About

The Economic Society was established in 1925, with seven branches across Australia and New Zealand and a Central Council.

It focussed on economic matters of public concern, and attracted wide community support. New Zealand branches withdrew from the Economic Society in 1973.

D.B. Copland, University of Melbourne Professor of Commerce at the time, played a key role in the formation of the society. Professor Copland sought to establish good relations with the business community, and was noted for his interest in the application of economic theory to practical problems.

At the time the Society formed, it opposed declarations of policy and instead focussed on open discussion and the encouragement of economic debate on affairs of the time. This stance continues today, with the Society being a forum for professional discussion rather than an advocacy group.

Objectives

The objectives of the Society in 1925 were:

  • To encourage the study of economics,
  • To investigate local and general economic problems,
  • To prepare digests of information on current developments, and
  • To publish a journal.

 These objectives remained unchanged for sixty years, and continue in similar form today.

Our Constitution

Constitution September 2007

Central Council Members

EXECUTIVE

President: Professor Bruce Chapman
Secretary: Assoc/Professor Russell Ross
Treasurer: Andrew Hughes

List of Central Council Members and Non-Member Secretaries

Central Council Meetings

Attendance at meetings was an integral part of Society operations in the early days due to keen interest and also the lack of modern communication technology.

Meetings still play an important role in the Society, especially to the extent that presenters will inform members.

Download Central Council Minutes (pdf) 25 September 2006 

 Download Central Council Minutes (pdf) March 2008
Download Central Council Minutes (pdf) September/October 2008
Download Central Council Minutes (pdf) March 2009
Download Central Council Minutes (pdf) September 2009
Download Central Council Minutes  March 2010

Attendance at meetings was an integral part of Society operations in the early days due to keen interest and also the lack of modern communication technology.

Meetings still play an important role in the Society, especially to the extent that presenters will inform members.

The Universities of each branch centre (and Central Council) were represented in the first selection of executive officers of every branch, often as branch secretary. These duties were undertaken in a voluntary capacity, and along with some help-in-kind from the business community, relieved the Society of much expense.

The practice of choosing branch presidents to represent, more or less alternately, “Town and Gown” reflected the role of academia and business. In large part, the Society continues to operate on this basis.

The Central Council usually meets twice a year – at the end of March, and during the September Conference of Economists. The Annual General Meeting of the Society is usually held during the Conference.

The Society is a member of the International Economic Association.

Annual Conference

The first Australian Conference of Economists was held in May 1970 in Melbourne, Victoria, and is now held annually on a rotating basis around capital cities in Australia. It is the leading conference in Australia on a range of economic issues, and regularly attracts prominent Australian and international speakers.

Our next Conference

Awards

The Distinguished Fellow Award was proposed in 1985.

The Honorary Fellow Award was proposed in 2005.

The Young Economist Award was proposed in 2006.

Journals

From the outset, the Society published a journal titled The Economic Record. It did much to bridge the geographic separation of members across Australia and New Zealand. It focussed on current policy issues, especially in Australia and New Zealand. By the end of the 1930s, the reputation of Australian economists and that of their journal was established internationally.

By the 1970s, the increased technicality of the contents eventually led to the publication of a second Society journal. Economic Papers had been published since 1941 by the New South Wales and later also Victorian branches, and was formally adopted as a Society journal in 1982. This journal is more oriented to business interests and current economic conditions.

Membership

Membership of the Economic Society peaked at nearly 3000 in 1974, and after significant falls in the late 1970s, was restored to 2600 in 1985. New South Wales and Victoria have consistently been the largest branches, accounting for over seventy percent of Society members. The membership is currently about 1400.

The historical aspects of the above come from the book entitled ‘The Economic Society of Australia. Its History 1925 – 1985’ by R.H. Scott, published by the Economic Society.