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Warnie's $1.6m farewell: Huge cost of cricket great's funeral service revealed

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Media personality Eddie McGuire has defended the reported $1.6 million price tag for Shane Warne’s state funeral, saying the service did more than honour the cricket legend.

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The funeral took place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March last year, four weeks after Warne died from a heart attack in Thailand.

The two-hour service cost taxpayers more than $1.6m, The Age newspaper reported on Wednesday.

McGuire confirmed his production company JAM TV was allocated $1m to broadcast the service across the country and internationally.

But he defended the price tag, saying it not only honoured Warne but allowed Victorians to mourn.

“In a lot of ways, we saw this as being Victoria’s funeral,” McGuire told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Wednesday.

“I had to bury my mother with 10 people in the room at the funeral and I got great succour out of the fact that we all came together for a collective funeral in the name of our great mate Shane Warne.”

More than 55,000 people attended the free service, which featured remote performances from Elton John, Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Robbie Williams.

Former cricketers including Australian captain Allan Border and West Indian great Brian Lara also spoke in a panel at the funeral.

McGuire said the service had to take place at the MCG because the ground’s Shane Warne stand needed to be unveiled.

He also said the service promoted Melbourne to the world after years of lockdown.

“It didn’t need to have these things done – no but we did because it went around the world,” he said.

“I had executive producers from Hollywood ringing me the next day who I’d never heard of, who just said we saw this, this was incredible.

“We put our heart and soul into this because we loved Shane and we love this city.”

McGuire denied his production company made any profit from the service, saying it instead ran at a loss.

State funeral venues are selected following consultation with a person’s family, with the site often having a special connection to the deceased.

Victorian Major Events Minister Steve Dimopoulos said it was important those offered a state funeral were honoured with dignity, regardless of the price.

“I would rather be accused of being over the top than not celebrating and giving Victorians the chance to celebrate the life of iconic people in this state,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

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