TRIBUTES have flooded in for community stalwart Andrew Casey, who died suddenly at the age of 64 last week.
Casey, who was born in Budapest and came to Australia as a refugee, was a journalist, media adviser, political activist, trade unionist and proud Jew.
He ran the Australian arm of LabourStart, the only online international union news site, he held key roles in the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and Australian Workers Union (AWU), he was made a life member of the Australian Labor Party in 2012 and worked tirelessly with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said that Casey was “one of the best”.
“Brilliant, passionate and a relentless champion for the rights of working people,” Shorten said.
“The AWU and Australia are better because of him.”
JBOD president Jeremy Spinak hailed Casey as a beloved member of the community, whose passion for progressive causes and the pursuit of tikkun olam was ceaseless.
“He brought warmth, intellect and empathy to all of the work he did for the board and to all of the organisations to which he gave his time so generously,” Spinak said.
“A man who never forgot his own roots as a refugee from Hungary and never stopped defending the rights of those less fortunate in society.”
ECAJ recalled Casey as a passionate campaigner for the rights of workers and the humane treatment of refugees, who was always measured and practical in his approach to issues.
“Andrew played an invaluable role as an adviser to the ECAJ about Labor and trade union affairs,” ECAJ executive director Peter Wertheim said.
“He will be irreplaceable as a wise friend and mentor. He led a full and meaningful life, but was taken much too soon.”
The sentiment was echoed by Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s director of international and community affairs Jeremy Jones.
“I have known him almost all my life, first as a school friend of my older sisters in Chatswood, then through political activity and for many years as a committed, thinking, interesting human being involved in the Jewish community and much beyond,” Jones said.
“He was an incredibly caring, decent and engaging person.”
NSW Labor frontbencher Walt Secord said he was deeply saddened to learn about the death of a proud unionist, social justice activist, a life member of the Labor Party and a proud member of the Jewish community.
“I first met Andrew Casey in the late 1980s when I was a journalist and he worked for the Australian Council of Trade Unions,” Secord said.
“I loved locking horns and arguing with him. He was passionate, intelligent and fearless.
“He will be greatly missed. Andrew Casey lived by and was guided by the principles of tikkun olam.”
Federal MP Michael Danby said Casey was a great character of the trade union movement.
“He was by no means an Israel right or wrong man, but you could rely on him,” Danby said.
“He was implacably opposed to racism and sought to influence the circles in which he mixed to be reasonable towards his Jewish compatriots.
“His son Daniel worked for me and I wish him and the Casey family sincere condolences.”
Australia Israel Labor Dialogue said, “AILD mourns the passing of Comrade Andrew Casey, refugee from Soviet oppression, proud Australian and proud Jew, longtime and passionate union activist, and supporter of Labor in Israel. May his memory be a blessing.”
Confirming Casey had died on a Sydney street, his brother, John, said, “Devastated, shocked, saddened … what else can I say?”