Former South Australian premier Steele Hall has been remembered as a man of “integrity” and “courage” who “never compromised on his principles” at his state funeral.

The life and legacy of the man who led the state for two years from 1968, and died aged 95 last month, was honoured with a service at Adelaide’s Festival Centre on Monday.

Premier Peter Malinauskas described Mr Hall – the state’s 36th premier – as a man of “conviction and courage”.

“Steele Hall’s leadership facilitated so many significant achievements for our state,” he said.

Mr Malinauskas said those key accomplishments included the development of important industries such as the gas industry, the improvement of Aboriginal rights, access to safe abortion services and the fluoridisation of Adelaide’s water supply.

He said that after winning the 1968 election Mr Hall — who was born Raymond Steele Hall — chose “not to take any easy options, particularly if it was at the expense of doing what was right”.

“Today we bid farewell to a man whose life and legacy should serve as an example to leaders across our great land – a life led with conviction and extraordinary courage” Mr Malinauskas said.

“A life for whom all South Australians owe an enduring thanks. May Steele Hall rest in peace.”

Mr Hall’s parliamentary career stretched more than 33 years, including stints in both federal and state parliaments.

Premier Peter Malinauskas remembered former premier Steele Hall as a man of “conviction and courage”.(ABC News: Olivia Mason)

He was the only Australian premier to serve as a member of three legislatures – the SA House of Assembly from 1959 to 1974, the Federal Senate between 1974 and 1977 and as the member for Boothby in the Federal House of Representatives between 1981 and 1996.

Major electoral reforms were rolled out during his term, which contributed to his defeat at the 1970 election.

Two years later, he splintered from the Liberal and Country League to set up the Liberal Movement and was elected to the Senate in 1974.

He quit that three years later to unsuccessfully contest a Federal lower house seat.

By 1981, he was back in the Liberal ranks, returning as the member for Boothby in Adelaide’s south, which he held until 1996.

Mr Hall’s oldest child, Mary Rose, shared insights into his life outside of politics, including his background as a fifth-generation South Australian farmer who attended Balaklava High School.

“There was one defining thing about dad, he was practical, and he really liked making things,” she said.

“What dad liked most was many things out of steel – he loved welding and he was very good at it.”

She said his lofty creations included a heavy table made from a laminated bowling alley floor and a clover harvester – which was “the most amazing, loudest, slowest clover harvester in the district”.

“Dad was tough, both physically and mentally,” she said.

“It was dad’s toughness that allowed him to move on from disappointments such as the 1970 election and go on to live a good life with his blended family.”

Mr Hall was ‘ahead of his time’

Mr Hall’s youngest child, Ben Hall, said his father was a man of “great integrity” who lived by the motto “when in doubt, just do it”.

He said his father was “always thinking ahead of his time” who “pushed the boundaries” while “never compromising on his principles”.

He also described the former premier as an avid fisherman, adventurer and entrepreneur who made metal sculptures and opal jewellery.

He said one of Mr Hall’s endearing characteristics was his father’s lack of interest in sport, who once unknowingly sat next to Formula One champion Ayrton Senna on a flight.

He said his father lived a “long and full life” which was “rich with experiences and adventure”.

“He left behind a record of exemplary public service and achievements. He lived a life to be proud of, and one with no regrets,” Ben Hall said.

Former political journalist Rex Jory OAM, who was master of ceremonies at the state funeral, said Mr Hall’s political career “embodied political courage and personal integrity”.

“He continuously fought for what he recognised as the best interests of South Australia,” he said.

“He almost single-handedly changed the political landscape when as premier he redrew the electoral boundaries in the House of Assembly and ended a pro liberal gerrymander,” he said.

Steele Hall became South Australia’s 36th premier in 1968.(State Library SA/Grimmett)

He also shared the “vivid memories” of Mr Hall’s daughter Alexia, who remembered her father as a “hero” who “always helped out”, particularly when no one else would.

Close friend and former adviser Sir Lynton Crosby AO described Mr Hall as a “principled Maverick”.

“A man from the plains, a farmer, a politician and above all, a man of integrity and strength. Plain speaking, plain values.”

He said the “dogged egalitarian” hated fuss and was “probably looking down on us right now and murmuring about this state funeral – despite deserving it”.

He said Mr Hall, who was affectionately known as “tin shed”, had driven significant change for the state. But, he said outside of the political limelight, Mr Hall could be a reserved figure.

Friend and well-known Adelaide hotelier Peter Hurley AO said Mr Hall’s “memory and clarity of mind” was simply remarkable until dementia took hold some years ago.

“Our wonderful nation would be an even better place, if more of the political class had the integrity, the courage, the selflessness of Raymond Steele Hall,” he said.

“It’s been a very formal occasion. But I think you should feel free to applaud this extraordinary life.”

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