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Ron Manners’ ideas
and adventures
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2020 has proven itself to be, among other things, the year of the award! In June this year I was honoured to have been made an Officer of the Order of Australia for “distinguished services to the minerals and mining sectors, and to youth through philanthropic support for educational initiatives”.

Then only this month I found myself for nominated for the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year. My work has never been about accolades, but I was truly humbled and moved to be nominated and in the company of such accomplished Western Australians as my fellow nominees.

And if all that wasn’t enough, on Friday the 13th of November I was very proud to have delivered the “Atlas Toast to Freedom” address in acceptance of the Sir Antony Fisher Achievement Award granted by the Atlas Network.

During the awards ceremony it was very humbling to hear Linda Whetstone – Sir Antony Fisher’s daughter – speak some very kind words about me:

But now to the hero of the night Ron Manners who we saw in festive mood earlier in our program despite the early hour in his hometown of Perth, Australia! And I might say who ever has seen Ron in anything but festive mood.  Meet him at breakfast in a hotel dining room at 8am and you will find him bouncing around like an 8 year old already having done two hours in the gym.

Ron you are inspiring and amazing and a most deserving honoree for this prize – which was inaugurated last year in the name of Atlas Network’s founder – my father Sir Antony Fisher.  

It’s a shame that I never witnessed my Dad sharing his passions with Ron Manners. Ron is one of those amazing individuals who – while up in years – never seems down. In fact, Ron remains so vivacious and full of good cheer, he tends to INFECT everyone who encounters him. Perhaps it’s wise that we’re honoring the highly infectious Ron Manners from a safe distance during this odd year of quarantines, but surely, we’d all like to catch a bit of what Ron has got!

He has had a tremendous career in business and in mining, and this year has been celebrating the 125th anniversary of Mannwest Group, one of the longest continually operating family firms in Australia.

At Atlas Network, we know him best as the intellectual entrepreneur of Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, which has provided opportunities for 2000 young adults from Western Australia to discover and explore the virtues of free societies and the role of markets.

He has described Mannkal’s task as a “simple” one: “to awaken possibilities in the minds of our next generation of leaders.”

It may sound simple, but it is certainly not easy.

It takes a special combination of talents to become the pied piper of liberty for a country, and that’s certainly an apt description of Ron Manners’ role in Australia. 

It is one that earned recognition from none other than Queen Elizabeth II, who earlier this year included Ron Manners in her Birthday Honours List as an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia for “distinguished service to the minerals and mining sectors, and to youth through philanthropic support for educational initiatives”.

I’m tremendously proud tonight to join the Queen in putting a spotlight on Ron Manners’ incredible life, as Atlas Network presents him with the Antony Fisher Achievement Award – and as we ask him to lead our community tonight with a Toast to Freedom.  

Brad Lips, CEO of Atlas Network also had some very kind words to say:

Ron has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to liberty, which helped thousands of people improve their understanding of the benefits of a free society. While his focus through Mannkal has been educating young people in his beloved home country of Australia, his tireless dedication to creating a prosperous and peaceful world has inspired people of all ages around the globe.

Should you wish to, you can view my “Toast to Freedom” address or read it below:

Ron Manners AO Acceptance and Toast– Friday 13th Nov.

Atlas Network’s Freedom Dinner, New York City

Thank you Linda.

I am incredibly proud to receive the Sit Antony Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award, and also to have this opportunity to firstly share some thoughts with you and secondly to raise a glass to our world-wide Atlas Network and to propose a Toast to Freedom.

Firstly, Sir Antony Fisher.

All of us in the Freedom Movement used to seek our 10 minutes with Antony Fisher at every opportunity.

I have been involved since the 1950s and I always knew what I wanted to do, and Antony made it sound so simple.

He used to tell me that I just needed to remind people that, “our human condition is always made worse by policies that reduce human choice (mostly government policies). The converse, also true, that our human condition is always improved, by increasing our choices (which means more individual responsibility).”

So, that is what we do, here at our Mannkal Foundation in Perth, Australia.

We focus on young people, where we awaken possibilities for the task of spreading the irresistible vision of freedom, via expanded choices, as a clarion call in today’s society which is full of doubts.

If we were to ask Antony Fisher today, what should we be doing right now, he would give us the same advice that Hayek gave him.

“We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage.  If we can regain that belief in the power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.”

Well, as we raise our glasses, could we ever imagine a world without the 500 Atlas Network Think Tanks?

The task is huge, that challenge is ours, so please raise your glasses and drink a toast to our individual roles in promoting Freedom!

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