John Menadue has had a senior professional career in the media, public service and airlines.
He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1985 for public service. In 1997, he received the Japanese Imperial Award, The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure (Kun-itto Zuiho-sho), the highest honour awarded to foreigners who are not head of state or head of government. The award was for services to the Australia-Japan relationship, particularly the establishment of the working holiday program between the two countries. In 2003 he was awarded the Centenary Medal ‘for service to Australian society through public service leadership’.
In 2009, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Adelaide in recognition of his significant and lifelong contribution to Australian society as a Public Servant, Diplomat, Critical Thinker, Board Director, Advisor and Public Commentator.
John Menadue was born in South Australia in 1935. He graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1956 as a Bachelor of Economics.
From 1960 to 1967 he was Private Secretary to Gough Whitlam, Leader of the Opposition. He then moved into the private sector for seven years as General Manager, News Limited, Sydney, publisher of ‘The Australian’.
John Menadue was head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1974 to 1976 and closely involved in the dismissal events of November 11, 1975 He worked for Prime Ministers Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser.
From 1977-1980 he was Australian Ambassador to Japan.
He returned to Australia in 1980 to take up the position of Head, Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs where he was active with Malcolm Fraser and Ian Macphee in the settlement of large numbers of Indo Chinese refugees in Australia.
He was appointed Head of the Department of Trade in December 1983.
From 1986-1989 he was Chief Executive Officer of Qantas.
Later he was a Director of Telstra from December 1994 to October 1996 and Chairman of the Australia Japan Foundation from 1991 to 1998.
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 SA Minister for Human Services in May 2003.
He chaired fundraising and volunteered for many years at the Matthew Hostel for homeless men.
As a Patron of the Asylum Seekers’ Centre in Sydney, he is active in refugee advocacy.
He launched his influential public policy journal Pearls and Irritations at johnmenadue.com in January 2013. There are now over 15,000 subscribers.
John Menadue has four children and a foster daughter from his first marriage to Cynthia. He married Susie Menadue who has two children in 1986. Together they have fifteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
In October 1999, he published his autobiography ‘Things you learn along the way’.