Lucy and I were very sad tonight to learn that our dear old friend Neville Wran has died. He was 87. We send our love and condolences to his family especially Jill, his wife, and his children Kim, Glenn, Harriet and Hugo.
I first came to know Neville well in 1976 when I was a political reporter at the State Parliament and he was just about to be elected Premier of NSW. He was a formidable politician - eloquent, brilliant, always active. He was not one of those politicians solely and cynically focussed on being re-elected, devoted to spin. He was a true believer, a doer, a reformer and a builder. He was also a tough partisan player, a ferocious political opponent unforgiving in his attacks on the Liberal Opposition and equally formidable as he defended himself from the slings and arrows that came his way.
In 1986, after he retired as Premier, we went into business together.
Neville was a wonderful business partner, friend and mentor. He had the capacity to be the sage older man - he was 60 and I was 32 - but at the same time he was young at heart, innovative and mischievous. He was always the best company, erudite, wickedly funny, but never, ever self important.
We had a lot of adventures whether it was starting Ozemail and other technology companies, cleaning up the mess left by WA Inc, sorting out Fairfax, Ten, Bond Media and other media deals in Australia or negotiating with Russian officials about gold in Siberia or Chinese officials about a zinc mine in Hebei Province. We had ten years together in our own firm and then after 1997 Neville and I continued to work together for a few years at Goldman Sachs.
We worked together for years as founders of the Australian Republican Movement throughout all those campaigns culminating in the Constitutional Convention in 1998 and in the 1999 referendum. Neville must have said to me a thousand times "I want to make sure Australia is a republic before I die." Sadly that is one goal we could not achieve.
Lucy and I couldn't have asked for a more loyal or trustworthy friend and colleague than Neville. He was true to his word. And he was straight, he would tell you what he thought clearly and concisely., If he didn't agree he would say so and why. There were more than a few occasions when we had cause to be grateful that we had such a tough and loyal partner - there was nobody better to have on your side in a crisis than Neville - a remarkable combination of sagacity and solidarity.
We have lost a great man, a great mensch, today. Rest in peace old mate.