About Robert Dawson, Author, A Democratic Way to Australia's Republic


Robert Dawson was born in Sydney and has lived in various Sydney suburbs for all of his life.

He attended Sutherland Intermediate High and Sydney Boys High School and was appointed as a Prefect at both. Mr Dawson obtained all of his academic qualifications the hard way: by part-time study. After completing the Structural Engineering Certificate at the Sydney Technical College, he went on to complete a Diploma of Technology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering at the Institute of Technology which later became the University of Technology, Sydney.

He went on to complete his Diploma of Tertiary Education at the University of New England by correspondence.

He has worked on a number of public works projects during his working life. Starting as a draftsman/technician, he worked on various water supply and sewerage projects at the drawing board and on construction while studying for his engineering degree.

After graduating, he began designing as a career specialising in stability and structural analysis and design. Beginning with work on power station buildings, he later worked mainly on tower structures of various kinds.

Problem solving projects

Before becoming a design group leader, he spent many years as a development engineer and was involved with a variety of problem solving projects associated with new technology, structural configurations, applications and changes in design procedures and policies.

This was a problem-anticipating and problem-solving role for a back-room boy supporting the project engineers who necessarily worked to time limitations. Mr Dawson later worked with Standards Australia on various standards writing committees dealing with building and engineering products as well as design and construction methods. During the above employment, he also taught part time building and engineering subjects at St George, North Sydney, Meadowbank and Sydney Technical Colleges.

His practical teaching led to an interest in curriculum development which in turn inspired him to write his first book, which advocates numerous improvements to curriculum design theory. More recently, Mr Dawson has taken an interest in local affairs.

He served for seven years as the Secretary of his local progress association, which achieved many local improvements during that time. In that capacity he represented the Association for many years on local council committees including a park improvement committee (chairman), community safety committees and a committee for the Australian bicentennial celebrations. He was also involved in the municipality bicentennial celebrations.

Direction of the debate

When the movement to change Australia to a republic by 2001 began Mr Dawson was disappointed with the direction the debate was taking, particularly with the lack of innovation.

It was clear that for political reasons some people were determined to stifle any attempts to give the presidents powers that exceeded the powers of the Governor General and the Queen. They also attempted to ensure that the President would be appointed by Parliament or by a group of prominent citizens contrary to the most democratic method - appointment by the electorate.

Similarly, there was very little discussion about how the failings of the political system (as reported by some commentators) might be corrected in the constitution at the time when it would have to be changed to provide for the change to the Republic. He attended a number of lectures on the subject of the Republic and these extended his insight into the failings of proposals for the Republic and of our political system that needed to be dealt with.