Honorary Freeman

What is an Honorary Freeman?

The Honorary Freeman of the City award is the highest honour a Council can bestow upon an individual. It is a title given only in rare and exceptional circumstances to those who have made an outstanding and exceptional contribution to the community.

The award recognises the outstanding achievements and dedicated service to the local community over many years, either through Council or community groups such as charities or sporting and recreational clubs.

Eligibility criteria, nomination procedures and the full Honorary Freeman policy 

History of the Award

The traditional honour of a Freeman of the City dates back to English medieval times. It is derived from a historic English custom where Freemen paid fees to local Boroughs, which entitled them to trade in the City. The Freeman was also allowed other special privileges, such as the right to sit on town councils and to elect parliamentary representatives.

The tradition still lives on in countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand – although today the title of "freeman" confers no special privileges.

City of Busselton Award Recipients

Hon Barry House AM

Awarded 27 September 2017

Ian W Stubbs OAM

Awarded 27 September 2017

Mr Stubbs was the Shire Clerk for the Shire of Busselton between 1990 –1994.

He became the Shire’s inaugural Chief Executive Officer in 1994 and retired from this position in 1996.

He was then elected to the Busselton Shire Council in 2007 and appointed Shire President from 2009 – 2012.

He became the municipality’s first Mayor when the Shire of Busselton became the City of Busselton in January 2012 and served on council for 8 years until 2015.

Mr Stubbs had a significant influence on Local Government and the long-term development of the City of Busselton. Many of the major improvements to facilities, infrastructure and services local people and visitors enjoy today are the direct result of his strategic planning, leadership and networking skills which helped raise the profile of the municipality at State and Federal level.

He spearheaded both the Busselton and Dunsborough Foreshore redevelopments and was a keen supporter of CBD renewal programs.

He advocated strongly for the redevelopment of the Civic and Administration Building and was a key driver in the Busselton Margaret River Airport Expansion Project.  

Mr Stubbs was integral in cementing the City’s position as the Events Capital of WA and played a major role in attracting the cruise ship industry to the region.

The economic, social and cultural benefits returned to this community as a direct result of his dedication and hard work cannot be understated.

  • Board member on the South West Development Commission and Regional Development Australia South West.
  • Received the Order of Australia Medal in June 2014 through the WA Local Government Association for his service to Local Government.

Beryle Morgan

Awarded 29 August 2011

Roy Edward Morris

Awarded 24 January 2011

Deceased 3 Sept 2022

Barry J Oates OAM

Awarded 26 January 2005

Deceased December 2022

Mr Oates served as a Councillor for five years between 1979 -1984 including a time as the chair of the Shire town planning committee.

A former diary farmer, Mr Oates received the order of Australia Medal (OAM) on 26 January 2007, for service to the dairy industry and to water resource and catchment management.

Mr Oates was the president of the dairy section of the WA Farmers Federation from 1987- 1995 and Chair of the Geographe Catchment Council since its inception from 1997-2004.

Mr Oates was instrumental in bringing together the community, the local Nyoongar community, industry and government stakeholders to overcome differences and resolve barriers to landcare in the Geographe Catchment area.

Other Community Work

  • Chair of the Whicher Water Resource Management Committee
  • Member of the Busselton Floodplain Management Committee
  • Member of the Environmental Improvement Initiative Local Advisory Group
  • Chairperson Yalyalup Volunteer Bushfire Brigade
  • Member of the Dairy Industry Authority WA 1975 - 1978
  • Served on the WA Farmers Federation (WAFF) in varying capacities including Dairy Section President.
  • Member of General Council and portfolio holder of Landuse and Conservation
  • Director on the Australian Dairy Research Council (7 years)
  • Member of the Australian Dairy Industry Council (retired from council to take up position on the ADIC)
  • Member of the WA Agricultural Practices Board
  • Member of the Rivers and Estuaries Council
  • Deputy Chair of the South West Catchments Council 1999-2002
  • Involved in State and Australian farm bodies.
  • Coached local Hockey and Basketball teams.

Allie Scott

Awarded 26 January 2003 (posthumously)

Deceased 18 December 2002

Mr Scott served as a Shire of Busselton Councillor for sixteen years between 1970 and 1986.

A descendent of the first settlers who arrived in Busselton in 1832, he also served as a founding member of the Busselton Jetty Committee including twelve years as the President.

Mr Scott was awarded the Southern Senior of the Year in 2002 in recognition of his extensive lobbying and fundraising to restore the Busselton Jetty. His vision for the Jetty and the region created eco-tourism opportunities and significant long term benefits to the City of Busselton.

An Abba River farmer, he had a strong commitment and dedication to the farming and dairy community.

He served for many years on the meat executive of the WA Farmers Federation in the mid 1950s.

A member of Rotary, he was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship.

Mr Scott was also active in local sporting clubs, served on the Ruabon Progress Association and the Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade.

Terrence Brian House

Awarded 19 February 1997

Deceased 17 June 2003

Mr House served as a Councillor from 1981 to 1986 representing the West Rural Ward and from 1987 to 1996 representing the West Urban Ward. He was Shire President between 1985 and 1986.

Mr House, a decedent of two local pioneering families, grew up with four siblings on a farm in Yallingup.

Mr House served on many Council Committees

  • Member of the Finance, Administration and Community Services Committee from 1987 through to 1996. Chairman in 1984.
  • Member of the Works and Plant Committee from 1981 to 1986. Chairman in 1984.
  • Member of the Busselton Beachfront Committee
  • Member of the Bush Fire Advisory Committee
  • Traffic Liaison Advisory Committee
  • Meelup Regional reserve Advisory Committee
  • Dunsborough Structure Plan Committee
  • Local Rural Strategy/District Planning Committee

Other community work

  • Served as a Fire Control Officer for the Yallingup Rural Bush Fire Brigade.
  • Dunsborough Light Industrial Area Advisory Committee
  • Council Representative on the Country Urban Council's Association
  • Member of the Regional Advisory Committee of the Agriculture Protection Board
  • Member of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park Liaison Committee
  • Held office of Secretary and President in local Badminton, Cricket and Hockey
  • Member of the now defunct Yallingup Hall Committee (not the Yallingup Progress Association)
  • Foundation member of the Dunsborough Lions Club. Held office of Vice President.
  • Member of the Dunsborough and District Country Club
  • President of the Dunsborough P & C for 7 years
  • Member of the Busselton, Bunbury and Western Australian Trotting Associations
  • Member of the Dunsborough Branch of the Liberal Party

Reginald John Cooper

Awarded 1995

Deceased 1 April 2001

Mr Cooper was a Shire of Busselton employee for over 24 years from 1960 until May 1985.

After his retirement he was elected to Council and served from May 1985 – February 1996. Two years as Shire Deputy President from 1989 – 1990 and three years as President from 1990 – 1993.

His family immigrated from England when he was five as part of the Group Settlement Scheme and lived on a farm near Cowaramup.

Mr Coopers record of community service is phenomenal and wide ranging from work with youth programs and seniors through to negotiating with State and Federal Government agencies about recycling and coastal management.

In his role at the Shire he was heavily involved in the Busselton Beautification and townscape program and he was the inaugural president of the Keep Busselton Beautiful Committee.

He served on at least 33 committees some of which are listed below:

  • Meals on Wheels
  • Geographe Bay Advisory Committee
  • Busselton Tidy Towns Committee
  • Busselton Branch of State Emergency Services
  • Busselton Volunteer Fire Brigade
  • Busselton Tourist Bureau
  • Busselton Historical Society
  • Country representative on the State Government Municipal Waste Advisory Council
  • Blue Print Recycling Committee
  • Board Member Busselton Water Board
  • Chairman Busselton Railway Society

Dr Kevin John Cullen

Awarded 16 April 1993

Deceased 9 February 1994

Dr Cullen was part of the team responsible for the Busselton Health Study which is internationally recognised as one the longest running population health research programs of its kind.

These population studies, which recorded the medical status of the Busselton community, commenced in 1966 and are still being carried out today. Thanks to Dr. Cullen's enthusiasm and gift of organisation, 95% of the population participated in the first study.

Dr. Cullen also achieve recognition with the publication of almost 200 of his articles and research papers worldwide. He also wrote and published a number of papers on child behaviour.

Dr Kevin John Cullen and his wife, Diana established Cullen Wines in 1971 and were one of the earliest commercial wineries in the Shire of Busselton. Together they had an unwavering belief in the potential of the region to produce world class wines and were dedicated to achieving this and helping others in the industry to do the same, by sharing their knowledge and support.

In 1969 during the mining boom Dr Cullen lobbied the state government to reconsider mining in the region. This pressure led to the formation of the State Ministry of Environmental protection.

Joseph Torrent AO JP

Awarded 27 June 1991

Deceased 17 February 1995

Mr Torrent was elected to the Busselton Road Board in 1957 and saw it become the Shire of Busselton in 1961. He continued as a Councillor until 1979 (22 years). He was Shire President between 1973 and 1979.

Joe was born in 1908 and lived on a farm in Yoongaruillup, one of 11 children, to Spanish parents.

Other community work

  • Member of the Yoongarillup Hall Committee.
  • Member of the Shire of Busselton Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades and as Fire Control Officer for the Yoongarillup Brigade.
  • Served as a Justice of the Peace.
  • Served for 15 years on the Southern Districts Agricultural Society and was President for four years.
  • Named Senior Citizen of the Year in 1988.
  • Received the Order of Australia Medal in 1991.

Elise Joy Smith JP

Awarded 27 June 1991

Deceased 18 March 2013

Ms Smith served on the Shire of Busselton Council from 1979 for twelve years and was Shire President between 1987 – 1990.

Other community work

  • Managing Secretary of the Busselton Tourist Bureau for nearly, 20 years and saw it through several location moves.
  • Served four years as President of the South-West Regional Travel Association and twelve years as President of the "Leeuwin Way" which promoted tourism from the south-east to the south-west of the State.
  • Became President of the Busselton Festival Committee when it looked like the festival may not continue. Her efforts saw the event retained and it is still enjoyed by locals and visitors alike today.
  • Secretary of the Dunsborough and District Country Club for five years.
  • Member of the Busselton Business and Professional Womens' Club and has held the office of State President of the Western Australian Division and Vice President of the Australian Executive.
  • Her community contributions also saw her awarded an Order of Australia Medal.

John Michael Sheedy JP

Awarded 27 June 1991

Deceased 25 May 2021

Mr Sheedy was elected to the Shire of Busselton Council in 1968 and served for eighteen years. He was Shire President between 1979 and 1985.

Other community work

  • Known as 'Mr. Trotting' Mr Sheedy was the Secretary and President of the Country Trotting Association, served on the Council of the Western Australian Trotting Association and was Secretary and President of the South-West Trotting Association.
  • Served as a Justice of the Peace.
  • Was a Cub Master for the Busselton Cubs and District Cub Master.
  • Was Council's representative to the Busselton Citizens Advice Bureau and after leaving Council stayed on the Bureau's Committee.
  • Was instrumental in the establishment of the Senior Citizens Centre and remained on the Board of the Senior Citizens Centre Management Committee.
  • Member of the Busselton Water Board Between 1968 and 1981 and served as Chairman between 1970 and 1979.
  • Secretary of the Pensioners' League.

Alexander Frederick Patterson JP

Awarded 27 June 1991

Deceased 2 February 1995

Mr Patterson was elected to the Busselton Road Board in 1958 and saw it become the Shire of Busselton in 1961. He served on Council for a period of eighteen years until 1976. After six years as Deputy Shire President, he served three years as Shire President between 1970 and 1973.

Born in Aldershot. England, in 1910, Mr Patterson emigrated with his family to WA in 1922, where they took up land south of Busselton in Ambergate under the Group Settlement Scheme. The eldest son of a farmer, Alec also farmed for many years and was known as a very knowledgeable farmer. His pioneering work with the Department of Agriculture included the use of potash to improve pastures.

Other community work

  • Justice of the Peace from 1973.
  • Member of the Busselton Water Board between 1978 and 1985.
  • Vice Patron of the Geographe Bay Yacht Club and made his home radio base available to assist with sea rescues.

Clifford (Jack) Alexander Guthrie

Awarded 27 June 1991

Deceased 23 November 2006

Mr Guthrie was elected to the Busselton Shire Council in 1974 and served for sixteen years (with one year break).
He was Shire President between 1986 and 1987.

Mr Guthrie was born in Margaret River and lived in Cowaramup until his family moved to Busselton where they operated timber and trucking businesses.

He was an accomplished sportsman and played with the East Fremantle Club for a time.

He also enjoyed golf and was a member of Busselton Golf Club since 1961. He was President between 1978 and 1981 and was made Patron of the Club in 1983.

Other community work:

  • Member of the Busselton Volunteer Fire Brigade.
  • President of the South West Shire Councils' Association for twelve months.
  • Served on the Country Shire Councils' Association Board as the South-West's delegate and through this served on many Committee's of that Association.
  • Zone representative on the Agricultural Protection Board for many years.
  • Member of the South-West Regional Planning Committee and Council's representative on the Vasse-Wonnerup District Land Conservation Committee.

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