Farewell to Peter Taylor of Nimmitabel, a giant among agriculture leaders

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Nimmitabel rancher Peter Taylor was a zealous and efficient leader in the agricultural industry. Photo: provided.

“Handing primary industry over to labor magnate Simon Crean is like putting Ned Kelly in charge of security at Westpac.”

At the top of the Sydney Morning Herald The quote of the year published on December 31, 1991 was this one from Peter Taylor.

Those who knew him would laugh: formidable intelligence, dexterous and without subtlety, he never missed an opportunity to be provocative.

Ask his 14 grandchildren who became adept at speech and debate amid gatherings involving their grandfather.

Peter Taylor was greeted by hundreds of people at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Nimmitabel last week.

His 84 years represented a life fully lived; a man who entered the world and died on his beloved Monaro, initially a quiet bookish child who became a veterinarian, farmer, husband, father and one of the most memorable agricultural leaders of the century.


READ ALSO: Death of agricultural “giant” Peter Taylor at Nimmitabel


Peter was born in Cooma Hospital in December 1937 to Charles, a farmer, and Rita Taylor, a teacher.

Her sister Robyn said her brother was very small, not athletic at all, didn’t like being in the paddocks and had a particular disdain for horses – used prolifically on the farm – and it was their mother who shaped her son’s love of learning. and problem solving.

Sent to boarding school at the age of seven, first to Beecroft Grammar – his bread and jam days – then to The Kings School until 1954, Peter excelled academically and received a Commonwealth Scholarship to study Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney.

He graduated in 1959 with second-class honours, a University Blue for shooting and the heart of fellow scholar Anne Hudson, daughter of Snowy Hydro’s father Sir William Hudson.

The two soon became engaged and married in 1961, pproducing four boys during the five years the Taylors lived at “Bellevue” Nimmitabel.

Here the young family roamed, rode horses, camped, fished and explored the backyard that was their home in the Snowy Mountains.

They would later buy and settle in “Bobingah”, where he would come to live his life.

In in the 1980s and 1990s, Peter Taylor, the zealous and vocal lawyer, activist, reformer, emerged, Robyn said.

“I can only say that this person represented a complete personality change. I really don’t know what happened,” she said.


READ ALSO: Queen’s birthday honored for classy Cooma sheep


Initially mixing farming with representation on the Bombala Range Protection Board, Monaro County Council, Bibbenluke and Bombala Shire Councils, he was concurrently a producer member of the NSW Meat Industry Authority and the NSW Livestock and Grain Producers Association (LGPA) General Council, Economics, Education, Lands and Local Government, Pesticides and Wool Committees until early 1980s.

NSW farmers were emerging as a formidable expression of the interests of farmers in the state. Peter, then a member of the Executive Committee and Solicitor General, was following a similar trajectory with roles on the NSW Government’s Inquiry Committee into Young Farmer Settlement Schemes, the Economics Committee of the Confederation of Australian Industry , of the CSIRO Advisory Committee on Ethics in Animal Research and Wool Production Research. Consultative Committee.

He was a New South Wales farmers’ nominated delegate to the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and the Wool Council of Australia. He then became vice-chairman of NSW Farmers, senior vice-chairman and in 1990, chairman.

He had the worst times on his own land; the grief, tenacity and courage that followed would spark his resolve to stand up for farmers at all levels.

When Peter was about to take over as president of the NFF in May 1988, Anne fell terminally ill. Peter decided that she would come first, devoting himself unconditionally to her care until her death in September.


READ ALSO: Farewell To Crookwell’s John ‘Sam’ Williams, A True Merino Legend


Aversion to the land in his childhood, Peter Taylor was nevertheless a “bushie”.

He didn’t buy computers; he built them with programs to administer the farm. He learned to fly and was a competent mechanic. He sailed in a boat he built out of sheets of plywood and resin and immersed himself late in life in reading, rugged bridge tournaments and bringing his vision of a Snowy Hydro Museum to life.

No matter where he stood – whether in the boardroom, the village hall, the parliamentary offices or in the paddock – Peter Taylor commanded the room and led by example, as a father and widower, to his four sons who would also thrive.

He was one of the last of a generation of farmers who truly represented the dust, the mud and the hard-working, voiceless nature of this role.

He died where he wanted – at home just weeks after reuniting with his family for Easter in the bush. His life was spent in the church where his wife had played the organ, the stained glass windows and roof of which were donated in his memory.

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