farewelling Moss Cass and an era in Melbourne’s west

The life of Gough Whitlam’s most creative minister is one for radicals to steer their lives by.

Moses Henry Cass MP (bearded man in centre) in Gough Whitlam’s 1972 ministry (Image: Supplied)

Moses Henry Cass, Moss to everyone, was born in the WA wheatbelt town of Narrogin in 1927, the son of a Jewish country town GP, a child migrant from Bialystok, now in Belarus. Ninety-five years later Moss died in Melbourne, having been a pioneering minister in media, environment and much more, an MP who turned a Liberal seat safe Labor, an innovative medical researcher, a champion of community health, a warrior against the nuclear scourge, a relentless organiser of initiatives and the diminutive beatnik-bearded patriarch of a family of activists, artists, filmmakers, fighting lawyers and more, now spread over three continents. 

We farewelled Moss this week at a state memorial at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, the Maribyrnong River flowing slowly behind.

The service was led by Moss’s surviving children Dan and Naomi (widow Shirley, nee Shulman, was absent through illness), with Bill Shorten, Barry Jones, Brian Howe, Kim Carr, Mark Dreyfus, Christine Milne, Josh Frydenberg (a family friend, from the other side) and bedecorated vice-regal rep RAN Lieutenant Natasha Ellis in the audience.

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