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Research Report 46: Northern Dreams, National Realities: the life and times of Dr Rex Patterson

Dr Lyndon Megarrity has written a Research Report on Dr Rex Patterson, the Commonwealth’s Minister for Northern Development in the 1970s and the federal Member for Dawson in north Queensland, who passed away on 6 April 2016:

‘One Australian embodied the sense of national urgency surrounding Northern Australia in the 1960s more than anyone else: Dr Rex Patterson, the Commonwealth’s first Minister for Northern Australia. As a public servant and as a politician, Patterson debated, developed and delivered a range of Northern Australia policies designed to increase the well-being of northern residents and enhance the prosperity of Australia as a whole. Despite his political prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, he has largely been relegated to a footnote in Australian political history. This brief essay is an attempt to create a fuller picture of Rex Patterson and his life and times, placing his political career in the context of his role as an important figure within the Australian Labor Party (ALP). It will be shown that Patterson’s personal drive helped him make major contributions to northern development, but his more ambitious plans were frustrated by changing priorities and values within and outside the Labor party. The paper is also a celebration and commemoration of a great Voice for the North.’

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