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Discussion – 


Farewell to One of Our Finest – the Hon. Gary Nairn AO

Gary Nairn AO
It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to Gary Nairn, a great friend of the Geospatial Industry, the Geospatial Profession, a past Chair of SIBA, a past chair of the Association of Consulting Surveyors Australia, an Honorary Fellow of SSSI and now GCA, as well as a Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information.

Gary’s life began in Sydney in 1951. He was educated at Sydney Boys High School prior to studying a Bachelor of Surveying at the UNSW. After graduating, he travelled and worked overseas before moving to the Northern Territory where he resided for many years. Based in Darwin, he went on to become a Partner in a leading surveying and mapping company, Earl James and Associates. Gary became the President of the Country Liberal Party in the NT and oversaw a period of great success. At the time of his move back to NSW and into Federal Politics as the member for Eden Monaro in 1996, he was the Managing Director of Earl James and Associates.

Gary was a member of the Howard Government and went on to become the Special Minister of State. While in this role and in his previous role of Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gary was a great advocate for our sector. He was instrumental in the establishment of the 2001/02 Spatial Information Industry Action Agenda (SIIAA), a government sponsored review into the potential of an emerging industry. This in turn led to the successful bid for the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI), which ran from 2003 until 2018, and has now transitioned into FrontierSI. The SIIAA also led to the creation of the industry body SIBA in 2003. Both the CRCSI and SIBA were strongly advocated for by Gary, who was influential within the Howard Government at this time. Gary became a Director of CRCSI and contributed greatly to its success. Having lost his seat in federal parliament in the 2007 election, along with four other members of the Howard Ministry (including the Prime Minister), Gary was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2015. This was for his contribution to Spatial Sciences, NSW and NT Communities, Federal Parliament and disability support services. In 2018, he was appointed as the National Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award-Australia.

Gary was someone that was admired by many as a true statesman in our industry and to the wider community. He was renowned for his dignity and composure as he conducted himself through life in so many important and influential roles. He spent his later years heavily involved with sustainable farming practices through his role as a Director from 2014, and as Chair from 2016 until early 2024 of the Mulloon Institute. He met his recent health challenges with the good humour, strength and dignity, along with the determination that he had demonstrated throughout his life.

Gary has left us far too early at only 73 years and is greatly missed by the whole geospatial community. Our thoughts go out to his family and closest friends at this time.