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John Stone (Australian politician)

John Owen Stone (born 31 January 1929) is a former Australian politician and public servant. He served as Secretary to the Treasury between 1979 and 1984,[1] and as a senator for Queensland representing the National Party from 1987 to 1990.

John Stone
Senator for Queensland
In office
11 July 1987 – 1 March 1990
Succeeded byBill O'Chee
Secretary of the Department of the Treasury
In office
8 January 1979 – 14 September 1984
Personal details
Born (1929-01-31) 31 January 1929 (age 90)
Perth, Western Australia
Political partyNational Party of Australia
Alma materOxford University
OccupationPublic servant


John Stone was born on 31 January 1929 in Perth, Western Australia.[2] After gaining first class honours in mathematical physics for his bachelor of science degree and representing his state at hockey (under 21), he was selected as the Rhodes Scholar from Western Australia for 1951.[3]

At Oxford he was awarded first class honours in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and won the James Webb Medley Prize for Economics. Then, in 1954, he returned to Australia and joined the Treasury.

Stone rose within the Treasury department to become Secretary during the period of the Fraser government. He penned a severe critique of Fraser's economic policies, which was used against the Liberal Party once the Australian Labor Party won the 1983 federal election. He supported some of the Hawke-Keating government's economic reforms, although he had little time for Bob Hawke or Paul Keating personally. While his resignation from the Treasury did not become effective until 14 September 1984,[4] he announced his imminent departure on 15 August 1984,[5] just six days before the 1984-85 Budget was handed down.[6] This was seen by commentators at the time as a strong comment on the government's direction.

In 1988, as John Howard's shadow finance minister, he supported Howard's calls to lower Asian immigration by saying "Asian immigration has to be slowed. It's no use dancing around the bushes".[7]

Despite holding what were seen by some to hold neoliberal economic views, Stone initially opposed the decision in December 1983 to float the Australian dollar, and consistently deplored a consumption tax. Indeed, he had repeatedly denounced the GST (and then Treasurer Peter Costello) in print.

An informal advisor to Queensland's longest-serving premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Stone was elected to the Australian senate from Queensland as a member of the pro-Bjelke-Petersen National Party at the 1987 election. John Howard, Liberal Party leader at the time, appointed Stone the opposition's finance spokesman. Following the release of the Coalition's One Australia immigration policy in 1988, Stone publicly said: "Asian immigration has to be slowed. It's no use dancing around the bushes."[7]

In 1990 Stone left the senate, and contested the house of representatives seat of Fairfax, his senate place being taken by Bill O'Chee.[8] Unsuccessful in his attempt to win Fairfax, he abandoned parliamentary life but remained very much in the public eye.

Since 1990 Stone has been an outspoken critic of multiculturalism and a supporter of the Samuel Griffith Society, which he helped found. He formerly had a column on economics and politics, in The Australian Financial Review. Other Australian publications for which he has written include The Sydney Morning Herald and the quarterly National Observer. Stone was critical of the Howard Government for its efforts at eroding the power of the states within the Australian federal system, regarding this as a departure from long-standing Liberal/National coalition "states' rights" theory. Nevertheless, in its March 2008 issue, Quadrant magazine published an article in which Stone argued that Howard had been, on the whole, Australia's greatest Prime Minister.[9]


  1. ^ "Australia's Prime Ministers". National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 4 December 2007.
  2. ^ CP 489: John Owen STONE, National Archives of Australia, retrieved 29 March 2014
  3. ^ Western Australian Rhodes Scholars, University of Western Australia, archived from the original on 15 September 2013
  4. ^ Samuel Griffith Society (John Stone: Curriculum Vitae)
  5. ^ Quadrant online, July-August 2011
  6. ^ House of Representatives Hansard, 21 August 1984
  7. ^ a b Peter, Mares (2002). Borderline: Australia's Response to Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the Wake of the Tampa. UNSW Press. p. 113. ISBN 0-86840-789-5.
  8. ^ Pasquarelli, John (28 August 1999), Super rort - speech for woodpeckers, archived from the original on 6 June 2014
  9. ^ "Quadrant March 2008 edition". Quadrant magazine. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2007.


Government offices
Preceded by
Frederick Wheeler
Secretary of the Department of the Treasury
1979 – 1984
Succeeded by
Bernie Fraser