PERTH - Kim Beazley and his family would be devastated by the death of the politician's brother, described as a lovely man with a passion for trains and Australian Rules, friends and neighbours said.
Within minutes of being ousted from the Labor leadership yesterday, Beazley was told his younger brother, 53-year-old David, had died suddenly in Perth.
Beazley was clearly upset at a press conference in Canberra soon afterwards, struggling to contain his emotions as he spoke of the importance of family. But he declined to comment on his brother's death before leaving to fly to Perth.
Beazley's staff said he was not ready to speak to the media about his loss.
But friends of the family described David as greatly loved by his parents Kim Beazley snr and Betty, and by siblings Kim and Merrilyn.
Neighbours, who did not want to be named, were obviously upset at the news of David's death, saying he was "a gorgeous man, who was very intelligent with a mild disability".
Beazley's biographer, journalist Peter FitzSimons, said David was "absolutely beloved by his parents, brother and sister" and widely liked in the community he lived in.
"His great passion in life was trains, and as a young man he would ride all over the Perth train network, somehow always managing to find his way home," FitzSimons said.
"His death will be a terrible blow to the entire Beazley family."
FitzSimons says David described Kim as a very good brother.
David told him: "We played indoor cricket all the time in the sleep-out, I was cheeky to him and wouldn't give him the bat, cheeky a lot, but he was a good brother to me."
Neighbour and Perth Seven Network newsreader Susannah Carr said she would miss seeing "Dave" around the neighbourhood.
"He was always walking in the area, and was quite a locally recognised person, I suppose, it will be very sad for the family. He was a passionate follower of [AFL] and a really gentle and lovely man, and too young, way too young."