David Hay (1916 – 2009) administrator, diplomat, public servant
David Hay played everything cool, but always made a point of knowing what was involved in whatever job he took on, what its problems were and how they might best be handled. That was his underlying strength as an effective public servant. These qualities were recognised when he was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1963, later capped with a knighthood in 1979. Throughout his life, he was a strong practising Anglican.
A fourth-generation Australian, he was born on November 29, 1916, at Corowa, where his parents had a grazing property. He went as a boarder to Geelong Grammar School where he became school captain and joint Dux with Rupert Hamer, who later became Premier of Victoria. A noted sportsman, he played in the 1st Xl while still in junior school and went on to establish the school record with 288 not out against Xavier College (his second double century against the school), as well as winning colours for football and athletics.
A man of quiet inner-strength, Hay was not one to tolerate just being a Canberra departmental front-man. Having his submissions for greater haste in the devolution of decision-making to local hands go largely unheeded further aggravated his position.
When the Whitlam Government phased out the Department of External Territories at the end of 1973, Hay, well versed in matters of government and with an understanding of service life, was appointed the first military ombudsman. He brought his characteristic instinct of service to that groundbreaking role until being appointed Secretary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in 1976. He remained there until he retired in 1979 on health grounds.
An active member of Legacy, he was president of the Canberra branch in 1959. He was chairman of the Canberra Grammar School Council and was for a time an executive member of the ACT branch of the Royal Institute of Public Administration. Throughout his life, he was a strong practising Anglican.
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