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Tuesday, 7 March 1961


Mr HAROLD HOLT (HigginsTreasurer) (Treasurer) - The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has paid his public tribute to the memory of our late Governor-General, Lord Dunrossil, and, as the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has told us, has asked to be associated with this motion of condolence. It is his wish that I should also associate the members of the Liberal Party with the motion, and it is certainly the wish of my colleagues that we do so. We have been touched by the many tributes from all parts of Australia and all sections of our people which flowed in when news of the sudden and tragic death of the Governor-General came to us. This is the occasion on which the Parliament formally pays its tribute. While in a sense the motion is a formal one, it lacks nothing in sincerity from those of us who had learned to respect and admire our late GovernorGeneral. We mourn together the loss of a most able and distinguished representative of the Queen, who died amongst us while still actively performing his duties in her service.

A sense of loss is to be expected when one serving in high office is taken from us before he has had the opportunity to complete his term, but our sadness goes deeper than that. Viscount Dunrossil was not with us long in this country, but he had quickly attracted to himself the respect, the admiration and indeed the affection of the Australian people. He possessed a rare combination of qualities. He had high intellectual capacity yet a warm, easy friendliness of manner. Australians from the outset gave their typical Australian judgment of him - " He is a good bloke " - and that was the general verdict. Wherever he went he moved with a natural dignity and distinction of appearance, and his speeches, delivered in a warm, resonant Scottish voice, reflected the man and were admirably suited to their occasion.

We in the Parliament pay our tribute for ourselves and for the people of Australia whom we represent; but to Viscount Dunrossil, we as men and women in this Parliament give a special recognition as a parliament man. He was one of the most distinguished parliament men of his time. He had success as a back-bench member of Parliament and as a Minister in the Mother of Parliaments, but he crowned his work there by presiding as Speaker for more than eight years. When he left, he was acclaimed as one of the most notable in a long line of distinguished House of Commons Speakers, men who have made the Mother of Parliaments a model, moulding democratic processes throughout our Commonwealth and influencing the democratic movements of the world. When he left the Parliament, he could have rested with his honours thick upon him, or he could have continued his public service in some much less exacting post; but with a typical cheerfulness and courage, he took up the task of the Governor-Generalship of this country. He responded again to that strong sense of duty and public service which had characterized his long public life, and accepted a new and demanding assignment in the high office of Governor-General of Australia.

He was no stranger to Australia. Some of us can still remember his visiting here after the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in New Zealand in 1950. However, despite such earlier visits, it is not easy for a man who has reached the period of his retirement from one high and active office to translate himself into another country, into strange surroundings, meeting new people and accepting the obligation of long aad arduous travel. The task of representation may look easy to the casual bystander; we in this place know something of its stresses.

To-day, we add our tributes to his honoured memory. The Parliament would wish, as the Acting Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have done, to add its tribute to his lady, Viscountess Dunrossil. We were conscious from the outset of her gentle charm, but as we got to know her more closely in her hours of deepest grief, we discovered a strength of courage and a sensitive, imaginative intelligence. Australians will not forget her thoughtful gesture in the gracious decision that Lord Dunrossil shouldrest in the land he had come to know so well. She has our respect, our admiration and our affection.

We hope that Lady Dunrossil will take comfort from the honour done here and abroad to her late husband and from the companionship of her family of fine young sons. The bearing of those who were with her at the time of the simple but impressive ceremonies here in that glorious Australian setting reflected their splendid parentage and the proud race from which they come. The grace of the best qualities of Viscount Dunrossil is so manifest in the family of

Dunrossil. We hope, too, that Lady Dunrossil will take comfort in the knowledge that in the history of this young country there will be honour and gratitude to Viscount Dunrossil and his lady.







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