From the most remote and rural communities to our largest cities, Australians from all political persuasions, ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs united in sadness at the passing of the Honourable Tim Fischer, MP, National Party leader, deputy Prime Minister and former Ambassador to the Holy See on the 22nd August. A man who carried many titles but whom we all comfortably call Tim. Across the many tributes and recollections of this much-loved man; the pervasive message is one of celebrating a truly special Australian. Tim Fischer had the distinctive ability to make every person he had contact with feel that they were special to him. He connected deeply with people and had the capacity for compassion and a genuine interest in all his fellow humans.
At the state funeral in Albury, moving tales of Tim were shared from his time in positions of high office, to personal exploits as a boy, celebrating the many facets of his life.
One of the things that has left the most lasting impression on me from that day was the colourful and endearing stories told by the many delightful people I met after the ceremony was over and on the journey back to Melbourne. Each one so special, completely unique and deeply personal. If we live on in those that remember us Tim will be with us for generations to come.
The General Sir John Monash Foundation also has its own special story about what Tim Fischer meant to us, playing a key role in the very founding of the scholarships. Tim was the guest speaker at the Institute of Engineers function in Melbourne, early in 2000, when the concept for the ‘John Monash Awards’ was first intimated. A couple of months later, Ken Crompton, our inaugural CEO, prepared a more detailed paper that Alan Blankfield and Brian Paroissien took to Canberra and presented to Tim. Shortly afterwards Tim joined the Steering Committee and the following year assisted General Peter Gration AC OBE (Retd) and Ken Crompton to gain support from the Prime Minister at the time, the Hon John Howard MP. Following the formation of the Foundation in December 2001, Tim joined the Board of Directors and remained a lifelong and enthusiastic supporter and public advocate.
Tim was determined to recognise the breadth and the depth of General Sir John Monash’s achievements. In Tim Fischer we have had one of our most remarkable and influential advocates.
Tim attended as many Foundation AGMs, Presentation Ceremonies and Orations as his health permitted. He personally researched and unearthed extensive material and unique perspectives about Monash with the perception of a soldier and a politician. His book Maestro John Monash: Australia’s Greatest Citizen General was published 5 years ago in 2014 and he dedicated proceeds from sales to the Foundation. Board Director Wendy Simpson OAM recalls, “I remember the sparkle in his eyes as he recounted discovering the 1918 Buckingham Palace seating plan for the Royal dinner at which both Monash and Australia’s then Prime Minister Billy Hughes, were both guests and the symbolic honour the King was showing Monash through the way seating was allocated!”
“Tim Fischer, thank you for your deep Faith in God, your faith in this great country of Australia and your faith in the idea of Australia having its own international scholarship focussed on leadership and in honour of a great Australian. We are grateful for your time with us and from the Monash Foundation family to the Fischer- Brewer families we extend our deepest condolences. Tim Fischer - we salute you!”
Collated by Annemarie Rolls, CEO of the General Sir John Monash Foundation on behalf of the Board, Staff and Scholars.
Photo: AAP Tim Fischer with a picture of Sir John Monash in reaction to legislation introduced to parliament calling for Monash to be posthumously promoted to the rank of field marshal, 2018