Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

John Saxon Tingle (1931–2022)

by Sally Rawsthorne and Georgina Mitchell

Journalist and politician John Tingle has died at the age of 90, his daughter – ABC journalist Laura Tingle – announced on Saturday morning.

A former broadcaster, Tingle founded the Shooters Party – now the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party – in 1992 and was elected to the NSW upper house in 1995, serving for 11 years as the party’s lone parliamentary representative.

He started the single-issue party focused on gun laws after a lunch with former police minister Ted Pickering to discuss proposed legislative changes.

“I said: ‘Look, Ted, if you bring in these laws shooters will go political.’ He replied: ’No they won’t, they’re too disorganised, too inert, too lazy to get off their bums and do anything,” Tingle told the Herald when he announced his retirement in 2005.

“By the end of the week we had 1000 members. I didn’t really want to start a political party. It was a joke to put the wind up Ted, but it took off, and I got stuck with it,” he said.

Tingle was born in Bondi in November 1931 and worked at smaller radio stations before securing a cadetship with the ABC in Sydney in the 1950s.

He moved to commercial radio in 1969 and had a long career in radio and television, presenting programs for the ABC, 2GB, 2UE, Seven, Nine, SBS and WIN. He died on Friday, a few months short of turning 91.

In a tribute to her father on Saturday morning, Laura Tingle said he had lived an “extraordinary life” and was happy and loved at the end.

“Apart from all else, of course, he was my greatest urger-on, fan and critic in my professional life and so proud I had followed him into journalism,” she said.

“He taught me at 15 what was the most important question to ask, cheered me on to tackle the small and mean people in politics, and [taught me] to not be afraid to celebrate the transformative people and moments it sometimes gives us. And to always report what you believe to be true.”

In an obituary, Laura Tingle wrote about her father’s love of classical music and sound equipment, which spurred his media career – initially as a panel operator, and later writing and reading the news at smaller stations.

Throughout a long career, her father always seemed to be at the centre of things, Tingle said – including exotic overseas assignments, attending a press conference for The Beatles at Sydney Airport, and filming Harold Holt at Cheviot Beach a month before the Prime Minister would vanish there.

“He retired to Port Macquarie and later to Wauchope, taking an active interest in the life of both communities and acting as an advocate for them,” Tingle wrote.

“He is survived by his sister Margaret, his three children and his two grandchildren, Tosca and Kristian.”

Laura Tingle’s obituary for her father, John, in full:

John Saxon Tingle (November 2, 1931 – August 5, 2022)

John Tingle had never planned a life in journalism or in public as a young man.

But for almost 70 years, Tingle, who has died a few months short of his 91st birthday, was a voice familiar to hundreds of thousands of Australians, as an ABC journalist, a commercial radio broadcaster, a politician and a community advocate.

He was born in Bondi at the height of the Great Depression and was carried across the brand new Sydney Harbour Bridge on the day it officially opened in March 1932 as a baby.

His parents – Leigh Lewis Tingle and Maureen Patricia O’Rourke – were a colourful pair: Leigh a frustrated thespian and dreamer who had been forced to go into pharmacy by his father; Molly also a dreamer on a plane all of her own.

With his younger sister Margaret, he grew up in a flat in the Bondi Beach hinterland, spending many of his days on the beach and nights listening to music on the radio.

At the age of 9 he heard the Swedish tenor Jussi Björling singing Puccini and it was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with both the singer and the composer.

He inherited his father’s love of sound equipment and, despite plenty of opportunities, always preferred to hear recorded music rather than live performances, arguing the recorded version was always going to be the better and more perfect performance.

It was this fascination with sound equipment and music that initially drove him in to radio, where his ambitions were to act as a panel operator. But he found that, when he had been hired in a series of small town radio stations, he was often the only staff on hand and would find himself writing and reading the news as well.

This led on to a cadetship in the ABC newsroom in William Street, Sydney, where he met and, in 1955, married his wife, Pam.

He had a long career with the ABC, working in both radio and television, including as director of TV news in Sydney at Gore Hill.

He would often go on what seemed to his children to be exotic overseas assignments, including to England, Africa, India and Papua New Guinea.

And he always seemed to be at the centre of things – whether attending The Beatles press conference at Sydney Airport or, along with a then-aspiring cameraman Don McAlpine, swimming with then-Prime Minister Harold Holt at Cheviot Beach – where Holt was to drown just a month later – to record his passion for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Tingle moved into commercial radio at 2UE in 1969, and a long career as a talkback host – when that form of radio was at its peak – followed through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, primarily in Sydney but also in Melbourne and Brisbane. He also presented television programs for the Nine and Seven networks, as well as SBS and WIN in Wollongong.

John and Pam raised three children: Peter, Sally and Laura. But the marriage ended in divorce in 1976. Tingle subsequently married Gail Williams in 1980 and the pair were together until they divorced in 2012.

A lifelong interest in guns and shooting made the subject of Australia’s gun laws a particular passion which led him to found the Shooters Party in 1992.

Partly as a result of a dare, he stood for the NSW Parliament’s upper house in 1995 and – much to his shock – was successful.

He went on to serve the Parliament for eleven years, developing warm and sometimes unlikely relationships with other MPs from across the political spectrum. Labor’s Tony Burke, Independent MP Tony Windsor and Greens politician Ian Cohen were among those who remembered his contribution to intelligent debates about legislation well.

He retired to Port Macquarie and later to Wauchope, taking an active interest in the life of both communities and acting as an advocate for them. He is survived by his sister Margaret, his three children and his two grandchildren, Tosca and Kristian.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

Sally Rawsthorne and Georgina Mitchell, 'Tingle, John Saxon (1931–2022)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024