Background

Peter Botsman works from his farm office at Kangaroo Valley, NSW, Australia. For the past fifteen years Peter has worked on Aboriginal economic, social and cultural development projects in Cape York, the Pilbara, the Kimberley, Arnhem Land, Timor Leste, Shepparton and the NSW South Coast. He has been voluntary national secretary of the ISX (Indigenous Stock Exchange) since its inception. It is an unpaid position and for many years Botsman has raised private and public support for several Aboriginal projects of note including supporting Aboriginal homelands in North East Arnhem Land.

Botsman has held a series of academic and public policy positions. He 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 at his famous residence at Tasmania Circle, Canberra. 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. For much of his time as a student Botsman was a casual high school teacher in several Sydney and Melbourne inner city and outer suburban areas. He took up his first academic 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. In August 1987 he was appointed Director of the Evatt Research Centre and in 1988 Executive Director of the Evatt Foundation. When Botsman left the Evatt Foundation it was considered the most important Labor think tank of its time. It published several nationally significant reports about privatisation and the capital funding of public enterprises, reports on indirect taxation and the first Australian model of a consumption tax, as well as the funding of higher education, telecommunications and state and local government. It held its own amongst much better funded and endowed public and corporate think tanks.

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 A model like Botsman's USACARE model is currently being debated by Democrats in Washington some 30 years after Botsman's work which was a collaboration with Dan Swinney and his then Mid West Centre for Labor Research based in Chicago. The USACARE model worked on the idea of an extension of the public Medicare and Medicaid health insurance to all Americans. Botsman argues that it is a tragedy that "Obama Care" has been decimated by Donald Trump and that like Australia, from the 1970s to the 1980s, the USA had to move forward incrementally through providing public health insurance benefits to all Americans. This can still be done by expanding the US Medicare and Medicaid benefits and by working State to State to expand public benefits. The size of the US health industry is daunting and prohibitive of change but if the US is to move forward it must learn from Australia and Canada as laboratories of democracy. Gun laws are of course another area where the US can learn from Australia.

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. This was a time where Botsman had the opportunity of learning from grass roots activists and inspirational people like Sister Margaret Armstrong - an inspirational member of the Daughters of Charity. While based at Macarthur Botsman helped found Families in Partnership - a cooperative that was led by the mothers of children with disabilities and which pointed the way towards National Disabilties Insurance and a life time model of thinking about children with disabilities. At that time Macarthur and Campbelltown had the highest incidence of children with disabilities per capita in Australia. 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 an important national forum featuring a wide range of international, national and local speakers including the young Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson.

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 after a falling out with Mark Latham and the UWS Vice Chancellor Janice Reid. Despite this, Botsman enjoyed working with Mr. Whitlam Senior at his office at 100 William St. In a short 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.

The ISX has been a consuming passion of Botsman's after 2006. It 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, Ms. S.D. 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. The ISX slowly built itself up to a point where it is a very useful vehicle for Aboriginal enterprise development. With little internal funding, and albeit on a very small scale, 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. 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 Highland cattle and produces macadamia nuts. He follows the work and teachings of Alex Podolinsky in Melbourne on farming. He has established his dream workshop and library at Eramboo Farm, Kangaroo Valley.