Aldred was born in East Melbourne, Victoria, on 1 August 1945. He was educated at Melbourne High School and Monash University, and held the degrees of Bachelor of Economics and Master of Administration from Monash University.
During 1970–71 he was Special Projects Officer in the Commonwealth Public Service Board in Melbourne. This was followed by two years in the period 1971–73, as Management Training Officer at the Administrative College of Papua New Guinea. Though principally based in Port Moresby, Aldred also had responsibility for running management courses in several of PNG’s major regional centres.
In June 1973 Aldred returned to the Commonwealth Public Service Board in Melbourne as Industrial Information Officer. Later that year he was appointed Senior Industry Survey Officer in the Commonwealth Industries Assistance Commission, also in Melbourne. He remained there until elected to Federal Parliament in December 1975 as the Member for Henty.
From 1965 to 1971, Aldred served in the Australian Army Reserve. His first four years were in the Melbourne University Regiment (MUR) and the last two years as a lieutenant and platoon commander in the newly formed Monash University Regiment (Mon UR). He was also Assistant Adjutant of Mon UR, and founded and edited the joint regimental publication, The Military Review.
Aldred had a three-month attachment to the Australian Regular Army over the summer of 1968–69, as a sergeant instructor in 1 Recruit Training Battalion (1RTB) at Kapooka in New South Wales.
Upon election as federal member for Henty in the Australian House of Representatives in the Liberal landslide of 13 December 1975, Aldred assumed a very active role in Coalition and Parliamentary Committees. He chaired the Government Members' Small Business Committee, working closely with the Industry Minister, the late Sir Phillip Lynch, on small business policy formulation.
As Chairman of the Government Members' Worker Participation Committee, Aldred produced the first definitive set of proposals for a Coalition worker participation policy, to then prime minister, Malcolm Fraser. Many of the proposals were incorporated in a worker participation policy later announced by the productivity minister, Ian McPhee.
Aldred was an active member of the newly established Expenditure Committee of the House of Representatives and as Chairman of the Government Members' Trade Sub-Committee, worked closely with the Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister, Doug Anthony.
Defeated in October 1980, by the later House Speaker, Joan Child, Ken Aldred returned to the training profession. In early 1981 he took up the position of Manpower Development Executive with the Victorian Dairy Processing Industry Training Committee (VDPITC), operating under the auspices of the Australian Dairy Cooperation (ADC).
In this capacity he spent over two years setting up training courses and training manuals for Victoria's dairy industry factories. He spent a considerable amount of time visiting factories in the state's three dairying regions, namely Gippsland, the Western District and the Northern Region. Ken Aldred left VDPITC on re-election to the federal parliament in May 1983. He re-entered the House of Representatives through the by-election in Bruce, which followed the resignation of House Speaker, the Sir Billy Snedden, after the Coalition defeat in the 1983 federal election.
During his time as the MHR for Bruce, Aldred took a prominent role on defence and economic issues, as chair of the Opposition Defence Committee and the Opposition Treasury Committee.
In 1985, he was elected by the Liberal Party to represent Australia at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, as the Opposition Parliamentary Adviser to the Australian Mission. At the UN, he became involved in committee work on the international drug trade and on Antarctica.
Shortly afterwards in 1986–87 he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the then Leader of the Opposition, John Howard. Following an electoral re-distribution he was elected to represent Deakin in the 1990 federal election and remained there until the 1996 election, when he lost pre-selection to his successor, Phil Barresi.
Throughout his six years as member for Deakin, Aldred was a most active Liberal member on the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts, spearheading the inquiries into business migration and the Australian Taxation Office. The Charter of Taxpayers' Rights and other reforms to Tax Office administration were largely attributed to him.
As a result of these inquiries, abuses of the Business Migration Programme were eliminated and significant reforms were made to Tax Office administration, including the introduction of the Charter of Taxpayer's Rights.
At this time he was also Chairman of the Opposition Immigration and Ethnic Affairs Committee. During the 1980s, Aldred successfully advocated for the immigration to Australia of a large group of Jewish refusniks from Russia, when they had been refused admission by the federal Labor government. Several went on to professional success in Australia, including one who established a network of dental clinics and others who distinguished themselves in medicine and science.
Aldred alleged in June 1995 that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had 20 paedophiles in its senior ranks. He said that the case of John Holloway, former ambassador to the Philippines and Cambodia, was the most serious example of "officially tolerated paedophilia".
An Australian Federal Police investigation led to Holloway being charged. Holloway denied the charge and was acquitted in 1996.
Later, a detailed internal investigation in 1996 and 1997 by a senior Commonwealth public servant, Pam O’Neil, led to several officers being retired, transferred or demoted.
In 1995, Aldred controversially alleged concerns about espionage and drug trafficking. Documents he used to support some of his claims were said by the federal Labor government to be false "in content". Nevertheless, no forensic evidence was ever presented by the government to show the documents were forged. Moreover, a recognized forensic expert retained by Aldred could find no scientific evidence that the documents were forged.
Aldred pointed this out by way of personal explanation in the House of Representatives on 25 September 1995. He stated that Neil Holland of Scientific Document Services in Melbourne, agreed with the original Australian Federal Police assessment, that there was no indication that the documents had been tampered with or were forgeries. Nor were the documents provided by the Lyndon La Rouche front organization, the Citizens' Electoral Council, as asserted by Aldred's critics. The issue remains open to this day.
Aldred was a regular writer on policy issues for magazines and newspapers. Additionally he was co-editor and contributor to three books.
The first, The Heart of Liberalism, was produced in 1994 with fellow Liberal MPs Kevin Andrews and Paul Filing. It presented a pragmatic and centrist philosophy and set of policies for the Liberal Party.
After leaving federal parliament in 1996, Aldred was President and later Chairman of the Society of Australian Industry and Employment (SAIE) 2001–08, during which he devoted much time and energy to promoting the interests of Australian industry. This included editing and contributing to two books on industry policy, Rekindling the Flame in 2000, and Getting on Track in 2004.
From December 1996 until his death, Aldred was the proprietor of one of Australia’s major equestrian centres, the Victorian Equestrian Centre (VEC) in Upper Beaconsfield. The VEC offers children's riding clubs, school holiday camps, riding lessons, trail rides, specialised training programs and agistment. The VEC also founded the concept of Interschool Equestrian Challenges, with four of them being run each year.
Aldred died unexpectedly on 17 April 2016 and is survived by his four children.