Speech – ADJOURNMENT – ‘Vale, Jack Flick.’

2 February 2016

Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland) (20:09): I am privileged tonight to rise to reflect upon the life of one of

the most respected businessmen, of one of the most respected business families—in my view—in the history of

Australia. I reflect upon the life of Albert Jack Flick, who passed away on 10 January past. Albert Jack Flick,

known to family and friends as Jack and to business associates as AJ, was born on 17 April 1921 at Bangalow

Cottage Hospital, near Byron Bay. He was the second son and the third child of William Albert and Phyllis

Pearl Flick.

Jack’s father founded WA Flick & Co. For those of us in the chamber who are old enough to remember, it was

of course a famous company right up until the 1980s here in Australia. It was a pest control firm, whose slogan,

‘Remember—one Flick and they’re gone,’ has entered the Australian vernacular. Without a doubt, it is one of the

most famous lines ever expressed in Australian advertising. Jack was the last of the original company directors,

and his passing marks the end of an amazing chapter in Australian business.

Jack’s early years were spent in Tyagarah, Glen Innes and Perth, but in 1928 the family settled in Hornsby, a

northern suburb of Sydney. Jack was educated at Hornsby Primary School and North Sydney Technical High

School, before beginning work with his father in the family pest control business. His early years in Flick & Co

were very hands-on, as is the case for many who evolve through family companies, and he recalled hair-raising

incidents while carrying out cyanide fumigations of ships and buildings before there was any thought of safety

regulations in this relatively new industry. During the Second World War, Flick & Co was declared a protected

undertaking because of the many Defence establishments, hospitals and large industrial concerns, such as the

Newcastle coalfields, which the company serviced.

Jack married Joyce Lillian Mary Bates of Waitara, Sydney, in St Peter’s Anglican Church, Hornsby, on 12 August

  1. They had two daughters, Jennifer Mary and Elizabeth Ann. In 1957 they moved into their new family

home in the nearby suburb of Wahroonga. Jack insisted the large bungalow be completed in timber construction

and finish to demonstrate his total confidence in the protective powers of Flick pest control.

From 1950 the business was reorganised, becoming incorporated as WA Flick & Co Pty Ltd. While WA Flick

still carried the title of chairman of directors, the effective running of the company passed to his two older sons,

William George and Albert Jack, and his son-in-law, Cyril Taylor. Jack’s first role in the newly incorporated

business was to travel all over Australia, cancelling the previous agency agreements and establishing the branches

of the new company. He became the face of Flick & Co in the rural and remote areas. He was travelling away from

home for up to six months of the year and was very grateful that he had such a supportive and understanding wife.

He particularly enjoyed his early trips into the Northern Territory and was also responsible for the company’s

expansion into Papua New Guinea, establishing branches in Port Moresby, Lae and Rabaul. He had many tales to

tell of small planes, remote villages and amazing encounters with the indigenous cultures. Jack was responsible

for the further expansion of Flick & Co into the Pacific region and beyond. In the 1960s he again travelled

extensively, taking a particular interest in the establishment of branches in New Caledonia, Fiji, Hawaii and

Hong Kong—a great success story, in my view, for a business created here in Australia.

During the 1970s Jack’s nephews joined the family business, bringing new ideas for the future. In the mid-1980s

the decision was reluctantly made to sell the company. At the time, Flick & Co was the largest pest control

company in Australia, employing almost 500 Flick servicemen on the road, plus support staff in the offices.

The company had also developed a building division, an agricultural services division, an aerial services

division, a retail products division, a cleaning and restoration division and a hygiene division. It had 15 overseas

branches, mainly around the Pacific but also as far-flung as Cape Town, Trinidad and Barbados. The company’s

infrastructure, outreach and reputation made it the perfect choice for the international takeover.

At the time of this sale in 1986, WA Flick and Co. was not only Australia’s largest pest control company but was

also one of the largest in the world. Significantly, at that time it was also the largest remaining family-owned

company in Australia, which is an amazing title to hold. With Jack’s death, the last firsthand memories of this

iconic Australian company also died.

Privately, Jack was an A-grade competition tennis player and later a competent social golfer. He was a King’s

Scout, a Mason and a justice of the peace. As an adult he studied languages, music, art and Indigenous cultures.

He was a skilled bushman, knowledgeable farmer, entertaining raconteur and an avid fan, with me, of AB ‘Banjo’

Paterson’s poetry—much of which he could recite by heart up to the time of his passing. He enjoyed bushwalking

and, with his wife, was an enthusiastic traveller within Australia and overseas. In the 1990s he sang with the

SydneySiders Express Barbershop Chorus, a barbershop-style choir, and after moving to Toowoomba he enjoyed

membership of the Highfields Probus Club.

He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather; a true gentleman and, passionately, a proud Australian. It was

after his move to Toowoomba that I had the privilege of meeting Jack Flick and some of his family. Jack and

Joyce lived the majority of their lives in Sydney but at the end of the 1990s decided to relocate to the beautiful

City of Toowoomba, where one of their daughters resided at the time. Jack lovingly cared for his wife during

her later years and showed great courage in rebuilding his life after her passing in 2005.

As previously stated, and in closing, Albert Jack Flick passed away on 10 January 2016 and is buried with his

wife in the Toowoomba Garden of Remembrance. He is survived by his two daughters, five grandchildren and

two great-grandchildren. And I can say without fear of contradiction that they can be very, very proud of the

contribution this man made during the course of his lifetime on behalf of that family.

His simple epitaph reads ‘a life well lived’. He was a great man, he was a great family man and he made a great

contribution to a grateful nation, and I say, ‘Vale, Jack Flick.’