It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the death of Sir John Leslie Carrick AC KCMG, war veteran, former Senator and Minister in the Fraser Government.
We remember Sir John as a lion of the Liberal Party, a soldier and a statesman whose passion for education improved the lives of many Australians.
His contribution to the nation spans almost a century.
Born at the end of the Great War, Sir John defended Australia in its darkest hour; fighting the Japanese with the Australian Army’s Sparrow Force in Timor during World War Two.
He was captured and spent more than three years in prison camps, including Singapore’s infamous Changi prison. He endured the brutality and inhumanity of working on the notorious Burma–Thailand Railway.
But despite this terrible hardship, the life Sir John made when he came home showed that his wartime experience had not buried his love of humanity.
Sir John Carrick became one of the most influential men this nation has known.
He worked closely with Sir Robert Menzies in the early years of the Liberal Party, and helped nurture it in NSW from a fledgling outfit to a dominant political force.
As General-Secretary of the NSW Liberal Party for 23 years, Sir John played a prominent role in three Federal Liberal Governments — as strategist for Sir Robert Menzies, as Senate leader in the Fraser Government and as mentor of John Howard.
A generation of politicians, including myself, have benefitted from his wisdom and integrity.
His most cited political counsel spoke of the importance of having a plan, sound long term policy and delivery founded on enduring Liberal values - “You can’t fatten the pig on market day.” Timeless advice which is timely in every season.
As Education Minister from 1975-79, Sir John promoted choice in education and supported funding for Catholic and non-government schools.
After leaving Parliament he spent several decades in voluntary service to school education and early childhood development. His reforms modernised our schools and recognised the critical role of parents and great teachers in education.
His legacy will not be forgotten.
Sir John’s beloved wife, Lady Angela, who had been by his side for so long, passed away in February.
Lucy and I offer our deepest condolences to their daughters, Diane, Jane and Fiona, and to the extended Carrick family.