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Tuesday, 15 August 1972
Page: 3


Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Health) - It is with very great regret that I have to inform the Senate of the death on 7th July last of Sir Owen Dixon, a former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, at the age of 86 years. Sir Owen Dixon was without doubt one of the truly great Australians of his time. His reputation as an outstanding jurist was acknowledged both in Australia and overseas, particularly in Great Britain and the United States of America. But his contributions extended far beyond the legal field.

Sir OwenDixon was born at Hawthorn, Victoria, on 28th April 1886. He was educated at Hawthorn College, now

Death of Sir Owen Dixondefunct, and at the University of Melbourne where he took out degrees in arts and law. He was called to the Victorian Bar in 1910 and in 1922, at the age of 36, he became a King's Counsel. Within the next 2 years he was to appear twice in London before the Privy Council, an unusual event for an Australian lawyer in those days, and nearly 3 decades before he was appointed a member of the Council. In 1926 he became Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria and in 1929 he was appointed as a Justice of the High Court. He was Chief Justice of the High Court from 1952 until his retirement in 1964.

When called upon in times of crisis, Sir Owen Dixon served with equally great distinction in other spheres. In 1940, at the request of the Menzies Government, he undertook the chairmanship of the Central Wool Committee which had been set up to administer the wartime handling of the Australian wool clip. During the following 2 years he become chairman of the Australian Shipping Control Board, the Marine Risks Insurance Board, the Commonwealth Marine Salvage Board and the Allied Consultative Shipping Council in Australia. In 1942 he was appointed by the Curtin Government as Australian Minister to the United States and he remained in that important post until he resumed his seat on the bench in 1944. In 1950 he was appointed by the United Nations as mediator in the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. His tireless efforts to bring an end to that unhappy conflict were not to succeed, but it was widely recognised that he had done as much as any man could possibly have done in most difficult circumstances.

In 1963 he was awarded by Her Majesty the Queen the Order of Merit, a rare distinction and one bestowed only on the personal initiative of the Sovereign. He also was a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George and he held honorary law doctorates from Oxford and Harvard. It is, nonetheless, as an outstanding man of law that Sir Owen Dixon will be remembered. His immense scholarship, his qualities of mind and his unfailing personal dignity set him out among his fellows wherever he moved. He commanded respect in every field of human endeavour

Death of Sir Owen Dixonto which his talents were called and he was held in deep affection by all who knew him. Australia has indeed lost a great man. This country is richer for the life of Owen Dixon. We salute his memory and we extend our deepest sympathy to his family. Perhaps the Leaders of the other parties will wish to join me in the remarks I make on behalf of honourable senators of the Government parties and indeed, I am sure, on behalf of all honourable senators.







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