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Thursday, 21 February 1985
Page: 22


Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition) —The Opposition joins with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Button) and other Government senators in supporting this motion. Sir William McKell made a remarkable contribution to Australia over a very long life in a range of ways. I suppose that in an era when the position of Australian youth is under considerable scrutiny and when there is a lot of concern about the future of many young Australians, it is worth looking back on the life of Sir William McKell and seeing that in a way he represented what we would hope Australia would be for all its citizens. He was a man who had left school when he was 13, who took on an apprenticeship and different forms of studies and who was admitted to the Bar and became a Queen's Counsel. He served in many different ways. He was a very great success in many different ways.

He left a lot of political monuments. I understand that he established the State Housing Commission, the University of New South Wales and the Kosciusko National Park. I suppose they are all institutions which are likely to be with us for a very long time. As I understand it, it is quite true that his appointment as Governor-General in 1947 was attacked. It is perhaps also true that the attitude of his Labor colleagues was not quite as charitable in 1951 when he acceded to the request for a double dissolution which was made by the then Prime Minister. Perhaps that also is a useful reminder to us that the contentious matters of any particular year look less contentious in retrospect and perhaps there is some evening out in these matters.

My only personal contact with the late Sir William McKell really was quite indirect; we shared a common car driver in Sydney-Mr Andrew Donaghey. He expressed the greatest devotion to Sir William McKell. I really feel I got to know Sir William quite well through Andrew Donaghey, including the various periods of illness Sir William had over the last few years. The affection that that man expressed for Sir William McKell is, I suspect, the sort of respect Sir William McKell would have wished to have from the Australians he served. The Opposition expresses to the family of Sir William McKell its respect for him and its wholehearted support for the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in this place.