House of Representatives
30 October 1918

7th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer · Balaclava · NAT

.- (By leave.) - It is my melancholy duty to announce to you, Mr. Speaker., and to the House, the death of the Honorable J vines Chester Manifold. On Saturday last it came to the ears of Ministers that the late honorable member, who was returning to Australia from England, by way of America, ‘bad boarded a steamer at San Francisco in sickness, and I asked the Governor-General to forward to the British Consul at Honolulu the following message: -

Please ascertain by wireless and advise urgently the condition of health of Chester Manifold, passenger on a steamer en. route from San Francisco to Australia approaching Honolulu.

To that message the following reply was received : -

With reference to your telegram 26th October, Chester Manifold died on the 23rd October, and was buried at sea.

This intelligence came as a great shock to the Government, and will be received’ by honorable members on both sides of the House, and by the public generally, with a feeling of the deepest regret.

Mr. Manifold was elected, in 1901, member for the division of Corangamite in the first House of Representatives, and retired voluntarily in 1903. For ten years he abstained from public life, and then in 1913, at the request of his party, re-contested and won the Western District seat, which he held thenceforth to the time of his death. He has been taken from lis at the comparatively early age of fifty-one. He came of a well known and honoured ‘Western District family whose name is a household word throughout Victoria. In sporting life, in church life, and in public life alike he was honoured and respected. To me who had the privilege of his acquaintance before he entered Parliament, he seemed the host type of the true Australian gentleman. The late Sir George Turner - the first Treasurer of the Commonwealth, a man who endeared, himself to everyone who met him in public life, and retired full of years and honours from his work in this House- - once said, “ I wish we had more men in public life like Manifold.”T think I express the opinion of every man in this Chamber when I say that Australia could not afford to lose such a character.

Mr. Manifold’s generosity was proverbial. He gave freely *o all great patriotic, and charitable undertakings, and he gave unostentatiously. Those best able to judge inform me that during his career he gave away moTe than two substantial fortunes. One of the latest instances of his munificence was the gift of ah estate on the Richmond River,- New South Wales, worth £30,000, which he cheerfully and voluntarily vested . in a local committee for the repatriation of soldiers who went to the war from the Richmond River district. His gifts to. the Church of England were on a lavish scale, and the most recent instance of his liberality that bias come to my knowledge was his action in leaving his cheque for £500, with an appreciation of the work of the institution, ‘after a visit to St. Dunstan’s Hostel for Blind Soldiers in London. Those who come from the district in which Mr Manifold .was . born, and who know him best, speak in terms of unmeasured praise of his generosity to his tenants, his workmen, and to all with whom he was brought into contact in social, business, and private life.

Notwithstanding his great wealth, influence, and generosity, Mr. Manifold was a simple, unaffected man, and probably the most popular member of this House in out’ time. He was a man against whose career and memory no one would say a word of detraction, <and no word has ever been said in derogation of him. The sporting public knew him as a sportsman. They’ knew when his colours were up that his horses would run for a true lover of the sport, for a man who was in the game, not for what he could make out of it, but for sheer love, of the sport. No more honorable uran ever took his seat in this House. He was courteous, kind, and tolerant, and showed no bitterness towards opponents, whether local or general. He spoke here but seldom, but his advice, when offered, was simple, sound common sense, such .as honorable members appreciated.

When, on the second occasion since the war began, he was leaving for England to see his son, who had been serving in the trenches, and other relatives, the Government took advantage of the opportunity to ask him to look into conditions generally surrounding the Australian Ex- petitionary Force. While in Great Britain he. did ‘a great deal of valuable work for us, furnishing several informative and useful reports regarding the welfare of our men in camp and hospitals, and the conditions of re-embarkation for Australia. I am informed by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that his independent opinion on the vexed question of fitness for service of men sent abroad proved extremely valuable to the Defence Department, and Senator Pearce has conveyed to me his particular desire to he associated with our expression of the deep sense of loss we have sustained by the death of a public man of his estimable qualities.

I desire that the House shall unanimously and appropriately express its appreciation of this loss sustained by it and the country,, and convey to the members of Mr. Manifold’s family our sincere condolences. He was an ideal husband and! parent, and a much-loved man in every walk of life. T move - I shall ask the Leader of the Opposition to second the motion -

That .this House places upon record its high appreciation of the great public services of the late Hon. James Chester Manifold, member far the division of Corangamite, and tenders its sincere sympathy to the bereaved widow and relatives of an eminent citizen whose decease is a great loss tothe Commonwealth.


.- I received a great shock this morning on learning that Chester Manifold, as we all knew him, had passed away, because I was unaware that he had been ill. I most sincerely indorse the admirable sentiments expressed by the Acting Prime Minister. During the whole of his time in this Parliament I have never heard an angry interjection from the late honorable member for Corangamite. He was one of the most popular members of the House. He was a good fellow, and the “pal” of every honorable member, no matter on which side of the House he sat. He was in the first Commonwealth Parliament. There are few of us left who were here then. A few weeks ago we expressed our regret at the loss of two other mem-‘ bers of that Parliament, but they at least had reached the allotted’ span, whereas the late Mr. Manifold was in. the prime of life. We feel it all the more when a man so vigorous as ho was is cut off, and we see him no longer in his place in the House. On behalf of every honorable member of the Opposition I extend to the widow and relatives of the deceased gentleman our deepest sympathy in the loss they have sustained. It must be some comfort to them to know that his last missionwas partly to engage in work on behalf of Australian soldiers, and an endeavour to improve their conditions. Undoubtedly we all regret the untimely death of the late honorable gentleman.

Question unanimously resolved in the affirmative, honorable members rising in their places.

Motion (by Mr. Watt”) agreed toThat Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to Mrs. Manifold the foregoing resolution and a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.

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Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer · Balaclava · NAT

– As a mark of respect to the memory of the late honorable gentleman, I move -

The theHouse do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjournedat 3.13 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 October 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.