He was credited with being personally responsible for the successful outcome of the crucial and difficult World Administrative Telephone and Telegraph Conference (WATTC) held in Melbourne in 1988 at which new rules governing the conduct of international telecommunications services were hammered out.
At the time of his retirement, John J O'Neill, a US representative on the ITU's Administrative Council wrote: "the international telecommunications community must insist on (Butler's) continued participation as an elder statesman. His talents are too great, his understanding of the issues to profound, his negotiating and conciliatory skills too impressive to remain unused."
He remained active in the ITU until very recently. In a statement of condolences to his family and friends communications minister Stephen Conroy said:
"Dick helped shape the telecommunications industry we know today. In the decades following his leadership of the ITU, he continued to make a substantial contribution. As recently as this year, Dick was an honoured member of Australia's delegation to the World Radiocommunication Conference.
"For over 30 years he has mentored many individuals both from Australia and around the world. He will be missed by all."
After leaving the ITU he served on a number of boards. He was chairman of Worldspace-Asia, a company related to Worldspace that was set up to deliver digital radio from satellite to developing nations and remote areas and also served on board of Sky Station Australia, a company affiliated with a US company that planned to provide broadband communications from a network of tethered airships.
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