House of Representatives
17 November 1953

20th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 191


Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

Mr. Speaker, as honorable members know, our late friend Mr. Thomas John Treloar, the honorable member for Gwydir, died at Tamworth, after a long illness, on the 15th November at the age of 61 years. During World War I., he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and served in Galipolli and France with the 18th Battalion. As a result of wounds which he received while on active service, his eyesight became, as we all are well aware, gravely impaired. During World War II., he once again offered his services to the country, and had charge of No. 40 Squadron, Air Training Corps, with the rank .of squadron leader. He always took a keen interest in the affairs of the nation, the affairs of the country and the affairs of ex-servicemen. He was the first country vice-president of the New South Wales branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. At a later stage he was president of the Tamworth sub-branch of that league, and president of the repatriation committee in that locality.

He entered this House in 1949 as the member for Gwydir, and he continued to represent that electorate until his death. The grievous injuries which he had sustained in the service of his country were added to during World War II., when, in 1944, he lost a son in action while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force in England. He is now survived by a widow, a son and a daughter, to whom the unfeigned sympathy of every honorable member of this House will go out at this time. John Treloar was here for four years, but to those of us who knew him - and that means all of us - it seemed much longer, because he had become known to us, and, I venture to say, he had become as deeply respected and liked by the honorable members of this Parliament as any member could be.

It is not possible on an occasion like this to use many words. Indeed they are quite unnecessary. However, I should like to say that John Treloar was a man of the highest character, a man with a remarkable and devoted sense of service, and a man with no pretensions but of the utmost unaffected humanity. Because of those great qualities, and because of the service that he rendered to his country in peace and in war, he enjoyed the affection of all honorable members of this House. It is one of the great compensations of parliamentary life, a compensation of which we are reminded on these occasions, that however heatedly we must contest one with the other, character, a spirit of service and decent humanity always earn their own respect and produce a genuine sense of sorrow when we lose a man upon whom we had come to look 33 a friend and a comrade. I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. Thomas John Treloar, who was at the time of his death a member of this House for the Division of Gwydir, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– I second the motion and I desire, on behalf of the Opposition, to join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his tribute of respect to Thomas John Treloar. The record of his service is a remarkable one. As the Prime Minister has said, Mr. Treloar served in World War I. and, at the age of 50, enlisted again in World War II., during which he lost one of his two sons. Mr. Treloar was very prominent in the public life of Tamworth and the New England district generally, and he contrisbuted a great deal to the deliberations of this House. We all knew how great an affliction lie bore through the injury to his eyesight that was caused by his service in World War I., and how he carried on courageously and indomitably in spite of that handicap. Three members of the Opposition have gone to Tamworth with Mr. Treloar’s colleagues on the Government side of the House to pay a last tribute of respect and, indeed, of affection, to him. We should do well to keep in mind his example. I do not know any one in public life who showed greater courage than Mr. Treloar not only in his service to his country in two world wars, but also in his service as a member of this honorable House. We differed from him, often strongly, in his political views, which he expressed fearlessly. No greater respect and no greater friendship and admiration could have been extended to him than that he received from honorable members on this side of the House.

Dir. McEWEN (Murray - Minister for Commerce and Agriculture). - On behalf of the Australian Country party, and at the request of the leader of that party, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), who is attending Mr. Treloar’s funeral, I support the motion. My other ministerial colleagues and many other members of the Australian Country party have also gone to Tamworth for that purpose. All members of the Australian Country party feel profoundly the death of our colleague and very dear friend, and we extend to his widow and family our deepest sympathy in their bereavement. His passing is a very great loss to our party, and also to this Parliament and to the public life of this country, because J ohn Treloar was indeed a good citizen of Australia by any test whatever. He was always moved by the highest motives and he combined courage, both physical and moral, with an understanding capacity for sympathy for others at all times.

He served his country at every opportunity, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) have said. He must have enlisted very early in World War I. to have been at Gallipoli and then to have suffered wounds in Prance. Not content with that record of service, he again donned uniform in World War II., as did his. son, who lost his life serving with the Royal Australian Air Force. That would have been a sufficient record of service to his country upon which any man could rest, but John Treloar was never content to cease giving of himself where there was an opportunity. I know that his record of service through the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia is a record of high service and that, indeed, he contributed greatly towards promoting the well-being of many ex-servicemen during the whole of his life.

He also served his local community. He had the respect of all as a good businessman. He entered local government and achieved a profound understanding of the problems of his own particular community and of the whole of this country. He had very definite views, but he had very high standards. He entered politics out of a sense of service. He was one who might well have spared himself the buffeting of politics. Honorable members know that he was one of the few men who, with great courage and on occasions great aggressiveness, could state the views for which he stood and at the same time retain not only the respect but also the affection of both his friends and his political opponents. I am sure that that is demonstrated in the words that have been uttered here to-day.

On behalf of the Australian Country party, I say that John Treloar was a good citizen of Australia. We mourn his passing very deeply. He carried almost to the very end of his life an almost incredible consideration for his own political party. No more than probably three weeks ago, when he was approaching the end, he wrote to me a personal letter in which he discussed the fortunes of the Australian Country party. He will live in our memory as a man who had standards to which any honorable member might be proud to aspire. On behalf of the Australian Country party, I express profound sympathy to his widow and family and join in supporting the motion moved by the Prime Minister.


– Like all other honorable members, I grieve at the passing of our very good and very great friend, John Treloar. I grieve for his wife. I know that no woman could have had a more devoted husband, that no woman could have had a companion who could excite the pride and admiration that John Treloar was always able to excite. I grieve for his family, for Bruce and for G-ai, and with them we remember the boy who took his departure before his father. I grieve for this Parliament, because this Parliament never had a more devoted servant. I grieve for the people of Australia, because the people of Australia havenever had a more devoted or a more industrious servant. I grieve for the Australian Country party, because he was friend and intimate to all the members of that party. He was a very great man in a great many ways. He joined the first Australian Imperial Force as a private in the infantry. I, who have been mixed up in two world wars, have a profound admiration for a private in the infantry, particularly a proud private in the infantry, and John Treloar was that.

It is true, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said, that John Treloar was grievously wounded in action and, as a result, was, for all . practical purposes, blind. Yethe struggled valiantly on and when the call came for the second time he gave his son and he again gave himself. He was associated with us here in the Parliament and he was one of my most intimate friends. I have known him for a great many years and like many other members of this House I am sorry that the time has come when we have to part in this very sad way. He knew, of. course, that his time was running out, and to the very end he was a courageous man. I can think of no more appropriate way of supporting this motion than to repeat a verso, which was composed by Robert Burns under similar circumstances, when ‘ he said -

John Anderson My Jo, John

We’ve clam’ the hills th’ gither

And monys the canty day, John

We’ve ha en wi’ yin anither

But we maun. totter doon, John

Tho’ hand in hand we’ll go

We’ll sleep th’ gither at the foot

John Anderson My Jo.

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

page 193


Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong - Prime

Minister) [2.47]. - As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased honorable member, I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 2.48 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 November 1953, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.