A report detailing the eye-watering cost of Shane Warne's state memorial has been widely slammed, after it came to light that Victorian taxpayers forked out $1.6 million for the service. The Aussie cricket legend was farewelled at the MCG in March last year, four weeks after his death in Thailand at the age of 52.
On Tuesday, The Age newspaper reported that Victorian taxpayers shelled out $2.8 million for state funerals last year, including $1.6 million for the one to honour Warne. Eddie McGuire MC'd the service, and confirmed on Wednesday that his production company JAM TV was allocated $1 million to broadcast the memorial across the country and internationally.
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While some were left fuming over the eye-watering cost of the service, McGuire defended the price tag and said it not only honoured Warne but allowed Victorians to mourn. "In a lot of ways, we saw this as being Victoria's funeral," Mr McGuire told 3AW radio.
"I had to bury my mother with 10 people in the room (due to Covid) at the funeral. I got great succour out of the fact that we all came together for a collective funeral in the name of our great mate Shane Warne."
Other prominent figures also defended the huge cost, while many lashed out over the reporting of it. AFL journalist Rohan Connolly felt the report was unfair on Warne, tweeting: “What’s the point of this story, really? What does it achieve? Poor taste IMO (in my opinion)." Broadcaster and radio host Jim Wilson added: “I was there and more than happy for my taxpayers money going towards this, can we show some respect.”
Agree, I was there and more than happy for my taxpayers money going towards this, can we show some respect 🙏
— Jim Wilson (@JimWilsonMedia) April 11, 2023
Was worth every cent. Wish Warnie was still with us.
— Kevin Pollard (@football_roos) April 11, 2023
Seems very fair considering what this legend gave to our sport and our country.
— Kate (@KateyWaiteygirl) April 11, 2023
More than 55,000 people attended the free service, which featured remote performances from Elton John, Robbie Williams and Chris Martin of Coldplay. Cricket greats including former Australia captains Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Michael Clarke were in attendance, as was West Indian great Brian Lara.
Eddie McGuire defends state memorial for Shane Warne
McGuire said the service had to take place at the MCG because a stand named in honour of Warne needed to be unveiled. The former Collingwood president also said the service promoted Melbourne to the world after years of lockdown.
"It didn't need to have these things done - no but we did because it went around the world," he said. "I had executive producers from Hollywood ringing me the next day who I'd never heard of, who just said we saw this, this was incredible. We put our heart and soul into this because we loved Shane and we love this city."
McGuire denied any suggestion that his production company made any profit from the service, saying it instead ran at a loss. State funeral venues are selected following consultation with a person's family, with the site often having a special connection to the deceased. Many of Warne's greatest achievements occurred at the MCG, including the magical moment he claimed his 700th Test wicket.
The Seekers singer Judith Durham ($79,567), boxing legend John Famechon ($67,347) and former MP Jane Garrett ($50,136) were also given state funerals in 2022. A Victorian government spokeswoman told AAP that state funerals are about honouring a person's outstanding service to Victoria. "They afford Victorians an opportunity to mourn, celebrate and to recognise extraordinary contributions to our great state," the spokeswoman said.
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