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Rupert Murdoch's eulogy for his mother -

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ELEANOR HALL: Let's go now to Melbourne, where Dame Elisabeth Murdoch was honoured at a state memorial service today.

The matriarch of the Murdoch family and one of Australia's leading philanthropists died earlier this month at the age of 103.

Today the global media giant Rupert Murdoch publicly paid tribute to his mum, as Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: Those wanting to pay their respects couldn't all fit into St Paul's Cathedral, which was reserved for invited guests. Many more mourners watched the service on a big screen at Federation Square across the road.

The eulogy was delivered by Dame Elisabeth's son, Rupert Murdoch, who remembered a life which began not long after Australia's federation.

RUPERT MURDOCH: In many ways, she grew up with this nation, through its youthful beginnings, the hardship of war, all the way to vibrant society we behold today.

In her spirit and her energy, she embodied the finest qualities of this country.

SIMON LAUDER: Dame Elisabeth dedicated her life to helping others and Rupert Murdoch acknowledged the presence of many beneficiaries of her generosity.

RUPERT MURDOCH: Some of you knew her through her philanthropy, indeed over 100 charities she helped are represented here today.

SIMON LAUDER: Mr Murdoch told the gathering his mother was driven by her undying love for her husband, newspaperman Sir Keith Murdoch who died 60 years ago.

RUPERT MURDOCH: Mum lived entirely for him. I know it's not fashionable to say that these days, but mum was never a person to let fashion get in the way of what she loved. She always made it clear that he would come first.

And people who do not know this about my mother do not understand her at all. There's a reason she never remarried. To her last breath, this beautiful woman never considered herself as anything but absolutely in love with my father.

We children were part of that love.

SIMON LAUDER: He also spoke of the early impact his mother had on him.

RUPERT MURDOCH: So mum took it upon herself to be the family disciplinarian. Just let me say that mum assumed that role with none of the angst or self doubt that consumed so many modern parents.

I still remember vividly the good smacking I got for pulling my big sister Helen's pigtails.

SIMON LAUDER: Rupert Murdoch says from a very young age he and his siblings knew their mother's sense of obligation and purpose would put many demands on her.

RUPERT MURDOCH: In some ways, we knew that she also belonged to Australia and that she would always put the needs of the less fortunate before her own. It started with the Royal Children's Hospital, most of you can see her imprint in the big things such as giving and raising the money.

But I see mum in the quiet little details others might not know about. For example, there was her insistence that the hospital architect lower the windows in their new building, so the bedridden children could see out more easily.

That was mum's way, doing good by stealth.

SIMON LAUDER: Dame Elisabeth will be remembered as one of the great philanthropists.

Family friend Jeff Kennett told the gathering he doesn't think that description is adequate.

JEFF KENNETT: To me, philanthropy is so often just giving of money, and she was very generous. But Dame Elisabeth gave a lot more than that. She gave of herself to every organisation that she became part of.

She gave an imprimatur to that organisation that allowed them to grow and be supported by others in the community and today there are over 100 different organisations represented who have been part of her generosity.

More than philanthropy, a generosity of spirit rarely seen.

SIMON LAUDER: The former Victorian premier paid tribute to a woman who he says sets the example of how to live a good life.

JEFF KENNETT: We as a society have an individual that we can look up to, who for the rest of time in our lives will be with us and will be guiding us to do better.

ELEANOR HALL: Former premier Jeff Kennett speaking at that service for Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.