Alumni Saturday, 24 Apr 2021

The Hon Ben Wyatt, LLB, MSc, MLA

Class of 1991

The Wyatt name has become synonymous with indigenous affairs at the state and federal level. Ben Sana Wyatt, son of Cedric and Janine Wyatt, was born in Wewak, Papua New Guinea and grew up in the goldfields of Laverton and Kalgoorlie. He studied at Aquinas College from the age of 14 and finished with the Staff Award for General Excellence in 1991. He was a very well-known and popular student who threw himself into all aspects of college life from the cadets to the annual drama production.

Ben read law at the University of Western Australia and went on to graduate from Duntroon Military College. At university, he found politics as “a young aboriginal man trying to be normal” and wanting to establish his own credentials independent of originality. His parents were politically active and he was drawn to it after spending five or so years in practice at Phillips Fox. Ben served as counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions. He continued his study and holds a Master’s Degree with distinction from the London School of Economics.

But politics was calling and when he stood in 2006 for Victoria Park in a by-election triggered by the resignation of former Premier Geoff Gallop, it was his moment. Ben was elected to the Legislative Assembly and has served WA for more than a decade in an area he lived in for more than twenty years.

Ben was appointed Australia’s first Indigenous Australian Treasurer in March 2017 and also held the position of Minister for Finance, Aboriginal Affairs and Lands. He was largely credited with being well on the way to turning the finances of WA around in the two years following the victory over Colin Barnett’s government. This also meant that the portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs was held by Wyatts at both state and federal level: Ben’s father being a cousin of Ken Wyatt AM MP, Federal Member for Hasluck.

Someone who remembers Ben well from Aquinas describes him as “quite self-assured and centred, confident but not brash and very humble. He was very happy to be part of the crowd and not wishing to attract attention to himself.”

In standing down from WA politics in 2021 Ben cited the need to spend more time with his wife and young daughters, Ben said that being Treasurer of Western Australia was: “something I never would have imagined when I was at school.” Covid 19 forced him to rethink and fortunately for WA he has decided to remain in the role of Treasurer. Premier McGowan says of Ben: “He has done an exceptional job as Treasurer. It’s a marvellous story and something that all West Australians should be very proud of”.

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Alumni Friday, 01 Jan 2021

Paul Lockyer

Class of 1967

As a senior television journalist, Paul Lockyer’s work was widely seen and respected by viewers across the country and beyond. Very sadly he met an untimely death at the age of 61 in an air crash at Lake Eyre while on a story for the ABC.

Paul came to Aquinas College from Corrigin where his parents Nona and Norman Lockyer ran a farm. They brought him to board at Aquinas in 1963 and apart from the usual adjustment period Paul loved his time at school and showed his sons around it with pride years later. Paul excelled at hockey and was vice-captain of the team the year he left. He was a cadet in 1965-67 and was a member of the YCS, the Legion of Mary and Veritas. He also played a lead part in the Musical Oklahoma in 1966, the songs of which stayed with him for years to come according to his sons.

Within two years of leaving school, Paul secured a highly-prized cadetship with the ABC. He began a stellar career spending time in Sydney and Canberra before being promoted to a correspondent in Port Moresby, then working in Jakarta and Bangkok. His reporting during the Vietnam War was rated highly and he was responsible for bringing the truth of the Khmer Rouge killing fields to our screens.

Paul was posted to Washington DC during the Reagan administration and also covered central and North America. He returned to Asia and received accolades for his coverage of the trial of drug-traffickers Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers, nominated for a Gold Walkely for his coverage.

He moved to the Nine Network and was a senior correspondent in many fields covering droughts for A Current Affair and working on Sunday, Midday, and the Wide World of Sports. He won a Logie Award for Most Outstanding News Reporter in 2001 for his coverage of the Olympic Games.

Paul returned to the ABC to become an anchor for the WA news. But he will be remembered mostly for his coverage, and love, of the land. One of the marks of the man is the great camaraderie he shared with his working colleagues. Household names from the ABC lined up to pay tribute to his work in 2011 when he was killed in a helicopter crash at Lake Eyre.

Paul was an Aquinian through and through. He helped to build the Chapel wall made from Mt Barker stone and was married at Aquinas. His son paid a loving tribute to him: “…not just for being a respected journalist who got so much out of people, but also a man of the land. More importantly as a brilliant father and the most beautiful kind man you could ever come across.”

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Alumni Thursday, 03 Dec 2020

Murray Ward

Class of 1954

The memory of Murray Ward is still fresh in the minds of Aquinians old and new. He touched so many generations. His peers at the College in 1954 remember him as an outstanding sportsman: he was Captain of the 1st XVIII, winner of Best and Fairest Footballer, Athletics Captain, Vice-Captain of Cricket and Prefect to boot. Academically, he also excelled winning the History and Geography Prizes. He was a member of both the shooting and swimming teams, Murray also broke the Australian Junior Hurdles record while at Aquinas College.

Four years later, he was a member of the winning WA medley relay team at the Australian Athletics. Possibly as a reward for his long list of achievements, he and Neville Salt were chosen by Br Murphy to go to Canberra to greet Queen Elizabeth II during her tour of Australia that year.

He played for the Claremont Football Club throughout the 1950s and 60s. As Director of Football at Claremont, he also saw the club win the Premiership in 1981 and contest the final in 1982 and 1983. In short, wherever he was in sport, success followed. However, he never really left Aquinas and continued to coach boys for 45 years. During this time, the school won 27 Interschool Athletics championships. He also coached the 1st XVIII Football team for a decade in the 1970s, during which time the school won the Alcock Cup seven times!

Those who knew him whisper Murray’s name in awe. The selflessness of the man is legendary. It was his way to do the work, train hard, win the game and go home. He never stayed for the celebration or the press photo. As far as he was concerned when the team won the job was done, leaving the glory of the after-party to those younger and fitter. It seemed, there was as much pleasure in helping the next generation to win as there had been for him in winning in the first place.

His Headmaster Br Murphy commented in his final year Annual: “Not only have Murray Ward and Neville Salt shown outstanding sporting ability but their manly bearing and excellent leadership have been immense value in maintaining a high standard of conduct and a good moral tone amongst the boys.”

At his funeral in November 2016, many spoke of his faith: he was president of the Holy Name Society and lived his faith from an early age. He also helped reintroduce the Rosary on a Tuesday morning at Aquinas College and rounded up a number of Old Boys to support it – a faith tradition that continues today for students each week.

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Alumni Tuesday, 01 Dec 2020

Justin Langer

Class of 1987

Justin Langer showed his talent as a left-handed batsman early on the field at Aquinas. By no means just a cricketer, Justin also picked up the English Prize in Year 12 and proved himself as a footballer. He represented the state in Football, the same year he started hitting the ball out of the cricket field. Justin excelled at Cricket while at school and was first picked for Australia in the U/19 team. He played for the 1st XI every year at Aquinas College (with Honours) and was the PSA Representative each year. He left in 1987 with the “Most Outstanding Batsman” prize with the top batting average of 51.50 as Vice-Captain.

Justin toured England while at the school. He was accepted into the Australian Cricket Academy in 1990 at the age of only 19. He made an outstanding debut for Western Australia at the 1991-92 Sheffield Shield match and impressively made his Test debut for Australia the following year at the age of 22.

His ability to work with other people is the quality most people mention and the reason cited for his outstanding partnership with Matthew Hayden, regarded as one of the most successful partnerships ever in the history of Australian Cricket (total 5,655 runs). This partnership was the thing that picked him out of the crowd as a cricketer. In his last year, he recorded five of the top ten partnerships in his year.

If there is an award for resilience in the Aquinian alma mater then it goes to Justin Langer. His incredible work ethic is often cited as the quality that separates him from the pack. He is also someone who has time for the cricketers of tomorrow as he has a huge impact on boys who have heard him speak. Some of them are not ashamed to admit they have put up on their wall the words Justin said to them that really chime with them.

It is said of him: “he has a strong sense of integrity and values that has held him together in his life, he is a man of the people who seek out new people and enjoys learning. He has evolved. It’s been consistent through his life that hard work and determination are the hallmarks of his career.”

There are few cricketers from his era who go on to coach with the same sense of excellence and drive. Little wonder then he has become such a very popular choice to coach Australia. The moment he shared the news with his father was one of the proudest moments of his life.

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Alumni Tuesday, 03 Nov 2020

Pte Martin Troy

Class of 1908

Martin excelled at Christian Brothers’ in the early part of the last century. His life contains one of the more memorable personal stories of the Great War. An outstanding cricketer: he once took 14/32 while at school. He also still holds the Athletics record for throwing a cricket ball 112yds. On leaving school, he became an accountant at Mily Mily Station near the Murchison River, until the war interrupted his life. His enlistment number was 688, and he joined a month before his 24th birthday.

He landed at Alexandria, Egypt on 3rd February 1915. Two months later, he embarked for Gallipoli on April 12th 1915. Whilst fighting at “Bloody Angle”, he and others from his Battalion were bombed. Knocked senseless by a bomb, he awoke to find his mates Privates White and Gray lying dead beside him. All others he had arrived with were dead or wounded. He crawled away after dark but was captured by a German. This man changed his life when he discovered a Catholic medal from St Stanislaus amongst the dog tags around his neck. He too was a Catholic and the two men communicated in the German’s broken English and spoke about the futility of war. Reportedly, his captor was relieved when it was decided that Martin should be spared. The following three years were terrible hardship and his weight nearly halved during his internment as a Prisoner of War in Turkey. It was reported after the event: “Of those Australians who fought in this action, he was the only one who survived it in the hands of the Turks”.

He was reported missing on 1st May, as no one knew he had survived never mind been taken to the Kaba Tepe Region of Turkey. As a prisoner, Martin worked on the Bagdad Railway Construction Company’s railway and tunnel through the Taurus Mountains. At the end of the war, he was repatriated to England and disembarked at Dover on 8th December 1918. He was clearly well treated and recovered as he marched out from the Australian HQ London to Weymouth nearly a year later and was returned to Fremantle on 2nd April the following year.

Martin went on to live a long and happy life on his return to Australia. He married and had three children: Frank, Joan and Maureen. Joan is the mother of Test cricketer Terry Alderman. Martin’s career as an umpire at the WACA was in sharp contrast with that of his early life, as no doubt his grandson Terry Alderman would testify.

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Alumni Tuesday, 03 Nov 2020

Brian Tonkin

Class of 1967

Brian Tonkin is the product of the glory years of Aquinian rowing. Brian learned about strategy from the stern seat of the First Eight. The cox is the “coach in the boat” and there has been none better than Brian, or “Tonks” as he is more affectionately known. He has been a force for tight teamwork and leadership in rowing at the school for decades. He coxed the First Eight at the Head of the River for four consecutive years ending in his last at Aquinas College.

Brian and his older brother went to Aquinas courtesy of hard-working parents. His father drove a school bus for the government and his mother worked in the dining room at the Christian Brothers, St George’s Terrace as a young woman before she married Brian’s father. It was a real challenge to earn enough between them to send both boys to Aquinas but grit and determination won through and they provided Brian with an education from the Christian Brothers that he treasures to this day.

He arrived at Aquinas at the age of ten in grade five and began to cox “because I was skinny” he says, the following year. Besides loving the sport he was helped along by the promise of a toasted bacon sarny every Wednesday morning from his mum. Brian recalls he was a “shy student” who learned so much from the huge responsibility he had as cox. “You’re in charge of a boat and you can’t see where you are going, yet you have to see the path, you got to know the river”. It helped him navigate his way through life and taught him how to sail through difficult waters strategically. For him, it was a metaphor for life.

Brian worked hard at school and left with honours in rowing before studying for a teaching degree, at Claremont Teachers’ College where he met Shirley his wife, who he married at Aquinas. He returned to the school to teach there and then ran Nunan House with Shirley and his two girls. In total, Brian served 43 years at Aquinas and did 54 years in rowing. His commentary at Champions Lake in later years is legendary and when he finally hung up his microphone many paid tribute to the impact his dulcet tones had on the occasion. But mostly he remembers the Christian Brothers who taught him, “some of the best people I have ever met”.

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Alumni Monday, 02 Nov 2020

Brigadier Gerry Warner AM LVO

Class of 1966

One of the marks of a true Aquinian is his tendency not to sing his own praise. Anthony Gerard Warner (Gerry) is as unassuming as he is impressive. The son of Mary (Molly) Moon from Kalgoorlie and Frank Warner from Leonora, his parents were community-minded people who together with the Christian Brothers at Aquinas College instilled in him from a young age the importance of learning. Gerry who fully admits and regrets that he didn’t try hard enough at school, and “took his foot off the pedal”, nevertheless performed well and has made the most of opportunities since at every turn. He has seen extensive regimental experience in the military and travelled widely, supported the offices and lives of Governors-General and served worked with UN peacekeeping forces.

Graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1971 with the highest military marks in his class, Gerry was allotted to the Royal Australian Artillery. He was encouraged to study on the army’s ticket and gained a BSc (Honours) in Chemistry. Gerry has continued to study with the best in his field at home and abroad throughout his career.

When he set off to Yarralumla to meet the then Governor-General Sir John Kerr in 1976, and compete with two fellow captains in a round of interviews, he was selected as his Aidede-Camp responsible for managing the Governor-General’s functions, travel and appointments.

The upward trajectory of his career continued rapidly and Gerry was appointed a UN Military Observer with UNTSO in the Golan Heights and Southern Lebanon the following year. He returned to Government House as a lieutenant colonel in the eighties as Military Secretary and Comptroller for Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen.

His artillery service included command of 111th Air Defence Battery (Light) in 1981-82 and 16th Air Defence Regiment in 1989-90 and saw him participate in several major exercises in Singapore, Malaysia and Germany. The Queen recognised his services in 1988 by appointing him a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO), a huge honour. He was promoted to Colonel in 1991 and served as Director of Officer Career Management, Army, and then after attending the prestigious US Army War College, as Colonel Operations on Land HQ in Sydney. He was promoted to Brigadier in 1995 and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2000 for “service to the Australian Army as the Head Defence Centre – Perth, Commander 5th Brigade and Chief of Staff Land Headquarters”.

More recently Gerry returned to his native Perth with wife, Gerri, to be CEO of an ex-service organisation that operates and runs retirement villages, aged care facilities and an aviation museum. He also serves on tribunals. From soldier to CEO, Gerry has earned the respect of all who work with him from the forces to members of the Royal Family. Looking back he says: “Aquinas taught me about discipline, duty and gave me a love of learning”.

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Alumni Sunday, 01 Nov 2020

Dr Stephen Knott

Class of 1962

Although the ability to identify people by their teeth had been known for thousands of years, it is only in recent times it has been recognised as a speciality area of dentistry. This speciality termed Forensic Odontology, developed in Europe in the early 1900s and much later in Australia. Stephen has risen through the ranks of dentistry to become one of the most respected forensic odontologists in the country.

Born in Bunbury in 1945 from an Irish – Scottish parentage, Stephen joined Aquinas in Grade 5 and enjoyed everything Aquinas College had to offer. He remembers big classes of nearly fifty students and teaching in the early sixties that reflected the change from the tuition offered by the brothers to include lay teachers. He left Aquinas to embark on six years of study in dentistry at the University of Western Australia with a scholarship, graduating in 1969. He was posted immediately as a dentist to the military for two years with the rank of Captain. Dental care within the army was an education as ”Many who joined the army had poor teeth.”

Stephen joined as an associate within a private practice in Floreat Park in 1971 and later his own practice in Wembley until 2008. In 1992 he returned to study forensic odontology at the University of Melbourne and graduated as the first university-qualified Forensic Odontologist in WA. As science grew so did the need for Stephen’s services. He quickly became an integral member of the WA Forensic team with the then caseload of approximately 45 annually, increasing to the current task of approximately 80 per year.

When members of the Jemaah Islamiyah, a violent Islamist group detonated three bombs in Bali killing 202 people including 88 Australians, the Indonesian government invited the Australian Government to be part of the post-blast forensic investigation. Stephen was deployed by the Australian Federal Police as a member of Australia’s Forensic team. The task was to work with fellow Australian and International dentists to establish the identification of the victims by comparing their teeth with known dental records. It was the first time a single incident involving this number of Australian nationals had happened outside of Australia since WW11. He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his work there.

He has also worked as a Forensic Odontologist in globally significant and tragic events. For example, following the Asian tsunami in 2005, the Victoria bushfires in 2009 and the wreck of the refugee boat SIEV 221 on Christmas Island in 2010. In 2007, to facilitate the training of dentists in Forensic Odontology, he established a post-graduate course in Forensic Odontology at the University of Western Australia. Besides coordinating the UWA Forensic Odontology programme he continues to lecture both nationally and internationally. He is acknowledged as Fellow of the International College of Dentists, Fellow Academy Dentistry International and the international Pierre Fauchard Academy.

Also, he continues to provide Odontology services to WA via his position as Consultant Forensic Odontologist to PathWest, Department of Health, WA. The attitude that permeates his life and has hugely enabled him to get to where he is today, he puts simply as: “If you’re doing something and you enjoy it, you’re not working”.

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Alumni Thursday, 01 Oct 2020

Peter Kennedy

Class of 1959

The life of a political journalist is not an easy one. Politics is a world dominated by two big players on opposing sides of most arguments so the art of writing about this every day without upsetting either side is difficult to get right. One Old Aquinian who has done this with phenomenal skill is Peter Kennedy.

Peter and his older brother Tom followed their father’s tradition of Christian Brothers’ education and joined Aquinas College in 1957. Peter found he took to the academic and sporting life of the school in equal measure. His father was a public servant and part-time cricket and football writer for the Sunday Times while his mother had worked at “The Terrace” as a secretary before she married his father.

Peter finished his year at Aquinas a prefect and an outstanding athlete: winning the Gianotti Cup as Under 15s athletics champion having played in the 1st XI and winning the Scahill Cup for the Most Improved Batsman. He received Honours for his roles in both Football and Cricket and was also made an officer in the Cadets by Br Egan. He studied hard and played hard. Looking back he smiles as he remembers Br Madden’s “Reign of Terror”. But admits it did him good. He studied Economics under Br Manion’s stewardship in his first year at the college and loved it.

On leaving, Peter worked at the library at The West Australian for a bit before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) and a Diploma of Education from UWA and becoming a teacher. When Lang Hancock and Peter Wright started a new paper “The Independent” it created an upward draft for those wishing to get into journalism as many left The West Australian and Peter found this the right moment to enter the profession.

But he became a full-time political reporter for the first time on the Sydney Morning Herald in 1978 with the title State Political Correspondent. He covered the 1978 NSW state election and later was appointed to the Herald’s Press Gallery office in Canberra. He returned to Perth in 1995 to be press secretary to Deputy Premier Malcolm Bryce.

Changing course to radio, Peter joined the ABC in 1990 working for Perth’s ABC 720 and went on to present both the Drive and The Morning Programmes. Although retired, Peter finds time to write for WA’s Business News and is Adjunct Professor for Arts and Sciences at Notre Dame, and the phone continues to ring for his wisdom on all things political. He feels blessed to be surrounded by his son and daughter and a combined six grandchildren along with his second wife Chris.

The launch of his book: “Tales from Boom Town: Western Australian Premiers from Brand to Barnett” was a “Who’s Who” of West Australian politics from both sides including speeches from former premiers Richard Court and Geoff Gallop. It is beyond dispute that elder statesmen of Western Australia all take Peter’s call, whenever it may come.

Looking back Peter says of his time at Aquinas: “I was fortunate to be taught by men who were committed and gave me a good sense of the value of learning”.

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