Howard pays tribute to 'mentor' Sir John

Former prime minister John Howard has paid tribute to mentor Sir John Carrick following his death at the age of 99.

Sir John, a World War II soldier, was secretary of the NSW Liberal party between 1948 and 1971, supplying "legendary" campaigning skills and political analysis.

Mr Howard on Friday said Sir John taught him more about politics than anyone else and still displayed acute political observations when the two spent time together this week.

"John Carrick was my close friend and political mentor," Mr Howard said in a statement.

Sir John saw politics as a contest of ideas and values rather than a public relations exercise, Mr Howard added, and had a lifelong interest in all aspects of education.

He abhorred so-called "identity politics", Mr Howard said, and constantly urged the party to present policies that would appeal to all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnic background or religion.

"His death truly ends an era in Liberal, and, indeed, in Australian politics," Mr Howard said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Sir John was "a lion" of the party whose contribution to Australia spanned almost a century.

"A generation of politicians, including myself, have benefited from his wisdom and integrity," Mr Turnbull said in a statement.

Sir John was a senator for NSW between 1971 and 1987.

He was also a survivor of Singapore's notorious Changi prison camp.

Mr Turnbull said despite terrible hardship, Sir John showed upon his return that his wartime experience hadn't buried his love of humanity.

NSW Liberal Party state director Chris Stone said the party owed Sir John a debt that can never be repaid.

"Sir John has left an incredible legacy, having provided an extraordinary service to Australia and the Liberal Party," he said in a statement.

Sir John's wife Angela, to whom he was married for 67 years, died four months ago.