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Tuesday, 7 March 1961


Mr McEWEN (Murray) (Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade) . - A little over a month ago, honorable members were all deeply grieved to learn of the sudden death of the Governor-General, Viscount Dunrossil. He had just completed twelve months as Governor-General of the Commonwealth. Lord Dunrossil is the only Governor-General to have died in office. He was a man of great distinction and immense experience, whose qualities and character were always apparent. His passing is all the more regrettable because his term as Governor-General promised to be amongst the most illustrious.

Lord Dunrossil came to Australia with an exceptionally wide background of public service and with a fund of experience and knowledge which made him a happy and successful choice as the chief executive of the Commonwealth. A Scot by birth, he served with distinction in the First World War, was wounded in action and decorated for bravery. He later read for the bar and was called to the Inner Temple in 1923. He took silk in 1934 and became a member of the governing council of the Inns of Court in 1951. He was created a Privy Counsellor in 1936.

William Shepherd Morrison was a member of the House of Commons for some 30 years, including many years of stress and of war. He served in various ministerial offices in United Kingdom governments and played his part in the United Kingdom mobilization for the Second World War. Our late Governor-General served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1951 until 1959 and many of us in this chamber had the privilege of witnessing his distinguished conduct in that high office. He will certainly be remembered as one of the great Speakers of the House of Commons. He was created Viscount Dunrossil in 1959.

It was with that background that this very able, good and cheerful man came to us as Governor-General, and it is in that capacity as the representative of Her Majesty in Australia that we remember him now. Lord Dunrossil, by his strength of character, his good humour, his kindness, his consideration for others and his wisdom, won the respect and affection of all Australians who met him and of the people at large. However, just as we were getting to know him well, this good man was taken from us. Lord Dunrossil was a delightful person, a thoughtful and cultured man and a sincere and conscientious Christian gentleman. He was a true Scot with a dry humour that will be well remembered by the many friends he made in his long and distinguished career.

As Governor-General, he carried out his duties with dignity and forcefulness of purpose and in the fine tradition of those who had preceded him. During his short term as Governor-General, he and his wife visited all the States, the Northern Territory and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Lord Dunrossil was determined to get to know this country and to meet its people. I am sure he succeeded in doing that. It is a tribute to him that during this brief period he became known and respected everywhere - in the big cities, in the country centres and certainly in the outback. Lord Dunrossil gave us a wise leadership and displayed a great understanding of, and sympathy with, this country and its Territories.

To-day I pay tribute to Viscountess Dunrossil also. As wife of the GovernorGeneral, she served this country well and was a source of inspiration and encouragement to her husband. We are grateful to her and we remember, in particular, the readiness with which she assumed her husband's public duties when he was indisposed. We will never forget her courage and her great dignity at the time of her bereavement. She will always remain deep in our affection.

William Shepherd Morrison had been a close and valued friend of our Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for many years. The Prime Minister is not with us to-day, but he has asked me to associate him with my remarks and with the resolution that I shall shortly propose.

Tributes to our late Governor-General have come from every quarter of the Commonwealth and from his former friends and associates in the United Kingdom. This is, however, the first opportunity this Parliament has had to 'honour his memory, and it is fitting on this opening day of the session that we should record formally the feelings of this House. Our loss is felt personally by all of us. I move -

That this House records its profound regret at the death of His Excellency the Governor-General, the Right Honorable Viscount Dunrossil, P.C., G.C.M.G., M.C., K.St.J., Q.C., and expresses its deep sympathy to Viscountess Dunrossil and family in their sad bereavement.







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