18 September 1918

7th Parliament · 2nd Session

The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Senator MILLEN:
Minister for Repatriation · New South Wales. · NAT

.- .By leave, I move -

That this Senate places on record its profound regret at the loss the Commonwealth lias, sustained in the death of the Right Honorable . Lord Forrest, P.O., G.G.M.G., LL.D., F.R.G.S., P.G.S., F.L.S., whose great public services as Premier of the State of Western Australia from its constitution as a selfgoverningcolony as a member of the Federal Convention, as a member of the House of Representatives since the inauguration of Federation, as a Minister, of State for the .Commonwealth, and as Acting Prime Minister, are sincerely appreciated by the-people of Australia. This Sen-, ate tenders its deepest sympathy to the sorrowing widow and relatives of a distinguished explorer and statesman whose devotion to duty was combined with a kindliness and courtesy which endeared him to all with whom he was associated.

In submitting this motion I feel that it is quite unnecessary , to make any reference to the position which the .right honorable gentleman occupied in the affection and esteem of the members of this and the other branch of the Federal Parliament. Looking over his distinguished career, I prefer rather to refer to his public acts, both in own State of Western Australia and in the Commonwealth.

Lord Forrest’s whole life was one of action, and that action was represented by service to ‘his .country. In rendering that service he not only did much to insure the progress and development of Australia, but created for ‘ himself a reputation, which, I venture to say; will endure.

By his exploring expeditions, with their attendant dangers, he added vast areas’ to his State, and later played - a dominant part in its government, both before and’ after the entry of that State -into the family of self-governing colonies. He indelibly impressed his name and his personality upon the history of Western Australia, as upon the regard and esteem of its people, leaving the domain of State affairs only when the higher call of the Commonwealth summoned him to the seat of National government. ,

His entry into Federal politics furnished him with a further opportunity for service, arid in discharging -that service he added to his reputation and completed his claim to be regarded as one of the builders of this new Empire. Throughout,- though taking the larger Common-wealth view, he was still deeply attached to, and ‘careful of, the interests of his own State, the- State ‘ which he .had done so much to create, to develop, and to guide.

Big in . heart, resolute of - purpose, with -infinite faith in the future of Australia, Lord Forrest .passes from us full’ of years as of honours, leaving behind the story pf a useful life spent in the interests of his country, and assured of an abiding place in the esteem of its people. -

It adds a little to our grief that Lord Forrest’ should have met his end so far from the country he loved so well. He lies buried to-day in a distant island. It is the desire of the Government, subject to the wishes of .Lord Forrest’s relatives being in harmony with that desire, that, at a suitable time, his remains shall -be1- brought to’ Australia to find a permanent resting place in the country for which he- did so much.

The resolution I have moved very properly extends to Lady Forrest and the other relatives of the deceased statesman the sympathy of this Chamber. I need hardly say that that sympathy is both deep and sincere. ‘ Although it is not expressly provided for in the motion, ‘I take it that the Senate will request you, sir, to convey a copy of the resolution to Lady Forrest. ‘ .

Senator GARDINER (Kew South Wales) [3.5J. - I associate -myself and the party on this side with all that the Leader of the Senate has said with regard to the late Lord Forrest. I assure the honorable senator that .we appreciate and admire the kindly references he has made. I recognise that his long’ and intimate acquaintance with Lord Forrest has enabled him to express- sincerely the views we all hold, and the depth of sympathy we all feel towards Lady Forrest and the other relatives of the deceased statesman.

Western Australia has .much to remember Lord Forrest for. He reached in the Parliament of that State the highest pinnacle of preferment, and played a big part, not only in moulding the destiny of that State, but in assisting with other very distinguished Australians to fashion the instrument of government which called into existence this Federal Parliament,’ which now does ‘ honour to itself in the passing of the resolution submitted by the Minister for Repatriation. I am sure that it will be- carried by the ‘Senate as conveying to : those outside the deep sympathy we feel- because of his death, and the great respect and appreciation we always entertained for, shall I say, John- Forrest.

In conclusion, may I be permitted to say df his .last voyage to that England which he loved not less because he loved Australia more, that there is a -tinge of regret that, he was not permitted to take his seat in the House of Lords, which would have been a splendid finish to’ a. great parliamentary career. However, regrets are useless. We on this side of the chamber join with, honorable senators opposite in support of the resolution so ably moved by Senator Millen, feeling sure that it expresses the sincere desire of the Senate.

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

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Senator MILLEN:
Minister for Repatriation · New South Wales · NAT

– By leave, I move -

That this Senate places on record its high appreciation of the eminent public services rendered by the late Bight Honorable Sir George Houstoun Reid, P.O., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., D.C.L., K.C., as Premier of the State of New South Wales, as a member of the Federal- Convention, as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and as the first’ High Commissioner in London. This Senate tenders to Lady Reid . and the members of his family its deepest sympathy in their bereavement, and assures them of the regret felt throughout Australia at the death of one who was for many- years a leader in the political life of this country, was held in the highest esteem by its citizens, and with marked ability represented the Commonwealth at the centre of the Empire.

By this resolution we place on record our sense of loss sustained in the death of another of Australia’s distinguished public men. As Premier of New South Wales Sir GeorgeReid has left an enduring mark upon, the’ legislative history of that. State. He it was that introduced legislation which constituted a distinct break from past, ideas,and opened the door to much that has followed. Whatever views were held at that time regarding these measures it will- now be . readily admitted that the legislation with which he was associated was inspired by a sincere regard for the interests of the great mass of the people and. a clear recognition of the spirit of Australian Democracy. He played an important’ part, under peculiarly difficult circumstances, in bringing the Australian Commonwealth into being, seeking throughout -to obtain such a Con-‘ stitution as would afford the fullest opportunity for the development of Australian national sentiment.

His position in Federal politics was Unique. Circumstances did* not permit of his assuming Ministerial responsibility for other than a brief period, but no one with so limited a Ministerial record has represented so potent- an influence, . both in Parliament and’ with the public as he did. That he was not more frequently in office is a testimony to the steadfastness with which he held to his political beliefs. Had he displayed any tendency to compromise with these he could easily have had opportunity of Ministerial service. It makes his career the more brilliant that, without the advantages of office, he stood as a commanding figure in the public life of his country.. ‘

As the first High Commissioner for the Commonwealth in -Great Britain, a position to which he was appointed with widespread approval, he rendered most distinguished service both to this country and the Empire. By his personal qualities he endeared himself to the whole community. There can be no. greater monument to any man than that it can be said that, in spite of difference of politics, he hadsecured the regard’, confidence, and admiration of his fellow-citizens. ‘ That monument stands to-day to keep fresh the memory of Sir GeorgeReid, erected by his ability, his genial temperament; ‘ and his long and faithful public service.

This resolution, like the former, also conveys to the immediate relatives of the deceased statesman an expression of the sympathy of this Chamber. Many of us - most of. us, I assume- have had personalacquaintance with Lady-Reid, and we can only express the hope-that the resolution which we now pass will, in some slight measure, tend to soften the blow that has fallen upon her. And on this, as on the former occasion, may I say, Mr. President, that you will be carrying out the wishes of the Senate if you will convey a copy of the- resolution to that lady.

New South Wales

– May I again, as representing the whole of the members of this side of the Senate, say that we associate ourselves with all that the Leader of the Senate has just said in . regard to the splendid services rendered to the State of New South Wales and to the Commonwealth by the late Sir George Reid. It was my privilege to be a member of the Parliament of New South Wales in 1891, when the leadership of his party was thrust upon Mr. GeorgeReid. At the following elections he secured not only the indorsement of his personal leadership, but also of his’ party’s policy. I can pay no greater tribute to ‘ the respect and. esteem in which he was held by the whole of the Labour -movement of New South Wales than to say that for five years he maintained its support and confidence, which enabled him as Leader of that Government to place many beneficial and democratic’ measures on the statute-book.

And, like Lord Forrest, he shared with other brilliant Australians in the work’ of shaping the instrument of government which called into existence this Federal Parliament. If there could have been any solace to the closing years of a strenuous life it must have been the thought that would come, not only to Sir George Reid, but equally to Lord Forrest, that, in this world-racking struggle, they were, able to see the splendid achievement of Australia, due, as it was, . so largely to their own work, in that it had made united action possible. I can- say nothing further than to join most heartily in voicing our appreciation of the late statesman and to express with the Leader of the Senate our deep sympathy with LadyReid and the members of her family. ‘ Like the name of Lord Forrest, that of Sir George Reid will be ever dearly remembered. We who came closely into contact with him felt how often; his genial disposition, bis generous sympathy and feeling sweetened what was too often, the enmity of party strife.

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

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Senator MILLEN:
Minister for Repatriation · New South Wales · NAT

– As a mark of . respect to the memory of the gentlemen with regard to - whom the Senate has just carried - the two resolutions, I beg. to move -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 3.17 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 September 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.