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The annual Blake Dawson Prize for Business Literature was established to encourage the highest standards of business and finance writing. The Prize has the additional objective of ensuring that people are better informed about Australia’s commercial life and its participants.  The range of subjects covered by the Prize includes Australian corporate and commercial literature, histories, accounts and analyses of corporate affairs as well as biographies of business men and women.

The Prize is administered by the State Library of New South Wales on behalf of Blake Dawson. The winner will receive prize money of $30,000.

2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

2009 Blake Dawson Prize for Business Literature Winner and Shortlisted

2009 Winner

The Big Fella: The Rise and Rise of BHP Billiton

The Big Fella – Peter Thompson and Robert Macklin (Random House, 2009). The Big Fella – The rise and rise of BHP Billiton is the compelling story of how BHP and its partner Billiton rose from the humblest beginnings in the Australian outback and on the Indonesian island of Belitung to starry heights on the great bourses of the world. Based on more than 60 exclusive interviews, it rips away the superficial gloss to expose the political and industrial forces that really drive big business in the 21st Century. More

Other Shortlisted

Gordon Barton: Australia's Maverick Entrepreneur

Gordon Barton – Sam Everingham (Allen & Unwin, 2009). Gordon Barton – Australia’s maverick entrepreneur charts the rise and fall of a dynamic and unconventional entrepreneur. Gordon Barton is one of the most extraordinary business people Australia has produced. A prominent and provocative commentator with an entirely new vision for Australia, he founded the political party that eventually became the Australian Democrats, owned two radical newspapers including Nation Review, and built a vast commercial empire with interests in transport, mining, insurance, hotels, casinos, book publishing and retailing. Combining deep research with rich personal insight, Sam Everingham brings to life one of Australia’s most dynamic and unconventional characters.  More

Firepower: The Most Spectacular Fraud in Australian HistoryFirepower  Gerard Ryle (Allen&Unwin, 2009). Firepower – the most spectacular fraud in Australian history is the scandalous tale of one of the greatest business scams in Australian business history. Tim Johnston’s company Firepower promised a miracle in a magic pill that could cut fuel consumption and reduce emissions. Prime Ministers and presidents, doctors and business leaders all believed him. But it was all a sham.   In this compelling account, Gerard Ryle demolishes the fairytale, exposing a wobbly financial pyramid and the greatest fraud ever committed in Australia. More
Wired Brown Land?: The Battle for BroadbandWired Brown Land?  Paul Fletcher (UNSW Press, 2009). In this compelling account of the battle for broadband, former Optus executive Paul Fletcher tells the story of Telstra’s relentless campaign to increase its dominance, how Australia has failed to get the broadband we deserve and what needs to be done. Fletcher has written an incisive and timely account of one of the most protracted and high-stake stoushes in Australian business and government history.   Paul Fletcher is a telecoms industry insider – uniquely placed to write a definitive account of the intense battle for the future of Australia’s broadband. More

2008 Blake Dawson Prize for Business Literature Winner and Nominees

Rupert's Adventures in China: How Murdoch Lost a Fortune and Found a Wife| The Content Makers: Understanding the Media in Australia | Funny Business: The Rise and Fall of Steve Vizard


Steve Vizard had it all: wealth, fame and power, in equal and impressive proportions ...Once a popular, fast-quipping TV comedian and Gold Logie winner, a lawyer and much-loved family man who had even been crowned Father of the Year', Vizard had become a trusted community hero. On the boards of countless companies, including Telstra, Vizard seemed to be involved in every aspect of public and corporate life. And through the charitable Vizard Foundation, he was seen to foster art and other good causes.Then some curious cheque transactions and the discovery of six mysterious paintings in Vizard's personal records triggered investigations into Vizard's former bookkeeper, Roy Hilliard, who, it turned out, had swindled close to $3 million from Vizard over several years. But Hilliard knew lots of secrets about his old boss, and when faced with criminal charges he hit back hard, accusing the businessman of illegal share deals and more. He portrayed Vizard as a master of deception whose public image was a charade; Hilliard depicted himself as merely the businessman's dupe. Vizard, however, saw it very differently.In this compelling story of Vizard's fall from grace, Leonie Wood seeks to uncover the man behind the public persona, and to answer the question on the lips of many: why did he do it? Was it greed, audacity or sheer stupidity? And what do we really know about Steve Vizard?


In the mid-1990s, amid rumours that he had an agenda to bring down totalitarian regimes, Rupert Murdoch was blackballed by the Chinese authorities and a 'Murdoch File' was opened by a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party. Despite this opposition and the fact that from then on every step he made was monitored, more

2007 Winner and Nominees

Kickback: Inside the Australian Wheat Board Scandal | National Market, National Interest: The Drive to Unify Australia's Securities Markets | Indecent Disclosure: Gilding the Corporate Lily | Wild Ride: The Rise and Fall of Cobb and Co.


Who planned it? How was it allowed to happen? Who is to blame? And what is the real cost of one of the world's buy_buttonbiggest swindles? On the eve of the war in Iraq, Australia's wheat exporter, AWB Ltd - a company once owned and controlled by the Federal government - sent more than $290 million to the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. It bolstered the tyrant's grip on power and weakened the United Nations sanctions designed to bring him to his knees. The money flowed right up until the day Australian troops were sent to Iraq to fight a bloody war on the streets of Baghdad. The Howard government was repeatedly warned that AWB was up to its neck in corruption but took no action. And when the scandal was finally uncovered, Prime Minister John Howard, Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer and Trade Minister Mark Vaile denied all knowledge of the scam. A shadow was cast over Australia's reputation in international trade and a billion dollars' worth of business was lost.Caroline Overington's expos of what really happened is nothing short of engrossing. Thriller-like in style, forensic in research, this is an unflinching account of the AWB scandal and its political aftermath.This is a tale of monumental proportion. Read Kickbackand be appalled.


This is a story that has never been fully told - how a tight band of dedicated men worked tirelessly to persuade the majority to turn their backs on familiar, comfortable centuries-old privileges and traditions and embrace a new regime that would better serve Australia's national interest.Shaping a national stock exchange, more

Indecent Disclosure captures the anguish the commercial public experiences when the misleading financial disclosures of some public corporations lead to an unexpected collapse. Here, the authors pursue four main themes as underpinning the crisis in companies' financial disclosures. First, companies' compliance with the accounting standards does not produce financial statements that disclose their wealth and financial progress; second, more

2006 Winner and Nominee

Asbestos House: The Secret History of James Hardie Industries | Packer's Lunch


Founded in 1888, James Hardie Industries is one of Australia's oldest, richest and proudest corporations. And its fortunes were based on what proved to be one of the worst industrial poisons of the twentieth century: asbestos. Asbestos House , the name of the grand headquarters that Hardie built itself in 1929, tells two remarkable tales. It relates the frantic financial engineering in 2001 during which Hardie cut adrift its liabilities to sufferers of asbestos-related disease, the public and political odium that followed, and the extraordinary deal that resulted. It is also the story of how the company, forgot how, even as fibro built a nation, the asbestos fibre from which it was made condemned thousands to death. Reconstructed from hundreds of hours of interviews and thousands of pages of documentation, Asbestos House is a saga of high finance, industrial history, legal intrigue, medical breakthrough and human frailty.


This title covers dedicated mailing and e-mail campaign to targeted current affairs and social studies media. The dark channel of money and power that flow beneath the relaxed surface of Australian culture are perilous places.Behind the gossip columns and headlines, the famous names and celebrity makeovers, life hangs precariously by a thread - one wrong move spells disaster. For this is the world of networkers and social climbers, the games they play, the places they go and the circles they swim in determine who is in and who is out, who's rich and who's going belly-up.For years Graham Richardson, Trevor Kennedy and Rene Rivkin, high profile politicians and business men, deftly navigated these murky waters with the secret help of offshore advisors. The eventual exposure of their hidden Swiss bank accounts uncovered a world of hidden secrets that rocked the nation.This best-selling and award-winning volume, now in paperback, takes readers through all the twists and turns that led to the discovery of one of Australia's greatest political and financial scandals.

2005 Winner and Nominees

Public Private Partnerships: The Worldwide Revolution in Infrastructure Provision and Project Finance | Rivkin Unauthorised: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of an Unorthodox Money Man | Organisations Behaving Badly: A Greek Tragedy of Corporate Pathology | Australia's First Bank: Fifty Years from The Wales to Westpac


This path-breaking book considers the recent trend for governments to look increasingly to private sector finance, provided by private enterprises constructing and managing public infrastructure facilities in partnership with government bodies. One outstanding feature of the book is that it brings together an academic assessment of this phenomenon with practitioner-based experience of organizing partnerships and advising government bodies in Australia, Canada, Continental Europe, Hong Kong and the UK. While the volume, as a whole, draws on this extensive experience of the market, there are also a number of specific case studies. Developments in the major advanced countries are covered, along with the potential for public private partnerships in developing countries and transition economies. Combining practitioner knowledge and academic perspective and integrating engineering, economics and finance literature, Public Private Partnerships will be of great interest to economists, engineers, investment banks and government bodies.


2004 Winner and Nominees

Allan Fels: the inside Story | Other People's Money: The Complete Story of the Extraordinary Collapse of HIH | Australia's Money Mandarins: The Reserve B=bank and the Politics of Money | Better Than Sex


There's one certainty about Allan Fels-- People either love him or loathe him.
For much of big business, he was an ogre who made their lives a misery. For consumers, however, he was a modern-day Robin Hood, fighting their battles with business and politicians.

As Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Fels should have spent a quiet career behind a desk in Canberra. But, armed with his regulatory powers and a canny exploitation of the media, Allan Fels made an indelible mark on Australia. The Australian Financial Review voted him the third most powerful person in Australia, behind Prime Minister, John Howard, and Treasurer, Peter Costello.

Yet behind the headline-hunting Fels lies a story of power in contemporary Australia: how the nation developed a competitive culture: how big business lobbied to corral him: and how politicians became envious of his media prowess.
While Allan Fels projected an image of part tough regulator, part a somewhat eccentric academic, in reality he is quietly religious with a self-deprecating sense of humour.
Leading journalist Fred Brenchley deftly weaves the compelling inside story of the forces that cut short Allan Fels' career as Australia's competition czar.


Sets out the sorry story of HIH's failure, the Royal Commission which followed, and the spending sprees HIH's directors embarked on. This book takes in the developments since Adler's guilty plea, and the consequent sentencing of Adler and Williams.

For most of its life the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has lead a fairly conservative existence. However, since the early 1980s the economy has experienced financial and market deregulation and general economic liberalisation. The RBA has been caught up with the turbulent policy debates that have ensued. Australia's Money Mandarins tells the story of the RBA over the past two decades. It discusses how the Bank operated in the new political environment created by deregulation and the fight against inflation. It describes the conflicts with the government and the Department of Treasury, and how the bank dealt with the rough and tumble of politics and managed to assert a level of independence in the 1990s. Including frank interviews with key figures like Bob Johnson, Bernie Fraser, Ian Macfarlane and Paul Keating this book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the politics of money.

  • Helen Trinca and Catherine Fox, Better Than Sex (Random House Australia, 2004)




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