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Wednesday, 17 May 1939


Mr BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) . - Honorable members will have great difficulty in justifying opposition to this proposal of the Government on behalf of Dame Enid and her children. We have to deal with cases as we find them. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat (Mr. James) has referred to soldiers' pensions, whilst other honorable members have referred to ordinary pensions. The honorable member for Hunter did not mention the fact that the pension granted to the widow of a general who was killed at the war was considerably greater than that of the widow of an ordinary private. We must agree that the considerations which arise in the case of a Prime Minister are greater than those encountered in the case of ordinary members. We are now dealing with the case of a Prime Minister - the first citizen of the Commonwealth - who died in harness. It is indisputable that the duties of his office were the cause df his death. It is for this nation to say whether or not it is prepared to contribute to the support of his widow and children in recognition of what he and Dame Enid have done for it. Quite apart from the debt which this country owes to the late Prime Minister, I believe that it is also considerably indebted to his widow and children. The duties which devolved upon Dame Enid during two visits to Great Britain, Europe and the United States of America, together with those which she undertook in Australia, caused a breakdown of her health and paved the way to the illness from which .she is now suffering. During her absence from this country, and afterwards, the elder girls of the family had to act as mother and housekeeper for the younger members in two homes, one in Tasmania and the other in Canberra. They were thus unable to associate with their schoolmates or to prepare themselves for a commercial or professional life. We owe to them at least that which the Government proposes to provide, in order that they and the younger members of the family may be enabled to fit themselves to take their rightful place in the community.

During his period of office, as honorable members well know, the late Prime Minister was jibed on more than one occasion with having served his masters, the financial institutions. His family should regard as the greatest honour the fact that at his death he left, according to the official statement, no more than £100. This proves that at no time did he accept for his services anything beyond the small remuneration provided for the occupant of the office that he held. His family must feel proud to know that he followed a straight hours( in the interests of the community, being actuated only by his desire to serve. I feel sure that every citizen of this Commonwealth will join in expressing appreciation of his services in the words, " Well done, thou good and faithful servant."







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