17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. J.. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is my sad duty to record that Senator the Honorable Richard Valentine Keane died in Washington on the 26th April; 1946. During the last few years Senator Keane in the arduous and exacting post of Minister for Trade and Customs and as Minister in charge of lend-lease threw all his energy and ability into the service of Australia. He gave untiringly and unstintingly of the shrewdness of mind and soundness of judgment of which he was so abundantly possessed. As honorable, members know, at the time of his death he was engaged in delicate and exacting negotiations associated with the winding up of lend-lease arrangements - negotiations which contributed largely to complete agreement being reached with the United States of America. There is little doubt that the strain under which he was then working and to which he had been subjected for so long, contributed in no small measure to the heart attack which resulted in his sudden death.
The late senator was elected as the representative for the Division of Bendigo in the House of Representatives in 1929. He was Temporary Chairman of Committees from July, 1930, to November, 1931, but was defeated at the general elections in that year. In 1937 he was elected to the Senate for Victoria, and remained a senator until the time of his death. He was Temporary Chairman of Committees from 1938 to 1940, and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in 1938 and in 1941; VicePresident of the Executive Council from 1941 to 1943; Minister for Trade and Customs from the 7th October, 19’4l; Acting Minister for Health and Social Services in 1945; Leader of the Government in the Senate from September, 1943 ; a member of the Joint Committee on Social Security in 1941; a member of the Production Executive of . Cabinet from September, 1943 ; and a member of the Joint Committee on Income Tax on Current Income, in 1944. He visited the United States of America and Canada in 1944 on a mission for the Commonwealth Government.
Senator Keane was a grand party man, and an indefatigable worker for union principles. Prior to entering Parliament he was general secretary of the Australian Rail ways Union, and he had previously held all leading executive positions in that organization. He was also vice-president of the Coin mc-n weal th Council of Federated Unions until that body was absorbed by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. The trihut.es that were pu iti to Senator Keane at the time of his death were indicative of the esteem in which he was held by all sections of the’ community. He was a great Australian, and his death is a very real loss to the people of this country.
Dick Keane, like his former leader, John Curtin, died “ on the job “. I recall his words in the Senate on the occasion of the death of the late Prime Minister -
John Curtin is as one to-day with those ti.uli tiing men of our niue who lui ve given their lives that we might live. We in this Parliament here and in another place have los.t a colleague: we have lost too u guide and a friend.
The sentiments that he then expressed apply with equal force to himself. I personally mourn the lose of a sincere friend and a much valued colleague.’ It is now my sad duty to move-
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Richard Valentine Keane, member of the House of Representatives for .the’ Division of Bendigo from 1929 to 11)31, senator for Victoria from 1937 -ito 194(i, Vice-President of the Executive Council from 1941 to 1943, Minister for Trade and Customs from 1943 to .1.940, and Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1943 to 1.040 ; places on record its appreciation of his distinguished public service, and tenders to bis widow, his children, and all relatives its profound sympathy in ‘their- bereavement.
– I associate the Opposition with the motion, and with the words that have fallen from the Hps of tj!1 the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). Senator Keane, when I first had the pleasure of knowing him, was, as we have been reminded, a prominent official of the Australian Railways Union. At that time, I saw a good deal of his work on behalf of his members in and about the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. In my experience of him, he was always a. shrewd and a wise man. He earned a very well deserved reputation as a champion of unremitting but constitutional action on behalf of all those who depended upon his services. When he entered Parliament he revealed uncommon parliamentary gifts. These, I believe, were particularly disclosed during the time of his ministerial office. He was an uncommonly good parliamentarian, not only because he knew the business of Parliament ‘thoroughly, but also because, whilst being a constant fighter for what he believed in, he was always fair and, indeed, generous to his opponents. As a Minister, of course, he sustained what, perhaps, is not as yet very widely recognised - the extraordinary burden which office has imposed upon its holders during the last few years. I can speak of that with some little knowledge, gained from my own experience in the first two years of the war, as well as some knowledge of what my colleagues also sustained during that time. Within the la3t few years that burden has certainly not been lighter. A very great burden fell upon the late honorable gentleman, and I believe that the sustaining of it .undoubtedly shortened his life. Personally, as we are all prompt to recognize, he was a. most companionable man, who succeeded in maintaining great personal friendships while at ‘the same time maintaining active political opposition. He was, indeed, the most admirable of opponents in the political field, and a good friend. We shall all miss him.
-On behalf of the Australian Country party, I associate myself very sincerely with the motion expressing regret at the death of Senator Keane. To know Senator Keane was to like him. He was a hig Australian who possessed ,the breadth of vision and tolerance which are characteristic of those who are familiar with the wide open spaces of Australia. He was n lovable character, humorous to the last degree yet conscientious in the performance of any task that he undertook. His conscientiousness was one of the factors that contributed to his death. He was another of the great Australians who have sacrificed themselves in the service of Australia. The Australian County party joins with all others who mourn his loss. They have the consolation of knowing that he advanced the interests of Australia and performed his duties with the utmost credit to himself and those associated with him, as well- as with complete satisfaction to those who were politically opposed to him.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
.- As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased senator, I move -
That thu House do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.10 >.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice-
– - As no record is kept of applications by persons as distinct from companies, firms, &c, it is regretted that the information asked for cannot be supplied.
STo.kth.khn Territory: Labour Conditions.
en asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The’ answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for ‘Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice - ,
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 4.-
Papua and New Guinea: administr a tion .
M.i’. Abbott asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice.
d. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Ministor for Commerce and Agriculture, upon mil ice -
– The existing method of contracts with potato-growers will apply ro next season’s crop.
s asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s -questions are as follows : -
Canteens in Queensland. - The particular canteens referred to in the Auditor-General’s report relate, it is thought, to the operationin the Terres Strait area, and on the eastwest road (Tennant Creek-Cloncurry ) . In the Torres Strait area it was necessary to send bulk supplies to Thursday Island, as the central distributing point to that area. The transport and wharves were under Army control, and consignments were not covered by ordinary shipping documents, such as a bill of lading. Confusion naturally’ resulted in allocating the correct portions of consignments to the several canteens, and owing, to the isolated situation of the, canteens there were certain delays in reporting shortages on receipt with the result that it was not possible to make immediate investigation. When canteen officers’ reports were received, inquiries both by departmental officers and the police proved negative. Onthe east-west road it was necessary to serve numerous camps spread over a distance of 400 miles, and this was carried out by a mobile unit, working from a central store. Difficulties arose as the result of the organization, and it was impossible to definitely establish responsibility. It is mentioned that, in respect of trading operations of canteens in Queensland, involving over £500,000, the losses from fires, pillaging and other causes amounted to less than 1 per cent.
Northern Territory. - Inaccuracies and arrears in stores and plant records, overpurchases of stores and the unauthorized use of motor transport in the Northern Territory. In the Northern Territory many difficulties were met, due to the threatened invasions and dislocation caused by bombing. The organization had to develop quickly to meet urgent war-time demands and due to shortage of suitable clerical staff and the transport difficulties over many hundreds of miles, certain inaccuracies in issue and receipt of stores and plant records occurred. Shipping and transport difficulties also caused much duplication in delivery of certain stores, which had to be obtained to carry out works of an urgent operational nature for all services.
In regard to the motor transport control, the very nature of the country over which works were carried out raised many difficulties in control of motor transport, and every effort has been made to establish departmental control with the staff available: Due to the fact thatHead-quartcrs of the Northern Territory Branch of the Department of Works and Housing has returned to Darwin from Alice Springs, much more rigid control of transport is being effected.
n asked the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Department of Works and Housing. The strength of the administrative staff employed by the Allied Works Council has been greatly reduced, and the remaining personnel are engaged on works activities associated with the Department of Works and Housing.
n. - On the 21st March, 1946, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) referred to the price of ice cream and reviewed the balance-sheets of Peters American Delicacy Company Limited. This matter has been, brought to the notice of the Prices Branch on many occasions by the honorable member and he was informed of the position. An increase of profits was shown in 1943 and . 1944 as a. result of increased turnover occasioned by the presence of Allied servicemen. Later there was some restriction of the production of ice cream because of the shortage of materials. There has been only one increase of the price of ice cream during the war years and that was an amount of½d. on packeted lines only, granted solely because of an increase of sales tax. The greater quantity of ice cream is consumed in cones’ and the price of this has not been increased. In addition substantial reductions have been made in the price of ice cream sold under contract to the services. A recent review of the increased sales tax showed that it would be impossible for this to be absorbed by ice cream manufacturers, and because of the money unit it would not be possible to reduce the permitted increase of½d. The war-time company tax has been a heavy impost on companies making large profits, and the benefit obtained by the Government through the incidence of war-time taxation and a reduction of the prices of ice cream supplied to the services cannot be overlooked.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 June 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1946/19460618_reps_17_187/>.