The current President of the Academy is Professor Glenn Withers AO.
Professor Withers is Professor of Economics at the Australian National University (ANU). He was previously founding CEO of Universities Australia and before that Professor of Public Policy at ANU and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government. Earlier he was the Commissioner of the Economic Planning Advisory Commission. In these roles he helped to establish Universities Australia, the Crawford School of Public Policy, the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and the Productivity Commission.
Professor Withers has chaired Commonwealth Inquiries into Infrastructure Financing and into Population Issues and Australia’s Future, reporting to the Hawke and Keating Governments, and was Co-Commissioner for the Productivity Commission’s Stocktake of Progress on Micro-economic Reform and a Task Force member for the Inquiry into Child Care, reporting to the Howard Government. He was Strategic Adviser for the Department of Finance and Deregulation in 2013. He is currently Chair of the Expert Working Group into ‘Australia’s Comparative Advantage’ for the Australian Council of Learned Academies.
Professor Withers has a masters and a doctorate in economics from Harvard, where he was a Menzies Scholar, Knox Fellow and Fulbright Scholar and also a Faculty member. He has consulted widely for government and the private sector, from the OECD through from the North West Shelf Consortium to the Seven Network. He has been consultant to the Business Council of Australia on population policy, to Council of Australian Government senior officials on competition policy, to Australian Premiers on federalism and to the Malaysian Prime Minister on labour, education and foreign worker reform.
Professor Withers has been chairperson of a number of Federal and State government bodies, including the National Population Council and the Migrant Skills and Qualifications Board, and was awarded an AO in 1992 for contributions to applied economics including for the development of the Australian immigration points system. In addition to being a Fellow and President of ASSA, he is also Chair of the Blended Learning International Advisory Board. He has held professorial appointments at Cambridge University, England and La Trobe University, Australia. He has published five books and around 150 academic papers and writes frequently for the media. His research focuses on public policy, competition policy, economic history, human resources and cultural policy. He co-edited the Cambridge Economic History of Australia, published in 2014.
Presidents of the Academy
- 1943–52 Kenneth Stewart Cunningham
- 1952–53 Sir Douglas Copland
- 1953–58 Sir Leslie Galfreid Melville
- 1958–62 Sydney James Butlin
- 1962–64 Wilfred David Borrie
- 1964–66 William Mathew O’Neil
- 1966–69 Percy Herbert Partridge
- 1969–72 Richard Ivan Downing
- 1972–75 Geoffrey Sawer
- 1975–78 Fred Henry George Gruen
- 1978–81 Alan George Lewers Shaw
- 1981–84 Keith Jackson Hancock
- 1984–87 Joseph Ezra Issac
- 1987–90 Peter Henry Karmel
- 1990–93 Peter Winston Sheehan
- 1993–97 Paul Francis Bourke
- 1997–00 Gwendoline Fay Gale
- 2000–03 Leon Mann
- 2003–06 Sue Richardson
- 2006–09 Stuart Forbes Macintyre
- 2009–12 Barry McGaw
- 2012–15 Deborah Terry
- 2016–18 Glenn Withers