News State SA News John Bannon offered state funeral

John Bannon offered state funeral

Mr Bannon was the state's longest serving Labor Premier.
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Former South Australian premier John Bannon has been remembered as someone who served with great distinction and integrity.

The state’s longest serving Labor premier was 72 when he died on Sunday, after a long battle with illness.

Family of Mr Bannon have been offered a state funeral by current premier, Jay Weatherill.

Mr Bannon served as SA leader from 1982 to 1992, winning three elections for the ALP, but stood down as premier in the wake of the State Bank collapse. He left politics at the 1993 election.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed Mr Bannon’s contribution to politics and public service.

“He was chairman of the expert advisory panel on reform of the federation and it was only on Thursday that we met to discuss those issues,” he said.

“He spoke with the wisdom of experience and the clarity and enthusiasm of someone totally committed to the issues of today and the challenges of tomorrow.

“Long years after his retirement from parliament, he continued to make a contribution to public service, including as director of the ABC.

“He was loved, admired and well-respected by all who worked with him.”

Mr Weatherill said Mr Bannon served with great distinction and integrity.

“I regarded John as a great friend and mentor and I am deeply saddened by his passing, as are so many of his friends and former colleagues in the South Australian parliament,” Mr Weatherill said.

Mr Bannon took over as Labor Leader after the party lost the 1979 election.
Mr Bannon took over as Labor Leader after the party lost the 1979 election. Photo: Twitter

After offering a state funeral, Mr Weatherill was expected to talk with the family again on Monday, when more details of the funeral arrangements should be known.

In other tributes to Mr Bannon, Federal Labor frontbencher, Kate Ellis, said his death was “such sad news”.

“I don’t think there was a single time I saw John Bannon and didn’t walk away remarking on what a truly lovely man he was,” she said.

Federal Labor Leader, Bill Shorten, called Mr Bannon a magnificent leader.

“In a state that has bred some truly great Labor men and women, John was a magnificent leader. He truly loved South Australia,” Mr Shorten said.

But one of the most heartfelt tributes came from another former SA premier, Mike Rann, who said he did not know of anyone in public life more deserving of the title “honourable”.

Such respect was earned not only by the positions he held and by the extraordinary length of his service, Mr Rann said.

“But by his character, his conduct in good time and bad times, his innate decency, his grace under immense pressure, his self effacing sense of duty and his abiding courage.”

During Mr Bannon’s time in office, Adelaide won the first submarine construction contract, won the right to stage the Formula One grand prix and established the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine.

Mr Bannon took over as Labor Leader after the party lost the 1979 election, but served just one term in opposition before returning Labor to power in 1982 with a majority of just one seat.

He increased Labor’s majority in 1985 but retained office in 1989 only with the support of two Labor independents in a hung parliament.

Towards the end of Labor’s third term, bad lending decisions led to the collapse of the government-owned State Bank with the state government forced to provide a $3 billion bail-out.

As state treasurer, Mr Bannon was cleared of any personal wrongdoing but quit as leader and left the parliament at the 1993 election, which Labor lost in a landslide.

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