George Halpin, a long-term resident of Katanning and highly regarded agricultural researcher with the Department of Agriculture in Katanning, passed away on 11 July 1997. He was the Officer-In-Charge of the Department of Agriculture in Katanning from 1955 to 1972.
From 1 July, 2017, the Department of Agriculture and Food ceases to exist and will join several other state government departments as the Department of Primary Industries Regional Development.
George Thomas Halpin joined the Department of Agriculture in 1946 and was the first post-war adviser in the Southern-Central Wheatbelt. He conducted extensive research work on the development and use of new light land areas in the Gnowangerup, Ravensthorpe, Lake Grace, and Kent shires.
Apart from his advisory work on sheep fertility, flock selection and stud management, and his desire to see new techniques introduced, Mr Halpin was instrumental in the establishment of new department offices in Lake Grace and Jerramungup in the late 1960s. After 3 years of visits to the new Research Station in Lake Grace by Mr Halpin from Katanning, Peter Nelson, from the Katanning office, moved to take over Lake Grace in 1964.
In 1970, George was promoted to senior adviser in charge of Agricultural Research Stations and eventually controlled 13 research stations throughout the state.
Four years later he was seconded by the Libyan Government to head up a group of WA scientists and farmers contracted to introduce WA farming practices to that country. He established a successful operation which continued for ten years and which served as the precursor of other development programmes in Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Thailand.
Mr Halpin returned to the department in 1977 until his retirement in July, 1983.
But retirement did not slow him down. In 1984-85 he conducted several three-month training courses through the WA Institute of Technology (later Curtin University) for agricultural graduates from the Middle East.
Mr Halpin was born in Perth in 1922, to Thomas and Emily Halpin and was educated at CBC Perth and Aquinas College before studying agricultural science at Muresk Agricultural College and the University of WA.
In 1948, he married Joan Crisp and the couple had four children – Sue, Anne, Tony and Paddy.
A measure of his life’s work came in 1995 when he was nominated for the WA Citizen of the Year Award for community services.
Countryman – 31 July 1997