Ian Causley the canecutter.
Ian Causley the canecutter.

Canecutter to cabinet minister

WHILE the tributes and colourful stories of the late politician Ian Causley flow in from many of his former colleagues around the country, his daughter Marcelle Turner shares a different side to the man she knew, a life before politics.

Ian Causley grew up on a family sugar cane farm on Chatsworth Island, the eldest of five boys, and apart from generally helping out on the farm, one of his assigned tasks when he was younger was to select a chicken or duck each Sunday, kill and pluck it in preparation for the family's consumption "something that hasn't been taken up by his children or grandchildren I might add," Marcelle said.

"The bird needed to be ready for his mother Jean, to put in the oven by 10am before church on Sunday. He also had the job or milking one or two cows each day, by hand in those days."

Ian received a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend University in Armidale, but after briefly attending university, he returned to Chatsworth Island, to cut cane.

Marcelle said his father Sam Causley told him was mad for not taking up the opportunity to study.

"But his father also gave him the advice 'if he was going to do something, to do it well' and he took that advice to the letter," she said.

The hard working canecutter eventually saved up enough to buy his first cane farm on Warregah Island for 10,000 pounds.

"He then bought a tractor for 1000 pounds and put lights on it to work the cane fields at night - no one else was doing this at the time."

Marcelle said her father got up at 4am each morning to cut cane before coming home for dinner "which my mother June would always have ready for him" before going back out and working until 10pm.

She said her father's hard work and commitment to pay off debt, meant he was able to accumulate other properties "which are still part of the family cane farms today".

"He also lent his hand to growing vegetables and raising cattle for extra income."

Somehow, Ian also found time to hold various positions on sugar cane boards and sporting bodies in the year preceding politics and was very well known and respected in the community.

Eventually politics came calling in 1984 and, as his ethic for hard-work may attest, he was a formidable opponent for the many candidates that ran against him, never losing an election in the decades he was active.

"He was a keen cricketer, so one could say he retired 'not out'."

Marcelle said her father was a very effective grassroots local member who knew every inch of his electorate and its constituents. "June and Ian made a formidable pair, representing the diverse Clarence/Page electorates for nearly a quarter of a century.

"They were always on the road attending various community events and electorate commitments. As dad mentioned at mum's funeral (in 2013), he was sure that she had won some of the elections for him."


June and Ian Causley made a formidable pair on the political and social scene.
June and Ian Causley made a formidable pair on the political and social scene.


After politics Ian continued to represent the local sugar industry, as Chairman of the NSW sugar milling co-operative and Chairman of the Sugar Research and Development Corporation continuing to assist with valuable industry decisions.

"He loved nothing more than getting into a tractor or driving around his farms inspecting the cane and soybean crops which are now worked and managed by my brother Shane. In fact dad spent two hours a couple of weeks ago driving around his farms, before his final trip to hospital."

Marcelle said in recent years her father had stoically battled a number of different cancers and a hip replacement "spending more time than he wanted to in hospital".

The 79-year-old succumbed to complications from advanced prostate cancer on April 27 in St Vincent's hospital in Lismore and to the end was thanking the staff for his continued care Marcelle said.

Ian Causley will be greatly missed by his children Craig, Marcelle, Derek and Shane, his seven grandchildren, and two great children. "He was known by many titles, but we all knew him as dad and grandad."

* Due to the current health situation, his family are planning a memorial service at a later time. They request, no flowers, but donations to prostate or breast cancer if people wish to do so.

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