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Tuesday, 18 October 1983
Page: 1805


Mr PEACOCK (Leader of the Opposition) —The Opposition supports the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and wishes also to express its very great sympathy to Sir Howard Beale's family on his death. The Prime Minister has already reminded the House that in his 85 years Sir Howard led a very distinguished life in the service of the law, the Parliament and his country. The Liberal Party in particular owes him a very great debt. After practice at the New South Wales Bar and service in the Royal Australian Navy during the Second World War, Sir Howard joined the Liberal Party soon after it was founded by Sir Robert Menzies. He was a delegate to the first New South Wales Liberal Party State Council and a member of the first State Executive. He was elected to the Federal seat of Parramatta in 1946 which he held until his resignation from the Parliament in 1958. Sir Howard was a Cabinet Minister in sucessive Menzies governments, serving as Minister for Supply from 1950 to 1958. During that time he presided over the development of Australia's defence production facilities and weapons research capabilities. Other portfolios included Defence Production, Information, and Transport and acting periods in Immigration, National Development, and Defence.

Throughout his political career Sir Howard maintained an active interest in international affairs. Between 1958 and 1964 Sir Howard served as Australian Ambassador to Washington, a period which saw the cementing of Australia's relations with the United States. He performed his role as Ambassador with the same skill and flair that he brought to politics. He was certainly able to claim a close association with the Administration of the time, particularly that of President Kennedy, and I know from contacts with those associated with that Administration the high regard in which he was held. I also recall from my early days as Foreign Minister discussions with the then permanent head of the Department of Foreign affairs, Mr Alan Renouf, as to the value of political appointments to diplomatic posts and how highly Mr Renouf spoke of Sir Howard's work in the United States. It, of course, is attested to by the cementing of the relationship between our two countries while he was there.

On his return to Australia, Sir Howard continued his active involvement in public life. The Prime Minister has referred to the fact that from 1965 to 1968 he was President of the Arts Council of Australia. He held visiting lectureships and received honourary degrees from a number of American universities. Of course , he held directorships of several Australian companies. Until very recently Sir Howard was a respected commentator and contributor on public affairs to journals and newspapers. Sir Howard published his memoirs This Inch of Time in 1977 which are an informative and entertaining account of his times in politics and diplomacy. Indeed, the Prime Minister has quoted extracts similar to those which I have before me. He was knighted in 1962. Sir Howard was a noted speaker and parliamentarian, an extremely competent Minister and a very gifted representative of Australia.

As I said earlier, the Liberal Party in particular owes Sir Howard Beale a debt of gratitude. His loyalty and dedication to the Party will long be remembered. To Lady Beale and to Julian, who now lives in Melbourne and whom I know, like and respect, I extend my very heartfelt sympathy, and on behalf of the Opposition I indicate our support for the motion admirably moved by the Prime Minister.