Vale Simon Crean – Unionist, ACTU President, former Federal Labor Leader and Deputy Leader, North Melbourne tragic, father to Sarah and Emma, and loving husband to Carole.
After a political career lasting 23 years, Simon Crean retired having been a cabinet minister under four different Labor Prime Ministers – Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard – the first person to do so since Jack Beasley – who served under Scullin, Curtin, Frank Forde and Ben Chifley.
He paid the price of principled, but controversial, statement opposing the deployment of troops to the second Iraq war, saying in 2003:
“The troops should be returned to Australia.
I believe the troops should not have been sent and should now be brought home. I’m not the first Labor leader to say that.
John Curtin did it in 1942 when he fought with Churchill to have Australian troops returned from the Middle East to defend Australia from possible invasion by the Japanese.
And Gough Whitlam did it when he called, from Opposition, for Australian troops to be pulled out of Vietnam.
On both occasions, Labor leaders had the courage to stand up for Australia’s interest.
Australian troops can be brought home, even at this late stage.
It has been done before.
The decision to go to war is wrong. It is reckless and unnecessary.
I will always support our troops.
There’s one important thing I want to stress: I oppose the deployment of the troops but my argument is with the Government, not the troops themselves”.