Scott Morrison leads tributes to former deputy PM Tim Fischer as political heavyweights turn out for the late National leader’s funeral
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has led tributes to Tim Fischer as past and present politicians from across the divide remember the revered former Nationals leader and deputy prime minister.
A hearty contingent of former prime ministers, ministers and MPs flocked to Albury on the NSW-Victorian border for a state funeral to farewell Mr Fischer on Thursday after he lost his cancer battle last week.
‘Tim was as big as Australia and he’ll be forever remembered as that,’ Mr Morrison told reporters.
Thousands have packed Albury Entertainment Centre to farewell former Nationals’ Tim Fischer
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured with wife Jenny) has led tributes to Tim Fischer as past and present politicians from across the divide remember the revered former Nationals leader
‘I think it will be a fitting tribute to a great man, a good friend and we loved him dearly.’
A passionate rail enthusiast, Mr Fischer took one final train journey in a fitting farewell to the former deputy prime minister.
A train carrying Mr Fischer’s coffin departed The Rock on Thursday morning, near his home town of Boree Creek in the Riverina region.
A plaque carrying the words ‘Vale Tim Fischer: 1946 – 2019’ was fixed to the front carriage.
The locomotive enthusiast’s coffin made the one-hour journey to Albury railway station, where hundreds of wellwishers crowded the platform to greet him.
A hearty contingent of former prime ministers, ministers and MPs flocked to Albury for a state funeral to farewell Mr Fischer on Thursday. People paying respects gather at Albury station
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said he had spoken to Mr Fischer about a potential job if Labor had won the election.
‘He was a great advocate of rail – there was no stronger advocate in this country,’ he said.
‘He was a very honourable man. He stood up on issues like gun control and he had respect across the parliament.’
Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd also paid tribute to Mr Fischer.
‘He was an extraordinary Australian and from all sides of Australian politics, we mourn his passing,’ he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack remembered Mr Fischer as a man of decency and integrity.
Mr Fischer’s coffin arrived in Albury for his state funeral by train after leaving The Rock
‘He was a man of honour and I think there are a lot of people alive today because of the gun laws he helped introduce,’ he said.
Mr Fischer, who was federal Nationals leader between 1990 and 1999, served as deputy prime minister to John Howard between 1996 and 1999.
Mr Howard said Mr Fischer’s commitment to the coalition agreement had set an important blueprint for conservative politics.
‘He was a great colleague and we formed a very close personal and political bond,’ he said.
Tim Fischer’s coffin was donned with war medals and his beloved Akubra at his funeral
Governor-General David Hurley and his predecessor Sir Peter Cosgrove both attended the service.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and senior ministers including Marise Payne, Simon Birmingham, Sussan Ley, David Littleproud, Darren Chester were there to celebrate Mr Fischer’s life.
Former Nationals leaders Barnaby Joyce, Warren Truss, Mark Vaile and John Anderson were also among hundreds of guests packing the Albury Entertainment Centre.
Tim Fischer, who was federal Nationals leader between 1990 and 1999, served as deputy prime minister to John Howard between 1996 and 1999.