The Nationals tonight will launch a new edition of the autobiography of John "Black Jack" McEwen. John McEwen was one of only three Country / Nationals party MPs who became Prime Minister.
"This book is an overdue rectification of the previous difficulty in getting John McEwen's autobiography," Senator Matthew Canavan said today.
“It is pure coincidence that we are launching a book about a former PM on the day we remember another former PM. But John McEwen had links to Gough Whitlam too. McEwen’s boss, while he worked at the Crown Solicitor’s Office, was Fred Whitlam, Gough’s father.
"John McEwen's autobiography was first published in 1980 but only 200 copies were printed. A former Prime Minister's memoirs should be more prevalent than hen's teeth.”
The book will be launched by the Leader of the Nationals, Warren Truss, and press gallery veteran Laurie Oakes. Mr Oakes once described John McEwen as “the first politician I met who I thought warranted the description ‘great’.”
"We are republishing McEwen's autobiography because his legacy has probably been more abused than any other Australian politician. The modern view of McEwen is of the fervent prophet of protectionism, not a complex, astute and influential statesmen," Senator Canavan said.
"We have forgotten more about McEwen than we ever knew. He spoke against protectionism in his first speech and signed an historic trade agreement with Japan just a decade after the Second World War.
"McEwen's approach and objectives have continuing and renewed relevance. He vigorously supported our 'wealth-producing industries' of agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
"At a time when our terms of trade is falling, this has increasing relevance. We need to rediscover that the basis of so much of our wealth comes from the use of our abundant natural resources.
"His approach put a public and assertive face to the advocacy of country interests, while remaining forever committed to a strong Coalition."
Senator Canavan worked with his wife, Andrea, and the unofficial Nationals party historian, Paul Davey, over the past year to republish the book. Senator Canavan is a Director of the Page Research Centre, which has paid for the printing of the book.
Note: The book launch commences at 6pm in the Nationals party room in Parliament House, RG92.