June 2014


Vale John Hastings

This is an edited version of Michael Gill’s eulogy for John Hastings, a founding father of AILA.
I found it impossible not to like John.
I think most people who knew him felt the same.
It was clear from the moment you met him he was a genuine and generous person. He did so many things, not for the reward but because he loved people.
John and I met in May 1982 at the London AIDA World Congress. We were the only Australians there.

John had attended the Madrid World Congress in 1978, after which former Justice Michael Kirby asked for his assistance with the Australian Law Reform Commission’s insurance law review.
Four years later John and I were asked by the AIDA world president to establish an Australian chapter of the international body. Having no idea what we were doing, we agreed. I was the first president and John the secretary.
What to do next? Back in Australia, lunch seemed like a good idea: good food and wine and a few old friends joined in with their wisdom: Frank Hoffmann, Syd McDonald, Chris Henri, Robert Owen, Stephen France and Margaret Roberts.  With that, AILA was born.
John was in his element. Not as an insurance lawyer but as a wise counsel, a generous contributor, a lover of people and a determined advocate.
I remember many wonderful occasions. Often there was more noise in the room than wisdom.
We organised Sydney’s first seminar at which Michael Kirby spoke.
The Sydney group was growing well. John had done the first set of rules. He sorted out our accountant, auditor and taxation. On the latter, he seemed to have far better skills than the rest of us.
John was keen for us to move to the other states. AILA’s website speaks of his role in the association’s national expansion.       
But John’s passport was showing signs of impatience.
We focused on New Zealand, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. John was active with all of them, but Indonesia had a special place in his heart. He made two close friends, Henri Gunanto and Amaril, who did most of the establishment work in 1994.
During the first conference with the Indonesians, we learned of their love for karaoke. They suggested a celebration dinner at a karaoke restaurant. We were confident we could match them with a strong rendition of “Danny Boy”. We knew we were in trouble when they turned up with their own sheet music. Perhaps we should have taken them to the opera.
The successful 1994 AIDA World Congress in Sydney also benefited from John’s unique input and energy.
John was one of the first recipients of AILA life membership. For his work in spreading the international body’s aims, he received the AIDA medal, AIDA’s highest accolade, in New York in 2012.
In all of these roles, John’s wife Judy’s presence was constant. They both forged lifelong friendships all over the world. Their good-natured exchanges over dinner live on with us.
John worked for AILA and AIDA for more than 30 years.
But it was not work for a man whose first love was people. It was a personal gift of his talents. In return he enjoyed what was important to him: friends, companionship, new faces, new places and new experiences.
John, in our lives you gifted us something unique. Thank you.