18 October 1955

21st Parliament · 1st Session

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. Jil. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Senator Nancy Buttfield


– I have to inform the Senate that, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, I notified the Lieutenant-Governor of the State of South Australia of the vacancy caused in the representation of that State in the Senate by the death of Senator the Honorable George McLeay, and I have received, through His Excellency the Governor-General, a certificate from the Lieutenant-Governor of South Australia of the choice by the Parliament of that State of Nancy Buttfield as a Senator to fill the vacancy.

Certificate laid on the table and read by the Clerk.

Senator Buttfield made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.

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Senator SPICER:
AttorneyGeneral · Victoria · LP

by leave - It is with deep regret that I inform honorable senators of the death of Geoffrey William Brown, a member of the House of Representatives, who died in Melbourne on the night of Friday last, the 14th October, at the age of 61. Mr. Brown was the member in the House of Representatives for the Division of McMillan, and he had been the member for that electorate from the time when it was formed in 1949. He was educated at Geelong Grammar School and at Cambridge University, where he graduated as a bachelor of arts. He served with the British Army throughout World War I., when he rose to the rank of captain and won the order, Member of the British Empire, while serving with the Royal West Kent Regiment. After his discharge in 1919, he joined the British civil service and was attached to the Ministry of Labour. He later spent some months in Nigeria in the Colonial service before returning to Australia. In private life Mr. Brown was a successful orchardist. He was president of the Victorian Fruit Marketing Association from 1931 to 1939, president of the Victorian Fruit Growers Council from 1947, and a director of the Red Hill Co-operative Cool Stores Association. He was keenly interested in immigration problems, and was chairman of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council.

Many of us who first became acquainted with Geoffrey Brown upon his entry into this Parliament feel that it is a great privilege to have known him and to have been numbered among his friends. You knew, as soon as you met him, that here was a man of intelligence and sound judgment, capable of nothing but the most loyal and devoted labours for any cause to which he lent his aid. The bare record of his life which I have recounted is itself eloquent testimony of years spent in unselfish service to his sovereign, his country, his fellow-men. His assumption of parliamentary responsibilities was but a natural culmination of a life devoted to public service. He brought to his work as a member of the Parliament rare qualities which can ill be spared. He has left behind in the Parliament and elsewhere many sorrowing friends and admirers whose own lives have been enriched by his acquaintance, and who mourn the passing of a true friend. We trust that our own grief, so inadequately expressed but so sincerely felt, may be some consolation to his widow and children in their said bereavement.

I move -

That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. Geoffrey William Brown, M.B.E., member of the House of Representatives for the Division of McMillan, Victoria, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.

Senator McKENNA:
Leader of the Opposition · Tasmania

– I second the motion that has been moved by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer). I do so on behalf of all members of the Opposition in this chamber. We regret exceedingly the passing of our former parliamentary colleague, Mr. Geoffrey William Brown. As the AttorneyGeneral has indicated, Mr. Brown had a moss distinguished record of public service, and during the six years he was with us in this Parliament, he earned the respect and the regard of everybody. I note that his is the fifteenth death among sitting members of this Parliament in little more than the past four years, commencing with the death of Mr. J. B. Chifley on the 13th June, 1951. It is quite true that he who embarks upon a political career walks with uncertainty, anxiety, conflict and tension in varying degrees. Some of those elements are, of course, self-inflicted. Some we inflict one on the other, but in one degree or another they are with every member of Parliament who conscientiously and earnestly devotes himself or herself to parliamentary duties. We find that political life takes a very heavy toll of those members of the Parliament who take their parliamentary duties seriously and earnestly. The strain associated with the performance of those duties quickly finds out any organic or physical weakness, and very speedily aggravates it. Having regard to those considerations. I believe that the late Geoffrey William Brown was, to a very high degree, one more political casualty. F have no doubt, that the earnestness with which he addressed himself to his task speeded hip passing from amongst us. We of the Opposition regret his passing very much. We shall miss him as an able and cheerful presence about the Parliament. We extend to the Government parties our condolences on the loss of their colleague. We subscribe fully to the terms of the motion that the Attorney-General has submitted, and all my colleagues on this side of the chamber join with me in extending our deepest sympathy to Mr. Brown’s widow and the other bereaved members of his family.

Senator COOPER:
Minister for Hepatization · Queensland · CP

– I desire to associate my colleagues of the Australian Country party and myself with the motion that has been submitted by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna). We also deeply regret the death of our friend and colleague. The late Mr. Geoffrey Brown served his country with distinction in World War I., and after a distinguished career in the civil service of the United

Kingdom, he eventually became a member of this Parliament. He was blessed with a personality that attracted and held the affection of those with whom he caine in contact. He also had the ability of making friends, not only with members of the Parliament, but also with others with whom he worked. His philosophy was to do good whenever and wherever possible, and to uplift those whom, through no fault of their own, life had treated harshly. The late Mr. Geoffrey Brown was’ one of nature’s gentlemen, and his passing will be a great loss. On behalf of my colleagues of the Australian Country party, I extend to his widow and family our very sincere sympathy in their sad bereavement.

Senator FRASER:
Western Australia

– I desire to be associated with the motion because of the fact that I knew the late Geoff. Brown for twenty years. That being so, I felt most disturbed when I heard that he had passed away. I have no doubt that the fruit-growing industry of Victoria has suffered a great loss by his passing because of the guidance, over many years, that he gave to that industry. I want to associate myself with the motion before the Senate because of the friendship that existed between us long before Mr. Brown came to this Parliament. As has rightly been said, when he came here he served very well indeed the State that he represented. A gentleman has passed away. I wish to convey to his widow and family my sincere regret at his passing. He was my friend, although we were not on the same side in politics.

Senator GORTON:

– I, too, want to say how sorry I am that Geoffrey Brown has died, as we all must die. We have heard his record here, but the record of service in the trenches in the infantry during World War I., of service on the west coast of Africa, the clearing of land for the planting of orchards in Australia, and of public service, is only the bare bones and does not show us what is, perhaps, most important in that record, which is, that in all those times, and in the face of any adversity, Geoffrey Brown was cheerful and happy and enjoyed himself. In all circumstances, he spread to those around him the same feeling of cheerfulness that he had himself.

The sorrow that I express is, perhaps, less for Geoffrey Brown than for the friends that he has left behind who will see him no more, and for the family from whom he was taken, because, after all, if a man has lived a full, adventurous and happy life, who could ask for more? Perhaps, those qualities of gentleness, and the spirit of happiness and cheerfulness which those who knew him remember so well, may linger still and be of help to those who carry on, for the moment, where he left off.

Senator WOOD:

– As the representative of the Senate on the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, I wish to pay a personal tribute to Mr. Geoffrey Brown, who, as has been mentioned, was the chairman of that council. He became chairman of the council following the death of Colonel Rupert Ryan, a former member of this Parliament, and took the chair so easily that his very agreeable manner made the meetings of the council enjoyable for every one who took part in them. I may mention that the membership of the council comprised ‘ representatives of many of the varied interests of the Commonwealth. His manner as chairman, I believe, very often induced unanimous decisions. He was invariably tactful in the chair. As an indication of his desire to serve the interests of immigration as fully as possible, I point out that, despite the fact that it was in the middle of the year that he took his first serious turn in the House of Representatives, he came across to Adelaide for the July meeting of the council, and travelled by train, because, apparently, he could not travel by air. He was determined to try to carry out his duties, and he was present at the meeting. The next meeting was held in Melbourne on Thursday and Friday last, these being the dates which he had arranged. Unfortunately, he was not able to attend, and he died during that weekend.

As Senate representative on the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, I can say that all members of that body will miss his personal cheerfulness and intelligent guidance as chairman. I endorse the sentiments expressed by previous speakers, and extend my sincere personal sympathy to his widow and family.

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

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Motion (by Senator Spicer) agreed to-

That, as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased member, the Senate do now adjourn.

Senate adjourned at 3.21 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 October 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.