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Wednesday, 10 May 1939

Mr PRICE (Boothby) . -I have heard with pleasure the eulogies which have been paid by honorable members to my friend the late Prime Minister, particularly by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Leader of the Country party (Sir Earle Page), and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), each of whom admitted that the late Mr. Lyons was a sincere man who endeavoured to do his best for Australia. I happened to be very closely associated with Mr. Lyons from the day on which he entered this Parliament in 1929 until he formed a little party known as the Independent Australia party, of which he was first president, and I the first secretary. I believe that the steps that were taken by that party, particularly in respect of the monetary policy of Australia, have since proved of untold benefit to Australia. After a few months this party formed the United Australia party with Mr. Lyons as leader and myself secretary. Notwithstanding my high regard for the services which the late Mr. Lyons rendered to this country, however, I am not convinced that the proposals now advanced by the Government to provide for his widow and family are the most appropriate that this Parliament could adopt. I would prefer that the people of Australia should be given an opportunity to subscribe to a public fund in recognition of the late Prime Minister's services, such fund to be handed over to his widow and family. I object to the hasty manner in which Sir Earle Page dealt with this matter when he was Prime Minister. I am not a wealthy man, but I would be prepared to subscribe generously to a fund of the kind I suggest, and, I believe, thousands of Australians would do likewise. I do not believe in the principle of taking the money from Commonwealth Revenue. A far greater sum would be secured by public subscription than is represented by these annuities. I shall vote in favour of the proposal that a committee be appointed to investigate this matter, because I believe that a better course can be adopted. Already the Government has , indicated that it intends to move for the amendment of the bill in a certain direction, but I believe that other amendments also are desirable. I appreciate the great service rendered to Australia by the late Prime Minister and also his widow, Dame Enid Lyons; but that does not justify us in dealing with this subject hurriedly. If the whole matter were considered on a non-party basis by a small committee perhaps other methods could be suggested.

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