The Harcourt family has lived in Australia, UK, Italy, The Netherlands, Peru, USA, New Zealand, Canada, Israel and Japan and visited many, many places, including China and Taiwan where two grandchildren were born. The last decades most of us have settled in Sydney, with just four remaining in Europe, in Italy and The Netherlands. Over the years we have tried to be together as much as we could, whenever time and money (and now Covid) allowed. Here are some snaps of our times together.
John Harcourt, Twin Brother
Geoff’s twin brother John Kenneth Harcourt studied at Wesley college then undertook a Bachelors (1954), Masters (1956) and Doctorate of Dental Science at the University of Melbourne. After serving as a House Surgeon with the Dental Hospital of Melbourne he joined the Department of Dental Prosthetics first as a Demonstrator (1954-1956) progressing through the academic ranks from Lecturer (1957-1962), Senior Lecturer (1963-1983) to Reader/Associate Professor (1990-1996). He was Editor of the Australian Dental Journal, 1985-1998 and Editor of the Annals of the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons (1985-2006) He was also President of the Australian Dental Association (Victorian Branch) in 1975 and President of both the Royal Australasian College of Dental Science and the Dental Board of Victoria, 1994-1996. John Harcourt was awarded a Fellow of the Academy of Dental Materials (FADM) 1983; Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Dental Surgeons (FRACDS) 1965; and Medal of the Order of Australia, 1995. He lives in Melbourne, in Glen Iris, in the same house where he and Geoff were born and grew up.
Read more in this University of Melbourne profile.
In Celebration of Geoff/Dad
I have been so fortunate to have such loving and inspiring parents. There are many stories I could tell of Dad that would illustrate his sense of humour and fun as well as his love for family and friends and, of course, his strong concerns for justice and fairness. All are wonderful attributes to which I aspire. As an adult I have always enjoyed talking to him about my political work as a feminist, ecologist and international development scholar. Dad has been a committed reader for all my writings, whether popular or academic. Above all, I always knew he was there for me, whatever I did. I could talk to him straight and know he would love me all the same. One of the proudest moments with him was when I joined him in the academe in 2011. My appointment came just at the moment when he was celebrating his 80th birthday in Cambridge. A few years later I was delighted that he came to The Hague to join the academic procession of my inaugural, resplendent in his cardinal red robes of a Cambridge Doctor of Letters. I am so glad to be able to celebrate all his many achievements, his kindness and very importantly, his love for others, which I know is returned by so many around the world. He sets a very splendid example indeed.
Wendy has spent most of her adult life in Europe living in Rome with her husband Claudio Sardoni, Professor of Economics at the University of Rome Sapienza (they married in 1989), and two daughters – Caterina (1995) and Emma Claire (1998). For 23 years she was Editor of the international journal Development and Director of Programmes at the Society for International Development in Rome and traveled extensively as an advocate for gender and environmental rights. In the last ten years she has been commuting between Rome and The Hague when she joined the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University Rotterdam in The Hague. She was fortunate that both daughters did their undergraduate degrees in The Netherlands – Caterina at the Erasmus University College in Rotterdam and Emma Claire at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Wendy was appointed full Professor and a Westerdijk Professor together with an endowed Chair of Gender, Diversity and Sustainable Development in October 2017. She has written extensively in the field of gender, environment and critical development studies with 12 edited books and her monograph Body Politics in Development which won the FWSA award in 2010.
Happy 90th Birthday Dad
I have been blessed to share 60 of your 90 years and have treasured every moment. As a father I could not have asked for more. Sure, you couldn’t drive a manual car, you weren’t a real outdoor-bush loving man (definitely), and your surfing ability is squarely in kook territory. However, you have taught me many valuable lessons about life, and unselfishly shared laughter, joy, love and your passions throughout our shared six decades. You have taught me many things, but most importantly, imbued values that have kept me, despite much wavering, on the right path throughout the long journey that is life. What I perceive as the five most important principles, and ones that you have lived up to throughout are:
- Be kind – you are the kindest man I know, and that kindness is and always has been unconditional
- Be fair – an underlying principle exemplified by yours and Mum’s approach to parenting, to society and to the whole world – the 1967 referendum on indigenous rights, the peace in Vietnam protests, caring for those less fortunate – you lived what you preached.
- Do whatever you want, but if you do it do it to your very best – I have always had many interests – many different from yours, some you probably preferred I hadn’t chosen, especially in my teens and 20’s, but throughout my six decades you have always been 100% supportive and a role model in doing everything to the best of your ability- you don’t have to be the best, but you have to be your best – this approach has served me and my siblings so very, very well.
- Stay fit and healthy – my earliest memories are of you sweating in running shorts and Dunlop volleys, running and exercising without missing a day – even now as you approach 90 your circuits of the apartment are so determined and admirable.
- Don’t be afraid to love – your love for and your ability to express your love for Mum and for all your children has framed my entire life.
Thank you for all you have done and for loving me throughout, that love is returned in equal measure.
Rob is a Professor of Marine Ecology, at Macquarie University in Sydney where he has been since 1997. He leads the Marine Predator Research Group which has graduated over 60 Phd and Masters students many of whom have gone on to be world leaders in their fields. He also leads Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System Animal Tracking Facility a national facility with over 300 collaborators across 34 institutions. He has published over 250 scientific papers and two books.
His main research interests are in marine conservation, behavioural ecology of marine predators, Antarctic wildlife, human-wildlife interactions, animal ethics and marine observing. He has helped set up Locally Managed Marine Protected Areas in developing countries including Papua New Guinea and Tonga and worked hard to minimise ‘parachute science’. To this accord he has trained graduate students from Sri Lanka, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, and continues to collaborate with all long after their studies are complete.
Prior to settling at Macquarie, Rob lead the roaming life of a field scientist. He undertook his Phd at Cambridge where he was fortunate to venture to Peru for two years, living in a Guano mine observing fur seals. He then ventured to the San Juan Islands, Washington State teaching marine conservation in the heart of killer whale territory. Following the USA, he moved to Mexico where he ran a marine mammal lab in Baja California, a small field lab surrounded by whales, whale sharks, manta rays dolphins and seals. This was followed by five years in New Zealand at Otago and Waikato Universities, with his first sojourns to the Antarctic, a place for which he has a lifelong love.
Things you might not know about Geoff
Geoff’s accomplishments in the academic sphere in Economics are well known judging from all the lovely testimonials from his past colleagues and students from around the world.
But there are a few other aspects to his life that many people may not know and may come as a surprise.
First, Geoff is not really a ‘Harcourt’ but really a ‘Harkowitz’. Whilst researching a history book using the marvellous Trove series from the National Library of Australia (Home – Trove (nla.gov.au)) I stumbled upon some family history, about our family origins. Geoff’s grandfather Israel Harkowitz came to Australia from Romania (from Transylvania that causes some to link Dracula, blood suckers and the Economics Profession!) in the 19th century and set up a series of General Stores in the NSW Country with his wife Dinah Berger from Poland (who he met in Australia) and her brother Daniel Berger. Daniel had a paddle steamer “The Wandering Jew” that sold goods up and down NSW inland rivers to the family’s General Stores (its remnants were found during the recent Drought Shipwrecked at Brewarrina: Drought reveals historic Wandering Jew paddle steamer – ABC News thanks to cousin Pierre Harcourt for the news item).
Geoff’s father Kopel Harkowitz (Poppy to us) was born in Lismore where Israel had the local general store (I Harkowitz Northern Rivers Price Reducer! said the ads) and the family grew up in various NSW country towns often leaving hurriedly (to make sudden insurance claims due to fire) and ended up in Sydney. Kopel and his brother Sam Harkowitz changed the family name to Harcourt in 1924 (it was said so they could join the famous Bondi Icebergs surf club and go “From the Goldbergs to the Icebergs” and the local golf club) but it was probably done for convenience.
Kopel had been a great Hebrew scholar in Sydney winning many prizes at the Great Synagogue, and was going to be a Rabbi, but his atheism made that career choice a bit difficult. He became a professional punter (Sam and he had a racing show on radio named after them called “The Racing Harcourts”), a railway clerk, insurance salesman and later a leather merchant. Kopel Harkowitz (by then Ken Harcourt) settled in Melbourne after fleecing the bookies with Sam in Perth and married Geoff’s mother, Marjorie Rahel Gans, the daughter of German Jewish immigrant Daniel Gans, a notorious High Court litigant and Edith Lillian Isaacs, a Lithuanian Jewish family related to the first Australian born Governor General Sir Isaac Isaacs. This began the line of Harcourts starting with Ken and Sam, and ending so far with my daughter Yunshi Harcourt and son Jhen. Yunshi invented ‘the Harcourt list’, which puts Ken at 1, Sam at 2, Geoff at 7 (just pipped by 15 minutes by his elder twin brother John at 6), Yunshi herself at 18 and Jhen at 19. It’s a hard list to get on. In fact, you’ve got more chance of getting into the Bondi Icebergs.
Second, Geoff was a late bloomer. Despite his later academic success, Geoff did his matric (Year 12) three times and got into Melbourne University on his third go. This was a tough time, as his twin brother was (and is) exceptionally bright and was Dux (highest academic achiever) of the school. Of course, at Melbourne University where Geoff studied Commerce and lived at Queens College, that all changed and he thrived intellectually. He credits his Queens tutor, Joe Isaac, Economics Professor and later Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, as one of the reasons for his success at Melbourne. Joe was a great mentor and a very kind friend.
Third, Geoff was not just about being a scholar he was also very active in politics and policy. As the testimonial from Peter Duncan, South Australia’s Attorney General (at the age of 28, the youngest ever in Australian history!) highlights, Geoff was a political activist chairing the Campaign for Peace in Vietnam (CPV) and other social and political causes in the South Australian branch of the
Australian Labor Party (ALP). Peter showed me a picture of Geoff speaking at a rally in 1968 calling for a fairer electoral distribution in SA after the Dunstan Government failed to win the election despite receiving over 53 per cent of the popular vote (an election when Joan Harcourt herself was a candidate!).
In fact, following in his wife’s footsteps, Geoff himself was asked to be the ALP candidate in the 1969 Federal Election for the seat of Sturt. He knocked it back and trade union official ‘Stormy Normie’ Foster won the seat for Labor in Gough Whitlam’s huge swing against John Gorton that almost brought the ALP to power. In fact, Sturt went back to the Liberal fold in 1972, in the It’s Time election, the only seat to change hands against the Whitlam tide!
In the Whitlam Government, when Dr Jim Cairns was Treasurer, he asked Geoff (who was sitting in the back of a Commonwealth car between Jim and Junie Morosi) if he wanted to be Governor of the Reserve Bank or Secretary of the Treasury. Geoff says he may have said “You know me Jim, I am a real man not a money man,” but admitted later that sitting next to Junie Morosi wasn’t the ideal environment for rational decision making.
After the Dismissal in 1975, Geoff was on the Committee of Inquiry into the ALP with John Button and Neal Blewett and others. This did the spade work for Labor’s return to power under Bob Hawke. Of course in 1982, just as Labor was about to win, Geoff left the country to live in Mrs Thatcher’s Britain! He always joked that he was always in the UK when Australian Labor Party was in power and in Australia when the UK Labour Party was in power!
In the period, Geoff was also a witness for the United Trade and Labour Council (UTLC) in the State Wage Case. As a High school boy I used to attend the hearings and this set me on my path to work for the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in National Wage Cases. According to Jim Douglas, Geoff often gave seminars especially for trade union workshops that were well attended and taught with enthusiasm!
Fourth, Geoff, though he was not a professional, sport was very important to him. Geoff loved playing Aussie Rules football for the Adelaide University Football Club and ran the boundary when his playing days were over. Ironically, before marrying Geoff, Joan has dated Alan Hopgood who wrote a play “And the Big Men Fly” which is probably the most famous play written about Australian Rules Football along with ‘The Club” by David Williamson.
Equally Geoff loved playing cricket for the Adelaide University Cricket Club and of course in Cambridge on proper English turf wickets! I played with him one English Summer when I was 14, and playing in delightful English conditions sure beat 40 plus temperatures in Adelaide on hard wickets with sledging (no wonder Australia won the Ashes a lot then!) He wasn’t a natural sportsman but tried hard and had great standard of fitness playing footy into his 40s and cricket into his 60s. Whilst sport was great fun and camaraderie for Geoff, it had a serious side. He once wrote an article about anti-Semitism at school when he was growing up and that he and his cousin Richard were only considered to be “half Yids” because they played sport and weren’t swots like the other more intellectual Jewish kids. Playing sport was very important to Geoff’s sense of belonging to the country he was born in.
Fifthly, Geoff was once a rock star! Thanks to the creative genius of Fred ‘Chocka’ Bloch Adelaide University Economics and Commerce Christmas Parties were extravaganzas (produced by FAB productions – FAB standing for Frederick Archibald Bloch). One year Suzi Quatro was touring and Fred convinced Geoff to dress up as Suzi in a wetsuit (donated by my brother Rob) and sing “I’m all shook up”. Other years, Fred had Geoff dress up as Frank Sinatra during Sinatra’s disastrous tour of Australia that saw him black banned by the trade unions, and another year he put a custard tart in the face of Australian Rock Music legend Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum (all staged for the cameras of course). I met Molly in the United Arab Emirates some 30 plus years later and he confirmed the story!
Finally, despite not being the most sartorially elegant of dressers, Geoff always shined his shoes to an impeccable standard. It might have been a legacy his father being a leather merchant, and he always bought high quality leather shoes that lasted decades. In fact, one time he wore new shoes when dropping my brother Rob off at Unley High, but accidentally walked in a puddle. This upset him and he stamped up and down yelling “F*** F*** F***” outside the School just as the Headmaster walked past on his way to his office.
I didn’t see Geoff very much from 1982 to 2010, but by chance when he and Joan returned to Australia I was appointed to the University of New South Wales (UNSW) where my younger sister Becky and my wife Jo were already employed and Geoff was a Visiting Fellow (UNSW was said to have a ‘Harcourt Quota’). So I could have coffee or lunch with Geoff almost any day I wasn’t at an airport (these were pre COVID times). This reunion was nicely written up by Peter Martin in “The 2 of Us’” in the magazine of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Peter Martin Economics: The two of us: Geoff and Tim Harcourt and also by Michael Visontay for “One on One” for UNSW Magazine https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/general/one-one
After such nice words, by two fine journalists, in Peter and Michael, no more needs to be said.
Tim Harcourt is Industry Professor and Chief Economist at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Before joining UTS he was Professor of Practice in Economics at UNSW and Chief Economist at Austrade. Tim also worked for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and as an economic advisor to 3 Federal Labor Cabinet Ministers and 2 State Labor Premiers.
A prolific author and globetrotter, Tim has worked and filmed in 60 countries.
Tim hosts the TV series The Airport Economist and After The Pandemic and The Airport Economist podcast on LiSTNR
He is the author of 7 books – including his new book The Airport Economist Flies Again! was published by Cambridge Scholars on 1 June 2021.
Tim is married to Jo Bosben, an artist and University marketing professional from Madison, Wisconsin,USA. Tim and Jo have 2 children, Yunshi born in China and Jhen Huei born in Taiwan, so they are a happy Australian-American-Chinese-Taiwanese free trade agreement!
The family live in Sydney with a dog, Bruno Barkowitz Bosben, and two cats, Foo Foo and Luna. Tim and Jhen like cricket, football and surfing. Jo and Yunshi like art, films and restaurants.
As I’ve shared and written about on many occasions, we have been afforded so many opportunities thanks to the generosity, love and support of both our parents throughout our lives. In this article, we celebrate Dads fortitude & resilience despite living with Type 1 Diabetes & many complex health conditions.
Growing up I had opportunity to live and go to schools in Adelaide, Australia, Toronto Canada and Cambridge UK as well as visit many places across Australia, Europe, US & Japan. As an adult I have also lived, studied and/ or worked in Devon, Leicester and London in the UK; Arhus Denmark; Joensuu Finland; and on the lands of many First Nations including Pormpuraaw, Lyperte Apurrte, Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara, Ngemba, Biripi, Yuin as well as Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharug (Sydney), Naarm ( Melbourne) and Ngunnawal (Canberra).
Dad’s generosity of spirit and warmth for so many people and his passion for creating a just and equitable society for all resonates in his everyday interactions alongside his legacy of books, publications, teaching, political engagement, extensive friendships, love of family, running, footy & cricket and so much more. He taught us to listen and value everyone’s worth and opinion even when opposite views to our own as he shares everyone can teach us something. Dad also never pressured any of us in our careers or personal life and supported each of us – his desire for us has always to be happy and fulfilled. Since returning to Australia a decade ago Dad has been an Emeritus Professor at UNSW where I also work and the opportunity to have Dads counsel here on campus has been invaluable as well as the support both Mum & Dad have given by engaging in a whole suite of conferences, seminars, book, film launches and other events, I and others have hosted here at UNSW and further afield. Both Mum and Dad have also extended support and built friendships with many Indigenous students, academics, community members and families amongst others I know and work with and this has also had incredible positive impact on many. Throughout my life both Mum and Dad have been loved and continue to be loved by all my friends from all walks of life and so many others people across the globe, we have witnessed this all our lives. Dad & Mums ability to welcome people in with genuine interest, kindness and consideration is something I aspire to everyday and like so many I am so grateful for their friendship as well as their loving guidance through both the difficult and the good times. Like all families we have our moments however without a doubt we all know we are loved and give love in return. Happy 90th Birthday Dad!
Rebecca Harcourt BA(Hons) Theatre, IDM Certificate in Direct Marketing, CBA, BTEC PA Assessor, PGCE Drama, DipEd, SSE Fellow
Since returning to Australia in 2003 Rebecca has been engaged by invitation with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across a range of programs and projects in urban, regional and remote settings. Since October 2009, she has also been championing Indigenous Business Education at UNSW Business School working closely with Nura Gili UNSW and many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners in education, industry, government, media and community organisations. In a pro bono capacity Rebecca was one of the inaugural Board Directors with First Hand Solutions 2013 –2015 and Red Cockatoo Australia 2010 – 2014 and is currently on the Board with Deadly Science. Rebecca’s career spans theatre, education, entrepreneurship community development, government and industry. She has received awards and bursaries, both here and overseas in recognition of her Community Engagement; Teaching; Strategic and Sector planning; Management; Entrepreneurship and Research into inter-cultural theatre. She also lives with Type 1 Diabetes is an Ambassador with Diabetes NSW/ACT.