Vale Ted Evans. a softly spoken person of very high integrity

Grant Wardell-Johnson pays tribute to long-serving government official Ted Evans, who passed away at the weekend aged 79.

Edward Alfred Evans AC – Ted Evans – has rightly been acknowledged in the press as a great Australian. He was born on 4 March 1941 in Ipswich Queensland and died on 12 April 2020, in Canberra. He was admired by both sides of politics for his integrity, his calmness and his very sharp intellect.

Ted Evans will be remembered for many contributions to our current environment. I will mention two in particular.

The first – which has been reported in the press – concerns the decision to float the Australian Dollar in October 1983. John Edwards, in his biography of Keating from 1996, tells the story in great depth.

John Stone, then Treasury Secretary, opposed the float. Edwards wrote:

“Keating went to a Treasury meeting that included Stone, Ted Evans and other officials…Ted Evans was an official with a quiet, almost whispering voice and a calculatedly modest presence, and was not only a close friend of Stone’s but also his ally in a decade of difficult battles. He now remarked in that whispering but absolutely distinct way, an unemphatic but quite final statement that arrested the meeting into sudden silence, ‘I support you, Treasurer.’

The second contribution that I note was the role that Ted Evans played in both our great periods of tax reform.

Treasury’s work on tax reform leading to the draft white paper of 1985 was directed by Ted Evans who was then 44 years of age. The team working on the package included his then deputy David Morgan, Greg Smith and others.

Ted Evans was Treasury Secretary during the second great period in the late 1990s under John Howard and Peter Costello.

Evans began his career as a telephone linesman for more than 10 years. In the latter part of this period he studied economics in the evening. At 26 he won a scholarship to his final honours year in economics at the University of Queensland and won the University Medal. John Edwards notes:

“Evans brought to the department [of Treasury] a somewhat different perspective from most of his colleagues. It had never left the back of his mind that to work in an office on a good salary, to employ his mind to the limit of its training and endowment, to work with others whose talents were also fully employed, and to influence the course of the Australian Government, were grand things and were for him already a great achievement and not merely a step to some more lucrative or celebrated enterprise. He did what he did with good humour and with a deep conviction of its high purpose.”

We all have a lot to be grateful for Ted Evans’ achievements, but also to admire his style as a softly spoken person of very high integrity.

Vale Ted Evans.

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2 thoughts on “Vale Ted Evans. a softly spoken person of very high integrity

  1. Marjorie Johnston

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    Thank you Grant. So beautifully framed and written. The Stone anecdote is just wonderful as is the way you have captured Ted’s style and key influences. A very important contributor to Australia’s society and economy – and a person of great intergrity. Much appreciated.

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