It is with great sadness and deep regret that Australians for Constitutional Monarchy announce the passing of the Honourable James Campbell Irwin, “Jamie”, a former President of the Legislative Council of South Australia, and State Convenor of the South Australian Branch of ACM, in Adelaide on 4 November, 2005.
Jamie was an indefatigable supporter of our constitutional system of government and of the role of the Crown in it. Notwithstanding his illness, he came with Bin, his dear wife, to Sydney in late August of this year to take part in our annual National Conference.
Jamie was highly regarded by all who knew him. His funeral at Christ Church, North Adelaide was attended by the Governor of South Australia, Her Excellency, Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, AC, CVO, MBE.,the Premier, the Ministers of the Crown, the Leader of the Opposition, judges, clergy and other leaders of South Australia.
ACM was represented nationally by Mr Philip Gibson, an old friend of Jamie. The Epistle, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 was read by the Most Reverend John Anthony Hepworth, Archbishop and Primate, and a member of the ACM National Council.
On Monday, 7 November 2005, in a hushed House of Assembly at Parliament House Adelaide, the Premier of South Australia, the Hon. M.D. RANN , moved :
“That the House of Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of the Hon. Jamie Irwin, former president of the Legislative Council, and places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious service, and that as a mark of respect to his memory the sitting of the house be suspended until the ringing of the bells.”
The motion was supported by all in the House, including the Hon. R.G. KERIN, the Leader of the Opposition. The several moving speeches in support of the motion are recorded in Hansard.
The Premier reflected the unanimous view of the House when he said he was paying tribute “to a very fine South Australian.”
“ The Hon. Jamie Irwin was widely respected for his integrity, his compassion and his unflagging commitment to the interests of rural South Australians and for his excellent service, in particular, as President of the Legislative Council… I personally want to extend my sympathies and best wishes to his immediate and extended family. They deserve to feel very proud of his contribution to this state.”
James Campbell Irwin was born in Adelaide on 16 April 1937, the son of Sir James Irwin. He was educated at the Queen’s School and at St Peter’s College, and at the Royal Agricultural College in the United Kingdom. His career prior to entering parliament was centred on primary industries, in particular managing the family farm near Keith in the South-East.
He was elected to the Legislative Council for the Liberal Party on 7 December 1985. He rose to be his party’s whip, and then in the Ministry. In 1997 he was elected unopposed as President of the Legislative Council, a position which he held until his retirement in February 2003.
As the Premier said, Jamie was widely respected across the political spectrum as President of the Legislative Council. He was seen as a thoughtful, conciliatory, calm, and never heavy-handed, respected by all sides of politics for his impeccable fairness and his impeccable integrity. He oversaw the introduction of the Citizen’s Right of Reply in the Legislative Council.
Jamie had a strong faith, and a man of great decency, charm and great personal charity – as the Premier said, a man “ who gave more than he took. He brought out the best in people, and he treated people (including those who worked for him) with great decency.”
The Hon. Peter Lewis, a former Speaker, pointed out that both he and Jamie were both members of the Samuel Griffith Society, both committed to the concept of constitutional monarchy, the doctrine of the separation of powers and both staunch Christians and members of the Anglican Church
The Premier acknowledged that in the debate over the republic, Jamie was an "articulate and staunch supporter of the monarchy".
“ He was a man of the land, a community leader, a son of the Upper South-East, a widely-respected and capable parliamentarian, a leading figure in his church and a gentleman in every sense of the word.
“James Campbell Irwin was all these things and more. On behalf of members on this side of the house, I extend my condolences to his family, and I commend and honour him for his contribution to our state and to the lives of South Australians. May he rest in peace.”
After a number of supporting contributions across the chamber, the motion was adopted by members standing in their places in silence.
Jamie is survived by his wife of 45 years, Bin, and his three sons, James, Angus, Campbell and their families.
All of ACM, across the nation, would wish to express to Bin, to their children and to their families, our admiration, our respect and our thanks for James Irwin’s life and what he did to advance the causes and institutions he believed in, and especially our constitutional system and the role of the Crown in it.