Paul Hunter Barratt AO was best known to the nation and beyond for his illustrious 30-year career in the federal public service, five years as CEO of the Business Council of Australia, and presiding over two prominent non-government organisations: Australians for War Powers Reform and Australia 21.
Yet, here in Armidale Paul - who died last Sunday aged 77 - was revered for extraordinary service to The Armidale School, University of New England, philanthropic endeavours and being a friend to many.
After struggling to get security clearance for his first job in defence intelligence at age 22, Paul had a meteoric rise through the public service.
Within a decade he became Deputy Secretary of National Resources and Trade.
Later highlights include special trade representative for North Asia for Bob Hawke, Secretary of Primary Industries and Energy, and Secretary of Defence, where he oversaw the ongoing build of Collins class submarines in the late 1990s.
He never imagined the ageing fleet would still be in service with no replacement in sight until 2040. Paul was a tireless advocate for a timely, cost effective, fit for purpose and independent new submarine fleet.
Paul was dismayed by Australia's participation in the illegitimate US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 which had no bearing on national defence, but instead caused immense civilian suffering, damaged Australia's standing in the world and provoked a rise in terrorism.
This led him to spearhead the 2012 campaign for an Inquiry into the War in Iraq which evolved into Australians for War Powers Reform. The aim is to democratise the decision to send troops to distant lands by subjecting it to prior parliamentary debate and approval.
As a co-founder in 2001, and later its chairman, Paul toiled at Australia 21, a fiercely independent thinktank dedicated to evidence based research.
It convened expert roundtables to produce recommendations on how to tackle 'wicked' intractable national policy problems. Paul authored many reports including one on post-traumatic stress in emergency services first responders.
An offshoot of Australia 21, the Council for the Human Future develops innovative approaches to existential threats to humanity such as food insecurity, nuclear weapons and climate change.
Armidale was fortunate when Paul came home in so-called retirement. From age two he was raised here where he attended The Armidale School.
TAS lived up to its reputation for outdoor adventure when, in early spring 1959, Paul and 13 other cadets embarked on Operation Backwoods; an epic eight-day cross country trek from Armidale to Grafton via the gorge country.
Paul described it as '96 miles away as the crow flies' but on foot it was closer to 200km. As wireless communications broke down, the group messaged the school via carrier pigeon. New pigeons were dropped to them by parachute! Paul's account was published in the Armidalian, Walkabout magazine and reported by the ABC.
An esteemed 'old boy', Paul rejoined TAS in 2010 as a Member of the non-profit company governing the school and frequented TAS events. Ironically, his nemesis, former defence minister John Moore is also an old boy.
Paul never tired of saying that, in a cohort of 24, his father was the first student enrolled at New England University College with 001 on his id card.
After the war, his parents Shirley and Paul Barratt senior worked in psychology at the University of New England. (Shirley was also an extra in a 1953 movie about local bushranger - Captain Thunderbolt.)
Paul's father became a professor and a UNE lecture theatre was named in his honour. Paul junior took a degree in physics and was a member of Wright College from 1961 to 1965.
He was perplexed when the college was bulldozed in 1996. The old boys lobbied hard for their beloved college to be resurrected and so it was in 2015. Paul launched its reopening.
He paid homage to Phillip Arundell Wright for donating land to UNE including Laureldale Farm, Consett Davis playing fields, the creek flats and the site of Wright College Mark II.
The ties to UNE were enduring. Paul returned to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997.
UNE set the trend as two years later he received a gong: Officer of the Order of Australia OA for service to public administration, policy development, business and international trade.
He was back to complete a corporate director's course in 1999. In 2006 he commenced thirteen years' service as a Director of UNE Foundation including four years as Chair. His scholarly endeavours at UNE resumed as an Adjunct Professor of Humanities in 2015.
He was valued as a presenter and attendee in Humanities seminars. Paul mainly published on Australia's defence and foreign policy. Another focus was public service integrity. His contributions were recognised in 2019 with a UNE Honorary Doctor of Letters.
Paul's 28,000 Twitter followers were enthralled by his wry, incisive commentary on politics and policy. He was also a man of refined cultural taste. A classical music buff, he enjoyed orchestral concerts in Armidale, Sydney, and even the Sibelius festival in far flung Finland.
He was a great benefactor of the New England Regional Art Museum where he adopted two Arthur Streeton paintings in the renowned Howard Hinton collection of Australian art to enable their restoration.
Paul was a monthly donor to NERAM Foundation, rarely missed gallery functions and purchased paintings at the splendid annual Packsaddle fundraising exhibition.
With Rotary Armidale, Paul's final local legacy was setting up the Regional Employment Agriculture Project REAP for Ezidi refugees.
He also made a submission to a senate inquiry advocating for such projects. Armidale has a 500-plus strong Ezidi community who fled the Islamic State genocide at Mt Sinjar in Iraq.
Rotary members offered their farms for Ezidi to grow crops as a form of training and sustenance. In early spring the first group of Ezidi families mulched plots in preparation for planting.
For his efforts on behalf of Ezidis, Rotarians presented Paul with a perfect replica of the Collins submarine by world class defence model maker Russ French. Based in Uralla, French was commissioned to make the original Collins model prior to its build two decades ago.
Paul was a bon vivant and perfect guest with a bottle of local fine wine in tow, ever appreciative of the food laid before him and a brilliant raconteur of his exploits in the nation's capital and on missions abroad.
At the Gold Fish Bowl café where he held court every Saturday morning we will think of him. At Charlie's Last Stand where he had his customary tipple on Friday nights we will toast him for a life well lived. A life of boundless enthusiasm, compassion, service and integrity.
Paul is survived by his family in Perth: Tom, Anna, Pauline, and Oscar.
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