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We salute and farewell a true leader and friend, David Turnbull

We salute and farewell a true leader and friend, David Turnbull

Monday, March 30, 2020

It’s hard to imagine anybody who has made a greater contribution to the City during their time, a towering figure who touched, inspired and influenced so many people.

David came to the City of Whittlesea as Director of Planning and Development in 1994 – a role he fulfilled until his appointment as CEO from 2007 to 2016.

The legacy David left on the organisation and for the community is significant even today, nearly four years after he left in April 2016.  He was a CEO held in the deepest respect by his staff and community for being a driving force behind so many achievements.

One of his major legacies was pioneering local government advocacy. David was instrumental in setting up high profile advocacy groups at the State and Federal level - the Interface Group of Councils and the National Growth Areas Alliance – with both continuing to deliver policy and funding outcomes for growth areas including the City of Whittlesea.

He also lobbied hard for dedicated funding to assist growth area councils deliver the services and infrastructure needed that resulted in the State Government introducing the Interface Growth Fund.  Like many other growth councils, the City of Whittlesea community has benefited from millions of dollars in funding to deliver much needed community facilities.  

As a leader, he will also be remembered for his constant guiding and calming influence, even in times of crisis.  In response to the 2009 bushfires David demonstrated leadership of the highest order during what is the single biggest event to ever impact on the City of Whittlesea.  It was a challenging time for David but one which the City and our residents will be forever grateful.

As a planner, it is the Quarry Hills Parkland project that he would probably consider his crowning achievement and legacy. It is the text book case of enabling development. It will ultimately result in a nett community benefit outcome, through the assembly and protection of 1000 hectares of significant land in public ownership.

His planning “highlights” are too numerous to mention but key ones that come to mind include: 

  • Preparation of the Whittlesea General Plan
  • Protection of River Red Gums as an iconic environmental and landscape feature of the municipality
  • The setting aside of the Cooper Street Employment Precinct which has become a State significant employment precinct (the origin of his ‘one house one job’ mantra)
  • Preparation of Structure Plans for Mernda/Doreen and Epping North
  • Creation of the Quarry Hills parkland
  • The development and implementation of the Epping Central and Plenty Valley Activity Centres

Most important of all, he was a husband and a father and that gave him the greatest joy of all. We send our deepest condolences to his wife Suzane and his children Tess, Tom, Alice & Angus during this difficult time. 

We have lost a great human being, a great man, a great leader, a great mentor and a great friend.

We will all miss him dearly. Rest in peace David. 

Written tributes to David can be emailed to  These memories, achievements and messages will be compiled into a Tributes book that will be given to his family.

In the circumstances, his family will hold a private ceremony for David on Tuesday 31st March.  A public memorial service will be held at PRACC, close to his beloved Quarry Hills, later in the year. The family has also requested, that in lieu of flowers donations be made to one the following charitable institutions:

MEDIA:  Please attribute quotes on behalf of the City of Whittlesea to David’s long term friend and colleague George Saisanas, Manager Strategic Planning and Economic Development.