Inflation and war; 41. Wage earners' democracy; 42. Horror budget; 43. The Governor muted; 44. Stern mentor?; 45. Coombs as boss; 46. Carrots and sticks; 47. Women at the bank; 48. A culture of inflation; 49. Separation; 50. A Melanesian way?; 51. Poor man's overdraft; 52. Frustrated internationalist; Part VIII. Managing Creativity: 53. Reasonable liberty; 54. Visualising Australia; 55. Nuclear matters; 56. Opera; 57. Ballet; 58. In search of an audience; 59. Re-designing Australia; Part IX. Labor's Second Chance: 60. Retirement; 61. Whitlam conscripts Coombs; 62. Trade reform; 63. Two cultural constituencies; 64. Wages and taxes; Part X. Rethink: 65. The stuffed owl of Minerva; 66. Nature and human nature; 67. Economies and communities; 68. Losing the master key; 69. The responsive public servant; Part XI. Elite Outrider: 70. Torres Strait; 71. Conservation and Aborigines; 72. Bapa Dhumbul; Conclusion: histories nostalgic and hopeful.

Promotional Information

A 2002 biography of H. C. 'Nugget' Coombs, one of the most influential Australians of the twentieth century.

About the Author

Tim Rowse is a Senior Research Fellow, History Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University.


Tim Rowse has written an exhaustive account of the public life of H C Coombs, which shows the influence of `Nugget' Coombs on the political, economic and social life of twentieth-century Australia. Coombs was a public service intellectual who even in retirement was still a major influence on the formation of public and social policy. Rowse's earlier book on Coombs, Obliged to be Difficult (CUP, 2000), concentrated on Coombs' work in Indigenous affairs. In this new biography Rowse has emphasised the importance of Coombs' economic beliefs in the formation of public policy. He presents Coombs as an economist who believed in viewing politics from the standpoint of the economy, combining better economic outcomes with an improvement in social standards. Rowse details Coombs' concern with the push for sustained growth in the post-war period, with its by-products of `wanton excess, of dispirited selfishness, of disregard for future generations.' H C Coombs held many public offices, including Director-General of Post-war Reconstruction (1943-49), Governor of the Commonwealth and Reserve Banks (1949-68), Chair of the Australian Council for the Arts (1967-73) and Chair of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs (1967-76). This book is a valuable contribution to the history of public intellectual thought in Australia. Chris Harrington is co-owner of Books in Print, Malvern. C. 2002 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

'This is a remarkable study both for the depth of the research, the intellectual range of the analysis, and the sheer force of the exposition. I recommend it wholeheartedly.' Stuart Macintyre 'This is an excellent account of an excellent Australian.' Professor Geoffrey Bolton

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