Despite his involvement in one of Victoria biggest financial disasters and six years on the board of the embattled AMP, Ian Renard’s star has risen once again with his appointment to head Victoria’s most prestigious academic institution. A subscriber reflects on Renard’s resume here.

Ian Renard, the new Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, was once President of the University Liberal Club during the Vietnam War, in 1968. He supported the government of the day’s position, of course. Ian was appointed to the Board of the State Bank of Victoria and was a director of that bank when Tricontinental went belly up.

Ian was not a Tricontinental director, but he voted for the SBV buying it when he was on the board. The later inquiry into Trincontenental found Ian to be blameless to the extent that anyone could be blameless, but then again buying Trico seemed like a good idea at the time.

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Neither Ian’s Presidency of the Liberal Club nor his directorship of the SBV appear in the professionally written biography that appears on the University’s web site.

I wish Ian well as Chancellor of the University. I hope he doesn’t preside over a financial debacle as bad as Tricontinental. He’s not a bad bloke, for all that.

CRIKEY: Ian Renard certainly is a member of the Melbourne establishment and was an old mate of former Victorian Treasurer Alan Stockdale from their university days. As a long-serving partner at Allens Arthur Robinson, he worked on deals such as the demerger of Amcor and Paperlinx and used a successful legal career to secure a range of interesting directorships over the years, which have included things like Newcrest Mining, CSL, North Ltd, the Grand Prix Corporation and the Presidency of the Victorian State Library.

However, Tricontinental and AMP are two pretty big blots on the copy book. Renard joined the AMP board on the day it launched its hostile takeover bid for GIO so he can’t be held responsible for that, but the $10 billion loss in the UK certainly happened on his watch.

There is a very interesting connection between the Tricontinental Royal Commission and Melbourne University. Sir Edward Woodward was the former university chancellor who first invited Ian Renard to join him as a deputy chancellor in 2001. Check out the press release here.

However, Sir Edward Woodward was also the man who headed the Tricontinental Royal Commission which completely exonorated Ian Renard. The two men apparently know each other quite well through the old Allens Arthur Robinson networks. Melbourne can be a very small town sometimes.

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Crikey’s old stockbroker writes:

In mid 1969, at the peak of student radicalism, I attended the Australian Universities Liberal Federation conference at Margaret River. Also attending was Ian Renard, the past president of Melbourne University Liberal Club. Among a group of reasonably high calibre students, Renard was in a class of his own in intellect, maturity and charm.

The conference supported the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam. The Tet offensive of February 1969 changed the views of many previous supporters of the war. Until Tet 1969, the benefits of a potentially free Vietnam appeared to outweigh the costs of bringing that about. The Tet offensive and subsequent fighting and North Vietnamese methods demonstrated that the costs were dramatically greater than estimated. The US was diplomatically in retreat from 1970. Communism/socialism won and Vietnam is of course, the poorer for that. I do not know Renard’s view.

The student radicalism of the late 1960’s has had a much better press than it deserves. The common press treatment of student politics of the time is to paint the radicals as both wise and passionate and any politically involved conservative student as having something to hide. From the occasional articles on “what they are doing now”, the radical student left of the 1960’s does not appear to have produced anyone of Ian Renard’s distinction.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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