John Elliott (businessman)

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John Elliott
John Elliott (businessman).jpeg
President of the Liberal Party of Australia
In office
30 October 1987 – 23 October 1990
LeaderJohn Howard
Andrew Peacock
John Hewson
Preceded byJohn Valder
Succeeded byAshley Goldsworthy
Personal details
John Dorman Elliott

(1941-10-03)3 October 1941
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died23 September 2021(2021-09-23) (aged 79)
Richmond, Victoria, Australia
Political partyLiberal

John Dorman Elliott (3 October 1941 – 23 September 2021) was an Australian businessman and state and federal president of the Liberal Party. He had also been president of the Carlton Football Club.[1] He frequently provoked controversy due to his political affiliations, his brushes with the law, and his abrasive personal style.

Early life and education[edit]

Elliott was born in Melbourne on 3 October 1941. He was the son of Frank Elliott and his wife, Anita.[2] He completed his secondary schooling at Carey Baptist Grammar School in Kew. He then attended the University of Melbourne and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) degree and later completed a Master of Business Administration degree at the Melbourne Business School.[3]


Elliott joined BHP for two years. He then left to do an MBA, before joining global consulting firm McKinsey & Company in 1966[2] and worked in both Australia and the United States for six years. In 1972, he acquired control of IXL, a food manufacturer listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. From there, he and his team built the company up through a string of acquisitions throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, including Australian corporate icons Elders Limited (an agricultural services concern) and Carlton & United Breweries (now part of the Foster's Group). The acquisition of Courage Breweries in the United Kingdom, followed by Carling O'Keefe Breweries in Canada- and UK-based Grand Metropolitan Breweries, made the Foster's Group the fourth-largest brewer in the world. During this time, he was also a high-profile president of the Carlton Football Club (1983–2002)[4] and federal president of the Liberal Party.[2] He was an effective advocate for the club on a range of issues. During his presidency, the club won two VFL (now AFL) premierships.[5][6]

In 1985, Elliott's company, by then called Elders IXL, played an important role as a white knight in fending off Robert Holmes à Court's attempted takeover of diversified mining company BHP. Elders bought a large share in BHP, which blocked Holmes à Court's attempt to take control.[7] As a result, Elliott joined the BHP board. He then attempted a management buyout of Elders, but this was unsuccessful and left his A$80 million fortune considerably reduced.[citation needed] Subsequently, the National Crime Authority of Australia (NCA) investigated a foreign exchange transaction undertaken by Elders.[7] Elliott was cleared of criminal charges. He accused the NCA of a vendetta inspired by the then-Labor government, motivated by his position as Liberal Party president. He later launched civil action for damages, which was ultimately unsuccessful.[citation needed]

He was also a director of a number of public companies, including BHP, National Mutual, Bridge Oil and North Limited. Elliott was a member of the Liberal Party for over thirty years. He held multiple positions in the party, including president (1987–1990), party treasurer and vice president of the Victorian division.[8][9] He was chairman of the 500 Club, which he formed in the 1980s, and was the biggest donor to the Liberal Party in Victoria.[citation needed]

His various political involvements led to him being caricatured in Rubbery Figures, a satirical rubber puppet series that screened in Australia[10] during the late 1980s. He was often depicted holding an Elders IXL beer can while belching or exclaiming "pig's arse".[11]

In 1990, Elliott was a vocal supporter of the Multifunction Polis (MFP), a controversial concept to build in Australia a new "technology city" with a population of 100,000. At the time, the leader of the Liberal Party, Andrew Peacock, was vehemently opposed to the plan, claiming the Multifunction Polis would become an "Asian enclave".[12][13]

Sports administration career[edit]

After the 2002 AFL season, Elliott was voted out of office as president of the Carlton Football Club, a position he had held for two decades, since 1983.[8] The club, after having finished last for the first time since 1894, was later found to have committed serious long-term breaches of the Australian Football League salary cap regulations, which resulted in a fine of $930,000, forfeited draft picks including the prized number one draft pick, and an ongoing prolonged period of poor results on the field.[14][15] Further, in a move some thought to be ungracious given his long service to the club, his name was also removed from all signage at Carlton's home ground at Princes Park.[16][17][18] Elliott was then replaced by Ian Collins as President of Carlton Football Club.[19]

Later life[edit]

In January 2005, he declared himself bankrupt, to be discharged in July 2008.[10]

On television, Elliott was a regular guest panelist on the ABC televion program Q&A. In 2010, he appeared on the televised Dick Smith population debate,[20] where his vision to harness Northern Australia’s excess rainfall via pipeline to the Murray–Darling headwaters in Queensland received wide support[citation needed]. In 2012, he featured on the ABC's Agony Uncles program.[21] On radio, he regularly appeared on a program presented by his son Tom on talkback station 3AW.[16]

Elliott was the inaugural chairman of the Committee for Melbourne and a director of the foundation of the University of Melbourne Business School. In September 2015, he was made an honorary fellow of the school.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

He was divorced from the late Lorraine Elliott, a former Victorian state parliamentarian for the Liberal Party. They had three children.[22] The eldest is Tom Elliott (born 1967), an investment banker and radio and television presenter.[16] His daughter Caroline Elliott is vice-president of the Liberal Party in Victoria.[8] He also had two children from his second marriage, which also ended in divorce. His second wife, Amanda Elliott, later became the first female chairperson in the Victorian Racing Club's 153-year history.[23]

Known for his "eccentric, crass and often controversial style of business and politics", Elliott was also a long-term cigarette smoker and claimed to have considered running for the 2016 Australian Senate on a platform of "Smokers' Rights".[8]

Elliott was admitted to the Epworth Hospital in Richmond after suffering a fall in September 2021. He died on 23 September 2021, 10 days before his 80th birthday.[24][25][26]


  1. ^ "Face Three-Way Fight For Elliott's job". Canberra Times. 23 October 1990. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b c McPhee, Cassandra; Morgan, Sarah (23 September 2021). "Former Carlton President John Elliott dies". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Who's Who in Australia. ConnectWeb. 2021.
  4. ^ Ryan, Peter (18 July 2018). "Tom Elliott lashes out at board but Carlton president says rant is ill-informed". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Official AFL Website of the Carlton Football Club". Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  6. ^ "Australian Football - Carlton Football Club - Grand Finals". Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  7. ^ a b Kirby, James; Myer, Rod (2011). Richard Pratt: One Out of the Box: The Secrets of an Australian Billionaire. John Wiley & Sons. p. 152. ISBN 9780730376125.
  8. ^ a b c d Koziol, Michael (3 June 2016). "Election 2016: Former Liberal Party president John Elliott considering independent Senate tilt". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Former Liberal Party president and Carlton boss John Elliott dies aged 79". Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Jack to the future". The Age. 11 March 2007. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  11. ^ Bongiorno, Frank (2015). "5. The Deal-Makers". The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia. Black Inc. ISBN 9781863957762.
  12. ^ Morgan, Gary C. (11 July 1990). "Now there's Democracy in Russia – Australia must be Next". Roy Morgan Research. Archived from the original on 18 September 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  13. ^ Jupp, James (2007). From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration. Cambridge University Press. pp. 107–219. ISBN 978-0-521-69789-7. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  14. ^ If the Cap fits – Blueseum. Published 12 November 2006. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  15. ^ "Elliott leaves Blues in a shocking mess". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 November 2002. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  16. ^ a b c Money, Lawrence (30 April 2015). "Two of us: John and Tom Elliott". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Elliott no Blue hero". The Age. 18 February 2003. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Elliott leaves Blues in a shocking mess". 24 November 2002. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  19. ^ "Inside a horror week for Carlton". 30 November 2002. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  20. ^ Q and A Population Debate Special, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 12 August 2010, retrieved 15 May 2019
  21. ^ Butler, Dianne (3 April 2012). "Easter long weekend viewing". The Courier Mail. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  22. ^ Money, Lawrence; Hatch, Patrick (3 July 2014). "Former Liberal MP Lorraine Elliott dies, aged 70". The Age. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  23. ^ Domain (19 October 2017). "VRC chair Amanda Elliott has smashed through racing's glass ceiling". Domain. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  24. ^ "Long-time Carlton president John Elliott dead aged 79". Fox Sports. 23 September 2021. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  25. ^ "Former Carlton president John Elliott dies". 23 September 2022.
  26. ^ "Blues greats pay tribute to John Elliott, who defined Carlton". 24 September 2021. Retrieved 1 April 2022.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by Carlton Football Club president
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by President of the Liberal Party of Australia
Succeeded by