Vale George Venturini

George Venturini died peacefully at around 11am on Friday, May 13, 2022, aged 93. He was living near Morwell in Gippsland, Victoria with his wife Lorraine.

Their agreement was that there will be no funeral and no memorial gathering. But George suggested to his friends that they are welcome to raise a glass of wine to toast his life and memory when next they meet. I hope you do so.

Dr Venturino Georgio Venturini was born in 1929 in Italy. He graduated in classics, arts, social sciences and in law through the universities of Ferrara, Italy, and Northwestern, Chicago – B.A,. B. Litt., Soc.Sc.Dip., LLM, SJD. He practiced and taught law in Italy until 1958, when he took up post-doctoral studies at Northwestern University until 1962. After that he held chairs in Canada and the United States, and taught at universities in Singapore, Malaysia., in Queensland since 1966, and in Victoria since 1982. He retired in 1993. Grantee, fellow and researcher at some 20 national and international institutions, George advised governments in the United States, Malaysia and Australia. He served the Whitlam government as Trade Practices Commissioner, and the Wran government as Special Adviser to the Attorney-General on Corporate, Securities and Trade Practices law.

George wrote eight books, four of them on Australia: Malpractice- The Administration of the Murphy Trade Practices Act; Partners in Ecocide – Australia’s complicity in the uranium cartel; Never Give In -  Three Italian Anti-fascist Exiles in Australia 1924-1956; and The Last Great Cause – Volunteers from Australia and Emilia-Romagna in Defence of the Spanish Republic, 1936-1939. George also edited five more books, four of them concerning Australia. He contributed chapters to books and about 100 articles and essays to learned periodicals and conferences. His last association with universities was with Monash, where he was a Senior Research Associate in the School of Political and Social Inquiry, and with Swinburne University, where he was an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Social Research.

George was also the driving force behind the July 2014 SEARCH Foundation publication Iraq Invasion 2002 – Complaint Against John Winston Howard to the International Criminal Court.

George was a member of the Communist Party of Australia, and of the SEARCH Foundation, an ardent republican and supporter of First Nations sovereignty. He was always looking for people to work with to advance these causes. But you find the roots of George’s politics in the Italian anti-fascist party of the 1930s, Justice and Freedom (Giustizia e Libertà), whose descendant is now the Italian Radical Party. George was a young activist in the 1944 Uprising against the nazi occupation of northern Italy. He said he only felt truly free under two governments – those of Italian Communist leader Palmiro Togliatti immediately after the defeat of the nazis in 1945-48, and that of Edward Gough Whitlam’s Labor government in Australia from 1972-75.

With condolences to George’s family, comrades and friends; and with a sense of celebration at having shared in George’s life, passions and vision.

- Peter Murphy


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