14 March 1944

17th Parliament · 1st Session

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Senator KEANE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Victoria1 · ALP

– Honorable senators will have read with deep regret of the death, at Burnie, Tasmania, on the 5th March, of the Honorable Sir George John Bell, K.C.M.G., a former member of the House of Representatives, who for some years held the high office of Speaker. The late Sir George Bell was elected to the House of Representatives for the division of Darwin at the general elections in 1919, and was re-elected as the representative of that division at the general elections in 1925, and at all subsequent elections to 1940. He was Chairman of Committees from February, 1932, to August, 1934, became Speaker in October, 1934, a position which he held till August, 1940, and retired from parliamentary activities in September last. The deceased gentleman had a long and distinguished career as a soldier, having served as a captain in the South African War from 1899 io 1902. He was mentioned in despatches, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, the Queen’s Medal with six clasps, and the King’s Medal with two clasps. In the last war he was appointed a lieutenant in the Third Light Horse Regiment, and after embarking in October, 1914, served in Gallipoli, Egypt, Sinai, and with the Camel Corps in Palestine. He was made a Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George for distinguished services in the field in 1917, having taken part in the capture of Jerusalem. ‘In June, 19.17, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and was again mentioned in despatches. After his return to Australia in 1919, lie commanded the Third Regiment of Light Horse in Tasmania, from 1920 to 1927. In 1941 lie was created a .Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George. The Commonwealth

Government accorded the deceased a State funeral. I move -

That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Sir George John Bell, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D., a former member of the House of Representatives for the division of Darwin, Tasmania, and Speaker of the House, places om . record ils appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and extends its sincere sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.

Senator McLEAY:

– I second the motion. The brilliant record of the late Sir George Bell and our recent association with him in this Parliament are fresh in our memories. We all appreciate the valuable services rendered by him to his country as a soldier, as a Member of Parliament, and as a former Speaker of the House’ of Representatives, We also admired him as a man and recognized hia great strength of character and determination which made him respected by all. sections of the community. On behalf of the Opposition I join with the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) in expressing to the widow and family and the other relatives of tha deceased our deep sympathy in their irreparable loss.

Senator COOPER (Queensland).The members of the . Australian Country party ‘ in the Senate desire to be associated with the motion. The passing of the late Sir George Bell is deeply regretted. He was a staunch and loyal friend. As has been mentioned by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane), the deceased had a distinguished military career, and served in both the South African War and the last war, in which he rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. On his return to Australia he gave over twenty years’ service to the public and after many years as a member of the House of Representatives attained the high and distinguished office of Speaker. Men of his character set a high standard in public life that provides an example for others to emulate. To the widow and family we tender our deepest sympathy.

Senator SAMPSON:

– It is with feelings of deep regret and sorrow that I pay a tribute to my dear old friend and comrade in arms, the late Sir George Bell. I had known him for well over 40 years and was closely associated with him on the Gallipoli Peninsula in the operations at Pope’s Hill and Quinn’s Post, and when the Australian Light Horse, leaving their horses in Egypt, came to Gallipoli to reinforce us early in May, 1915. The splendid record of Sir George Bell - it is one of which any man should be proud - is included in the official history of the Australian Imperial Force in the Palestine campaign. He was a great soldier, staunch and determined, always justand fair to his men, but hard on the slacker. I was also associated with him very closely in the Australian Military Forces after the last war, and I always found him to possess the same characteristics as were displayed by him in earlier years. I have a sense of personal loss at the passingof this great Australian. I support the motion expressing sympathy to his widow, sons and daughters in their sorrow.


– I support the motion now before the Senate. It was my great privilege to know the late Sir George Bell for many years. One has exceptional opportunities of appreciating the qualities of a man if he happens to be one’s travelling companion, and I became intimately acquainted with the deceased gentleman during many journeys between Tasmania and the mainland, first when the Commonwealth Parliament met in Melbourne and later in Canberra. The late Sir George Bell was a man of great courage and a keen advocate of the principles which he believed to be right. Many years ago he tookup an area of bush country in Tasmania and converted a dense myrtle forest into a splendid farm on which he built abeautiful home. As in his civil life, so also in his military career, he displayed a strong determination to succeed. We know from those who served with him the great regard that they had for him as a soldier. From his place in this Parliament, too, he fought for these things which he believed to be right. He was ever active in the interests of Tasmania and his efforts on behalf of that State met with considerable success. That he was highly esteemed by those among whom he lived was made clear by the tribute paid to his memory by residents of the district on the occasion of his funeral. Within the last few weeks, similar motions have been carried in connexion with the death of several public men who served their country well ; among them were three former members of this Parliament who represented Tasmania. Truly, it canbe said that time marches on. I join with other honorable senators in extending sympathy to the widow and family of the deceased gentleman.

Senator J B HAYES:

– I join with other honorable senators in paying tribute to the memory of the late Sir George Bell. The deceased gentleman will be missed by a large circle of friends and admirers. As Senator Herbert Hays has said, he was a pioneer farmer who converted the virgin hush into productive farm-land. The late Sir George Bell was not only a good farmer; he was also a good citizen, as the residents of Burnie, where he spent the last years of his life, can testify. The decorations which he wore, and the honours which were conferred upon him for his war services, are evidence of his ability as a soldier. In the performance of his parliamentary duties he set an example to all other honorable members; for his outstandingqualities he was elevated to the highest post in the gift of the House of which he was a member, when he was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. I tender my sincere sympathy to his widow and family.

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

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Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendment madeby the Senate in this bill.

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Assent to the following bills reported : -

Goal Production (War-time) Bill 1944.

Coal Mines Profits (War-time) Bill 1944.

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– I have received from Mrs. Cunningham a letter of thanks for the resolution of sympathy and condolence passed by the Senate on the occasion ofthe death of Senator the Honorable James Cunningham.

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Motion (by Senator Keane) agreed to-

That, as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Sir George Bell, the Senate do now adjourn.

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The following papers were pre sented : -

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 7 of 1944 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.

National Security Act -

National Security (Agricultural Aids) Regulations -

Orders -

Bran and pollard (Restriction of sales).

Rotenone materials.

National Security (Aliens Control) Regu lations - Order - Aliens (Queensland Curfew).

National Security (Egg Industry) Regulations - Order - Egg industry (No. 9).

National Security (Food Control) Regulations - Order - No. 6.

National Security (General) Regulations -

Orders -

Control of -

Cleaning agents. (No. 2).

Manufacture of glass (No. 2).

Navigation (Control of public traffic) (No. 2).

Prohibited place.

Radio broadcast receivers (No. 2)..

Taking possession of land,&c. (79).

Use of land (7).

Orders by State Premiers -

New South Wales (No. 44).

Victoria (No. 65).

National Security (Internment Camps) Regulations - Order - Classification of overseas interned (No. 2).

National Security (Man Power) Regulations - Orders -

Employer’s return in respect of shearing labour, &c.

Protected undertakings (33).

National Security (Prisoners of War)

Regulations - Order - Prisoners of War Camp (No. 13).

National Security (Shearing of Sheep) Regulations - Order - Exemption.

National Security (Supplementary) RegulationsOrders by State Premier - Queensland (2 - dated 1st December, 1943, and 10thFebruary, 1944).

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, Nos. 43, 44, 45.

Women’s Employment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1944, No. 42.

Senate adjourned at 3.14 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 March 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.