Sir George Hermann LUSH (1912 - 2000)

Chancellor (1983 - 1992)

George Lush

Sir George Lush, who died in Melbourne on 5 April 2000 at the age of 87, served Monash University as its fourth chancellor from 1983 to 1992.

George Hermann Lush received his early schooling at Carey Grammar School, where he was dux and school captain. At the University of Melbourne, where he was a member of Ormond College, he was awarded two university exhibitions, achieved much sporting success and graduated with the degree of Master of Laws.

In 1935 he joined the Victorian Bar, where the steady growth of his practice was interrupted by the outbreak of war.

Sir George served in the Infantry, rising from private to captain. He saw front line service, with lengthy periods of almost continuous action, in both the Middle East and New Guinea.

Returning to the Bar in 1946, he soon had a busy and growing practice, despite which he contributed to legal education over many years as an independent lecturer in mercantile law at the University of Melbourne. Sir George was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1957.

Following distinguished terms as chairman of the Victorian Bar Council, and president of the Australian Bar Association, Sir George was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria in February 1966. He served that court with great distinction until October 1983, a few months after he became chancellor of this university.

Sir George received a knighthood in 1979 for his services to the Law.

As chancellor, Sir George Lush chaired the Monash University Council through the turbulent period of the late 1980s, when commonwealth government policy initiated massive change in higher education. Sensitive and difficult merger negotiations between Monash and other institutions occupied much of the time of the university's council and senior management. In this period, as throughout his chairmanship of Council, Sir George's qualities of intelligence, reason, moderation and astuteness, with his incisive wit, were major factors in the constructive resolution of many contentious issues.

Wearing his chancellor's robes over an impeccably tailored black jacket and striped grey trousers, Sir George presided with great dignity at university graduation ceremonies. He had a genuine appreciation of the importance of public recognition of achievement to each of the many thousands of Monash graduates with whom he shook hands on these occasions during his nine years in office.

In March 1993, after his retirement as chancellor, Monash University conferred upon Sir George Lush the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.

A portrait of Sir George Lush, painted by Clifton Pugh in 1985, is held by the Monash University Gallery.

Sir George's funeral service was held at Ormond College on 11 April. Eulogies were delivered by the Hon. John Harber Phillips, Chief Justice of Victoria, and the Rev. Professor Robert Gribben, Dean of Chapel at Ormond College.

Monash University's official representative at the service was Professor Peter Darvall, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development). Also present were Sir George Lush's successor as chancellor, Mr Bill Rogers, Professor Ray Martin (Vice-Chancellor 1977-1987) and Professor Mal Logan (Vice-Chancellor 1987-1996).

In an obituary published on 17 April in The Age, Justice David Harper of the Supreme Court of Victoria wrote of his father-in-law:

"His friendships extended over decades and across a wide variety of social and intellectual boundaries. Never one to bandy words, he detested pomposity. Much of his pleasure was in good conversation to which he invariably made a distinctive and measured contribution, each word deftly sent to its proper destination, each anecdote perfectly constructed and constantly informed by the dry humour he made his own.

"His intelligence gave him wisdom, and his wisdom gave him a deep understanding of the human condition. He was a great Australian."

To Sir George's widow, Lady (Betty) Lush, and to their three daughters and their families, the Monash University community extends sincere sympathy.

By Renn Wortley
Published in Monash Memo, 3 May 2000.