Barry Jones (Australian politician)

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Barry Jones
Barry O Jones.jpg
Minister for Science
In office
11 March 1983 – 4 April 1990
Preceded byDavid Thomson
Succeeded bySimon Crean
David Beddall
(Small Business and Customs)
National President of the Labor Party
In office
1 January 2005 – 28 January 2006
Preceded byCarmen Lawrence
Succeeded byWarren Mundine
In office
6 June 1992 – 31 July 2000
Preceded byStephen Loosley
Succeeded byGreg Sword
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Lalor
In office
10 December 1977 – 31 August 1998
Preceded byJim Cairns
Succeeded byJulia Gillard
Member of the Victorian Parliament
for Melbourne
In office
June 1972 – November 1977
Preceded byArthur Clarey
Succeeded byKeith Remington
Personal details
Barry Owen Jones

(1932-10-11) 11 October 1932 (age 89)
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Political partyLabor
Spouse(s)Rosemary Hanbury
(30 June 1961 – her death June 2006)
Rachel Faggetter (13 May 2009)
ProfessionTeacher, writer, politician

Barry Owen Jones, AC (born 11 October 1932), is an Australian polymath,[1][2][3][4] writer, teacher, lawyer, social activist, quiz champion and former politician. He campaigned against the death penalty throughout the 1960s, particularly against the execution of Ronald Ryan. He is on the National Trust's list of Australian Living Treasures.

Jones in 2000

Early life[edit]

Barry Jones was born in Geelong, Victoria, and educated at Melbourne High School and the University of Melbourne, where he studied arts and law. He began his career as a schoolteacher at Dandenong High School, where he taught for nine years, before becoming a household name as an Australian quiz champion in the 1960s on Bob Dyer's Pick a Box, a radio show from 1948, televised from 1957. He was known for taking issue with Dyer about certain expected answers, most famously in response to a question about "the first British Governor-General of India", where he pointed out that Warren Hastings was technically only the Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal Presidency. Jones' appearances on Pick a Box lasted from 1960 to 1968.[5]

Jones tried his hand at broadcasting on Melbourne radio and in 1967 was one of the pioneers of talkback radio, working at 3DB in Melbourne.[6] His show Talkback to Barry Jones and Mike Walsh's show on Sydney's 2SM were Australia's first talkback shows.[7] Jones believes that modern talkback shows have a much narrower focus than the original shows. He says "I was trying to convey to people a sense of what they didn't know rather than simply talk about football or pets. My emphasis was on using talkback as an instrument for exposing people to new ideas and challenging them, rather than just reinforcing the ideas they already held."[7] Jones was a panelist on 3DB's popular program, Information Please.

Arts, Film and Music[edit]

He was a member of the Australian Council for the Arts (now the Australia Council) 1968–73, serving as deputy chair under Dr H. C. (‘Nugget’) Coombs 1971–73.

With his friend Phillip Adams, Jones played a significant role in reviving the Australian feature film industry, served on the Australian Film Development Corporation 1970–75, was foundation chair of the Film and Television School 1973–75, chaired the Australian Film Institute 1974-80 and received the Longford Lyell Award for lifetime achievement in 1986. On 31 October 2008, Jones was appointed to serve on the board of the Victorian Opera.[8] He retired in 2015. He is a strong supporter of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), the Australian String Quartet and the Flinders Quartet.

Sleepers, Wake![edit]

Jones’ Sleepers, Wake!: Technology and the Future of Work (1982), published by Oxford University Press, went through four editions and 26 impressions, sold 80,000 copies in Australia and was translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Swedish and Braille. Bill Gates read it and Deng Xiaoping's daughters Deng Rong (in 1988) and Deng Nan (in 1994) told Jones the book had influenced his thinking. It was also significant in Korea, Canada and Ireland. It canvassed the future implications of the information revolution in creating a post-industrial society, and growth of 'the Third Age.'

In 1982 in a speech in Hobart he predicted that by the year 2000 there would be more computers than cars in Tasmania. The scepticism provoked by the claim was highlighted by former prime minister Julia Gillard as an example of a lack of imagination about the future.[9] Due to Sleepers, Wake!, in October 1985 he became the only Australian Minister ever invited to address a G-7 Summit Meeting, held in Meech Lake, Canada.

Political career[edit]

A member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) from 1950, Jones was a Federal candidate in 1955, 1958 and 1963, with a strong interest in education and civil liberties.

Jones's political career began in the Victorian Parliament where he represented the electorate of Melbourne as a Labor Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from 1972 to 1977, when he resigned to go into federal politics.

The year before his transfer to federal politics, Jones had unsuccessfully challenged state leader Clyde Holding.[10]

Holding too resigned from state politics to go into federal politics in 1977 and both he and Jones would serve as ministers under Bob Hawke.

In 1977, he was elected to the House of Representatives as the Labor member for the Federal seat of Lalor in Victoria, which he held until his retirement in 1998. He was Minister for Science in the Hawke government from 1983 to 1990, in which role he ensured the preservation of the CSIRO, and set up the Australia Prize, Questacon and the Commission for the Future. He was also Minister for Small Business 1987-90 and for Customs 1988–90. In the 1990 election, the ALP lost ten seats in Victoria, the centre-left faction was forced to give up two ministries and Jones lost his place in the ministry.

In 1992, upon the resignation of Stephen Loosley, elected unopposed following a split vote at National Conference in 1991, he was elected National President of the ALP, serving until 2000. He became National President again in 2005–06.[11]

Jones was the chief architect of the ALP's Knowledge Nation education concept, as chair of the Chifley Research Centre's Knowledge Nation Taskforce.[12] During this time he was also a member of the Council of the National Library of Australia.[13]

In 1987 he chaired the OECD Review of the (then) Yugoslavian economy, in Dubrovnik. Jones took part in an international think tank to advise Mikhail Gorbachev on Perestroika, Moscow (June) 1990

He was the Vice-President of the World Heritage Committee from 1995 to 1996 and a member of the Executive Board of UNESCO in Paris from 1991 until 1995, succeeding Gough Whitlam in both roles.

Jones and Ian Sinclair served as co-chairs of the 1998 Constitutional Convention on an Australian republic.

Academic career[edit]

Jones attended the selective Melbourne High School in South Yarra before continuing to the University of Melbourne where he graduated with Bachelor of Laws and Master of Arts degrees. Jones holds a Doctor of Letters from the University of Technology Sydney and honorary degrees from University of Wollongong, Doctor of Science from Macquarie University and Doctor of Laws from the University of Melbourne, and doctorates from Griffith and Deakin Universities.

In 1999 he was appointed an adjunct professor at Monash University and became a Vice-Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Melbourne in 2005–07, and a Professorial Fellow 2007- .

He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA); a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA); a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (FASSA); and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE): he was the first (and so far the only) person elected Fellow of four of the five Australian learned academies. In 1999 he was elected a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is also a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators (FACE),[14] a Fellow of the Royal Society of Victoria (FRSV).,[15] and a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (DistFRSN).[16]

Later life[edit]

Jones chaired the Victorian Schools Innovation Commission from 2001 until 2005.[17] He chaired the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority from 2000 to 2004, and 2005 to 2012 [17] and served on the boards of several medical research institutes. Jones was the founding Chair of the Advisory Board to In2science, a peer mentoring program that builds enthusiasm of Victorian secondary school students for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).[18] He chaired Vision2020Australia, the peak eye-health advocacy body, 2002–14.

He appeared regularly as a member of the Brains Trust on the television quiz show The Einstein Factor. He mentioned on an episode of the show that he likes to watch his Wikipedia page grow.[19]

On 9 April 2010, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, announced the formation of the Book Industry Strategy Group (BISG) with Jones as chair.[20] The group submitted its report in September 2011.[21]

Barry Jones Bay in the Australian Antarctic Territory and Yalkaparidon jonesi, an extinct marsupial, were named after him. He is the owner of the largest private autograph collection in Australia.[22] The State Library of Victoria acquired part of the collection in 2020.

Stance against capital punishment[edit]

Jones has maintained a long-standing public profile as an outspoken opponent of capital punishment.[23][24] He led the successful Victorian campaign to prevent the hanging of Robert Tait in 1962 but failed with Ronald Ryan in 1967.

On euthanasia[edit]

Jones's stated position on voluntary euthanasia in the past has been inconclusive but in the Australian parliament he spoke against specific elements in the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 enabling laws in the Northern Territory.[25] He has noted that popular support is not of itself a compelling reason for its adoption.[26] In the same frequently cited speech from 1996 he noted that "No other issue has troubled me so much because I am not sure that I am correct".

On climate change[edit]

Jones was an early advocate for action on climate change, first advocating for his cabinet colleagues to support action in 1984.[27]


Jones has been a prolific author of political and sociological books, including:

  • Decades of Decision 1860– : A Compendium of Modern History, Sydney: Horwitz, 1965; London, Horwitz, 1965.
  • The Penalty is Death: Capital Punishment in the Twentieth Century, Retentionist and Abolitionist Arguments with Special Reference to Australia, Barry Jones, comp., Melbourne : Sun Books in association with the Anti-Hanging Council of Victoria, 1968.
  • Joseph II: Enlightenment in Politics, West Melbourne : Victorian Historical Association, ca. 1960–69.
  • Age of Apocalypse: Compendium of History 1860 to the Present Day (also titled: Barry Jones' Guide to Modern History: Age of Apocalypse), South Melbourne: Macmillan Company of Australia, 1975.
  • The Macmillan Dictionary of Biography, edited by Barry Jones and M. V. Dixon, London: Macmillan; Adelaide: Mary Martin, 1981; South Melbourne: Macmillan, Papermac series, revised and updated edition, 1986; South Melbourne : Macmillan, 3rd edition, 1989.
  • Sleepers, Wake! Technology and the Future of Work, Brighton: Wheatsheaf Books, 1982; Melbourne : Oxford University Press, 1982, 1983; revised and enlarged edition, 1995.
  • Dictionary of World Biography, Melbourne: Information Australia, 1994; 2nd edition, 1996.
  • A Thinking Reed, Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 2006. Autobiography.
  • 'Coming to the Party', Barry Jones, ed., Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2006
  • Dictionary of World Biography, Canberra: Acton, ACT: ANU Press, 2013; 7th ed., 2020. Also published by ANU E Press in digital editions.
  • Dictionary of World Biography, Melbourne: Wilkinson Publishing, 2016.
  • The Shock of Recognition: The Books and Music that have Inspired Me, Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2016; Strawberry Hills, N.S.W.:
  • Knowledge Courage Leadership, Melbourne: Wilkinson Publishing, 2016.
  • Looking into the Abyss: Trump, Australia & Beyond: Understanding the Age of Trump, Melbourne: Wilkinson Publishing, 2018.
  • What Is To Be Done. Political Engagement and Saving the Planet, Melbourne: Scribe, 2020


  1. ^ "Professor Ian Chubb, Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University, BARRY OWEN JONES : CITATION FOR AN HONORARY DEGREE" (PDF). Archived 5 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine; Retrieved 14 September 2013
  2. ^ "Mike Steketee, Review of A Thinking Reed, The Australian, 7 October 2006".; Retrieved 14 September 2013
  3. ^ "National Trust of Australia, National Living Treasures". Archived 19 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine; Retrieved 14 September 2013
  4. ^ "University of Canberra, Monitor Online, Barry Jones From quiz champion to global prophet". Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine; Retrieved 14 September 2013
  5. ^ "Barry Jones". Archived from the original on 1 December 2007. on Talking Heads
  6. ^ ""Commercial radio celebrates 40 years of talkback", Commercial Radio Australia enewsletter, 16 April 2007". Archived 20 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b "Javes, Sue (2007) "In so many words"". Archived 26 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 April 2007
  8. ^ "Board of Directors". Archived 9 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine at Victorian Opera
  9. ^ ""Let's make sure we don't look back and laugh"". Archived from the original on 28 March 2018. by (27 October 2010)
  10. ^ "Hawke Minister Holding dies".
  11. ^ The Canberra Times, 7 June 1992
  12. ^ "Chifley Research Centre Archive".[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ National Library of Australia (1999). "Appendix 1. The Council of the National Library of Australia". Annual Report, 1998–1999. Archived from the original on 23 July 2001.
  14. ^ "Australian College of Educators". Archived 12 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Fellows of the Royal Society of Victoria".
  16. ^ "Distinguished Fellows of the Royal Society of New South Wales".
  17. ^ a b "Prof Hon Barry Jones". Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The University of Melbourne
  18. ^ "In2science – STEM peer mentoring in schools".
  19. ^ The Einstein Factor, episode screened on 22 June 2008
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 February 2011. Retrieved 2010-12-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Jones, Barry Owen". Archived 29 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine, – Parliament of Victoria
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 2015-07-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 April 2016. Retrieved 2015-07-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "ParlInfo - Main Committee : EUTHANASIA LAWS BILL 1996 : Second Reading".
  26. ^ "ParlInfo - Main Committee : EUTHANASIA LAWS BILL 1996 : Second Reading".[permanent dead link]
  27. ^ "Bob Hawke, the environmental PM, bequeathed a huge 'what if' on climate change".

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Science (and Technology)/
Minister for Science, (Customs)
and Small Business

11 March 1983 – 4 April 1990
Succeeded by
Simon Crean (Science)
David Beddall (Small
Business and Customs)
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by Member for Lalor
10 December 1977 – 31 August 1998
Succeeded by