House of Representatives
10 October 1911

4th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 1235


Prime Minister and Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP

– Since we last met, death has removed from our midst a beloved and valued comrade and colleague, the late Honorable Egerton Lee Batchelor. Our sorrow at his loss is shared by every honorable member present, and by every one in the community who had the privilege and pleasure of knowing him. He was cut off in the prime of life, and in the heyday of his strength and usefulness. His life was one of activity in the public service of the State of South Australia, long before the Federal Parliament was created. So far back as 1893, he entered the Parliament of South Australia, becoming the leader of the Labour party, with, which he was so long associated, and afterwards taking office in the Holder Administration, wherein he administered two portfolios with distinction and honour. He relinquished office to seek the suffrages of the electors, and won a seat in the first House of Representatives of the Commonwealth Parliament. I need not recall to honorable members his speeches and his actions in this Chamber since that date. Those of us who entered this Parliament at the same time know that he was always courteous, and although he did not shrink from stating his views in such terms as he thought necessary to make his position clear, his bearing was always kindly and gentle, and won him the respect of all with whom he came into contact. When the Watson Administration was formed in 1904, Mr. -Batchelor became Minister of State for Home Affairs, but on the formation of the second Labour Ministry in 1908, he was given the portfolio of Minister of External Affairs, and was chosen again to administer that Department when the present Government took office. His Ministerial duties were carried Out in a way that gave satisfaction to all, and the deceased gentleman’s worth as a Minister and a representative of the people has always been willingly conceded. The loss which Parliament and the community have sustained by his death is indeed great, but still greater is that which his widow and children have suffered by his sudden and tragic end. While we deplore the passing of a leading public man, our hearts and thoughts go out to his wife and family who to-day are lonely indeed. Ministers have lost a valued colleague, and many of us a trusted friend. It is some consolation to know that his work will remain,, and that that work and his manner of doing it, will be exemplars to many. I am pleased to be able to say that overseas, where I had the pleasure of being his companion during most of the time when we were in London, statements made in the public press since his decease are such as must be pleasing to the people of this community, whilst at the same time they will help to enshrine his name as an honoured name in Great Britain. I may be allowed to mention that one journal has stated that ‘ ‘ his frankness, sound common sense, and cool judgment impressed all who met him,” while he was taking part in the Imperial Conference. I think that that statement of the Pall Mall Gazette really expresses what we know of his character. I can only say again, Mr. Speaker, that I am sure that I express the feelings of every honorable member of this House when I say that our thoughts to-day are not only with the dead, but with those living who were near and dear to him, and who have been deprived by his decease of the best of husbands and the kindest of fathers. I have the honour to move.

That this House places upon record its high appreciation of the great public services of the late member for Boothby, the Honorable E. L. Batchelor, and tenders its sincere sympathy to the bereaved widow and family of an eminent citizen whose untimely decease is a great loss to the Commonwealth.


– I desire to second the motion that has been moved by the Prime Minister. Let me add to what he has said, that direct personal and private testimony from those associated with the late Imperial Conference, which reached me and others during its progress, indorsed to the letter all that the Prime Minister has said, and that the press of London is saying to-day, concerning the manner in which our late colleague discharged his duties on that important occasion. That should cause no surprise to us, Mr. Speaker, since the high capacity and generous services of the late Mr. Batchelor will place him high in the list of the public men who have played foremost parts in the early years of this Commonwealth. He was an excellent administrator - practical, prudent, and painstaking. He came here, as the Prime Minister has reminded us, after having had an excellent training in his own province, and fully justified the promise of his earlier political career.’ Since then, in Federal affairs, he proved himself to be a thoughtful legislator, characterized in all his utterances and actions by a caution, wisdom, patience and foresight, that have greatly contributed to assist this House. His untimely decease will be regretted by all who knew him personally, and by that far greater number of the public who came to know him through following the phases of his honorable career. Trusted alike by his allies and his opponents, he was one of those happy politicians who have no personal foes. The ear of the House was his whenever he rose, and was never abused by him. In the discharge of his public duties he was on all occasions a steadying and quietening influence. His capacity for business led him to the adoption of business methods here or in the Departments with which he was associated. To-day men of all parties throughout the Commonwealth unite in a common grief at the deprivation which this Parliament and this country’ have sustained. The news, unfortunately, only reached me yesterday at midday. It was absolutely impossible for me to arrive in this city until some hours after the funeral service was concluded. However, immediately on receipt of that information I telegraphed, on behalf of the honorable members sitting on this side of the House, to the widow and family of the late Mr. Batchelor expressing our profound sympathy with them in their irreparable Iws. i shall add nothing to what the Prime Minister has so appropriately said - their grief is sacred. The loss we have sustained is one which by all of us, and by many thousands outside this Chamber, will be long and sadly remembered.


– I do not think that I can add to what the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have said about our late friend. The news of his death came as a shock to every one with whom I have come in contact. I am sure that to-day the whole of South Australia is mourning for their late representative. He was respected by every one in the community. He was broadminded, and if he had anything to do which was repugnant to his feelings, his manner of doing it was such as to avoid hurting any one. His death is a great loss to South Australia as well as to the Commonwealth. I am sure that the deepest sympathy will go out from all Australia to Mrs. Batchelor and the young family which he has left behind. It is hard to realize that he has gone from amongst us. And it is hard to think that South Australia, should have been treated so harshly by the hand of death. We have lost many valuable lives. Four Federal representatives from South Australia have passed away since I entered this Parliament, and within a very short time. Altogether seven public men have been taken from South Australia. I sincerely hope that Mrs. Batchelor and her children will be comforted in their affliction, and I am sure that is to-day the heartfelt wish of every one in South Australia and in this Chamber.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) [3. 14 J. - I desire to add a tribute to the worth’ of the late Mr. Batchelor. I knew him long before Federation, and always admired him. I always looked upon him with friendly, feelings, and I feel that in hisdeath I have lost a friend. The State_ has: lost one of its best men ; the Federal Ministry has lost one of its best members, and1 this House and the country have suffered analmost irreparable loss. With his family we all feel the very deepest sympathy in the sorrow which has overtaken them. His death, if I may so say, was that which a> great many people would like to die ; nevertheless, coming as it did to a young man,, and quite unanticipated, it is a great shock: to all. 1 desire to add that when I was; in England at the same time as the deceased gentleman, I heard many expressions, which Ministers may not have heard, of the estimation in which he was held, and of thehigh appreciation of the work he did while there. This I regard as a great tribute tothe representation of Australia at the Imperial Conference. May I suggest that the expressions of opinion to which I havereferred, together with newspaper appreciation of the value of the services of the late honorable gentleman, should be gathered! together ; because this I am sure would prove a source of great gratification, not only to those he has left behind, but to thepeople of the country.

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

Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -

That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit, the foregoing resolution’, and a copy of theaddresses delivered thereon, to Mrs. Batchelor.

House adjourned at 3.18 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 October 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.