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OBA Forum Speakers 2010

OBA Forum Speakers

The OBA (Australia) is extremely privileged to have [insert] of Australia's most influential business figures as speakers for the OBA Forum 2010 where they will discuss and debate "[insert topic".

The speakers for the OBA Forum 2010 are:

The Honourable John Winston Howard AC

The Honourable John Winston Howard served as the 25th Prime Minister of Australia from March 1996 until November 2007. He has been Australia’s second longest serving Prime Minister. Mr Howard led the centre/right Liberal Party of Australia for a total of 16 years. He was a member of the House of Representatives for 33 years. Prior to becoming Prime Minister John Howard had extensive senior experience in both government and opposition. He served as Treasurer (finance minister) in a previous government and led his party in opposition for a number of years.

A conservative on social policy John Howard pursued broadly pro market economic policies in his time as Prime Minister. During his period in office Australia experienced continued economic growth averaging 3.6% per annum.

The federal government budget of Australia was in heavy deficit when Mr Howard’s government came to power. That deficit was eliminated and 10 of the 12 annual budgets produced by the Howard government during its almost twelve years of government were in surplus. In that time A$96 billion of federal government debt was repaid. The Australian government now has no net debt.

As well as fiscal consolidation the Howard government undertook major reform of the Australian taxation system through the introduction of a goods and services tax, which was accompanied by reductions in personal income tax and corporate tax rates. He also substantially reformed Australia’s labour laws through a freer and less regulated labour market. Australia’s unemployment rate is now at a thirty-three year low of 4.3%.

In the field of foreign policy Australia, under Mr Howard’s government, was both a strong and close ally of the United States as well as expanding very extensive links with the nations of Asia. A particular feature of the Howard government’s time in power was the development of the relationship with China, which is now Australia’s largest export market. Mr Howard’s government also intensified Australia’s links with both India and Pakistan. He was particularly sensitive to the growing energy needs of India. Under John Howard’s leadership Australian forces joined the coalition of the willing in Iraq in March 2003. Some 1400 Australian military personnel remain in the Iraqi theatre. Australia has strongly supported the war against terrorism with her forces continuing to serve alongside American and other coalition forces in Afghanistan. Defence spending rose significantly under Mr Howard’s leadership with the amount being committed growing by some 47% in real terms between 1996 and 2007.

John Howard was in Washington on an official visit at the time of the terrorist attack on 11 September 2001. He addressed a joint sitting of Congress in 2002. He currently serves as Chairman of the International Democratic Union – an international grouping of centre/right parties including the Republican Party.

Mr Howard’s government was also responsible for major reforms in social policy including measures to move people from welfare payments into paid work, the involvement of faith based and other non government organisations in the provision of certain welfare services and a strengthening of Australia’s universal medicare system.

Shortly after Mr Howard came to power he responded to the massacre of 35 people by a lone gunman, at Port Arthur in Tasmania, with the implementation of national gun control laws which drastically curtailed the possession of many firearms.

John Howard was born in Sydney, Australia, on 26 July 1939, attending school at Earlwood Primary and Canterbury Boys’ High. He went on to the University of Sydney, graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 1961 and was admitted as a Solicitor of the NSW Supreme Court in July 1962. Prior to his election to Parliament he was a partner in a Sydney firm of solicitors.

In January 2008 Mr Howard signed with the Washington Speakers Bureau, a prestigious speaking agency alongside Tony Blair, Colin Powell and others. Earlier that month he received the Irving Kristol Award from the American Enterprise Institute.

John Howard is a keen follower of sport, particularly cricket and rugby. He plays golf regularly.

Mr Howard married his wife Janette, a teacher by profession, on 4 April 1971. They have three children, Melanie, Tim and Richard.

John and Janette Howard currently live in Sydney.

On 9 June 2008 Mr Howard was appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

On 13 January 2009 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in Washington. It is America’s highest civilian honour.

The Honourable Robert James Lee ("Bob") Hawke AC

The Hon RJL (Bob) Hawke AC, Prime Minister from 1983 - 1991

Bob Hawke was born on 9 December 1929 at Bordertown, South Australia. He was educated at Perth Modern School and the University of Western Australia, where he graduated with the degrees of Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Economics). He was Western Australia's Rhodes Scholar of 1953 and studied at Oxford University from 1953 to 1955, graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Letters.

In 1956 he returned to Australia to take up a research scholarship at the Australian National University, and in 1958 became Research Officer and Advocate with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). He was ACTU President from 1970-1980.

Mr Hawke joined the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in 1947 and was elected President of the ALP for the period 1973-1978. In 1980 he was elected to the Federal Parliament, and in February 1983 became the Leader of the Opposition. He led the Labor Party to victory in the general election in March 1983 and, in winning three successive elections, became Australias longest serving Labor Prime Minister. He ceased to be Prime Minister in December 1991 and resigned from the Parliament in February 1992.

Mr Hawke was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 1979. He is an Honorary Fellow at the University College of Oxford, was presented with an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Western Australia, and holds honorary Doctorates from Nanjing University of China, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the University of New South Wales; the University of South Australia; Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law, Oxford (Rhodes Trust centenary celebrations at Oxford University - 2003) and Hon Doctorate of Humanities, Rikkyo University, Tokyo (2003).

He was appointed Adjunct Professor in the Research Schools of Pacific Studies and Social Sciences at the Australian National University for the period 1992-1995 and Honorary Visiting Professor in Industrial Relations at the University of Sydney 1992-1997. Member of the Advisory Council of the Institute for International Studies at Stanford University 19921999. In March of 1999, Mr Hawke was granted the Freedom of the City of London.

In August 1994 he published The Hawke Memoirs.

Current honorary positions include: Member of the Board of Advisers of the Boao Forum for Asia; Chairman, The Hawke Research Institute Advisory Board at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, University of South Australia; Chairman of the Committee of Experts on Membership of the Education International; Chairman, Trade Union Education Foundation; Member of the Advisory Board, Deliberative Issues Australia; and Patron of Indigenous Engineering Aid.

Ross Greenwood

Ross Greenwood has covered finance and business matters in Australia and around the world for almost 30 years. He is the Nine Network's business and finance editor, and was co-host of its former flagship current affairs program Sunday. His reporting assignments for Nine have taken him to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

In the past five years, he has also been a regular contributor to 2GB, known especially for his daily commentary at 7:55am on the Alan Jones Breakfast Show.

Before joining Nine, Ross was editor-in-chief and co-creator of the British weekly magazine, Shares and its accompanying website moneyam.com. He remains a part-owner. TheAmong other awards, the magazine won the British publishing industry's magazine launch of the year award in 2000.

In London Ross was a regular commentator on BBC television, CNN, Sky News and Bloomberg. He was a regular co-host of BBC Radio Five Live's main business program, Wake Up To Money.

In Australia, Ross was editor of Business Review Weekly, Personal Investor and The Age's Money Section,. He was the founding editor of Australia's Shares magazine and has hosted radio programs for a number of stations, including the ABC. His journalism has won or been nominated for numerous awards over the years.

He also has practical finance experience, as a director of the sharemarket-listed investment company WAM Capital and as investment chairman of the industry superannuation fund for journalists and entertainers. His work with that fund saw him named Superannuation Trustee of the Year.

At the heart of his reporting is a desire to explain the sometimes complex world of finance in ways that most people can understand; to uncover the risks that put people's finances (and lifestyles) in harms way; to recognise the tactics and opportunities that can help people to profit and; to understand the motives and tactics of those who preside over the public's purse.

Ross is married, to Tanya, and has one son, Mitchell. He has always been a keen sports-man sports-fan and he coaches his kid's basketball team.

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