Race Mathews

Charles Race Thorson Mathews (born 27 March 1935[1]), usually known as Race Mathews, is an Australian co-operative economist, and former member of Victoria's State Parliament and Australia's Federal Parliament for the Australian Labor Party (ALP). As of 2012 he was a senior research fellow at Monash University's Faculty of Business and Economics.[2]

Race Mathews
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Casey
In office
2 December 1972 – 13 December 1975
Preceded byPeter Howson
Succeeded byPeter Falconer
Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly
for Oakleigh
In office
5 May 1979 – 2 October 1992
Preceded byAlan Scanlan
Succeeded byDenise McGill
Personal details
Born (1935-03-27) 27 March 1935 (age 86)
Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
Political partyAustralian Labor Party


Mathews joined the Labor Party in 1956[3] and served as chief of staff to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Labor leaders in the Parliament of Victoria[3] before entering politics.

From 1972 to 1975, Mathews was the Federal Member for Casey, where he served as the Chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Specific Learning Difficulties (1974–1975), and the Chairman of the Government Members' Committee on Urban and Regional Development. From 1979 to 1992, Mathews served as the State Member for Oakleigh in the Victorian Legislative Assembly during the Cain Government. In this capacity, Mathews served as the Chairman of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Co-operatives, the Minister for Community Services from 1987 to 1988, and Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for the Arts 1982–1987.[1]

Mathews is the author, co-author, or editor of numerous books on politics and economics. These include "Building the Society of Equals: Worker Co-operatives and the A.L.P.,"[4] "Jobs of Our Own,"[5] "Australia's First Fabians," [6] "Whitlam Re-visited: Policy Development, Policies and Outcomes,"[7] "Labor's Troubled Times,"[8] and "Turning the Tide: Towards a Mutualist Philosophy and Politics for Labor and the Left."[9]

In the context of Co-operative Economics, Mathews supports distributism and strongly favours worker cooperatives as the basis of a left-wing economic model.


Mathews' Co-operative Individualism, coupled with his strong Fabian Socialist beliefs, has led to some criticism by other academics. For instance, Jocelyn Pixley has attacked Mathews for his (apparent) support of the Cain Government's Co-operative Development Program, on the basis that Beatrice Webb, a founder of the Fabian Society, was a prominent member of the Federalist school of Co-operative economics, which supports Consumers' Co-operatives linked through co-operative wholesale societies, and was a harsh critic of Workers' cooperatives. Pixley writes:

A 'prefigurative' argument, that [Workers] co-ops were 'pioneers of a new exciting territory', a 'testing ground' for socialism... formed the basis of one Labor politician's support [i.e. Mathews], among others. It is an interesting position for a professed Fabian to hold, given Beatrice Webb's harsh judgement that [Workers'] co-operatives were associations of small capitalists as fraudulent as any other."[10]

However, in spite of being a Minister in the Cain Government's Chairman of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Co-operatives, and being a supporter of Workers Co-operatives, Mathews was a critic of the Cain Government's Co-operative Development Program, telling one magazine at the time that they were:

"...'in most instances wretchedly managed, chronically under-performing and expressive of the attitude that the world owes their members a living.' He said that we should 'wipe what has already happened in this state in the field of co-operation.' It was 'an historical aberration,' and it 'would have been better if it had never been.'"[11]

Personal lifeEdit

Mathews has been a member of science fiction fandom since the early 1950s. He attended his first science fiction convention in 1952, and was instrumental in the founding of the Melbourne Science Fiction Group. He mostly abandoned fannish activities, as political matter began to occupy more of his time around 1956.[12] Since his retirement from active politics, he returned to fannish circles.


  1. ^ a b Curriculum Vitae: Race Mathews Archived 7 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Dr. Race Mathews Archived 11 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Mathews, Race. "Victorian Labor's new crisis". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 3 March 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Mathews, Race, "Building the Society of Equals: Worker Co-operatives and the A.L.P.," Melbourne : Victorian Fabian Society, 1983.
  5. ^ Mathews, Race, "Jobs of Our Own: Building a Stakeholder Society," Sydney, Pluto Press (Australia), and London, Comerford & Miller, 1999.
  6. ^ Mathews, Race, "Australia's First Fabians: Middle-Class Radicals, Labour Activists and the Early Labour Movement" Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  7. ^ Mathews, Race; Emy, Hugh; and Hughes, Owen; "Whitlam Re-visited: Policy Development, Policies and Outcomes", Sydney: Pluto Press, 1992.
  8. ^ Mathews, Race, Burchall, David "Labor's Troubled Times," Sydney: Pluto Press (Australia), 1991.
  9. ^ Mathews, Race, "Turning the Tide: Towards a Mutualist Philosophy and Politics for Labor and the Left," Melbourne: Australian Fabian Society and Arena Publications, 2001.
  10. ^ Pixley, Jocelyn, "Citizenship and Employment: investigating Post-Industrial Options", Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  11. ^ "Mathews Attacks Co-operative Program", in “The Co-operator: Victoria’s Journal of Co-operative Affairs”, No. 12, p. 5.
  12. ^ Mathews, Race. "Whirlaway to Thrilling Wonder Stories: Boyhood Reading in Wartime and Postwar Melbourne." University of Melbourne Library Journal Vol. 1, No. 5 (Autumn/Winter 1995); pp. 18-31
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Peter Howson
Member for Casey
Succeeded by
Peter Falconer
Victorian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Alan Scanlan
Member for Oakleigh
Succeeded by
Denise McGill
Political offices
Preceded by
Norman Lacy
Minister for the Arts
Succeeded by
Ian Cathie