Australian Outlook

In this section

Vale Clive Hildebrand AM FAIIA

30 Jun 2023
By Zara Kimpton OAM
Clive Hildebrand and others at the 75th Anniversary AIIA National Conference. Source: AIIA Media.

Clive Hildebrand AM FAIIA died on 25 June 2023. He served as AIIA national president from 2005 to 2010 and as president of AIIA Queensland from 2000 to 2004.

Many of us at the Australian Institute of International Affairs have been sad to hear the news of the death this week of Clive Hildebrand. He died after what turned out to be a longer illness than his doctors had predicted, as he continually confounded the experts’ expectations that his condition would deteriorate rapidly. During this time he remained active, cheerful, and great company to the end. He was devoted to his far-flung family and to his dear wife, Nita.

I first met Clive in the early 2000’s and then served on the national executive (now the board) with him when I became president of AIIA Victoria in 2003.  At the time, the AIIA was in a poor financial position, and Clive spent many months working on a series of documents which together made up the Hildebrand report, which was finalised in 2004. This was an enormous contribution to the AIIA.

In 2005, the Hon Neal Blewett AC announced his intention to step down as AIIA national president after seven years in the role. The search was on for a successor. As chair of the committee which recommended Clive’s appointment, I can say that he was the standout candidate to take on the AIIA at that time – especially in tandem with the newly appointed national vice president, Geoff Miller AO FAIIA.  Geoff was a former president of both the New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory branches of the institute and a very highly regarded former diplomat. Together they brought their business and diplomatic experience to the AIIA as well as regional diversity, with Clive based in Brisbane, Geoff in Sydney, and the national office in Canberra.

In 2005, the AIIA was looking to appoint a new national executive director, and it was here that both Clive and Geoff worked as such an effective team. They recommended the appointment of Melissa Conley Tyler, who was based in Melbourne. This was a daring and inspired choice. Melissa was not the first female appointee, but she was much younger than previous executive directors. She also had a very young family, and she was going to commute to Canberra from Melbourne with time split between the two. In this day and age, this seems normal using tools such as Zoom and Teams. Working from home is now the preferred option for many, but at that time it was very unusual. Melissa remained the national executive director for 13 years, during which she made an enormous contribution. On learning of Clive’s death, Melissa told me, “Clive’s faith in me was quite extraordinary.”  She added that he “built the base for our revival and future success as at a time when we could have gone under. Clive was the right person for the times.”

Clive Hildebrand had an illustrious career. He was born in Gladstone in 1937 and spent much of his life in Queensland, although he spent time in Melbourne and was active in the mining industry in the South Pacific, South Africa, as well as Australia. He was a Queensland Rhodes Scholar, where he studied at Oxford University. Although he had gained his scholarship as an engineering student in Brisbane, he showed the breadth of his interests by taking one of Oxford’s famous arts degrees in politics, philosophy, and economics.

His career included positions as managing director of Australian Anglo American and managing director of QCT Resources. He was chairman of state (Queensland) generator AUSTA Electric and chairman of Highlands Gold and Ross Mining. From 1995 to 2002, he was chairman of the Sugar Research and Development Corporation. In 2001 and 2002, he was “Chair of Chairs” of all 13 Australian Rural Research & Development Corporations. He was also a director of Oil Search Ltd from 2002 to 2007. From 1989 to 1997, he was a council member of Griffith University. From 1995 to 2001, he was honorary professor of the School of International Business and the Graduate School of Management at Griffith University. He was also the author of the Independent Assessment of the Sugar Industry commissioned by Minister Warren Truss and published in 2002. He was a member of the Public Health Advisory Board to the Queensland State Minister for Health and a Director of the Australian Universities Quality Agency (based in Melbourne). He was also a fellow of the AusIMM.

In 1999, Clive was awarded DUniv (Griffith). In 2013, he was honoured as a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his significant service to business, particularly through leadership in the promotion of international relations and the sugar industry, and to tertiary education. In 2016, he was made a fellow of the AIIA (FAIIA) for his distinguished contribution to business, particularly the sugar industry and his leadership in the promotion of international relations.

In talking to both Geoff Miller and Melissa Conley Tyler, I am reminded of the esteem in which Clive Hildebrand was held by all of those who worked with him. As Melissa says, “he never blew his own trumpet.” That wasn’t Clive’s style. He was a modest man and a true gentleman. The AIIA was fortunate that he brought all his experience in the corporate and academic worlds to our institute. He showed by his work on the Hildebrand report that he was prepared to spend time not just directing from above but actually reviewing in detail some of the areas on which we needed to focus.

But above all Clive was a friend to many of us at the AIIA. Geoff Miller has said, “he was an excellent colleague and it was a pleasure to work with him.” I must acknowledge him as my mentor as far as the AIIA is concerned. When I retired as president of AIIA Victoria in 2006, it was Clive who then asked me to chair a national fundraising taskforce so that I could continue my involvement with the institute. During my time as national vice president, I have often turned to Clive for advice and will always be grateful for the time he gave me. I will miss our regular chats and fondly remember our last face-to-face meeting in Brisbane last year. He was already suffering from ill health but still taking a keen interest in what was going on in the world and at the AIIA.

Vale Clive Hildebrand.

A Celebration of Clive’s life will be held on Tuesday 4 July at 11am at Hillstone, Grand View Room, St Lucia Golf Links, Carawa Street, St Lucia Q 4067.

Zara Kimpton OAM is national vice president of the AIIA.

This article is published under a Creative Commons Licence and may be republished with attribution.