CEDA owes its existence to one of the great figures in Australian economic policy and education, Sir Douglas Copland.
CEDA's founder, Sir Douglas Copland, was a leading figure in the development and growth of the economics profession in Australia.
Sir Douglas Copland stands as one of Australia's most remarkable
public figures of the past 100 years. He led the creation of the
famous Premiers' Plan - the document, admired by John Maynard
Keynes among others, that set Australia's economic management
during the Great Depression and made Copland a household name.
The inspiration for CEDA
Copland's ambition for Australia led him to establish CEDA. He had
previously shown his faith in an independent Australia in the
1930s, urging the Australian pound be separated from the British
sterling. In the 1950s, he famously voiced the fear that Australia
was "a milk bar economy" - an economy set on consumption at the
expense of capital goods and productive inputs. CEDA began as his
attempt to set out a different economic future.
A distinguished career
Copland was one of the founders of economics as a university
discipline in Australia, setting up two Australian university
From 1917 to 1920, he lectured in history and economics at the
University of Tasmania and became professor of economics until
In 1934, Copland became Sidney Myer Professor of Commerce and
Dean of the faculty of Commerce at the University of Melbourne until
1944. From 1938 to 1945, he chaired the State Economic Committee
for Victoria. At the same time, he was appointed Commonwealth Prices
Commissioner from 1939 to 1945. He held the Chair of Economics at
Melbourne from 1944 to 1945, before becoming Australian Minister to
China. In 1948, he became the founding Vice-Chancellor of the
Australian National University.
He served several Australian governments, the United Nations and
the world's peak labour organisation, and maintained a constant
interest in business issues. One leading businessman dubbed him the
"Keynes of the Commonwealth".
He was also Editor-in-Chief of Economic Record, the journal of
the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand, for 20 years. In
1961, he became the first Director-General of the International
Institute for Labour Studies, a research body sponsored by the
International Labour Organisation.
Dr Alex Millmow's paper, DB Copland and the Aftershocks of
the Premiers' Plan 1931-1939, is available to download.
Many thanks to Dr Millmow for making the paper available.
To celebrate its 50 years, and mark the re-establishment of the annual international Copland Memorial Address, CEDA published The Legacy of Sir Douglas Copland, Founder of CEDA. Download.