John Menadue

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John Menadue
Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
In office
1 February 1975 (1975-02-01) – 30 September 1976 (1976-09-30)
Preceded by Sir John Bunting
Succeeded by Alan Carmody
Personal details
Born John Laurence Menadue
8 February 1935
South Australia
Nationality Australian
Spouse(s) Cynthia née Trowbridge (d.)
Alma mater University of Adelaide
Occupation Public servant

John Laurence Menadue AO (born 8 February 1935) is an Australian businessman and public commentator, and formerly a senior public servant and diplomat.


Menadue was born in South Australia on 8 February 1935,[1][2] the son of a Methodist minister and was raised in that faith (he later converted to Catholicism). He attended 12 schools and lived in 17 houses by the age of 22. He graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1956 with a Bachelor of Economics.

From March 1960 to October 1967 Menadue was Private Secretary to Gough Whitlam, Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party and of the Opposition in the federal parliament (Whitlam became Leader in February 1967). In 1966 he stood unsuccessfully as Labor candidate for the NSW seat of Hume.[3] He then moved into the private sector for seven years as General Manager, News Limited, Sydney, publisher of The Australian.

Public service and diplomatic career[edit]

Menadue was head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1974 to 1976, working to Prime Ministers Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser. He was closely involved in the events of 11 November 1975, when Whitlam was dismissed.

He was Australian Ambassador to Japan from 1976 to 1980.[4]

Menadue returned to Australia in 1980 to take up the position of Secretary, Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. In March 1983, he became Secretary of the Department of the Special Minister of State. He was appointed Secretary of the Department of Trade in December 1983.

Business career[edit]

Menadue was Chief Executive Officer of Qantas from June 1986 to July 1989. He was a Director of Telstra from December 1994 to October 1996, a Director of NSW State Rail Authority from 1996 to 1999, and Chairman of the Australia Japan Foundation from 1991 to 1998.

Menadue is an adviser to several companies. He chaired the NSW Health Council, which reported to the NSW Minister for Health in March 2000 on changes to health services in NSW. He also chaired the SA Generational Health Review which reported to the South Australian Minister for Human Services in May 2003.

In October 1999, Menadue published his autobiography Things You Learn Along the Way.[5] He was the founding Chair of New Matilda (, an independent weekly online newsletter which was launched in August 2004. He is the founder and fellow of public-interest think tank, the Centre for Policy Development.[6]


Menadue was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1985 for public service.[7] In 2003 he was awarded the Centenary Medal 'for service to Australian society through public service leadership'.[8] In 1997, he received the Japanese Imperial Award, The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure (Kun-itto Zuihō-shō), the highest honour awarded to foreigners who are not head of state or head of government.[9][10]


Menadue's first wife Cynthia née Trowbridge died of cancer in 1984 aged 49.[11] He has remarried, and has four children and ten grand children.


  1. ^ Birth Notice, The Adelaide Chronicle, 21 February 1935. Retrieved 12 July 2015
  2. ^ John Menadue, Things You Learn Along the Way, p. 4. Retrieved 12 July 2015
  3. ^ Barnes, Allan (3 October 1975). "Happy revolution around the PM". The Age. p. 5. 
  4. ^ John Menadue, Australian Broadcasting Commission, archived from the original on 25 April 2013 
  5. ^ "John Menadue", PM (Australian Broadcasting Commission), archived from the original on 3 November 2012 
  6. ^ About John Menadue, Centre for Policy Development, archived from the original on 14 August 2013 
  7. ^ "Officer of the Order of Australia: Menadue, John Laurence". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 10 June 1985. 
  8. ^ "Centenary Medal: Menadue, John Laurence". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 1 January 2001. 
  9. ^ johnmenadue, New Matilda, archived from the original on 30 March 2014 
  10. ^ "Alumni awards", Adelaidean (University of Adelaide), September 2009, archived from the original on 30 March 2014 
  11. ^ Slee, John (18 August 1985). "Wattle blossom diplomat". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 63. 

References and external links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Jim Scully
Secretary of the Department of Trade
1983 – 1986
Succeeded by
Vince FitzGerald
New title
Department established
Secretary of the Department of the Special Minister of State
Succeeded by
Darcy McGaurr
Preceded by
Lou Engledow
Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
1980 – 1983
Succeeded by
Bill McKinnon
Preceded by
John Bunting
Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
1975 – 1976
Succeeded by
Alan Carmody
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Mick Shann
Australian Ambassador to Japan
1977 – 1980
Succeeded by
James Plimsoll