Former minister and unvarnished champion of the bush Vaughan Johnson dead at 75

Tributes were pouring in from all sides of politics after one of Queensland’s most respected former parliamentarians, Vaughan Johnson, died at the weekend.

Jan 23, 2023, updated Jan 23, 2023

Johnson, a former transport minister and drought commissioner who represented the huge outback electorate of Gregory for 25 years, died in his sleep at his Buderim home on Saturday.

A grazier and contractor, he began his political career as a Quilpie Shire councillor and maintained a determined advocacy for the interests of rural and remote Queensland for all of his public life. He was awarded an Order of Australia in 2020 for his community work.

Renowned for his no-nonsense, straight-shooting style, Johnson won friends and admirers on both sides of the political fence throughout a career that spanned the administrations of six premiers, from Wayne Goss to Annastacia Palaszczuk.

LNP Opposition leaderDavid Crisafulli described him as a “champion of all things regional Queensland”.

“A fierce advocate for primary producers, rural communities and transport infrastructure. More importantly, he was a man of true character with a handshake as strong as oak“ he said in a statement.

LNP Senator Susan McDonald said Johnson was “fiercely loyal and a tenacious fighter for his communities in western Queensland”.

“Vaughan always had a colourful turn of phrase like ‘country so good you can plant a feather and grow a chook’,” she said.

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“They broke the mould after Vaughan and I am very sad to hear of his passing.”

Former longtime political journalist Tony Koch said Johnson was a “great Australian”.

“He was just the straightest guy I ever met and also had the strongest handshake of any man I know,” Koch said.


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