3 July 1912

4th Parliament · 3rd Session

The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Bill received from the House of Re presentatives.

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– I have to report that, on Friday night, the Clerk intimated to me by telephone that he had received from Adelaide a message announcing the death of Senator William Russell. As it was too late to do anything that night, a message was sent to his widow on Saturday morning, and a message was also sent to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who was in Adelaide, asking him to represent the Senate at the funeral.

Senator McGREGOR:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · South Australia . · ALP

– I beg to move -

That the Senate do agree to the following resolutions : -

That the Senate records its sense of the loss the Commonwealth has suffered in the death of Senator William Russell, and expresses its sincere condolence with his widow and family in their bereavement.

That the President be requested to convey the foregoing resolution to Mrs. Russell.

In submitting this motion I feel certain that I have the sympathy of every honorable senator here, and I know that I have also the sympathy of those who are not here, who always had the highest respect for the late senator. Although at times he may have been very emphatic in the expression of his opinions, yet I believe that every honorable senator recognised that he always spoke from the heart; that he was in earnest in whatever he did, and was moved by the best of intentions. My acquaintance with the late senator extended over the last twenty-five years, I had parliamentary associations with him, not. only in the Senate, but also in the Parliament of the State from which he came. He was always a sturdy advocate of the principles in which he believed. He expressed his opinions fearlessly, and I may add fairly, and the country suffers a great loss whenever such men are taken away. Of course, Senator W. Russell had reached a fairly ripe age, but, in ordinary circumstances, there should have been many years of useful work before him. He was So ardent in his work that he really sacrificed his health in the service of his country in carrying out what I consider to be the duty of every parliamentary representative, endeavouring to put before the people the principles which he advocated, and to gain their support in that way. We have also to extend our sympathy to his widow and his family - citizens of whom any State might be proud. Senator W. Russell was a good citizen, a good husband, and a good father, and I am sure that every senator here, as well as every citizen of the Commonwealth, regrets the loss of such a man. I have much pleasure in proposing the motion.


– In the absence of Senator Millen, who has asked me to express his regret that he is not here to-day, I wish to second the motion which has been proposed in such appropriate terms by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The late Senator W. Russell was vigorous, but always courteous, in’ debate. In my experience of him for nearly six years he was a man whom one could always meet in a friendly way in the lobbies, and who did not allow the acerbities of political life to interfere with personal friendship. I think I might say here thai condolence may be extended to South Australia, which has lost no less than five representatives in this Parliament during the last six years. Four of them were connected with the other House. Senator W. Russell was a man whom we worked with, heard in debate, and met outside Parliament. From what we knew of him, we can say that he was one of the best type of citizens -in Australia. He was the architect of- his own fortune. Beginning with quite a small farm, he rose to be the proprietor of a fairly large one. For the last twenty years - first as a councillor, then as a member of the South Australian Parliament, and, later, as a member of this Parliament - he took a very active part in public affairs, lt is hard to say in what way we can extend condolence to those who have lost a husband and father, and to -.whom the Vice-President of the Executive Council has referred in such feeling terms. But it may be some consolation to them to reflect that he died in harness- died in the work of his country - for if I understand the position aright his death was almost directly traceable to his having travelled to a certain portion . of- South Australia for the purpose of advocating the principles in which he so earnestly believed. Me had almost reached the age of three score years and ten, which, according to Scriptural teaching, is man’s allotted span of life. Bearing in mind the principles which he advocated, and the manner in which he advocated them, we can well be- lieve that, at- the last moment, he had in his mind the words which were spoken by Abraham Lincoln fifty years ago, “ Let us have faith that might makes right, and in that faith let us do our duty as we understand it.” I beg to second the motion.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.12].- Hon- orable senators who had enjoyed the close friendship of Senator W. Russell, who has just passed away, recognise that in losing : him they have lost one who, whilst at _ all times determined to push his own -opinions fairly and forcibly, was ever prepared to respect the views expressed by those who differed from- him. With my honorable friend, Senator Walker, it was my privilege to visit’ him occasionally .dur ing one of his recent illnesses, and thus I had an opportunity of gaining a better insight into his character than one could otherwise obtain. I found him in his own home, when .in this city, as I found him elsewhere, exactly the same courteous and considerate gentleman. It is occasions like the present which convincingly demonstrate that, notwithstanding how honorable senators may differ in political debate, there is a strong bond of sympathy and friendship and brotherhood between them. Senator W. Russell was invariably a supporter of my honorable friends opposite. He fought against members of the Opposition as strongly and consistently as he could, but in his political hostility he never betrayed the slightest personal bitterness, and I am equally sure that no such bitterness was . exhibited by this side of the Senate towards him. If a similar spirit be always manifested in this Senate - however much we may right upon the floor of the chamber - we shall’ be able to meet each other as personal friends the moment we get beyond its portals. I sympathize deeply with the widow and the family in the great loss which they have sustained. I recognise that Senator W. Russell’s demise is a loss, not only to the party to which he belonged, but also to the Senate. Seeing that death will come to all, it is well that the kindly, sympathetic feeling to which I have already referred should always exist.

Senator STORY:
South Australia

– As a colleague of the deceased gentleman, I should like to say one or two words. Senator W. Russell was a man of the people. In his early life he suffered great privations. He knew what poverty and want meant, and consequently his sympathies always went out to the poor and distressed. His kind-heartedness and his sympathy with the’ afflicted were greattraits in his character. He was always fearless in the advocacy of his opinions, and he was always earnest and honest. No matter what the consequences might be, he was never afraid of expressing his candid convictions upon all political questions. As has already been said, his death is a distinct loss to the Commonwealth. It is a still greater loss to the State which he represented, and it is an irreparable loss to his’ widow and family. I am sure that every honorable senator will sincerely subscribe to .the motion of condolence with them in their bereavement. ;

Senator Lt.-Colonel CAMERON(Tasmania) [3.15]. - I should like to offer a few words of sympathy to the widow and family of the late Senator W-. Russell in their extremely sad bereavement. It was my privilege and honour to have known the deceased gentleman since fee became a member of the Senate somewhat intimately, and I can truthfully say that the personal intercourse which I had with him has left a deep impression upon my mind. I found that in all his thoughts, and in all that he did, he was actuated by the purest and best motives. A man of that class, no matter whether he be in public or in private life, we cannot well afford to lose. I wish to tender my sympathy to the widow and family in the very great loss which they have sustained.

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) (3.17]. - In common with other honorable senators, I do not like to permit this motion to pass without expressing my personal regard for the late Senator. W. Russell, and my sympathy with his widow and family in their profound bereavement. I suppose that there is no honorable senator upon the other side of the chamber with whom I had more friendly relations than I had with him. Needless to add, I found in him a strong fellow countryman of my own, and that in itself constituted a bond of sympathy between us. But irrespective of considerations of nationality or of politics, I grew to like him exceedingly. I found him most courteous. We differed in our political views it is true, but that circumstance did not interfere in the slightest with our personal friendship. I can sincerely say that my feelings are in thorough accord with the terms of the motion which has been so gracefully proposed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council

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

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Order of Business

Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.


– May I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he will be good enough to indicate the order of business for to-morrow?

Senator McGREGOR:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · South Australia · ALP

.- The Supply Bill will be the business for to-morrow.

NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1910; LP from 1913

-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. -That only?

Senator McGREGOR:

– That is all the business which will be considered so fax as I can gather at the present time. If the debate upon the no-confidence motion in the other chamber still continues, and if it is not likely to close either this week or next, I will to-morrow ask the Senate to adjourn till next Wednesday week.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 3.20 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 July 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.