Peter Botsman is one of Australia's most creative public intellectuals who quit the academy some fifteen years ago to have the full freedom to write and think.
Botsman retains a strong attachment to the University of Melbourne which was also his late father, Dr. Peter Bernard Botsman's alma mater.
For the past fifteen years Peter has worked on projects in Cape York, the Pilbara, the Kimberley, Arnhem Land, Timor Leste, Shepparton and the NSW South Coast because of his interest in Aboriginal economic development and his work as voluntary national secretary of the ISX (Indigenous Stock Exchange).
He writes about a diverse range of public policy, political and other issues.
His latest book project is a story about an Irish fairy who comes to Tasmania just after the genocidal war against Tasmanian Aborigines.
Peter Botsman studied at Cornell University, New York, from 1972 to 1974 and completed a joint BA (Hons) degree at Griffith University, Queensland in 1976. His honours thesis was on Manning Clark's A History of Australia. With Dr. Lyndal Ryan as his mentor, he was lucky to spend some time with Clark during this period. Following a Diploma of Education from Melbourne University and a Master of Philosophy on Althusser, Donzelot and Michel Foucault from Griffith University. He completed his doctorate at the University of NSW in 1987 under David Walker. The thesis was titled The Sexual and the Social and was a history of sexually transmitted diseases and their medical-social construction.
University of Technology Sydney 1986-7
Botsman accepted his first teaching position as a lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Technology, Sydney from 1986 to 1987. He taught the history of new technology to a multi-disciplinary cohort of engineering, accounting, humanities and computing science students.
Evatt Foundation 1997-1996
In August 1987 he was appointed Director of the Evatt Research Centre and in 1988 Executive Director of the Evatt Foundation. From 1988 to 1996 the Foundation released a number of influential reports. Those which were co-authored, written and planned by Professor Botsman include: The Capital Funding of Public Enterprises (1988), State of Siege: Vertical Fiscal Imbalance and the Future of State Government (1989), The State of Australia Series Reports (1993, 1994, 1995 & 1996), Breach of Contract: Local Government and Contracting Out Services, (1996), Enterprise Bargaining in Higher Education (1994), Creating Jobs in Europe: Lessons for Australia (1996) and Unions 2001 (1997). When Botsman left the Evatt Foundation it had a million dollars in the bank and was considered the most important Labor think tank. It was certainly the only private research centre of that time capable of contesting and debating the bevy of better funded think tanks funded by private industry and working closely with the Liberal-National party. Botsman left the Evatt Foundation at the age of 40 feeling burnt out. Much later he found out that his tiredness was partially to do with a liver disease that he had picked up early in his life.
Harkness Fellowship 1991
In 1991, Botsman won a Harkness Fellowship to the City University of New York and wrote USA Care: A National Health Insurance Strategy for the USA(Chicago, 1991). His work was well recognised in the USA, He was invited to President Clinton's inauguration in 1992 and continues to work with key American policy makers.
University of Western Sydney 1997-1999
In 1997 Botsman was appointed Associate Professor in Public Health and Public Policy at the University of Western Sydney (Macarthur) and Head of the division of Public Health.
University of Queensland/Brisbane Institute 1999-2001
Professor Botsman took up an appointment as Professor of Public Policy, University of Queensland and Executive Director of The Brisbane Institute from 1 March 1999 to 1 March 2001. During that time The Brisbane Institute emerged as Queensland's pre-eminent public policy forum featuring a wide range of international, national and local speakers.
Whitlam Institute and Prime MInisterial Archive
In May 2001 Professor Botsman returned to Western Sydney as the Foundation Director of the Whitlam Institute and resigned from this position in November 2002. One of the key reasons for his resignation was a conflict over the direction of the Institute. Botsman wanted to have Whitlam lectures and seminars in the pubs and clubs of the Western Suburbs and to make the Whitlam Institute a place that would be owned and loved by the people of Western Sydney regardless of their educational background. There were also strong personalities and institutional constraints involved in the operations of the Institute. Despite this in a very short space of time, Botsman established Mr. Whitlam's Prime MInisterial archive and had posted all Mr. Whitlam's historic speeches and photographs online, accessible to the public. He also organised a large number of seminars and exhibitions of Mr. Whitlam's photographs and memorabilia. He very much enjoyed the time he spent working with Mr. Whitlam in his office at 100 William St.
After the Whitlam Institute
Botsman relished the freedom to pursue ideas without the constraints of management committees. He threw himself into several projects the most important being the Indigenous Stock Exchange or ISX (2004- ) which is a national clearing house of Aboriginal projects that need support and investment.
In 2006 Botsman was feeling very run down and sought a general health check up. He found that he had contracted Hepatitis C, probably from a blood transfusion in his childhood or adolescence and that his liver was severely scarred. From this time the priority turned to health and well being. He experimented with Chinese Herbs and began yoga with Rose Andrews in Kangaroo Valley. In 2010 thanks to the brilliant team at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at Camperdown, namely Paul Torzillo, Margaret Fitzgerald and David Koorey, Botsman embarked on the year long course of medication that freed him of the virus. During that year Botsman worked mostly on farm building. After several years it now seems that Botsman's liver problems are over, however he has a particular concern for those who suffer from Hepatitis C and liver problems and works voluntarily whenever he can to support them.
Indigenous Stock Exchange (2004-
The ISX was a consuming passion of Botsman's after 2006. This was the brain child of several people including Botsman, Kevin Fong in Broome, Nic Frances and Noel Pearson and the Social Entrepreneurs Network and was supported by Paul Briggs, Gerhardt Pearson, Dhanggal Gurruwiwi and several other Aboriginal leaders. One of the goals of the ISX was not to fall under the shadow of government and to continuously focus on creating an independent Aboriginal economy. Another important principal was merit based management and ownership. 100 per cent owned by the Broome Aboriginal Media Association (BAMA) which is also the owner of the radio, film and television enterprises known as Goolarri. BAMA holds the ISX in trust for Australian Aboriginal nations who must work with the ISX for a period of years before they can have representatives on the board of management or exert influence on its direction. The ISX has slowly built itself up to a point where it is a very useful vehicle for Aboriginal enterprise development. With little internal funding the ISX has performed extremely well and it continues to build its resources and capacity.
Botsman has continued to write and publishes many articles each year at www.workingpapers.com.au. He is an inter-disciplinary public intellectual. His major publications have been written on a wide variety of subject areas including the banking industry, health research and development, the waterfront, the NSW power industry, unemployment, financing aged care, communityemployment co-operatives and a new model of family centred services for children with developmental disabilities. Professor Botsman's The Great Constitutional Swindle A Citizen's Guide to the Australian Constitution was shortlisted for the Centenary of Federation Prize in 2001 and his book with Noel Pearson and Mark Latham The Enabling State went through a number of print runs.
Botsman is also a passionate biodynamic organic farmer. His farm at Kangaroo Valley stocks 100 Scottish Hignland cattle and produces macadamia nuts. He follows the work and teachings of Alex Podolinsky in Melbourne on farming.
Botsman currently enjoys working with Bill Moyle, AO and Gerry Moore at Habitat Personell/Shoalhaven Community Development in Nowra for two days a week. He enjoys working as secretary of the ISX, editing Australian Prospect, writing a series of papers and books, contributing to national newspapers and working at a variety of consultancy projects.
He has established his dream workshop and library at Eramboo Farm, Kangaroo Valley.