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Thursday, 21 February 1985
Page: 24


Senator PETER RAE —Major-General Robert Hurley Wordsworth was a senator from 1950 to 1959. 'Wordy', as he was known to many of those who knew him in his later years, earned two mentions in dispatches as well as a CB and a CBE during his long period of service in both the Australian Imperial Force and the Indian Army. He was born at Collarenebri in New South Wales in 1894 and died last year in November, a resident of Longford in Tasmania, at the age of 90. He is survived by his widow, a son and a daughter.

It would be true to say that he had both a long and a distinguished career in Australia, as soldier, farmer, parliamentarian and civil administrator. He joined the AIF at the outbreak of war in August 1914 and embarked for the Middle East in September that year. He spent his twenty-first birthday at Gallipoli. In Egypt he served with the Light Horse and participated in the Battle of Beersheba, which saw the world's last great mounted charge. He later transferred to the Indian Army and served in, among other places, Afghanistan. In the Second World War he served in the Middle East in Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon as a major-general in the Armoured Corps, and received significant acknowledgment of his services, having been mentioned twice in dispatches and having been awarded the CB and CBE. He retired to Tasmania in 1947 on the independence of India, and in 1949 was elected to this chamber as a representative of the State of Tasmania. Perhaps as would be expected with such a background, he became known in this place for his interest, expertise and contributions on foreign affairs and defence. He was notable for looking after the interests of returned servicemen, and in the sphere of international relations, especially in South and South East Asia, he was one of the first parliamentarians to warn of Soviet ambitions in South East Asia.

Major-General Wordsworth was involved in and concerned with the development of the Colombo Plan. He laid great stress on the interdependence of the West's defences against the Soviet Union, and it may be regarded as of some significance that he was a great supporter of the importance of ANZUS. He did not at any time forget that he was a representative of Tasmania and put that State's economic interests well to the fore. He was a keen advocate of shipping and was aware of the problems of the timber industry. In 1959 he retired, again to farming, and in 1961 was elected President of the Liberal Party in Tasmania. He served in that capacity until appointed in 1962 as Administrator of Norfolk Island. Later he came home again to Tasmania and ultimately retired to Longford where he lived quietly, proudly watching his son David enter farming and, later, a political career in Western Australia, where he has been a Liberal MLC since 1971 and was a Minister from 1977 to 1982. David Wordsworth also served the party organisation in both Tasmania and Western Australia.

Major-General Wordsworth's widow, Mrs Wordsworth, still lives at Longford and I am sure that all honourable senators will join me in expressing our condolences to our former colleague's widow and to his daughter and son. I believe that Australia has every reason to be proud of the public service given by this very distinguished Australian citizen. A man of courage, a man of foresight, a man of determination, a man of public spirit, he left his mark on this country.