A STRONG voice in lobbying efforts to get government backing for major projects on the Mornington Peninsula and in Melbourne’s south east has been lost with the death on Sunday in Germany of former Labor leader and ACTU president, Simon Crean.
Crean, 74, was one of three directors of Greater South East Melbourne (GSEM), a lobbying group that represents the peninsula and the municipalities of Frankston, Casey, Kingston, Greater Dandenong, Knox and Monash. The third director is former Liberal Upper House MP Margaret Fitzherbert.
Headed by Simon McKeon, the chair of Monash University, GSEM says it advocates on behalf of its member councils for “jobs, infrastructure, investment, liveability, sustainability and wellbeing for the southeast and everyone who works and lives in the region”.
McKeon issued a statement on Monday saying that Crean (also a deputy chancellor at Monash) had been “admired by so many, and especially on all sides of politics, there was hardly a door that couldn’t be opened by Simon”.
“He was genuinely respectful of others, was passionate about skills and had clear guiding principles – about workplace issues, respect and how to treat others – that he developed as a very young person. We now know that these principles guided him throughout his life,” McKeon said.
“His work at GSEM continued his life-long commitment to ensuring people had access to skills so they could enjoy well-paid and secure jobs.
“He was a fierce advocate for structural reform, always pushing to improve the governance and mechanisms that under-pin state and federal government jobs and skills policy.
“No matter the task, when help was needed, Simon was always the first to do what he could to assist.”
McKeon said Crean would be “sorely missed by the Greater South East Melbourne community” where he served across many roles since his election as MP for Hotham in 1990.