Born in Collinsville in north Queensland, after national service, Jim Kennedy started work with his uncle, Frank Kennedy, in the accounting firm now known as Kennedy McLaughlin & Associates, where he qualified as a chartered accountant. It was here Jim had his first start in the business world which would set him on the path for what he terms his “adventures in business”. He launched himself into many areas of business including owning the Kennedy’s appliance stores, the three tourist resort islands of South Molle, Tangalooma and Daydream, marine craft and airlines, and racehorse breeding.
In 1973 he was appointed a member of the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Department of Post and Telegraph, which ultimately led to his appointment as Foundation Chairman of the Australian Postal Commission in 1975. He has also been appointed to a number of federal and state-based review committees which have included Chairman of the Australian Government Inquiry into Tourism, the Committee of Review of the Queensland Tourist and Travel Corporation, the Premier’s Independent Commission for Change and Reform and the Tourism Task Force Strategic Review Panel, and Commissioner of Review into Corrective Services in Queensland.
Dr Kennedy was named one of the 2006 Queensland Greats by then Premier Peter Beattie for his outstanding contribution to Queensland’s accounting, banking and finance, business and tourism industries. Dr Kennedy is known for his major achievements in the tourism industry, including the establishment of the Queensland Tourist and Travel Corporation.
Dr Kennedy’s board appointments include the Australian Stock Exchange, GWA International Limited, Queensland Investment Corporation and the Commonwealth Bank.
He was chairman of the Steering Group for an Economic Development Strategy for Brisbane, a member of the Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Strategic Management and a member of the Development Council of The University of Queensland. He is a foundation fellow of the AICD and holds several fellowships with other professional organisations including the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants, the Securities Institute of Australia, the Australian Institute of Management and the Australian Marketing Institute.
He was one of eleven high profile Australian to participate in the then Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, a body which aimed to advocate, facilitate and recognise corporate social responsibility and partnerships between business and community organisations in Australia.
Dr Kennedy has received many distinguished awards during his lifetime, including a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1982, and in 1995 both the Order of Australia and an Honorary Doctorate from the Queensland University of Technology. The Queensland Division of the Australian Institute of Company Directors awarded its 1999 Gold Medal to Dr Kennedy.