House of Representatives
26 October 1938

15th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

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Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

by leave - To-day we meet in an atmosphere of sadness, because of the untimely death of Mr.Charles Allan Seymour Hawker, the honorable member for Wakefield.

When the House met yesterday, I made a brief statement concerning an air crash which had occurred in the Dandenong ranges, near Melbourne. At that time, very little information was available. A few minutes after the House had adjourned, the appalling nature of the disaster was realized when it was known that all of the passengers and crew of the airliner Kyeema, numbering eighteen, had been killed.

Our sadness at this terrible toll of life was deepened when we learned that Mr. Charles Hawker was among the passengers who had perished. Our sense of loss is great, for no member of this House enjoyed a wider measure of popularity and esteem.

Mr. Hawker was first elected to represent Wakefield at the general elections of 1929. He held the portfolios of Minister for Markets and Minister for Repatriation from the 6th January to the 13th April, 1932, and, upon the alteration of the title of the Department of Markets to that of the Department of Commerce, the portfolio of Minister for Commerce from that date until the 23rd September, 1932.

Despite severe physical disabilities, the result of wounds sustained during distinguished service in the Great War, the deceased gentleman applied himself to his parliamentary work with remarkable vigour. He was a man of very keen intellect and high educational attainments, with a wide knowledge of the problems associated with rural industries, and by means of intensive study had gained a deep insight into national and international affairs. His speeches in this chamber reflected his unusual ability, and showed the care with which he applied himself to the particular subject undeT discussion. As one of my colleagues in the Ministry in 1932, I can speak with keen appreciation of his wholehearted loyalty and co-operation. I valued his friendship very greatly.

Mr. Hawker was a man of very high personal worth, and of marked sincerity. One can say with conviction that he was truly a great Australian. We shall miss hiskindly personality, as well as the example of his indomitable spirit. His death has occurred at the comparatively early age of 44 years, but he leaves behind him a record of distinguished service. The knowledge of achievement in such a life will, I trust, bring some measure of consolation to his mother, his brothers, and his sisters, in their great sorrow.

I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Charles Allan

Seymour Hawker, member for Wakefield, and a former Commonwealth Minister, places on record its appreciation of his distinguished public service, and tenders its heartfelt sympathy to his mother, brothers, and sisters, in their sad bereavement.


– I second the motion which the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has moved. I find it impossible to express adequately the very deep grief which my colleagues on this side of the House and I experience at the regrettable death of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker).

For nine years, the deceased gentleman graced this representative chamber of the democracy of Australia. He was a forthright as well as a very honorable and very honest-thinking man. His physical courage was, I think, no greater - great though it was - than his moral courage. He was not afraid to say what he thought should be said. His services to this nation have been very great. He was a gallant man in war, and a gallant personality in the civic life of the Commonwealth. Broadminded, friendly and tolerant, he was willing at all times to hear and to weigh what could be said against his own view. He was a fearless, but, nevertheless, a very manly, and I believe a very understanding, opponent of mine in politics and in respect of ideas of government. He felt that the clash of opinions was good for the people of this country. The Opposition respected and admired him. In the lobbies, they found his personality always gracious, and the opportunities for conversation with him most welcome.

This country profited by Charles Hawker’s membership of this Parliament, and the members of this Parliament also profited as individuals by the value which intercourse with him gave to them. I feel very, very deeply for his mother, his sisters, and his brothers; but, in a sense, I feel more deeply for Australia, because this nation has lost a very splendid representative. The members of this Parliament mourn him, not only because of the friendship they held for him, but also because of their sense of the national loss sustained by his death. He was, I believe, on the threshold of great achievements; because, as the right honorable the Prime Minister has said, he had not spared himself in studying the problems of this country. It was not sufficient for Charles Hawker to hold an opinion; he had to have a fortifying reason for it; he was essentially a reasoning man. I believe that his example will infect the body politic, and that the men and women of Australia will learn by it that physical disabilities may be overcome or that compensating qualities may be developed. It is true that nine years is but a short period in the political service of a country. During that time, however, the late honorable member made many wise pronouncements which will live in memory. It may be that in the years to come members of this Parliament, reading Hansard, will appeal to the judgment given by the late Charles Hawker on many an occasion. In that way his spirit will endure in this House ofRepresentatives and he will be, as it were, a continuing influence in respect of what has to be done. Thus, his labours will possess the quality of immortality.

Minister for Commerce · Cowper · CP

– I wish to associate myself, and the party which I have the honour to lead, in expressions of sympathy to relatives of all the victims of the air crash, and especially of our own colleague, Charles Hawker, and to add a tribute to a great statesman, a truehearted patriot, and a very gallant man. Because of the difficulties Charles Hawker surmounted to come here, his presence in this Parliament was an inspiration and a challenge to public service. His daily life among his own people in South Australia seemed like a. blessing. I once travelled with him many hundreds of miles through the countryside - he insisted on driving all the way - and I found that he was the guide, confidant and counsellor of the poor and rich on every side, and of the settlers everywhere, and no labour was too arduous for him in his efforts to better their lot.

Although terribly handicapped physically by his war wounds, he lived a life full to the brim of high public service, of hard personal work and of unexampled private generosity. To a rare simplicity of character was joined a bold and constructive mind, which he enriched by constant study, travel and discussion, and he thus made himself a first-class parliamentarian, a strong Minister and a wise friend.

Australia, in this crisis of its history, can ill afford to lose so ripe a mind, whose spirit was like a flame. He added lustre to a name already noted in Australia for public service and for pioneering work in land settlement, in science and in aviation, and we deeply deplore his tragic passing before the full promise of his life had been fulfilled.

Question resolved in the affirmative; honorable members standing in their places.

Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -

That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to Mrs. Hawker, mother of the late Honorable C. A. S. Hawker, the foregoing resolution, together with a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.

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Motion (by Mr. Lyons) - by leave - proposed -

That this House places on record its great sorrow at the loss of so many valuable lives in the tragic disaster to the airlinerKyeema, and extends to the relatives of those who perished its heartfelt sympathy.


.- I second the motion. We sympathize with the relatives of all the victims of this very terrible occurrence, and I hope that the lessons we shall learn from this disaster will be put to such use as to minimize the hazards of the air in the years to come.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

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Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn’ until

Wednesday next at 3 p.m.

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Prime Minister · Wilmot · UAP

– As a mark of respect to the memory of the late Honorable C. A. S. Hawker, I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 2.45 p.m.

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The following answers to questions were circulated: -

On. Research : Expenditure

Mr Price:

e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Willhe explain the following items of expenditure for the year ended the 30th June, 1938, which are shown in the trust fund statement in the budget papers: - “Petroleum Oil Search, £74,889 0s. 9d.” and “Prospecting for Petroleum, £4,010 10s. 3d.”?
  2. How, where, and with what results, was the money spent?
Mr Casey:

– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.



m asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

  1. What is the total amount that has been spent on the Governor-General’s establishment at Canberra between the transfer of the Parliament to Canberra and the 30th June, 1938?
  2. What in the total amount that has been spent on the Governor-General’s residence at Sydney (Admiralty House) to the 30th June, 1938?
Mr McEwen:
Minister for the Interior · INDI, VICTORIA · CP

– The information is being obtained.

Trade with Netherlands India.

Mr Barnard:

d asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -

  1. . What was the total value of trade between Australia and Java and the surrounding islands for the past five years?
  2. Is the present trade between Java and Australia capable of further development. If so, is the Government taking active steps to this end?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -


  1. Yes. Further developments, however, depend largely on economic conditions within the area and their effects on the purchasing power of the small European and numerically large native sections of the population. An office under the control of an Australian Government Commissioner has been established at Batavia for the purpose of conserving and fostering Australia’s trade interests in Netherlands India and effective work is being done by the Commissioner in this direction.

Small Loans

Mr Francis:

s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Concerning the granting of small loans to men in regular work to meet temporary financial difficulties no as toavoid their having recourse to persons who impose onerous interest and repayment conditions, will he give details of the arrangements made or the organization set up to make these facilities available?
  2. Are these facilities available in each State; if not, in what States are they not yet available ?
  3. What steps are now being taken to ensure that these facilities are uniformly available in ail States?
  4. How many applications for assistance were received up to the 30th September, 1938, how many have been approved, and what is the total amount advanced to that date?
Mr Casey:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. As the result of representations made by the Government to a number of financial institutions, following upon the report of the special committee which was set up to consider this matter, the Bank of Australasia mode arrangements to undertake this class of business on trial. In addition, the Victorian and Tasmanian Public Service Provident Society is understood to be undertaking similar business. 2 and 3. Facilities are available in Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. Itis understood that, pending experience in these places, the Bank of Australasia. is not yet inviting business in other States. 4.It isregretted that the Government is not in a position to furnish the desired information.

Private Accommodation for Common - wealth Departments.

Mr McEwen:

n. - On the 20th October, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) asked the following questions, upon notice: - 1.What are the names of Commonwealth Government Departments that are housed in private buildings in Adelaide?

  1. What is the rental paid and what is the term of the lease in each case?

I am now ia a position to supply the following information : -

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 October 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.