Earlier this year, I attended a small gathering to mark John Cain’s 70 years in the Labor Party.
The event was typically John: modest and intimate. No ceremony, and zero pomp.
After all, having achieved real reform – John needed no fanfare.
Perhaps one of his greatest achievements was leading the Victorian Labor Party into the modern era. Achieving victory after 27 years in the wilderness.
Moreover, John achieved what had never been done before: he led a re-elected Labor Government – twice.
John’s leadership transformed Labor into a party that not only represented the interests of working people – but could deliver as well.
No list can properly convey his immense contribution to our state.
But chief among his many reforms are Victoria’s occupational health and safety laws – ensuring the wellbeing and safety of workers.
He led other great reforms too.
Tobacco control and gun control. Women’s rights and workers’ rights. Extended shop trading hours and liquor licensing reform.
Landmark protection for children and young people. Legislated protection for our state’s environment.
His Government also succeeded in securing Australia’s lowest unemployment rate for some 84 consecutive months – affording more Victorians the opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their families.
And on this, the eve of the Australian Open, we have John to thank for one of the greatest sporting and live music venues in the world. Melbourne Park is a lasting testament to his determined leadership.
From big to small, each of these changes pointed to John’s profound belief:
The power and the purpose of a Labor Government was building a stronger and fairer society – for everyone.
John’s love for the Labor Party was only bettered by his love for his family.
On behalf of the Victorian Government and the Victorian Labor Party, I offer my deepest condolences to his wife, Nancye, and their children, Joanne, John and James.
John’s legacy will continue to live on in the modern Victoria he so proudly helped to build.
In honour of that legacy, and following a private service, a State Memorial Service will be held in the new year, with further details to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Reviewed 19 August 2020