One of the strengths of the Australian Republican Movement is the outstanding people it attracts to the cause. A stunning example of this is one of the heroes of the Movement, the former Chair and current Deputy Chair of the ARM, Professor John Warhurst AO. John Warhurst is one of Australia’s most distinguished political scientists and a man who has dedicated himself to serving the community and the public good, as well as striving for an Australian Republic.
JOHN WARHURST was born in Adelaide on 29 February 1948. After leaving school, he studied politics and economics at the Flinders University of South Australia. He graduated in 1972, and his first job afterwards was as a Tutor in Politics at the same university.
He left South Australia soon after, working first at the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education (now a campus of Deakin University) and then in Canberra at the Australian National University. John taught overseas for a time at the University of London, before moving back to Australia in 1985 to teach at the University of New England. At the UNE, John was professor of politics for 8 years. In 1993, John moved back to the nation’s capital to take up the prestigious post of Professor of Political Science at ANU, a position he held until 2008. He still teaches there, now as Emeritus Professor.
John’s academic speciality is teaching and research, focusing on Australian government and politics, especially parties, elections, lobbying and church-state relations. As a sign of his mastery of this field, in 2010 he was granted a fellowship of the Australian Prime Minister's Centre, Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House, Canberra, to conduct a project called ‘The Faith of Australian Prime Ministers’.
Outside of academia, John became well known in media circles for his long-running weekly political column in the Canberra Times. He now writes a monthly piece for the Eureka Street magazine. A former President of the Australasian Political Studies Association, John is currently Deputy Chair of the Board of Catholic Social Services Australia, a national advocacy peak body representing 65 Catholic welfare agencies.
John has received many awards in his distinguished career. Just over the last few years, in 2007 he was presented with the ANU media award, and in 2009, for his services to political science and to the community, he was bestowed with the high honour of an Order of Australia.
Of course, in the minds of the Australian public, John Warhurst is probably best known as one of Australia’s most prominent republicans. John started agitating for a republic in the early 1970s as a young academic and joined the ARM in the mid-1990s. He first became significantly active as part of the ACT ARM campaign team for the 1997 Constitutional Convention elections, having early success when the ARM won both available ACT positions with Anne Witheford and Frank Cassidy.
John’s first senior positions with the ARM were held not long after the referendum, when the Movement was in grave danger of fracturing and disintegrating. John’s leadership and calming influence, first as ACT Convenor (2001-2004), and then as national Chair of the Movement (2002-2005) helped to entrench the ARM as a vibrant national institution. In 2005, John chose to step aside as Chair. In 2007, he was elected as Deputy Chair and in 2008 was again elected as Convenor of the ACT branch. He still holds both positions. On top of this, for several years John has been – along with the current Chair – one of the ARM’s two main media spokespersons, with regular appearances on television and radio.
When asked to explain why he is so passionate about an Australian republic, John Warhurst says:
“I am passionate and determined about an Australian republic because only then can Australia fully reflect its distinctive, independent national identity. It is a logical, necessary and natural evolution of Australian political and constitutional development. The apathy of others only increases my determination to make it happen."
John has been happily married to his wife Joan for 38 years and together they have two children and a beloved grandson. He enjoys playing tennis and golf and watching all sports and is a member of the Adelaide Crows in the AFL.