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Macarthur mourns the loss of John Fahey

The tributes to John Fahey, who has died at the age of 75, focus on his achievements as NSW Premier and Finance minister in the Howard Government.

Just about every tribute also mentions John’s copybook rugby league tackle to stop the would be assassin of Prince Charles.

Then there’s the images of John Fahey jumping up and down with joy on the night Sydney won the right to host the 2000 Olympic Games.

And that’s fair enough, because John Fahey made his mark in many different ways, in politics and out of it.

But here in Macarthur we mourn a local who never forgot where he came from, no matter how high he rose.

I remember the day a phone call came through, the receptionist saying, Eric, it’s John Fahey from Canberra.

Of course I took the call, and after the obligatory courtesies John Fahey, in a calm and considered tone, told me how disappointed he was in an editorial I had written in the Macarthur Advertiser.

Apparently I had accused Fahey of letting the area down after he promised to get some funding towards the redevelopment of Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

He wasn’t angry, there was no shouting like other politicians like to use to brow beat newspaper editors and reporters.

It was all very civilised and after a few minutes Fahey said, look, I’ve got to run, Question Time has started, but we’ll catch up and discuss it when I’m back in Campbelltown soon.

And that to me was the standout quality of John Fahey: he was a genuine human being and always kind and considerate towards his fellow man.

And he did deliver a lot of things to the Macarthur region, although, alas, not the finance for our sporting venue.

But he tried very hard, and that will have to do.

When I heard last week that he was very close to death it was a sad moment for me personally because I always admired John Fahey.

He will be very much missed by our region.

John Fahey, RIP.

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