Mike Ahern

Remembering Mike Ahern

We are very sad to learn that Mike Ahern, the former premier of Queensland, passed away at age 81 on Friday.  Mike was the co-founder of the Australian Liver Foundation with Prof Lawrie Powell.

Mr Ahern’s family released a statement on behalf of the family which celebrated his passion for positivity and thanked him for being a loving father and grandfather.

Mr Ahern, an Order of Australia recipient, tackled corruption in the state during his tenure as premier from 1987 to 1989.

His short stint as National Party leader came after his tainted former boss Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen resigned after a record 19 years leading the Sunshine State during an era of rampant police corruption and kickbacks from developers.

‘Mike was passionate about making life better for all Queenslanders,’ his family wrote.

Mr Ahern, who had been battling cancer, racked up a list of accomplishments during his time in politics and the private sector.

‘Among all he achieved he was proudest of establishing the Queensland Community Foundation and being chairman of the Australian Liver Foundation,’ the statement continued.

‘He often fought against the will of his peers for the greater good of the people. This was most evident when he protected the state’s indigenous community from the AIDS virus when he was Health minister in the 80s.

‘He defied the Premier of the day to order blood tests on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and stop an epidemic and save hundreds of lives.

‘As AIDs hysteria was sweeping the state he openly held the hand of a man with HIV. Throughout his political life he led by example.

‘He took over the reigns as Premier at Queensland’s most troubled time. He implemented the Fitzgerald report “lock, stock and barrel”. Despite it inevitably cutting short his political career he was always satisfied he had made the state a better place for all.’

At the time of his death, Mr Ahern had Christine by his side, along with his wife Andrea, and Christine’s siblings Louise, Claire, John and Sharon.

The famed politician also had 10 grandchildren who would routinely come to visit him at his Shelley Beach home in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, the same town he grew up in.

‘He was a wonderful Dad. Loving, kind and generous with a lively sense of humour. He was tall in stature and big in heart. A thoroughly decent man who provided us all with the best role model in life,’ the family wrote.

‘But by far his greatest achievement in life was that of being a loyal husband to Andrea for 52 years. An undying love that stayed strong to the very end.

Mike believed that philanthropy is “love of humanity” and he worked tirelessly in his voluntary role as Chair of the Liver Foundation.  We are forever grateful for his vision and contribution to the wellbeing of Australians with liver disease.

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