Former Eden-Monaro MP Bob Whan dies

Former Eden-Monaro MP Bob Whan dies

Former Eden-Monaro MP Bob Whan​ AM died on Sunday, aged 82.

Mr Whan served as the bellwether seat's Labor representative in the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1975.

Former Eden-Monaro MP Bob Whan has died.

Former Eden-Monaro MP Bob Whan has died.

Aside from politics, he founded Canberra organisation Jobless Action, was executive director of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid and head of the NSW Milk Board.

He also served as NSW politician Richard Amery's​ chief of staff.


Mr Whan suffered a cardiac arrest last week and did not regain consciousness. He died Sunday night.

His son, former Labor politician Steve Whan, paid tribute to his father on social media.

"We and many others will miss his stories (even the ones we had heard a million times!), his passion for important issues and for having a talk," he wrote in a Facebook post.

"Dad led a selfless life, he strove to improve our society, he was a Labor man and he lived it.

"We will miss him. Rest in peace Bob Whan."

Steve said his father made a major contribution to the Australian wool industry before entering politics.

He was a life member of the Labor Party and the Benevolent Society and had a CSIRO medal.

But his biggest achievement was his role as a husband, father and grandfather, his son said.

"Most importantly though he was a loving husband for 53 years to my mum [Gill] and a much loved father to Sue and I, father-in-law to Brad and Cherie, and grandfather to Lachie, Maddi, Georgie and Jaimi​," he said.

In an excerpt from Bob Whan's autobiography, Chops for Breakfast, included in his son's tribute, the late Mr Whan said he belonged to "a lucky generation who were born into an economic depression, who lived between wars and had educational opportunities my parents never knew".

"I married the girl of my life and produced independent and intelligent children. All this in a period when migrants from all over the world introduced culinary delights that extended the Australian palate from chops for breakfast and mutton for dinner to mascarpone, pasta and Asian noodles."

The book, published at the beginning of this year, details Bob Whan's interesting and varied life including his political career.

Robert Bruce (Bob) Whan was born on January 5, 1933 in Wodonga before his parents moved to Melbourne where he was educated at East Kew Central School and Richmond Technical College.

The family then moved to King Island to work in the dairy industry. A 15-year-old Bob left school to work for a farmer who still relied on a bullock dray for transport.

Returning to NSW, Bob worked in a wool store in Albury, gaining a wool classing certificate. Wool classing led to wool testing in Sydney where Bob put himself through university, gaining a Degree in Wool Technology.

He completed post graduate studies at Leeds University in the United Kingdom.

Bob went on to become an award-winning wool researcher. During this time he married and had two children.

In 1972 he won the seat of Eden-Monaro and served as Member for Eden-Monaro in the Whitlam Government until 1975.

- with the Cooma-Monaro Express

Emma Kelly is Canberra Times reporter.

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