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Tuesday, 16 March 1965


Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) - I wonder, Mx. President, whether it would be considered presumptuous of me on this historic occasion to make a reference or two to Sir Winston Churchill. Not in my own right, but as a member of Parliament and the representative of the people who have sent me here, I believe that I should put on record something of the feeling that one has on an occasion such as this. I shall not attempt to make a comprehensive reference, as others have done so well, but I recollect, as some of the things in this great man's career, his assumption of the office of First Lord of the Admiralty, and his courage in anticipating the declaration of the First World War, so that the British Fleet was at its stations at the actual declaration of war.

Having read Alan Moorehead's book on Gallipoli and other books, I wish to pay tribute to Churchill for the comprehensive strategy of the Dardanelles campaign which he conceived, but which miscarried in its execution. We recall that, ousted from office because he had to carry the responsibility for its failure, the alternative course that he steered was towards his regimental unit in France. He served there until he was recalled to take over the Ministry of Munitions. There his energies were responsible for the terrific expansion of production of munitions and equipment in the latter stages of the war, and notably for the introduction of the tank. lt is well, Mr. President, to put this historic figure in the perspective in which British subjects will love to remember him. In 1922 he failed to secure election to the House of Commons, after that glorious campaign which Lady Churchill waged in Dundee. He failed again in the campaign for Westminster. He had indifferent success as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the last years of the 1920's; but in this day and age it is most relevant to remind ourselves that Churchill, when he saw the danger of Hitlerism growing, was at the nadir of his career, while Hitler was rising to the zenith of his career.

Churchill fought prevailing public Opinion and parliamentary agreement by insisting throughout the 1930's on two things: One, arms, and second, the covenant. The title of one of his books was " Arms and the Covenant ", its theme being the need to strengthen our arms and maintain the integrity of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Of those principles it is most pertinent to remind ourselves this day. On the outbreak of the Second World War the signal was sent out ' Winston is back ", and it lifted the spirits of many a sailor. A little later occurred the accident of history. After the failure of the Norwegian campaign, a Cabinet crisis developed in England only two days before the invasion of Belgium by Germany. Had it been delayed for two days, Churchill may not have been brought to the summit of power as Prime Minister. We do well to recall that they were the circumstances that brought him to office. He had condemned trenchantly the policy that was pursued at Munich, and incurred hostility so that he found it necessary to employ a personal bodyguard for a period of six months to ensure his own safety when leaving the House. And but for the chance that the parties of the day did not pull on an election, he probably would have been excluded even from the House of Commons.

Hiselevation to the Prime Ministership when Hitler crossed the Belgian border had a tremendous impact. We can never forget the broadcasts in which he presented to the world the most persuasive and effective advocacy in history and in which he appealed to the American nation. To me, the nobility of the man was made apparent when the news was received at an artillery station in New South Wales, where I happened to be because the outbreak of war with Japan prevented transit to the Middle East, about the sinking of two great ships under the command of Admiral Tom Phillips. Although he realised the tremendous blow that had been struck at our naval security in the Pacific, Churchill did not express other than pride at the effort of the admiral, who went down with his ships. His message to Australia that night was a terrific call to a nation in arms.

Political accident played just as much a part in Sir Winston Churchill's electoral defeat as it did earlier in his accession to power. Let us recall the great contribution that he made, when in opposition, towards the cause, now hopefully being revived, of ensuring the unity of Europe. Let us now, in the terms of the motion proposed by the Leader of the

Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge), record regret at his death just as we record pride in his life. To my mind, at his end it is most fitting that he finds repose in a village churchyard where he shares with all the Englishmen from whom he gained support and on whom he conferred magnificent leadership, in the words of Rupert Brooke -

.   . gentleness, in hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honor able senators standing in their places.


Senator Paltridge - Mr. President, I suggest that, as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Senator the Honorable Harrie Wade and the late Sir Winston Churchill, the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 p.m.

Sitting suspended from 4.19 to 8 p.m.







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