House of Representatives
12 March 1968

26th Parliament · 2nd Session

page 5


The House met at 3 p.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.

The Clerk read the proclamation.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. 3. Aston) took the chair, and read prayers.

page 5



– I have to announce with deep regret the death on 17th December 1967 of the right honourable member for Higgins, the Right Hon. Harold Edward Holt. On 19th January 1968 I issued a writ for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Higgins in the State of Victoria in the place of the right honourable gentleman. I have now received the return of this writ and, by the endorsement thereon, it is certified that John Grey Gorton has been elected.

New Member Sworn

Mr John Grey Gorton was introduced and made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the Division of Higgins, Victoria.

page 5


The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered a message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the attendance of honourable members in the Senate chamber forthwith. (Mr Speaker and honourable members attended accordingly and, having returned)

page 5


Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

Honourable members will be aware of the tragic circumstances which resulted in the termination of the Second Holt Ministry and I shall be referring to this in some detail shortly. Following Mr Holt’s death, the Governor-General commissioned the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party, the Right Honourable John McEwen, to form a government. Mr McEwen did so and was sworn as Prime Minister on 19th December 1967 without changing the portfolios held by Ministers in the Holt Ministry. Mr McEwen accepted the Commission on the basis that when the Liberal Party, the major Party in the coalition, had elected a new leader, he would stand down.

On 9th January 1968 the Party elected me as the new leader and, Mr McEwen having stood down, I was sworn as Prime Minister the next day. The Ministry otherwise remained unchanged until I had had the opportunity to consider the allocation of portfolios and to contest the by-election for the seat of Higgins on 24th February.

The new Ministry was sworn by the Governor-General on 28th February and is as follows:

Prime Minister - The Right Honourable J. G. Gorton

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry - The Right Honourable J. McEwen

Treasurer - The Right Honourable W. McMahon

Minister for External Affairs - The Right Honourable P. M. C. Hasluck

Minister for Defence - The Honourable A. Fairhall

Minister for Primary Industry - The Honourable J. D. Anthony

Postmaster-General, and Vice-President of the Executive Council - The Honourable A. S. Hulme

Minister for National Development - The Honourable D. E. Fairbairn, D.F.C

Minister for Labour and National Service - The Honourable L. H. E. Bury

Minister for Shipping and Transport, and Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry - The Honourable I. McC. Sinclair

Minister for Supply - Senator the Honourable K. M. Anderson

Minister for Education and Science - The Honourable J. M. Fraser

Minister for Air and Minister assisting the Treasurer - The Honourable G. Freeth

Minister for External Territories - The Honourable C. E. Barnes

Minister for Civil Aviation - The Honourable R. W. C. Swartz, M.B.E., E.D

Minister for Immigration - The Honourable B. M. Snedden, Q.C

Minister for Health - The Honourable A. J. Forbes, M.C

Minister for Repatriation - Senator the Honourable G. C. McKellar

Minister for Housing - Senator the Honourable Dame Annabelle Rankin, D.B.E.

Attorney-General - The Honourable N. H. Bowen, Q.C

Minister for the Navy - The Honourable C. R. Kelly.

Minister for the Interior - The Honourable P. J. Nixon

Minister for the Army - The Honourable P. R. Lynch

Minister for Customs and Excise - Senator the Honourable M. F. Scott

Minister for Social Services - The Honourable W. C. Wentworth

Minister for Works and under the Minister for Trade and Industry, MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities - Senator the Honourable R. C. Wright

The first twelve Ministers named will comprise the Cabinet. The Minister for Social Services, Mr Wentworth, will be Minister in charge of aboriginal affairs. The Leader of the Government in the Senate will be Senator Anderson, and the Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Snedden. In the Senate, Senator Anderson will be my representative and will also represent the portfolios of Trade and Industry, Treasury, Defence and External Affairs. The other representational arrangements in that Chamber will be: Senator McKellar, the portfolios of Primary Industry, Navy, Army, Air; Senator Rankin, Postmaster-General’s, Immigration, Health, Social Services, including aboriginal affairs; Senator Scott, National Development, Shipping and Transport, Civil Aviation and Interior; and Senator Wright, Labour and National Service, Education and Science, Attorney-General’s and External Territories. Ministers in the Senate will be represented in this House as follows: The Minister for Supply by Mr Fairhall; the Minister for Repatriation by Mr Swartz; the Minister for Housing by Mr Bury; the Minister for Customs and Excise by Mr Nixon; and the Minister for Works by Mr Kelly.

page 7


Bill presented by Mr Gorton, and read a first time.

page 7




-I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate chamber, when His Excellency was pleased to make a Speech to both Houses of the Parliament. The Speech will be included in Hansard for record purposes. (The Speech read as follows):

This, the Second Session of the 26th Parliament, assembles in unusual and historic circumstances created on 17th December 1967 by the tragic disappearance in the sea of the late Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Harold Holt, C.H., M.P.

I think it fitting that here, before the whole Parliament, at this time, we should pay tribute to Mr Holt, Prime Minister of Australia from 26th January 1966, until his death, and should acknowledge the great services which he rendered to this nation in many high and important posts. His achievements were considerable and stand as part of our history.

That these achievements were recognised beyond Australia was evident from the attendance at Mr Holt’s Memorial Service of The Prince of Wales, for whose attendance we express our gratitude to Her Majesty The Queen, of the President of the United States of America, Mr Johnson, of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr Wilson, and of Heads of State and Heads of Government from many nations, particularly those neighbouring Asian nations to whom Mr Holt’s personal warmth and actions had symbolised growing Australian interest. We thank them all.

After Mr Holt’s death, in the discharge of my responsibility to ensure the continuity and stability of government in Australia, T took steps to swear the Right Honourable John McEwen, M.P., as Prime Minister on 19th December 1967. Mr McEwen served as Prime Minister until 10th January 1968 when, Senator John Grey Gorton having been elected the Leader of the Liberal Party, Mr McEwen tendered his resignation as Prime Minister, and I summoned Senator Gorton and swore him as Prime Minister.

Subsequently, Senator Gorton resigned from the Senate on 1st February 1968. On 24th February 1968, within the period of 3 months allowed, under Section 64 of the Constitution, for a Minister to hold office without a seat in either House of Parliament, he won the seat of Higgins and on 28th February was again sworn as Prime Minister.

There has therefore been orderly and continuous government since the close of the last Session and despite the tragic event of 17th December 1967.

My Government will continue the support accorded to the United States of America and the Government of South Vietnam in an endeavour to ensure that aggression by force of arms, terrorism and subversion is not successful in subjecting the people of South Vietnam to rule by an aggressor.

My Government believes that the South Vietnamese people should retain the elementary right to determine their own future in their own way and will, besides the effective military assistance it is rendering to this end, continue to provide economic and civil aid to South Vietnam.

In doing this, my Government desires neither the destruction of North Vietnam, nor the overthrow of the Government of North Vietnam but merely the cessation of aggression against the people of South Vietnam so that those people may, by the exercise of a franchise they have shown they know how to exercise even under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances, choose their own form of Government. We seek a just and lasting peace based on these objectives. We have supported and will support every effort for negotiation of such a peace.

In our near north, in the areas of Malaysia and Singapore, the situation has altered since the close of the last Session.

Since that time, the British Government has decided to speed up the withdrawal of those ground forces which have for so long contributed to the stability of the region. In the result, a withdrawal which was scheduled to be complete by the end of 1975 will now be completed by the end of 1971.

This is, of course, a significant acceleration of the rate of withdrawal on which previous thinking and planning was based. But even more significant is the apparent abandonment of the previous intention that there would be a British mobile amphibious force available at all times for use in the area, of significant capability, and able rapidly to reach the region.

Now the composition, the capacity and the availability of any such force have become obscure, and it is not known how rapidly any such force could be made available.

These matters are under intensive study by my Government. Consultations have taken place and will continue with the Governments of the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand.

It is, of course, clear that Australia cannot, if it is to discharge its other responsibilities at home and abroad, fill the vacuum created by the British withdrawal. But it has been made clear to us that the Governments of Malaysia and Singapore wish Australia to contribute towards the stability of the region by maintaining some military presence.

Therefore, in addition to providing economic and technical assistance and training to Singapore and Malaysia to help them build up their own forces, my Government will participate in Five Power consultations when they are called and will be prepared to discuss the size and role of an Australian contribution to combined defence arrangements which embrace a joint Singapore/ Malaysia defence effort.

My Government regards this as part of the wider efforts it will make to establish a framework of regional understanding, co-operation and security in South-East Asia.

The policy of giving practical help to the less developed countries of the world will be continued. In the present financial year, expenditure on all aid programmes, including grants to Papua and New Guinea, is approximately SI 42m. My Government has already announced that in the next financial year the amount of aid to be provided in Indonesia will be doubled.

My Government regards defence as a major responsibility and the expansion and re-equipment of our forces steadily proceeds.

Our Task Force in Vietnam, comprising more than 8,000 men drawn from all three Services, has been maintained at full operational efficiency and has met all calls with skill and courage. It has also carried out a vigorous civic action programme. It has built roads, market places and schools, has carried out health surveys and provided medical, water supply and drainage services.

New ships for the Royal Australian Navy, including a third guided missile destroyer, two more Oberon class submarines, and a number of locally-built patrol vessels, will be in service or completed this year.

Fourteen Tracker anti-submarine aircraft and ten Skyhawk fighter-bombers were recently delivered and are now in service.

Approximately $55m will be spent this financial year on new capital equipment’ for the Army.

For the Air Force, twenty-four F11IC strike reconnaissance aircraft and ten Orion anti-submarine aircraft will be flown from the United States to Australia during the year.

Eight HS748 navigation trainer aircraft will also arrive from the United Kingdom and progress will be made with production of the seventy-five Macchi jet trainers which are being produced locally under licence and are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 1969. Seven of these have already been delivered.

The strength of the armed forces now exceeds 138,000 compared with 105,000 three years ago.

My Government believes that this reequipment and strengthening of our three Services will give us a regular Navy, Army and Air Force better equipped than any forces we have hitherto possessed and will permit us to make significant contributions to collective defence or to bear the first shock of any attack on ourselves, should that ever eventuate in the future.

The cost of providing such defence will this year be over $1,1 00m, and will rise in the coming two years as a result of commitments already entered into and expansions already made. This represents a very significant proportion of available resources and any further increase in the proportion of total resources devoted to defence in the future will need to be considered against the other pressing requirements of this nation.

My Government has decided to reconstitute the Department of Territories as the Department of External Territories so that it may have particular concentration on the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.

The responsibility for the Northern Territory will, except in certain respects as regards the welfare of Aboriginals, education and national development matters, be transferred to the Department of the Interior.

This is an indication of the recognition by the Government that the present problems and the future destiny of the Northern Territory differ from those of Papua and New Guinea.

The Northern Territory is, and always will be, an integral part of the Australian nation and its destiny is, in time, to develop into a State of Australia.

The destiny of Papua and New Guinea is to become a self-governing country developed for independence if and when it is clearly demonstrated by the majority of the indigenous population that this is what they wish. My Government’s basic policy for Papua and New Guinea is therefore to develop it for self-determination.

Whether some subsequent special relationship with Australia is worked out, and what such a special relationship might be, can only be worked out in the future between the then Government of a self-governing Papua and New Guinea and the then Government of Australia.

But my Government believes that the development of Papua and New Guinea as a seventh State of Australia is fraught with difficulties, and that statehood, as against self-government, is not likely to be the outcome of development.

Expansion of economic activity is being vigorously pursued and renewed emphasis will be given to increasing the role of Papuans and New Guineans in economic development and in social, administrative and political affairs.

My Government will introduce legislation in this Parliament to amend the Papua and New Guinea Act to give effect to proposals designed to increase the participation of the people of Papua and New Guinea in their own Government. These proposals include a system of limited Ministerial responsibilities for a number of elected members, and the setting up of an Administrator’s Executive Council which will be consulted by the Administrator on major executive decisions.

My Government will make additional administrative changes which will result in education in the Australian Capital Territory, and certain aspects of education in the Northern Territory, becoming the responsibility of the Department of Education and Science.

The Department of National Development will have policy responsibility in the Northern Territory for a number of matters including projects, surveys and studies forming part of Commonwealth/State programmes and for new major government and private projects of importance to the development of the North.

The duties of the Cabinet Secretariat will be separated from the control of the Prime Minister’s Department and the Cabinet Secretariat will be constituted as a separate Department of State responsible through its head directly to the Prime Minister. At the same time, a number of matters which were previously the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s Department will be transferred to other Departments, and responsibility for my Government’s activities in the Antarctic will be transferred from the Department of External Affairs to the Department of Supply.

My Government will, through its Council and Office of Aboriginal Affairs, coordinate the policies of Commonwealth and State Departments and instrumentalities towards the welfare and advancement of the Aboriginal citizens of Australia. The Council will consider ways in which Aboriginal citizens can choose their own representatives to consult with and advise the Council. The Council will, through the Minister in charge, be responsible to the Prime Minister.

My Government will continue the policies of economic development of the previous Government.

In spite of the fact that in the world abroad there are major uncertainties in relation to trading and monetary conditions and that internally drought prevails in large areas of our most fertile southern lands, my advisers inform me that the economy is active and promises well for the future.

The inflow of capital from abroad has been continuing, and despite the loss of more than $100m in the value of London funds through the devaluation of Sterling, external reserves remain comparatively high.

Employment in Australia continues at a high level, assisted migration from Britain is reviving and there is, generally, an increased flow of migrants.

New industries are being established and established industries are enlarging their capacity.

The trade drive continues and missions are being sent to Europe, Africa, America and South- East Asia this year.

New export incentive schemes will come into force on 1st July this year and further incentives to export will thereby be given to manufacturing industries. My Government will introduce legislation for these purposes during this Session.

The development of natural resources continues at a high rate and the expansion of the mineral industry is contributing significantly to the national economy.

Mineral exports in 1967-68 are estimated at $485m and could reach $ 1,000m in the early seventies, while our dependence on imports is being reduced - or will in the future be reduced - by new discoveries such as rock phosphate in Queensland, nickel in Western Australia, and the oil fields discovered in Queensland, Western Australia and Bass Strait.

In the field of rural industry my Government will introduce legislation to provide, over the next 4 years, up to $25m to be used towards the reconstruction of the dairying industry.

The detail of the legislation will depend on the successful outcome of negotiations with State Governments.

The general purpose of the legislation will be to enable dairy farmers on small farms who are experiencing economic hardship and who wish to leave the industry to do so.

The money will be provided to the States to enable them to purchase such small dairy farms which may be consolidated into economic dairying units, but which it is expected will, in many cases, be used for a different form of production, including, importantly, forestry, a development which should bring about a desirable degree of diversification in dairying regions. This scheme will, my Government believes, help to bring into closer balance production and market demand for dairy produce, especially butter.

Lending approvals by the trading banks from their Farm Development Loan Funds have recently been at a rate of about S6m a quarter. The Funds were established in April 1966, at a total figure of $50m. The amount in the Funds is now down to about $15m and part of this is, of course, committed by loans approved but not yet fully drawn.

In order to ensure that funds are available to permit continuance of a steady rate of lending by the trading banks from Farm Development Loan Funds, the Reserve Bank, with the approval of the Government, is taking action to bring about an increase of some $37m in the Funds. As in April 1966, this amount will be drawn partly from Statutory Reserve Deposits and partly from other assets of the trading banks.

My Government has made deliberate efforts to improve export market conditions for the sugar industry and negotiations for a new international sugar agreement will take place in Geneva in April and May.

My Government will introduce legislation during this Session to authorise expenditure on water conservation projects already agreed upon with the States. These will be financed from the S50m being made available by the Commonwealth over five years for these purposes.

As a result of the devaluation of the British pound, it was recognised that some Australian industries could be adversely affected and we undertook to give assistance in those areas which suffered direct loss.

Special Committees set up by my Government are examining the problems in those areas.

A devaluation reporting committee of senior officials under the chairmanship of the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry has submitted its first report on the losses suffered by rural industries as a result of devaluation and this report is receiving the attention of my Ministers.

My Government will review the field of social welfare with the object of assisting those in most need while at the same time not discouraging thrift, self-help and selfreliance.

To this end my Government will set up a Standing Cabinet Committee including the Minister for Health, Social Services, Repatriation and Housing, and that Committee will direct its attention to coordinating the approaches and proposals of the various Departments concerned with social welfare.

My Government will introduce proposals to remove from the minds of Australians the fear of the economic consequences of long continued illness.

It will review the operations of the Hospital and Medical Benefit Schemes operated under the National Health Act. It is proposed to arrange for an independent inquiry to be held into the operations of the Hospital and Medical Insurance funds which provide benefits under the Scheme. After this inquiry has been held the Government will consider whether any further measures should be taken to improve the operation of the Scheme whilst at the same time preserving the concept of freedom of choice on which it is based.

My Government is negotiating an agreement with State Governments to help mothers with children who are not eligible for benefits under the existing Social Services Act, but who are in need. The Commonwealth is prepared to meet half the cost of State expenditure in this field.

My Government will press ahead with its proposals to amend the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act to give common entitlements to all Servicemen on continuous full-time duty for periods of 12 months or more by admitting to the benefits of the scheme those now excluded because they are enlisted for periods of less than 6 years.

Eligibility for and payment of such pension benefits will be granted retrospectively in respect of those former members of the forces whose service was terminated by death or substantial incapacity on or after the date of the first National Service intake, 28th June, 1965.

My Government will legislate to improve the scheme of compensation for death and injury under the Commonwealth Employees’

Compensation Act. The legislation will provide for the establishment of an appeal tribunal as an alternative to existing appeal arrangements, will extend certain benefits currently available and will add a number of new benefits. Responsibility for this Act will be transferred from the Treasurer to the Minister for Social Services.

In recent years attention has been focussed on the advantages to the community if people employed within the public sector were able to move from one kind of public employment to another without sacrificing their superannuation rights.

Last year my Government decided to have the question of transferability of superannuation benefits within the public sector investigated. The services of Sir Leslie Melville, K.B.E. were retained for this purpose.

His report has been received and is being examined by my advisers, so that decisions as to the course to be followed may be quickly made and published.

My Government will legislate on a number of matters of legal significance to the Commonwealth.

It will introduce legislation to limit appeals to the Privy Council from decisions of the High Court and will prepare legislation for the creation of a Commonwealth Superior Court to relieve the pressure on the High Court.

Other legislation will include amendments to the law relating to copyright, new procedures for the examination and granting of patents, measures relating to cheques, and ratification of the Tokyo Convention on Crimes on Aircraft.

I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties, in the faith that Divine Providence will guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.

page 11


Motion (by Mr Gorton) agreed to:

That a Committee consisting of Mr Fox, Mr

Calder and the mover be appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament and that the Committee do report at the next sitting.


– I understand that it is the desire of the House to have the sitting suspended until 5 p.m. I will resume the chair at that time.

Sitting suspended from 3.43 to 5 p.m.

page 12


Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

Mr Speaker, I move:

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Right Honourable Harold Edward Holt, C.H., M.P., a member of this House for the Division of Fawkner from 1935-49 and for the Division of Higgins from 1949 to 1967, for many years a Minister of the Crown and for almost 2 years Prime Minister of Australia; places on record its appreciation of his long and distinguished public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

I do not suppose that in the history of Australia there have ever been more dramatic circumstances associated with the loss of a Prime Minister in office than occurred towards the end of last year - circumstances which I think we all will agree shocked the whole nation. It is not my intention now to read through the long list of distinguished offices which were held from time to time by the late Prime Minister for these are but the bare bones of a parliamentary career and of a career of service to the nation.

We know of his distinguished record at school and university, culminating in his practising in Victoria as a solicitor, and of his entry to this House as member for Fawkner, being elected on 17th August 1935 - more than three decades ago. There will be few in this House today who would have sat here when the late Harold Holt was first elected. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in the public gallery of this House on my first visit to Canberra and seeing the late Prime Minister in 1939 being introduced to the House as a Minister without portfolio in the Menzies Government, because it was in 1939 that he first achieved ministerial office. In 1940 in a reconstruction of the Ministry Mr Holt left the Ministry and enlisted as a gunner in the Australian military forces but before being able to proceed abroad with those forces, the House will remember, there was a tragic air crash in which many Ministers were killed. The late Prime Minister was then recalled to take up his ministerial duties.

In 1940 he was appointed Minister for Labour and National Service. In that capacity he was responsible at that time for introducing child endowment into Australia. In 1949, after an interregnum on the front bench of the Opposition, he was appointed Minister for Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration. In his capacity as Minister for Immigration he expanded that immigration programme which had been initiated by the first Minister for Immigration, the Right Honourable Arthur Calwell. In that field and in the field of labour and national service all those who came in contact with him could not have failed to note his personal involvement with the problems of individuals who came before him or with problems which were brought before him by members of this House from any party, seeking his intervention and his assistance in an endeavour to overcome individual problems. I think we will all agree that that kindliness, that genuine concern which was so much a facet of his nature, was clearly evident in Bis conduct of these two portfolios. He became Prime Minister in 1966 and was appointed a Companion of Honour in 1967. We all know the tragic events of December last year. As I said, these are, even as I have put them to the House, but the bare bones of a political career.

This was a man who for more than three decades served in this House the people of Australia. There has been a national memorial service, but that was a memorial service for the nation. I suggest that it is fitting and proper that here, in the chamber which was his chamber for so long, in which his work lay for so long, where he was known more closely and more personally, we may as a House tender our last respects to him. Here he was known as a man of courage, both physical and moral. As an example of that moral courage may I take honourable members’ minds back to 1961 when economic action which was hurtful to many in the community was taken by the Government. I take their minds back to the calumny which then was visited upon the head of the late Prime Minister, Treasurer as he then was, and take their minds back to the fact that, although what was done was a Government decision and not a personal decision and what resulted was a Government responsibility and not a personal responsibility, never once did the late Prime Minister, upon whom this was visited, seek to evade, to excuse or to remove himself from that area of controversy.

Me was known as a man of industry and of kindliness, one who was prepared to give of himself to each member who had brought to him some point of view which might have differed from that which he had suggested or proposed some course with which he did not agree. He showed clearly that he would always consider that point of view and would always take that course into his mind and test whether what he had intended to do was in his view right or not. He was above all a man of peace and a man who was interested, perhaps more than most, in the cultural life of this nation of Australia and in advancing it. It is ironical that, being a man of peace, he should have presided over one of the greatest build-ups of military power that Australia has found itself engaged in. But he did this because he felt that it was right and that it was in the interests of Australia. From what I have said and from what we remember of him we will all agree that he would never shrink from doing what he felt was right and what was in the interests of his country. He was a great Australian and when the chips were down, he always came through. I commend the motion.

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– No Australian Prime Minister, perhaps no Australian, has received in death so many rich and remarkable tributes as the late Harold Holt. The gathering of the great and the famous who assembled here almost overnight from all over the world for the memorial service in Melbourne is now part of our nation’s history. And so, too, is Harold Holt himself now part of history, torn from the great political stage on which he had long played so notable and honourable a part, by the sea he loved, at the very spot in Australia which perhaps above all others he knew best and loved best. The other tributes paid to his memory may have been more dramatic. None is so appropriate, so full of meaning, as this final farewell from this House. For the late Harold Holt was above all else a great parliamentarian. He was at once the servant and the leader of this House. This is the place he knew best; this is the place where he was best known. Almost his whole adult life was spent as a member of this Parliament. His entire career, his sole vocation, was as a member of Parliament.

Among Australian Prime Ministers only his immediate predecessor and his immediate successor, the present Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), had served a longer term in Parliament. None bad so long an apprenticeship. None came to the greatest position in the country with better qualifications in terms of experience in the high offices of state. He was Leader of this House for a record period. It was in this capacity that 1, as Deputy Leader of my Party and responsible with him for the day to day arrangements between Government and Opposition, came to know him well. They were 6 years of widely fluctuating fortunes for the late Prime Minister and the government in which he was Treasurer throughout that time. So I saw him in many situations - in the stress of the economic decision for which he took responsibility in 1960 and 1961, in the difficulties of 1962 and 1963, which were the electoral aftermath of those decisions, and in the recovery of 1964-65. He had the great advantage of having himself served in Opposition. He was keenly aware of the rights, responsibilities, duties and difficulties of Opposition. His knowledge, and more importantly his understanding, of the procedures and purposes of Parliament was deep and he shared it freely. I have always acknowledged my personal debt to him and I do so again now.

Before becoming Treasurer and later Prime Minister, Harold Holt served as Minister for Immigration and Minister for Labour. He brought to fruition the postwar immigration scheme begun under the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) as the first Australian Minister for Immigration by the Chifley Labor Government. Significantly, Mr Holt’s first action as Prime Minister was to announce liberalisation of our immigration regulations regarding Asians. As Minister for Labour he established more harmonious relations with the trade union movement than any non-Labor holder of that post has ever done. The key to his ability to establish such relationships with men of different backgrounds, attitudes and interests was his essential decency. He was tolerant, humane and broadminded. His suavity of manner was no pose. It was the outward reflection of a truly civilised human being. He was in a very real sense a gentleman. To most of us he may have seemed an uncomplicated man, yet when one reflects upon the shadows which fell over his life towards its end and the strong sense of foreboding which had come over him, it is clear that there was a complexity in his character which we barely glimpsed. No man seemed more suited to public life. He seemed the quintessence of a public man. Yet there was a private Harold Holt we hardly knew, the man who drew strength and solace in the vast silence and solitude of the ocean around our shores.

As Prime Minister he established the system by which my Deputy and I may travel abroad at regular intervals at public expense. One of his last actions was to. approve the journey to South and East Asia I made over Christmas and in January, and on which I was due to embark only the day after that terrible Sunday afternoon at Portsea. When I did subsequently go abroad, it was made very apparent to me that Harold Holt had been incomparably the best known, the best liked Australian in all the Asian countries I visited. The regard in which he was held extended well beyond the heads of state and political leaders with whom he had been in closest contact. The genuine regret at his death went far beyond the natural sense of shock and horror at the manner of his death. Harold Holt possessed a very real presence in Asia. He made Australia better known in Asia and he made Australians more aware of Asia than ever before. This I believe was his most important contribution to our future which he made during his brief Prime Ministership.

I need not hide my sense of sadness that the last chapter of a fairly long and rewarding story of the relationship between myself and the late Prime Minister centered on an election campaign, which necessarily and properly accentuates the acerbities and emphasises the tensions in political life in this nation. A two weeks’ campaign encapsules and therefore exaggerates the differences over issues which have really developed over months and years. We tend, as it were, to speak in headlines, with all their inadequacies and lack of subtlety. Nor need we deny the final period of his life was by no means the happiest in his political fortunes. The touch of success seemed to have deserted him. Whether this represented only a temporary phase or a permanent decline must remain one of the great unanswered questions of Australia’s political history. The measure of political success which he had achieved was, of course, quite remarkable. He won for his Party the greatest election victory since federation and inflicted on my own the severest losses ever suffered by my Party or any Australian political party. He had achieved this even when his Party had been in office for 17 years under his remarkable predecessor. The very magnitude of his triumph in 1966 emphasised the suddenness and extent of the decline in his fortunes in the latter half of last year. So his life and his death take on a symbolic kind of grandeur. It has a message for us all about the impermanence of human beings and the instability of human affairs. Few men have seemed less likely to be cast in a great tragic role than our late colleague, but so it was to be.

I cannot close without a reference to his widow. She is the only wife of a Prime Minister who has become universally known to the entire nation by her first name. She enjoyed immensely being the wife of the Prime Minister of Australia, and Australia enjoyed seeing her enjoy it. She brought verve and colour to her role. Yet it is not her gaiety that will best and longest be remembered by the Australian people. They will remember her calm courage as she watched and waited on that dark shore at Portsea. Harold Holt has found no fixed physical resting place. His place in the political annals of our nation remains to be fixed by the perspective of history. But his place in the minds and memory of us, his colleagues, is secure, lasting and indelible.

Minister for Trade and Industry · Murray · CP

– I wish to associate myself and my colleagues of the Australian Country Party with this motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). Harold Holt and I were parliamentary colleagues and close friends for more than 30 years. As two men in Australian politics we enjoyed a long and understanding relationship. We were elected to the Commonwealth Parliament only about a year apart, I in 1934 and he in 1935. Even when he was first elected to this Parliament it was quickly recognised that he had qualities which over the years came through so clearly. Apparent from the first were his sheer friendliness, a belief in fair play and a down to earth commonsense. When he was sworn in as Prime Minister in 1966 I, as leader of the Australian Country Party. found great joy in advising the GovernorGeneral that I and my party would be happy to serve in coalition with Harold Holt and his party. We went happily, and on the basis of the greatest personal friendship, into our coalition relationship for I knew I was working not only with an able man but also with an honest decent man who was also my friend.

As Prime Minister and as a Minister. Harold Holt was responsible for notable measures in foreign policy; for a firm commitment to our great ally the United States of America in the cause of freedom in Vietnam, and for orientating our policies towards Asia. The very warm personal relationship which he developed with the President of the most powerful nation in the world is of enduring value to Australia.

In domestic politics there are many things that stand greatly to his credit. It was he who, in 1940 I think, first introduced for the Commonwealth the policies of child endowment which have been embraced by all parties ever since. He continued the splendid immigation policies initiated by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). He put great drive into them, and associated his own personality with them, to see that not only did we have a great flow of suitable migrants but also that they were integrated successfully into the Australian community. In his day he worked hard and successfully to get improved relationships on the waterfront.

He and I first worked together in a government in 1940 when I was the Minister for Air and Civil Aviation and he was the Minister for Labour and National Service and Minister in Charge of Scientific and Industrial Research. Then we served in Opposition together when the wartime and the post-war Labour Governments were in power. When the LiberalCountry Party coalition was returned to government in 1949 we again worked together in the ministry. This time Harold Holt was the Minister for Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration and I was the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. For the next 18 years, until his tragic death last December, our working relationship in the government of Australia was always and at all times based on a very warm friendship.

Harold Holt had great personal charm. He was one of the warmest and most friendly persons that one could possibly know. For all the greatness that came to him he was not a pretentious man. Great and important offices never took from him the modesty for which he was noted, as we all know. But he was certainly a man of great courage. In some ways, I think, he was never better than when the going was hard and difficult.

In his public life Harold Holt was fortunate in having the support and the encouragement of his wife. All of us who knew them as a family could not help but be greatly impressed by Mrs Holt’s devotion to her husband and by her own charming personality and good humour. I am sure that all Australians grieve for Mrs Holt and the family in their terrible loss.

Harold Holt brought to his administration a breadth of humanity; a concern for the government of the Commonwealth. He had a strong belief in the right of the citizen to be made aware of the Government’s policies and the purposes of the Government’s policies. In this he had an influence on all those of us who were his colleagues. As has been said, he had an enormous respect for the institution of Parliament. This was recognised on a world basis for he was for a period of 3 years the Chairman of the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. In that capacity he spoke for all of the parliaments of the Commonwealth on the great occasion of the crowning of Her Majesty in London.

For 10 years he was Leader of this House and he retained that position with all its time consuming duties, even when he became Treasurer. During his time as Prime Minister he was always conscious of - and impressed upon those of us who worked with him or under him - the importance of each of us being aware of the respect to which Parliament is entitled. To this end he made certain that, whenever possible, statements of policy or other important statements were first made to the Parliament, the parliamentarians being entitled, in his strongly held view, to be the first to be made aware of new decisions or of new facts.

He was a typical Australian; and what more would any one of us wish to have said of him than that he was a good and typical Australian. I regard such a remark as being as high a compliment as one can pay to a person in this country. He had the typical Australian outlook on life, the capacity to make friends quickly and easily and the ability to see humour even in difficult situations. He believed in the essential quality of all men and he had a capacity for recognising humbug and giving it short shrift. Harold Holt had something more - the ability to work very hard and very regularly in the service of his country, to take knocks and criticism and yet always come up smiling. This House and our country have lost a very fine leader. This Parliament has lost one of its most vigorous champions and all of us here have lost a friend.


- Mr Speaker, I should like to add my tribute to Harold Holt, our late Prime Minister, who was my colleague and my friend. Our yesterdays are our history. Harold Holt has an enduring place in our history. In time we will see his achievements in their full perspective and we will come to know how significant they were. He was a man of great gifts and he had a long record of distinguished service to the nation. He was known to so many of us personally as a warm hearted friend, big in his generosity and so rich in his talents. There was nothing mean in anything he ever said or did.

Each one of us has special memories of him to call his own for he was a friendly man with a genius for making that friendship so personal to so many. Mr Holt was a former member for my electorate of Fawkner and there he commanded a rare loyalty, as he did later in Higgins. I had the privilege of his friendship for many years and served him as a Minister when he assumed the tasks of Prime Minister of Australia. I am proud to have served him, brief though that span was to be. I acknowledge, as so many of us do, a great debt to him and cherish that memory of his friendship.

Public life makes many demands on those who accept it as a vocation and Harold Holt was tireless in his dedication to the task. He bore many burdens and he never spared himself because he felt there was so much to be done and so little time in which to do it. Consideration for those who served around him was a special part of his character and he attracted affection and loyalty to a most unusual degree. He always made time in a crowded day to see as many as possible of those who came to his door.

As the Leader of this House he was always available to members of it, ready to listen to their problems. He knew the wisdom and the sensitive art of compromise and conciliation but on matters of high principle he yielded nothing. He became Prime Minister by the unanimous choice of his party. To quote his own words - because they are the measure of the man and his character: ‘I walked over nobody to get there’.

Others have recorded in detail the full story of Harold Holt’s long and distinguished career but we here in our national Parliament have vivid memories of his prime ministership cut short so tragically before he had completed 2 years in office. His achievements in that time were remarkable. He had a vision for Australia; he saw Australia standing on the threshhold of change, with opportunity beckoning and a great prospect of growth ahead. He saw Australia clearly in its Asian environment. I like to feel that the cornerstone of the arch that he was building somehow seemed to stand in its place at the memorial service in Melbourne. He saw Australia giving help and friendship to our neighbours and as a staunch Pacific partner of the United States of America and a steadfast member of the Commonwealth of Nations, loyal to Great Britain and our Sovereign, the Queen.

As has been said already, he took a special interest in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. He was its Chairman for several years and presided at its conferences in 1952 and 1954 as well as the great dinner at the time of the Coronation in 1953. He spoke for a new order in our affairs and sincerely believed that’ our destiny was linked with the future of Asia. He accepted the challenge of the change that is around us: yet he kept the old loyalties and the traditional ties with our kinsmen secure. In so short a time so much was achieved. He left the nation in a fine and healthy state and for this we will be grateful. I stand here today knowing that he gave us a course to steer and a star to steer by. I should like to quote the immemorial words of Chaucer:

Me never yet a boorish thing had said In all his life to any; come what might. He was a true, a perfect gentle knight.


– I express my sympathy to the widow and family of the late Harold Holt for the great, tragic and irreparable loss that they suffered by his tragic and unexpected death on that Sunday, 17th December last. The ship on which I was travelling back to Australia drew into Cape Town harbour when we heard the news. Most of the 1,500 passengers aboard had not heard of the name Harold Holt, but everybody was stunned when they knew that something terrible had happened to the Prime Minister of this nation. There was great grief everywhere. I believe that that is true of what happened all around the world. With the exception of the honourable member for Darling (Mr Clark), who entered Parliament with the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), I am the only one in this Parliament who knew Mr Harold Holt from 1940 onwards. I learned to respect him for his honesty, integrity and loyalty to his leader and party. In all the vicissitudes of those times and in all the years in which the present government parties were in opposition in this Parliament, he displayed that same humble loyalty and devotion to principle that were the characteristics of his life. 1 have always thought of Harold Holt as one of the best men I ever knew. He was a humane, charitable and generous man and though he fought hard, determinedly and with all the moral and physical courage to which the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has referred, he could meet all his opponents and friends and sometimes some of his critics in his own parties outside this House with great urbanity, sincerity and overwhelming friendship. I never had a cross word with Harold Holt outside Parliament and I had very few with him inside except, of course, at election times. I always like to think of Harold Holt, as I will, as a man who started behind scratch in his attempt to win a place and a name for himself in the life of this nation.I knew his story; he told it to me several times. I knew of his struggles. I always admired him because he never sought to blame anybody else for anything that happened in his lifetime. I always admired himtoo, for the tribute he paid to others who helped him. His widow suffered grief that we would not like to see suffered by any woman but which happens, through life, to many people. But we in Australia, and the people outside Australia who knew him, would hope, 1 am sure, that on this final occasion when we pay tribute to his memory time will help to assuage the grief that the Holt family so naturally feel and that the sympathy of their friends will help them bear the sorrow so suddenly cast upon them. We who sit in the Parliament will remember Harold Holt with affection and pride, but never again will we see the light of his countenance nor enjoy the warm kindly friendship of his handshake.

Treasurer · Lowe · LP

– Most of the things that I would like to say have been said already by the previous speakers. I knew the late Harold Holt as a very great personal friend. In fact, I knew him since 1918. I also knew him for many years as a member of Parliament and as one who, in truth, was the first to suggest that I might contest a seat and enter Parliament. As to his personal qualities. I am sure I speak for my own Party and for the rest of the House when I say that I do not know any person with a warmer personality than that of the late Mr Holt. He had a generous approach to his friends and those with whom he had become involved in an argument. The moment the argument was over one could rest assured that there was no rancour or bitterness and that he would treat the person concerned as though the argumenthad never occurred. He was a friend of all of us and if we had troubles we could go immediately to him and he would listen. If he could make a contribution towards solving those problems he would do so. He was regarded with the warmest affection by all members of the Party, who were always very glad to be able to associate with him. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and others said that Mr Holt was a man of great courage, both in his parliamentary life and in the way in which he approached the problems of life itself. I have never known anyone who showed greater courage than he did in the last few weeks of his life. I could refer to other matters. He was, of course, a great sportsman. He was a deep sea diver and played tennis and golf. He engaged in all kinds of sport and usually did very well. He had a great love of racehorses and horses in general. We all know of his love of the arts, what he did for the Aboriginals and the way in which he attempted to establish a council for the arts in this country. He was a great man and a man of extraordinary intelligence. Those who served with him in the two years he was Prime Minister saw the vitality and innovation that he introduced. I think I can say that it was a pleasure for all of us to be able to join in his drive to make this country greater and better to live in than we had previously known.

On the political front I had the good fortune to follow him, as it were, as the Minister for Labour and National Service, as the Treasurer, and also at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I also succeeded him as the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party. He was the only Australian to become the President of the International Labour Organisation. As the Leader of the Opposition said, he created a feeling with the trade union movement that for a Liberal or Country Party member of the Government was unequalled. I had the good fortune to be able to move into that atmosphere and create relationships with the trade union movement that otherwise would not have been practicable.

He was also the President of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. On the two occasions that I had the opportunity of attending these organisations I found that people referred to him not only with respect but also with very great affection indeed. I also succeeded him in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and I well remember the advice that he was then able to give to me, which was: We want again to re-establish the moral authority and the strength of the British peoples and whatever you do at this organisation, please ensure that the members of the Commonwealth organisation stand together in an attempt to realise its ancient ideals. He was a very great man and he was a very good Prime Minister. Those of us who had the good fortune to be chosen to serve under him will always remember him. I think I can say, too, that he brought this friendliness and good feeling to his dealings with the Asian countries and the people of North America. I think that no Australian has ever created as good an impression in North America as he did. Again if I can repeat what the Leader of the Opposition said, few people have made the impact upon Asian nations that my late colleague made.

These very great qualities were also brought into his family life, for I do not know of a family in which there was greater devotion and greater love than there was in the case of Mr Holt, Mrs Holt, and their family. It was a wonderful thing to be with them. May I now say of Mrs Holt: She was a personality in her own right. She was always vivacious, she was always charming, and like her husband I never heard her say a bitter or a nasty word about anyone. When we had the opportunity of joining with her in her own home or at the Lodge in Canberra it was always the source of the greatest delight to us all.

I join with the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), my colleagues and my friends on the other side of the House in expressing my own and my Party’s sorrow at the departure of Mr Holt. I ask that our warmest feelings be passed on to Mrs Holt and that she know of the great respect in which she is held not only by this House but by the Australian people.


– I wish to join with honourable members and endorse their remarks concerning our late Prime Minister. He was a man of courage, and this was displayed by his deeds in the service of his country. Even his favourite relaxation, skin diving, required a lot of courage. He was a man who accepted his responsibility as a trust committed to him by his countrymen, with no disturbing thoughts of self. He had one single aim, which was to do his best. He did his best, and our country is all the richer because of him. He was a man on whom was laid tremendous responsibility; more than has ever been laid upon any Prime Minister at any time in the long history of our country, except for the period of World War II. His epitaph could well be the words from the 22nd Chapter of Proverbs, verse 29:

Seest thou a man diligent in his business;

He shall stand before Kings;

He shall not stand before mean men.

I extend to Mrs Holt and her family my sincere thoughts on behalf of the people of my electorate who on many occasions have expressed to me their sadness at the loss of such a great man.


– I would like to be associated personally with this motion and with all that has been said by previous speakers. I would also like to offer my personal sympathy to Mrs Holt and members of her family. As a Victorian and as a parliamentary neighbour of Mr Holt, I saw a great deal of him during the time that I have been the member for Henty. The thing which I liked most about him was that he was always approachable, he was always friendly, he was never aloof or moody, and if he ever felt annoyed he always managed to conceal his feelings. I think that the image that he was able to convey of himself to the people of Australia through the medium of television was Harold Holt as he really was, or as 1 always found him.

He was always prepared to listen to a problem. He was kindly in his approach to it and he was sympathetic in his response. Apparently he was able to convey this impression to most of the people ne met, whether they were in Australia or overseas. I think this was evident from the very great tribute which was paid to him by the leaders of overseas governments at his memorial service in Melbourne. Although he was Prime Minister for less than 2 years, I believe that history will record that he was one of our great Prime Ministers. He was not only a great Prime Minister but a great man. As the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) said, with his passing the people of Australia have lost a great leader and the members of this Parliament have lost a friend.

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

page 19


Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Right Honourable Edward James Holloway, a member of this House for the Division of Flinders from 1929 to 1931 and for the Division of Melbourne Ports from 1931 to 1931, and a former Minister of the Crown; places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

The Right Honourable Edward Holloway, who died on 3rd December 1967 at the age of 92, made a spectacular entry into this Parliament in winning the seat of Flinders for the Australian Labour Party in 1929. Mr Holloway then defeated the then Prime Minister, Mr Stanley Bruce. This was the beginning of a notable 22-year parliamentary career in which he served his party and the nation with distinction. He began life, I believe, as a bootmaker and soon became active in the trade union movement. After representing Flinders from 1929 to 1931 he transferred to the seat of Melbourne Ports, which he held until his retirement from the Parliament in 1951.

The details of his parliamentary career are that he served as a member of the Joint Committee on Public Works from 1929 to 1931 and from 1937 to 1940. He was the Assistant Minister for Industry, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Development, and Assistant to the Treasurer in 1931. He was then ViceChairman of the Manpower and Resources Survey Committee in 1941, and Minister for Social Services and Minister for Health from 1941 to 1943. He was Minister assisting the Minister for Munitions from 1942 to 1943 and Acting Minister for Labour and National Service in 1943. He was Minister for Labour and National Service from 1943 to 1949. He was a member of the Production Executive of Cabinet from 1942 to 1946. He was Acting Prime Minister from April 1949 to May 1949 during the absence overseas of the Right Honourable J. B. Chifley and Acting Minister for External Affairs from April 1949 to May 1949 during the absence overseas of the Right Honourable H. V. Evatt. Mr. Holloway was appointed a Privy Councillor in 1950 and retired from Parliament in the following year. He was a particularly fine and tolerant man and his warm humanity won him friends on both sides of the Parliament. He is survived by a son and a daughter to whom we extend our sympathy.

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– Last August honourable members paid tribute to the late Stanley Melbourne Bruce. Now we pay tribute to Edward James Holloway, who defeated Lord Bruce in the seat of Flinders in the 1929 election. After very long lives, the two protagonists in one of the great political dramas in the history of this Parliament died within three months of each other. There could hardly have been a greater contrast in backgrounds and attitudes than the Prime Minister and the bootmaker who beat him. Yet, in their different ways, they were both very distinguished servants of this Parliament and this nation.

Mr Holloway was one of the three survivors of the Scullin Labor Government which resulted from the electoral landslide in which he had played so spectacular a role. He was the last but one survivor of the first Curtin Labour Ministry of 1941. He was in many ways an archetype of the Australian trade unionist of his era. He had supported a widowed mother from the age of fourteen by working at a boot factory in Collingwood. He had worked in mines at Broken Hill and gone to Western Australia in search of gold during the great depression of the nineties. Returning to Melbourne, he became Victorian President of the Australian Labor Party and President of the Trades Hall Council in 1913. From then dates 40 years of great and dedicated service to the Labor movement, both in the industrial and the political wings. He was Secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council from 1916 to 1929. He took a leading part in the establishment of a national organisation for the Australian trade union movement. It is, perhaps, not irrelevant that, having been born and educated in Tasmania and having, as I have said, worked in three other States, he knew from his own experience the impossibility of any national organisation conducting its affairs on a State basis. As Secretary of the all- Australian Trade Union Congress in 1927 he said-

Changing methods of doing the work of this country make it necessary to change our methods of organisation to fit in with these new circumstances. We have been very slow to change our selves to present circumstances. Every day those associated with the movement come in conflict with difficulties and obstacles by the objection of union against union, section against section, which made it impossible to do the proper thing for the class we represent.

It was out of the meeting of the Congress at the Melbourne Trades Hall that the Australian Council of Trade Unions was born over 40 years ago.

Mr Holloway continued his great service to the Labor movement of Australia and to Australia itself as Minister for Labour and National Service from 1943 to 1949. In this period he was deeply involved with two great tasks. One was the efficient mobilisation of the Australian work force during the war, and the other the efficient and equitable demobilisation of one million members of our armed services after the war. These tasks he performed in closest collaboration with the sole survivor of the first Curtin Ministry, Mr John Dedman, who was Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. Only a man with his deep understanding, knowledge and experience of the Australian Labor movement could have carried through those great national tasks so effectively.

Minister for Trade and Industry · Murray · CP

– I desire to associate myself and my colleagues of the Australian Country Party with this motion in respect of the late Mr Edward Holloway or Ted Holloway as he was known to the House. I knew him well. I sat with him for many years in this House. In the days when we travelled by train between Melbourne and Canberra I sat with Ted Holloway for many hours and talked with him. He was a calm, quiet man. He was also a very wise and tolerant man. He was a very great conciliator. He did much in the conciliation of disputes outside any jurisdiction, such were his own personal qualities. I never met a single employer who did not have great respect for Ted Holloway or have complete confidence in his integrity and honesty and great respect for his capacity to achieve a settlement of something that was brewing up and perhaps would have become a serious dispute.

We have heard of his services in the Parliament and his great services to the Labor movement. He was a very notable Australian and a man with whom it was very easy to be friends. Anyone who had an association with Ted Holloway learned something. I pay my great respect to his memory.

Melbourne Ports

- Mr Speaker. I too would like to be associated with this tribute to the late Mr Holloway. As a young man in my thirties I succeeded Mr Holloway in the seat of Melbourne Ports. At the time he was in his seventies. I do not claim, therefore, to have known him intimately. Nevertheless, his is a name that is rightly revered in the Labor movement. He was born in the 1870s and his life was coterminous with the history of the Australian Labor Party both politically and industrially.

It is interesting to note that he had voted at every Commonwealth election. I understand that the last election was the only occasion on which he ever asked for a postal vote and he was then about 90 years of age. He had been a president of the trade union movement and a president of the political Labor Party. He was a president in the days when there was written into the platform of the Party what is known as the Socialist objective. He perhaps had the sadness associated with outliving most of his contemporaries. Nevertheless, it was interesting that his funeral service was attended by two former Prime Ministers and occupants of Cabinet office with him. His mourners also included people who were juSt ordinary rank and file members of the trade union movement and the political party in South Melbourne.

I extend my sympathy to his son, daughter and grandchildren and say that they at least live with the memory that their father and grandfather was a kind and gentle man - a man whose name is written largely and honourably in the history of the great Labor movement in Australia.


– I feel I should not let this occasion pass without paying my small tribute to the memory of a very, very great man in Austraiian life and more particularly a very great man in the history of the Australian Labor Party. Mr Holloway was sometimes known as Ted and sometimes known as Jack. He was always Jack to me. I know also that to many he was always known affectionately as Ted Holloway.

The Right Honourable Edward James Holloway was a man who lived through many experiences and saw the trade union movement and the Australian Labor Party grow from strength to strength. He was 92 years of age or thereabouts when he died. Not only did he see history made but he helped to make it. He was President of the Australian Trade Union Congress which met in Brisbane in 1921 and decided upon a new objective for the trade union movement. It became the Socialist objective. It was his fortune to preside over the Labor Party conference which met and adopted that Socialist objective - an objective we have held to firmly since and an objective that we will never desert. As the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) has said, Jack Holloway was a very honoured man because he was an honest man. His word was accepted, and he respected every confidence that he received.

I first attended a Labor Party conference in 1917 over which he presided for the first time. There I met him and from then on I formed the friendship of a young man with a man in middle life. 1 always felt that anything that Jack Holloway said was said sincerely and in earnest. I saw that spectacular victory of his in 1928 when he defeated Stanley Melbourne Bruce. 1 remember the troubles of the Scullin Government and I was pleased when Mr Holloway came back as member for Melbourne Ports and when he remained here for so long. He became a Minister for the second time. I am the only remaining member of this House who served in the Second Curtin Ministry and the Chifley Ministry with Mr Holloway. I did not serve in the First Curtin Ministry. There were divisions in Cabinet in those days, as there are divisions in all Cabinets. That has always been the case. But nobody ever doubted the sincerity of Jack Holloway in anything he said or tried to do. As the present member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has said, he outlived his contemporaries. He lives on in the affectionate regard of all who knew him, and they extend down to the second and third generations. I shall always remember him as a very good Australian, a man who had only a formal education, but a man who benefited by his studies and his experience and who made his own worthwhile contribution to the life of this nation. I join in this expression of sympathy to his son, his daughter and their children.

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

page 22


Prime Minister · Higgins · LP

– The House would want me to make reference to the deaths during the recess of three former members of this Parliament, ex-Senator Agnes Robertson, who died on 29th January this year, Mr Charles Morgan, former honourable member for Reid, who died on 27th November last year, and Mr Bernard Corser, former member for Wide Bay, who also died at the end of last year. Mrs Agnes Robertson had retired from the Senate in 1962. She became Western Australia’s second lady senator in 1949, at the age of 65. She was the first Liberal and Country League lady senator, and in 1955 became the Country Party’s first lady candidate to win a seat in the Federal Parliament.

Mrs Robertson served on a number of parliamentary committees including the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications, the Library Committee and the Printing Committee. She was also the first woman appointed to the Foreign Affairs Committee. She represented the Commonwealth Parliament at the Norfolk Island Centenary Celebrations in 1956. Mrs Robertson took a prominent part in women’s organisations. She was the first president of the Pan-Pacific Women’s Association in Australia and she was International Vice-President of the Pan-Pacific and South East Asian Association. Through her membership of these organisations she gave effect to her deep interest in international relations and the rights of women. She took a keen interest in the proceedings of the Senate and intervened quite forcefully in debate on a large number of subjects. She is survived by one son and two daughters, to whom we tender our sympathy.

Mr Charles Morgan was the Australian Labor Party member for Reid from 1940 to 1946 and from 1949 to 1958. He was a member of the War Expenditure Committee, the Privileges Committee and the House Committee and was a trustee of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust. He was a member of the delegation representing the Commonwealth Parliament at the Norfolk Island Centenary Celebrations and a member of the Australian delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference held at Bangkok in 1956. He is survived by his widow and three sons, to whom we tender our sympathy.

Mr Bernie Corser represented the seat of Wide Bay for 26 years from 1928 to 1954. He entered the Federal Parliament after a term of 16 years as a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly. For more than a quarter of a century as a member of this House he gave outstanding service to the Country Party and to the Federal Parliament. He was Deputy Leader of the Country Party from 1923 to 1924, a member of the Royal Commission on Public Works from 1923 to 1928 and Joint Opposition Whip from 1926 to 1928. He was a member of the Empire Parliamentary Association delegation to Great Britain and Canada in 1943. From 1940 to 1941 he was joint Government Whip, and from 1941 to 1943 joint Opposition Whip. He was reelected Australian Country Party Whip in September 1943.

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– My Party welcomes the opportunity which the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has taken to express our condolences to the relatives of Senator Robertson, Mr Morgan and Mr Corser.

Senator Robertson entered the Parliament as a successful candidate of the LiberalCountry League in Western Australia and later remained a member as a successful candidate of the Australian Country Party. I think I came to know the lady well enough to say that she appreciated the irony of the fact that her continued presence in the Parliament was due to having had the preferences of my Party on the second occasion. She had a very good sense of humour. She had been a very public spirited woman all her life. She communicated her good humour and her interest in public affairs to a very great number of members of both Houses.

I knew Mr Morgan better. He was fo 6 years the member for the neighbouring electorate to mine. He was a very successful and enterprising solicitor. He had had long associations with the Labor movement. His mother, who survives him - she is in her 90s - has been a member of the Labor Party since its foundation in the 1890s. She is the sister of a former member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. Mr Morgan’s son was for one term a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.

Mr Bernie Corser carried on his family tradition. It was quite futile for anybody to oppose a Corser, father or son, in the Wide Bay district for the Legislative Assembly of Queensland or the House of Representatives of this nation. Mr Bernie Corser succeeded his father in this House. He lived, I think, in Sydney and when I first became a member of Parliament I had to take the accommodation that was offering in the newspaper room of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices. I remained there until Mr Corser retired. I would see him quite often on the premises. He was most helpful to me in my work as a new member because he was very shrewd, very skilled and very humane in all the affairs that come to the notice of a member of Parliament.

We all mourn our three departed colleagues. Their relatives can remember with pride the contribution they made to this Parliament.

Minister for Trade and Industry · Murray · CP

– I wish to associate the Australian Country Party with the observations that have been made about the late Mrs Agnes Robertson, Mr Charles Morgan and Mr Bernard Corser. Agnes Robertson was a senator for 13 years, serving for more than half of her period in this Parliament as a Country Party senator. She was a person of great dignity and character, one who gave her life to service in the political field and to women. I do not think anyone could have known Agnes Robertson well and not respected and liked her immensely. She has left two daughters. One is Miss Jessie Robertson of Perth who has the same characteristics as her mother, and the other is Mrs Manners who lives at East Oakleigh in Victoria.

I am sure that Agnes Robertson will be mourned in Western Australia. She was very widely known there, not only in the straight parliamentary political field but also for her work with women’s organisations. She was really a pioneer in that field and for many years was a leading member of the Business and Professional Women’s Association, and for a time National President of the Pan Pacific Women’s Association. She was active in the parliamentary field and, as the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has said, she served on a number of parliamentary committees. She brought the woman’s point of view to Country Party councils and was greatly respected. She will be missed in her home State, and I and my colleagues of the Country Party are sad at her passing.

I sat in the Parliament with Mr Charles Morgan during his years of service. He was an able, active and likeable man, a man staunch in his loyalty to his Party. 1 greatly regretted the passing of Charlie Morgan, as we knew him.

Of Mr Bernard Corser I speak again of a man who was a warm personal friend. He had a phenomenal record of service to the Country Party, first as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland from 1912 until 1928 and then in succession to his father who, having himself succeeded Andrew Fisher, Prime Minister of Australia, in the seat of Wide Bay, died in 1928. Bernie Corser held the seat of Wide Bay until he retired in 1954. He had a record of holding seats for the Country Party in the State and Federal Parliaments from 1912 until 1954. He was never defeated in any election. That is a long record of service.

As the Prime Minister has mentioned, he was acknowledged in office in my Party, but those of us who had the joy of serving with Bernie Corser will remember him as one of the most blithe spirits one could imagine. He was full of fun and the joy of life and he seemed to communicate those characteristics to everyone around him. He was one of those fellows whom you not only liked but practically loved. He was a wonderful bloke.


- Mr Speaker, I should like to express my sympathy to Mrs Morgan, the wife of the late Charles Morgan, to his mother, Mrs Morgan senior, and also to his family. I did not know Senator Robertson or Bernie Corser as I knew Charlie Morgan. When I first arrived in this place I saw Senator Robertson and I knew of her record as a great fighter. I respected her. But I knew Charlie Morgan and I knew also what a great fighter he had been. He was the member for the division of Reid from 1940 to 1958, with the exception of three years when Mr J. T. Lang held office.

Charlie Morgan was a solicitor of the New South Wales Supreme Court from 1920 and in his early days he was legal adviser to the Miners Federation on the south coast of New South Wales. Many people in Wollongong have a great respect for the services that he gave in those early days. He had a life-long association with the housing co-operatives of New South Wales and many people who through his assistance were able to get a home are grateful to him.

He was a controversial figure. Honourable members will recall that it was through his actions that the important and historic privilege case involving Fitzpatrick and Browne came to be recorded in the history of this Parliament.

His mother, as my leader has said, is a great personality in the Labor movement. I attended Charlie Morgan’s funeral. Mrs Morgan, at 94 years of age, also attended and was very pleased that a fellow who had had a few fights with Charlie from time to time had attended the funeral. Within only 2 days of the funeral she had written to me a very kindly and wonderful letter. My warmest thoughts go out to Mrs Morgan tonight.

I hope that all people will give a kind thought to Charlie Morgan, realising that in politics we have fights and struggles, but realising also that a good thing about it is that we have forgiveness. Charlie Morgan had forgiveness in his heart. I associate myself with the remarks which have already been expressed.


– I wish to be associated with the remarks made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). I knew Senator Robertson and Mr Bernie Corser very well. As the Leader of the Country Party has said, Bernie Corser had a notable record of public service to this country. He was a member of Parliament for 42 years. I suppose that, apart from the period of service of the late William Morris Hughes, his term would possibly be the longest of a member of Parliament. He was a lovable character and had a great personality in every way. His passing is a great loss, as also was his resignation from the Parliament.

But I rose particularly to express my sympathy to Mrs Morgan, the wife of the late Charlie Morgan, and also to his mother who is a member of the Labor Party in my district and who, at 94 years of age, still regularly attends branch meetings. Her son was a notable member of the Labor movement. She and her son have given tremendous service to the cause which we on this side of the Parliament support. I join with other members in expressing my sympathy to his wife, his mother and the Morgan family at the passing of a great former member of the Australian Labor Party and a great former servant of the people.

Mr GORTON (Higgins- Prime Minister) - As a mark of respect to the memory of those deceased, I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 6.20 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 March 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.