Regional Australia Institute (RAI) Chair Christian Zahra AM has paid tribute to The Hon. Simon Crean as a passionate and strategic advocate for regional Australia and a firm believer of the work of the RAI.
“Simon Crean was a great champion of regional and rural Australia over several decades,” Mr Zahra said.
“As Federal Regional Development Minister in 2012, Mr Crean was instrumental in the establishment of the RAI, borne out of a commitment by the Gillard Government to regional crossbench MPs, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakshott and Bob Katter.
“Simon saw the importance of the need for the work of the RAI from the beginning and was pivotal in developing the framework that mapped the mandate of the Institute and set it up for its success, as demonstrated over the past 12 years.
“History will show Simon to be one of Australia’s most effective regional development ministers. He was a man who clearly saw the growth potential of regional Australia and the need for a nuanced approach to the policy to shape this growth.
“The Institute’s contribution to, and impact on regional policy development, is in no small way a result of Simon’s dedicated work,” Mr Zahra said.
Mr Zahra said it was Mr Crean’s ability to connect with people from all walks of life, be it in the Parliament or on the streets of a country towns, that would be a huge part of his legacy.
“Wherever you went in regional Australia, people had met Simon and liked him and had a story to tell about something he’d done to make a difference in their region. He was an excellent listener and always followed through on the things he said he’d do,” Mr Zahra said.
“Simon was a true friend of regional Australia and a great supporter of the RAI. His loss is a loss for the whole nation and for those of us in regional areas, we will feel the loss of a steadfast ally.
“At a personal level, Simon was also someone with whom I’d worked closely with for more than 30 years in many different roles. I know how devoted he was to making Australia a fairer and better place and saw firsthand his devotion to his family.
“Our thoughts and prayers are very much with Carole, and Simon’s two daughters, Sarah and Emma,” Mr Zahra said.
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