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Pearls and Irritations

  • Pearls and Irritations, launched on 1 January 2013, is a specialist blog focussing on policy development and run by John Menadue.

    John Laurence Menadue has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

    He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1985 for public service. In 2003 he was awarded the Centenary Medal ‘for service to Australian society through public service leadership’. In 1997, he received the Japanese Imperial Award, The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure (Kun-itto Zuiho-sho), the highest honour awarded to foreigners who are not head of state or head of government.

    Menadue was born in South Australia in 1935. He graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1956 as a Bachelor of Economics.

    From 1960 to 1967 he was Private Secretary to Gough Whitlam, Leader of the Opposition. He then moved into the private sector for seven years as General Manager, News Limited, Sydney, publisher of The Australian.

    Menadue was head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1974 to 1976. He was closely involved in the events of November 11, 1975, and worked for Prime Ministers Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser.

    He was Australian Ambassador to Japan from 1976 to 1980.

    He returned to Australia in 1980 to take up the position of Head, Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.. He was appointed Head of the Department of Trade in December 1983.

    He was Chief Executive Officer of Qantas from June 1986 to July 1989.

    He was a Director of Telstra from December 1994 to October 1996, and Chairman of the Australia Japan Foundation from 1991 to 1998.

    He is an adviser to several companies. He chaired the NSW Health Council which reported to the NSW Minister for Health in March 2000 on changes to health services in NSW. He also chaired the SA Generational Health Review which reported to the SA Minister for Human Services in May 2003.

    He was the founding Chair of, an independent weekly online newsletter which was launched in August 2004. He is now a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development, which continues the work of the Policy Portal in New Matilda.

    In 2009, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Adelaide in recognition of his significant and lifelong contribution to Australian society as a Public Servant, Diplomat, Critical Thinker, Board Director, Advisor and Public Commentator.

    He is a Patron of the Asylum Seekers’ Centre in Sydney.

    John Menadue is married with four children and ten grand children.

    In October 1999, John Menadue published his autobiography ‘Things you learn along the way’.

    Read more about Pearls and Irritations here.

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