Tributes flow for Neville Wran, former Labor premier of New South Wales

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 April, 2014, 1:55am

Tributes poured in from both sides of Australian politics yesterday for former premier Neville Wran, who has died aged 87.

Wran was premier of New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, from 1976 to until his sudden retirement in 1986, and during that time he never lost an election for his Labor Party.

Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott noted Wran's death, describing the barrister from Sydney's working-class Balmain as "one of the most significant figures of his generation".

Former foreign minister Bob Carr, who served as a minister in Wran's cabinet, said the former premier left a strong legacy, including anti-discrimination laws and environmental protection.

"He said his biggest achievement was saving the rainforests of New South Wales, a bold land use achievement in the early '80s, and I think that's true because it influenced the way other Labor governments around Australia dealt with the environmental agenda," Carr said.

Wran also triggered the redevelopment of Darling Harbour and built the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

Government frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull, while from the opposite side of politics, was a former business colleague of Wran and mourned the passing of his friend. "He was not one of those politicians solely and cynically focused on being re-elected, devoted to spin. He was a true believer, a doer, a reformer and a builder," Turnbull said.

Wran, who famously acknowledged his working class roots when he said "Balmain boys don't cry", had suffered from dementia for several years. He died on Sunday.

"This is of course a very sad time for us all, but in fact a blessed release for Neville," his wife, Jill Hickson, said. "Dementia is a cruel fate and I have been grieving the loss that comes with it for some years."


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