Who Was TJ Ryan?
By Prof Roger Scott
Former Executive Director, TJ Ryan Foundation
The career of Thomas Joseph Ryan (1876-1921) provided a measuring stick for all future leaders of progressive political organisations.
TJ Ryan’s first exposure to public life was based on an enthusiasm for traditional liberal and egalitarian values espoused by Alfred Deakin but long since abandoned by the Liberal Party Deakin started around the time of Federation.
Ryan came to see that these values required concerted political action to overcome the entrenched interests of rural and urban capitalism.
The Labor Party was embraced as the instrument most likely to deliver on the values and policy objectives he sought to establish within the wider political system. Ryan saw himself as acting on behalf of the less advantaged in society, including but not confined to the working class and supporters of the labour movement.
The TJ Ryan Foundation aspires to a similar broad compass and those drawn from within universities as Board members and research associates represent some of these natural allies. Members of the Foundation reject narrow partisanship as the basis of their research and policy advice while maintaining a strong affinity with the labour movement.