Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hundreds of mourners filled St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney today for a state funeral led by Archbishop George Cardinal Pell, 10 days after Mr Bowen's death at age 89. Even the Sydney sky shed tears for its amazing son. Few were as kind as Lionel Bowen and even though he was not a tall boy Lionel Bowen stood head and shoulders above the rest in any situation. Indeed, like no other person I met in parliamentary life, he was respected and admired across all factions and the parties and loved by all of his staff – this man had it all. I was one of the parliamentary staffers who admired the way he shared his wisdom, stories and witty joke … he really was a working class hero who represented the real labor party and let the country party to represent the peasants …
Mike Steketee at his best - "UNASSUMING" and "politician" are not usually uttered in the same breath, but they epitomised Lionel Bowen, who died this month aged 89. He rose from poor family circumstances in Sydney to become deputy opposition leader to Bill Hayden and deputy prime minister to Bob Hawke. But high office seemed to leave him unchanged: he continued living in the same modest house in Kensington, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, that he had first rented, then bought, and in which he and wife Claire raised eight children. The deputy prime minister was spotted once patiently waiting in a long queue at a Sydney bank in pre-ATM days, largely unrecognised. Bowen was a perfect foil for Hawke: solid, not flashy, a willing ear for backbench grievances, never overawed by Hawke or Gough Whitlam, the first Labor prime minister he served, but loyal to them both. His appeal to colleagues and voters was as a traditional, down-to-earth Labor person.

Mr Bowen was a member of the powerful NSW Right but was not regarded as a strong factional player. His personality was very humble, he was the ordinary person’s representative in parliament. ‘He could talk to the president of the Soviet Union in just as reasonable and. commonsense a style DIFFERENCES were put aside as Australian political heavyweights gathered in Sydney to pay tribute to Lionel Bowen, a "unique and remarkable" former deputy leader of the Labor Party. Political heavyweights unite to mourn 'decent and humble' Lionel Bowen ; Lionel Bowen a civilised and dignifying force Lionel, thanks for the memories
THE Irish surnames Brazil and Brassil are -- in the words of our correspondent, Jim Brassil -- "almost interchangeable and they both come from the Gaelic word for strife." Which is not inappropriate, given we spelled his name with a Z the other day. We were on a roll, running an anecdote related to us about Brassil accompanying Lionel Bowen on a flight in the US, only to be seated beside disgraced former US vice-president Spiro Agnew. Oops -- wrong LB. Prudently, we'll hand over to Brassil: "The man I was travelling with in January 1974 was Lance Barnard, then deputy PM to Gough Whitlam. Not that I would not have been pleased to travel with Lionel Bowen, who had been a friend since 1950. In 1974, we were both included along with Barnard among the owners of a racehorse, 'Anglos', in Launceston, Tasmania . . . Before we got on the plane for Washington in San Francisco, I was approached by one of the US security guards offering to get my gun on the plane. When I said I did not have a gun, the guard rejoined: 'The security guy for the vice-president of Australia and he does not have a gun! God help ya." Hey, we were right about Agnew. Bowen in the wind - Lionel Bowen is dryer than a bird bath in the Simpson Desert

According to some of the stories at the wake, Lionel Frost was christened as Joseph in the Catholic Church as the local priest found it very hard to accept this kind of name especially the frosty bit ... Saying goodbye to Lionel Bowen: the soul of pure crystal

Errol Simper noted where Mr Bowen found real friends - outside politics certainly not inside NSW Parliament sadly even details about certain parliamentary repoertes and managers tend to unfold like the petals of a particularlky poisonous blossom ... Few pews in this broad church