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][dead link] 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 reforming policy for 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] [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".[10][dead link] 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.[11]

The day before his funeral, former prime minister Paul Keating, denigrated him as "a fraud and a liar".[12] Keating had previously paid public tribute to McGuinness for contributing to his economic education,[13] but, after McGuinness become a frequent critic of Keating's government and persona, Keating described him as "a bloated cane toad",[14] and predicted that "the quality of the Australian press will rise simply because his vituperation and contumely will have been excised from it."[15]


  1. ^ "Former Quadrant editor McGuinness dies, aged 69" ABC News, 27 January 2008
  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[dead link] The Sydney Institute's 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 1037-2938
  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. ^ Stapleton, John (28 January 2008). "McGuinness, voice of dissent, dies, 69". The Australian. Retrieved 28 January 2008. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Sir Paddy" ABC Media Watch item, 10 February 2003
  12. ^ "McGuinness a fraud and a liar: Keating" The Australian, 31 January 2008
  13. ^ McGuinness P. P. "Paddy has the last word on the vitriol of Paul Keating", The Australian, 1 February 2008 (reprint of an article dated 15 April 1989). Accessed 2 September 2016
  14. ^ "PM's blustering betokens self-doubt" Canberra Times, 12 December 1993, p.9, at Trove
  15. ^ Tadros, Edmund. "Keating monsters McGuinness on eve of funeral." SMH, 31 January 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2016

Further reading[edit]