12 August 1925

9th Parliament · 3rd Session

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

page 1327



– It is with very much regret that I have to announce the death of Senator Edward John Russell, which occurred on the 18th July last. A state funeral was accorded the remains of the late honorable senator, and, on behalf of the Senate, I conveyed an expression of sympathy to Mrs. Russell and her family, pending the more formal resolution of the Senate. I have also to inform the Senate that, having received the formal certificate of the death of Senator Russell, in accordance with the provisions of section 21 of the Constitution, I informed the Governor of the State of Victoria that a vacancy had occurred in the representation of that state in the Senate.

Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Home and Territories · Western Australia · NAT

.” - In view of’ the announcement which you, Mr. President, have just made to the Senate, I move -

That the Senate expresses its sincere regret at the death of Senator Edward John Russell, places upon record its sincere appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and extends its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their sad bereavement.

The late Senator Russell was born at Warrnambool, Victoria, in 1879, was first elected to the Senate for Victoria in 1906, and remained a senator until his death. He was Temporary Chairman of Committees in 1913, and a member of the Select Committee on General Elections in the same year. He was an Assistant Minister from September, 1914, to November, 1916; Honorary Minister from February, 1917, to January, 1918; and Vice-President of the Executive Council from March, 1918, to December, 1921. He was also Acting Minister for Defence from 24th January, 1919, to 29th October, 1919, during my absence in America. Among other public services, he represented the Commonwealth Government on the Australian

Wheat Board, of which he became chairman, and was vice-president of the Commonwealth Board of Trade from April, 1918, to December, 1921. He died on the 18th July last. The late honorable senator held office in various ministries for seven years and 82 days. When it is remembered that a considerable portion of the late honorable gentleman’s service as a Minister was during the period of the war, and the strenuous years that followed immediately afterwards,’ when the various Governments were grappling with the post-war problems of reconstruction, those who were associated with him will realize that the very onerous nature of the public duties which he then performed, and the heavy work that was thrown on his shoulders, undoubtedly hastened his end. The late honorable senator was most conscientious, and, in the discharge of the duties of his office, was guided always by a close regard for the highest standards of public service. At the time of his death he was still a comparatively young man. For very many years he was not only well known personally to most of UG, but was also a familiar figure in the public life of Australia. His death is undoubtedly “a great loss to the Commonwealth. Men of his attainments and energy, and with his conscientious view of public duty, are scarce, and that he should have been called away at such an early age is a matter for profound regret. He was a lovable man with many fine qualities, and we deeply feel our loss. The greatest loss, however, is that sustained by his widow and family. Senator Russell left a family of five, whose ages range from seventeen to five and a half years. Like most public men who devote themselves to the affairs of their country, he was not able to make that provision for his wife and family that people in ordinary walks of life, as a rule, are able to make. That is one of the penalties which the wives and families of public men have to pay for the services which their husbands and fathers render to their country. I am sure honorable senators will join with me in passing this motion, expressing the sympathy of the Senate with the widow and family of the deceased gentleman.

Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Australia

– It is with feelings of sadness that 1 rise to second the motion moved by the right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce). I met Senator Russell for the first time, many years ago, in Fremantle. He was then in his early twenties, and he and I were elected to this chamber on the same day, namely, the 12th December, 1906. From that time until his death, at an age when most men are considered to be in the very noontide of vigor, our relations, personally, socially and politically, were of the best. I agree with the mover of the motion that the onerous duties that fell upon the shoulders of the late Senator Russell during the years when he was a Minister undoubtedly hastened his demise. As one who knew him intimately, I can say that he was a man of lovable disposition - a lovable character - and I am. voicing the sentiments of honorable senators on this side of the chamber in declaring that by his death Australia has lost a man whom it could ill spare. I knew him, also, as a loving husband and affectionate father. To his widow and children we, on this side, offer our sincere sympathy in their great loss.

It is rather remarkable that, during the life of this Parliament, the Grim Reaper has called away six members of this chamber - three, Mr. President, from the ranks of honorable senators on your right, Senator E. D. Millen, Senator Bakhap, and Senator Russell, and three from the ranks of those on your left - Senator Barker, Senator McDougall, and Senator Power. Their deaths, while in the service of their country, prove conclusively that the work of a member of Parliament, in the sincere and honest discharge of his public duties, is exceedingly arduous, and exacts a heavy toll. I join with honorable senators generally in expressing sincere sorrow at the death of Senator Russell, and in tendering heartfelt sympathy to his widow and family.

Senator HANNAN:

.- I join with the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) in their expressions of regret at the death of Senator Edward John Russell, and I wish to associate myself with their expressions of sympathy for the members of his family. Many years ago the late Senator Russell and I were members of a society in this State, and we each had a place in the debating teams chosen from its different branches. At that time the late honorable senator was looked upon by us as the boy orator of Victoria. Later he and I were thrown together as members of the same political party, and I took an enthusiastic and active part in his firstelection campaign, when he contested the Prahran seat in the Legislative Assembly against Mr. Donald Mackinnon. On that occasion, however, he was unsuccessful. I continued to follow his industrial and political career, and of no man was I prouder. I was closely associated with him and his family, and always entertained for , him the highest regard. The whirligig of time brought about its changes, and although, politically, we have differed in later years, my personal regard for the late honorable senator remained unaltered to the end. I endorse the sentiments that have been expressed by Senator Pearce and Senator Needham, and trust that Parliament will not overlook the services which the late honorable senator rendered to his country.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens:

– Before submitting the motion, I should like to declare, on my own behalf as well as on behalf of the Senate generally, the great sorrow that we feel at the untimely death of the late Senator Russell. Throughout his membership of the Senate - and for most of the time he occupied a very prominent and conspicuous position in it - I was closely associated with him, and always regarded him as a valued and loyal colleague, as well as a most genial and lovable companion. As the Leader of the Senate has stated, he was exceedingly conscientious in the discharge of his duties. I had frequent opportunities of observing the manner in which, in his Ministerial capacity, he handled the large number of bills that, especially towards the end of each session, it was his duty to pilot through the Senate. I know that, even after lengthy sittings, he was obliged to devote many hours to the study of those measures, and with such a knowledge, one could come to no other conclusion than that the great volume of work which he had to undertake, and his extreme devotion to duty, materially hastened his untimely end. I join with Senator Hannan in expressing the hope that the Government and the Parliament will recognize the obligation of the Commonwealth to the late honorable senator’s widow and family. It is within my knowledge that they have not been left as fully provided for as they would have been if Senator Russell, instead of devoting himself to the service of his country, had been content to throw all his energies into private enterprise. To us his death is a very great personal loss, but it will be most keenly felt by his widow and his family, some of whom, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate has said, are young and helpless. It is to them that our sympathy and condolence are due. I am sure that I speak for every honorable senator when I say that they have that sympathy to the fullest possible extent.

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


– I shall take steps to convey in proper form to the widow and family of the late honorable senator the resolution just passed by the Senate.


Senator PEARCE:
Minister for Home and Territories · Western Australia · NAT

– As a mark of respect to the late honorable senator,I move -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned lit 3.16 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 August 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.