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Fred Gruen AO

1921 – 1997

Professor Fred Gruen (1921 - 1997) was one of Australia's most influential economists. He was Head of the Economics program in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University between 1975 and 1985 and founded the Centre of Economic Policy Research at the ANU in 1980. A German Jew, Gruen was born in Vienna and undertook secondary schooling in England. At the outbreak of war, he was declared an 'enemy alien' by English authorities and in 1940 was sent to Australia on the infamous prison ship, Dunera. He was incarcerated at the Hay Internment camp where he came in contact with a host of academic German Jewish refugees who had been working at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics prior to the war. He also formed a friendship with Kurt Baier, who is currently Professor of Philosophy at Pittsburg University, and the two were accepted into Melbourne University in 1941. (Fabian's portrait of Baier, also produced in 1941, is being offered to the National Portrait Gallery as a gift). The following year, after being released from detention, Gruen joined the Australian Army in a non-combative role and later worked for the Army Education Unit. Repatriated in 1946, he completed a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and joined the New South Wales Department of Agriculture. Further study in the United States led to academic work at Sydney University, the ANU and Monash University in Melbourne. In 1973 he was asked by the newly elected Whitlam government to act as an economic consultant to the Prime Minister's Department, a position he held for three years. He subsequently advised both the Commonwealth and ACT governments on economic policy.

Updated 2018