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Tuesday, 7 May 1985
Page: 1412


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —I should like to pay my personal tribute to the widow and two sons of Sir Percy Spender. I was privileged to know him for just on 40 years. Incredibly now, it appears that he was 47 years of age in 1945, when I came to know him. By then he had already written a large chapter in Australian history. By then he had achieved the dignity of a King's Counsel and also had been a member of Parliament since 1937. He was a member of the War Cabinet from 1939 to 1940. He was a member of the Advisory War Council throughout the war years from 1940 to 1945. He was a member of the Sydney University Senate from 1939 to 1944. Not a bad record of achievement up to that point. When I came to know him I found him to be a man of a very articulate turn of phrase, a man with a great knowledge not only of the law but also of Australia and Australian politics, and a very keen observer of the world scene. Following the election of the Menzies Government he was a member of the Menzies Cabinet and served in a number of portfolios.

Sir Percy Spender was Ambassador to the United States of America, and I recall very well just how respected he was in that function. It has been said by previous speakers that he is perhaps best remembered as the main architect of the ANZUS Treaty. I remember those years very well indeed. In 1951 he was the Australian representative at the ANZUS negotiations, and indeed at the signing of the Treaty in San Francisco. He attended the inaugural meeting of ANZUS in Honolulu in 1952. He was a member of the International Court of Justice at The Hague for something like nine years-from 1958 to 1967. For almost four of those years-from 1964 to 1967-he was the President of the International Court of Justice. That in itself was a great tribute not only to him but also to Australia because he wore that presidency with merit. He discharged his job with great dignity and with great legal ability.

Sir Percy Spender's life spanned a great part of Australia's history-almost 50 years in public life, from the late Depression years, in an active way in the war years, through the post-war years, to the peace treaty with Japan, the making of the ANZUS Treaty, and the setting up of a concept of an international court of justice. To all of those areas he brought an attitude of mind, a skill, a great knowledge, which helped to write the pages of history for Australia. He was supported in those earlier years by his wife Jean, who made a great contribution to his work. She also was distinguished as a writer. Sir Percy Spender is succeeded here by his son John, who is a lawyer and a Queen's Counsel. I simply rise to say that the man I knew was certainly, in all that he did, a great Australian, a man recognised overseas as a great ambassador for Australia. We are the richer for his journey, and we pay tribute to his family.

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