Pages: 300 pages
The story of
Bert Kelly, MP for the South Australian seat of Wakefield from 1958 to
1977, is the story of one of the most influential parliamentarians in the
history of the Commonwealth. Bert Kelly was never ambitious in the sense that
is usually applied to politicians. His ambition was not to attain high office
but to change opinion within the parliament and the community at large about
protectionism and the harm which tariffs had done to Australia since they were
introduced by Alfred Deakin in 1902.
was almost alone and isolated in this great undertaking, but his gifts as
a writer and as a political strategist eventually brought success when, after
he had retired from parliamentary politics, the Hawke-Keating Government
in 1984 began dismantling the protectionist structure which had impoverished
Australia for more than 80 years.
He was known
as “the Modest Member”, the title he used for his influential column in the Australian
Financial Review. His powerful opponent , Sir John (Black Jack)
McEwen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, described him in the
Parliament as “the modest member with much to be modest about”. But it
was Bert Kelly who won this great contest, and his victory has been of
inestimable benefit to all Australians.