Five ways Ron Walker left his mark


Related Story: Former Melbourne lord mayor and Grand Prix supremo Ron Walker dies

Melbourne businessman Ron Walker is being remembered as one of Victoria's most influential figures.

Mr Walker died on Tuesday at the age of 78 and will be farewelled in a state funeral.

From the Grand Prix circuit to cancer treatment wards, here are five of the ways he left his mark.

Bringing the Grand Prix to Melbourne

Motor sport fans have Mr Walker to thank for bringing the Australian Formula One Grand Prix back to Melbourne in 1996.

Poaching the race from Adelaide was a personal crusade for the self-confessed petrol head and classic car collector.

Australian Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo with Melbourne Grand Prix Chairman Ron Walker.

"Recognising our Grand Prix as so important to this state, nothing would have stopped me in the end from securing it for this state," he said after the move to Albert Park.

Mr Walker served as chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation until 2015.

'One of the best Commonwealth Games ever'

As chairman of Melbourne Major Events Corporation, he was instrumental in Melbourne winning the hosting rights for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Ron Walker in front of a 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games banner.

Mr Walker chaired the Games organising committee, and its successful staging was some compensation for the disappointment he felt over the failed bid for the 1996 Olympics.

"He said to me that he wanted to run the Commonwealth Games as if it was an Olympic Games and he did," former premier Steve Bracks told ABC Radio Melbourne.

"Effectively it was of that scale and that size and that dimension, and I think it's been one of the best Commonwealth Games ever since."

Building Crown Casino

The recognisable Southbank tower of Australia's largest casino is one of many parts of Melbourne to bear Mr Walker's influence.

Hudson Conway, the company Walker founded with property developer and racing identity Lloyd Williams, developed the casino, which first opened in 1997.

As well as drawing tourists and locals to its poker machines and gaming tables, the complex has played host to events such as the Logie Awards and the AFL Brownlow Medal.

Crown Casino in Melbourne.

Campaigning for 'breakthrough' cancer drug

In 2012, after cancer was found throughout his body he was told he had only a few months to live, Mr Walker flew to the US to take part in trials of a then-unproven drug called Keytruda.

Less than two years later, his astonished doctors declared him cancer-free.

Mr Walker threw himself into campaigning to make the drug, which he described as "an amazing breakthrough," available in Australia.

In June 2015, the Abbott Government announced it would list the drug on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, making the treatment, which costs $150,000 per year, affordable for thousands of patients.

Professor Grant McArthur from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (left) and Ron Walker (right).

'Keeping the lights on' in the Liberal Party

Mr Walker served as treasurer of the Federal Liberal Party for more than a decade over the period that included John Howard's 1996 election victory, after the party's 13 years in opposition.

"He was so helpful in times when you couldn't give us away, so to speak, politically," Mr Howard told ABC Radio Melbourne this morning.

Tony Abbott (right) shakes hands with businessman Ron Walker.

Victorian Liberal Party President Michael Kroger said he at one point personally guaranteed the party's debt.

"He basically kept the lights on for a number of years through his own personal sacrifice," he said.

"The party has probably never had a greater servant."

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