Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
Date: Saturday, 12 September 2020
I am saddened to learn of the passing of the Hon. John Fahey AC, who gave almost two decades of dedicated service to the people of Australia first as a Member of State Parliament, a Minister and Premier for NSW and then as Australia’s Minister for Finance.
Elected to Federal Parliament in 1996, John served as Minister for Finance in the Howard Government during its first two terms in office, until his retirement from politics in 2001.
Serving alongside Peter Costello they were a formidable team, as they set out to reset and rebuild the Federal Budget, setting the foundations for what would be a run of four consecutive Budget surpluses during his time as Finance Minister.
The forward trajectory of the budget settings secured under his stewardship as Finance Minister ultimately led to paying off all government net debt and building a positive net asset position for the Commonwealth within five years.
Budget repair is never easy and John was central to returning sound, disciplined economic and fiscal management to Australia for the benefit of all Australians. It was this fiscal discipline that John was proudest of as Finance Minister.
In announcing his retirement, John said:
“The simple fact of the matter is that the fiscal responsibility of recent times has without the slightest doubt given Australia a far better future than it could ever have hoped to have had.”
As Finance Minister John initiated and pursued a number of asset sales, big and small, including the initial partial sale of Telstra and the sale of Sydney Airport.
Australians benefited tremendously from the improved services those sales facilitated and from the proceeds of those sales which were re-invested for future generations.
John retired from federal politics as Australia’s longest serving Finance Minister.
On assuming the responsibilities for the Finance portfolio back in 2013 I was very grateful to John for his generous and wise counsel.
My thoughts and deep condolences go to John’s wife Colleen and his family at this difficult time.