James Fairfax, who says he has to remind people he was in the newspaper business for 35 years and chairman of the then-family publishing company for 11, is elevated to Companion of the Order of Australia in today’s Australia Day honours list.
The son of Sir Oswald Warwick Fairfax, he was appointed an Officer of the Order in 1993 for his service to arts and the community. Today’s honour recognises service to the community through support and philanthropy for the visual arts, conservation organisations and building programmes for medical research and educational facilities.
Aged 76, Fairfax became a director of John Fairfax & Sons (now Fairfax Media) in 1957, and succeeded his father as chairman in 1977 until Warwick Fairfax’s ill-fated privatisation bid in 1987. Today’s ‘Australian’ recalls how his illness as a child – with a condition which causes vomiting and blocks the oesophagus passage – led to interest in medical research and paediatrics: “The long-term results (of medical research he has supported) are possibly the most important things I have contributed to throughout my life,” he says.