Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sir George laid to rest in Brisbane

MORE than 600 people, including Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, attended the funeral of slain businessman Sir George Constantinou in Brisbane, Australia, yesterday, The National newspaper reports.

There was standing room only at the Greek Orthodox church of St George as Brisbane’s Greek community joined a large contingent of PNG civic and business leaders, and others, for the service.

Hundreds, many bearing flowers, signed condolence books outside the church, below both Greek and Australian flags, before moving into the ornately-painted church. After the funeral ceremony, conducted in Greek, Sir George’s family and other mourners filed past the coffin.

A large funeral cortege followed the hearse to the Mt Gravatt cemetery for the burial, then returned to Brisbane’s Greek Club for a wake.

Sir Michael, who attended with his whole family, said he and the nation had lost a wonderful friend. “I’ve known him for more than 33 years,” Sir Michael said.

 “He’s been a great man, very visionary, (an) innovator, and all his investment was in PNG.

 “He expanded, done his business, employed a lot of Papua New Guineans and I think everyone of us will miss him.

“This tragic incident had ended his life, but for those of us who remember him, he was a great man.

“He’ll be really honoured and I think he’ll have a special place in our record books in Papua New Guinea as someone who came from nothing some 54 years ago and built himself till now.

“We lost a great man in George Constantinou.”

Brisbane architect and businessman Tony Dempsey said Sir George was dedicated to PNG.

“If ever a guy was more impassioned about PNG, you’d be hard-pressed to find one,” Mr Dempsey said.

He said one of Sir George’s main concerns was to ensure employment for his PNG workforce.

Apart from PNG, Sir George also had business interests in the Solomon Islands and in Queensland, Australia.

He established Papuan Welders in 1954 and proceeded to build a business empire in PNG that employed thousands of Papua New Guineans, until his murder last Tuesday near Tete settlement at Gerehu. – AAP


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