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“University Economics Society,” The Sydney Morning Herald, September 30, 1933, p. 17.

At the annual meeting of the Sydney University Economics Society last night, Mr H. D. Black, B.Ec., who was recently appointed Lecturer in Economics, was elected as president for the forthcoming year.

Professor R. C. Mills, Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Dr E. R. Walker, Mr F. A. Bland, Mr G. V. Portus, and Mr C. V. Janes were elected vice-presidents. Mr R. Randerson was elected secretary-treasurer.

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“Death of former financial editor: Roger Randerson (1912-1991),” The Sydney Morning Herald, May 11, 1991, p. 39.

Mr Roger Randerson, distinguished economist and former financial editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, died this week.

Born in Hull, Yorkshire, in the north of England, and educated at North Sydney Boys’ High School, Mr Randerson began his career at the Bank of New South Wales under the tutelage of Sir Alfred Davidson.

After a brief stint in England, he was seconded to the Commonwealth Government’s loan-raising campaign. He moved into journalism in 1945 when he was appointed financial editor of the Herald.

He held this position until resigning in 1950. He fought hard against bank nationalisation and in 1952 helped to prepare the empolyers’ side in the National Wage case.

He studied law and went to the bar in 1957.

In September 1960 Randerson rejoined the Herald as editorial adviser on economic affairs.

He resigned three years later and returned to the law, practising as a solicitor. During this time he was a contributor to the Telegraph and wrote occasional articles for Perth’s Sunday Independent.

In the early 1950s, with the financial backing of Associated Newspapers, Randerson had planned to launch a weekly to be called the Financial Times, but was thwarted by Fairfax’s decision to launch its own financial weekly — the Financial Review.

Considered by his peers to be an economic conservative, he was a great admirer of the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek.

In later years he edited his own economic newsletter, the Forecast.

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Excerpt from “Where Gibbs is now” in “Speculator’s Diary” column of The Bulletin, December 14, 1982, p. 120.

Roger Randerson, arguably, was the first journalist to bring the stock exchange to the “popular” Press. During its brief life in Sydney the Sunday Herald introduced “hints” for investors — a feature that spawned today’s crop of specialist investor and trader advisory pages, circulars and specialist papers.

The column was light relief for Randerson after a week in which he labored much more seriously as editor of the Sydney Morning Herald’s finance pages.

Friday nights on the fifth floor of John Fairfax’s Pitt and Hunter Street castle in the late 1940s and early 50s were dominated by the Randerson endeavours. Late into the night he would bellow “RUNNER!” as ink, copy paper and steel pen nibs scattered around the office.

“Where’s bloody Gibbs?” bec[a]me one of his most plaintive cries as he sought the whereabouts of his offsider, John Gibbs. [The article then goes on to talk about Gibbs.]

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Vic Carroll, “[The AFR was] Conceived in the spirit of competition, 1951-2001,” The Australian Financial Review, August 16, 2001, p. 2.

In mid-1951 the Australian economy had just been hit by seismic shocks from the Korean War commodities boom and slump when the John Fairfax company had a tremor of its own: the title Financial Times was registered in Sydney.

This was the work of an enterprising Sydney group brought together by Roger Randerson, then Australian correspondent for the London Financial Times, before that financial editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and, before that, one of Sir Alfred Davidson’s creche of economists at the Bank of NSW.

His proposed newspaper was backed by Norman B. Rydge, the cinema owner and publisher, and Sir John Butters and Eric Kennedy of Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Sydney Sun.

Fairfax reacted to the threat quickly and decisively, as it did during most of its rapid expansion over the next 30 years. The Australian Financial Review went on sale on Thursday, August 16, 1951, with a cover price of one shilling. The masthead carried a subsidiary line, as if to reassure the customers: A “Sydney Morning Herald” publication.

The Randerson-Rydge project was cancelled.

The Review’s first editor was Jack Horsfall, the Herald’s economics editor, who had previously worked for The Economist.

Horsfall, unfortunately, lasted only eight months but from the outset took a cool, detached view of the Commonwealth Treasury line, a view the paper was not always able to maintain over the next 50 years. The Review thought the government’s policy failures, reflected in the then 20 per cent inflation rate, were the fault of its Treasury advisers, who were giving economists a bad name.

Despite this, by 1953 high inflation had been squeezed out of the economy without lifting the unemployment rate above 3 per cent and it was back on its bipartisan course of rapid development based on low interest rates and high immigration rates of about 200,000 migrants a year.

Horsfall was succeeded as editor by Lou Leck, who left for higher posts in the company in 1954.

He was succeeded by another company stalwart, Harry Williams.

Having disposed of the Randerson-Rydge threat, the Review was run virtually as a Herald satellite during the 1950s, while the underlying tensions in the nation’s high-speed development policy grew.

Something had to give. The Financial Review’s big break came when Max Newton took over the paper in February 1960.

In a replay of 1951, a major economic crisis loomed. Newton had been working at the economics department of the Bank of NSW in 1956 when he wrote a letter to the Herald criticising the government’s economic policies. He was recruited to John Fairfax and became the Herald’s Canberra correspondent.

Ever restless and sensing that the Financial Review’s time had come, he led a palace revolution against Harry Williams and was appointed managing editor.

Under Newton the Review found a strong voice of its own, and an unmatched confidence in reporting the drama and turmoil of the great political and economic policy divisions which followed the panic measures brought in by the treasurer, Harold Holt, on November 15, 1960, and the government’s narrow survival at the next year’s federal election.

The Review’s sales soared.

In October 1961, it started publishing twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday.

This looked so easy that Frank Packer’s Consolidated Press started the Australian Financial Times, printed on FT pink paper. It soon folded.

Advertising revenue rose as the economy recovered and, on October 21, 1963, the Review became Australia’s first national daily, published Monday to Friday. The cover price was held at one shilling.

Daily publication presented editorial, production and distribution problems which had not been anticipated.

Having achieved so much, Newton became restless and, alienated by the company’s editorial yoke, left in March 1964. He was soon planning to launch The Australian with Rupert Murdoch.

Some weeks later I was summoned to the office of the Fairfax managing director, Rupert Henderson. He said: “Do you think the Financial Review should remain a daily newspaper?” I said “yes”, and was appointed editor at 4,000 a year.

Newton raided the Review for journalists to staff The Australian but a solid core remained, including David Love, Max Walsh, Bert Smith (who later edited Rydge’s magazine), Bob Gottliebsen (who came from Packer’s failed Financial Times, Michael Baume and Alan Wood. Peter Robinson returned from Japan later in the year and Neil McInnes from Europe, where he had been the Dow Jones man in Paris, writing for Barron’s. McInnes later returned to Europe for Dow Jones but continued writing for the Review.

When Paddy McGuinness, who had been working for the Moscow Narodny Bank in London and doing some freelance work for the Review, offered to ride his bike to Paris to cover the riots in 1968 I had to tell him we were already covered by Neil McInnes. He joined the staff in Sydney soon afterwards.

The Review’s price was halved to sixpence on June 8, 1964, “to make the Review available to all Australians” as we said on Page 1 but it was really the first shot in the coming struggle with The Australian which was shortly to launch at that price. It was a struggle we both won as the two newspapers helped create, and were part of the rapid growth in, national consciousness in the 1960s.

To generate and hold reader interest at that time the Review launched a six-month investment competition. The winner, with a first prize of 1,000, was Charles B. Goode, then senior research officer at Ian Potter and Co, now chairman of Woodside and the ANZ Bank. Charles Goode shared the front page on December 21, 1964, with the announcement of the Hamersley and Mt Newman iron ore projects based on contracts with Japanese steel mills.
Peter Robinson’s return had been timely as he guided the Review’s coverage of the deepening trade ties with Japan.

In 1966, Max Walsh, who had replaced the Reverend Dr Malcolm Mackay as the Review’s oil writer (Mackay went off to float Longreach Oil) became chief of the Canberra bureau and rapidly made it a magnet for talented journalists, recruiting Trevor Kennedy, Robert Haupt, Brian Toohey, Fred Brenchley, Tom Connors and, later, Anne Summers. Gavin Souter wrote in Company of Heralds: “It was no exaggeration to say that the economic management of Australia in the late 1960s was criticised and explained far more in the columns of the Review than in the Parliament itself”.

Iron ore, bauxite, nickel, oil and gas fuelled a tremendous surge in the stockmarket. By 1970 circulation was well over 40,000. The paper was also on the verge of making a true profit for the first time since 1953.

Since decimalisation, the cover price had advanced generally in line with those of other dailies. It was not until the late 1980s, when control had passed to Conrad Black, that the need for cash flow became paramount and premium prices were again charged for what had become a premium product.

Editorial control of the paper passed to Peter Robinson in 1971. I became managing editor and, with Trevor Kennedy, started The National Times which was initially a sort of satellite of the Financial Review; as the Review had been of the Herald 20 years previously.

Eventually, we will be making a huge amount of Roger Randerson’s writing available. There is also at least one video that Michael Darby can hopefully help us track down. In the meantime, and in preparation, below is some biographical information about Randerson. I believe he was a student of Hayek in London. Along with Ronald Kitching he was the main sponsor/organiser of Hayek’s Australia tour in 1976. And Kitching says he was known as the #1 Public Enemy of Nugget Coombs, whom Kitching calls the Emperor of Australia. So below is a start to pique your interest. If you have any memories of Randerson, please email me them to put online or put them in the “comments” section below.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5