Jack Evans (Australian politician)

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Jack Evans
Senator for Western Australia
In office
5 March 1983 – 30 June 1984
Personal details
Born (1928-11-28)28 November 1928
Southern Cross, Western Australia
Died 2 October 2009(2009-10-02) (aged 80)
Wanneroo, Western Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Democrats
Spouse(s) Margaret Michel
Occupation Management consultant

John Gordon "Jack" Evans (28 November 1928 – 2 October 2009[1]) was an Australian businessman and politician who served as an Australian Democrats senator for Western Australia from 1983 to June 1985.

Early life[edit]

Evans was born in the Wheatbelt town of Southern Cross, Western Australia He was the eldest of three sons born to Bill Evans, a locomotive fireman, and his wife Rita.[2] He was educated at North Cottesloe Primary School, Northam High School and Midland Technical School. A fellow student at Northam was the talented athlete Shirley Strickland with whom he was to maintain a lifelong friendship.

He obtained a position managing sporting and other recreational activities at the Railway Institute in Perth and, in 1953, married Margaret Michel. He became an electrical goods retailer in Perth and later the UK[2] before returning to practise in Perth until the early 1980s as a management consultant specialising in corporate mergers and acquisitions.

Australian Business College[edit]

In the 1980s Evans and family members founded the Australian Business College, Perth, which collapsed in January 1993[3] after controversial dealings with overseas students. An inquiry by the Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training[4] found that 350 overseas students in Australia and approximately 100 offshore had lost approximately $2.2 million in advance fees paid to the college.[5] Other issues were publicised by the Murdoch University Student Guild, including alleged misleading advertising and intimidation of overseas students by the College.[6] In May, 1988, a group of more than 30 overseas students held a demonstration outside the college, calling for increased regulation of its practices.[7] In subsequent court proceedings, Evans was convicted and fined $4,000.[2] In 1998, Professor Alan Fels, then chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, told an international conference on higher education that the ACCC's action against the Australian Business College "highlights the need for Australian educational institutions seeking to enrol foreign students to ensure that what is represented to the students is true".[8]

Political career[edit]

Evans unsuccessfully contested the 1975 Senate election as a Liberal Movement candidate. In 1977, as an organiser for the New Liberal Movement, he was closely associated with John Siddons, Robin Millhouse and others in formation of the Centre-Line Party which was later renamed the Australian Democrats. He has been credited with recruiting Don Chipp as leader of the new party [2][9] for whom he unsuccessfully contested the 1977 and the 1980 Senate elections as the lead WA Democrat candidate. In 1980, he polled above 12% before losing the final seat to Liberal Noel Crichton-Browne in a tight preference count.

He eventually gained election at the March 1983 double dissolution election on his third attempt as an Australian Democrats candidate.[10] He was defeated at the December 1984 election,[11] his seat being won by Jo Vallentine of the Nuclear Disarmament Party.

At the Western Australian state election, 1986, he contested an Upper-House seat in circumstances which led to allegations that he had unethically negotiated Labor Party funding assistance in return for crucial election preferences.[12] For the following Senate election in 1987, the party's membership selected him as the No. 2 Senate candidate, precipitating a bitter dispute and a second preselection ballot from which the first ballot winner, Richard Jeffreys, was excluded. Evans was again placed in the second position, deemed unwinnable, this time behind Jean Jenkins, who was successful at the election. In 1988, he survived an expulsion motion from the party's WA branch[13] and for several years withdrew from constructive participation while conducting disputes with the party's WA administration and its national ombudsman. During that time, he mounted an unsuccessful Supreme Court action to prevent circulation of a national ombudsman's report, and acted as campaign manager to former party member Shirley de la Hunty who contested the Western Australian state election, 1989 as an independent candidate. In 1993, following the collapse of his Australian Business College, he returned to serving the party in senior administrative positions, both state and federal, and successfully supported and mentored the Senate candidature of Andrew Murray.


Evans died of cancer at his home in the Perth suburb of Wanneroo, aged 80, on 2 October 2009.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Democrats pioneer Evans dies". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d Mendez T Democrats founder recruited Don Chipp Obituary in The West Australian, p. 69, 7 October 2009
  3. ^ Foreign students hit by Perth private college collapse New Straits Times, Malaysia, 4 February 1993
  4. ^ The efficacy of the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration of Providers and Financial Regulation) Act 1991 in the light of the collapse of the Australian Business College in Perth in January 1993. Canberra: August 1993. (Parliamentary paper 156/1993) 27p. appendices. Chair: T. G. Aulich. ISBN 0-642-19616-8 ISSN 0727-4181
  5. ^ Australian Parliamentary Library's Research Digest on Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration of Providers and Financial Regulation) Amendment Bill 1993, p. 2. Accessed 29 January 2016
  6. ^ Students uncover untrue advertising Citing a 1988 edition of Murdoch Meteor. Accessed 29 January 2016
  7. ^ Thornton M "Foreign students protest at college" The West Australian 12 May 1988 p. 4
  8. ^ Fels A The impact of competition policy and law on higher education in Australia Page 15 of paper at 1998 International Conference of the Australasian Association for Institutional Research, 24 November 1998. Accessed 29 January 2016
  9. ^ However, in his book The Third Man (Rigby, Adelaide, 1978) at page 185ff, Chipp makes it clear he was recruited not in Perth but at a Melbourne Town Hall meeting chaired by Mark Oliphant and attended by Charles Birch and John Gorton.
  10. ^ Carr, Adam. "Senate tally 1983, Western Australia". Psephos Election Archive. Retrieved 19 November 2008. 
  11. ^ Carr, Adam. "Senate tally 1984, Western Australia". Psephos Election Archive. Retrieved 19 November 2008. 
  12. ^ Kennedy P "Labor accused of election deal", The West Australian 6 October 1987
  13. ^ News item "Evans survives expulsion bid" The West Australian, 16 May 1988