House of Representatives
29 August 1956

22nd Parliament · 1st Session

The House met at 3 p.m.

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The Clerk:

- (Mr. A. A. Tregear). Honorable members, it is with deep regret that I have to report that the Speaker of the House, the Honorable A. G. Cameron, died in Sydney on Thursday, 9th August.

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The Clerk:

– Honorable members, it is now the duty of the House to elect a member to the vacant office of Speaker.


– I propose to the House, for its Speaker, Mr. McLeay, and I move -

That the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. McLeay) do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

Mr Bowden:

– I second the motion.

Mr McLeay:

– I accept nomination.

The Clerk:

– Is there any further proposal?

Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– I propose to the House, for its Speaker, Mr. Makin, and I move -

That the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) do take the chair of this House as Speaker.

Mr Calwell:

– I second the motion.

Mr Makin:

– I submit myself to the will of the House.

There being no further proposals,


– It is with pride and enthusiasm that I have moved that Mr. Jack McLeay be the Speaker of this House. Mr. McLeay possesses the great qualities of firmness, of patience and, above all, of fairness, that are so necessary to the Speaker of this House. He has been a distinguished citizen and leader and has devoted his life to the service of his country and of mankind. He is moved in all his actions by a love of fair play and justice. Mr. McLeay has served this country, in time of war, with great distinction. During World War I. he was awarded the Military Medal for outstanding bravery. He has served in Parliaments both State and Commonwealth. He was member for. the seat of Unley in the South Australian House of Assembly and, since 1949, has represented the division of Boothby in this honorable Parliament. In civic affairs, also, he has served with very great distinction. He held the high office of Lord Mayor of Adelaide for a record term, and during the whole of his term of office in that high position he gained the confidence of the people of South Australia, and served with very great distinction. Mr. McLeay’s work for the community has been of a very high order. He has served on the State board of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in South Australia. He is a past president of Legacy. He has shown his great interest in education by serving on the Council of Governors of the University of Adelaide, and on the Council of Scotch College. In South Australia, he has been . president of many youth clubs and of sporting clubs too numerous to mention. As Temporary Chairman of Committees, Mr. McLeay showed outstanding qualities of firmness and fairness to every member of this House. I ask all honorable members to support my nomination of Mr. McLeay for this position. I am sure that he will inspire the confidence of the House, that he will act impartially, that he will rule the House firmly but fairly, and that he will add lustre to the record of very distinguished Speakers that this House has enjoyed.


– I have never had occasion to speak to a motion of this kind before. I wish the House to know that my seconding of the motion is not a formal matter at all but is due to the fact that 1 sincerely believe that Mr. McLeay is fitted for the position and capable of doing it. I should even go so far as to say that there is no one more capable of doing it. The Opposition, in accordance with its right, has proposed a nominee for the position of Speaker. Whatever honorable members opposite can say in his favour, I suggest that not one of them can say anything to the detriment of the nominee of the Government parties.

Or. EVATT (Barton - Leader of the Opposition) [3.7J. - I suggest, Mr. Clerk, that the last observation of the honorable member for Gippsland could be made with equal accuracy and truth of the honorable member for Bonython, whom J am nominating on behalf of the Opposition in this House. We are nominating him because of his very remarkable qualities, which already have been proved in his holding of many offices, including the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives. He has had, I suppose, one of the most distinguished careers of any person in public life in Australia. All honorable members, whatever their political party, know Norman Makin thoroughly and appreciate that, whatever the decision on the question before the

House may be, he is eminently fitted to fill once again this vital and important post of Speaker. It is a vital and important post for many reasons; not only because of the duties involved in the actual occupancy of the Chair, but also because of the other important duties of the Speaker. Mr. Makin is, I suppose, one of the most senior members of the Parliament, and his services are recognized throughout Australia. He has been associated with many voluntary organizations, and on numerous occasions has been chairman or president of the bodies concerned. He has occupied presidential posts, not only in political organizations and trade unions to which he has belonged, but also in bodies such as the United Nations Association. He is the personification of impartiality and fairness and those qualities have been the foundation of his success.

He was a member of the War Cabinet at a crucial period of the war, and subsequently, he was appointed as the first Ambassador of Australia to the United States of America, where he carried out his duties with immense satisfaction to all the people of this country, whatever their political point of view may have been. Later, he was the first elected President of the Security Council of the United Nations, and during the sittings in London, in a period of some turbulence in international affairs, the outstanding factor was Mr. Makin’s calmness and impartiality and his determination to administer the rules according to the highest dictates of the traditions of that office. I say that he is completely fitted for this position. His qualifications undoubtedly are outstanding and, in our view, are pre-eminent. On that ground we nominate him for the high position which has now become vacant because of the untimely death of Mr. Speaker.


.- I second the nomination of Mr. Makin by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). It can be said with truth of Mr. Makin that he holds the respect of every member of this House; that he is respected by every member of both Houses of the Parliament; that his services to Australia have covered a long period; that they have been distinguished; that they have been of importance to the welfare of the people of Australia; and that whatever position the honorable member for Bonython might occupy he would carry out his duties with fairness, with proper regard for decorum, and with great dignity. The Leader of the Opposition has stressed the importance of the services rendered by the honorable member for Bonython in the United Nations, as Australian Ambassador at Washington, in the chair as Speaker in the days of the Scullin Government, as Minister for Munitions during the war and, indeed, during the period from 1919 to 1929 when he sat in this Parliament as a private member. The honorable member, in the days when he was Speaker, presided with impressive impartiality, and they were difficult times because that period was reminiscent of the disturbed conditions through which Australia is passing to-day. Feelings rose high in the Parliament, but not one member on either side of the House ever said anything critical of the honorable member for the manner in which he discharged his duties. His decisions were beyond challenge on all occasions.

He went into Opposition after the defeat of the Scullin Government. He became a war-time Minister and in that capacity, in association with other members of the Advisory War Council drawn from both sides of the House, he gave of the best of all his abilities and generously of his time without stint or thought of his own comfort. The honorable member for Bonython, furthermore, is a very highly respected citizen in every part of Australia. He is known far and wide as a man who still does not spare himself in doing all he can for all sections of the community. I think that is universally recognized. What we have to decide to-day is who shall be the Speaker. Whoever he may be, I hope that he will maintain - and I am sure that whoever is chosen will maintain - the high dignity of the office. The honorable member for Bonython had no need for any adventitious aids to glory or importance in order to help him to maintain the dignity of the House. In the tradition of the Labour party, he did not wear a wig and gown and I think that he, in Cromwellian fashion, had no need of a mace. That is one thin’; for which I have regard for the late Oliver Cromwell, though I do not agree with him as a regicide or in some other respects. 1 have had an honest and deep respect for the qualities of the honorable member for Bonython all the days that I have known him as a member of the Labour party. 1 esteem him as a forthright, honest man who has tried to serve, and succeeded in serving, the interests of the Australian community.

I wish him well. If he does not win to-day, he will win some other day, and at least he will know that he has the respect and confidence of every member of the House. 1 hope, as a secret ballot will be held, that he will secure some votes from Government members as well as all those cast by members of the Opposition.


.- I desire to support the nomination of the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin). I have been here for quite a while, and have seen many Speakers elected in that time. I had the privilege of sitting on the right of the honorable member when he was Speaker, in 1929, and it was rather a difficult position to face. He was kindly disposed during that period, although I did move the adjournment of the House on the 5th December, 1929, on the Scullin Government. However, I would not have spoken in favour of the election of the honorable member had the Australian Country party adopted the policy on this occasion that it has generally adopted in fighting for portfolios instead of principles. This is a principle. I believe that the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) should have this position.

Mr Hamilton:

– Why does not the honorable member nominate him?


– Never mind! You have always fought that way. Where does the Australian Country party now stand with the honorable member for Fisher? His party has dumped him. If he had been nominated, I should have continued to support the principle of seniority in employment, which the Miners Federation has always stood for, and supported his nomination and not that of the honorable member for Bonython. The honorable member for Fisher should have been given the job of Speaker, but it is said that the Liberal party did not want him, and the Australian Country party has had to give way to the Liberal party.

Sir Arthur Fadden:

– He did not say that at all.


– I did not say that he did, but I am assuming that that is the case. The senior man not having been nominated, I now support the nomination of the honorable member for Bonython. In this instance the Australian Country party has not followed its practice of fighting for office, lt should have stood by the honorable member for Fisher. It has fought for portfolios in this Parliament in the past. I remember an occasion when the Australian Country party demanded five portfolios, and Mr. Archdale Parkhill said to the members of that party, “ You fight for portfolios instead of for principles “. The Australian Country party should have fought for a principle on this occasion by nominating the honorable member for Fisher. As it did not do so, I support the nomination of the honorable member for Bonython.

The Clerk:

– In accordance with the Standing Orders the bells will be rung and a ballot taken. Ballot-papers will be distributed and honorable members are asked to write on the ballot-paper the name of the candidate for whom they wish to vote. The candidates are Mr. McLeay and Mr. Makin.

The bells having been rung, and ballotpapers being distributed,


– I ask you, Mr. Clerk, to record my protest at the fact that the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act has not been amended, so that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is still denied the right to cast a vote in the election of a Speaker whose rulings and discipline he must accept, although he will readily accept the rulings and discipline of either of the two nominees.

Mr Nelson:

– I also wish to record a protest at the fact that the honorable member for the Northern Territory is similarly debarred from voting on the election of a Speaker.

A ballot having been taken,

The Clerk:

– I have to announce the result of the ballot as follows: - Mr. McLeay, 58 votes: Mr. Makin, 39 votes. Mr. McLeay is declared elected.

Members of the House then calling Mr. McLeay to the chair, he was taken out of his place by Mr. Wilson and Mr. Bowden and conducted to the chair.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay:

I wish to express my sincere thanks for the high honour the House has been pleased to confer upon me.

Mr. Speaker having seated himself in the chair,

McPhersonActing Prime Minister and Treasurer · CP

– On behalf of the House, 1 offer to you, Mr. Speaker, our congratulations upon your election to the high office of Speaker of this House. You have, in addition to naturalqualifications, the qualification that you are a brother of our late lamented George McLeay. I wish to assure you of the co-operation and support of honorable members in the execution of your duties. You have been called to the chair in succession to a man who set a very high standard for those who will follow him. I have every confidence that you, as a fellow statesman of the late Archie Cameron, will continue in the tradition he founded and will maintain the prestige and dignity of the Chair. On behalf of the Government, I congratulate you and assure you of our wholehearted co-operation in the discharge of the duties of your high office.

Dr. EVATT (Barton - Leader of the Opposition). - 1 should like to associate the Opposition and myself with the congratulations offered to you, Mr. Speaker. You have been chosen for the highest office the House can confer upon one of its members. lt is a position of supreme importance. 1 trust that your tenure of office will be happy, that the business of the House will proceed smoothly, and that your qualifications and respected chairmanship, which were mentioned by the honorable members who proposed and seconded your nomination, will be exemplified again by the manner in which you will uphold your high office.


– I join with the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in congratulating you, Mr. Speaker. I also tender you my felicitations and best wishes. The position you now occupy is the highest and most honoured in the institution of Parliament, lt embodies the traditional rights and claims of the people. It is an office of great distinction and honour, and I am confident that you will worthily discharge its duties and guide the proceedings of the House with strict impartiality. and that your administration will exhibit your characteristic fairness. I have a confident hope as a fellow South Australian that I will be neither dismissed nor overlooked. May your term of office, sir, be pleasant, even if it is not of extended duration.


– As Leader of the House, I tender my congratulations to you, sir, on your appointment as custodian of the traditions of centuries of speakership, as it has emanated from the mother of Parliaments. I feel that the great figures who have preceded you and who have added lustre to the position will be no greater than your stature and the lustre that you will add to the office after many years of service in the highest position that this Parliament can confer upon a member.

It comes to my part from time to time, as Leader of the House, to take charge of the proceedings under your guidance. I have sat under you when you have been elevated to the position of Temporary Chairman, and I have from time to time acknowledged your dignity and the great presence that you bring to the chair. I am certain that you will carry out the high duties entrusted to you with great distinction and dignity and with complete fairness in all your dealings with the House.


- Mr. Speaker, may I offer my congratulations to you on your elevation to your high office? I feel sure that you will do justice to the position and will perform your duties with distinction, and with a complete fairness and impartiality. As your Chairman of Committees, I assure you of my full cooperation and help in every way.


- Mr. Acting Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and honorable members: I thank you for the great honour that you have conferred upon me in electing me to this distinguished office. I am fully aware of the obligations that I have accepted and I hope that the responsibility that will fall to my lot and the confidence that you have shown in me will not be misplaced. It is my intention, with the help of God, and with the loyalty, tolerance and co-operation of the members of the House, to maintain the standard set by my predecessors.

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McPhersonActing Prime Minister and Treasurer · CP

– 1 have ascertained that it will be the pleasure of His Excellency the Administrator to receive you, Mr. Speaker, in the Library of the Parliament at approximately 4.45 p.m. this day.


– Prior to my presentation to His Excellency the Administrator this afternoon the bells will be rung for three minutes so that any honorable members who may desire may attend in the chamber and accompany the Speaker, when they may, if they so wish, be introduced to His Excellency.

Sitting suspended from 3.39 to 4.45 p.m.

The House proceeded to the Library, and, being re-assembled,


– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, I this day proceeded to the Library of the Parliament and presented myself to His Excellency the Administrator as the choice of the House, and that His Excellency was kind enough to congratulate me on my election as Speaker.

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McPhersonActing Prime Minister and Treasurer · CP

– Since the House last met we have lost one of our colleagues. It is with deep regret that I have to announce to the House the death of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). He was born at Happy Valley, South Australia, in 1895, and died at Sydney on 9th August, 1956, at the age of 61. He was educated at Nairne State School, South Australia. He had a long and meritorious military career, enlisting with the first Australian Imperial Force in 1916 and serving overseas with the 27th Battalion from that date until 1919 when he was discharged. He was appointed a lieutenant of the 27th Battalion, Australian Military Forces, in 1927 and was promoted to the rank of captain in 1932 and to the rank of major in 1938. He rejoined the Army in November, 1940, and was placed on the reserve of officers in May, 1944.

Our late colleague had a distinguished parliamentary career during his life and displayed political ability above the average.

He was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly, as member for Wooroora in 1927 and held that seat as a State member until 1934, when he resigned to contest the federal general election. He was elected to the House of Representatives a& member for Barker in 1934 and retained that seat until his death. He was Minister without Portfolio assisting the Minister for Commerce in 1937 and 1938, Acting Minister for Commerce and Acting Minister for Health in 1938, Postmaster-General in 1938 and 1939 and Minister for Commerce and Minister for the Navy from March to October, 1940. Besides being leader of the Australian Country party during 1939-40, he was a member of the War Cabinet and of the Economic and Industrial Committee of Cabinet from March to August, 1940. He was a member of the Censorship Committee from March to July, 1944, and a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on War Gratuity in 1944-45 and 1948-49.

The holding of these most important offices illustrates to honorable members the extreme width of the late Archie Cameron’s experience prior to his election as Speaker of this House on 22nd February, 1950, and as you know, he held this eminent office until his death. As Speaker, he was a commanding personality and, having a profound knowledge of the forms and procedures of Parliament, maintained at all times the strongest stand to ensure that the traditions of Parliament and dignity of the office of Speaker were upheld. Whilst Speaker, he was Chairman of the Joint Committee on Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings, and on 26th October, 1950, represented the House at the opening of the new House of Commons chamber at Westminster. In private life, our late colleague engaged in farming at Loxton, South Australia, until 1942, and thereafter at Oakbank.

It is difficult to do justice to such an illustrious person on an occasion such as this, but I hope that his widow and son will obtain some comfort from the knowledge of our deep and sincere feelings of regret. Archie was a personality. He was forthright and tenacious, and his courage was unbounded. His devotion to duty knew no depths. He was a great Australian. He was a difficult fellow at times, but, then, we all are. Of Archie Cameron it could be said, as it could, of most of us - and,

I hope, of me when I shuffle off this earth - that he was often wrong, but never in doubt.

This Parliament has Jost a personality, and this country a great Australian. Our feelings and sympathies go out to those who have had to bear his loss. His tenacity and courage could never be questioned. True, he was often wrong, but goodness only knows, no one is wrong more often than a federal Treasurer. He had a great following as a personality in this Parliament and throughout Australia. Therefore, I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Archie Galbraith Cameron, who was at the time of his death Speaker of this House, member for the Division of Barker, and a former Minister of the Crown, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and son in their bereavement.

Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– I second the motion which the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) has moved. If I may say so, some of the expressions that he used in describing the late Speaker were remarkably felicitous. It is very difficult to realize that Archie Cameron, who was such a wellknown figure, will no longer be with us. The Acting Prime Minister is right in emphasizing his courage. It was apparent all though his career. It was to be seen in his distinguished service with the first Australian Imperial Force and in the tenacity which he exhibited in public life on ali matters on which he formed an opinion. We, on this side of the House, had differences of opinion with him, but there are such differences in all phases of public life. He fought for what he believed was right. He had the courage of his convictions, and I and the other members of the Opposition would like to be associated with what the Acting Prime Minister has said. We express the hope that the bereaved relatives will take some small comfort from what we are saying, imperfect though if must be.

It would take a very long time to describe Mr. Archie Cameron’s remarkable career, and to speak of his public life in South- Australia and in the Commonwealth, his ministerial service, his war service, and his speakership, but I think that the Acting Prime Minister, especially in his concluding observations, has made an important contribution to the understanding of that career. We shall miss from this place his gracious lady, Mrs. Cameron, who made his work possible by helping him so much in the performance of his public duties. To her, to his family and his relatives, we extend our unfeigned and sincere sympathy.


– As Leader of the House, and on behalf of the Liberal party, I should like to support the motion of sympathy which has been proposed by the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden). We, Mr. Speaker, are in the fortunate position of having known the man whose memory we now revere. We knew his weaknesses, and we knew the great strength that was his. We could not have associated with him as we did over the years without being aware of the fact that the late Speaker was possibly one of the most outstanding personalities ever to grace this chamber. It may well be said, Mr. Speaker, that Archie Galbraith Cameron was one of the most colourful parliamentary figures of the century. Those of us who have sat closely with him, and those of us who have known his tenacity of purpose, his great courage and high sense of principle, can only subscribe to an assertion of that nature, because, Mr. Speaker, he set himself a standard of very high principles and behaviour. Notwithstanding where his resolution might take him in carrying out these principles, and notwithstanding what cost might follow, he carried his principles through with inflexible determination.

The late honorable gentleman made political enemies, but I do not think that he made many personal enemies. In this hurly-burly of politics, when we cross swords, politically, with one another, and when we criticize ideologies, we cannot help but make political enemies. Our late Speaker, however, was a man who enjoyed great personal friendships. Many were the secrets that were imparted to him, sir. by members on both sides of the House while he occupied his high office of Speaker. It is typical of the high principles to whose observance he set himself - and I was reminded of this to-day when you, sir, took the chair - that when the late Speaker was elected to office he, from the steps of that very chair, because of his high principles, with which some of us agreed and with which some of us did not agree, said, “ From this time on I shall not attend party meetings because I do not believe that the Speaker should be swayed by party feelings “. He adhered to that principle and that determination to the very last day of his occupancy of the Chair.

The late Archie Galbraith Cameron was a great traditionalist. He believed in the status of the Speakership. He realized to the full the wealth of the tradition that had come down to him from the great past of British parliamentary government. He realized his responsibility to safeguard the forms of procedure of this House, which derive from the Mother of Parliaments and are held in common by all the parliaments of the British Commonwealth of Nations. He knew that it was his part, as Speaker, to help to preserve those great traditions.

He was forthright in his control of the members of this House, and he always gave very strong support to the maintenance of the rights and privileges of the honorable members. If the privileges of this chamber were likely to be infringed in any way, Mr. Speaker Cameron was strong in his resolution to see that those privileges were maintained. He represented the Parliament at the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He represented this House at the opening of the new House of Commons, where he rubbed shoulders with brother Speakers. I happened to be present at the opening of the new House of Commons and I was very proud that our Speaker could comport himself with the dignity associated with his high calling. Australia appeared a model country where the parliamentary tradition was firmly established and was fostered and maintained by the great traditionalist that he was. He was a kindly man. Under that very grim exterior he was considerate and compassionate. He did many kindly deeds in this House and many honorable members are aware of his kindliness, even though he seemed grim and unrelenting in carrying out the high principles and the policy that he espoused.

The House, I feel sure, will mourn him deeply. Possibly not for another century will a man of such personality and colour occupy such a high position in this Parlialiament.


– Some 200 years before the birth of Archie Cameron, as we always think of him, a very great British poet penned an epitaph which, I think, is perfectly apt so far as Archie Cameron is concerned. It was -

Statesman, yet friend to truth! of soul sincere, In action faithful, and in honour clear.

That, surely, describes in a few words the character of this great man. His early death indicates the extraordinary pressure that is placed upon all those who give public service in this Parliament. Although he was only 61 years of age at his death and was a strong active man when he came here, he was borne down by the weight of his duties. By his death, Australia has lost a far-seeing statesman and the Empire has lost a burning patriot, a man willing to give his very blood for its cause. The Commonwealth Parliament, as the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) has said, has lost a vivid personality, perhaps the most vivid to have been here during my time in this House. in addition to that vivid personality, he possessed an encyclopaedic knowledge of men, books and things. By his death, country people have lost an active advocate of all the things they need for their betterment. I, and many others in this Parliament, have lost a warm-hearted, trusty and loyal friend of many years standing. It is nearly 34 years since I first came to know Archie Cameron. He was then carrying on active propaganda to establish the South Australian Country party. He forced his way into the South Australian Parliament and. at times with the suoport of a few men and sometimes singly, he left an indelible mark on that Parliament. In fact, the effect of his work there is shown both in the Federal and State spheres. Whilst he was a member of the South Australian legislature he was an extraordinarily keen student of everything concerned with the Parliament as well as with matters that concerned the ordinary man in the street. He became very learned in all the aspects of parliamentary procedure, and whether he had one, tcn or 25 supporters, he revealed his quality in that Parliament by fighting to the bitter end for what he believed to be right according to his convictions and his conscience.

He came into the Commonwealth Parliament in 1934. In 1937, he joined the then Government as Acting Minister for Commerce, and later was PostmasterGeneral. I had occasion to be most grateful to him when, in 1939, when things were not so very good with me, he was willing to take on the burden of leadership of the Australian Country party. He became Minister for Commerce and Deputy Prime Minister of this country at a very critical time, and he at once started to work on defence preparation. During this time he visited every part Of Australia. He undoubtedly did a very great deal, especially on the primary production side, to get this country ready to give aid to the United Kingdom in the early days of the war when that country was short of food. He was a man of very definite views - often of individual views - on matters of major policy, but he always followed his own convictions whether he had one supporter or twenty supporters behind him.

In opposition, he showed himself to be a clear thinker and an incisive debater. His extraordinary knowledge made him a convincing opponent. There is no need for me to deal with his occupancy of the office of Speaker. Reference has already been made to that part of his political career. But there is no question that he acted quickly and with determination. He did not make the mistake of delaying his decisions. In the final analysis, what is needed most of all, I think, in this Parliament is a man in the chair who knows his mind. The gap that he has left will be hard to fill. I think that his spirit, which f am sure will hover over this House for many years, must be gladdened by the fact that you, Mr. Speaker, his comradeinarms, have been chosen to succeed him here. I am sure that the whole House will congratulate you, and be glad of the continuance of that association. I join with those who have spoken already in sympathizing with the whole of his family, and I trust that our expressions of sorrow will be some consolation to them in their bereavement.

Minister for Defence · WakefieldMinister for Defence · LP

– I should like to associate myself with the motion that has been submitted by the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) because 1 believe that the Commonwealth Parliament has lost, through the death of our late Speaker, one of its greatest and most colourful figures. He was an outstanding Australian, a public man of high integrity and great strength of character, and a good and fearless Christian. Archie Cameron held unflinchingly to any course that he was convinced was the right one. He was an implacable opponent - one who would fight out an issue to the bitter end. Yet, in this Parliament there are men who have clashed with him in political disputation but who, when the sounds of battle had died down, were proud to call him their friend.

Archie Cameron was a South Australian who loved his State and the land on which he had laboured as a farmer but, essentially, he was an Australian. He fought for his country in war and peace. He could not bear the timid, temporizing, or compromise approach. He was a patriot of the first order - a man with a national and a bold outlook. He gave Australia outstanding service as a private member of the South Australian Parliament and then as a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, as a Minister of the Crown, and finally as Speaker of this House. To the Speakership he brought the same uncompromising approach that had marked his membership of the Ministry. But turbulent as his occupancy of the chair may have been, it was marked by an undeviating theme - his determination to uphold the dignity of the Parliament and his high office, and the Parliament’s pre-eminent role in the safeguarding of the Australian democratic way of life.

I knew Archie Cameron for many years, I disagreed with him on occasions, but I was proud of our friendship. I will miss him, and so will every other member of this House. We shall probably never see bis like again, and this Parliament and Australia as a whole will be the poorer for his passing. I conclude my remarks by expressing my sincerest condolences to Archie Cameron’s widow and his family. Mrs. Cameron was well known to most honorable members, and they will sympathize with her in the great loss she has suffered. But she and her family will have much to comfort them in their sadness in the host of memories they have of a good husband and father and of a great and good Australian.


– I do not wish to speak at length about the late Speaker’s occupancy of the chair, but there is one aspect of it that I think ought to be placed on record with appreciation. He was a dynamic personality, and the effect of his dynamism was immediately felt by the staff, in the dining rooms, and in the organization of this building. There is no doubt that, as far as security of Ministerial offices is concerned, morale, discipline, and self-respect in the staff were transformed when he became Speaker and transformed very much for the better. The country owes him a great and indefinable debt for that action.

Otherwise, I wish to speak of him very briefly as a man. As Speaker, very frequently he was host for this country to distinguished visitors. He was a most gracious host, with a detailed capacity to care for and to think into the special needs of visitors to this country and to Parliament House. 1 think that that ability to care for people is the thing that caused him to win so much loyalty in such a controversial career, because he really did care for people. If it be true that at the end he was trying to hurry back from Queensland because he foresaw the disasters which have occurred at Renmark, that would be absolutely typical of the man. He was farseeing, and cared about this country. He was a very good friend to a lot of people who disagreed with him politically, including myself. He, as Speaker, and Mrs. Cameron, as the Speaker’s wife, have placed this country in their debt. I join with other honorable gentlemen who have spoken in expressing sympathy to Mrs. Cameron and to his son.


– As one who knew our late Speaker for many years and who now represents quite a number of his former electors, I should like to add to the tributes that have been paid this afternoon. It is no exaggeration to say that scarcely any public man in South Australia was held in such high esteem. Of course, at times people disagreed with some of his views and actions, but the general regard in which he was held, amounting to affection, was virtually universal. He had many rare attributes of character. He believed most intensely and most profoundly in the causes he espoused, and they were many.. We all, whether as members of the Government or of the Opposition, knew him to be a warmhearted friend and a man who was accessible and generous, particularly to us younger members especially during the first few years of our time here.

He was, as we well know, frank and forthright to a degree. He was free from flattery, deception and humbug, which perhaps is one of the supremest of virtues in a public man. We knew him to be a practising patriot who served Australia and the Empire in two wars as well as in peace. As you, sir, well know, he was an incessant champion of the rights of the electors of Barker. I am sure that no man before him ever served them with such assiduousness, genuineness, or distinction. He was always, in his bearing and conduct, a man of the highest personal integrity. He held the firmest of principles and did so, as again we all know, whatever might be the cost to himself personally or to his own material advancement. I think the House will agree that Archie Cameron showed impartiality in his conduct as Speaker. How well do we remember his clashes with honorable members on this side of the House, including ministers, as well as with honorable members opposite. I am sure that the clashes with Government supporters were just as frequent as were those with honorable members on the other side of the House. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) has reminded us, he divorced himself as much as possible from party affiliations. From the moment of his election as Speaker he never attended any meetings of the Liberal party, or any joint meetings of the Liberal and Australian Country parties. Throughout his tenure of the great office which you, sir, now occupy, he revealed a profound respect for the tradition of this historic place. As we know, he tried to model himself on the long line of distinguished Speakers of the British House, of Commons through the centuries. In. many respects he was an example to those- of us who remain.

Archie Cameron, was, of. course, a man of innumerable idiosyncrasies. He would be the first, if he were here, to agree that that was so. Many of his: idiosyncrasies, were’ extremely likeable. Even those with which perhaps some of us did not altogether agree were at least understandable, pardonable, human and attractive. How richly, with this- curious make-up of his, did he contribute to the variety of this House.

I believe that Archie Cameron’s epitaph could very well be expressed in the opening verses of the 15th Psalm. Honorable gentlemen will’ remember that it begins -

Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle or who shall rest upon thy holy hill?

And the psalmist answers the question in these words -

Even he, that leadeth an uncorrupt life and doeth the thing which is right, and speaketh the truth from his heart.

Archie Cameron did all of those things, and in his passing one of the bright lights of Australia has gone out.

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


– I desire to inform the House that several messages of condolence have been received. They have been conveyed to Mrs. Cameron and they will be suitably acknowledged.

page 12


McPhersonActing Prime Minister and Treasurer · CP

– As a mark of respect to the memory of the late Speaker, I move; -

That the House do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 5.24 p.m.

page 12


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Radio Australia

Mr Duthie:

e asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. What is the. reception range of Radio Australia?

    1. What percentage of air time was given over

Radio Australia in 1955 to - (a) Pure entertainment, (b) discussions and: commentaries; (c)- ideological, warfare;, (d) portraying the democratic way of life,, (e.), Christian education,, (£): general talks, and (g) any other main items?

  1. How much of the programme would act as’ a real counter’ to the Communist ideology in Asian countries?
  2. What languages are used over Radio Australia?
  3. What approximate percentage of Asian countries would come within the language coverage?
  4. Has the Australian Broadcasting Commission representatives placed in strategic places in Asian countries to check reactions to Radio Australia broadcasts?
  5. What is the total number of staff employed exclusively by Radio Australia?
  6. What is the annual cost of operating this international service?
Mr Davidson:
Postmaster-General · DAWSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

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

  1. It is necessary for shortwave broadcasts to be beamed in specific directions. These directions at the moment are South-East Asia, the South-west Pacific, South Africa, North America and Britain. Actually, the programmes are heard in many other places, and listeners’ mail produces abundant evidence to that effect.
  2. The Australian Broadcasting Commission does not keep statistics under these particular headings. It may be of interest, however, to say that the programme statistics available show that news bulletins comprise 13.39 per cent, of programme time, other spoken-word programmes, including talks and commentaries, 26.24 per cent., and the remaining programmes approximately 60 per cent. It will be appreciated, of course, that listeners tune into a station as much for entertainment as for information and that programmes must be drawn up with that in view, bearing in mind the very considerable competition for the attention of short-wave listeners.
  3. The 40 per cent, of the programme which is occupied by news commentaries and talks is designed directly or indirectly to be a valuable counter to Communist influence in Asia. These spoken transmissions are designed to give a factual picture of the Australian way of life, stressing in particular the intellectual, social and spiritual freedom which is its basis. The dominant note of these transmissions is that high material living standards are not only compatible with democratic freedom, but indeed can only in the long term be secured on such a basis.
  4. Radio Australia operates in English, French, Indonesian, Thai and Mandarin, the latter service having just commenced.
  5. The language service now covers some eight Asian countries. With the recent introduction of Mandarin the potential audience has greatly been increased. 6. (i) The Australian Broadcasting Commission has a special representative based in Singapore, who will visit South-East Asian countries from time to time; one of his duties is to keep the commission informed on reactions in South-East Asia, (ii) Recently, three senior officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, including the controller of programmes, the editor-in-chief and the director of programmes of the Overseas Service, have made personal investigations in the area, (iii) Frequent conversations are had with the Department of External Affairs on the subject of reactions to broadcasts and proposals for any improvements, (iv) Of great importance is the Radio Australia mail of- some 20,000 letters a year received from the audience in Asia.
  6. Sixty-eight - made up of 63 full-time officers and five part-time officers.
  7. The cost of the service as shown in our 1954-55 figures was £76,600.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 August 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.