Daryl Peter Smeaton (SPC 1962-67)

April 27, 2021

Daryl Smeaton.

We are sad to hear of the passing of Old Collegian Daryl Peter Smeaton (SPC 1962-67) who sadly passed away peacefully on April 13 2021, in Canberra with his wife Laurine of almost 50 years and two children by his side.

Daryl was an adored poppy of four and will be remembered for the support and guidance he gave to his extended family and many friends. A Funeral Mass to celebrate Daryl’s life was held at St John the Apostle Catholic Church in Canberra on April 22.

Daryl will be remembered as an exemplary Ministerial Chief of Staff and servant of the Australian public. Former work colleagues and friends paid tribute to Daryl as a “great public servant and a brilliant Ministerial staffer who always exercised astute judgement tempered by good humour and tolerance for the foibles of others”, for his “principled and compassionate work” and for his “guidance and good-humoured mentoring” of new staff and described in the highest esteem by all he dealt with.

Daryl Smeaton pictured in his matriculation humanities class photograph in 1967.

Daryl was the ninth child of Robert and Jessie Smeaton and commenced Form 1 at SPC in 1962, having completed primary school at Aloysius, Redan and St Patrick’s, Drummond Street. Daryl was a day student at SPC for six years. During that time, Daryl was actively involved in the school’s cadet program and was named as an Under Officer in 1966-67. He was named as the Commanding Under Officer of Platoon 7, which was awarded the Lieutenant-General Secombe Memorial Trophy for the Most Efficient Platoon in 1966, as well receiving an individual award recognising outstanding service. Daryl also received a Father V Ryan Memorial Prize for Christian Doctrine award in his Leaving year and was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship in his intermediate year to complete his secondary education. During his junior years, Daryl was recognised as the Most Efficient Junior NCO in the school’s cadet program in 1965 and received an intermediate A award.

Daryl Smeaton pictured in the 1967 College Annual.

On completion of his matriculation at SPC in 1967, and just before turning 18, Daryl moved to Canberra with his family and it was the start of a distinguished career in the public service.

Daryl joined the Public Service and was quickly promoted to higher levels within various Departments. He commenced university study in 1972 and completed a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Public Administration, Politics and Law.

He was initially Departmental Liaison Officer to the Attorney-General and from 1973 to 1975 he provided Ministerial Services to the Special Minister of State.

In November 1975, his office was in Old Parliament House and he was one of the many who congregated to hear Gough Whitlam’s famous speech.

Between 1987 and 1994 he worked as Senior Private Secretary and Chief of Staff to two Ministers for Justice. One of which was Senator Michael Tate, who later went on to be ordained to the Priesthood and is now Fr Michael Tate in Hobart.

A highlight of Daryl’s career was, following Port Arthur, he co-authored the writing of the Gun Control Legislation and was instrumental in the introduction of this Legislation by the Howard Government in 1996.

Another role was Head of the Commonwealth Law Enforcement Board. He also worked a short time for the Australian Federal Police as a Government Relations Advisor.

After leaving Government employment, Daryl worked in private industry as CEO Real Estate Institute of Australia, CEO Alcohol Education & Rehabilitation Foundation and CEO of Parkinson’s Australia.

He also was Chair of the Catholic Education Commission, Archdiocese, Canberra and Goulburn for 10 years.

After retiring from work, Daryl suffered from dementia.  Daryl sadly died as a result of dementia on April 13, 2021 aged 71 years. Tributes in the Canberra Times pay testament to the work done by Daryl and indicate the high regard in which he was held by those who knew and worked with him.

Daryl was a fanatical Richmond supporter and was able to enjoy three recent premierships won by his beloved Tigers. Daryl was also interviewed about his distinguished career in this extensive interview here

Our thoughts and sympathy are with wife, Laurine, children Erin and Luke and partners and four grandchildren. Thank you also to Daryl’s god friend John Moroney (SPC 1962-67) for his help in preparing this tribute.