Login
Forgot password?
Vale

VALE TOM HAZELL – A WORKING LIFE WELL LIVED

Thomas Hazell AO KHS KM, a final year student of Parade College’s class of 1954, has died at the age of 80. 

The son of Thomas Hazell sen. and Nora Josephine Dooley, Tom was born in the Cathedral parish of East Melbourne and knew St. Patrick’s all his life. Through the wartime years he served as an altar boy at St. Pat’s, and in time found interest in Gothic Revival architecture, church liturgy, and the work of William Wardell.

As Tom lived in the shadows of the ‘Old Bluestone Pile’, he was destined to pursue his studies at Parade. There in 1953, he was one of 41 students - amongst them Lou Arthur, Barry Blake, Geoff Borrack and Dom Dimattina - who passed his Leaving, and did so in English, French and British History.

Another old College contemporary, the retired judge Russell Lewis, said he can still picture Tom lugging his schoolbooks.

“I remember Tom as a lovely fellow, a very polite chap and a terrific bloke. He just slipped under the radar in later years,” Russell said.

In June 2015, Tom granted an extensive interview with the reporter Katrina Kincade-Sharkey for publication in North & West Melbourne News.

With Katrina’s kind permission, that interview can be reproduced here;

 

Majestically tall, critically observant and serene, Thomas Hazell, OA, recently moved his retirement to a new Brougham Street suite. Already pushing the end of his seventh decade, Tom’s regal bearing owes as much to his overt control of a pressured work environment as it does to his former vice-regal associates.

“The Hazells are an old Melbourne family — fourth or fifth generation — and Mum’s were from Tasmania for at least that long,” Tom says, settling into lunch at Mr Price’s Foodstore while launching his family history.

“Her father in pre-Federation days was Collector of Customs, so the family travelled all over the island. But Mum hated the insularity of the place, so left when she was 20, closely followed by her mother, who was newly widowed at that time.”

Tales of national settlement would have well stood the test of time during Tom’s professional life. His Who’s Who biography notes the West Melbourne native received his Order of Australia in 1999 following a stellar career as Deputy Official Secretary, Office of the Governor of Victoria, from 1986 to 1995, which immediately followed his 18 years as protocol officer for the University of Melbourne.

In all my working life I always overworked,” grins Tom, remembering those two principal stages of the career following his BA (Hons) from Melbourne University.

“At the Office of the Governor of Victoria — with one other secretary — I was responsible for running the Governor’s life … and I served three. Going backwards, they were Richard (‘Dick’) McGarvie; Davis McCaughey, the Northern Irelander; and before that it was Admiral Murray, back in the 1970s — I forget dates now,” he muses, caressing Mr Price’s linen napkin.

“Brian and Janette Murray were lovely people; not everyone would agree, but they were lovely to me. There aren’t many people from that era that I recall to mind fondly, but Brian I do; he was a fine man who had a ghastly death in his 70s from asbestosis, contracted in a gun turret in the Pacific during World War II,” he shudders.

Tom’s life has been privately contained, but that comment reflects the never-ending pain of active military service: was it relieved by the influx of visiting Government House celebrities?

“Most people at the top were interesting, good people,” he smiles, genuinely. “A few crooks made it in, but not many — and that was true of all political colours and persuasions. In all Government House jobs, life had to be neutral.

“The regal system is still very important today, because the Governor — like the monarch — has the right to advise, to warn and to summon people. If you look at it that way, John Kerr did the right thing, but that doesn’t answer the question: should he have done it? Still, Kerr was a man who always liked to test systems.”

Tom frowns, evaluating our 1975 constitutional crisis. Reclining under Gary Price’s latest artworks, Tom praises pollies of old: “Arthur Calwell summed himself up with the name of his autobiography, Be Just and Fear Not. I don’t know why, but his memory seems to have disappeared. We remember the Menzies of the world, but Calwell was a truly compassionate man — he was generous, but died a pauper, having given all his money away.

“He was also a true West Melbourne man — lived on Travencore Estate till the end … and his daughter, Mary Elizabeth Calwell, still lives there today.”

Here is one crux of Tom’s life: “Justin Daniel Simmons, Archbishop of Melbourne [coadjutor from 1942, Archbishop from 1963 to 1967] and parish priest of West Melbourne for 20 years, was a true friend of Arthur Calwell’s, so Justin had Arthur made into a Papal Knight, probably in an attempt to rectify the dreadful situation that arose from the DLP schism in the Labor Party during the late 1950s and early ’60s.

“I remember how proud we were when Arthur appeared in the cathedral [St Patrick’s] in his robes as a Papal Knight; it was a great day!

“I think the current situation with the lack of Christian dedication is a true reflection of the whole of society. It’s displayed in the statements made by supposed leaders — their lack of true humility.”

Tom looks away, flinching as several unkempt youths hitchhike down Queensberry Street.

“For instance — and I’m sure Justin would not mind me telling you this — there were three or four boys in his family and the eldest, James, was the only one who stood up to their father. Unlike the others, though, he became a tramp, lived on the streets around West Melbourne, and I don’t think anyone could do anything with him.

“James lived till he was about 70 and his brother gave him a glorious funeral and buried him in Carlton Cemetery at the north end.

“It shows you what a young country we still are — Justin was the first Australian-born [Catholic] Archbishop, so they rushed him through with his PhD on Thomistic Philosophy [the study of Thomas Aquinas’s beliefs] at the University of Louvain in Belgium immediately before his appointment back here,” Tom says, carefully introducing his recent dread: “Current society fills me with horror — we have NO leadership for the majority of pained people. Even if you abhorred Menzies, he was a leader with principles for the people; there’s so little today.”

Given the relatively high percentage of early Irish settlers to this land, Tom confirms that, as Australia recognised the formation of the Irish Republic, so should we celebrate its centenary.

“Easter 1916 was the Irish Rebellion where the Irish Republic was proclaimed in Dublin. English troops stormed in and civil war broke out, lasting 10 years,” he grates, his fury strongly evident.

“Daniel Mannix is quoted proclaiming ‘England is your enemy and will always be your enemy’. Mannix was Irish, later becoming parish priest of West Melbourne — St Mary Star of the Sea — and Coadjutor Archbishop of Melbourne [1913–1917, then Archbishop 1917–1963] as well as Chaplain General of the Australian Armed Forces.”

Surprisingly perhaps, St Mary’s was the HQ for our anti-conscription movement, as well as the Irish Republican movement in Australia.

“Daniel Mannix became an Irish Republican and one of his best friends was Eamon de Valera, the IRA leader,” Tom reports. “He was just like Mannix: tall, austere, not too many smiles, but he was a glorious man.

“We have to commemorate the appalling tragedy of Ireland in the 20th century. Before the 1848 famine from two successive years’ crop failure, combined with the genocide by the English, Ireland’s population was eight million: today it’s four million … and Lord Russell said ‘Finally this will teach them a lesson!’.”

Tom groans: “He was so fundamentally wrong!”

While publicly less scrutinised, Tom’s work as protocol officer for the University of Melbourne meant that he excelled in public relations practice: “The protocol officer looked after the image of the uni ‘downtown’, acted as a type of aide-de-camp to the Chancellor and maintained a liaison with other colleges, teaching hospitals around Melbourne, and acted as secretary to appointment committees at senior level staff appointments.

“David Derham [Sir and Melbourne University Vice-Chancellor] and I worked every Sunday afternoon and evening to keep ourselves free for our work weeks. We kicked off shoes and coats and got stuck into our bottle of whisky with Lady Derham’s delicious ham sandwiches. Sundays were glorious because we got so much real work done, leaving us free to do the community consultations during the week. That’s when we saw what real thinking downtown was like,” he summarises, astutely. Their time was obviously precious.

Tom critically believes in the power of people: “It amuses me this women’s lib movement, because back then there were many powerful women — they were almost all nuns and medicos. They knew how to get their own way for God and they were totally convinced that what they did for society was correct.

“One of them, Mother Dame Philippa Brasile — Irish, of course — had Mercy Maternity Hospital made a teaching facility, and it developed its name as one of the best maternity hospitals in the world.

“Her counterpart at St V’s was the famous Sister Fabian — she was something! She knew how to handle politicians, organising St Vincent’s Private with several major grants from the Bolte government.

“Then there was ‘Archangels’ — Mother Mary Archangels O’Connor — from the Abbotsford Convent. She virtually singlehandedly established social welfare here from the 1950s. She critically knew what welfare was happening for people everywhere else in the world and wanted it provided here.”

Tom is indelibly linked to local Catholic culture and its history. His extracurricular work efforts include vice president of St Paul’s Home for the Aged since 1987, Assisi Centre for the Aged of Melbourne since 1986, president of the Dante Alighieri Society Melbourne since 1978, and honourable secretary of the Melbourne Diocesan History Commission since 1974.

He is also a former chairman of the Classification Permits and Acquisitions Committee, National Trust of Australia (Vic), and he was the recipient of a UN volunteer medal in 2005 Confirming this fine gentleman’s credentials are international awards of recognition by the Italian, Russian and Maltese governments, in addition to his Medal of the Order of Australia for services to multiculturalism, the arts, the Catholic Church in Melbourne and the community.

Tom Hazell is certainly one of our community, and we’re proud of him.

 

Newspaper notices acknowledging Tom’s passing were placed by Members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; friends in the Order of Malta; fellow trustees of The W R Johnston Trust (of which Tom was also Deputy Chair), along with the staff, volunteers, friends and ambassadors of The Johnston Collection; and the Dante Alighieri Society.

Significantly, Tom’s devoted passion for Italy and its people was awarded with the title of Cavaliere Ufficiale in the Merit Order of the Italian Republic.

Thomas Andrew Hazell died on Wednesday, September 27. On the following Wednesday evening (October 4), a vigil service (Rosary) for Tom was held in St Mary Star of the Sea, West Melbourne, followed by a Panikhida (Byzantine Rite Vigil Prayers).

Standing high on its hill above the Queen Victoria Market, St Mary’s - a lofty building in French neo-Gothic style - is considered a junior twin of Tom’s St Patrick’s Cathedral across the city on Eastern Hill.

Not surprisingly, Tom headed the church’s restoration planning team when the $10 million renewal of St Mary’s commenced some 15 years ago.