8 October 1919

7th Parliament · 2nd Session

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

page 13050


Senator RUSSELL:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · VictoriaVicePresidesat of the Executive Council, and Acting Minister for Defence · NAT

. -(By leave.) - I move -

That the Senate places upon record its profound sorrow at the death of Mr. Alfred Deakin ; its appreciation of hislifelong devotion to duty, and his great publicservices ; and its sincere sympathy withhis widow and family.

In submitting this motion I share in the feelings of sincere regret with which I am sure every member of the Senate regards the occasion for it. The late Mr. Alfred Deakin was known to many of us, and, speaking for myself, I was, as a boy in Victoria, impressed by his outstanding position in the politics of this State. Subsequently he was known in a wider area as an. Australian statesman who displayed great ability in his endeavours, in co-operation with other great Australian leaders ofthe movement, to bring about Federation. Forover thirty years he was in politics, but, although he had many differences with others in regard to political principles, it was said of him that he never had a personal difference with any of the political colleagues with whom he was associated, either as members of a Ministry or as members of a Parliament.

If his deathwas not directly attributable to his long public, service, there can be little doubtthat he sacrificed many years of his life on the altar of public duty. He was consideredto be one of the most eloquent men Australia has produced, and certainly the most eloquent man of his time. His reputation as a statesman extends beyond Australia. He has been recognised throughout the length and breadth ofthe Empire as an orator, statesman, and gentleman.

His work was of a very high character indeed. However much he may have differed from others upon details, he always endeavoured to strike a high humanitarian and national note. His work is now accomplished, and the circumstances of his death once more illustrate the great strain imposed upon the men whoare compelled by choice or circumstances to devote a considerable time to public duty.

Mr. Deakin would have adorned any Parliament in which he sat. He was always gentlemanly, courteous, and brilliant, and at all times ready to sacrifice himself in the interests of his country and of his fellow-men. By his death Australia has lost one of her finest examples of manhood, both in private and public life.

To those whom he has left behind to mourn his loss we extend our sincere sympathy; to his widow, who has herself done noble public service, and to the daughters of the familywho, we may hope, will continue to follow his very worthy and inspiring example.

Senator GARDINER (New South

Wales) [3. 4]. - It is with thedeepest feeling of regret that, on behalf of honorable senators on thisside; I associate myself with every word that has fallen from. Senator Russell as Leader of the Senate, in submitting the motion which is now before us. By the death of Mr. Alfred Deakin Australia has lost its greatest. Australian, so far as the public life of this country is concerned, forthe past quarter of a century. I always looked on him as the soul of honour and as a leader who stood unchallenged, with a high regard for not only his own personal character, but also for the character of the Parliaments in which he sat.

The parts which he played need not be enumerated, but I remember how proud my young Australian heart was when the Australian delegates who took the Convention Bill toGreat Britain left the shores of this country, because Alfred

Deakin, Edmund Barton, and Charles Kingston were the men deputed to carry that measure to the Home Land. The manner in which their distinguished services were carried put was what might have been expected from men who could measure themselves with the world’s best.

For the loss of agreat man Australia mourns, and we participate in that mourning. I join the Minister who submitted the motion, and the Senate, in extending our deepest sympathy to the loved ones who have been left behind.

Senator KEATING:

– I, too, with very sincere regret, rise to support the motion so ably moved by the Vice-President of the Executive Council and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition. I ask leave to say a few words because of my long personal, and also of my political, association with the late Mr. Alfred Deakin. It must be now some twenty-two years since I first made his acquaintance in my native city of Hobart. He was then in Hobart for a session of the Federal Council, and I presided at a meeting in the local Town Hall which he addressed. On the morrow the Premiers of the six Colonies of Australia were to assemble with a view to take some action to further the cause of Federation. I well remember the speech Mr. Deakin delivered on that occasion. It was the first speech which the people of Tasmania had the privilege of bearing from his lips. In that address Mr. Deakin, with the truevision of a prophet, outlined almost everything that was done by’ the Premiers on the next and following days, which ultimately resulted in the Federal Enabling Bill being submitted to the several Legislatures, the Federal Convention being elected, and the draft Constitution being framed and submitted to the people. From that time onward I had a close personal friendship with Mr. Deakin. Later, when I entered politicallife, I did so with the extraordinary advantage and privilege of that friendship, and also of a friendship with the late Mr. Justice O’Connor, who was then Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council and Leader of the Senate.

With all that has been said by the mover and seconder of the motion I associate myself. Mr. Deakin was a man of very high ideals and of magnificent and noble character. Always chivalrous, and generous to a. fault, he might well be called the Bayard of Australian political life. Although Providence had endowed him richly with great outstanding talents and abilities, and with great qualities of mind and heart, it seemed to me that in respect of his talents and qualifications he always regarded himself merely as a trustee for his country, Australia, and his countrymen, the people of this Commonwealth.

In whatever he did in public life he was animatedby a sincere desire for the prosperity and progress of Australia and Australians. When abroad he achieved the wider reputation to which the Minister has referred, but he still seemed to think that every tribute paid by the people of other countries to his great outstanding abilities was paid, not to himself, but to Australia and Australians; He accepted every mark ofappreciation of his services as bestowed on him on behalf of the people of Australia. Great as was his capacity, he was always modest, always unassuming, and always most careful of the feelings and suscepti bilities of others. He fought many strenuous fights, but he left no personal antagonisms. I am thoroughly satisfied that the motion which has been submitted to the Senate expresses the sentiments of the whole of the people of the Commonwealth, not merely in respect to the memory of Alfred Deakin, but also in respect to the sympathy which we seek to extend to his noble wife and his family, for, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council has already said, they, too, have taken a creditable part in the public life of Australia. I sincerely believe that the high ideals which Mr. Deakin held, and the conduct which characterized his life, both public and private, may always be regarded as the highest exemplars for Australians to cherish and follow.

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

Senator RUSSELL:
VicePresident of the Executive Council and Acting Minister forDefence · Victoria · NAT

– - As a mark of respect to the memory of the late Honorable Alfred Deakin, I move -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at3.12 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 October 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.