John Alexander Barton CBE

Award of Doctor of Laws honoris causa
John Alexander Barton CBE

Mr Chancellor, 

Section 11 of The University of Queensland Act unequivocally gives to the Senate clear authority as the governing body of the University, with responsibility for the entire management and control of the affairs, concerns and property of the University. While Senate holds this authority, most of the decisions that are made are based on policy proposals originating within the University and filtered upwards through faculty boards and committees of various kinds.

It is unusual for an individual senator to initiate policy matters or to significantly influence the style or the content of University decisions and it is therefore rare for any senator to become distinguished in his own right during his or her term of office.

John Alexander Barton is one such rare person. As a member of the Senate finance committee from his first appointment as a member of Senate in 1963, and as elected chairman of the finance committee from 1965 until this month, Jack Barton has made a very distinguished contribution to the University.

The past fiften years have seen considerable changes in the life and work of the University. When Jack Barton became chairman of the finance committee, responsible to Senate for advising on the University's financial affairs, the University budget totalled a little less than $10million. In that year, 1965, the University employed 1,930 staff in all categories to teach 13,000 students, and awarded 1,200 academic qualifications. This year the University budget is seven times as large and we will award about 4,300 academic qualifications with a staff and student body one and a half times larger.

Mr Barton was instrumental in the development of, and has been an administrator of the staff superannuation scheme since 1977. He played a major part in the development of the students loan assistance scheme under which students in "temporarily embarrassed financial circumstances" are able to obtain financial assistance by way of repayable loans. Until the recent development of more specific unionisation of many areas of university employment, conditions of employment of general staff were the responsibility of the finance committee. In all matters of this kind, particularly where interpretation and application of general conditions to individual circumstances were required, Jack Barton has demonstrated a perceptive, sympathetic and concerned interest in staff welfare while maintaining high standards of judgement, equity and responsibility.

He has fully and competently discharged the many other duties which fall to a senator, serving as chairman or a member of a wide range of Senate and University committees, including the equipment and maintenance committee, the investments committee, the senior administrative staff committee and various professorial selection committees. In all that he has done he has clearly demonstrated his concern for the well being and progress of the University in all its works.

At a time when envious eyes from elsewhere in Australia look to Queensland's progress and rich future, it is appropriate to record that Jack Barton, over a long and distinguished career, has always shown himself to be an intensely proud and very loyal Queenslander, fond, I am told by former associates and friends, of pointing out the importance of living and working "north of the 28th". His grandfather was an early principal of Maryborough State High School and it is appropriate that Mr Barton should conclude his distinguished career as a senator of the senior University within the State.

Jack Barton was born in Maryborough, and followed his father into the Bank of New South Wales at Maryborough in June 1924. He came to Brisbane with the administrative section in 1929 and then served in Cairns as accountant in 1938. In 1939 he was moved south to join the bank's staff administration section in Sydney and he became the head of staff administration for the bank in 1948. In 1956, his employers finally relented and allowed him to come back to his native state, and he held from 1959 until his retirement in 1964 the title Inspector for Queensland, a position now known as Chief State Manager. 

Jack Barton has a family of two sons and a daughter and it is with great pleasure that we welcome them to this ceremony.

As I indicated earlier, one of Jack Barton's major strengths has been in the area of interpersonal relationships. He has also a very wide and perceptive knowledge of Queensland's history, and has read widely about and travelled extensively to all parts of the State. He was a pioneer in the use of light aircraft to allow him to visit and maximise his stay with branch officers and staff of the bank throughout Queensland.

In the 1978 New Years Honours List, Mr Barton was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for distinguished service to the general Queensland community. The University for its part is indeed proud to honour Jack Barton's distinguished service of seventeen years to The University of Queensland.

Mr Chancellor, it is with great pleasure that I present to you Mr John Alexander Barton, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws 'honoris causa'.

Honorary award citation


Doctor of Laws honoris causa