John Fahey, the former premier of New South Wales and federal finance minister, has died aged 75.
In a statement on Saturday morning, the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, paid tribute to Fahey and offered his family the option of a state funeral for the former premier.
Born in 1945, Fahey migrated to Australia from New Zealand, and was elected an MP in 1984. He became premier in 1992 and served until 1995. In 1996, Fahey moved to federal politics, becoming the MP for Macarthur and serving as finance minister during John Howard’s government.
The politician also played a large role in Sydney’s successful bid for the 2000 Olympics, and memorably crash-tackled protester David Kang, who shot blank rounds from a starter’s pistol at Prince Charles during a visit to Sydney in 1994.
“Under Premier Fahey’s leadership, important achievements included the introduction of the Disability Services Act, the NSW senior’s card and the first NSW minister for the status of women,” Berejiklian said.
“Many of us would remember the celebrations that immediately swept the nation after Sydney was announced as the winner – and the image of Mr Fahey jumping for joy at the news.
“My thoughts are with John’s wife Colleen, his children and grandchildren. I have spoken to Colleen to pass on my condolences and offer a state memorial service,” she said.
After retiring from politics in 2001, Fahey worked as the president of World Anti-Doping Agency from 2007 to 2013, and as the chancellor of the Australian Catholic University from 2014 until his death.
Former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott said Fahey was “universally regarded as a ‘good bloke’”.
“He went out of his way to provide me with very good advice when I was a new MP.”
Fellow former Liberal PM Malcolm Turnbull also paid tribute, and said that Fahey was “one of the first senior Liberals to support an Australian republic”.
Labor MP and former premier Kristina Keneally offered her condolences to Fahey’s family.
“As a NSW premier, a federal minister, and later as president of the World Anti-Doping Authority and chancellor of Australian Catholic University, John lad a life of generous public service,” she said.
Former NSW premier Nick Greiner, who appointed Fahey as a minister, said he had an incredible ability to get along with people right across the political spectrum.
“[He was] a very authentic, very humble guy who was a terrific leader, because he was able to get on with everyone,” he told the ABC. “In many ways he was a bit of a boundary spanner.”
The president of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, said the country owed Fahey an enormous debt of gratitude.
“John will always be a big part of the Sydney 2000 success story, and as we prepare to celebrate 20 years since those Games began, it is very sad to think he cannot mark that milestone with us,” he said.
Video: Dominic Perrottet to quash NSW Treasury lecture on ‘pronoun preference’ (Sky News Australia)