FRIENDS and loved ones of former politician John McQuilten are mourning his death.
Mr McQuilten was a Labor Party Legislative Council member for Ballarat from 1999 to 2006.
"He was extremely loyal to anyone he considered a friend"
Central Goldfields Shire councillor Barry Rinaldi caught up with Mr McQuilten regularly, last seeing him on Tuesday before his unexpected passing in the early hours of January 2.
"We've been friends for many years," Cr Rinaldi said.
"I'm not a member of any political party, but we met each Sunday and we would always discuss the politics of the day and have a sizeable discussion and debate.
"He helped keep my mind active and my interest in politics.
"He always argued his point of view, but would always acknowledge the other side – he had the ability to understand.
"He was extremely loyal to anyone he considered a friend."
Cr Rinaldi said Mr McQuilten had grown up with an interest in politics.
"His whole life he was a conscious objector to the Vietnam War," he said.
"He joined the ALP and remained heavily involved his whole life."
Mr McQuilten served on a number of boards including those of the Australian Conservation Council, Ambulance Victoria, Victorian Channel Authority, the University of Ballarat and Maryborough Golf Club. He also had served as an executive of the Victorian Soft Drink Association and Vice-President of the Pyrenees Vignerons.
"He was extremely enthusiastic socially. He played golf at pennant level," Cr Rinaldi said.
Former member for Ripon Joe Helper worked closely with Mr McQuilten for years, including on his campaign in the lead-up to the 1999 election.
"It's very sad for all who knew John. He had an extraordinarily generous spirit," he said.