OBITUARY | John Kerin, Australia’s former Minister of Transport and of Primary Industries

John Kerin in 2014 (Photo: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics)

The Hon John Kerin AO died earlier this week. He was undoubtedly Australia’s best ever minister of agriculture and fisheries. He was a well-educated chicken farmer who became a thoughtful and highly competent minister in the Hawke/Keating Labor governments from 1983 to 1996. While John served in several ministries, including transport and treasury, he is best known for his long  and successful tenure in agriculture and fisheries.

I first met him shortly after his appointment in 1983. I was astonished at his knowledge of and curiosity about Australia’s fisheries, which were then covered by our magazine Professional Fisherman. He visited us twice on information gathering exercises, during which I enjoyed chatting with him at lunch after retrieving him from our files. We subsequently met on several occasions as I remained interested in and impressed with his many achievements.

John was a gentle but very effective and clever reformer who contributed considerably to the development of the Australian fishing and aquaculture industries. It is sad that so much of his good works were squandered by one or two of his successors and a malevolent bureaucracy.

Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.