Stephen FitzGerald, Comrade Ambassador

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Modern Australia was in part defined by its early embrace of China—a turning from the White Australia Policy of the 1950s to the country’s acceptance of Asian immigration and engagement with regional neighbours. It saw the far-sighted establishment of an embassy in Beijing in the 1970s by Gough Whitlam, headed by Stephen FitzGerald. Here, FitzGerald’s story as diplomat, China scholar, adviser to Gough Whitlam, first ambassador to China under prime ministers Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, is interwoven with the wider one of this dramatic moment in Australia’s history. Comrade Ambassador also highlights the challenge Australia faces in managing itself into an Asian future.

Stephen FitzGerald began his career as a diplomat, became an academic, was China adviser to Gough Whitlam, and from 1973 to 1976 was Australia’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. In 1980 he established the first private consultancy for Australian business and government in China. He is currently a board member of the independent public policy initiative, China Matters, and an honorary fellow at the China Studies Centre at Sydney University.

‘This is more than a diplomatic memoir, more than an account of life as Whitlam’s and Fraser’s Ambassador in China, although that’s a rich story worth the telling. It has a bigger theme: how Australia from the 1960s decided to engage with Asia and change for all time how we saw our role in the world.’–– Bob Carr

The launch will commence with remarks by Professor Michael Wesley and Professor Geremie Barmé, followed by Professor Stephen FitzGerald reading from Comrade Ambassador.

Copies will be available for purchase on the day with a book-signing opportunity between 7pm and 7.30pm.

Drinks reception from 5:30pm, formal proceedings from 6-7pm