House of Representatives
2 October 1952

20th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

Mr Speaker, I very much regret to inform the House of the death last night, after a very long illness, of the honorable Hubert Peter Lazzarini, who has been the member for “Werriwa in this House for many years and. was a former Minister of the Crown. The late honorable member was a member of this House from 1919 until 1931. He was not in the House from 1931 to 1934, but he was ro-elected to it in 1934 and held his seat until the time of his death. As will be well remembered, he was Minister for Home Security and assistant to the Treasurer during the war years. In 1944-45 he was Acting Minister for Air and Civil Aviation and in 1945-46 he was Minister for Works and Housing. He had also been a member of the federal executive of the Australian Labour party for some time. He is survived by a widow, a son and two daughters to whom the House would unanimously desire to send an expression of very deep sympathy. There are, perhaps, quite a few honorable members in this House who did not know the late honorable member as some of us were privileged to do because, as I have said, he was ill for a long time and unable to attend the sittings of the Parliament. But I can remember him very vividly in both of .his capacities. I remember him, first, as a really fighting member in Opposition. I am perfectly certain that our late friend “Laz.” if T may refer to him in that way, would desire us to shave happy memories of him, and I say .at once that I have -such happy -memories. When he stood at this table and assaulted it and the Government simultaneously, he made a very deep impression upon us. He had a wholehearted, honest and direct style which had a great appeal for everybody who was in the Parliament with him.

I have some recollections of him as a Minister that I -shall carry for the rest of my life, and I should like to emphasize that they are of a very happy kind. Perhaps I may quote one because, as I have said, I make no apologies for having pleasant and cheerful memories of our late friend. I remember rising as Leader of the Opposition to speak on a rather complex measure. In my innocence, T. put forward an argument, that seemed to me to be rather exhaustive, with regard to the language that was used in a particular clause. I established to my own satisfaction that it was highly ambiguous. I said to Mr. Lazzarini across the table, “ Now what iB the Minister’s explanation? “ He stood up with magnificent aplomb and, with a twinkle in his eye, replied, “My answer is that the words mean exactly what they say”. Honorable members who did not know him will understand at once from that anecdote why on this sad occasion - and it is a very sad occasion for his family - we can, I hope, lighten their sadness by letting them know in this way that we have ourselves affectionate memories of very cheerful yesterdays with the late honorable member. I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Hubert Peter lazzarini, who at the time of his death, was member for the Division nf Werriwa in this House, 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. I appreciate the references that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has made to our late comrade and friend, “ Laz “, as most of us called. him. It is proper to recall that he was a great fighter. Those who saw him only in his later days, when illness had overtaken him, will not remember that, but they can look back upon .the record. He struggled to do two things in his life. He grew up in the trade union movement, and he knew the clothing trade thoroughly. During the period of almost 30 years that he was a member of the National Parliament, one of his objects was to see the establishment in Australia of a great textile industry based upon Australian wool. Many of us recollect his efforts to do that, at a time when very few people supported that view actively. He lived to see the establishment of a great textile industry in this country. He was a pioneer in the advocacy of banking and financial reforms. He wrote about that subject at a time when there was very little support for his views, although they were shared by some people. Again, he lived to see the substance of what he had advocated and worked for embodied in legislation, which is, I think, universally accepted, not only in Australia, but also overseas. Those are important things to note and to record.

As I think of him, incidents keep crowding into my mind, not so much about his public achievements, which were considerable, as about the man himself. Ho was a unique personality, of Irish and Latin ancestry. In his days of strength, he was full of fire and energy. He was a man of kindness of heart and compassion. He was sudden in argument and quick in the expression of his views, but always a very lovable human being. He was a great family man, and I hope that it will be some consolation to his widow and family to know that we shall always think of him with the deepest affection, not so much for what he did as for what he was.

Treasurer · McPhersonTreasurer · CP

– I desire to add my expressions of sympathy to those made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in respect of the passing of Mr. Lazzarini. As both right honorable gentlemen have rightly said, he was a forthright man. I always considered that he was a grand old man, and I always referred to him as such. There was never any doubt about where he stood. There was no ambiguity in his expressions of opinion and there could be no doubt of any kind about his convictions. He had deep-seated convictions which he had no hesitation in expressing courageously. Some of us here remember an occasion when he was placed in a very difficult position in relation to an erstwhile colleague. That did not deter him. He said what he thought and acted according to his conscientious beliefs. I am exceedingly sorry that the occasion has arisen to warrant these expressions of sympathy for the passing of a grand old man and a grand old pioneer, who has gone where politics will not affect him.

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

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Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Tuesday next, at 2.30 p.m.

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Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

– 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 10.42 a.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 October 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.