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Tuesday, 8 March 1966

Mr McEWEN (Murray) (Minister for Trade and Industry) . - I desire to join my Party, the Australian Country Party, with the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It was indeed a very great shock and a matter of profound distress to us all that Mr. Shastri should have been taken so suddenly from this world. History will, I am sure, record Mr. Shastri as one of the great men of India. He will take his place in the records beside that of Mr. Nehru. It was my fortune to have had discussions and negotiations with him just several weeks before he died, meeting him then for the first time. He was a man of very small stature, a frail man, but clearly a man of great strength of character who was perfectly clear in the things that he stood for and the things he wished to resist. He served not only his country, and his fellow countrymen well but he also served the world well in meeting the responsibilities he carried during his period of office.

I am sure many people felt that it would be extremely difficult for India to find someone to fill the shoes of Mr. Nehru. In his short period of responsibility Mr. Shastri certainly did this. All his public life he demonstrated a capacity for understanding the point of view of the other person as well as for propounding his own point of view. His character revealed him as a man capable of settling issues by reasonable compromise. The great crowning point of his career was his achievement, in conjunction with Ayub Khan, of peace and a new measure of stability in relations between India and Pakistan. Not only is this good for the people of those populous and tormented countries but it is also a milestone in the development of world affairs in our day and time. I join with those who extend profound sympathy to his widow and family and to the people of India.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.

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