‘I will miss him terribly’: Labor legend farewelled

State funeral for Simon Crean

Simon Crean has been remembered as a “beloved son of the Labor Party” at a heartfelt service.

The 74-year-old was laid to rest at a state funeral on Thursday at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

The former federal Labor leader and unionist died suddenly after exercising in Berlin in June.

A video was played at the beginning of the funeral featuring Gurrumul and Paul Kelly singing the hymn Amazing Grace, against footage of Indigenous children.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid homage to a “beloved son of the Australian Labor Party”.

“We are here to mourn a great Australian who served his country and his community with humility and compassion within integrity and intellect,” he said.

“Simon embodies so much of what truly matters at the heart of the labour movement, that spirit of working together and standing up for each other.”

Mr Albanese said it was “bittersweet” visiting Berlin soon after Mr Crean’s death, as part of the NATO summit trip, as he would have been the “beneficiary of his wisdom”.

“May our friend and comrade Simon Crean rest in peace,” he said.

Mr Crean was remembered as a principled man who stood firm in his beliefs, including opposing the deployment of Australian troops to Iraq in 2003.

His brother, David Crean, recounted his treasured memories and moments spent with his sibling with whom he shared a special bond.

“Simon had an incredible sense of curiosity and adventure,” he said.

“It was a tragedy for us all, and we’re all devastated. I will miss him terribly.”

Trade unionist Bill Kelty, who served alongside Mr Crean as secretary of the ACTU, lauded his friend’s achievements in improving pay and conditions for workers.

“Simon’s DNA is in every one of those policies,” he said.

Mr Crean’s widow Carole said her husband loved the labour movement and his party.

“He had incredible self belief … that gave him the strength to fight for what he believed in,” she said.

“The capacity to be wounded, but to regroup and fight again and the humbleness to forgive and let go.”

His daughter Sarah spoke about the close relationship she had with her father and the support he provided her.

“Dad was my mentor in life and what an honour it was to have such a good teacher.”

As ACTU vice-president, Mr Crean played a key role bringing about the Accord between unions and employers in 1983.

Elected to the Victorian seat of Hotham in 1990, Mr Crean became science minister in the Hawke government.

Narrowly missing out on the deputy leadership after Labor’s election loss in 1996, he took on the position two years later after another election defeat.

After a third consecutive loss in November 2001 he was elected unopposed as leader.

Mark Latham was then narrowly elected leader over Kim Beazley, who challenged Mr Crean for the leadership in 2003.

Acting Opposition Leader Sussan Ley paid her respects on behalf of the coalition.


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