I knew her as a partner for 17 years including a long spell at Cambridge University (UK), where she completed – in brilliant fashion – three degrees-B. A. (Hons.), M.A and PhD (Doctorate)
Her many books and articles clearly show that we have lost a scholar of immeasurable value, As academics we have lost her penetrating framework for r understanding South-east Asia and, indeed for much else. And she had a readership outside Universities. Her best book was her Doctorate rewritten somewhat , Unification and Economic Development in Vietnam but she won the US Library of Congress prize for her book, Vietnam-Economics, Politics and Society. The pioneering question she asked and tried to answer was – What happens when two contradictory socio-economic system inhabit the same geographical unit – the same boundaries? (Something we saw in North and South Vietnam, North and South Korea, West and East Germany etc.).
Melanie was a quiet, gentle person, but passionate about her friends and her political causes such as Australia-Vietnam Friendship, Aboriginal rights, environmental protection and social change.
She was also prepared to call a spade a spade when necessary –as when , after marking Economics 1 exam papers, she emailed the staff members “Is anyone else as appalled as I am?
On the whole she was treated fairly by Macquarie Uni except when some asked why her articles did not contain the word “economic”. While this was patently untrue, she was at that time heavily burdened with undergraduate lecture courses on The History of Economic Thought and the Economies of Southeast Asia!
Melanie will be sorely missed by myself, Marcus (brother) Betsy (mother), Prue Kerr, Geoff Harcourt, and the many postgraduate students whom she supervised
Dated 8th March, 2013
Formerly Professor of Politics, University of Adelaide,
and Professor of Economics, University of Newcastle