Hundreds attend state funeral for Ballarat identity Murray Byrne

HUNDREDS of mourners farewelled Ballarat political and legal identity Murray Byrne at a State Funeral at St Patrick’s Cathedral yesterday. 

The former Member of the Legislative Council, Minister for Public Works, Development and Decentralisation and senior partner of the Byrne, Jones and Torney law firm was remembered as a pioneer of Ballarat industry. 

Mr Byrne died at age 84 last week. 

He served in the Victorian parliament, representing Ballarat Province from 1958 until 1976, and helped bring major companies and industry to the region. 

Former Victorian premiers Jeff Kennett and Steve Bracks joined mourners, along with Minister for Regional Cities Denis Napthine and local representatives Sharon Knight and Simon Ramsay. 

Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird led the Catholic mass of requiem which was followed by a private burial. 

Andrew Byrne and Jane Hamilton delivered a loving eulogy to their father, remembering him as dedicated to his wife Adele and eight children. 

“Our father was not strongly political but was drawn to a political life as he felt this was a way he could make a difference,” Mr Byrne said. 

“Dad was a people person and loved helping others.

“Over his lifetime, I was always amazed that no matter where he was in public people would come up to dad and thank him for what he did for them, their family and their local community.” 

Ms Hamilton said life was exciting with her father around. 

“Dad was big in so many ways: he was a big thinker, had big ideas and most of all he was big-hearted,” she said. 

“There will be a huge hole in so many people’s hearts – but to have been part of his life, to have known him and loved him, has been a wonderful gift to us all.”

Ballarat business and community leaders paid tribute to Mr Byrne in the days following his death, crediting him with bringing jobs and infrastructure to the Ballarat region.

At the time of his election in 1958, Mr Byrne was the youngest member of any Australian Upper House at 29.