Vale - Burnet founding chairman the Hon Geoffrey Connard AM

Tracy Parish

29 January, 2013

The Board and staff of the Burnet Institute are greatly saddened to hear of the passing of the Hon Geoffrey Connard AM, the founding Chairman of the Institute.

Geoffrey was inaugural Chair of the Macfarlane Burnet Centre (MBC) from 1986 to 1990, a member of the Burnet Institute Board until 2007, and a proud, committed supporter of our work over many decades.

His significant contribution played a part in Burnet becoming one of the leading medical research and public health institutes in Australia.

Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb said Geoffrey was an outstanding supporter of the Institute’s work and an inspiration to all who met him.

“Geoffrey never wavered in his faith in the value of the work done by the Burnet Institute and in its ability to make an impact on a global scale,” Professor Crabb said.

“His strong counsel and advice on a range of matters certainly provided encouragement to many of the Institute staff during both difficult times and in the formative development years.

“Geoffrey believed in backing people who had good ideas and giving them the support they needed to get the job done. This shaped the approach of the Burnet Board from day one.”

Geoffrey was always passionate about his family, politics and serving the community.

As a member of the Fairfield Hospital Board, his vision helped forge initial discussions that led to the formation of the Macfarlane Burnet Centre for Medical Research. His vision embraced an independent future for medical research institutes where they set and followed their own agendas.

Without that conviction, also shared with Professor Ian Gust AM, the founding Director, the Centre would most likely have struggled to survive the closure of the Fairfield Hospital. However, this provided the springboard to a new future for Burnet as part of the AMREP campus.

Geoffrey also had a long association with the Liberal Party in Victoria. He joined the Liberal Party in 1944, was a founding member of the Young Liberals and State Country Vice President from 1950 to 1952. He was Treasurer of the Mordialloc branch for 30 years, Chairman of the Mentone and Higinbotham electorate committees, Vice Chairman of the Isaacs electorate committee and Secretary of the Parliamentary Liberal Party from 1988 to 1996.

He led a number of Parliamentary delegations to the Peoples Republic of China, the former USSR, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland.

He also generously founded the Hon Geoffrey Connard Travel Award, which supports international conference travel for postgraduate students at the Institute.

Geoffrey died peacefully on January 27, 2013 aged 87 and is survived by his wife Judith and children Jane, Phillip and Timothy.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Paul Rathbone

Chief of Staff




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