Tuesday, 7 February 2023


Hon. John Landy AC CVO MBE



Hon. John Landy AC CVO MBE

Daniel ANDREWS (Mulgrave – Premier) (12:04): I move:

That this house expresses its sincere sorrow at the death of the Honourable John Landy AC CVO MBE and places on record its acknowledgement of the valuable services rendered by him to the Parliament and the people of Victoria as the Governor of Victoria from 2001 to 2006.

A bronze statue of John Landy casts a shadow over Olympic Park. Below it on a plaque reads the word ‘sportsmanship’ and the story of one of the greatest moments in Australian sporting history, on 11 March 1956. The statue does not immortalise a great win or a broken record; instead, it immortalises an act of kindness, an act of fair play, an act of sportsmanship. John had stopped his own race to help Ron Clarke, who had taken a fall. As runners passed the fallen Clarke, John ran back to check on him. Clarke slowly rose to his feet, with John urging him on. In the seconds that passed, it was thought that John may have missed his chance at a world record, but incredibly he still won the race. The next day an open letter was published in the Sun News-Pictorial. It said:

In a nutshell, you sacrificed your chance of a world record to go to the aid of a fallen rival. And in pulling up, trotting back to Ron Clarke, muttering “Sorry” and deciding to chase the field, you achieved much more than any world record.

John Landy was one of the greatest runners of all time, but it speaks to his life of service to others that he is best remembered for a time where he decided not to run. Landy Field, a track named in his honour just outside of Geelong, is still a place where school groups and young athletes meet and train. His legacy as a runner will always be an ongoing inspiration for Victorian athletes, both young and old.

While John was a man of many pursuits, he approached everything and everyone with that central sense of kindness – a kind nature. After his running career finished, he continued to contribute greatly to the people of Victoria. He was a scientist, a teacher, an agriculture expert and an accomplished author. John was a foundation member of the Land Conservation Council. He was a fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and he was the patron of the Invasive Species Council and many other organisations that spoke to his passion, his belief and his fundamental generosity. His passion for our natural environment started when he was very young, and he would go on to become a lifelong conservationist and naturalist. He even donated his personal collection of butterflies to the national museum, which is still appreciated as one of the finest collections of its kind in the country to this day.

John Landy, as we know, became Governor of Victoria in 2001 – an inspired choice by then Premier Steve Bracks – and naturally he carried his trademark humility and sense of service and sense of purpose in the service of others into that important role. It is said that early into his time as Governor, John was stopped by an aide as he tried to enter the Governor’s dining room one evening. John had overheard Government House staff – the MC for the evening – asking everyone to be seated for the arrival of the official party. John, in a quintessential representation of the sort of person he was, had failed to realise that the guests that were being referred to as the official party were in fact him and Lynne. That sense of humility, that sense of being a generous person, being someone far more concerned with the welfare and prospects and ambitions and hopes of others, rather than his own position, defined his time at Government House and indeed the work of his wife Lynne.

He focused much of his attention on regional Victoria during his time as Governor – a point of pride for him – and he was never happier than when he was in the country, when he was in rural and regional parts of our state. While touring our great regions, John would regularly chat with local farmers, shopkeepers and people in civic leadership. He was at home and comfortable and felt that he was making a really profound contribution to rural and regional parts of our state, and I think it is beyond question that indeed he was. No medals or honours or titles ever changed his outlook, his personality, what made him tick, his inherent decency or his warmth towards others. That was just who John Landy was.

One of John’s last responsibilities as Governor of Victoria was to deliver the Queen’s baton to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the opening of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. It is fitting that he marked his retirement as Governor with a demonstration of his athleticism, even at the sprightly age of 75.

All Victorians owe John a great deal of thanks. He leaves a compassionate legacy, one that will continue to inspire athletes and so many more for generations to come – a legacy, an effort, a contribution that has helped protect Victoria’s forests, our waterways and species. Through all of this he has touched the lives of countless Victorians in many different ways. But to his wife Lynne, his children Matthew and Alison and his grandchildren, he was not that bronze statue, the Olympic medallist or the Governor of Victoria; he was just John – John the gentle husband, John the loving father, John who loved to sit in his garden with a beer in hand. We are all richer for the generous life of John Landy and poorer for his passing. Vale, John Landy.

John PESUTTO (Hawthorn – Leader of the Opposition) (12:11): I am pleased to join with the Premier in support of this condolence motion. The passing of the Honourable John Landy on 24 February last year marked the loss of one of Australia’s most respected, accomplished and universally admired public figures. For Victoria it is a loss that continues to reverberate today, almost a year on – such was John Landy’s contribution to our public life, and such was the warm affection with which he was regarded and the high esteem in which he was held. But with the sadness that comes from his passing so too comes our gratitude for his remarkable legacy and for the opportunity to celebrate and draw inspiration from a life so large and well lived. John Landy was a very proud Victorian. He left a positive impression on all who met him and an indelible mark on our great state, discharging the diverse yet complementary roles he held with distinction and with his trademark tenacity, intellect and humility: athlete – indeed, Olympian – agricultural scientist, photographer and author, naturalist and environmentalist.

His love and passion for nature and his knowledge and insights were unique and unparalleled. Former Government House aides I have spoken to have described to me the rigour and enthusiasm with which he shared this core part of himself during their long conversations while travelling throughout Victoria and sharing meals on long workdays. For those who worked closely with him, these conversations often signalled an awakening of their own deeper understanding and appreciation of natural history and the natural world and the importance of its preservation – what a gift to impart to a group of young people at the early stages of their professional careers. One aide told me that during a return drive from an event in Healesville she recalled catching sight of a pair of small, bulging eyes belonging to a frog which had somehow propelled itself into the car and sat crouched, slimy, hind limbs outstretched, presumably in readiness to leap forwards from the rear window. The aide told of shrieking in horror, almost causing an accident, while the then Governor gingerly scooped the tiny creature into his hands and examined it studiously, detailing all the fun facts about its species before gently releasing it back into nature at the first opportunity. It is no surprise, then, to learn that John Landy was also a keen lepidopterist, collecting and meticulously preserving 10,000 Australian butterflies over 75 years, generously donating this vast collection, housed in 140 personally constructed wooden boxes, to the Australian Museum in 2018 – yet another gift imparted to others.

As Victoria’s 26th Governor between 2001 and 2006 John Landy, with the great support of his wife Lynne, fulfilled the role and its many responsibilities with unwavering dedication and distinction. Who can forget that iconic moment at the opening ceremony of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games? The world’s longest baton relay had travelled more than 180,000 kilometres and visited all 71 nations of the Commonwealth, and it was now at the MCG before a capacity crowd and being televised to millions of viewers around the world, moving from the hands of fellow athletic champions Cathy Freeman to Ron Clarke to Marjorie Jackson-Nelson before culminating with the then 75-year-old John Landy as the final runner, with razor sharp focus, elegant, sprinting up some 40 steep steps, where he delivered the baton to Queen Elizabeth to a thunderous ovation.

Chiefly, his self-described most central role was that of devoted husband to Lynne, father to Matthew and Alison and grandfather to Isla, Neve and Maya. At his state memorial in December last year son Matthew spoke poignantly about his father, and it is worth recording it here. He said:

Growing up as the child of a famous person can be hard. Growing up the child of John Landy wasn’t; it was a privilege.

By privilege I don’t mean money or power or fame, I mean the good fortune to have a father who was everything the public thought he was and yet more: a person who was renowned for his integrity and who showed us what that meant every single day of his life, a person who was universally loved and who loved his own family even more.

Beyond the roles, honours, awards and achievements, it is the personal characteristics touched on by Matthew and others at his private and state services that John Landy was revered for most and which those who knew him well continue to reflect on most affectionately: his integrity, kindness, generosity and propriety. On reflecting on his life since his passing and in anticipation of speaking today, I am reminded of the 15th-century ideal developed in Renaissance Italy which they called ‘uomo universale’ – the universal man. In many ways John Landy was Victoria’s very own 20th- and 21st-century Renaissance figure. Just as those extraordinary individuals of the Renaissance sought to develop skills across diverse subject areas, developing knowledge and expertise and pursuing physical, social and artistic accomplishments for the collective benefit of society, so too did John Landy. He possessed as much skill as a professional athlete as he did in the fields of science, innovation, writing and public service. As Governor of Victoria he was our head of state, and on either side of that appointment he fulfilled the ideal citizen statesman.

On behalf of this side of the house, I convey our profound appreciation for Mr Landy’s distinguished service to Victoria and extend our sincere condolences to Lynne, Matthew, Alison, respective partners Nirupama and Charlie, and grandchildren Isla, Neve and Maya. May he rest in peace.

Jacinta ALLAN (Bendigo East – Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop, Minister for Commonwealth Games Delivery) (12:16): I too rise to pay my respects to former Governor John Landy. John’s athletic prowess has rightly been acknowledged here today and many times over, and deservedly so. His determination to perform at his best while living his values won him hearts and minds the world over.

I wish today to remember John’s time as Governor, his commitment to the environment and his time in central Victoria. Those with longer memories may recall that there was some frisson around the time that John Landy was announced as Governor in August of 2000 by then Premier Steve Bracks. John had not come to the role through any of what had been seen as the more traditional pathways – through law or military service – as many other governors had before him. As we know, John was an athlete and an accomplished agricultural scientist with a passion for the environment, and we have heard about his avid collection of moth and butterfly specimens that are part of our national archives today.

We saw when he became the Governor on 1 January 2001 that John embraced the role and Victorians embraced John Landy as their governor. He brought the kindness, decency and work ethic that had made him a household name as an athlete to the vice-regal role of Governor as he worked with the Victorian community. His background in agriculture and love of nature gave him a particular affinity with regional Victorians. As many have noted since his passing, he was never happier than when he was in country Victoria.

A few short weeks before John’s retirement as Governor on 7 April 2006, he carried the Queen’s baton into the MCG as the final runner during the Queen’s baton relay, presenting the baton to the Queen at the opening ceremony. Fifty years earlier John Landy had stood in the MCG to read the Olympic oath on behalf of the athletes at the 1956 opening ceremony. You have to wonder whether in that moment in 2006 John Landy looked around the marvellous MCG and indeed marvelled at how far our state and our community had come in that short 50-year period. In 2006 the MCG will host another Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, as Victoria is the host of the games. Regional Victoria will be the home of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, this time raising the curtain on regional Victoria’s games, the first of its kind – the opportunity to have our wonderful regional Victoria in the spotlight. We just know that John Landy would have so loved to have been part of this.

After his time as Governor, John had the opportunity to continue his community work and also spend more time in central Victoria. One role I did particularly want to highlight today was John serving as the first chair of the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund advisory committee between February and September 2009. It was such an important role at such a critical time, in that immediate aftermath of those devastating fires, where he was working with communities who had been just so terribly and deeply affected by those fires that tore through our communities just 14 years ago today.

We also saw John’s lifelong passion for our natural environment, which saw him play important roles both during his time as Governor and on either side of his time as Governor of Victoria. For example, he was a foundation member of the then Land Conservation Council of Victoria between 1971 and 1979, and during this time the area of national parks in Victoria increased fivefold. As we know and we have heard, John wrote two books on Victoria’s flora and fauna, published with his own photos – one on the flora and fauna around the Upper Murray region and the second on the Otway Ranges. I know – and I know you do as well, Speaker, from our firsthand engagement – John and Lynne also loved the unique box ironbark forest found around central Victoria that they called their home in recent decades. John was patron of the Great Dividing Trail, and this is a fantastic landmark in our goldfields region that tells the story of our goldfield heritage as you wind your way through the unique box ironbark forests and reserves – a marvellous intertwining of our natural environment and the built heritage of our region.

John and Lynne were active in the local community, having been, firstly, part-time residents for many, many years and then full-time residents for some time as well. The last time I had the opportunity to see John was a few years ago – I think it was in 2019 – at a local artist’s exhibition at her own gallery in Castlemaine as part of the Castlemaine festival. He was of course there with Lynne, and as we admired the talent of an exceptional creative community, we discussed the events of the time. John was then, as he always was, a man engaged and interested in the world around him – charming and delightful, with a ready smile and great thoughts. My sympathy to Lynne, to Matthew and Alison, and their extended family. Rest in peace, John – a man who served our state with great dignity and compassion.

Peter WALSH (Murray Plains) (12:22): I rise to also join the condolence motion for John Landy. John Landy’s sporting prowess is without peer in Australia and the world, and the John Landy story is of someone who was so giving and so unassuming that many of his most legendary achievements get a little bit lost in the legend of the athlete. Since John Landy’s death in February last year, there have been tales of the ultimate athlete, from the 4-minute mile barrier, stopping mid-race in the Australian mile championship to help the fallen Ron Clarke and still winning to the Olympics and beyond, and it is the ‘beyond’ on which I would like to speak today as we honour a truly great Victorian and great Australian.

Few people would realise that John was a naturalist at heart, starting with a childhood interest and lifelong devotion to butterflies. In 2018 he would gift his collection, considered one of the finest and most complete in the country, to the National Museum of Australia. It would be agriculture where John would make the seamless transition from miler to long-distance competitor. He was a Dookie College ag science graduate, an accomplishment achieved at the same time he was at the height of his athletic career. He would go on to have a stellar career in agriculture, particularly with ICI, the Imperial Chemical Industries company, where he would spend a significant part of his working life as the research and development manager in its rural division. His last 11 years at ICI, running projects within the biological group, resulted in what could be considered an unparalleled contribution to the confluence of science and industry.

His research work and his lifelong passion for the natural world would combine to see him extend his agricultural influence well beyond his corporate life. He would chair the Wool Research and Development Corporation for five years from 1989, the Meat Research Corporation for four of those same years and – something very near and dear to his heart – sit on the board of governors of the Australian National Insect Collection from 1995 to 2000. He would also have roles with Clean Up Australia, be president of Greening Australia from 1998 to 2000 and become a foundation member of the Land Conservation Council of Victoria and be there from 1971 to 1979. Wherever John Landy turned his impact, it was positive and lasting. Just during his tenure at the land conservation council, for example – his eight years there – the area of national parks in Victoria would increase fivefold and the organisation’s fundamental guidelines and policies would be established. In his spare time his connection to the natural world and its conservation would see him write and publish two seminal works. Close to Nature: A Naturalist’s Diary of a Year in the Bush, 1985, would win a CJ Dennis award, while A Coastal Diary: A Study of One of Australia’s Wildest and Most Beautiful Coastlines, published in 1993, has provided information and pleasure to anyone visiting Victoria’s south-west coastline.

In 1984 John was elected a fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science. In 2012 he became a patron of the Invasive Species Council, which works to tackle Australia’s growing weed and animal pest problem.

Don Lawson, who is known to many in this chamber – a beef stud breeder, a fellow ag scientist before he became a farmer and a bit of a speedster himself in his younger days when training with John Landy as a junior – probably best summed it up when he described John’s passing as ‘a sad day for agriculture’. He said:

They will talk about his running but his contribution was really in agriculture. He had what is missing today, a thing called integrity, he knew what conflict of interest was.

He was our number one ag scientist, a person ahead of his time as an environmentalist and conservationist in agriculture.

Don even cited Landy’s intervention in his key roles in raising awareness about protecting red stringybark trees from being ringbarked by cattle when they were short on fibre and drawing attention to the importance of developing understories when planting trees to keep birds and insect species in balance. Don said:

He was very unassuming, and he was not frightened to lose …

He was a significant figure in agriculture and in my opinion one of the foremost ag scientists.

As a farmer himself, he could only sit back in awe of a man who could do so much, achieve so much and yet keep such a low profile and be so grounded. John was at his most comfortable in a room of farmers, explaining in detail the work he was doing, the work of the organisations with which he was working, and would answer any question honestly, to the best of his ability and, most importantly – I have heard from everyone who was fortunate enough to be there at the time – in a language they could actually understand.

What many do not realise is that John Landy mostly took up competitive running on the track as part of his training regime to get ready for the football season. In 1949 and 1950 he played for Dookie while a student there, winning the 1950 Central Goulburn Valley Football League best and fairest award. Singularly, here was a young man with the world at his feet and a future which would have a major impact on the betterment of his country far beyond the Olympic Games.

There is a statue, as others have mentioned, freezing that 1956 moment in time for all – a day when John Landy stopped to help Ron Clarke – but there should be an even bigger statue of John Landy the naturalist, the researcher, the agricultural industry leader and a Victorian who for all time will be one of our state’s most complete legends. Vale, John Landy.

Tim PALLAS (Werribee – Treasurer, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for Trade and Investment) (12:28): I rise to pay tribute to an extraordinary man, former Governor John Michael Landy. Looking back at John’s life, it is hard really to imagine how he squeezed so many achievements into one lifetime. As the Premier said, John Landy has gone into our history books as the second man to break the 4-minute mile and the 26th Governor of this great state. His best-known race, the miracle mile as it subsequently was described, against Roger Bannister, was an international event that was listened to on the radio back then by a hundred million people. It is really hard to imagine such an event today – one that captured people’s imaginations, and rightly so.

John was one of the 20th century’s greatest athletes and a dedicated public servant, but perhaps first and foremost he was unashamedly a proud Victorian. I was honoured to attend his memorial service last year, fittingly held at that site of Victorian distinction, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and what struck me most of all was the esteem that John Landy was held in by so many people from so many varied walks of life. This was not just a man who was an outstanding athlete; this was a man who was a genuinely decent human being, who added to the collective knowledge of his community, and he also was a beacon of decency. Of course there is that moment that we all remember from the 1956 Australian championships, where John stopped mid-race to check on the welfare of a fallen competitor, Ron Clarke, which is iconic in Australian sport and Australian culture. It speaks to the sort of person that John was, the kind of person that we all like to pride ourselves on, something that is quintessentially Australian and Victorian – that we believe in a fair go and that we reflect those values in the way that we play our sport and in the way that we deal with each other. Indeed it talks about the kind of people we as Australians and Victorians want to be. But more importantly it speaks to the kind of person that John Landy actually was.

As the Premier quite rightly identified, the statue that marks this event has underneath it the word ‘sportsmanship’. But, you know, when you spoke to John about that statue, he almost became gruff about the suggestion that it was about an iconic or defining moment. He saw it as being his obligation: he had tripped over somebody; he had to go back and see that he had not caused substantial injury. He said, ‘Of course, anybody would do that.’ Well, I am not sure everybody would. I do not know, if I had a chance, I might have seized the opportunity before me at the time. But that was not John Landy. He was an exceptional individual. Underneath that statue, ‘sportsmanship’ – really, what it should say is ‘decency and humility’ because to me that is what sums up John Landy, and John’s refusal to believe that stopping mid-race to check on a fellow competitor was anything out of ordinary was testament to his inherent decency.

John Landy was a committed conservationist who served on the Victorian Land Conservation Council. He wrote two books on natural history. He loved the Victorian bush, and he was a strong, articulate and indeed persuasive advocate for its preservation. The passing of time shows that his beliefs when it came to environmental protection were in fact the right ones. He became president of Greening Australia, devoted to large-scale tree planting. His knowledge of Australian flora and fauna was nearly second to none. John farmed, he taught, and he chaired the Meat Research Corporation and the Wool Research and Development Corporation. In his later life, he donated his stunning butterfly collection to the Australian Museum in Sydney – our great loss, but I understand his justification that he nicked a few of the insects from New South Wales and felt obliged to give them back. His knowledge of insects could and indeed did fill books.

I was Steve Bracks’s chief of staff when Steve recommended John Landy to be the 26th Governor of Victoria. Now, a little-known story that probably is little known because it should not be told, but I will tell it anyway: he was a reluctant conscript to be Governor. In fact he required a number of conversations to explain to him why it would be so important for him to be Governor. I remember in one of those meetings, where I was simply holding a place for Premier Bracks, who was due to join us, he looked at me and he said, ‘Well, what do you think? Should I take it?’ I thought about it, and I said, ‘Well, yes.’ He said, ‘Thanks, Tim.’ It was as if there was something incredibly incisive in my commentary or my view. In fact all he was hearing were the words of a fanboy. But he did nonetheless, I think, demonstrate what it meant to him to engage with people, and he loved it. Everywhere he went he enjoyed people’s company, and he was a great asset to this state during that time. He believed that it was an honour and a duty to serve when asked, and he made his mark on the role, serving the state with trademark dignity and decency from 2000 to 2006. As Steve Bracks said:

He had great humility and a tremendous capacity for work. He worked for all Victorians.

If I could say one thing on a personal note about John, it is that he was always a generous man, generous with his time. Regardless of your status, John had no time for airs or graces. He understood that there were obligations that went with the office, and he never at any stage sought to demean the office by disparaging them. He understood that that was his duty, as he did with so many other things. But really, he had a calm and laconic approach to public life, always doing his job but doing it with the kind of gentle and generous touch that marked all of his life. He refused to be called ‘Your Excellency’, preferring ‘Governor’ or simply ‘John’. As likely to stop and chat with his driver or the waitress or the lowly adviser, John had strong egalitarian principles that he lived by every day, and he made us all better people for having had the opportunity to engage with him.

Many of us will recall that moment at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006 when John Landy presented the baton to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I was exhausted for him watching him run up those 50 or so steps. Of course for John, the rigorous exercise regime that he religiously applied through a very substantial part of his adult years made it easy for him, even at that time. Presenting the baton to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a big moment in a big life but also another small service that John Landy did for his state.

He was married for 51 years, and I thank John’s wife Lynne and his children Matthew and Alison – incidentally, Matthew I think gave an outstanding eulogy at his father’s passing – for sharing their husband and father so generously with the state. I offer my deepest condolences on your loss.

John Landy was one of Victoria’s finest athletes, public servants, conservationists and advocates. He had a tenacity for service, and he served our state with humility, honour and grace. He indeed was the gold standard. He indeed was the benchmark by which we should judge ourselves – not as governors or politicians but as people, not as elite sportspeople but as people who care about each other – and a reluctant conscript to service who demonstrated exactly why he was such a decent and important person. Quite simply, John Landy loved his state and his state loved him. On behalf of the government, I thank you and I pay tribute to a great Victorian. Vale, John Landy.

Cindy McLEISH (Eildon) (12:38): Humble, gentle, determined, honourable, selfless, family-oriented, a man with integrity, a leader, a role model – these are words and terms that are so commonly used to describe John Landy, and we see and hear them time and time again. He lived his life by his values. In everything he did you could see those values, and he made such an important contribution to so many communities in so many ways. He was also very modest, because his wife Lynne was completely unaware of the level of fame that John held in Victoria. Before they were married she attended an athletics carnival in Ararat with him and was quite surprised at the group of nuns that were there who went quite gaga – was the word – over John Landy because he was a big deal, and his fiancée just did not realise that at the time. On top of that, he was undeniably an incredible athlete.

John Landy – former Victorian Governor, sporting legend, passionate agriculturalist – passed away at the age of 91 almost 12 months ago. He contributed to Victorian society in so many ways and also made his mark on the international stage, particularly through his athletics. We know John for his athleticism and his sportsmanship and his role as Governor from 1 January 2001 to 7 April 2006. It is interesting that when he was asked to be Governor by Premier Bracks he had never met him before at all. As the previous speaker, the Treasurer, said, it came quite out of the blue for him.

John grew up in Malvern, he was the second of five kids and, like many others, he rode his bike everywhere. His mother made his first butterfly net for him when he was four or five, and that started his lifelong passion. He would collect caterpillars in his schoolbag and bring them home, and they would be crawling up the family curtains. He would ride his bike to that well-known regional area of Glen Waverley to collect butterflies when he was at school. He started school at Malvern grammar school, and then later he went to Geelong Grammar. When he was at Geelong Grammar he and one of his mates, ornithologist Graham Pizzey, would ride their bikes to the You Yangs for the day. John would collect butterflies and Graham would do his bird studies – and we know that John ended up with one of the finest butterfly collections, which he gifted to the National Museum of Australia in 2018.

When John left school, as has been mentioned previously, he went to Dookie Agricultural College, and in 1955 he graduated from Melbourne University’s Dookie college with a bachelor of ag science. He taught at Timbertop at Geelong Grammar – science and maths – and he was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of laws by the university of Victoria in 1994, an honorary doctor of rural science by the University of New England in 1997, a doctor of laws by the University of Melbourne in 2003 and a doctor of laws by Deakin University in 2004. His agricultural contribution has been less talked about, but he certainly has a remarkable legacy there. He became a very good agricultural scientist with a research focus after leaving Dookie. He had a very inquiring mind with a particular bent on the environment, and he was at the forefront of environmental farming. As we have heard, he was a patron of the Invasive Species Council. He looked at tillage of soil on farmland. At ICI, at Merrindale, which was a leading agricultural research enterprise, he made considerable inroads. With meat and livestock he was involved with research groups, and as we have heard, the endangered red stringybark tree that was being ringbarked was a concern for him, as was the ecology of the understorey.

In agriculture there were many achievements and appointments. He was a foundation member of the Land Conservation Council of Victoria from 1971 to 1979; an author and photographer recording Australian landscapes and nature; president of Greening Australia, the organisation devoted to large-scale tree planting, from 1998 to 2000; and he was the chair of the Wool Research and Development Corporation from 1989 to 1994. The executive director of the Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors Peter Morgan said the thing that struck him most about John in this role was that when he spoke publicly to woolgrowers about the work that the organisation was doing he confined himself to a few projects so he could speak to them in considerable detail so his audience really understood about the work that they were funding and what it meant for them. He was a fellow of Ag Institute Australia, and he remained a firm supporter of Ag Institute Australia, so when a new lapel pin for fellows was introduced he held a special reception at Government House where he personally presented each member with their new fellowship pin.

John developed a natural talent for running through his sporting passions. He loved Australian Rules football, and as has been said, he started competitive running to get fit for Australian Rules football. He played for the Melbourne Demons under-19s in 1949 to 1950, following in his dad’s and uncle’s footsteps – they also played in the under-19s. He played for Dookie and took out the best and fairest in the league when the agricultural colleges were really a force of the day, and he won the 1950 Central Goulburn Valley Football League’s best and fairest. But with regard to his running, he trained at Caulfield Racecourse, where he won all of the races at school. He remained an amateur athlete. He would train by running the streets at night with the milkman, and the milkman would say, ‘Who do you think you are, mate, John Landy?’ not knowing that he was John Landy.

On the track he was the second man to break the 4-minute mile, and he broke that barrier on six occasions and set world records for both the mile and the 1500 metres. In the1956 pre-Olympic track and field championships, we had that already well spoken about legendary act of sportsmanship which really put him on the map as showing everybody what true sportsmanship looks like. A lot of us perhaps would have made a different decision at such time, but that certainly was not John. He won bronze in the 1500 metres at the 1956 Olympics, he won silver in the 1954 Commonwealth Games for the 1600 metres and he was inducted into the Athletics Australia Hall of Fame in 1985. He was awarded the Kokernon Cup by the Finnish president, which was remarkable, as this cup had never before been presented to anybody but a Finn. He was described by Roger Bannister in Sports Illustrated as ‘an athlete faster, neater and more generous than any other’. Landy sometimes ran with injuries but never told anybody and never blamed injury on his running results.

As we know, and the reason we are speaking here today on the condolence motion, he was appointed the 26th Governor of the state of Victoria in 2001, retiring in 2006. He was awarded an MBE for services to sport in 1955 and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2001. As Governor he visited every shire in the state, and the regions were particularly important. He attended Buckingham Palace; he met the Queen. His family always saw him as quite an amusing character. He amused Princess Anne at Government House, when she was staying, with many stories and had her in stitches. He worked very long hours well into his 70s, helped lots of young children in athletics and took up invitations to visit schools wherever possible. In true style John kept many things to himself. He had Parkinson’s disease for 12 years, and he kept that a secret from his family.

He was a phenomenal man who achieved so much in his lifetime across many fields. He was an inspiration and will remain an inspiration to all. He served Victoria in so many different ways and leaves such a wonderful legacy. My deepest condolences to his wife Lynne and their children Matthew and Alison, who had a wonderful father and who have seen and understand really what a remarkable character he was in the Victorian, Australian and even international landscapes. Vale, John Landy.

Ben CARROLL (Niddrie – Minister for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Manufacturing Sovereignty, Minister for Employment, Minister for Public Transport) (12:47): American civil rights activist Maya Angelou said:

… people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

The master of ceremonies Steve Moneghetti at John Landy’s state memorial service held late last year said when you left John Landy’s company, ‘you always felt better about yourself’. And that is the beauty in John Landy. It is hard to separate John Landy the man, John Landy the famous athlete, John Landy the famous scientist and John Landy the Governor. He was one and the same, none could be separated.

I was not the Premier’s chief of staff during his appointment; I was actually in charge of correspondence. As the Deputy Premier and the Treasurer have alluded to, John Landy’s appointment was not without some controversy. I can tell you, the correspondence came in thick and fast, particularly from the Italian community. Everyone will recall that a governor’s term of office is usually five years, but Premier Kennett, who had commissioned Sir James Gobbo, made it a 3½-year appointment because of the looming referendum on whether or not Australia should become a republic. It was common knowledge that should that vote succeed, the office of the Governor-General would have been abolished and so there would have been no governor in Victoria. But as is the Premier’s right, Premier Bracks exercised his right at the conclusion of Mr Gobbo’s 3½ years in office to appoint a new governor.

As the Treasurer and the Deputy Premier rightly highlighted, John Landy was a reluctant starter. I had a brief chat with Steve Bracks yesterday to remind him of some of the correspondence that was coming in, and he reminded me too that, yes, he was a reluctant starter and it did take a couple of meetings. But in many respects that sums up the sort of person that John Landy was. He would never do anything in half measures.

He also thought his running career had exceeded everything he had envisioned for his life, and he was happy living with his wife Lynne in Castlemaine and being a conservationist and enjoying retirement. As Steve Moneghetti said at his memorial, he was never happier than when in the country. What was very interesting, though, was that within about 24, 48 hours – it was pretty quick – the Herald Sun said the Premier had sacked Sir James Gobbo. That was not quite correct. Once the name of John Landy came out as the appointment, everything just dissipated – the noise dissipated. I have got an editorial here from the Australian of 9 August 2000. I just want to quote it if I can. It says:

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has sensed the time has passed for Governor James Gobbo, and he is right. In sports hero John Landy, he has found a people’s governor whose appeal is timeless.

The choice of Mr Landy – an agricultural scientist in touch with regional Victoria, beaches, butterflies and the state’s great passion, sport – sends a clear signal of what a 21st century appointment should be … It is a new kind of appointment that should invigorate vice-regal offices everywhere.

I think it goes without saying what a success it was. The irony is that he did start on 1 January 2001 – everyone will recall that was the centenary of Federation and it was also the International Year of Volunteers. In his speech at Government House for his inauguration, which was attended by 700 people, he said:

Volunteers are to the community what lifesavers are to the Australian beaches. They are a vital ingredient in so many facets of our life, whether it be charity, caring, schools or sport. Volunteers serve without question. They share without reservation. They listen with compassion and they enrich their community beyond measure.

On 26 January 2001 in his first address on Australia Day his speech was some 21 pages long. It was a call to arms on the environment and biodiversity – on leaving the state better than how we have inherited it.

His time in office was not without some lowlights either. Sadly, on 11 September 2001 we all remember the Twin Towers being attacked – some 10 Australians were killed on that terrible day. As Governor, with that common touch, John Landy met with some of the Australians who had lost relatives. One particular man touched him, and that was Paul Gyulavary, whose brother was killed in the attack at the World Trade Center. Paul had an idea that on the one-year anniversary of September 11 everyone driving a motor vehicle around the state of Victoria should put their headlights on. John Landy became a strong advocate of this – indeed he spoke to Premier Bracks, he spoke with Bill Noonan at the Transport Workers Union and he spoke to the CFA – and on that anniversary everyone around the state put their headlights on and drove around as a memorial to the victims.

I also just want to put on record, as a member of Melbourne’s western suburbs, the work John Landy did around Coode Island – many will be aware of those events around August 1991. John Landy was then appointed by Joan Kirner to chair a task force. He was also joined by the late Lynne Kosky. The work he did on that task force was second to none in terms of hazardous materials and waste and making sure that we do everything we can for residents that live in nearby areas such as Coode Island.

I want to put on record my thanks and appreciation for the person John Landy was. It was an honour to know him, albeit briefly, as a young adviser in Premier Bracks’s office. I do just want to put on record one quote, and I want to thank the parliamentary library for their work and their research. Paul O’Neil wrote in 1956 about Landy. He said:

Landy is a complex human – an intellectual with a compulsion for the arena, and a stoic disregard for pain and exhaustion; a reserved and sensitive man whose mind is repelled, but whose spirits are kindled, by the roar of applause and the incandescent glare of publicity.

Vale, John Landy.

Sam HIBBINS (Prahran) (12:53): I rise on behalf of the Victorian Greens to support the condolence motion for former Victorian Governor John Landy, who passed away last year aged 91. And whilst being appointed to one of the highest offices in Victoria, John Landy is of course widely known for his legendary achievements as a middle-distance runner: just the second person to run a mile in under 4 minutes, a world record holder for the mile and 1500 metres and a bronze medal winner at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games at the MCG, not far from here.

But what is really interesting is that he is not best known for these achievements and the many more in his life but how he conducted himself in achieving them, famously going back to assist his closest rival, Ron Clarke, after he had fallen, and then going on to win that race and become the Australian champion, now immortalised in bronze. He really showed that winning a race and demonstrating the best of sportsmanship towards your fellow competitor need not be diametrically opposed forces but in fact go hand in hand, and perhaps that is a lesson for all of us in in here.

In addition to sport, John Landy had a love of nature and conservation, which he studied, he collected and he advocated for. He served on a number of environmental organisations, including the Land Conservation Council, at a time when there was a significant increase in the area of Victoria covered by national parks. He was an author. He published two books, Close to Nature and A Coastal Diary, which are reflections from a year that he spent studying the Otways.

He served as Governor of Victoria from 2001 to 2006 and received numerous recognitions in his life. Our sympathies are with his family. Vale, John Landy.

The SPEAKER (12:55): Thank you, members, for your contributions on this condolence motion. With the indulgence of the house I would like to add a few words. The Honourable John Landy was a resident of Bendigo West during his retirement years. There has been much said about John’s remarkable life, and he achieved so much. John and Lynne were also well-known locals across the communities of Castlemaine and Fryerstown. He was humble, genuine, dignified and passionate about the issues that mattered to him. I want to highlight John’s retirement years and his volunteering and support for our local communities of Fryerstown and Castlemaine and his great love of the Australian bush and its environment. The former historic Fryerstown police station at 5 Camp Street in Fryerstown was renovated and enjoyed by John and his wife Lynne for about 20 years before they sold it in 2015 and moved to Castlemaine. John and Lynne were both committed to the local community and drove significant community projects, including the upgrade of the heritage Fryerstown hall.

John joined the fight against climate change, becoming the 600th member of the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group. He was surprised that such a small group had 600 members. He had a long-established interest in sustainability, as we have heard, particularly in protecting biodiversity. He was very pleased to be part of such a vibrant local community group taking action on climate change, and I quote from John:

We are all responsible for the current climate change crisis, and we can all play a part in dealing with it, in our homes, businesses, schools and sporting clubs.

John also documented and photographed 35 species of butterflies and over 300 species of moths in Fryerstown, some of which had not been classified. He donated his moth collection to the Australian National Insect Collection in November 2016. Meticulously curated, his extensive collection contains many specimens that significantly enhance the taxonomic and geographical coverage of the ANIC. Thanks to John’s donation, these specimens, not just from Fryerstown but from across Victoria, are available for future generations to study.

John and Lynne were also members of many community organisations, who all benefited from his knowledge and contributions. John was a much admired, respected and loved member of our community throughout his later years. He loved the Australian bush and particularly the Chewton bushlands and surrounds.

I bumped into John on many occasions at events and community celebrations across the electorate. The last time I saw John was out the front of Bendigo Health when I was there with the former chair of Bendigo Health Bob Cameron. John was in a wheelchair, but he still stopped for a chat, and he remarked on what a wonderful new hospital Bendigo had and how amazing it was. But he also, just like John as he was, commented on how the staff were exceptional and were treating him so well.

Our community was saddened to learn of his passing, and on behalf of the people of Bendigo West I send condolences to Lynne, his children and their extended family and his many, many friends. Vale, John Landy.

Motion agreed to in silence, members showing unanimous agreement by standing in their places.

The SPEAKER: As a further mark of respect to the memory of the late Honourable John Landy AC CVO MBE, the house will now adjourn for 1 hour.

House adjourned 1:00 pm.

The SPEAKER took the chair at 2:01 pm.