Former NSW Premier John Fahey Dies at 75

September 11, 2020 Updated: September 11, 2020

Former New South Wales (NSW) premier and federal Liberal minister John Fahey has died, aged 75.

New Zealand-born Fahey dedicated almost two decades of his life to public service, leading NSW as premier from 1992 to 1995.

He was elected as state member for Camden in 1984, but after his term as premier, made the switch to federal politics in 1996.

Fahey went on to serve as a minister in the Howard government, before retiring from politics in 2001.

He then worked as the president of World Anti-Doping Agency between 2007 and 2013, and as the chancellor of the Australian Catholic University from 2014.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said his time in politics left a lasting legacy.

“Personally, I am grateful for John’s support and encouragement,” she said in a statement.

“He has always been a wonderful role model to generations of Liberals. His contribution to the state and nation will leave a lasting legacy,” she said.

Fahey led a major overhaul of the industrial relations system as a NSW minister, and appointed the state’s first Minister for the Status of Women.

He also played a key role in the successful bid for Sydney to host the Olympic Games in 2000.

But he’s perhaps best remembered for crash-tackling a student who fired blank shots at Prince Charles at Sydney’s Darling Harbour in 1994.

Former NSW Premier Nick Greiner, who appointed Fahey a minister, said he had an incredible ability to get along with people right across the political spectrum.

“(He was) a very authentic, very humble guy who was a terrific leader, because he was able to get on with everyone,” he told the ABC.

“In many ways he was a bit of a boundary spanner,” he said.

President of the Australian Olympic Committee John Coates said the country owed Fahey an enormous debt of gratitude.

“John will always be a big part of the Sydney 2000 success story, and as we prepare to celebrate 20 years since those Games began, it is very sad to think he cannot mark that milestone with us,” he said in a statement.

His extensive political achievements aside, Fahey was a “thoroughly decent” man and a compassionate boss, said former chief of staff Greg Barns.

“He is a wonderful human being, thoroughly decent, principled, and also an excellent boss,” Barns, who worked for Fahey between 1996 and 1999, told AAP.

“John will be remembered very fondly by Australians because of his decency, and because he was very successful in his political life and achieved much for many people,” he said.

Fahey is survived by wife Colleen, two of his children, and grandchildren. His youngest daughter died in a car crash on Boxing Day 2006.

Berejiklian said a state memorial service has been offered to Fahey’s family.

Tiffanie Turnbull