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Former veteran Queensland MP Vaughan Johnson OAM dies aged 75

Order of Australia recipient and former Queensland politician Vaughan Johnson has died overnight.

The 75-year-old spent 25 years in Queensland Parliament as a member of the National Party, and subsequently the Liberal National Party.  

Colleagues on both sides of politics have paid their respects, remembering Mr Johnson as a "champion" and "advocate" for regional Queensland. 

An advocate for outback industry

Born in New South Wales, Mr Johnson moved to Queensland as a child. 

He entered politics as a councillor for Quilpie Shire in the early 1970s before he was elected to the Queensland Parliament as the member for Gregory in 1989.

He held the seat for more than 25 years until his retirement in 2015, representing an area larger than Victoria and Tasmania combined.

He was the minister for transport under premier Rob Borbidge from 1996-1998 and the government chief whip under Campbell Newman's government. 

Mr Johnson also various shadow cabinet positions.

He worked as a grazier and contractor prior to entering politics and was renowned as an advocate for outback industry.

Mr Johnson announced his retirement from politics in 2014 as one of Queensland's longest-serving MPs, saying his career was not about politics but instead about representing people from all walks of life.

He has been remembered accordingly, with Opposition Leader David Crisafulli describing him as "a champion of all things regional Queensland".

"A fierce advocate for primary producers, rural communities and transport infrastructure," Mr Crisafulli said.

"More importantly, he was a man of true character with a handshake as strong as oak."

Senator Susan McDonald remembered Mr Johnson as "fiercely loyal and a tenacious fighter for his communities in western Queensland".

"Vaughan always had a colourful turn of phrase like 'country so good you can plant a feather and grow a chook'," Senator McDonald said.

"They broke the mould after Vaughan and I am very sad to hear of his passing. Rest in peace."

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner called Mr Johnson a "gentleman and a strong advocate for our regions".

Nanango MP Deb Frecklington said Mr Johnson wouldn't be forgotten.

"A tough old bugger and a wonderful friend and colleague. May you Rest In Peace," she wrote in a Facebook post.

"My sincerest condolences to the Johnson family & friends."

On Mr Johnson's retirement from politics, then-premier Campbell Newman said: "Vaughan will forever be known as the bloke who fought tooth and nail for the farmers and graziers, truck drivers, small business owners and everyone in between right across Western Queensland."

A lookout has been named after him in the outback town of Bedourie, in recognition of his advocacy for the outback and his efforts towards expanding the sealed road network in Western Queensland.

He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2020 for his work with various community organisations, as drought commissioner, and for advancing the interests of regional and remote Queenslanders.

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