A history of CEDA


A proven track record, delivering on the issues that matter for over 50 years.

Formed in 1960 by one of Australia's most foremost economists, Sir Douglas Copland, CEDA's purpose was to harness the ideas and influence of leading thinkers from business, government, community and academia. From the start, CEDA was also independent and not restricted by vested interests or political persuasion.

Its purpose remains unchanged. Today CEDA continues to deliver leading thinking, informed discourse and rigorous research to influence good public policy for Australia's economic and social development.

The concept for CEDA was based on US think tank, the Committee for Economic Development (CED). The CED was formed in 1942 to deal with the problem of anticipated unemployment after World War II and was influential in shaping the Marshall Plan and the post-war monetary system. Today the CED is part of CEDA's international network of counterparts.

Since its inception, CEDA has produced more than 3000 publications, research reports and articles, highlighting emerging issues and directions in a diverse range of policy areas such as taxation, energy, industrial relations and healthcare.

In addition to research, the CEDA platform has been the choice for leading speakers from business, politics, government and academia. Prime Ministers including Bob Hawke, Malcolm Fraser, Julia Gillard, John Howard, and Malcolm Turnbull have all addressed CEDA events.

To celebrate CEDA's 50th anniversary in 2010, CEDA produced the book, CEDA: Celebrating 50 Years, which provides a unique portrait of the people and ideas that have shaped independent public policy in Australia.

CEDA's leaders

Sir Douglas Copland is the best-known figure in CEDA's history but the organisation was shaped by a series of leaders.

Peter Grey was the chief executive for 30 years and was moving force in CEDA. Joining CEDA as director of research in the late 1960s, he led the organisation through the 1970s and 1980s, and into the 1990s.

In a speech to mark CEDA's 25th anniversary, the then prime minister, Bob Hawke, referred to "that quick mind, the generous spirit and the fascinating character which is Peter... Peter Grey has done us all a great service bringing together opinion makers, businessmen, academics, journalists, trade unionists and others in our community to debate the issues which have, and continue to be, important to our nation." Peter Grey retired in 1995.

Professor John Nieuwenhuysen first served CEDA as research director in the late 1980s before returning as chief executive in 1996. Professor Nieuwenhuysen dramatically expanded CEDA's joint research efforts with Australian universities on topics such as tax and industrial relations reform, bringing a new depth to CEDA's research publications.

CEDA's research directors have included Professor Neil Warren, now of the University of New South Wales, from 1988 to 1990. Professor Neville Norman, now of the University of Melbourne, was Economic Advisor from 1975 to 1992.

CEDA was formed as a national, not-for-profit economic research organisation, funded by private members and corporate subscriptions.