The Seven Dwarfs and the Age of the Mandarins

The Seven Dwarfs and the Age of the Mandarins

Australian Government Administration in the Post-War Reconstruction Era

Edited by: Samuel Furphy orcid

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In the history and folklore of Australia’s Commonwealth Public Service, the idea of the ‘Seven Dwarfs’ has been remarkably persistent. Originally a witty epithet applied to a powerful group of senior public servants, the term has come to represent the professionalisation of Australian government administration during the Second World War and post-war reconstruction era, and into the following two decades of expansion. This was a period when, for the first time, talented university graduates entered the public service, rose to senior levels, and exerted great influence over the affairs of the Commonwealth. With the secure tenure of being permanent heads of departments, they defined the age of the public service mandarin.

This book explores the lives and influence of the Seven Dwarfs and their colleagues, bringing together the leading researchers on post-war Australian administration. Featuring four thematic chapters and ten biographical portraits, it offers a fascinating insight into the workings of the Commonwealth Public Service during a critical period in its history.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Jul 2015
ANU Press
Biography Series
Arts & Humanities: Biography & Autobiography, History; Social Sciences: Social Policy & Administration

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The Seven Dwarfs and the Age of the Mandarins »

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Part I

  1. The Seven Dwarfs: A Team of Rivals (PDF, 359KB) – Nicholas Brown doi
  2. The Post-War Reconstruction Project (PDF, 314KB) – Stuart Macintyre doi
  3. Australia and the Keynesian Revolution (PDF, 279KB) – Alex Millmow doi
  4. An Age of the Mandarins? Government in New Zealand, 1940–51 (PDF, 292KB) – John R. Martin doi

Part II

  1. Sir Frederick Shedden: The Forerunner (PDF, 162KB) – David Horner doi
  2. Sir Roland Wilson – Primus Inter Pares (PDF, 209KB) – Selwyn Cornish doi
  3. Coombs the Keynesian (PDF, 240KB) – Tim Rowse doi
  4. Sir John Crawford and Agriculture and Trade (PDF, 193KB) – David Lee doi
  5. Sir Allen Brown: An Exemplary Public Servant (PDF, 151KB) – Sir Peter Lawler doi
  6. Sir Frederick Wheeler: Public Servant (PDF, 210KB)Ian Hancock doi
  7. Paul Hasluck with Dr Evatt at the United Nations (PDF, 197KB) – Geoffrey Bolton doi
  8. John Burton: Forgotten Mandarin? (PDF, 219KB) – Adam Hughes Henry doi
  9. Sir Arthur Tange: Departmental Reformer (PDF, 164KB) – Peter Edwards doi
  10. Sir James Plimsoll: Mandarin Abroad (PDF, 132KB) – Jeremy Hearder doi

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