Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1425 ..
MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, John Gilchrist was a fine, dedicated public servant. He was foremost a dedicated and powerful citizen of Canberra. From humble beginnings, he became a great authority, highly skilled in the work he did. More than that, he worked diligently and enthusiastically. He had a strong commitment to what he did. His job was his dedication in the interests of Canberra. John Gilchrist is one of our citizens - we spoke of another earlier this week - from whom Canberra has benefited so much. It is not a job for them; it is a life. John's life was a life for Canberra.
John's particular interest, as we all know, was in planning. To me, he was a planner who recognised that people mattered. I realised in my term as a Minister that that was something that could be overlooked, forgotten. John Gilchrist realised that planning was not an exercise to be carried out in a room in a building somewhere; that it was to be carried out with people - the people who were affected by planning decisions or principles that were to be put in place. I know that he was strong in presenting his view. I know that, because as a Minister I was always aware of his views, although he may not have sometimes known that, as in the early days of self-government we worked to develop a planning regime in the new environment of this Assembly.
His dedication continued after his work with the NCDC, when he went on to work with people on planning and the environment. He was not acting in an official administrative capacity but working with the people who were continually affected by planning decisions that we were making in this place. That shows where his dedication was. We are poorer for his passing, but we are very much richer for the time that he spent working for our community. I join with other members in expressing my sympathy to his family.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services): Mr Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Government to acknowledge the work and the great endeavours of John Gilchrist, former Director of Town Planning with the National Capital Development Commission. As both Mr Moore and Mr Wood have said, it is great to have this opportunity to stand here and acknowledge somebody who went about their job with the intention of creating people places. We here in Canberra are very lucky to have benefited from the zeal of John Gilchrist. His zeal came from his early days. He was born at Trimdon Colliery in County Durham. Obviously what he saw in his early days had a great influence on his life. It is great that he was able to take in what he saw as a young man, then turn that around to create something better, to create something wonderful. There is little doubt that his early village and home environments shaped his vision of what he wanted to do.
It is great that he was able to come to a country and be proud that, although he might have started life as a Pommy, he had become a fair dinkum Aussie. I think a great deal of goodness came to Australia from the [sterling]10 migrants. John settled with his family near Wollongong and, like so many in that region, ended up in the steel mills working for BHP. But that was not enough for a man of the calibre of John Gilchrist. He went to night school, did his matriculation and undertook a wide variety of drafting tasks on several major projects. This enabled him to become articled and eventually a registered land and mining surveyor. He then undertook, part time, corporate membership examinations for the Royal Australian Planning Institute and completed his degree as a master of science in architecture through the University of Sydney. He was to become a member of the Institution of Surveyors, Australia and a fellow of the Royal Australian Planning Institute.