Tributes flow for Simon Crean AO

Grain Central, June 26, 2023

Simon Crean addressing the Australian Wagyu Association conference in Adelaide in 2019. Photo: Beef Central

FORMER Federal opposition leader and Primary Industries Minister Simon Crean is being remembered with deep respect on all sides of politics following his passing yesterday in Germany aged 74.

Mr Crean served as the Member for Hotham in the Australian Parliament from 1990 until his retirement in 2013.

During his distinguished parliamentary career he served as leader of the Australian Labor Party and Federal Leader of the Opposition and held various ministerial portfolios, including Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Minister for Trade and Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and the Arts.

Prior to joining politics, Mr Crean worked in several trade unions and was president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions from 1985 to 1990.

Mr Crean was elected Chairman of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council in October 2014 and was re-elected in 2016 and 2018, before stepping down in February 2020.

In a tribute released today the Australian Livestock Exporters Council observed that during his time as Trade Minister and Primary Industries Minister Mr Crean was responsible for a range of policies that still benefit the agriculture sector today, not in the least livestock exports.

ALEC noted he was a strident campaigner for free trade and sought to support industries to reach their potential, understanding the benefit this brought the country and the influence Australia could have on the global stage.

“Mr Crean was a proud Australian and he was once again representing Australia’s interests on the world stage at the time of his passing.

“At the time of his initial election as ALEC Chair, Mr Crean said he felt he had an obligation to help the industry following the Gillard Government’s 2011 Live Cattle Ban. However, he not only wanted to help it get back on its feet, but to help continue on its growth path. He also wanted to see the industry continue its continuous improvement in animal welfare, something he oversaw and delivered with great enthusiasm.

“He took a keen interest in the individuals involved in the industry, encouraged their success and leadership. He was a wonderful people person and genuinely cared for the individuals he associated with.

“Mr Crean was a well-respected advocate not only in politics, but across a range of sectors including the arts, regional development, and agriculture – all of which he was a passionate advocate for. It is a true mark of the man that tributes are flowing from across the political spectrum and from diverse sectors. This speaks to Simon’s integrity, intellect and standing as a public figure.

“Despite all his incredible work and achievements, Mr Crean constantly spoke of the importance of family, and it was clear that this is what he cared about most and what he was proudest of. It is his family that are the focus of our thoughts today, as while Australia has lost an incredible leader, they have lost a loving husband and father.”

GPA says Crean will be ‘sadly missed’

In a statement issued today, Grain Producers Australia said those within the organisation have been saddened of the sudden passing of Mr Crean.

“Mr Crean held various portfolios including Minister for Primary Industries and Energy at a time of deep recession and crippling drought,” the GPA statement said.

“From 2010 to 2013 he was Minister for Regional Development and was very engaged with the whole agriculture sector from grain-growing through to the livestock, horticulture and fisheries industries.

“The grains industry is one of Australia’s largest export sectors, and whilst Minister for Trade, Mr Crean was actively involved in establishing Free Trade Agreements.

GPA chair and WA grain grower Barry Large said Mr Crean will be remembered as a sincere person who devoted his life to public service.

“In his various portfolios, he actively contributed to supporting and developing the agriculture and trade sectors,” Mr Large said.

“On behalf of the grains industry, we pass on our condolences to Mr Crean’s family and other colleagues who had the privilege to work with him.

“He will be sadly missed.”

From his personal Twitter account, Grains Research and Development Corporation managing director Nigel Hart paid tribute to Mr Crean.

NFF president Fiona Simson described Mr Crean as “a remarkable man who commanded the respect of our industry”.

“Simon had notable involvement in agriculture, landcare and regional Australia, serving as the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy in the Australian Government from 1991 to 1996.

“He played a significant role in shaping agricultural policies and was a strong advocate for agriculture, for farmers and for free trade, both during and after his political career.

“Simon actively supported the Landcare movement to encourage sustainable land management practices and championed the involvement of farmers and local communities.

“I’ve been honoured to have worked with him across a number of advisory positions and have always appreciated and respected his support for our industry and the people in it.

“Simon’s efforts have contributed to the advancement of agriculture and the promotion of sustainable development in Australia’s regional areas and for this, he leaves a legacy that will be remembered by farmers.”

Innes Willox, chief executive of the national employer association Ai Group, said Mr Crean’s passing was a great loss to the Australian community.

“In his roles as a union leader, as a parliamentarian and minister, and as a policy advocate after he left political life, Mr Crean always acted with integrity and dignity.

“While he always held true to his values, Mr Crean was also always willing to work across the aisle with employers, industry leaders and his political opponents to secure outcomes in the national interest.

“His work with employers, unions and government to implement the Accords in the 1980s was a key influence in shaping the modern Australian economy.”

Mr Willox also noted that as Minister for Trade, Mr Crean worked hard to open the Australian economy to the world – work which continued after he left parliament with his leadership of the European Australian Business Council and the Australia-Korea Business Council.

“When it came to policy development, Mr Crean was stoic, determined and always interested. He innately understood that the best and lasting outcomes came when different interest groups worked together and compromised where possible.

“He worked closely with Australian Industry Group, our members and predecessor organisations over many years to resolve industrial disputes and on big picture policy proposals.

“It was a pleasure to see him most recently in April this year at a discussion on Australia-Europe trading relations ahead of him leading a trade delegation to Europe.

“On behalf of Australian industry, we thank him for his contribution to public life and the Australian community,” Mr Willox said.


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