Former governor-general and one-time Labor Party leader Bill Hayden has been farewelled at a state funeral.

The man credited as the architect of Medicare died in October at the age of 90 after a long illness.

Described by some as the greatest man to never become prime minister, Mr Hayden was remembered as a giant of the party who brought order and focus to Labor after replacing Gough Whitlam as Labor leader.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, former prime minister Paul Keating and Governor-General David Hurley were among the dignitaries and political figures at the Ipswich service on Friday.

Mr Albanese said while the prime ministership evaded Mr Hayden, his legacy as a social and economic reformer “ensured his immortality”.

“Some giants cast a shadow but Bill Hayden wasn’t one of them. With his quiet strength of character, this legend of the Labor movement shone the light that let us see the road ahead,” he said.

“As we mourn him in death, we celebrate what his life meant in all of its integrity, all of its substance and, importantly, all of its consequence.

“We take heart from all that Bill made possible and every life that he changed for the better, including mine.”

Mr Hayden’s eldest surviving daughter, Georgina, did not share personal details of her memories of her father when addressing the memorial. She told mourners she “did not feel constrained to do the expected thing”.

“Like our father we question why. Like our father we wish we could do better, be better,” she said.

“Like our father we share a singular sense of humour. It is genetic but we love it.

“And like our father was proud of us, we are proud of him. Like our father, we adore our mother. We cherish our family. Like our father loved us, loves us, we love him.”

Mr Hayden was born in 1933 and grew up in working-class Brisbane, leaving school at 16 to work as a public servant before becoming a police officer while studying part-time.

In 1961, he entered federal politics after winning the Queensland seat of Oxley.

Mr Hayden served as social security minister and treasurer in the Whitlam government and as foreign minister under Bob Hawke. Prior to ceding the Labor leadership in 1983, he was credited for turning the party around.

When Labor came to power under Whitlam, Mr Hayden introduced the universal health insurance scheme Medibank, the precursor to Medicare, and the single mother’s pension.

He later, despite being a republican, served a seven-year term as governor-general.

Mr Keating described Mr Hayden’s death as a “huge loss” to Australia.

“His death comes after years of suffering, but the fact is Bill had a big life and the other thing, he knew he had a big life,” the former prime minister said.

“For a self-effacing person not driven by egotism, Bill’s re-establishment of federal Labor as a real and genuine force is, without doubt, the crowning achievement of his long public life.

“Bill is not with us to take a bow but he certainly earned one.”

Mr Hayden is survived by his wife Dallas, whom he married in 1960, and three of their four children.

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