Vale Mike Taylor AO FTSE

June 5, 2023

The Crawford Fund “family” has been devastated to hear of the passing of Mike Taylor on June 2nd after a short illness. Mike was on our Board in 2010 until his death, although had indicated earlier this year that he was stepping down at the end of June. Mike was an extremely proactive Board member and a strong proponent of the value to Australia from its investment in international agricultural research. He was never afraid of stating his point of view, marshalling strong arguments for and against various propositions and encouraging of others – in other words, a strong contributor to all the agencies he worked in and with. 

Mike had a stellar career as a state and federal bureaucrat after graduating from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in 1970.

His first job was with the Victorian Department of Agriculture in 1971. With the support of a cadetship from the Department, he completed a graduate Diploma in Agriculture Economics, attained from the University of New England in 1972.

He rose to be  Secretary of the Victorian State Government Department of Agriculture, prior to his appointment as Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.   Mike was, in fact, recruited to the Federal Department by then Minister, The Hon. John Anderson. From that point forward, John and Mike worked hand-in-glove until their respective retirements from politics and the bureaucracy, respectively.  No one was surprised that they re-joined forces at the Crawford Fund. Needless to say, John is particularly sorry to learn of Mike’s passing.

While at DAFF, Mike’s path also crossed with our CEO, Colin Chartres, who commented that his persuasive economic arguments were able to help convince both the Treasury Secretary and the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council of the significant impact land and water degradation were having on Australia’s primary industries and environment.

In 2004, Mike moved from the Agriculture department to the Department of Transport and Regional Services (later Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government), where he assumed responsibility for implementing several initiatives to upgrade maritime, aviation and land transport security.

Mike retired from the Australian Public Service in 2009. In the years since he was a departmental secretary, Mike took up several board positions, including as chair of the Gardiner Dairy Foundation, an Independent Director for the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, and the challenging role as chairman of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority during the years that the Basin Plan was being developed.

Mike was enjoying “semi-retirement” and strongly engaged with family pursuits over the last few years. Past and present board members and staff wish to send their sincere condolences to Mike’s wife, Eve and his two daughters, Erica and Rachel, and grandchildren. We will sadly miss his humanity, wit, and economic acumen. He was one of the last generation of public servants not afraid to give his ministers frank and fearless advice! Everyone who knew him was enriched by interaction with him and will sorely miss him.

Colin Chartres

Mike Taylor with Crawford Fund Board and staff attending the board meeting in early March 2023.