Northern Dreams, National Realities: the life and times of Dr Rex Patterson

Megarrity, Lyndon (2016) Northern Dreams, National Realities: the life and times of Dr Rex Patterson. Report. T J Ryan Foundation, South Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

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Abstract

[Extract] Northern Australia's strategic and economic potential has captured the imagination of many Australians since Federation. However, Australian public interest in the so-called 'Empty North' reached its highest point in the 1960s. As political scientist Louise Overacker observed in 1968,

In the forefront of public discussion has been the question of development of the 'far north' – the vast area of northern Queensland and Western Australia, and the Northern Territory, where distances are great and population extremely small… it involves considerations of defence, national prestige, and the welfare of the native Aborigines as well as economics.

One Australian embodied the sense of national urgency surrounding Northern Australia in the 1960s more than anyone else: Dr. Rex Patterson, the Commonwealth's first Minister for Northern Australia. As a public servant and as a politician, Patterson debated, developed and delivered a range of Northern Australia policies designed to increase the well - being of north ern residents and enhance the prosperity of Australia as a whole. Despite his political prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, he has largely been relegated to a footnote in Australian political history. This brief essay is an attempt to create a fuller picture of Rex Patter son and his life and times, placing his political career in the context of his role as an important figure within the Australian Labor Party (ALP). It will be shown that Patterson's personal drive helped him make major contributions to northern development, but his more ambitious plans were frustrated by changing priorities and values within and outside the Labor party. The paper is also a celebration and commemoration of a great Voice for the North.

Item ID: 44169
Item Type: Report (Report)
Keywords: Rex Patterson; Whitlam; Northern Australia; Queensland
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Funders: Australian Government (AG)
Projects and Grants: AG Australian Prime Ministers Centre Fellowship
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2016 23:43
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9402 Government and Politics > 940299 Government and Politics not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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