18 May 2018
We are deeply saddened to inform you of the passing of Sir John Leslie Carrick, AC, KCMG.

Sir John’s service to our great Party and the nation was extraordinary, and we all deeply mourn the loss of a true Australian hero.

In his youth, Sir John worked for the Australian Gas Light Company by day and studied chemistry at Sydney Technical College at night. He earned a cadetship and went on to study economics at the University of Sydney. There he joined the Sydney University Regiment through which he was commissioned in 1939.

After enlisting in the AIF, he was deployed to West Timor in December 1941 and two months later, was captured by Japanese forces. Lieutenant Carrick, together with other prisoners of war, was shipped to Java and later to Singapore's Changi camp, before being dispatched to the Thailand-Burma railway and the infamous Hellfire Pass.

Amidst those horrors Sir John had focussed on supporting other prisoners, earning the respect of senior officers and fellow POWs. He, himself, had described his captivity as a ‘great and enduring learning experience’.

After returning to Australia, he applied for a job as research officer at the NSW Liberal Party in 1946.

Two years later, he was appointed General Secretary of the Division and for the next 23 years, he built the most effective political organisation in the history of NSW politics.

Sir John championed the concept of continuous campaigning, travelling across the state to help set up branches and encourage people to join and to become candidates. This hard work helped to build a broad and inclusive Liberal Party, which would see decades of uninterrupted success in Federal elections. 

As General Secretary, Sir John helped shape our Party in so many ways. Indeed, his ideas about party systems, and the meaning of liberalism, were published in 1949 as The Liberal Way of Progress.

A confidant of Sir Robert Menzies, he was also instrumental in helping to resolve the “state aid” debate – advocating for non-government schools to also receive public funding. Entering the Senate in 1971, Sir John proposed new ways of raising revenue for the Commonwealth, and a conference with the states to undertake a major demarcation of function - particularly in health and education.

Having held a number of portfolios, Sir John is best remembered as the Education Minister in the Fraser Government. It was a policy area he cared about passionately – setting up the Tertiary Education Commission to oversee the co-ordination of national tertiary institutions, providing federal funding for TAFE colleges to implement the Education Program for Unemployed Youth, pioneering the cause of early childhood education, and having a committee of inquiry investigate post-secondary education with particular attention to market needs.

Across our Party today, many can attest to the personal support Sir John provided them as a mentor and he set the high standard for those who have followed him. 

Throughout his career as General Secretary of our great Party, as a Senator for New South Wales and as a Minister in the Fraser Government, Lady Carrick was by Sir John’s side. Together, they made an extraordinary contribution to our organisation and the Liberal cause. Sadly, we lost Lady Carrick only a couple of months ago.

On behalf of all members of the Liberal Party, we express our deepest condolences to Sir John’s family and friends on their loss.
Philip Ruddock State President
Chris Stone State Director