Vale David Turnbull

Mitchell Shire Council councillors and staff have paid tribute to chief executive David Turnbull who died on Friday, following a long battle with cancer.

Mr Turnbull joined Mitchell Shire Council as its chief executive in May 2016.

His professional life was dedicated to helping and assisting communities, with Melbourne’s northern growth corridor heavily influenced by Mr Turnbull.

Community values and interaction were at the forefront of his life in local government.

Mr Turnbull served nine years as chief executive at City of Whittlesea and 12 years as director of planning and development and spent more than 40 years in local government.

His entire career was with interface councils and he embraced the challenges associated with growth while maintaining township, rural and green wedge qualities.

Mr Turnbull was regarded as an expert in his field in supporting interface councils and creating a sense of community in an ever-changing landscape.

He was responsible for overseeing significant growth across Bulla Shire, now Hume City Council, the City of Whittlesea and Mitchell Shire as well as creating a fiscally stable and professional workforce to serve the ratepayers and community.

He led policy change at a state and federal government level, including annual commitment of funds to specifically support growth interface councils.

Mr Turnbull was also instrumental in establishing the National Growth Areas Alliance – an advocacy body responsible for achieving greater investment in infrastructure to support sustainable communities in growth areas across Australia.

He will be remembered for his commitment to social justice, ensuring those most disadvantaged in communities were taken care of, a desire for quality services, strong community engagement, advocacy, innovation, strong financial management and, most of all, planning.

He always said the phrase ‘failure to plan… is a plan to fail’.

“You only get one chance – do it properly,” he would often tell staff and the community.

His great love was his family and he leaves behind his wife Suzane Becker, four children Tess, Tom, Alice and Angus, and son in law James.

Mitchell Shire Mayor David Lowe said the community had lost a great leader.

“His legacy, in the significant contribution he made to developing rapidly growing communities, cannot be overestimated and the fact that Mitchell Shire Council is leading the way in this rapid growth is testament to his guidance,”
Cr Lowe said.

“He has been a magnificent leader of Mitchell Shire Council over the last four years. He considered his role at Mitchell a privilege and was determined that the existing and new communities were considered in every aspect of council work.

“We, in the council, considered working with David an even bigger privilege and his knowledge, support and guidance will be sorely missed.”

Acting chief executive Mary Agostino paid tribute to Mr Turnbull, saying he was a ‘wonderful leader who had so much pride’ in the council’s staff and organisation.

“He had a significant impact on many staff both professionally and personally,” she said.

“He always wanted to see the best out of people.

“He has had an amazing impact on building communities, and we can see that across our shire as well as Whittlesea and Hume.

“His passing will have an impact on many. David was a great human being; he had all the qualities we aspire to.”


  1. I to knew David when he was the CEO of Whittlesea a great man and always was connected to the community will be missed
    Barry Hill

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