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Sir Asher Joel

by Louis Kahan

pencil on paper (sheet: 44.5 cm x 32.5 cm)

Sir Asher Joel (1912-1998), public relations entrepreneur and state politician, started out as a copyboy at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. In 1938 he joined the New South Wales committee organising the Australian celebration of the coronation of King George VI. Joel served on General MacArthur’s war agency staff in Brisbane in the 1940s and launched the Asher Joel Media Group in 1946. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Public Relations Institute of Australia. Joel masterminded many huge events including visits by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 1963, President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 and Pope Paul in 1970. He oversaw the Captain Cook bicentenary events in 1970 and the opening of the Sydney Opera House. Joel was elected to the NSW Legislative Council as an independent in 1958, but joined the Country Party the following year. A founder and governor of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, he was the first Australian Jew made a Papal Knight. After retiring from politics in 1978, he wrote the book Australian Protocol and Procedures (1988).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Mrs Lily Kahan 2017
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2017.60