12 February 1952

20th Parliament · 1st Session

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

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Minister for Trade and Customs · QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs · LP

– I move thatthefollowing resolution be transmitted through His Excellency the Governor-General to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeththe Second : -

We, the members of the Senate in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, express our gratitude for the devoted life and service of our late sovereign, King George VI., whose death we mourn. We extend our profound and moat loving sympathy to your Majesty, whose loyal subjects we now are, and to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the other members of the Royal family.

Honorable senators will have heard, with profound regret, of the tragic passing of our late beloved Sovereign. Australians’ first personal contact with

King George VI. was when he and the Queen as Duke and Duchess of York came here for the opening of the first meeting of the Commonwealth Parliament in Canberra. It was in this very Senate chamber that he delivered his own address of congratulation and encouragement and read to those assembled here a touching message from his illustrious father. That was in 1927. We still cherish an affectionate and abiding memory of that young and gracious couple. In the closing days of 1936 he was suddenly called to the Throne, an honour not of his own seeking, and a responsibility for which he had not, in the scheme of things, been specially trained. The superb manner in which he discharged his royal duties is not only now a fact of history, but also a matter of affectionate gratitude in the hearts of his subjects the world over. Our late King, in his personal and family life, was a model Christian gentleman. In a day and age in which moral standards are being challenged and the significance and importance of home and family life as the very foundation of society is being less clearly recognized, our late King, as a husband and father, set a simple yet inspiring example. As King and ruler of his people, George VI. followed faithfully the constitutional course set by his illustrious father. During the darkest days of World War II., when we faced alone what seemed the irresistible forces of evil, the King stood by and remained with his people. Even though his own residence was bombed, the flag still waved over Buckingham Palace, a silent but inspiring reminder to his people that the King was sharing their travail with them. In this devotion to bis people he was the main author and inspiration of that spirit of solidarity and unity which enabled us to survive. In the common sorrow we all experience to-day we must have forced upon us a better and deeper appreciation of the fact that in days of crisis and in essentials we are one people. In spite of the turbulent vicissitudes which the world has experienced in recent years, it is undoubted that never in its varied and ancient history has the person and throne of our royalty been more deeply and securely enshrined in the hearts of the British people the world over. I feel that it would not be inappropriate to remind the Senate of the words used by the late King in his 1939 Christmas broadcast to his people -

I said to the man at the gate of the year: “ Give me light that I may tread safely into the unknown “, and he replied : “ Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God; that shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way “.

He has now gone to meet his God - the God he worshipped with constancy and devotion - and those who mourn him may derive consolation from a humble confidence that his hand is in the hand of God.

Our sympathy goes out to Queen Elizabeth - now the Queen Mother. That gracious lady will enjoy an abiding place in the hearts of the British people wherever they may be.

To Queen Elizabeth the Second our hearts go out in loving sympathy. At the one time she suffers the loss of a much loved and devoted father, and has thrust upon her youthful shoulders the tremendous responsibility inherent in British Royalty. I am sure that it is the wish and belief of us all that, inspired by the noble example of her father and sustained by her own deep faith and the prayers of her subjects she shall enjoy a long, happy and fruitful reign.

Senator McKENNA:
TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition

– On behalf of all of the members of Her Majesty’s Opposition in the Senate I second the motion. We adopt and endorse every word of the eloquent tribute paid by the Minister for Trade and Customs ( Senator O’Sullivan) to the memory of His late Majesty, King George VI. On the 6th February last, four simple English words, none of more than four letters, sped through the British Commonwealth : “ The King is dead “. Their effect was desolation. Those words halted and shocked millions upon millions of individuals in every part of the world. The King’s untimely passing brought to each one of those millions a sense of loss and sadness that was profound and is abiding. This flowed less from the fact that the holder of the great office of constitutional monarch had passed away than from the personal qualities that the King brought to bear in the discharge of his great responsibilities. The nobility of King George VI. was something independent of his rank or station. He coupled the quiet graces of a Christian family man with outstanding qualities of simplicity and strength. These are the qualities that brought to him and to his office a sure respect which is the necessary foundation for the affection which flowed to him from all over the world. His deep courage, his steadfastness and his strict devotion to duty won him universal admiration. His life has had a profound effect for good upon the manners and morals of his time. It shines as a beacon light in an unstable world where so many have lost their way. This is the King whose death we mourn.

To the members of theRoyal Family we, of the Opposition, express our heartfelt sympathy. We trust that they will be given the strength to bear their great burden of sorrow. Especially do we grieve for those of them whom we were favoured to know in Australia - the Queen Mother, who, as the. Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) has reminded us, was with the late King at the opening of this Parliament House in 1927; the Duke of Gloucester, our former Governor-General, and the Duchess of Gloucester; and the Duke of Windsor, who visited us as Prince of Wales, and whose position to-day is one of particular poignancy. On no one did the blow of the King’s death fall more heavily than upon Queen Elizabeth the Second. The suddenness of that event during her absence abroad, the long journey home to her bereaved family and the vast responsibilities that awaited her return, combined to make one of history’s greatest ordeals. We remember the Queen in a special way, and express to her such consolation as we may offer, together with our affectionate loyalty. The Queen brings to the throne youth, beauty, graciousness and all the admirable qualities of her parents. May her reign be long and happy. On behalf of the Opposition I pray that God will he merciful to the King. God Save the Queen.

Senator COOPER:
Minister for Repatriation · Queensland · CP

– On behalf of the Australian Country party, I support the motion that has been moved by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). The late King George VI. endeared him- self to his subjects, not only by his steadfast devotion to his kingly task, but also by the loving sympathy and understanding that he extended to all of his peoples. He was an English gentleman in every sense of the word. It has been said that the greatest and most important factor in human understanding is contained in the family life. No greater example of this can be found than in the family life of his late Majesty. It is with special significance, therefore, that we extend our heartfelt sympathy to Queen Elizabeth the Second, the Queen Mother, the Dowager Queen Mother, and to all the members of the Royal Family.

The accession to the throne of a queen bearing the name of Elizabeth impels me to turn back the pages of British history to the stirring days when the first Elizabeth was the reigning monarch. It was a period of history to which Britons can look back with pride- a period of achievement, of getting things done and of lusty, energetic, progress. Shortly before her death in 1603, Queen Elizabeth I, in addressing members of the House of Commons, used these words -

I have ever used to set the last judgment day before mine eyes, and so to rule as I shallbe judged to answer before a higher judge, to whose judgment seat I do appeal, that never thought was cherished in my heart that tended not to my people’s good. Though you have had. and may have, many princes more mighty and wise, sitting in this seat, yet you never hadany that will be more careful and loving.

Those words, spoken 350 years ago, are true in every respect of our late beloved Majesty, King George VI.

Speaking of the new Queen Elizabeth, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said -

With God’s help, we are resolved to do all that we may to make her reign as rich and kind and good and memorable as that of her illustrious father.

We subscribe to that pledge in expressing our sympathy and loyalty to Queen Elizabeth the Second.

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

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Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan agreed to -

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Tuesday, the 20th February, at 3 p.m.

Senate adjourned at 3.16 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 February 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.