Mick Shann

Sir Keith Charles Owen "Mick" Shann, CBE (22 November 1917 – 4 August 1988) was a senior Australian public servant and diplomat.

Sir Keith "Mick" Shann

Shann (left) signs the United Nations General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade agreement in July 1951, in the presence of Mr A.H. Feller.
Chairman of the Public Service Board
In office
28 March 1977  1978
Personal details
Keith Charles Owen Shann

(1917-11-22)22 November 1917
Kew, Melbourne, Victoria
Died4 August 1988(1988-08-04) (aged 70)
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales
Spouse(s)Betty Evans
(m. 1944–1988; his death)
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
OccupationPublic servant and diplomat

Life and career

Mick Shann was born in the Melbourne suburb of Kew on 22 November 1917.[1] His father was Frank Shann, a respected teacher and headmaster.[2] He studied Arts at the University of Melbourne, where he was in residence at Trinity College from 1936 to 1936, winning the Alcock Scholarship.[3]

Shann's first Commonwealth Public Service positions were at the Bureau of Census and Statistics in 1939 and the Department of Labour and National Service from 1940 to 1946.[1] In 1946, he moved to the Department of External Affairs in Canberra to take up an appointment as second secretary of the United Nations Division in the department.[4]

In 1955, Shann was appointed Minister to the Philippines.[5]

From 1962 to 1966 Shann was Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, during the time of the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation.[6][7] Shann perceived "clouds of mistrust" preventing close ties between the neighbouring countries at the time,[8] suggesting that Indonesians were "puzzled at Australia being a European outcrop on the edge of Asia", but that Australia had no reason to fear Indonesia.[9]

In 1970, Shann was appointed a Deputy Secretary in the Department of External Affairs,[10] shortly before it was renamed the Department of Foreign Affairs.[1] In this role until 1973, he worked alongside Departmental secretary Keith Waller to raise the department's reputation and morale.[1] During his time in the Deputy Secretary role, he insisted that the department's staff should go back on regular Public Service classifications and salary levels and the formal separation between diplomatic and administrative foreign affairs staff should be abolished.[11]

Shann was appointed Australian Ambassador to Japan in 1973.[12] From Japan, he was appointed chairman of the Public Service Board, commencing in the role from 28 March 1977.[13] After 17 months as board chairman, Shann resigned from the Public Service at age 60, citing personal and family reasons.[14]

Shann died on 4 August 1988,[1] at 70 years of age.[15]

Awards and honours

Shann was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in January 1964 while he was Ambassador in Jakarta.[16] He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in June 1980.[17]

In 2012, a street in the Canberra suburb of Casey was named Mick Shann Terrace in Shann's honour.[18]


  1. Edwards, Peter, "Shann, Sir Keith Charles Owen ('Mick') (1917–1988)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian National University, archived from the original on 14 May 2013
  2. Menzies, Robert (2011). Henderson, Heather (ed.). Letters to My Daughter. Pier 9.
  3. Fleur-de-Lys, Nov. 1936, pp. 7, 11.
  4. Wallis, Barbara (24 July 1957). "Report on Hungary: Ambassador wrote to world – and his wife". The Australian Women's Weekly. p. 29.
  5. "New Minister to Philippines". The Canberra Times. 1 June 1955. p. 2.
  6. "Shann on his way home". The Canberra Times. 4 April 1966. p. 3.
  7. "Indonesia warned". The Canberra Times. 10 November 1964. p. 1.
  8. "Appeal for ties with Indonesia". The Canberra Times. 27 January 1966. p. 4.
  9. "Australia 'puzzles Indonesia'". The Canberra Times. 23 March 1967. p. 7.
  10. Juddery, Bruce (29 April 1970). "External Affairs deputy chosen". The Canberra Times. p. 1.
  11. Juddery, Bruce (15 April 1977). "New Chairman of the Public Service Board: Mr 'Mick' Shann settles into a very different job". The Canberra Times. p. 2.
  12. "Diplomatic reshuffle announced". The Canberra Times. 27 September 1973. p. 1.
  13. "Mr Shann". The Canberra Times. 3 February 1977. p. 7.
  14. Juddery, Bruce (31 August 1978). "Personal reasons, Shann says: PSB chairman resigns at 60". The Canberra Times. p. 1.
  15. Hastings, Peter (8 August 1988), "Farewell to Mick Shann, diplomat", The Sydney Morning Herald, p. 14
  16. "Search Australian Honours: SHANN, Keith Charles Owen", itsanhonour.gov.au, Australian Government, archived from the original on 23 April 2014
  17. "Search Australian Honours: SHANN, Keith Charles Owen", itsanhonour.gov.au, Australian Government, archived from the original on 23 April 2014
  18. Mick Shann Terrace, ACT Government Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate, archived from the original on 27 February 2014
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Hood
as Permanent Representative
Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations (Acting)
Succeeded by
Bill Forsyth
as Permanent Representative
Preceded by
George Dunbar Moore
Australian Minister to the Philippines
Succeeded by
Alfred Stirling
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines
Preceded by
Patrick Shaw
Australian Ambassador to Indonesia
Succeeded by
Max Loveday
Preceded by
Gordon Freeth
Australian Ambassador to Japan
Succeeded by
John Menadue
Government offices
Preceded by
Alan Cooley
Chairman of the Public Service Board
Succeeded by
William Cole
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