Gordon de Brouwer

Gordon John de Brouwer PSM was a senior Australian public servant. He was most recently Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy from 2016 to 2017. He was responsible for dismantling Australia's carbon pricing system and substituting it with Direct Action, a widely criticized system of paying companies to reduce carbon emissions.[1]

Gordon de Brouwer

Secretary of the Department of the Environment
In office
September 2013  19 July 2016
Preceded byPaul Grimes (as Secretary of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities)
Succeeded byHimself
Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy
In office
19 July 2016  17 September 2017
Preceded byHimself
Succeeded byFinn Pratt
Personal details
Gordon John de Brouwer
Nationality Australian
Alma materAustralian National University
University of Melbourne
OccupationPublic servant



de Brouwer was Professor of Economics in the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University, from January 2000 to March 2004. This included a period as Executive Director of the Australia-Japan Research Centre and Director of the School's Research Committee. De Brouwer was also a member of the University's research program on Japan’s Economy and Government and on Korea’s Economy and Government. De Brouwer remains an adjunct professor with the ANU.[2]

De Brouwer specializes in heterodox economics.[3] He expressed his view on the relationship between money supply increases and inflation in 2003 as follows:

...Milton Friedman’s insight [is] that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. That is right. But it is right because it is a tautology. If prices are expressed in monetary terms (which is what currencies are expressed in), then money prices must be monetary phenomena.[4]

His opinions were criticized by, for example, his colleague Ross McLeod.[5]

Public service

De Brouwer was appointed Secretary of the Department of the Environment in September 2013 and was responsible for environment policies, heritage, water and domestic climate change. Known climate change denier, Maurice Newman, backed de Brouwer's appointment.[6]

De Brouwer was previously the Associate Secretary in the Domestic Policy Group at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet under the Rudd Government. In this position, de Brouwer provided departmental and cross-government policy advice to the Prime Minister on domestic policy and G20 matters and was also the senior official representing Australia’s interests in the G20. Dr de Brouwer played a key role in the development of Australia's $42 billion economic stimulus package.[7] Former secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Terry Moran, stated in his witness statement to the Home Insulation Royal Commission that de Brouwer was given primary responsibility for devising environmental initiatives and presenting them to Cabinet, including the Energy Efficient Homes Package that included the Home Insulation Program that resulted in the deaths of four insulation installers.[8][9] de Brouwer also led the Australian delegation to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference.[10] de Brouwer was appointed as Australia's G20 sherpa by Kevin Rudd. It was reported in WikiLeaks cables that De Brouwer lamented to his contacts in the US Embassy that "PM&C foreign policy staff have been run ragged answering the PM's (Rudd's) queries and supporting his interaction with foreign officials.[11]

Awards and honours

de Brouwer studied in Japan in 1987-89 and 1994 with support from the Monbusho and Japan Foundation scholarships.[12]

de Brouwer was awarded a Public Service Medal in 2011 for outstanding public service in the development of international economic policy, particularly in the formulation of the Australian Government's agenda to establish the G20 as the pre-eminent global economic forum.[13]

In 2015, de Brouwer was awarded the Legion of Honour by the French Government.[14]


  1. Farr, Malcolm (31 October 2013). "Meet Australia's most powerful public servants". News.
  2. https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/de-brouwer-gj
  3. https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/de-brouwer-gj
  4. "'Towards improved monetary policy in Indonesia': a comment". Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies. 39: 325–328. doi:10.1080/0007491032000142773.
  5. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
  6. Grattan, Michelle (18 September 2013). "Public servants victims of long Coalition memories". The Conversation.
  7. Grattan, Michelle (1 November 2008). "Capitals idea, as Rudd's shirtsleeve stormtroopers talk tall". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media.
  8. http://www.homeinsulationroyalcommission.gov.au/Documentation/Documents/Statementsnotreferredtoinhearings/STA.001.071.0001.pdf
  9. Hanger, Ian (2014), Report of the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program (PDF), Australian Government, ISBN 978-1-925118-33-9
  10. Bolt, Andrew (10 December 2009). "Napoleon Rudd advances on Copenhagen". News Corp.
  11. http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/us-condemns-rudd-20101207-18obr.html
  12. Speakers Presentations: Dr Gordon de Brouwer, Institute of Public Administration Australia (ACT Division), 2013, archived from the original on 12 April 2015
  13. Search Australian Honours, Name: de BROUWER, Gordon John, Award: Public Service Medal, Australian Government, archived from the original on 26 July 2015
  14. Ambassade de France en Australie added 2 new photos, During a ceremony at the Reisdence of France this evening, H. E. Ambassador Christophe Lecourtier conferred the rank of Knight in the Legion of Honour on Mr. Gordon de Brouwer, Secretary of the Department of the Environment. The ceremony took place in front of Mr. De Brouwer's family, colleagues, members of parliament including the Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt and representatives of the diplomatic community.
Government offices
Preceded by
Paul Grimes
as Secretary of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Secretary of the Department of the Environment
2013 – 2016
Succeeded by
as Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy
Preceded by
as Secretary of the Department of the Environment
Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy
Succeeded by
Finn Pratt
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