Emeritus Professor Heinz Wolfgang Arndt

From the ANU Oral History Archive
Interview conducted 16 October 1990
Interviewed by Daniel Connell
Edited and transferred to web media by Nik Fominas and Peter Stewart

Biographical introduction: Professor Heinz Arndt was born in Germany in 1915 and was educated in German schools, Oxford University and the London School of Economics. He was appointed as a research assistant at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London in 1941 and then took up his first academic appointment at Manchester University in 1943.

In 1946 Professor Arndt was offered the position of senior lecturer in economics at Sydney University. He then became the foundation professor in economics at the Canberra University College in 1951.

By 1963 Professor Arndt's interest in development economics led him to accept a chair in the Department of Economics, Research School of Pacific Studies. He was Professor and Head of the Department of Economics until his retirement in 1980. After retirement he was awarded the title of Emeritus Professor and offered a Visiting Fellowship in the Development Studies Centre (later called the National Centre for Development Studies).

Professor Arndt also worked as a consultant to various United Nations organisations.


Transcript: Recording duration: 1 hour 20 mins (2 tapes) Transcriber: Diana Nelson

BEGIN TAPE 1, SIDE A.

          Identification: This is an interview with Professor Heinz Arndt for the ANU Oral History Project. The date is 16 October 1990 and I'm Daniel Connell, the interviewer. End of identification.

          Professor Arndt, if we could just go back a little bit, if you could give me a quick pen portrait of the family that you came from as you came out of Germany in 1933.

Well, my father was a university professor, a chemist. He came from Hamburg from a partly Jewish business family, very much involved in musical life in Hamburg - a friend of Brahms, my father was a very musical person. He was appointed Professor of Chemistry in Breslau in what is now Poland, just before the first world war and married a young Jewish girl. It was his Jewish background of course that resulted in 1933 in his dismissal from his university position by the Nazis. He was very fortunate to be one of the first to be dismissed. He was well known internationally and was immediately invited to Oxford by Professor Robert Robinson, who had been Professor of Chemistry in Sydney incidentally in the '20s, and later president of the Royal Society.

So in 1933 when I'd just finished school - I did my written leaving examination in the Weimar Republic and my oral under the Third Reich. The change came in January '33. My father was dismissed. He was invited to Oxford. I lay low for six months in a labour camp - voluntarily - and then joined him at Oxford. Went immediately to Lincoln College where I was admitted because Professor Sidgwick was a colleague of my father's. And I decided to do a PPE of Modern Greats because I obviously was interested in politics and that seemed the nearest to the kind of studies I would have done in Germany when I was supposed to prepare myself for the German Diplomatic Service, which sounds very funny. And I did PPE at Oxford with great enthusiasm, specialising in politics, learning very little economics. Got first class honours, and then since I was a refugee all sorts of occupations were closed to me.

I decided from the start that the best chance I had was to try and get an academic job and that meant I had to get a first. I then did two years at Oxford of post-graduate research. Got myself a Leverhulme research fellowship to the London School of Economics. Did another piece of research, rather useless research, under Professor Laski and then out of a job.

After a little while got a research assistantship in economics to the Chatham House Committee on Post-War Reconstruction. War had broken out in 1941 and I was attached as research assistant to a famous economist, later one of the founders of development economics, Professor Rosenstein-Rodan who was Secretary of the Committee. And that is how I became an economist. I switched from politics to economics because I was given the job of writing a book on the economic lessons of the 1930s, and that became my first book, partly because although it was intended as a draft of a committee report, the committee had been carefully composed of people straddling the whole political spectrum and couldn't agree on anything. So they said it should be published over my name, which was very fortunate for me and then Rosenstein-Rodan sold me to Hicks, a famous economist who later got the Nobel Prize, and he was professor at Manchester. And for four years I lectured in economics. That's how I began to learn some economics - in the process of teaching it. The very first thing that Hicks said to me - I think I mentioned it in my memoirs - when I got there he said, 'Well, Arndt, as an economist I suppose you're a bit of a dark horse', because I'd really learnt very little at Oxford. But then I worked intensively.

My job in Manchester came to an end in 1946 and I looked around for, applied for all sorts of jobs, including a senior lectureship at Sydney University. And to my great surprise one day I got a cable from the Registrar offering me the job, and after some discussion with my wife who was very reluctant to come out because her parents were still in Germany. Incidentally, I met my wife as a young German refugee girl. She was a student at the London School of Economics. However, I persuaded her to come out to Australia for two years and we never wanted to go back because we liked it very much in Australia. After four years at Sydney University I got the first Chair of Economics at the Canberra University College.

          Looking at that period before you left England where you'd observed at some distance the German system and you'd been part of and gone through the English system, if it's possible to sum this up, and it's an enormously complicated topic, what role did you think that universities should play in the overall public life or intellectual life, in the broadest possible terms, of a country?

Too big a question.

          I'm asking this question particularly from the point of view of coming to - I mean the ANU was very definitely a product of a mood of, in government circles, of wanting to establish certain features in Australian life which they thought were absent - I'm trying to get your attitudes to those sorts of fundamental questions.

Well, I've never had any very strong views on this subject. I've never taken a very acute interest in issues of university structure, policy. The German university system, of which I had no experience at all except very much at second-hand as a boy from what I hear from my father, had many features which I think were very good, or interesting, different from ours. Its students would wander from one university to another; attend lectures and maybe spend years and years until finally they presented themselves at one university for examination. That is very different from the English system.

In England of course the big problem was the distinction between the Oxbridge and red brick universities. I had some experience of both. I enjoyed Oxford enormously but Oxford was a very expensive form of education through tutorials, where one had a tutorial once a week with each of two tutors on one's own and it's really been impossible to reproduce that. I tried very hard in Sydney to develop a tutorial system, when I was in charge of a course of 350 third-year students, with one lecture a week to them and they had no other tuition at all. I tried to organise tuition through a sort of monitoring system.

I think the ANU idea was of course essentially to do two things: to find a way by which good, bright Australian students could do post-graduate work here rather than having to go to England or America, and secondly to have a place somewhat like the Academy of Sciences in different countries, or the Max Planck Institute in Germany where high level research would be done in certain selected areas. I think this was a thoroughly good idea. I think the ANU has justified the ideas of the founders in both respects though in some areas it's now getting more difficult to attract good PhD students, certainly in our field in development economics.

The really bright Australian students now again go overseas and we get the good New Zealand students to come to the ANU. That's one of the quips that are sometimes made. But the basic idea I think was good and I think in the selected areas of research I don't think there's any question that the ANU has established a commanding position within Australia, though there are fields in which some of the other universities are equally good, or perhaps even better. But I think in both those respects the ANU has justified itself.

          What about the situation at Sydney University? This is the oldest university in Australia and it's looking at this new creature being created in Canberra which is taking away funds at a time that it and other universities, like Melbourne, would have liked to have them go there? What was the feeling at Sydney University when you arrived in 1946 and the years immediately after towards the ANU?

Well, I remember Sir Keith Hancock coming to Sydney on a round Australia mission to sell the ANU idea at the State universities and he got a very sour reception. Obviously Sydney and Melbourne, the two old universities were very jealous and represented in this respect not the specific jealousies of the universities but also the more general jealousies of New South Wales and Victoria and so on, vis-...-vis Canberra. And I don't think that feeling has entirely died down. It's understandable, but equally I think in a small country it would have been impossible to create a really first-rate research institution in every city.

We might have tried to do what the Germans do, to have a research institute in a particular field in a particular city. So that there are maybe twenty-five Max Planck Institutes but the one for education would be in Berlin, the one for philosophy would be in Munich, the one for chemistry in Mainz and so on. I think on the whole probably in a widespread country, the idea of concentrating all this in Canberra was probably sensible, and there are problems, as we find having three universities, say, in Melbourne - well, let me start at the other end. When the government decided that more Asian studies needed to be done and Asian languages learnt they decided to set up, since people who can teach these subjects are very scarce, and since there are relatively few students initially, it would be sensible to have all this done in one centre, so they established a Faculty of Asian Studies at the Canberra University College.

Within two years Sydney and Melbourne decided to have their own Departments of Chinese and Japanese and so on. Then you had the problem in Melbourne when Melbourne University taught Japanese and Chinese but Monash said they had to teach it too because there were Arts students who wanted to do Chinese or Japanese as one unit of an Arts course and since Monash was far too far away from Melbourne for students to be able to commute between lectures between the two universities so each of the universities has duplicated this. Now in many ways this is a major problem in Australia and more specialisation among universities in fields in which talent is scarce and student numbers relatively small still seems to me a sensible way to go.

          Thinking back to that Sydney situation, one of the critiques, as I understand it, of the State universities was that they were essentially undergraduate teaching universities and not really suitable for research activities. Was that an attitude that was accepted in Sydney?

Well, it was never accepted. There's no academic in the world, even at the most third or fourth rate institution who does not think himself entitled to undertake research as well as teaching. It's partly a prestige matter. It's partly a genuine case of wanting to remain intellectually alert, alive, and do something at the ball of the subject but that is a universal thing. There are limits to what you can hope to get in the way of first rate research out of people who are primarily appointed to teach undergraduates. I think they all ought to have time, opportunity and encouragement to do some research but you won't, out of that, build a major research institution. If only because, at any rate in the sciences you need a great deal of equipment. You need a great deal of collaborative research.

I mean there are departments in all the Australian universities in various fields that are outstanding in their research field but that does not mean that the idea of an ANU as a single research institute wasn't a good one. The only reason why it's called a university was that under Australian law it could not give degrees unless it called itself a university. I think in many ways it would have been much better if it had been called the Australian Institute of Higher Research, or something like that, or˙...

          Advanced Studies?

Advanced Studies, the Institute of Advanced Studies, yes, surely.

          The situation - you were in Sydney which along with Melbourne is perhaps two of the most sophisticated places in the country and you made a decision after you'd been there just a few years to come to what was a fairly out of the way place along a very difficult road - you normally drove it to come to Canberra. Why did you leave the cosmopolitan delights of Sydney for the bush beauty of Canberra?

It's perfectly obvious, I was offered a chair. I had been an assistant lecturer, the lowest form of academic life, in Manchester four years earlier. It was a tremendous thing for me, not only to be offered a chair but in Canberra as an economist where I was close to the centres of economic policy making where I very quickly got to know some of the key people in the Public Service. There was a closed, not closed but an intimate community of economists here in Canberra: Trevor Swan, Fred Wheeler, Roland Wilson, Horrie Brown. In the first few years here it was very exciting to be a professor of economics in Canberra specifically, much more than being a senior lecturer or even a professor, in some ways, in Sydney University.

          So you did find when you came here that you quickly got involved in working, or not working, in having contact, intellectual contact with government economists and policy makers.

There was a very important distinction. I never at any stage got involved in actual policy advising but I had contact through Trevor Swan and through some of the others. There were friends of Jack Crawford quite soon. I heard what was going on and of course later on we had the regular meetings of university economists at the Reserve Bank through Dr Coombs which gave one a bit of inside information and opportunities to discuss policy issues with the people who were making the decisions, or at least advising the politicians, and that was very interesting.

          Did you feel that actually in the Public Service there was a hard core of very good economists even at that early stage? Or were they basically practical men?

No, I think that the Australian Commonwealth Public Service was established from 1901 onwards on the principle of: everybody could be promoted from the bottom up. The result was, as the initial Commonwealth Public Service consisted to eighty per cent of post office messenger boys, it was the post office messenger boys who ended up as Cardinal Gilroys and heads of government departments in the end. Now, the result was when the Depression came the Commonwealth Public Service had virtually no professional economists and the result was the Premiers' Plan when academic economists had to be called upon to prepare a plan to deal with the depression problems. And when the war came a lot of these were drawn into the temporary wartime Public Service but never left again. And that is why I think at the end of the war when I came to Australia, of the two dozen or perhaps not even that, one dozen, top quality economists in Australia, eighty per cent were in the Public Service.

          In Canberra.

Yeah, in Canberra.

          They weren't in Sydney or Melbourne?

No. Some of them were temporary public servants who then moved out again. People like Ronald Walker left and became a diplomat and so on. But all these, Menzies' seven dwarfs, the seven brilliant economically trained public servants: Roland Wilson, Coombs, Bland - not Bland - Harry Bland [inaudible]. I can't remember all the other names, I mentioned them here. They were amongst the best professionally trained economists in the country and probably better than any of the, then, academic economists in the universities. Later, of course, it got more mixed up.

          So when Coombs organised those meetings with the Reserve Bank, bringing together government and academic economists, it was very much inviting you into the inner circle as opposed to them trying to come cap in hand to the centres of knowledge?

Oh certainly. I mean what Coombs did was to give the academic economists an opportunity to find out a little of what was going on behind the scenes and thereby to try and make sure that we talked a bit more sense when we talked in public than we would otherwise do. In general much policy making was very much behind closed doors and it was very difficult .... I would be constantly asked to give news commentaries by the ABC but I had far less information than the people inside had and of course the result was they despised a lot of nonsense we'd talk because we were ill-informed. Coombs was trying partly to ensure that the academic economists would get a bit more background information about what was going on so that when they talked in public they would talk more sense.

          So when you came to Canberra, could you describe the town. You've described meeting some fellow economists, but what was the town, from your point of view, your personal point of view?

Well Bruce Miller, whom I had known in Sydney in the adult education department and edited a thing called the Highway, the journal of the Workers' Educational Association, asked me in my first months in Canberra to write an article on the far away capital which I did which gave my initial reactions to Canberra. Well, it was a terribly odd place. The population was 17˙000. Housing was very difficult after the war. We managed to rent by a triangular exchange a government 'Tocumwal' pre-fab up in north Ainslie which was then called South Yass by the cynics. We got our first car, a little Ford Anglia, in 1950.

The only economists, academic economists, here were Roy Cameron who later became Commonwealth Statistician, Burgess Cameron who became Head of the Department, and Trevor Swan had just been appointed here in the Research School and was soon joined by Horrie Brown, and that was about it.

The Canberra University College of course had begun to fill some full-time posts. Professor Herbert Burton had been appointed Principal two years before. Then Manning Clark and Fin Crisp were appointed to the chairs of history and politics and Alec Hope, and myself to the chair of economics. There were a few full-time senior lecturers and lecturers there, people like John Fleming who later became Garran Professor of Law, but the total academic staff of the Canberra University College was about fifteen full-time staff.

The offices were in what later became, above the TAA office in Civic, where we had half a floor. In 1953 that got burnt out and we were shifted to the Workers' Hostel in Childers Street where we stayed for ten years. It was all extremely, if you like, primitive, but on the other hand it meant that in those early years there was interdisciplinary intellectual communication in the common room which later became much more difficult as numbers increased. One talked every day to one's philosophy, history, law and other colleagues. That was nice.

          What about the students?

Students were all part-timers, all public servants doing part-time degrees. The Canberra University College had been established because when the national capital was transferred to Canberra in '27 hundreds of public servants in Melbourne who were studying part-time for Melbourne University degrees were suddenly transferred to the bush and were most indignant and demanded that they should be given opportunities.

And then people like Sir Robert Garran established an association to advocate the establishment of a university here and the Canberra University College was established entirely to teach public servants as part-time students with part-time staff. The only full-time staff member was Bob Parker as Registrar and then later Tom Owen. The lecturers were all part-time and it was not until well into the '50s that we got the first full-time students, partly because the Commonwealth Statistician - the government - offered, I think, half a dozen or ten statistics cadetships from all over the country to study in Canberra specifically as bonded cadets for the Commonwealth Statistical Office.

And then the next lot were the, well, we had the diplomatic cadets. They were also part-time of course. They were graduates recruited for the Diplomatic Service for usually two years and later one year of partly in-service training in the Department and partly minimal course work in economics, politics, history and languages for people who'd been recruited from disciplines: Hebrew, microbiology, whatever, all over the place. They were part-time students but they spent a lot of their time at the College. We had a residential college for them in Gungahlin which is now the CSIRO Wildlife Centre and that was a kind of centre of student activity at a time when practically all the other students were part-time.

The next lot we got were National University Scholarships. The government established merit scholarships, I think ten a year, for outstanding - I suppose Leaving Certificate or whatever it was called then - applicants for university admission who were given these very good scholarships to study at Canberra. And they were the core of our full-time students. Gradually we got a few more. As the city expanded we got more full-time students: children of people in Canberra and others who also got National Undergraduate Scholarships from all over the country.

          You mentioned that you moved to temporary headquarters through the '50s after the fire. The university was expanding in numbers as students as you've just described; staff members were also expanding in numbers?

Oh yes. We gradually separated into the faculty system. There was Arts and Economics, Law and then Science was established, and the first five professors were appointed in chemistry, physics, zoology, botany and psychology. Then they established a Faculty of Asian Studies so we had five faculties and in 1960 or thereabouts there was increasing pressure to make ourselves independent from Melbourne. We were preparing students for Melbourne degrees and ...

          Not 1960.

It was a bit earlier, it was '58-9, I think.

          The Murray Report had come out at this stage, or not?

I'm not sure about my dates now. I don't think so. Anyhow, we wanted to make ourselves independent. There were endless meetings and the idea was to establish a University of Canberra and the Walter Burley Griffin plan for the city of Canberra had a large area set aside for the University of Canberra which we expected to become the site for our permanent buildings but in the meantime of course the ANU had been established in '45 and somehow people forgot that there was a Canberra University College and the whole of that site earmarked in the plan for the University of Canberra was allocated to the ANU. There were great battles for several years about what part of that site could be made available to the Canberra University College or the university. And then of course in 1960 came the decision by Menzies to amalgamate the two because he was under great pressure from ...

          Before the actual decision was announced what do you remember of the discussion within the College and also remembering your contacts with the likes of Trevor Swan and people like that?

Well, the amalgamation, you mean? Oh well, of course there was considerable hostility on both sides. The ANU people who didn't want to get themselves involved with all that riffraff from the College and the College people who were very concerned that they would be an inferior form of academic life with these great research professors around. There was of course the difference of salary which was much resented in the Canberra University College, that the ANU professors got an extra that was initially, I think it was, œ500 which was a large proportion of the salary but it remained œ500 or thereabouts but became a smaller and smaller proportion but it was still resented because as evidence of discrimination and the College people didn't want to be amalgamated at all and the ANU people were not particularly happy to have it taken on but it was imposed from above and long negotiations went on. And in the end of course I think neither the fears ...

          Did you get involved very much in discussions of these things, or was it just something that was discussed at dinner parties and then dropped?

No, I was on the Board of Studies of the College and of course we had endless documents to look at, and the question of the buildings that we were supposed to have. What later became the Copland Building was already beginning to get underway. No, we were quite a bit involved but I never, I'm afraid, got very passionate about the subject. I think in retrospect neither the fears nor the hopes of the time were really fulfilled.

The hopes were not fulfilled because the amount of interaction between the Institute and what is now The Faculties has always been much less than was hoped at the time. And one of the arguments used in favour of amalgamation was the great economies that would be achieved by having only one, instead of two, university libraries. Well, it just didn't come off. We have two university libraries. And the same applies ....

On the other hand the fears also have not been fulfilled, I think. Although it varies a good deal in different disciplines, in some there is much more co-operation than in others between academics or The Faculties and the Institute. On the whole I think it's been beneficial and it's been up to the individual people how much they want to make of it.

          I remember when I interviewed Melville he said that he had to represent opposition officially but he personally supported amalgamation. Was that a very common discrepancy?

Yes, I supported amalgamation. Simply because I couldn't see that the objections were all that serious and I could see certain advantages. The reason why Menzies did it was that he was under great pressure from the State universities for more money and they argued, 'Now here you are, you've got two universities in this tinpot place Canberra' and I think it was that consideration that was decisive and I could see some point in that. I certainly don't think it's done .... And of course in a way the whole issue has now been circumvented by the elevation of the College of Advanced Education, CCAE, into the University of Canberra, so now we have again a University of Canberra and no doubt one day maybe someone will start another amalgamation.

          They tried one twelve months ago.

END TAPE 1, SIDE A

BEGIN TAPE 1, SIDE B

          Identification: Side two, tape one, Professor Arndt.

          The relationship that you had professionally with the ANU just before amalgamation, you mentioned that you associated socially with Trevor Swan, did you have any other connection with him?

Oh yes, indeed. We were very good friends. He was a really brilliant theorist. He had a lot of maths. I was neither and at the same time I was the only macro-economist he could talk to in the early years so I used to see a lot of Trevor. He would show me what he was writing, sometimes it would involve an initial tutorial in metrics - algebra, or two, before I could understand what it was all about. Later on as his Department was built up he brought much better qualified people to the Department and people like Wilfred Salter and Ivor Pearce and others and he found it less and less useful to bounce off his ideas on me and I saw unfortunately very much less of him in subsequent years, but in the early years we were very close.

          Well, you obviously maintained your reputation relatively well across the ANU because they offered a chair fairly early after amalgamation.

What happened was that the Research School of Pacific Studies had been established initially to undertake research on problems of the countries around Australia, the Pacific region; initially without a Department of Economics. The only Department of Economics was established in the Research School of Social Sciences and they never had a director. They had deans, revolving deans. And at some stage - there were a lot of problems - it was decided that they needed a director and they got Sir John Crawford to come over out of the Public Service. And at that point decided to establish a Department of Economics with the specific job of studying problems of the countries around Australia, problems of economic development, and Australia's relations with these countries. Initially Crawford was both Director and Professor, Head of Department, and in his usual way, at once, prepared a plan for a huge department but within three years he decided he couldn't be both Director and Head of Department and it was decided to get somebody else to take over the headship of the Department and I was asked whether I would be interested. I said I would be and so in due course I got offered the chair.

I had become very interested in development problems, as I've explained in my memoirs, largely through the Swedish economist, Gunnar Myrdal, who got me invited to India. And so I was very happy to take over that Department and I was immediately presented, by Crawford, with an establishment consisting of two chairs, he remained a professor, three professorial fellowships, two senior lectureships - no two fellowships, two senior fellowships, three senior lectureships, three research fellowships and three senior research fellowships. In other words, of all those posts, only four or five had by then been filled and for the first few years the pressure constantly was, it hardly seemed credible, he would constantly ask me, 'Now, why haven't you filled more of these posts? You must really find more people. Recruit more people'. The extreme opposite of the situation nowadays where we haven't got the posts.

By the time I'd been there for five or ten years it was probably the biggest single department in the whole Institute - we had such a very large staff. He also got us some Ford Foundation grants with which I was able to appoint more people like Helen Hughes and Alex Hunter - they were appointed on Ford money. So I built up a very large department, constantly pushed by Crawford to do just that.

          What sort of contact had you had with Crawford before that first ...?

He was of course, one of the most senior public servants. Once or twice we had meetings in Canberra to discuss economic policy questions and I would be invited from Sydney to come down and Crawford would be one of the hosts. I remember once him giving a sort of cocktail party at his house in Melbourne Avenue. And I used to, as occasionally one finds oneself travelling on a DC3 with Crawford to Sydney and that would be a nice opportunity to talk about things. I was never involved by him in any policy advice, or anything like that. It would be casual opportunities to meet him but usually we talked shop and I was on very good terms with him. And of course, he knew me quite well when he decided that I might be an appropriate person to take over that post.

          Before we go to RSPacS, a couple more questions about CUC. How much research work was going on among the people that you knew at CUC?

Well, CUC was in that respect no different from any other Australian university or any English red brick university. Every academic staff member had a teaching load which in my case was very heavy. I taught twelve, thirteen, fourteen teaching hours a week because it was such a small place but I usually used to write my lectures in the long vacation and then I had the whole of the academic year free to write articles and books.

But it was very much up to the individual, some were much more productive and much more interested in writing and in doing research than others but the situation in that respect was no different at the CUC from others except perhaps that thanks to Professor Burton, even though I say so myself, I think it attracted an extraordinarily high quality people to those first five chairs. I mean, Manning Clark, Fin Crisp, Alec Hope, you couldn't find an equal trio in any other Australian university quite as eminent in their field. And this, to some extent, has continued with John Fleming's appointment to law. We got some very good professors and also some good people at the non-professorial staff. So I think it was a very good, high quality academic staff at the CUC in those early years.

          What about the students? What did you think of them as a group?

Well, my best student in the Canberra University College years was the man who is now Secretary of the Treasury, Chris Higgins. He unfortunately went off for the last year to do his honours year in Melbourne but he did our master, Economics˙III course. I had a few good students but of course the general run of undergraduates were part-time students. They were obviously intelligent public servants but we had minimal time to do .... Sir Geoffrey Yeend, the present Deputy Chancellor, was one of my undergraduates, did an economics degree. Lots of now senior public servants did their economics degree as part-time students in Canberra.

And then we got the diplomatic cadets. Every one of my first year, or almost every one of my first year course subsequently became ambassadors. Three of them became Heads of the Department of Foreign Affairs. These were obviously extremely bright people but on the other hand the diplomatic cadets, some of them, made no bones about the fact that they couldn't see any point in doing all this silly economics. Some of them didn't take it terribly seriously and they didn't learn an awful lot but they learnt something.

          You got a reputation for being a bit hard on some of the female students.

Oh that is complete nonsense. It's quite true, I mention in my memoirs that when I was in Sydney I was told later by somebody that I had the reputation that I failed all girls automatically, but it was quite untrue. I had some very bright girl students, but it is of course probably true that a lot of girls in Sydney would do a unit in economics as Arts students. They are terrified of anything that smelt of mathematics, or even any formula or graph, and many of them just weren't very good, but certainly I was, if anything, in my first years in Canberra, I prided myself that I had a higher proportion of women in the staff of my department than any other department in the university. So I've always been something of an early feminist. That's quite untrue.

          You did also try and change the course that you were teaching there and introduced more politics and history. Could you tell me about that?

Well, we were teaching economics to the .... Of course all subjects were Melbourne degrees and in Melbourne very sensibly, as I now think, economics was part of a Commerce Faculty taught together with units in accounting and economic geography and other commercial subjects. I was very much an economist in the Keynesian-Fabian school who thought of economics as a subject dealing with government policy making rather than with business. I now think that was rather stupid but that was my attitude at the time and therefore I wasn't particularly interested in developing commerce courses.

I would have very much liked to have developed an economics degree course in the independent University of Canberra somewhat more like the Oxford degree of politics, economics and philosophy. I always thought that economics students should learn some history, should learn some politics and I since I had never done any maths myself I wasn't all that enthusiastic about the trend which actually of course occurred of loading the economics degree course with more and more mathematical, statistical, econometric, technological units. I was very unhappy to see it made more and more difficult for economic students to fit even one unit of history or politics or Asian languages or something into an economics degree course, but that's the fashion in economics.

          How was it happening despite your wishes? You were the Professor of Economics?

Well, it was the trend in the international profession. My younger lecturers made increasingly pointed remarks about my inability to teach economics in the approved modern fashion as a branch of applied mathematics. And of course that's one reason why I left. I gave up the job in the CUC and was very glad to have the job offered in the Institute because in economic development where the statistical database is so poor you can't really do very much econometric work, or couldn't, and my incompetence in mathematics didn't show up so much.

          The pointed remarks, to what stage did that get? Was it serious?

Yeah, quite, I think. One or two of my young fellows, my lecturers on my staff became quite pointed. They were more or less suggesting to me that I either ought to learn some maths or get out. One of them is now a very eminent Professor of Economics in Monash.

          Over at RSPacS, what was the situation that you found there? You've described the job that you went to do.

It was an empire presided over by the emperor, Sir John Crawford. He was enormously influential and powerful and authoritative and to be quite frank, in the first few years, we wouldn't make any major decision without - he was the Director - without his approval. But as I say, he constantly pushed me to recruit more staff. He had already recruited two or three very good people: Fred Fisk, who'd been in the colonial service, a very good economist, and David Bensusan-Butt who had been here on an exchange with Trevor Swan between the British and Australian Prime Minister's Department but liked it in Australia so he was brought here.

Then quite soon Max Corden was brought here from Melbourne, or I suppose actually at that time from England, and I recruited Helen Hughes on the Ford grant, so we very quickly built up a substantial staff to study economic problems of the countries around Australia. Initially, mainly the Malaysian economy. We brought Professor Silcock from the University of Malaya in Singapore here to run a two-year seminar on Malaysia, or Malaya as it was called then. And also on Papua New Guinea. Fred Fisk and Shand began to specialise in New Guinea.

I very quickly decided we had to decide what to do about Indonesia and after a five weeks' visit to Indonesia I decided to establish a major Indonesian project and that became one of the chief jobs of my Department, and of course still is. The Indonesian project has now run for twenty-five years and it's probably fair to say that the ANU is regarded as the chief centre of Indonesian economic studies in the world, outside Indonesia, and in some respects we are, even our Indonesian colleagues, think we are better equipped for some purposes. We have better library facilities than anybody has in Indonesia so that was a major initiative which I think has very much paid off.

          These things were fitting in very much with the original ideas behind the setting up of, or some of the people involved in setting up the ANU, and particularly RSPacS, and that is a regional quote, in brackets, useful aspect to the university which caused some angst on the part of some other people.

Well, I never took, shall we say, a Dawkins line on this. I agreed that it was very important for Australia to take an interest and become knowledgeable about what was going on in Indonesia and I hoped that this work we were doing would help promote good relations between Australia and Indonesia. But at the same time we never set ourselves up, for example, as economic advisers - unlike Harvard and other American institutions where most of the economists spend most of their time on consultancies as advisers for the World Bank, for the IMF, for Harvard Development Advisory Service and so on. We, none of us, until quite recently ever acted as consultants in Indonesia. We went there, we reported on what was going on, and of course in our commentary we did not hesitate to give policy advice, at least by way of criticism but we left it to the Indonesians to make of that what they wanted. And I know that in many cases they would be very interested to hear what we had to say but it was never formal policy advice and therefore we never regarded ourselves as being agents of the government or useful in any direct way for Australian government policy. But we thought that this kind of research, in applied economics, and realistic assessment of what was going on would be valuable to all the policy makers, and the politicians.

          In Australia as well as Indonesia?

Yeah. No, in Australia, I mean in Australia. And I think it has also proved to be the case by and large. I think the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and parliamentarians have recognised the work done by our Indonesian project and other work has been valuable in educating the Australian public and providing background assessments and information.

          There's a strong empirical streak, if you'll allow me to say so, going through the work that you're doing, that you've done. What's your feeling of that pressure?

Very bluntly, since economic theory is nowadays done almost entirely in mathematical terms which I can't handle, I've been rather - and for that reason alone - inclined to devote myself more to empirical applied economics work. But I must also say that I've always been interested in writing bits of theory where I could without having to put it in mathematical terms and I think often that's quite useful. On the whole, if you asked me what had been the contributions to economics I'm most proud of I would probably quote a few minor, a dozen or so theoretical articles rather than almost any of my applied work. Theoretical work gives one great satisfaction, aesthetic satisfaction. It's nice to make a contribution to a body of theory whereas sort of for all time in a way in which applied work never does. But I also must accept the fact that my comparative advantage is very much on the applied side.

          Do I detect a degree of scepticism about the mathematical pre-occupation of your colleagues?

I've just written an article for the Asian Development Bank where I will be in Manila next month in which I say, quoting the phrase from Colin Clark: 'It would be laughable were it not tragic to see the enormous misallocation of resources by economists writing hundreds of articles of sophisticated econometric studies based on data which I know to be for the most part so wonky, so extremely precarious that one must very much doubt whether all this kind of sophisticated, analytical econometric work is really worthwhile'. I'm very sceptical. I think the mathematics - economics has veered far too far in that direction.

          Was that possibly one of the reasons why the diplomats dropped out of the - you were involved - we were talking before?

No, not at all, no. What we taught them was basic macro-economics, Keynesian income theory, international economics, basic concepts about the balance of payments and foreign exchanges. I used to devise this course of minimum economics for diplomats. It was designed to be understandable by them and it doesn't involve any significant mathematics, perhaps a little bit of algebra or a graph here and there, but something that would be directly useful, giving them some background and most of them enjoyed it very much. And even the ones who at the time rather didn't take it very seriously, I have met several who say, 'Wish we'd paid a bit more attention to what you were trying to tell us'. They realised afterwards that it was useful and could have been made more useful if they'd spent a bit more time on it. Oh no, I think that's quite unconnected with my scepticism about the mathematicising of economics.

          Collaborative projects have been a very important part of what's happened in, say, the physical sciences, but they have had a rather more problematical history, have they not, in RSPacS and RSSS?

Well, I think this may be partly my fault.

          I meant generally. I meant that as a general ....

I know. But I think in the last ten years or so, for example, in the Research School of Social Sciences Economics Department there has been much more collaborative research, partly again of a contract research type but in this Centre for Public Policy. I, on the whole, took the view, the traditional British sort of view that each academic should be entitled to do whatever research he wants to do, and if they wanted to collaborate that was fine but it was up to them.

On the other hand of course the Indonesian project was a collaborative exercise which involved continuous pressure on several members of my Department to make contributions and it was very much a continuing collaborative research because each issue of the Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, there was three times a year, contained a survey of recent developments in Indonesia which somebody had to do. I mean I used to do a lot of them but other members of staff were drafted to do them. They were sent to Indonesia to spend three or four or five weeks there to inform themselves and write up an article, so that was a very much ....

We had other collective - David Penny, my colleague, we used to run one year seminars on - different people being asked to contribute papers over the whole year which were then published in book form. One was on motivation in economic development, and we would every so often try and rope everybody in to some collective enterprise but it wasn't the kind of continuing collective work on a research project that you get in the physical sciences, or in chemistry and so on where you have to have groups of people working together.

          Did you also try and bring in non-economists?

No. By and large I am very delinquent in my reluctance to involve myself too much with interdisciplinary activities. I mean, again on Indonesia, we would have conferences interdisciplinary with political scientists and sociologists but in general I tended to take the view that our comparative advantage lay in economics, and leave the politics to the political scientists, and the sociologists and the anthropologists.

We would have frequently, for example, in applications for Ph.D scholarships, we would get applications from young people from all over the world who wanted to study religion in Java or villages in Bali, all sorts of things, which I said, 'Look, that's not economics', and that was one reason why I got together with Hedley Bull to try and set up a department of politics and sociology within the Research School of Pacific Studies because we didn't have that.

We had no opportunities, no department in which somebody who wanted to do research in sociology or politics of Asian countries could do this because the Sociology and Politics Departments were in the Research School of Social Sciences and they by and large concerned themselves with world or Australian problems. The reason why this didn't come off quite was that when we proposed a department of politics and sociology people told us very quickly that it would only be three years before they would bifurcate as other departments, see, human geography and biogeography and so on had bifurcated, and that's why in the end we developed the ingenious device of calling it the Department of Political and Social Change, because the danger of bifurcation from adjectives was less than from nouns. So that's why it still is the Department of Political and Social Change.

That was one of my major initiatives in the Research School, to try and get that department, partly because I wanted some place where we wouldn't have to pretend to teach sociology, or Indonesian sociology and so on.

          The tendency to pull back to the traditional disciplines and the position of departments and professors and have the collaborative projects not really work over the medium or longer term, you think that's something that you can detect in the history of the ANU?

Yes. It's difficult to be quite honest about this. I cannot avoid ...

          Why is that?

I quite avoid the feeling - perhaps I oughtn't to say this in a permanent record - that geographers tend to assume because everything that happens to mankind happens in space, they are experts on everything. Sociologists believe that everything happens in society, therefore all problems should be handled by sociologists, and geographers, I frequently find, assume they can deal with any problem of applied economics without knowing any economics on the principle that they're dealing with a spatial dimension. I've often found that ...

          Power is also very pervasive, so political scientists ...

Yeah. I have more sympathy with that because I believe that almost all economic problems have this power dimension and political economy in that sense, the politics of economic activity, what determines the decision-making process seems to me just terribly important, or even for economists to be aware of. I'm much more sceptical about the contribution with what economists have to learn from geographers or sociologists but of course that is not a very sensible, or popular, view. But it's been one reason why I've been less enthusiastic about interdisciplinary work of that sort than perhaps I ought to have been.

          The duties of a head of department, you took those duties very seriously, I understand.

Yes.

          In terms of commenting on the work of members of the ...

When I was at the Canberra University College, for example, I decided, once we became independent, that I would give a first semester, or in those days it was term, course of introduction to economics to all first year students because I thought it was important that economic students should be given some idea of what economics was all about. I would give quite a general course, the primary purpose of which was to tell young people who came to the University why economics is exciting and what it was all about. Equally, I thought the undergraduates had a right to get to know the Head of Department and see what he was like and so on.

Now, similarly, in my research department, I spent an enormous amount of time reading and commenting all drafts by, not perhaps by all PhD students, but certainly anything that members of my staff wanted me to read. We had a very good collaborative atmosphere in the Department. Everybody showed drafts of what they were writing to everybody else if they could persuade them to read them and comment on them. I think that's by far the most useful, or one of the most useful ways in which people can help each other. And I still do this. You should see the - I've got files for every three or four years, 200 pages of carbon copies of my comments on other people's manuscripts. I mean, I do a lot of that even now but certainly it was an important part of my work as Head of Department, but equally I encouraged my colleagues, my senior colleagues to do this for the younger ones and for the students.

We had regular seminars. Initially we used to have two a week, later one a week, in which students would be asked to - PhD students - asked to present their results of their field work or what they were doing, and staff members would read papers to each other.

          Would that be a normal approach? Most departmental heads ...

Yes, I think so. Most of them would do that. I mean, how much - I think I probably did more reading and written comenting on other people's work than perhaps all department heads do but I found it useful. I learnt an awful lot. Much of what I know about development economics I learnt from reading my colleagues and my students' drafts. That's one obvious way of informing myself.

          Work outside of the ANU, you've already stressed the relation to the Indonesian unit that you weren't setting that up as a consultancy operation like Harvard or whatever, but you've done quite a lot of work outside of the university. I'm thinking of the UN and development groups.

One inevitably, as an economist, one gets invited by international organisations to conferences to do jobs. I, for example, through actually the Department of Foreign Affairs, was appointed member of the governing council of the United Nations Development Institute in Bangkok which was a training institution for public servants. For several years I had a very interesting time going to Bangkok once or twice a year. I was almost the only member who was a mere academic, the others were ministers or ex-ministers or diplomats. I had a very interesting time with Asian colleagues. I would be occasionally ...

END TAPE 1, SIDE B

BEGIN TAPE 2, SIDE A

          Identification: this is tape two of the interview with Professor Heinz Arndt, and this is side one of tape two. End of identification.

          You were talking about the Bangkok ...

That was a very interesting job. I frequently was invited to act on expert groups of United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, as it was called then, ECAFE, or one would be asked to go to Manila, the Asian Development Bank, as I still tend to do. By far the most important opportunity for this kind of thing was one's regular study leave period.

In the Canberra University College we were entitled to study leave one sabbatical year every seven years but at the Institute you had every four years which I think was quite monstrous and of course later it's been cut down but it meant that if one wanted to go abroad, one could take it in two bites. I spent one semester teaching at an American university. I once spent a whole year with the United Nations in Geneva. I spent six months with the OECD in Paris writing the first annual economic survey of Australia. That kind of activity I did quite a lot.

I spent four months with Trevor Swan in India helping the Indian Planning Commission with their third five-year plan. This kind of - but it was part of study leave. It was usually not - one took leave without pay or when one had study leave one had to account for one's expenditure. In more recent years I've frequently been in Vienna with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, for short periods. I mean, this was particularly since my retirement I've done much more of it because I've had more time. The odd three-week period - I'm just going next month to the Asian Development Bank again for a short term job for a couple of weeks. I've just been asked to go to a conference in London at the end of November. That will only be a few days. But I've done a tremendous lot of travelling and of course particularly in the Asian region.

You may have seen my book of Asian Diaries in which, whenever I go abroad I keep a diary partly to keep track of whom I'm seeing and what I see, and from about 4˙000 pages of diaries some years ago I extracted 250 pages of the more interesting early visits to put together in a book. So that has been most enjoyable for me but it also, I think has been a moderately useful professional activity.

          Something I meant to ask you about earlier, and that is that your political attitudes were of the left as I understand it, and that this did cause some comment. I mean your ex-student, Billy McMahon, whom you gave that distinction to in fourth year economics at Sydney complained about it in parliament, did he not, subsequently? 'What's the CUC doing appointing socialists to chairs?'

I was very left as an undergraduate and graduate, as most of us were in the late '30s, partly because of the whole anti-fascist situation. I was still left, though much less so, a kind of fake Keynesian-Fabian when I came to Australia. In fact I was, with Noel Butlin, we founded the Fabian Society of New South Wales and it was at that time I even argued the case for bank nationalisation which I would now be horrified about and it was that that led Billy McMahon, who had been a student of mine in Sydney, when he'd become a member of parliament to ask the Prime Minister, Mr Menzies, whether he was aware that the latest person appointed to the Chair of Economics in Canberra was a socialist, and a supporter of bank nationalisation. And Menzies of course had never heard of me and asked for the question to be put on notice and the next week said that it was not the practice of the government to interfere in academic appointments.

          But they did actually interfere in some other cases in academic appointments, did they not?

The only case I can think of - there were one or two - Frank Knopfelmacher is the most notorious case in Sydney when he was virtually precluded from an appointment because he was regarded as too right-wing. Lots of leftys were indignant at the suggestion of anybody as reactionary being appointed.

          There were people here - I am thinking in the physical sciences for example - there were some people who were suspected of being communists. I don't know whether they were or whether they weren't. And there's some suggestion that Sir Mark Oliphant wasn't brought in to be involved to the extent that he could have been in the early nuclear activity because of his views.

Look, I don't know enough about that. I can't recall really.

          It obviously didn't hinder you.

I can't recall coming across that. The only other case that I can think of where there was allegations of political discrimination was in the case of Arthur Burns but he was invalided out of the university on medical grounds and there were people who thought that had been politically motivated which I don't think it was. But I can't think of any cases of that sort.

I, of course, moved further to the right, if you like, I would regard the terms right and left now rather as inappropriate but I've certainly become a much more market oriented economist and I, at a very early stage, found myself at loggerheads with the Labor Party over Vietnam where I supported the American-Australian view on the Vietnam war, whereas most of my colleagues did not.

I resigned from the Labor Party not over that but over Whitlam kowtowing to Chou En-lai in Peking because I wanted a two-China policy. But on these foreign policy issues I found myself increasingly at loggerheads. I've written all this up in an article on political autobiography, I don't know whether you've seen that.

          The role of Departmental Chairman of the Board of Studies, you mentioned before that that was a post you took up reluctantly. I think this might have been in the discussion before we started recording.

What I was talking about was the position which was then called Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Institute. After amalgamation each of the two parts of the university was given a Board of Studies but rather stupidly the Vice-Chancellor was made Chairman of each of the two boards with the result that the elected chairman - or the appointed chairman - elected by the Board on the nomination of the Vice-Chancellor was called Deputy Chairman but he in fact acted as a Chairman. The Vice-Chancellor would sit next to him and help and advise and it was in fact my last job as Deputy Chairman was to get the Council agree to change this nomenclature and they are now called Chairman but it was called Deputy Chairman. That was a very onerous job.

I was a member of sixteen standing committees of the university and I don't know how many ad hoc committees or selection committees - every sort. I spent an enormous amount of my time during those four years as Deputy Chairman of BIAS. It was very interesting in many ways. We had a policy committee which members of the other, and I did manage to achieve a few, I think, I regard them as quite major reforms.

One for example was that, the Institute was still expanding, more professors were being created and initially every professor became automatically a member of the Board and the Board was getting much too big. I then proposed the constitution whereby each research school would be entitled to so many members of the Board and they would elect from among the professors six, each school, to be members of the Board and that system has worked very well, I think. The Chair membership rotates but it meant that we could put a limit to the size of the Board which was getting too big.

Another major initiative which I devoted an enormous amount of effort to and was finally favoured was: we found that, at one point, of the - I forget now how many - tenured positions in the Institute, only twelve would fall vacant between then and the end of the century. And the result was that the opportunities for promotion, appointment, there was a danger of ever increasing rigidity because of the number of tenured appointments. So I proposed that we should have a self-denying ordinance where all tenured positions, if and when they fell vacant, would be replaced by fixed term, say ten year appointments. And that was ...

          Renewable, or not?

Yeah, I think so, sure, but they would be re-advertised. I got that through my policy committee, I got that through the Board, I got it through Council and then the Vice-Chancellor discussed it with the Staff Association and gave it away. The Staff Association was so hostile that the Vice-Chancellor abandoned the idea, to my great disgust. Of course, we're moving in that direction now but I think that would have been a very worthwhile reform. We did other things but it was certainly a very onerous job which I was very glad to give up after four years while at the same time admitting that I quite enjoyed it and found it quite interesting at the time but my comparative advantage I still thought was an economist rather than as a university administrator.

          Do you feel that - on that sort of question - university administrators, it should be a specialty that people make a career of, that develops and that people˙...?

I think Australian universities are much too democratically governed, or rather they like to think of themselves as democracies, they're really oligarchies of senior academics. I, in many ways, think that the American presidential system is much better where one professional administrator or somebody who becomes a professional has the power to make decisions. The deans make decisions where - of course, I'm all opposed to the uniformity of academic salaries. In an American university you bid for people and a president can offer a really top man a very much higher salary than others. I think it's very contrary to the Australian ethos of, what is there to say, call it democracy, but I think academics spend an inordinate amount of time now on committees, drafting memoranda. That's not what they're employed for.

Whether I would go all the way to the presidential system of the American university, I'm not sure but certainly I think reducing the amount of time that academics have to spend on committees .... And of course it became so much worse after the 1960s with students demanding participation and freedom of information and all that sort of - these modern trends with which I have very little sympathy.

          Well, talking of that period, the late '60s, early '70s, what sort of direct impact did that have on you?

Well, we had the great advantage that Jack Crawford was wonderfully good at handling the student radicals whereas some other vice-chancellors really got themselves involved in terrible trauma and violent confrontation. Jack Crawford had a wonderful way of - partly by conceding points to them, by if you like neutralising a lot of the extreme radicalism. He would get them on the Boards but managed to ....

I remember, this doesn't relate to a student but it relates to a staff member, which I mentioned in my article on Crawford, that on an occasion when one staff member was terribly angry about something the Vice-Chancellor had done, and he said, 'I want to go the Chancelry and really tell him what I think of him'. So he went off but forty minutes later he reappeared and he said, 'Oh, now, did you get what you wanted?' 'No, but he was very kind to me', and I think that was a wonderful commentary on Crawford's superb skill in handling people. And he handled people, and students, I think, also very well.

Although I think the Board of the School for some years became almost inoperative because of the way the radical students would exploit the opportunity to make long speeches, so the result was that a standing committee of the Board did all the work. The meetings of the Board of the School for several years were openly known to be merely sounding boards for student radicals and they did no work at all. Now, I think that has also, that phase has gone and I think people have settled down.

          What about the periodic review system?

I hadn't had very much to do with it. In principle I think it's a good idea. One view I've felt quite strongly is that it's probably a mistake for the Director to be chairing the Review Committee. I think if it's going to be a review committee it ought to be really independent. Most of the review system has been operative since I retired from the chair, so I'm not really much involved. The one review we had of my Department seemed, on the whole .... The trouble of course also is that every report by committees are horse-drawn by a committee which looks like a camel. There are usually people of differing views. You can see how it's been cobbled together to compromises but I think on the whole they probably make some quite useful suggestions. I'm not wildly enthusiastic but on the other hand you probably ought to have some outside review from time to time.

          One institution that perhaps didn't realise the hopes of its founders was University House. Do you think that's a fair judgment?

Well, University House was wonderful in the first eighteen years of its life, until 1973 when under the Whitlam government equal pay for women and the wage explosion occurred and to pay the staff of the University House, the domestic staff, became so very expensive that they had to put up charges to the point where students could no longer afford it. And really to make University House pay its way after a fashion it had to be turned into a conference motel which of course what it is largely now. And I think it's a bit of a pity but I don't really quite see how that could have been avoided without very large allocation of subsidies from university funds for its operation. I think University House was established at a time to serve before the economics people had become aware of how the economics of this business would work out. I mean, the Master now makes all sorts of efforts to make ends meet and to balance the books, it's very difficult.

          Did you think that the idea was appropriate within Australia? I mean, it obviously worked in Britain.

Well, I was of course sufficiently prejudiced by my own background to be very happy with the way Trendall was running University House with a high table and a certain amount of formality. I thought that it was nice when the academics marched in for high table, the students and others would get up while that happened but of course this all was increasingly resented by the anti-establishmentarianism of the student body. I think now we've only got the vestiges of it, with Wednesday evening dining night, and almost everything else of University House has disappeared which I think is rather a pity but probably unavoidable.

          Looking at some of the characters that you've known in your time, going right back: Florey and Oliphant. You said you had some contact with them before you came to Australia.

Well, myself, it was minimal, it was just they were colleagues of my father's. And I can remember on one occasion, my father writing to me in Manchester, would I get some papers to Oliphant who was at Birmingham - my father was then at Istanbul University and it was difficult for him to communicate directly - so I knew Oliphant slightly when I met him again here in Canberra. And similarly Florey was a colleague and friend of my father's. He visited him in Istanbul but my contact with them was otherwise minimal. The people I had most to do with were of course Coombs from all his years as Governor of the Central Bank, and then later as Deputy Chancellor and Chancellor. I edited one of Coombs' books with a beautiful title, Other People's Money, a collection of some of his speeches as Governor of the Central Bank. But we had a lot to do with Coombs and I got on very well with him.

          What's your assessment of him - a description?

Well, Nugget is a great figure in Australian public life. He is a great idealist who was a Labor man in his political thinking when he was appointed by Chifley to the Bank, and managed remarkably to run the Bank impeccably without these - in fact turning the Bank into a much more market oriented institution over the years. But since he gave up being Governor of the Bank of course he has reverted to his youthful radicalism in rather different ways, with his environmentalism and of course his enormous interest in the problem of the Aborigines. I respect his idealism, I don't always agree with his conclusions, his policies.

          Did you see, in his workings within the university, that idealism in those activities, or did you see more the extremely efficient organiser that was an important part of his personality?

Again, my memory may be deceiving me. I, looking back, cannot think of any examples that Coombs, as a university official, exhibited the idealistic radical political ideological parts of him. I think he was just a very efficient university administrator, but I may be wrong, I may be forgetting things that he did at the time.

          Retirement for you obviously hasn't meant, well, has it meant much change at all?

Well, it's meant getting rid of all administration - absolutely wonderful. As I say, I not only got rid of being Deputy Chairman of the Board, I no longer had to go to committee meetings, I no longer had to run a department. I've had so much more time for academic work proper. I've published more in the last five years than, I think, in any previous period of my academic life because I've had more time. I've done hardly any teaching, certainly no regular teaching and therefore I've had all the time to edit a journal which I started four years ago and to do a great deal of writing of books and articles. I can strongly recommend it. I've had the advantage of this very nice office here in University House, first as chairman of a big research project which was funded by the government and it paid a bit of rent to University House and now my journal pays a bit of rent, and it's an enviable situation.

          Professor Arndt, thank you very much for taking part in this project.

Okay, I've enjoyed it. Thank you very much.

END OF INTERVIEW