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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 June 2012) . . Page.. 2656 ..


John Desmond Button was born in Neutral Bay in 1921. At the age of 18 Mr Button enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy, just before the beginning of World War II, in August 1939. He served until the end of the war in 1945, including as a communications yeoman on HMAS Burnie and HMAS Napier.

Professionally, Mr Button was a distinguished solicitor working for the commonwealth in the Crown Solicitor’s Office in Sydney from 1945 and also as a stipendiary magistrate in the late 1950s through to 1962. He was also a founding member of the Mallesons Stephen Jaques law firm.

However, as well regarded as his professional career was, it was his personal commitments to many community groups for whom many people will best remember Mr Button.

He was a foundation director of the Vietnam Veterans Trust, which later became the Australian Veterans’ Children Assistance Trust.

Members of the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra will remember Mr Button as being a member since 1991 and actively contributing to the governance regime in place at the organisation. A statement published on the society’s website states:

HAGSOC is indebted to John, who was a former member of the Society, and who voluntarily contributed his professional, specialised expertise to the compilation of the Constitution and Rules …

We can thank John for the Constitution and By-Laws that we use today and which provide the necessary guidance and integrity for the successful management of the Society.

Prior to my election in 2008 I had the privilege of working at the Returned and Services League of Australia’s national headquarters. It was in this capacity that I had an association with Mr Button, as he was a long-serving trustee of the organisation. Mr Button’s loss will be mourned by all members of the RSL, including those who worked most closely with him in recent years, such as the national president, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO RAN; national secretary, Mr Derek Robson AM; chairman of the national trustees, Brigadier John Sheldrick OAM; and the other national trustees.

Mr Button performed the role of honorary legal counsel for over 20 years and represented the RSL on their board of directors. Mr Button also served as a member of the board of Canberra girls grammar school between 1963 and 1966 and again from 1971 to 1977. In 1977 he was the chairman of the school board and would later serve as chair of the Gabriel Foundation board from 1986 to 1989. During this time, as head of the Gabriel Foundation, he would see the development of the Chapel of the Annunciation, which recognised his role at the opening in 1988, through a plaque in the foyer.


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