William (Bill) Cushing (SPC 1954-57)
February 16, 2021
Old Collegian Bill Cushing (SPC 1954-57) sadly passed away just shy of his 80th birthday on August 19, 2020. His career as a senior public servant and his later retirement years have been fondly remembered as epitomising the values that underpin a strong public service.
Bill was born on December 27, 1940 in Deniliquin, NSW, and became a boarder at SPC between 1954-57, culminating in the achievement of College Dux.
He was also an assisting Prefect, recipient of a Commonwealth Scholarship and Alliance Francaise Prize and was named as a Second Year Matriculation Prefect in the 1957 College Annual. He was also a member of the Galvin House Oval Football premiership team, and good sprinter and member of the Sodality of Our Lady.
Bill went on to Newman College, University of Melbourne between 1958-63 where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce with honours in economics and economic history. He was a brilliant student and was awarded numerous scholarships.
Bill’s career started in 1964 in the Commonwealth Public Service in Canberra in the Bureau of Census and Statistics. By 1973, as an assistant statistician, he was responsible for production of Australia’s balance of payment estimates. He also continued his studies in computer programming, finite mathematics and operations research and post graduate studies and experience in national economic accounting at Canadian and US national statistics agencies in 1972-73.
Between 1973-75, Bill was assistant secretary in the Department of Urban and Regional Development, one of the new departments set up by the Whitlam government. Bill was appointed to various positions, including as acting first assistant secretary in 1982, with responsibilities covering Defence and Government, advising on resourcing and effectiveness of policies for defence, national security and immigration.
In 1983, Bill joined the public service in Victoria bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience, first in the Department of Premiers and then as deputy director general in the reforming Department of Industry, Technology and Resources. He was remembered as an economist who “brought a new level of intellectual challenge and rigour to the Victorian public service at that time”. He was successful in advocating for the creation of a state balance sheet, which was published in the early 1990s in a first for Australia by the then-Victorian Treasury. He was described as “always the man to have on the team when reform was needed” and served in the Victorian Ministry of Housing, associate deputy secretary in the Department of Premier and Cabinet and in 1991 joined the Victorian Treasury Department, as executive director of Budget and Economics. His last government appointment was as an expert advisor to Treasury on major economic and financial policy matters, and he was a high-level representative of Treasury on major committees. He is remembered for making a significant contribution within Treasury and Finance over this time.
Bill retired early after health issues and enjoyed travelling widely in Australia, regular meet-ups on Saturday mornings in Lygon Streets with friends, and a love for the arts and opera until his Parkinson’s disease meant he could no longer enjoy these pastimes.
In a joint tribute written by some of his former work colleagues and dearest friends, Bill was recognised as a man of integrity, intelligence and a commitment to good governance and policy. He is survived by his sister Betsy and nieces Melanie and Erin.
To read the tribute to Bill in more detail, please click here