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Thursday, 2 June 1921

Mr JOWETT (Grampians) .- I trust the House will bear with me while

I say a few words in tribute to the memory of one of my oldest friends. The late honorable member was a friend of mine for more than thirty years, and it was a terrible shock to me this morning to hear from the Acting Prime Minister that he was dead. It is impossible even now for me to realize that it is true. I can only regard it as a mysterious visitation qf the beneficent Deity, when I remember that I was sitting alongside him last night about

II o'clock, he being full of health, spirits, hope, and brightness. The news this morning is one of the most dreadful calamities to me, as it must be to every member of the House, and I venture to say to the whole of the people of Australia. When I first met our good friend he was then,. I think, a shearer, and I was a struggling squatter in the far NorthWest of Queensland. In those days I had pushed sheep out beyond what were then considered the bounds of civilization, and it was a favour to get shearers to come and shear sheep' so far out. The late honorable member and myself were always friends from the boginning. 1 can remember the first great shearing strike taking place just thirty years ago, and the second shearers' strike in 1894. This much I will say, that, whatever side men fought on in .that, struggle, they fought as men and as gentlemen When I mention that the late Mr. Page was one of the leaders of the shearers, and that Senator Fairbairn was one of the three leaders of the squatters - the " Triumvirate " as they were called - in those days, honorable members will realize the truth of what I say when I apply the words of the good old Book - " There were giants in those days." That struggle was fought out without the slightest bitterness .on either side, and possibly that circumstance was largely due to the presence of such men a3 Mr. Page. I recall, also, the first Federal election, at which Mr. Page was a candidate. Although he was opposed by a well-known squatter, I was one of those who supported him even in those early days. After that election, inspired by whom I do not know, some articles antagonistic to him were published in the local paper, and I am glad to think that I wrote, to the Western Champion at Barcaldine and told my friends there that in my opinion Mr. James Page was, amongst all the members of the House, the best supporter of the whole of the people who lived in the western parts of Queensland. I could say much more about my old friendship with him. For sixteen years, during the life of this Parliament before I had the honour of being returned, whenever I desired to come to this Chamber, the only man to whom I ever sent my card was our late' lamented friend. I have always looked upon him as my greatest friend, an.d as the best representative for the last twenty years that the people who live far back, away from the benefits, the amenities, and delights of city civilization, have ever had in this House. I desire to join in this tribute to the memory of one of my oldest friends, and one' of the bravest and most loyal men that the Empire has ever known.

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