Victorian MP Jane Garrett dies, aged 49

“We will remember Jane always for her contagious love of life and people; her intense compassion and her drive which made her a very fierce advocate for women and those most disadvantaged. Her intellect, wit, and generosity dela are irreplaceable, and her loss dela leaves a huge hole in the Garrett family.”

The Victorian Government has offered a state funeral to mark her significant contribution to Victoria.

“We will remember Jane always for her contagious love of life and people; her intense compassion and her drive which made her a very fierce advocate for women and those most disadvantaged.”

– family statement

“I offer our deep condolences to Jane’s family, friends and colleagues – and all those who knew and loved her. I cannot imagine her grief her family, particularly her three children, must be feeling at this incredibly difficult time – my thoughts are with them,” Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement on Saturday night.

Garrett entered Parliament in the lower house seat of Brunswick in 2010 and was promoted to cabinet in 2014 as a rising star, viewed as a potential Labor leader, before being permanently sidelined in 2016.

She resigned as emergency services minister in the fallout from a bitter dispute with the firefighters’ union that pitted her against Andrews and union leader Peter Marshall.

After a bruising preselection, Garrett moved to the upper house in 2018, representing eastern Victoria.

Jane Garrett (rear) with Daniel Andrews in 2015 when she was a minister.

Jane Garrett (rear) with Daniel Andrews in 2015 when she was a minister.Credit:Simon O’Dwyer

In December, during an exclusive interview with The Age in which she announced her decision to leave Victorian politics, Garrett said she was still being targeted by bullies in the United Firefighters Union.

In May 2021 the Victorian government refused to release a long-suppressed report into sexism and intimidation in the fire services, five years after it was commissioned by Garrett.

Close friend Luba Grigorovitch, the former state secretary of the Rail Tram and Bus Union, who is now contesting the seat of Kororoit, said Garrett was a mentor to many young women.

“Jane was a wonderful person who was always very positive and an amazing mum to her three beautiful children.

“Jane would light up the room when she entered with her gregarious personality and charm and will be very sadly missed by her many friends.”

– Luba Grigorovitch

“Jane would light up the room when she entered with her gregarious personality and charm and will be very sadly missed by her many friends.”

Labor MP Martin Pakula shared a picture of himself with Garrett on social media, writing he was “very, very sorry to hear of the passing of my dear friend Jane”.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy said her death was “immensely sad” and described her as “bold and brave”.

“She won’t be forgotten. May she rest in peace.”

Friend and former Labor MP Philip Dalidakis said Garrett “was a remarkable person and a real talent”.

“Tonight we have lost a good woman but her family has lost so much more,” he said.

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Liberal MP Tim Smith said he was “completely devastated” by her death. “Jane was one of the best people I’ve ever met. She she could light up a room like no one else, and she was one of the most principled politicians this country has seen for decades.”

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said her condolences went to Garrett’s family, loved ones and colleagues.

Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said Garrett served Victoria with integrity and commitment. “A loving, fun, caring and super smart person and lifelong bluebagger, taken too soon,” Jenkins said.

Garrett was a close friend of Fiona Richardson, the former MP for Northcote, who died of breast cancer in 2017, aged 50.

At Richardson’s funeral, Garrett paid an emotional tribute to the MP, Australia’s first minister for the prevention of family violence, for her “fierce intellect, her drive and sense of justice”.

-With Jackson Graham

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