Though he’s largely forgotten now, my namesake Sir Nigel Bowen AC, KBE (1911- 1994) was a significant figure in Australian law and politics in the latter half of the 20th century. Interestingly enough, he shared chambers with Gough Whitlam and John Kerr early on his career before going on to become the Liberal member for Parramatta after the incumbent, Sir Garfield Barwick, resigned to become Chief Justice of the High Court. He went on to serve as Attorney General, Minister for Education and Science and Foreign Minister. Shortly after losing a ballot for the leadership of the Liberal Party by one vote to Billy Snedden, he returned to the law, seeing out his career as the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia (a court he’d played a seminal role in establishing).
Anyway, in my younger years people often used to exclaim, ‘That’s a famous name!’ after I’d introduced myself. That hasn’t happened for a long time but when the Prime Minister decided to reintroduce knighthoods and dameships it got me thinking about who exactly should get a title. I ended up writing an article for Fairfax’s small business section about it, arguing that room should be made for notable wealth creators on the honours list.