Ken Henry and Ian Chubb

I spoke in Parliament last week about the extraordinary contributions to public life of two great Canberrans - Ken Henry and Ian Chubb.

Statements by Members - Dr Ken Henry
21 Mar 2011

I rise to acknowledge the contribution of Dr Ken Henry to economic policy making in Australia as a major player in Australian economic policy making for 2½ decades and as Secretary to the Treasury for the past decade. Great policy making involves both ideas and advocacy. Like John Maynard Keynes and H.C. ‘Nugget’ Coombs, Ken Henry has been unafraid to engage in pointy-headed discussions with the best economists but also unrepentant about the need to dive into the political process.

As Laura Tingle noted in an article in the Australian Financial Review on 4 March, Dr Henry has been involved in so many important debates in Australian policy making—the GST debate, environmental debates and the debate over fair taxation of the minerals that are the birthright of every Australian. Dr Henry has redefined the mission statement of the Treasury to focus on wellbeing. He has broadened the scope of economic policy making to include issues such as Indigenous affairs and education. Under him the Treasury now brings down regular Intergenerational reports. He produced a major tax review, a seminal document that will influence Australian taxation debates for decades.

Having previously been seconded to Treasury, I can attest how much members of the department will miss him. Perhaps the same is not so true for some of the senators before whom he has appeared. For now, Australian policy making will be poorer for missing Dr Henry’s speeches and I wish him well in the next stage of his career.

Statements by Members - Professor Ian Chubb
24 Mar 2011

I rise to acknowledge the contribution of Professor Ian Chubb AC to the Australian higher education community over a three-decade career. Originally trained as a neuroscientist, Professor Chubb was a fierce advocate for the Australian higher education sector both in his role as Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University and as President of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee. Known affectionately as ‘Chubby’ to ministers and even prime ministers, he was particularly vocal about the need for increased funding for universities. Professor Chubb was similarly unafraid of addressing big and controversial issues, calling for bold reform, not mere tinkering. He was direct, too. In 2009, when I was appointed an economics professor at ANU, it was a characteristically straightforward Ian Chubb who gave me the news in a phone call that went something like: ‘Mate, you’re a professor. Well done’—followed by hanging up.

Professor Chubb was rare among vice-chancellors in that he gained the respect and admiration of students, both undergraduate and postgraduate. His commitment to student income support and student organisations gained him many friends among students at the ANU and at other universities throughout Australia. My office manager, Louise Crossman, was a former ANU Students Association executive officer. She says, ‘He must have been pretty good because we never had any reason to occupy Chubb’s office, which was unusual and disappointing because I really wanted to occupy something.’

Professor Chubb was the well-deserved recipient of the ACT Australian of the Year Award in 2011. I wish him well in retirement and hope that he will continue to make a valued contribution to Australian public life.

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