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Dinner with The Honourable Joe Hockey

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News | 3 Jun 2024
Recently, the College hosted a Formal Dinner with guest of honour, College alumnus (1985-1987), the Honourable Joe Hockey, former Australian Ambassador to the United States (2016-2020), former Australian Federal Treasurer (2013-2015), and Founding Partner and Global President of Bondi Partners, along with his wife Melissa Babbage.

Also present were:
Professor Joanne Wright, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Sydney.
Associate Professor Anna Boucher, Chair of Government and International Relations at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney
The Honourable Justice Robertson Wright, Judge of the Supreme Court of NSW.
Professor Michael Boyer AM, Chief Executive Officer of the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.
Ms Gail O’Brien AO, board member of the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and neighbour to the Hockey Family.
Ms Kerry Anne Chikarovski AM, former Leader of the Opposition of NSW and Fellow of the College.
Mr Paul Scully-Power AM GOSE FRAeS, college alumnus, astronaut and the first Australian-born person to journey into space.
Ms Josephine Sukkar AM, Chair of Sport Australia, and Mr Tony Sukkar AM, Co-Founder Buildcorp.
Mr John McCarthy KCSG GCPO KC, Former Ambassador to the Holy See.
Mr John Coorey, Chairman of the St John’s College Council.
Prof Bernadette Tobin AO GCSG, Former Chair of the St John’s College Council.

The introduction of our guest speaker was given by Xavier Leaver (Arts/Law I), who spoke to their common university degrees, as well as some of Mr Hockey’s early interactions with former Prime Minister Mr Tony Abbott AC.

It is my distinct honour to introduce to you the Honourable Joe Hockey – a man who, through his many years of exceptional public service, has helped shape the Australia we know today.
A Sydney local, Mr Hockey was born in North Sydney and attended the great institution of education that is St Aloysius’ College. As a Joey’s boy I will not hold that against him. The path he travelled in his early years was marked with diligence and dedication resulting in his acceptance into the dual degrees of a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts.
While at university Mr Hockey resided in our very own halls of St John’s College where he was an active and engaged member of the student community. Mr Hockey also featured heavily in university life through his election as the President of the Student Representative Council. Through his position he made great changes to aid the students of the university such as the institution of free legal advice. Mr Hockey was also a strong presence within university rugby where he was coached by fellow Johnsman and future Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Now, I also read a newspaper report about Tony Abbott once knocking Joe Hockey out cold during a punch up at rugby training in the 1980s, leaving the former Treasurer with two black eyes. Now surely it was the other way round!

Mr Hockey’s address to the Hall spanned a multitude of topics and experiences, taking us from his father’s humble origins as a Bethlehem Armenian immigrant to Australia, his time as a student in residence at St John’s (noting that he had returned to the place where he and his wife were married), and the span of his illustrious political career. He spoke to the nature of the 2016 US Presidential election, highlighting the shifts in the US political landscape, and his personal experiences in working with a succession of sitting and former US Presidents. The College’s “Q&A Master”, Mr Andrew Coorey did another sterling job in leading this part of the event.

Another highlight of the evening was the musical duet of Ennio Morricone’s “Nella Fantasia” sung by Mary-Jean O’Doherty and Sydney Conservatorium student Ms Mairead McCaughan.

Chair of College Council, John Coorey, gave the vote of thanks and presented Joe with a long-overdue College tie, before all guests gathered in the Tower Vestibule for post-dinner conversations.

It can be said that having politicians as guest speakers can be controversial, but in the case of Joe Hockey, he represents all that is great about St John’s College: affable, engaging, intellectual, high-achieving, and most importantly, an individual of utmost integrity. This occasion will go down as one of the best dinners in the history of the College, and I would like to thank Mr Hockey and Melissa for their support of the College and our students.
Dr Mark Schembri





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