Michael James Patrick Hart

Michael James Patrick Hart, solicitor, passed away suddenly on Sunday 3 May 2020, following a long battle with cancer and surgical complications at the Wesley Hospital Brisbane.

Mick, as he was affectionately known in the family and to friends and colleagues, was eight days short of his 74th birthday on 11 May 2020, and had been a practicing solicitor for slightly more than 50 years.

Born in Townsville on 11 May 1946, Mick received his secondary school education at Our Lady of The Mount Christian Brothers’ College in Townsville, matriculating to the University of Queensland Faculty of Law in 1963.

No doubt due to the tyranny of distance, and the cost and distractions of college life on the University campus at Brisbane, Mick elected to serve five years articles of clerkship to Mr Domingo Martinez of the Townsville firm of Wilson Ryan and Grose, studying law as an external student of the University of Queensland, topping his final year in Taxation Law, a subject in which he was aptly tutored by Mr Martinez and a field in which he practised extensively throughout his legal career, and was widely recognised for his knowledge and expertise.

He married the love of his life, Trish Gorey, in Townsville on 14 May 1967, celebrating their 50th anniversary in May 2017.

Following completion of his articles of clerkship and legal studies at the University of Queensland, Mick was admitted to practice as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1969.

Having deferred his National Service obligations while completing his legal studies, Mick was called up for National Service in the second intake of 1969. It was in those circumstances that I first met him in April 1969 at Singleton Army Recruit Training Camp, NSW, where we commenced our recruit training. Mick’s qualities of leadership were quickly recognised in the first weeks of his arrival at Singleton, and he was selected for training at the Royal Australian Army’s Officer Training Unit at Scheyville, NSW, subsequently graduating as a Second Lieutenant in October 1969.

He was promoted to the rank of substantive Captain and posted to the Army’s Military Police Unit’s headquarters at South Head, where he spent the remainder of his two years National Service. By this time the Hart family had increased with the arrival of two sons, Brett and Anthony.

Following his discharge from the Army in April 1971, Mick and Trish returned briefly to Townsville, relocating to Rockhampton in 1971 where Mick had purchased the legal practice of Swanwick, Murray & Roche, and where he practised as the senior partner of that firm for the next 18 years.

During his time in Rockhampton, the family increased with the arrival of Christopher, Anne-Maria and Alison. Mick served as President of the Queensland Central District Law Association. It was during the term of his presidency that he initiated the convening of the association’s celebrated Annual General Meeting and Seminar (for tax purposes), held at the Great Keppel Island Resort, hosting many of Australian’s legal luminaries at the time, including the then Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Sir Gerard Brennan QC, and the Chief Justice and later, Governor of Queensland, Sir Walter Campbell QC.

He was also active in the affairs of the Rockhampton diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, giving generously of his time, and affording significant assistance to the then Bishop of Rockhampton, Bishop Bernard Wallace, in raising the $1.5m in funds required for the successful completion of St. Joseph’s Cathedral. He was also an active fundraiser for the Nudgee College Foundation, where Brett, Anthony and Christopher were educated.

In 1988, Mick accepted a consultancy with the Brisbane firm of Cleary & Hoare, Solicitors, and the Hart family moved to Brisbane. Mick subsequently acquired that firm, practising as one of its senior principals until his semi-retirement in late 2019. Mick was a truly remarkable character. He was an accomplished lawyer, both academically and in the practice of the law, and was widely respected for his expertise in the significant areas of legal practice, particularly taxation law and estate planning.

He was excellent company, socially engaging, and as one of his Scheyville confreres affectionately described him, “never happier than when he was perusing a restaurant menu and/or a wine list”, fields in which he was an acknowledged connoisseur. He was well-informed and conversant on a wide range of topics. He held (and expressed) strong views on most things, and did not suffer fools gladly. However, there was a deeply compassionate side to him, the benefit of which I personally experienced, and he was ever conscious of the needs and feelings of others.

In recent times, he conducted, in a lay capacity, the Sunday services at the local Stradbroke Island Catholic Church, on those occasions when the designated Priest was unavailable.

Mick’s eldest son, Brett, joined him in the firm of Cleary Hoare, Solicitors following his admission as a solicitor in 1993. Mick’s daughter, Alison, and his grandson, James, will be admitted to practice as solicitors of the Supreme Court of Queensland at the end of this year. Sadly, Mick did not live to see this significant event. He is survived by Trish, his wife of 53 years, his sons and daughters, and 12 grandchildren. As a husband, father, grandfather, friend, and colleague, he will be greatly missed.

Jeffrey Thomson , Administrative Appeals Tribunal

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