Brian Harradine, Australia's longest serving Independent Senator to be given a State Funeral
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese Release
24 Apr 2014
24 Apr 2014
The Most Rev Julian Porteous paid tribute to the late Brian Harradine at the State Funeral for Australia's longest serving Independent senator yesterday, describing him as a "Just Man" who worked tirelessly for the common good, never compromising his integrity or principles.
"The man we have come to bury today can be aptly called a 'just man,'" Archbishop Porteous said in his homily. "He is seen by allies and by those who opposed him as a man who would not go down paths of expediency or compromise in order to achieve his ends. His beliefs were oriented to the good of others. And holding onto these beliefs he would negotiate a way forward whereby the truth of his views was preserved."
Asked by Senator Harradine's family to celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial, Archbishop Porteous spoke of the Tasmanian politician's Catholic faith and how this was the inspiration of what he did and all he achieved.
"He sought to protect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Brian Harradine recognised that politics should ultimately not be viewed in terms of parties but instead should recognise its role of service to the community," Archbishop Porteous said. "He did not seek to impose his beliefs but rather allowed his faith it provide the inspiration to his decisions and actions."
Former Prime Minister John Howard was among more than 650 family, friends, state and federal politicians and local dignitaries who attended yesterday's State Funeral which was held at St Mary's Cathedral in Hobart.
Also there to honour the man affectionately known as the "Father of the Senate" and pay tribute to the 30 years he represented Tasmania as an Independent senator, were Tasmania's Premier Will Hodgman; Governor of Tasmania, His Excellency Peter Underwood AC; the current Leader of the Senate, Senator Eric Abetz; the Federal Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews; Senator Stephen Parry; Senator Helen Polly; former Communications Minister Richard Alston; former Speaker of the House, Michael Polley; former Tasmanian Premier, Lara Giddings; Acting Lord Mayor of Hobart, Ron Christie and Brigadier John Withers, representing the Chief of the Defence.
Among Senator Harradine's close friends who attended the State Funeral yesterday to honour his long life which was lived with generosity, compassion and integrity was well known author, commentator and writer, Melinda Tankard Reist.
"It was such a beautiful send off. Profound," she says and treasures the time she spent time last night reminiscing with Senator Harradine's family, to whom he was devoted.
Senator Harradine who died on 14 April aged 79 after a long illness, is survived by his wife Marian, his 13 children and his many grandchildren.
"He was a man of great integrity," former Prime Minister John Howard told journalists after the State Funeral concluded.
"He agreed with me on some things and supported my government in a very effective way. But on other things we couldn't reach agreement," he said adding that even when agreement could not be reached on a policy or issue, he always liked and respected the Tasmanian Senator for his "great integrity, reliability and honesty."
"He was a man who could be trusted and who was a fierce negotiator for Tasmania," he said.
Brian Harradine himself listed his two outstanding achievements during his 30 years in Federal Parliament as the $350 million cash deal he obtained for Tasmania which he negotiated in return for his vote for the partial sale of Telstra, and for his role in brokering the Wik native title agreement. The Native Title Amendment Act 1998 was initially to have just six years of life and excluded victims of the Government's locked gates policy and also the Stolen Generation from even claiming native title.
"They wanted to abolish the right to negotiate and I said no to that as well and helped establish a system of Indigenous land use agreements," he would later say.
But of all those paying tribute to Brian Harradine in wake of his passing, Archbishop Porteous in his homily perhaps summed up the essence of the man and his achievements best.
"There are two particular aspects to the character of a just man that deserve mention. The first is that such a man is humble. Brian never sought personal advancement. He shunned personality politics. He was always content to be in the background. He never claimed the limelight or sought to gain credit for what he achieved. He never wanted fuss and probably would think today is over the top," he said, adding that "humility is the mark of a just man."
Archbishop Porteous then went on to explain that a just man sees his life essentially as service.
"This is how Brian Harradine went about his life in politics. He sought to assist the needs of the poor and struggling. He defended the sacredness of human life, speaking out for those who could not speak for themselves - the children in the womb. He dedicated his work as an Independent senator to the advancement of the State of Tasmania and ensured that this island state benefited from its rightful place in the Commonwealth."
Archbishop Porteous concluded his homily saying: "May we be inspired by his example to become just men and women ourselves."
Shared from Archdiocese of Sydney