Padraic McGuinness

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For other people named Patrick McGuinness, see Patrick McGuinness (disambiguation).
Padraic McGuinness
Born (1938-10-27)27 October 1938
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died 26 January 2008(2008-01-26) (aged 69)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality Australian
Other names Paddy McGuinness,
P. P. McGuinness
Occupation Journalist, newspaper editor
Known for Views as a political commentator

Padraic Pearse "Paddy" McGuinness AO (27 October 1938 – 26 January 2008) was an Australian journalist, activist, and commentator. He was notable for the evolution over his lifetime of his political beliefs. Beginning his career on the far left, he subsequently worked as a policy assistant to the more moderate (but still leftist) Labor parliamentarian Bill Hayden. Later he found fame as a right-wing contrarian and finished his career as the editor of the conservative journal, Quadrant. He had also worked as a columnist for The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald and as the editor of The Australian Financial Review.[1]

Early life[edit]

McGuinness, named after Patrick Pearse, was the younger son of Frank McGuinness (1900-1949), who was the inaugural editor of Ezra Norton's Sydney newspaper The Daily Mirror in 1941. Padraic attended, first, St Ignatius' College, Riverview (from his time there he dated the atheist attitudes which remained constant in his adult life, whatever his changes of ideological allegiance) and then obtained a scholarship to attend Sydney Boys' High School. He studied economics at the University of Sydney (B.Ec., Hons, 1960), where he became a prominent member of the Sydney Push in the late 1950s and early 1960s. At this time he identified as an anarchist but also joined the Labor Party.[2]


After a short career as an economics lecturer at the NSW University of Technology (now the University of New South Wales), McGuinness moved to London where he worked with the Moscow Narodny [People's] Bank, an arm of the Soviet Government, from 1966 to 1967.[3] Continuing his studies at the London School of Economics, he acquired a master's degree.[4] He later worked for the OECD in Paris, and there he observed the Paris demonstrations of 1968. Having returned to Sydney in 1971, he began what would be a long tenure at The Australian Financial Review, by writing economics articles.[2]

Government adviser[edit]

In 1973-74, he served the Whitlam Labor Government as an economic advisor to the Minister for Social Security, Bill Hayden, who was engaged in establishing Medibank and applying restrictive legislation to private hospitals and nursing homes.[5] During this time McGuinness advocated the introduction of Medibank, against the interests of doctors who wanted health care to remain private.[2] Three decades later, in a Quadrant editorial, he poured scorn on the Whitlam government and the "plague of locusts" who worked for it, omitting to disclose his own central participation.[6]


After working for Hayden, McGuinness's career was chiefly in journalism, including senior editorial positions at The Australian Financial Review (1974–87), where he became editor-in-chief in 1982. He also wrote occasional film reviews and columns for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian. In 1997 he was appointed editor of Quadrant, a position he held for a further ten years.

Political candidate[edit]

McGuinness reportedly became a member of the Australian Labor Party and unsuccessfully sought preselection for the seat of Sydney (which he later persistently denied).[7] In 2002–2004, he served as an independent councillor on Leichhardt Council.[8]

Death and legacy[edit]

McGuinness died from cancer on Australia Day, 26 January 2008, aged 69, having recently stood down as editor of Quadrant.[9] He was survived by his daughter Parnell Palme McGuinness, named after Charles Stewart Parnell, and two siblings, including his sister Judy.

According to journalist colleague Frank Devine, "Paddy was the quintessential independent thinker, scorning humbug and stupidity. He was a bloodthirsty predator among those he identified as members of the chattering classes".[1] However, he was himself frequently criticised for pomposity and hypocrisy when, for instance, he accepted an Order of Australia award in 2003 despite a long-held, vocal contempt for such honours.[10]

The day before his funeral, former prime minister Paul Keating denigrated him as "a fraud and a liar".[11] McGuinness had been a frequent critic of Keating's government and persona, and was once described by Keating as "a bloated cane toad".[12]


  1. ^ a b Stapleton, John (28 January 2008). "McGuinness, voice of dissent, dies, 69". The Australian. Retrieved 28 January 2008. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c Murphy, Damien (28 January 2008). "He argued his way into papers and mags". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2009. 
  3. ^ Henderson G Knees-up in Balmain The Sydney Institute, 'Media Watch' (and Sydney Morning Herald, 23 September 2000)
  4. ^ H. R. Nicholls Society Personal profile
  5. ^ Le Guen, Roxane. Residential Care for the Aged: An overview of Government policy from 1962 to 1993. Background Paper No. 32, 24 November 1993, Australian Parliamentary Library. ISSN 10372938
  6. ^ McGuinness P. P. The Whitlam Schemozzle Quadrant editorial, January–February 2003
  7. ^ Walsh, Max; Clark David. Remembering Paddy McGuinness, radio discussion on ABC Radio National, 4 February 2008. (Click on "show transcript" near head of page.)
  8. ^ Leichhardt Council Annual Report, 2002-2003
  9. ^ Former Quadrant editor McGuinness dies, aged 69 ABC News, 27 January 2008
  10. ^ Sir Paddy ABC MediaWatch item, 10 February 2003
  11. ^ McGuinness a fraud and a liar: Keating The Australian 31 January 2008
  12. ^ PM's blustering betokens self-doubt Canberra Times, 12 December 1993, p.9, at Trove

Further reading[edit]