25 March 1931

12th Parliament · 1st Session

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

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– It is with deep regret that I have to inform the Senate that.I have received from Mrs. H. E. Elliott telegraphic advice of the death ofher husband. Senator Harold Edward Elliott, which occurred on the 23rd March. On behalf of honorable senators, I have conveyed to Mrs. Elliott an expression of deep sympathy pending the more formal resolution of the Senate.

Senator BARNES:
VicePresident of the Executive Council · Victoria · ALP

by leave- I move -

That the -Senate expresses its sincere regret at the death of Senator Major-General Harold Edward Elliott, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M., V.D., places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their sad bereavement.

SenatorH. E. Elliott, who was not only a very distinguished soldier, but also eminent in other respects, was better known to his soldier comrades in this chamber than to myself. I knew him well enough, however, to appreciate his always modest demeanour and his friendly nature. He had almost completed his second term of office as a senator, having been first elected to this chamber in 1919; but his public service commenced much earlier, when he served in the BoerWar. Although he had adopted the law as a profession, his keenest interests were in military pursuits, and as a soldier he had a notable career, to which the rank he obtained and the decorations he was awarded bear witness. Of his many military virtues the outstanding one was that, although unmindful of danger to himself, he was always most careful for the safety of the men under his command.

Among the many stories I have heard of the late honorable senator as a soldier, one that appealed to me most as being characteristic of the man, was that told by a man who served under him on Gallipoli. One day, the story rune, General Elliott was missing. Scouts were sent in search, and found him making personal observations of the enemy’s position, utterly regardless of the shells that were dropping around him. The enemy fire did not disturb him in the least. He did not turn a hair. He was walking about as unconcernedly as one might walk about Canberra. All his comrades in arms agree that he was absolutely fearless.

I keenly regret Senator H. E. Elliott’s death, and I know that I am expressing the sentiments of all honorable senators when I voice our sorrow for his widow and family in their bereavement. His record of public service has already gone down to history, and no words of mine could enhance that record.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) [3.6]. - It is with great sorrow that I rise to support the motion. Senator H. E. Elliott had a distinguished public and military career, and I am sure that honorable senators generally, and particularly those of us who were his comrades in the recent war, feel keenly his death. In the public life of this country we knew him as a man of strong convictions, and, although we might not always agree with him, we at least admired the tenacity with which he held to his views and the determination with which he advocated them. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes) has said, he had a notable public career, but it will be because of his wonderful record as a soldier that he will be be3t remembered. As a young man he distinguished himself in the South African campaign, and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and mentioned in despatches. After the conclusion of that war he continued his study of military science, and at the outbreak of the Great War had achieved the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was given command of the 7th Victorian Battalion, and was responsible for its training and for its operations on Gallipoli where, together with other units of the Australian Imperial Force. it did splendid service. The incident mentioned by Senator Barnes as having come under the notice of a soldier under the command of Senator H. E. Elliott was not an isolated one. Such happenings in his case were of frequent occurrence. After we returned from Gallipoli the honorable senator raised, trained, and commanded the 15th Brigade, which he took to France, and during the operations on the Yser, the Lys, and the Somme, at Poziers, at Passchendaele, and later on in the advance from Bapaume, and, towards the end of the war, in the fighting around Villers Bretonneux, and the advance on the Hindenburg line, he commanded his brigade capably and with the utmost efficiency. By reason of his strength of character he enjoyed the respect, and even the affection of those subordinate to him, and the confidence of his superiors. He was considerate to those under his command, not only when in the firing line, but also in the back areas. On several occasions it was my good fortune to act in co-operation with the late senator in operations involving very difficult problems, and there was no one with whom I could co-operate more readily. His passing removes from the public life of this country an outstanding personality - a gentleman of strong views and high character, and a great patriot. We all deeply regret his passing, and extend to his widow and family our sincere sympathy in the hope that it will tend, iri some small measure at least, to lift the cloud of sorrow from them.

Senator COX:
New South Wales

– I always regarded the late Senator H. E. Elliott as one of the finest specimens of Australian manhood with whom it had been my privilege to come in contact. He possessed strength of character and was, indeed, a brave man, absolutely devoid of fear. He was loved by every one under his command, and I feel sure that he will be very sadly missed. He was a man of whom Australia might well be proud. He was loyal to his country and to every one with whom he was associated. I join with the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Glasgow) in expressing deep sympathy with his widow and family.

Western Australia

.- On behalf of the members of the Country party in this chamber, I desire to join in the expressions of regret concerning the death of the late Harold Edward Elliott, CB., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M. The honorable senator had a very distinguished military career, and was decorated for bravery both in the South African War and the Great War. He had represented the State of Victoria in this chamber since 1919, and, in addition to being in every sense a patriotic citizen, was, as a representative of the people, always attentive to and consistent in the discharge of his duties. He was a very strong but always a fair fighter for that which he believed to be right, and fully earned the reputation he achieved as a public-spirited Australian. His qualities endeared him to those with whom he came in contact in military, as well as in civil, life. The members of the Country party in this chamber extend to his widow and family their sincere sympathy in their distress.

Senator SAMPSON:

– It is with a very sad and sorrowful heart that I stand here this afternoon behind the vacant seat of my dear comrade and true friend, the late Senator Harold Edward- Elliott. I little thought when, some ten days ago, I chatted with him at his home in Camberwell that it was the last time that I should look in his face or hear his voice. He was a true comrade, a straight, clean man, and a very gallant soldier. As an officer he was always punctilious in carrying out the first duty of any officer worthy of the name - the duty of caring for his men. He was a fine soldier, ‘brave, resolute, quick tempered and always rapidly off the mark. He had a great big heart like that of a boy. I know of many instances during the last ten years in which I have been associated with him in Australia of his abounding generosity to the men who served under him, or were members of the Australian Imperial Force, and since their return, had fallen on evil times. In fact, the late honorable senator was the personification of generosity. We have lost, by the passing of our colleague in this chamber, one whom it will be very hard to replace. We shall miss him sorely, but he has left behind him a sweet and fragrant memory. He was a great Australian. I join with others who have spoken in extending to his widow and family my sincere sympathy.

Senator DOOLEY:
Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Works and Railways · New South Wales · ALP

– I desire to associate myself with the resolution moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes). Senator H. E. Elliott was known to me personally only since I entered the Senate. I knew of his military record as a fighter, and it was not long before I discovered that he was also a fighter for thosewhom he represented in Parliament. While some of us may not have agreed with him politically we always knew that with him the political fight was over as soon as he left the chamber. That characteristic in itself endeared the late honorable senator to me, and made me regard him as a broadminded man of vision. I feel his loss sis sincerely as any other honorable senator, and sympathize with his widow and children to whom his death must have come as a great shock. With my leader, I deplore the loss which this country has sustained by the death of the honorable gentleman.

Senator McLACHLAN:
South Australia

– One cannot but feel that, in the passing of the late Senator H. E. Elliott, Australia has lost a great son ; that we have lost a valuable colleague, and thousands outside, a valued and trusted friend - a friend whose bravery could not be questioned since he was awarded that most coveted of decorations, the Croix de Guerre, by a country, the bravery of whose people is not excelled by any. It was the bravery of the gentleman whose passing we mourn to-day that I think endeared him to his fellow Australians, and particularly to those who served under him in the ranks during the Great War of 1914-18. The late honorable senator never turned aside from danger, and not only in civil life, but also in. his military career, fought for that which he thought was right with a tenacity of purpose which no one could fail to admire. This humble tribute is a fitting one to pay to a man who passed away comparatively early in life, when he had come to a degree of maturity which would have justified us in expecting much more from him in the future, in the interests of his country. No doubt his death was hastened by the tremendous strain of the great effort he made on behalf of this country and the Empire during the trying years of the war. I join with other honorable senators in expressing appreciation of the honorable senator as a soldier and a gentleman. I trust that those who survive him will find comfort in the knowledge that he was held in the highest possible respect by those who were associated with him.

Senator PAYNE:

.- I desire to add a word to the tribute paid to our departed friend. The late Senator H. E. Elliott entered this chamber when I did, some eleven years ago, and, thereafter I had the privilege of sitting very close to him. I pay my tribute to him as one of nature’s gentlemen, who had always consideration for the feelings of others. To-day, we have heard from his military friends and associates, the magnificent name he made not only for himself but for Australia during the Great War. My association withhim has been only since the termination of the war, but I can say, with all sincerity, that no man whom I have ever mot in a public capacity appealed to me more than he did.he was a patriot; a true Australian, and what is more, a true Britisher. Australia will feel his loss, and we in this chamber will miss him in the work that lies ahead. I deeply regret his passing while still a comparatively young man, and 1 join with other honorable senators in expressing sympathy with the dear ones he has left behind.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill:

– Before submitting the motion, I should like to place on record, in a few words, my deep appreciation of the late Senator H. E. Elliott, in his capacity as a member of this House. It was given to him, as it is given to few men in the brief space of 52 years, to take a most distinguished part in practically the only two wars in which the Empire was involved during his lifetime, and to achieve in those wars a reputation for bravery excelled by few, if any. I always like to think of the gentleman who has gone from among us as one who invariably saw his duty clearly before him, went directly towards it, and carried it out cureless of obstacles and fearless of criticism. It is thus that he will always dwell in my memory. Like all big and brave men, Senator H. E. Elliott possessed a very tender heart. I sympathize very deeply with his widow and children in the loss which they have sustained - a loss which is well nigh irreparable. He has gone from among us; his place will be hard to fill ; but he leaves behind a cherished memory.

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

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Senator BARNES:
VicePresident of the Executive Council · Victoria · ALP

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

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 3.23 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 March 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.