House of Representatives
7 October 1919

7th Parliament · 2nd Session

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

page 13048


Prime Minis- ter and Attorney-General · Bendigo · NAT

(By leave) - I have to announce, withdeep regret, the death this morning of the Honorable Alfred Deakin, and to move-

That this House place upon record its pro found sorrow at the death of the Honorable Alfred Deakin, its appreciation of his life-long devotion to duty, and his great public services and it’s sincere sympathy with his widow and family.

Sir, it is with profound grief that I move this motion, and my feelings will be shared by every man in this House, especially by those who were privileged to know Mr. Deakin as their colleague in this place. He was a man whose name has entwined itself about our history. He was one of the makers of Australia. He was one of those distinguished men who framed the Constitution under which this Parliament and this Commonwealth was established. He was a man who devoted himself to the service of his fellow citizens; and he dies now in the service of his country no less truly than if he had been stricken on the field of battle. His health had been failing these last two orthree years, broken with the great strain of public duty. He was in every sense of the word a most distinguished citizen, and hisreputation extended far beyond the boundaries of the State of which he was a native. His name was a household word throughout the Commonwealth, and he had achieved also, in the greater world beyond the seas, an honoured name as one of the builders of the Empire, one of the keepers of the outposts, a man who was, in every sense of the word, worthy to stand beside the very best that the British race has produced. He was, perhaps, the most eloquent man in our time, for few, if any, have been gifted with the powers of oratory that were his. He had a charm of manner which endeared him to us all. It has been my lot, as it has been, I suppose, that of nearly every man in this House who sat with him, to disagree with him at times, but. none of us was able ever to regard him as other than a personal friend. He has gone, but he leaves behind him a memory that will not readily fade. Ho has played a great part in our history. He has done great things for Australia, and he hasdied in her service. We, who have been so long associated with him in publiclife, mourn our loss. Our sincerest sympathies go out to his widow and family, and we desire by this motion to place on record how much we regret that he who was so long our colleague and our friend has been taken fromus.


.- On behalf of honorable members on this side, I can express absolute agreement with everything the Prime Minister has said concerning the late Alfred Deakin. He was one of the fathers of Federation, and I think he was the only man who took part in the three gatherings - the 1890 Conference, the 1891 Convention, and, finally, the Convention which framed the Constitution under which we are working. Those of us who knew him in the House will agree that, even when party strife was bitter - and it was as bitter then as it is to-day - he was never anything but considerate towards his opponents. Never on any occasion that I can remember did he lose his head and say an unkind word about any one else. Those of us who knew him best appreciate his worth. We have said in this House on many occasions that the life which public men lead is a strenuous one, and accountable for the early death of a number. That can be more truly said of Alfred Deakin, I think, than of any other man. His work in the Federal arena contributed to his breakdown. He worked hard, and we know well that, right from 1901 to 1913, he was an untiring and zealous worker in the Federal movement. Our sincerest sympathies go out to those whom he has left behind.


.- I suppose I may be regarded as the oldest friend, both in public and private life, of the honorable gentleman who has just passed away. I do not believe this House has ever been more greatly moved than it is on this occasion, when motions of a similar character have been submitted. It was my privilege to be acquainted with Mr. Deakin for at least twenty-five years in public life prior to his retirement, and for some years as a private friend anterior to that. I was associated with him, moveover, in two Administrations. . That lengthy period gave one the opportunity of knowing the real man, his nobility of character, and charming personality. He had a most lovable nature. His modesty, his simplicity, and his tender regard for the feelings of others compelled us to regard him with affection. Those of us who were privilegedto be associated with him closely in public affairs know how devoted he was to the public service of the Commonwealth and the Empire. He gave all that was in him to his country and Empire, under the strain of which his health failed. His long and pathetic illness adds to our sorrow. We have all sat under the spell of his wonderful oratory, and admired his brilliant parts and outstanding ability; and we now realize that Australia has indeed lost one of her greatest sons. We pay this tribute with deep-felt emotion, trusting that the great name of Alfred Deakin will ever be cherished in the annals of Australia.

Minister for the Navy · Parramatta · NAT

– As a colleague of the late Honorable Alfred Deakin, I would like to say one or two words. It was only a few moments ago that I learnt of his death, and I was profoundly moved on hearing that the end had come. Hehad lain under the shadow of it for a long time, but with the coming of the end one realized thatthere had passed from ourmidst a very great Australian figure. In many respects he was the embodiment of Australian life. Certainly he was the embodiment of all the best elements of it. The passion for his , country which throbbed in his heart always, the devotion to its highest and best interests, the sacrifices he made for it,the splendid talents with which he contributed towards its upbuilding and permanency, measure the patriotism of the man and his devotion to the country he loved so well. Therefore, to-day weappropriately bear tender tribute to his memory. There are few men in Australia who have written their names more ineffaceably in the public life of this countrythan has the Honorable Alfred Deakin. To those he has left behindhim, to whom he was devotedly attached,and who, in turn, were devotedly attached to him, our sympathies go out in generous measure; and I venture to say that it will be some consolation to them to realize that, although he has been absent from our deliberations here for some years, he has not been forgotten bymen who still honour and revere him as an extraordinary man in every way, and as one who was worthy of the love and affection of the whole of the people of Australia.

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

Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -

That Mr. Speakerbe requested totransmit to

Mrs. Deakin the foregoingresolution, and a copy ofthespeeches delivered thereon.

page 13050


Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 2.30 p.m. to-morrow.

page 13050


Prime Minister and Attorney-General · Bendigo · NAT

– Asa mark of respect to the memory ofthe late Honorable Alfred Deakin, I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 3.17 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 October 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.