It is with great sadness that I acknowledge the passing of Mike Taylor this week, after a brief illness.
Mike was a powerful protagonist for Australian Agriculture. Among the many leadership positions he filled, Mike chaired the Gardiner Foundation from 2010 to 2015. In that position, as in all his roles, he was a tireless, enthusiastic force for change. He had a deep understanding of people, and a clear foresight for farming that was consistent with the Foundation’s mission.
He began his career as an economic policy analyst in the Victorian Department of Agriculture. He left the department briefly in 1991 – 92 to work as CEO of the Australian Dairy Industry Council. In 1992 Mike returned to the department as Secretary and ushered in many improvements. Above all, he focussed the department’s energy on improving agricultural productivity in the state.
Mike moved effortlessly between government and industry. He will be remembered by many for the important contribution he made to the deregulation of the Victorian Dairy Industry.
His appointment as Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in 2001 was unprecedented. There too, on a much broader canvass, his driver was first and foremost to deliver benefits to agricultural production and trade.
Following his retirement, Mike accepted the difficult task of Chair of the Murray Darling Basin Authority. He also joined the boards of the Crawford Foundation and Bushfire CRC.
Whether he was working for the state or Commonwealth Government, Mike understood the contributions that were made by the people that worked for him across a wide range of disciplines. He supported them all as well as he could. In my case, he backed the introduction of biotechnology and taught me much about research management. I will be forever grateful.
In 2007 Mike was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for ‘Service to the management of natural resources and industry policy development at the Federal level and also in Victoria, particularly in the area of agriculture, and through contributions to transport, water, food and safety standards’.
I join with the Directors and staff of Gardiner Foundation, along with so many people who were touched by Mike’s life, to honour his achievements.
May he rest in peace.
Chair, Gardiner Foundation