Humphries family ‘distress’ over state funeral

·3-min read
The family of legendary comedian Barry Humphries could “pull the plug” on state funeral over Andrews’ government involvement.
The family of legendary comedian Barry Humphries could “pull the plug” on state funeral over Andrews’ government involvement.

Legendary comedian Barry Humphries’ family could quash plans for a joint state funeral because of the involvement Victorian Premier Dan Andrews.

The iconic comic died in Sydney last month aged 89 following medical complications stemming from hip surgery earlier this year.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced last week the comedian would be honoured by a joint state funeral involving Mr Humphries’ home state of Victoria, NSW and the Commonwealth governments.

That plan was rebuked on Wednesday after the Herald Sun reported Mr Humphries’ family had declined the Victorian government's offer to host the event.

Entertainment reporter Peter Ford said Mr Humphries’ family was “greatly distressed”.

“They said from the beginning they did not want to Victorian government involved,” Ford told 3AW.

“They don’t want their fingerprints anywhere near it and yet you’ve got the Prime Minister announcing that Victoria is co-hosting it.

Barry Humphries in November at the launch of the new ferry named in honour of his friend Margaret Olley. Source: Instagram
Barry Humphries in November at the launch of the new ferry named in honour of his friend Margaret Olley. Source: Instagram

“Daniel Andrews is talking in a similar vein and he is saying the family are disagreeing on certain aspects on what is going to take place.”

Mr Ford said the family believed Mr Andrews could have interceded when Mr Humphries’ name was stripped from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s major award in 2019.

“It would have been quite possible for Daniel Andrews, who was the premier at the time, to pick up the phone and say ‘this is wrong what you are doing’,” Mr Ford said.

“Now that may be against protocol, it may be against etiquette but that’s what the family believes and he didn’t do it and we know the outcome.”

Mr Ford said Mr Humphries would have left “clear instructions” for his funeral, including that the state government was “not to be involved”.

“The family may pull the plug at any moment if this is not clarified,” Mr Ford said.

PREMIER DAN ANDREWS
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews offered a state funeral to the family of the Melbourne-born Humphries. Picture: Nicki Connolly

On Tuesday, Mr Andrews said it was unclear whether Victorians would pay for Mr Humphries’ funeral.

“We made an offer, we made it in good faith,” he said.

“We offered to the family to have it in Melbourne and the family decided to have it in Sydney.

“That’s ultimately their call. Now if not everyone in the family necessarily agrees with that, there could be multiple opinions within that family, but that’s a matter for them and we should respect their privacy.”

Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan said on Thursday “protocol teams” would work with the family over any plans for a state funeral.

“So let’s let the family work through these arrangements and there’s appropriate points with various protocol teams for those conversations to be had with officials about any arrangements that might involve Victoria,” Ms Allan said.