Andrew Peacock has been remembered as “the most influential opposition leader” who did not become a prime minister, at a state memorial service in Melbourne.
Hundreds attended the service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday to farewell the former Liberal leader, 10 months after his death at age 82.
Dubbed the “colt from Kooyong”, Mr Peacock served in federal parliament for more than 28 years and was a minister in the Gorton, McMahon and Fraser governments.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg were among a number of prominent Liberals who paid tribute to Mr Peacock.
Mr Morrison told mourners he was as a man “of soaring achievement, tempered at times by disappointment”.
“He had a sense of gravity that drew us towards him. It says something of the friendships that surrounded Andrew that we’re all willing to wait patiently, some 10 months, to farewell him,” he said.
He said Mr Peacock was the first in a new generation of Liberals, as he was elected to lead the party without its founder Sir Robert Menzies.
“He dominated the landscape. The most influential opposition leader not have never become prime minister,” Mr Morrison said.
Ann Peacock said her father had an “unwavering commitment to Australians” and respected people from all walks of life.
“In some circles of the media, Andrew Peacock might always be mentioned as the man who would almost be prime minister, but for us, there was absolutely nothing almost about him,” she said.
“He was a brilliant father whose life was to raise us as people he could be proud of.”
Mr Peacock was remembered as one of Australia’s “political greats” by Mr Frydenberg.
“Andrew Peacock was authentic, charismatic and highly capable. He will be remembered fondly by those on both sides of the political aisle,” he said.
Mr Kennett said his long friendship with Mr Peacock was meaningful, helpful, educational and “it was fun”.
He recalled sitting in a hotel suite with Mr Peacock and his family as results flowed in before his final election defeat in 1990.
“As it became clear that he was not going to become prime minister, I went to console him,” he said.
“He said, ‘I don’t think I ever wanted the job’. And I have reflected on that many, many times.
“I was sad for him, but I knew he would not get another chance.”
Senator Payne said Mr Peacock’s lasting legacy was his “essential role” in Papua New Guinea’s independence in the 1970s.
“It was for his dedication to the future of Papua New Guinea that he was awarded the highest honour and made a Grand Companion of Logohu, with which comes the honorary title of chief,” she said.
As leader of the Liberal Party, Mr Peacock was defeated by Bob Hawke in the 1984 and 1990 elections. He died in April 2021 at his home in the US.
Mr Peacock’s chief Liberal Party rival, John Howard, was unable to attend, but said the pair had long ago “buried the hatchet”.
After leaving parliament in 1994, Mr Peacock was Australia’s ambassador to the US from 1997-1999.