'Lost a great son': Motorsport icon Ron Walker dead at 78
BUSINESSMAN and Australian motorsport icon Ron Walker has died after losing his long battle with cancer. He was 78.
Mr Walker, who famously wrestled control of the Australian Formula One to Melbourne from Adelaide, has been remembered as a devout Victorian who fought for many of the state's great events.
"Australia, Victoria and Melbourne have lost a great son with Ron Walker's passing," former Prime Minister Tony Abbott tweeted.
"For decades, not much happened in Melbourne without Ron being at the centre of things."
The millionaire businessman was the Australian F1 Grand Prix Corporation chairman for 22 years after he his famous coup in 1993 when the race left Adelaide for Melbourne.
He retired from his position in 2015.
Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone famously said the race's future hinged on the negotiation skills of his close friend, Mr Walker.
Former F1 driver, Australian Mark Webber, paid tribute to Mr Walker for helping him find his feet in the sport.
"20 years ago he took me under his wing both privately and professionally," Webber tweeted.
"Ron Walker I'll never forget you matey. Rest easy."
Today we lost a incredible man... 20 years ago he took me under his wing both privately and professionally..Ron Walker I’ll never forget you matey..— Mark Webber (@AussieGrit) January 30, 2018
Rest easy. 😔😔😔 pic.twitter.com/iJwmFuqaXd
Mr Walker - a close friend of former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett - has also been remembered for his staunch loyalty to the Liberal party.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called Mr Walker as a "wise and true friend".
Vale Ron Walker - a great Australian, magnificent Melburnian & ferociously committed Liberal. Ron was a wise and true friend to me as he was to so many Liberal leaders. We will not see his like again. Our hearts go out to Barbara and their family at this sad time.— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) January 30, 2018
Meanwhile, Mr Abbott said the party owed Mr Walker a large debt for keeping it together "in tough times".
As well, he was a great supporter of good causes, from medical research to the Liberal Party, which he helped to keep together in tough times. He was a staunch friend and constant encouragement to successive Liberal leaders and will be much missed. 2/2— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) January 30, 2018
However, Mr Walker's death has traversed the political divide with federal opposition leader Bill Shorten remembering a "man of big ideas and great generosity".
Vale Ron Walker, a man of big ideas and great generosity. Modern Melbourne owes much to his vision and drive.— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) January 30, 2018