Major General the Hon. Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Retd).
Honouring Landcare Australia’s Patron and Australia’s first National Soils Advocate.
Landcare Australia, for whom Major General the Hon. Michael Jeffery was Patron since 2014, joins all Australians in mourning his death on Friday 18 December, 2020.
Major General the Hon. Michael Jeffery was a passionate advocate for improvements in the health of our agricultural landscape. Leading the way as Australia’s first National Soils Advocate, General Jeffrey championed soil health through the integrated management of soil, water, vegetation and animals to the benefit of all Australians.
From Parliament House to the paddock, thousands of people involved in caring for the land met General Jeffery and were inspired by his work. Whilst his legacy will be felt in many ways, for Landcarers, General Jeffery changed attitudes regarding sustainable practices to improve soil health, and has influenced everyone from Prime Ministers to farmers in the paddock.
Major General Michael Jeffery was appointed as Australia’s first National Advocate for Soil Health by then Prime Minister, the Honourable Julia Gillard MP, on 23 October 2012. The appointment was extended by the then Prime Minister, the Honourable Tony Abbott MP, and by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Barnaby Joyce MP, to 31 December 2017. On 18 July 2019 the current Prime Minister, the Honourable Scott Morrison, reappointed Major General Michael Jeffery to the position of National Soils Advocate, noting that the role is intended to be permanent.
In this role, General Jeffery was very involved in creating public awareness of the critical role soil health plays in the wellbeing of the broader landscape. He spoke at numerous events, conferences and field days about soil management issues, meeting farmers, land managers, scientists, policy makers, students, and community groups across Australia, encouraging development of policies and practices to support healthy landscapes.
General Jeffery believed in the importance of helping people understand that good soil health underpins the sustainability and resilience of the landscape, delivering high quality ecosystem services whilst helping to meet global challenges, including food security and climate change issues.
As Patron of Landcare Australia, General Jeffery was a passionate advocate for Landcare and supported the organisation to help raise awareness of the Landcare movement’s work to protect, restore and sustain the productivity and value of Australia’s natural environment.
Landcare Australia Chair Doug Humann AM commented that “General Jeffery was always generous with his time and supportive of our work and the opportunities for collaboration with his Soils for Life initiative. He was a passionate advocate for soils and for landscape health and resilience, and for healthy, vibrant communities. I recall especially his engagement with all attendees at our most recent National Landcare conference in 2018 and his passionate keynote address.”
Landcare Australia CEO Dr Shane Norrish said that as Patron, General Jeffery made a significant contribution to Landcare and the Australian landscape. “His outstanding comprehension of big picture issues enabled him to identify the fundamental importance of supporting good management of soils and other natural resources, which was an area completely different to his previous responsibilities. He saw good soil management as an integral component of Landcare and invested significant time and reputation into supporting Landcare nationally, for which we are very thankful. He was also a great supporter of fostering the next generation of young Landcarers to build an even stronger and more resilient Landcare movement for the future.”
Landcare Australia is grateful for General Jeffery’s inspiration and recognition of good soils management as the foundation of sustainable production systems. Working with General Jeffery as the Patron of Landcare Australia has been a privilege, and his enormous contribution and enthusiasm for the work of Landcare is greatly and widely appreciated.
I am delighted to have been appointed as Patron of Landcare Australia, especially in the year that marked 25 years since the foundation of the organisation and the launch of the Landcare movement as a national initiative.
Over the last quarter of a century, the Landcare movement has grown, from an unlikely alliance between farmers and conservationists, into one of Australia’s largest and most recognised volunteer movements, in supporting a community of dedicated volunteers and professionals working to achieve a resilient landscape.
Farming groups, Bushcare and Coastcare groups, natural resource management professionals and individual volunteers, work side by side to ensure the health of our natural environment across a diversity of landscapes and locations. Landcare’s reach is Australia wide.
Of particular note is Landcare Australia’s Junior Landcare program. It encourages young people to develop a sense of responsibility to the land and other natural resources, and in so doing to play an active role in ensuring the healthy future of the environment.
As an adjunct to this, I am particularly keen to support a concept in which every school in Australia has a school garden, that teaches our children, from a young age, where their food comes from, and how important the health of our natural environment is to ensuring its future supply.
As Patron of Landcare Australia I look forward to fostering the next generation of young Landcarers and building an even stronger and more resilient Landcare movement for the future.