- John Button
caption=Hon John Button
name =John Button
birth_date =Birth date|1933|6|30|df=yes
birth_place = Ballarat, Victoria,
death_date =Death date and age|2008|4|8|1933|6|30|df=yes
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
office = Minister for Industry and Commerce
11 March 1983
24 March 1993
Australian Labor Party
spouse = Joan Grant
children = 2
John Norman Button (
June 30, 1933– April 8, 2008) was an Australianpolitician, who served as a senior minister in the Hawke and Keating Labor governments. He was notable for "The Button Car Plan", which involved modernising Australia's car industry by reducing tariffs and government protection.cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |author= |coauthors= |title=Former federal Labor minister John Button dies |url=http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/former-federal-labor-minister-john-button-dies/2008/04/08/1207420350369.html |publisher=" The Sydney Morning Herald" |date=2008-04-08 |accessdate=2008-04-08 ] .
Button was born in Ballarat, and was educated at the
Geelong Collegeand the University of Melbourne, where he graduated in arts and law. He became a prominent barrister and solicitor in Melbourne, and was active in the Australian Labor Partyfrom the late 1950s. In the 1960s he joined a group of other middle-class Labor activists, such as John Cain, Barry Jones, Richard McGarvie, Frank Costiganand Michael Duffy, known as "the Participants," whose objective was to end Left-wing control of the Victorian branch of the Labor Party.
In 1970, the Participants formed an alliance with the federal Labor leader
Gough Whitlamand the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Bob Hawke, to bring about intervention in the Victorian branch by the Federal Executive. Button became part of the interim Advisory Council which took over the branch after intervention, and in 1974 he was elected to the Australian Senateas a strong supporter of Whitlam. He remained a backbencher during the Whitlam government.
Button was elected to the Opposition Shadow Ministry in 1976 and was elected Deputy Labor Leader in the Senate in 1977. From 1980 to 1983 he was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and Shadow Minister for Communications. He was also a member of the Labor National Executive. Button became well known as a parliamentary tactician and for his dry sense of humour.
A close friend of Labor Leader
Bill Hayden, Button decided during 1982 that Hayden could not lead the party to victory at the 1983 elections. When Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Frasercalled a snap election in February 1983, it was Button who told Hayden that he must resign immediately to make way for Hawke.
In 1983 when Hawke became Prime Minister, Button became Minister for Industry and Commerce, a post he held until 1993. During this period Button carried through major changes in industry policy, lowering
tariffsand reducing other forms of protectionism. This caused large job losses in manufacturing industry and provoked bitter opposition among Labor's trade union base.
Button was responsible for the
Button car plan, which reorganised the Australian car industry in an attempt to make it competitive without tariff protection. One component of the plan, badge engineering, failed due to unforeseen resistance from the buying public.
Button retired in 1993. In retirement he remained active in Labor affairs and published several volumes of amusing memoirs. He also led a number of trade missions, joined company boards and served as a professorial fellow at
Monash University. [cite news|url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/labor-legend-john-button-dies/2008/04/08/1207420350765.html?|title=Former Labor minister John Button dies|publisher=The Age|date=2008-04-08|accessdate=2008-04-08] His son James Buttonis a prominent journalist.
John Button's death was confirmed on 8 April 2008 by the acting Prime Minister
Julia Gillard. Mr Button died after months battling pancreatic cancer. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |author=
coauthors= |title=Former federal Labor minister John Button dies |url=http://livenews.com.au/Articles/2008/04/08/John_Button_dies_aged_74 |publisher="livenews.com.au" |date=2008-04-08 |accessdate=2008-04-08 ]
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