Mr John Clarke

In the late 1980s and early 90s, Royal Commissions were set up in order to establish what problems Australia confronted and how best to address them. John and his associate Ross Stevenson, then a lawyer and an ornament to the game, presented the facts as clearly as they could, in order to promote understanding.

To give you an idea, here is part of the testimony given by an economics expert in ‘A Royal Commission into the Australian Economy’.

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Royal Commission

A Treasury Official enters the box, takes the oath and prepares himself.

BARRISTER: Mr Trouser. You are with the Federal Treasury?

TROUSER: I’m with the Planning and Projections Dept.

JUDGE: Are you the Head of the Treasury?

TROUSER: No. I run the Planning and Projections Dept.

JUDGE: What is it that you plan and project Mr Trouser?

TROUSER: Information comes to us as raw data from all sectors of the economy. Over a period of 3 months this data is analysed by our department. (Holds up several New York-phone-directory- sized books.) These are the current figures. We identify trends and extrapolate them into the future and advise the government on management of the economy.

JUDGE: And so you are therefore responsible for the management of the economy?

TROUSER: Not always, no.

BARRISTER: Why not? You’ve analysed the figures, you’ve made your projections, you’ve extrapolated. Does the government not accept your advice?

TROUSER: The government has to take into account political considerations.

BARRISTER: Such as what?

TROUSER: Such as how the electorate might react, what the party might want, how to sell it to caucus and whether the economic and finance ministers have got the numbers in cabinet.

JUDGE: I don’t know that we’re getting anywhere here. We want the person who makes the decisions.

BARRISTER: Who takes responsibility for these political considerations?


Video, audio, scripts

John Clarke: Thanks for your time

For overseas viewers and those who missed out, here is the ABC's tribute to John. With thanks to the team who put it together. Enjoy.
Originally aired on the ABC 17/04/2017