Garrett Fitzgerald CMG


Garrett Fitzgerald was a key figure in the advancement of the Australian accounting profession for almost forty years from the late 1920s. He was heavily involved in improvements to public-sector accounting, finance and administration. Like many men of his era he enlisted in the 1st AIF and saw service on the Western Front in World War 1.  He was highly commended for an action on 30 March 1918 when he led a patrol near the Somme which inflicted heavy casualties on opposing German forces.  Following demobilisation he worked briefly for the Tax Department before joining his brother’s firm Fitzgerald, Gunn and Partners in the early 1920s, becoming a partner in 1930. Graduating with a BA in 1926 and BCom in 1927 from the University of Melbourne, Garrett tutored and lectured in financial accounting at the university for the next two decades. As well as playing a significant role in the development of accounting education at the University of Melbourne he made an enduring contribution to the Australian and New Zealand accounting literature.  The author of twenty technical articles published in the Australian Accountant, in 1946 he co-authored with A. E. Speck Accounts of Holding Companies in Australia, subsequently renamed The Accounts of Holding Companies in Australia and New Zealand, a text that remained in print until the final edition in 1977. For more than two decades between 1942 and 1966 Garrett Fitzgerald was a senior office bearer at state and national levels as divisional councillor, general councillor, state president and national president of the then Australian Society of Accountants (now CPA Australia) and its antecedent bodies.  In the early 1950s he played an instrumental role in the negotiations which resulted in the 1953 merger of the Commonwealth and Federal Institutes of Accounting, and the Australian Association of Accountants to produce Australia's largest accounting body.  He was a fellow of the Australian Society of Accountants and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. Beyond his busy professional life Garrett Fitzgerald also provided significant public service. In 1939 he re-enlisted into the Australian Army and during 1941-42 served as Assistant Director of Ordnance Services with the Fourth Division. In civilian life he was variously a member of the Tribunal on Salaries and Allowances of federal MPs, the Committee of Inquiry into Salaries and Allowances of Victorian MPs, Chair of the Committee of Enquiry into the Victorian Housing Commission, Councillor and Mayor of the City of Heidelberg and Commissioner for the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. Garrett Fitzgerald’s contribution to accounting and the wider community was recognised in a number of ways. In 1955 he was awarded Life Membership of the Australian Society of Accountants and in 1965 he was made a Companion in the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG).  In 1976 the University of Melbourne created the Fitzgerald Chair in Accounting to honour the contribution of Garrett and his brother Alec to the Australian accounting profession.

The Australian Accounting Hall of Fame honours Garrett Ernest Fitzgerald as a war veteran, pioneer, practitioner, office holder and leader of the accounting profession.