Class of 1959

The life of a political journalist is not an easy one. Politics is a world dominated by two big players on opposing sides of most arguments so the art of writing about this every day without upsetting either side is difficult to get right. One Old Aquinian who has done this with phenomenal skill is Peter Kennedy.

Peter and his older brother Tom followed their father’s tradition of Christian Brothers’ education and joined Aquinas College in 1957. Peter found he took to the academic and sporting life of the school in equal measure. His father was a public servant and part-time cricket and football writer for the Sunday Times while his mother had worked at “The Terrace” as a secretary before she married his father.

Peter finished his year at Aquinas a prefect and an outstanding athlete: winning the Gianotti Cup as Under 15s athletics champion having played in the 1st XI and winning the Scahill Cup for the Most Improved Batsman. He received Honours for his roles in both Football and Cricket and was also made an officer in the Cadets by Br Egan. He studied hard and played hard. Looking back he smiles as he remembers Br Madden’s “Reign of Terror”. But admits it did him good. He studied Economics under Br Manion’s stewardship in his first year at the college and loved it.

On leaving, Peter worked at the library at The West Australian for a bit before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) and a Diploma of Education from UWA and becoming a teacher. When Lang Hancock and Peter Wright started a new paper “The Independent” it created an upward draft for those wishing to get into journalism as many left The West Australian and Peter found this the right moment to enter the profession.

But he became a full-time political reporter for the first time on the Sydney Morning Herald in 1978 with the title State Political Correspondent. He covered the 1978 NSW state election and later was appointed to the Herald’s Press Gallery office in Canberra. He returned to Perth in 1995 to be press secretary to Deputy Premier Malcolm Bryce.

Changing course to radio, Peter joined the ABC in 1990 working for Perth’s ABC 720 and went on to present both the Drive and The Morning Programmes. Although retired, Peter finds time to write for WA’s Business News and is Adjunct Professor for Arts and Sciences at Notre Dame, and the phone continues to ring for his wisdom on all things political. He feels blessed to be surrounded by his son and daughter and a combined six grandchildren along with his second wife Chris.

The launch of his book: “Tales from Boom Town: Western Australian Premiers from Brand to Barnett” was a “Who’s Who” of West Australian politics from both sides including speeches from former premiers Richard Court and Geoff Gallop. It is beyond dispute that elder statesmen of Western Australia all take Peter’s call, whenever it may come.

Looking back Peter says of his time at Aquinas: “I was fortunate to be taught by men who were committed and gave me a good sense of the value of learning”.