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Grundy, Ian (1937–2006)

by Alan Cameron

Ian Grundy, n.d.

Ian Grundy, n.d.

It is with regret that I advise the death on 17 January 2006 of Ian Grundy in Brisbane at 68 years of age. (Ian’s photo was taken in 2004.) Ian was born at Jandowae on the Darling Downs. During high school he boarded at the Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie) in Brisbane, matriculating in 1954. He was awarded a TPNG Administration Scholarship to enable him to undertake the 4 year course at the University of Queensland/Australian Forestry School, plus a field year (1957) in PNG largely spent at Kerevat and Bulolo. Ian graduated from the AFS in 1959 and became a Member of the IFA at that time.

His first posting with the PNG Department of Forests was to Brown River, 42 km north of Port Moresby, in charge of the forest station, teak plantation establishment and a large native labour force. Those who have been to Brown River Forest Station would fondly recall the park area which extended from in front of the Station up to the riverbank. This park with its large, shady raintrees was the scene of many memorable forestry social events. Ian created the park.

While at a Department of Forests picnic at Fisherman’s Island, Ian met his future wife, Pauline, who had come to the Territory in 1958. They had two children, Robyn in late 1961 and Neale in 1966.

In PNG in the early 1960’s Ian went through the forest station management and regional forest administration process, and as an officer in the Department’s Utilisation Division, played an important role in laying the foundations for improved utilisation of the PNG forests which led to the development of the log export industry, without inhibiting local processing. [That initiative was unfortunately subverted long after Ian left PNG.]

Due to a need for special health care for one of his children, the family was forced back to Australia in 1966, where he joined APM in Gippsland, Victoria, (now Amcor) to run part of their Victorian forest estate. He was invited by Kel McGrath to join the Savoy Corporation in 1970, moved to Melbourne, and as a Project Director was largely responsible for the development of Northern Woodchips in Tasmania as well as managing a collection of forest plantations in Queensland and searching for new project opportunities. With the Bond Corporation’s takeover of Savoy Corporation there was a change in corporate direction and attitude which did not appeal to any of the foresters employed at the time, and Ian was invited back to APM in 1974 and moved to Brisbane where he managed and expanded their Queensland forest estate, remaining with APM/Amcor for a further 19 years. In later years he played an important role in obtaining ISO14001 qualification for APM operations in Queensland, one of the early managers in the forestry sector to do so.

In 1993 the expatriate life called again and Ian and Pauline went to Banda Aceh (of recent notoriety) in Indonesia for 3 years. There, Ian was General Manager of a projected pulp and paper enterprise, and guided the development of a major forest plantation project with a short-term target of 165,000 ha. An interesting experience, given the political influences, wild elephants and tigers scattered throughout the concession, and the frustrations of dubious land tenure, illegal logging organised by the people charged with stamping it out, and the odd firefight between the army and the independence movement in Aceh.

In his retirement, Ian was pleased to be invited by Amcor Cartonboard (a division of Amcor Packaging (Australia) Pty Ltd) to assist in the environmental enhancement program of their 237 ha site at Petrie. The Petrie Mill is the only coated cartonboard manufacturing plant in Australia producing over 120,000 tonnes per year. He provided forestry advice on the establishment or re-establishment of a range of rainforest, open forest and wetland environments, and then, being the hands-on person he was, Ian took up a spade to plant trees and shrubs. The result is a credit to the Amcor team involved, and Ian was justly pleased with his own contribution.

As a graduate forester of the 1950’s, Ian Grundy was trained in a broad variety of fields, and successfully practised in all of those fields at some stage in his career, plus some activities for which no specific training was possible. In such areas your skill depends on your character and Ian had what it takes. He dealt with the inhabitants of some, then untamed, areas in PNG, with some highly prominent union officials in Australia, with Indonesian Ministers, Provincial Governors and Officials, and at times with rebels, as well as with Australian associates. He handled it all well – as relaxed with the garbage collector as with the Governor.

Ian was always very concerned for the welfare of his staff and, as a result, they would willingly walk over hot coals to help him. He never had any trouble with callouts to fight fires!

Ian had the ability to cut through the bumf, to get to the core of a situation and fix it, while others would continue to waffle on, hoping the problem would fix itself or at least go away. He had the persistence, perhaps at times doggedness, to stay with a problem until it was solved, and the humility not to boast about his successes, but rather to share the credit. He had that rare quality we used to call “common sense”, and he used it well. Ian had a level of integrity that is less evident in today’s corporate and political worlds – and he will be missed for his demand that things be done right and in the open.

Original publication

  • Forester, vol 49, no 1, March 2006, p 19

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Citation details

Alan Cameron, 'Grundy, Ian (1937–2006)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/grundy-ian-18439/text30084, accessed 21 September 2017.

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