Beloved son of the Labor Party
by Dr Paul Read
The state funeral for Simon Crean who died aged 74 while hiking in Germany was held at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, attended by stalwarts from all sides of politics drawn together in unity to celebrate a lifelong legacy that left an indelible mark on the political landscape of this nation.
As part of her beautiful tribute to her late husband Carole Crean revealed his last wishes for Australia included support for the upcoming Voice to Parliament referendum.
‘If he could be asked one last question, what would you wish for Australia now? he would say, the FTA (with Europe) is agreed and signed, and that Australians support the Voice as a positive step for all,’ she said.
‘We will all miss his happy smile, his cheeky eyes, his sense of fun and playfulness. He has left a huge hole in our lives, but also a huge legacy.’
A glowing tribute was given by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese who said ‘He was a great Australian who served his country and his community with humility and compassion, integrity and intellect … a beloved son of the Labor party whose personal qualities earned him respect that knew no political bounds’. Of his character he said Simon ‘greeted the world with a crinkle eyed geniality, a man of boundless generosity... as fierce and as bright as a lightning strike.’
Born on February 26, 1949, in Melbourne, Australia, Simon Crean was raised in a family with a rich history of public service. He inherited a passion for politics and a commitment to making a positive impact on society. Following in the footsteps of his father, Frank Crean, who served as a Deputy Prime Minister, Simon embarked on his own illustrious political journey.
Simon’s political career spanned several decades, during which he exhibited unwavering dedication to the Australian people and their welfare. He was the leader of the Labor Party and the Leader of the Opposition from 2001 to 2003 when John Howard was Prime Minister. and served as a Member of Parliament for various constituencies, including Hotham between 1990 and 2013. His political acumen and ability to connect with the public garnered immense respect across the political spectrum, especially remembered by politicians on all sides of the aisle for his principled stand against the US’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Notably, Simon Crean held numerous significant ministerial positions under the Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard governments and was the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions., where he worked tirelessly to shape policies that aimed to uplift the lives of everyday Australians. He served as Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Minister for Employment, Education, and Training, and Minister for Trade, among other roles. Simon’s contributions in these capacities played a pivotal role in the growth and development of the nation’s economy and workforce.
Beyond his ministerial responsibilities, Simon Crean also demonstrated his commitment to culture and the arts. He served as Minister for the Arts and passionately advocated for the preservation and promotion of Australia’s rich cultural heritage.
Simon’s leadership was characterized by his pragmatism, integrity, and a willingness to collaborate across party lines for the greater good. He was known for his strong belief in consensus-building and the pursuit of solutions that transcended partisan divisions.
Long after his official retirement from politics, Simon Crean continued to be a respected elder statesman, providing valuable insights and guidance to the next generation of leaders, including Anthony Albanese.
Simon’s warm demeanor, sense of humor, and genuine concern for the well-being of others endeared him to friends, colleagues, and constituents alike. He will be fondly remembered for his affable nature, unwavering dedication, and his relentless pursuit of a fairer, more prosperous Australia.
Simon Crean’s passing leaves a void in the hearts of those who knew him and the nation he served. He will be deeply missed but remembered for his immense contributions to Australia, the Labor Party, and the enduring values he embodied.
In the words of Anthony Albanese, ‘Simon embodies so much of what truly matters at the heart of the Labor party — above all a sense of fairness. It was his guiding star.’
Our hearts go out to Simon’s family. May his memory inspire future generations to follow in his footsteps and continue the pursuit of a better and more equitable Australia.