3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m. and read prayers.
.- Despite the extreme pressure upon our time, I feel confident that no honorable member would desire that we should proceed, even with the very urgent business before us, while the body of the late right honorable member for Adelaide lies, unsepulchred, in the city of his birth’, which he has represented in this Parliament for more than seven years. The duties that we have recently been called upon to discharge must have too often recalled to our minds’ the absence of that right honorable gentleman to make much reference necessary to one who has held so high a place in our judgment and so near a place in our hearts. I rely upon the recollections of honorable members far more than upon any imperfect observations that can be offered to. present a fitting recognition of the public work and worth of the late Mr. Kingston. Among the unforgettable incidents in this House was that in which, when speaking from the Ministerial corner, the right honorable member - whose clearness, cogency, and masterfulness gave him at all times the attention of- honorable members - first discovered to us unmistakable evidence of the extreme debility to which he was being reduced. After that our hopes for his return to health rose, flickered, and fell from time to time when he paid occasional visits, though they, were far between, to this House. When, nevertheless, at the close of the last Parliament his constituents returned him unopposed they honoured themselves in honouring him in the sight of all Australia. We h.ave now finally parted with one of the most memorable personalities revealed in the history of this young country. We knew him in the politics of his own State, distinguished and fruitful in achievement, in the Federal campaign, among the most earnest and able advocates of union ; in the early years of the Com- monwealth, one of its most conspicuous and commanding figures. . He was a great Parliamentarian, exceptionally endowed with the capacity for shaping legislation, and a great administrator, untiring, and consumed by a devouring zeal for the work of his Department. We knew him as a great power in this House, by speech and act, exercising a constant and potent influence ‘ on behalf of the principles that he obeyed. So powerful, so notable, so strong a figure - such a force of will, of intellect, of character, and physique - has been rarely given to us, endowed though the earliest years of this ‘ Continent were with many remarkable men. I venture to think that he and the late Mr. Seddon stand together as two tribunes of the people. We knew him in private life a loyal comrade and staunch friend, with a warmth of affection which attracted and bound us to him ; a man who, though accused of dominance, was-r-as we found in our private intercourse with him - gentle, patient, and considerate. He was also a true Australian from the first to the last days of his long public career. He gave himself unreservedly to public service, standing from his earliest to his latest years as the spokesman of a clear, bold, comprehensive policy for his native country. No man more enjoyed the confidence of the masses, and no man more deserved it, for he was wholesouled in their cause. I beg to move -
That this House places upon record its deep appreciation of the great public services of the late member for Adelaide, the Right Honorable Charles Cameron Kingston, and its profound regret at his untimely decease.
– I take leave to second the motion which has been moved by the Prime Minister, and to concur in the tribute which he has just offered to the memory of our departed friend. In years gone by, the late Mr. Kingston and I, as brother Premiers, had many opportunities of meeting and of conferring upon Australian affairs. I soon recognised his good qualities as a representative of South Australia, and a loval champion of Australian, interests. In all the stages of Federation, Mr. Kingston played a conspicuous and distinguished part, and when the Union was proclaimed, and he became a Minister of State for the Commonwealth, his abilities became even more conspicuous. I believe that he has fallen a victim to his unstinted labours in the .public interest - that his intense zeal and devotion to duty laid upon his strength burdens so excessive that even his magnificient constitution, in its prime, could no longer sustain them. Hence the tragic breakdown to which the Prime Minister has referred - hence those prolonged sufferings - hence this untimely end. Mr. Kingston threw all the power of his massive brain - all his splendid energy - into the cause of reform. Mistakes he made - he must have made mistakes - but, like all his good qualities, his mistakes were of the open and fearless kind. The attractions of a professional career appealed to him in vain. He preferred to ease and opulence, a life of public service- a life of strife and poverty. He made sacrifices which were not made in vain, because he helped to lay the many foundations on which the destinies of this young Commonwealth will safely rest in days to come. Standing, as we dd here to-day, sorrowfully in the shadow of a great bereavement, political antagonisms vanish for ever. We, and all Australia with us, mourn his loss - we, and all Australia with us, share with feelings of the deepest sympathy and respect the lonely widow’s grief.
– May I, on behalf of tha party of which I have the honour to be leader, add my expression of sympathy with the widow of the late C. C. Kingston? He was undoubtedly a most distinguished figure in this Parliament, and the Prime Minister has properly said that he wielded an influence, second, perhaps, to that of no other member. But, in my opinion, the influence of the late right honorable gentleman was more potent- outside than inside Parliament; indeed, I doubt, if during my time in Australia, there has been a single figure which has occupied the public mind, and especially the mind of those of Australian thought, in so large a degree as he did a few years ago. As for myself, and, I should say, for those who had the advantage of his friendship, I could never understand the feeling with which he was assailed by those who were politically opposed to him. He was, as the Prime Minister has said, the moist kindly and genial of men, who harboured no ill-feeling, even in regard to those against whom duty caused him to take action which he considered just for the protection of the public interest. During my close acquaintance with him, he never showed the least sign of bitterness towards those against whom he might have to so act. Most happily for us, as the leader of the Opposition has suggested, any feel-‘ ing of animosity which may have been engendered by that “ which our deceased friend deemed to be his duty, is now absolutely forgotten. He has gone to his rest, and I feel that we as a Commonwealth owe ito the name and fame of the Right Honorable C. C. Kingston a tribute that perhaps we cannot at the present day appreciate. Future generations may recognise, in some measure, our great indebtedness, and I “hope that they will. We also tender our sympathy to the widow who now mourns her great loss, because, after all, hers is the greatest bereavement, ours being only :a secondary one. It is in the way of nature that great men who have struggled with public affairs should be ultimately stricken. Mr. Kingston devoted himself whole-heartedly to public affairs, and Australia, as the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition have rightly said, has publicly and privately benefited by his unselfishness. He has been, I believe, in our community, the most considerable personality since the death, prior to Federation, of a commanding figure in a neighbouring State. I think it is about time that this Parliament took into its consideration the question of commemorating the memory of some of the eminent public men who have laboured to establish on a worthy and enduring foundation this great Common- wealth. .1 add my meed of praise to that already expressed concerning the unselfish devotion of the right honorable gentleman, whose life has come to so early and untimely an end, to the service of his native country.
-I recognise that on an occasion like this, much speaking is not necessary; but I venture to address a few words to you, sir, and the House, because I was associated very intimately for many years with our late friend, Mr. Kingston. We . were associates at the Federation Conference of 1891. Very few who were with us then are, I regret to say, in this House; you, sir, the Prime Minister, and the honorable member for Denison, alone have seats here. Again, how few o? us who were at the framing of the Constitution in 1897-8 have places in this Federal Legislature? I was also associated with Mr. Kingston at her late Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in London in 1897. During the whole period of his Premiership, I was associated with him in many public questions as Premier of Western, Australia; and on many occasions we were brought closely into contact. I do not desire to speak in any way politically to-day. We all recognise the late Mr. Kingston’s great ability and energy. I desire to speak of him as an old friend, as one who was intimate with him, .and whom he admitted into his closer friendship. I wish to express my great regret that his life has been cut short - in an untimely way, I think I may say, because in the order of nature many years of life might reasonably have been expected to be reserved for him. I fully concur in all that has been said today. I wish to express my sympathy with his devoted widow and sister in their sorrow and desolation.
Mr. MALONEY (Melbourne) £3.19].- I take this opportunity of paying the homage of my thanks and reverence to Mr. Kingston as my friend, and as I think the greatest man Australia has ever produced. In 1889, when I first entered politics, I met him when I was going to Adelaide. From then until the last time that he attended here we were friends.. He treated me as I would wish if I had a father to be treated. From that time I have keenly watched his political career, having been in correspondence with him since the early nineties. His was the first voice raised firmly and decisively in advocacy of the policy of a White Australia. He showed clearly, by returns prepared in 1892-3, the way in which aliens were admitted at the ports around Australia. He should also be gratefully remembered because of an act of statesmanship whichplaced him upon the highest pinnacle attained by any Australian in this regard. I refer to his action when the second Chamber in the South Australian Parliament objected to a certain course pursued by the House of Assembly. He appealed over that Chamber to the sovereign power of the people. He showed that it dominated any second Chamber and that its creators, the people, could not be controlled by that section of Parliament. Mr. Kingstoncertainly overworked himself. As a true, brave fighter who never spared himself he certainly shortened his life, because his constitution was such that he might have been expected to live much longer. The fates have ruled otherwise, and I say now that Australia will ever remember this great man for two achievements - his fight for the White Australia policy and for the sovereign right of the people to dominate any Legislature. No man did more to show that the people possessed such a right. I desire to express my personal obligations to the deceased statesman, because when he was physically too ill to appear on the platform to assist me. in mv big fight, he helped me by his brain and his pen. No document ever published in the Melbourne election influenced so many people as did the leaflet which circulated through the length and breadth of the city to which was appended the signature of Charles Cameron Kingston. It is said that tears are for women and that acts are for’ men, and we can leave it to our manhood to provide a monument made by an Australian of Australian stone to the memory of our great fellow countryman. Every witness of the. right honorable gentleman’s later pathetic appearances in this Chamber will remember the way in which the true helpmate of his life watched over him, not only with wifely affection, but with motherly care. Those who witnessed his breakdown in this Chamber may be trusted to allow no one belonging to him to want. They will remember not only the services he rendered to the State of South Australia in making it one of the most advanced of the group, but also the great services he rendered to the Commonwealth. His name will live in Victoria with myself and with those who think with me politically, and the measure of our reverence and respect for his memory will be only equalled by that which we bore to the late Mr. Justice Higinbotham.
– As one who for six and a half years was a Ministerial colleague of Mr. Kingston, . and who for many more years enjoyed his friendship, I crave leave to add just a word or two of appreciation and regret.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– We have lost from our midst one who was a true son of Australia - a faithful friend of her people, and a self-sacrificing servant of those whom from time to time he represented in. Parliament. We may well deplore his absence from this Chamber. We shall not soon see his like again. I desire to express further only a word of sincere sympathy with those’ nearest to him who to-day moum their loss.
Motion agreed to, honorable members standing in their places.
– I move -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to convey the resolution to Mrs. Kingston.
I made no allusion to this lady in my first remarks, because this second motion enables me to speak from personal experience of the unsparing devotion of Mrs. Kingston to her husband in her guardianship over him during these last sad years, making sacrifice of her life and. all that she has possessed till the last sad hour.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I beg to move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It will assemble at the usual hour tomorrow. The funeral of our late right honorable colleague will take place in the morning.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at . 3.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 May 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080512_reps_3_46/>.