Mark and Tracy Stockwell, and Scott and Mary-Jeanne Hutchinson
Mark and Tracy Stockwell, and Scott and Mary-Jeanne Hutchinson

Queensland’s top 25 power couples — part four

THEY are the movers and shakers of Queensland.

The couples who inspire and support each other at home so they can kick big goals in the workforce.

They juggle busy lives, while also raising families, but remain powerful figures of industry.

In the fourth of The Courier-Mail/QWeekend's five-part series - meet five of the state's 25 most powerful and influential couples in business, politics, wine, the law, and sport.

They explain how they inspire each other on the way to the top.

See tomorrow for the final parts of the series.

 

 

THE JOHNS

 

TONY JOHN - Anthony John Group owner/ managing director

FRANCINE JOHN - Anthony John group owner

 

Tony and Francine John in The Emporium Hotel at South Bank. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Tony and Francine John in The Emporium Hotel at South Bank. Picture: Mark Cranitch

He's the groundbreaking developer with an architect's flair. She's the designer who gives his projects that "wow factor".

Tony and Francine John have successfully bedded down the $600 million Southpoint development in South Bank, which includes the multi-award-winning Emporium Hotel, and more collaborative projects are on the horizon.

Having founded The Anthony John Group together, Tony, 66, says their professional partnership hit its stride with the mixed-use Rosalie Village development in 1994 and then bloomed with the Emporium Hotel in Fortitude Valley, and later their South Bank masterpiece.

"Fran has impeccable taste. As the projects arrived, I'd put something in front of her to get a second opinion," says the University of Queensland School of Architecture alumni.

"I soon realised Fran was a very strong contributor to what conceptually I was creating.

"We have very different skills but they marry in beautifully. Everything here (the Emporium Hotel) is created on paper and Fran will come in and colour it.

"She creates the full interiors, the finishes and the palates that work. That comes from having a great understanding of colour and textures.

"That's a really important aspect. I can see the concept but I can't see the finishes and Fran can envisage the way those finishes marry in together and that's an extraordinary talent."

Their business collaboration extends to operating their hotels with the Emporium Hotel in South Bank named Australia's Leading Boutique Hotel in the 2019 World Travel Awards and they most recently won the QHA's Best Boutique bar award for The Terrace.

Their personal collaboration started at a party when Gympie-born and bred Francine who worked as a sales manager at TAA (Trans Australia Airlines) met Tony, who wanted to spread his wings as a developer.

They married in 1986, and have four children - Daniel, 31, Emily, 29, Madeleine, 26, and Christopher, 23, all with their own successful careers.

"They're happy kids and that's all you want in life - happy kids. And the most exciting thing is we will soon be having our first grandchild," Francine, 58, says.

For the Johns, the creative side of the business is a family affair, with ideas thrown around the kitchen table at their Paddington home.

"Tony never sleeps, he's always coming home excited about projects," Francine says.

"All our married life he has always involved me with aspects of what he's doing.

"In that respect that's how I got involved. It was all about the feedback, talking and communication."

 

THE HUTCHINSONS

 

SCOTT HUTCHINSON - Hutchinson Builders chairman

MARY-JEANNE HUTCHINSON - Craggy Range winery director

 

Mary-Jeanne Hutchinson and Scott Hutchinson. Picture: Isaac Lawrence.
Mary-Jeanne Hutchinson and Scott Hutchinson. Picture: Isaac Lawrence.

Scott and Mary-Jeanne Hutchinson make for a perfect pairing.

Through her family business Mary-Jeanne, 53, has an array of award-winning wines with just the right notes to match the eclectic playlist of her music-mad husband and chairman of Hutchinson Builders.

And if there's anyone who can pair a suitable varietal or vintage with the repertoire of Scott's idol, punk rock icon Iggy Pop, it has to be Mary-Jeanne.

As a director of Craggy Range winery in New Zealand's Hawkes Bay, she travels the world sharing her knowledge of its wines.

The daughter of wealthy Australian businessman Terry Peabody talked her father into taking a viticultural detour from his waste recycling and transportation enterprises in the 1990s.

Of course, having tied the knot with Scott, now 60, a few years earlier, his family business - one of Australia's largest private construction companies - was enlisted to build the winery, now regarded as one of the southern hemisphere's best.

Meanwhile, back in Brisbane where they reside and have raised four children - Jack, 27, who is an associate director at Hutchinson Builders, Terence, 25, a director at Allvey Property Group, Kenneth, 20, and Mary, 16 - Scott has been keeping Hutchinson Builders on beat and the music alive in his hometown.

As well as overseeing the 107-year-old business started by his great-grandfather and delivering more than $2.5 billion worth of projects a year across Australia, he has indulged in a labour of love, building live music venues The Triffid and, more recently, Fortitude Music Hall.

The latter was the fulfilment of a personal quest to replace Festival Hall, the 2003 demolition of which Scott says "ripped the musical soul out of
the city".

 

 

THE STOCKWELLS

 

TRACY STOCKWELL - Swimming Australia deputy chair

MARK STOCKWELL - Stockwell founder/ managing director

 

Tracy and Mark Stockwell. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP
Tracy and Mark Stockwell. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP

 

Their six Olympic medals for two different countries would be enough to make Tracy and Mark, both 56, a Queensland couple of note, but add to that their part in their family's $100 million-plus development company, their five children, high-profile sport roles and quiet philanthropic work and they've more than earned their spot as a power couple.

The pair met while competing at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics - where Tracy won an incredible three golds for the US and Mark two silvers and a bronze - before reconnecting when studying at the University of Florida.

For years, they kept their long-distance relationship going across continents with love letters and expensive phone calls.

"For a seven-year period from when we met to when we finally got married, we probably spent on average about six months a year with each other," Mark says.

"Some people say Oh, we've got to break up because we're not living in the same city but I knew one day I wanted to grow old with her, and that's happening right now."

Tracy says she worked hard to win a job working for the US government at Expo 88 to join Mark in his home town before they married in 1991.

Juggling careers in property development and sports administration, they say the secret to 28 years of marriage are two "non-negotiables" - Sunday family dinner with children, twins Maddison and William, 24, Hollie, 21, Emily, 20 and Annie, 16 and a Thursday date night just for them.

Tracy is deputy chair of Swimming Australia while Mark runs the Stockwell family business, including unit developments in West End and shopping and commercial properties in Noosa and further north.

He is also head of the Australian Sports Foundation, along with their own, private Stockwell Foundation and was chairman of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bid team.

"It's a balancing act and we support each other and making time for each other in particular, when your life is a bit busy and crazy, is really important," Tracy says.

Mark says he made Tracy his priority and the relationship with his kids flowed from there. "We used to write letters," Mark says. "The kids think it's hilarious when they come across old love letters we've kept."

 

They are both behind the 2032 Olympics push for Queensland.

 

 

THE MCMURDOS

 

MARGARET MCMURDO - Lawyer X Royal Commission Commissioner

PHILIP MCMURDO - Queensland Court of Appeal Judge

 

Margaret McMurdo and Philip McMurdo
Margaret McMurdo and Philip McMurdo

Margaret and Philip McMurdo are one of Queensland's most formidable judicial power couples.

The Brisbane pair married in 1976 after graduating with law degrees from the University of Queensland and now have four adult children.

Margaret, 65, was the first female president of an appellate court in Australia when she was appointed president of Queensland's Court of Appeal in July 1998.

She resigned in March 2016 after more than 18 years as a justice of the Court of Appeal and is now the commissioner of the high-profile Lawyer X Royal Commission in Victoria.

In 1991 she became the first woman and youngest judge ever to be commissioned in the District Court of Queensland and simultaneously held a position as a judge of the Children's Court of Queensland from 1993 to 1998 until her Court of Appeal appointment.

After her retirement from the bench after 25 years as a judge, she was appointed Chair of the Legal Aid Board of Queensland in May 2017.

Her husband Philip, 65, was admitted as a solicitor in 1977, became a barrister in 1980 and was appointed as a Queen's Counsel in 1992.

In February 2003, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland and appointed to the Queensland Court of Appeal in November 2015, where he served alongside his wife until her retirement from the bench.

He has also served as a member of the Queensland Bar Council and served two terms as a part-time member of the Queensland Law Reform Commission from 1995 to 2001 and became the chair of the Supreme Court Library Committee in 2019.

 

 

 

BAILEY & SCANLON

 

MARK BAILEY - Transport and Main Roads Minister

MEAGHAN SCANLON - Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development

 

Member for Gaven Meaghan Scanlon and Transport Minister Mark Bailey at the Gold Coast 600
Member for Gaven Meaghan Scanlon and Transport Minister Mark Bailey at the Gold Coast 600

Mark Bailey and Meaghan Scanlon met in 2016 at a Broadbeach cafe near the state seat of Gaven, which Scanlon now represents as the Parliament's youngest female MP.

A lawyer at the time, Scanlon's star has risen quickly since snaring the LNP-held seat in 2017 and the first-term MP is Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development.

Prior to his 2017 election to Yeerongpilly (now Miller), Mark, Queensland's now Transport and Main Roads Minister was a policy adviser to Anna Bligh, Annastacia Palaszczuk and Peter Lawlor across a variety of portfolios and the Councillor for the Moorooka Ward on the Brisbane City Council.

He held the Energy portfolio in the Palaszczuk Government's first term before a stint in the wilderness after being stood down over his misuse of a personal email account for work purposes during a Crime and Corruption Commission probe.

Both credit their working-class roots for a love of public service.

Bailey trained as a history and drama teacher and was the first in his family to graduate from university, while Scanlon grew up with her mother and five brothers in a three-bedroom Housing Commission home in Victoria.

Although finding the challenge of juggling their political and private lives difficult at times, they say at least they each understand the pressures of their careers.

"We both get that our jobs are our first priority," Scanlon told the Gold Coast Bulletin last year.

Bailey agrees: "There is no sense of why we can't see each other more often. We both know exactly why that is."