Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 8 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT (Higgins) (Prime Minister) . - I move -

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death on 21st January, 1966' of the Honorable Sir Shane Dunne Paltridge K.B.E., a senator for the State of Western Australia from 1951, a Minister of the Crown and Leader of the Government in the Senate, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

The Parliament is the poorer for the passing of one of its most distinguished members. We are the mourners of a friendship which, I believe, touched every member of the Parliament. There can rarely have been a member of the Parliament in either House who was more popular or held more deeply in affection and respect than Shane Paltridge was. He was one of the Government's ablest Ministers and his loss takes from us a colleague whom we remember with respect and deep affection. He was more than a parliamentary colleague to many of us; be was more than just a personal friend. He was a truly remarkable man whose abilities took him to high offices in the land he loved so well. But somehow he never lost the common touch, his down to earth commonsense approach, his limitless energy and enthusiasm, his ready sense of humour, his so evident humanity, his integrity. These are all qualities that ensure for him a fond and enduring place in our memories. Those of us who sat in Cabinet with him realised so frequently that he possessed a great stock of that rarest of all qualities, common sense. The term may be a misnomer but he possessed this quality, with a sensitivity to the feelings of others and a realisation of the sound practical course to be followed.

He became Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Defence. He had an oustanding record of service and achievement in this Parliament. He was first elected as a Western Australian senator in 1951 and became a member of the Public Accounts Committee and of the

Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee. During the period up to 19SS he was active in these capacities as well as in his general parliamentary service, but in that year he was promoted to the Ministry. His first portfolio, in which he quickly demonstrated his administrative abilities, was that of Shipping and Transport. He held that post from September 1955 to February 1960. He will be best remembered, perhaps, by most for the sterling work he performed as Minister for Civil Aviation between 1956 and 1964. He spared no effort to give Australia a standard of civil aviation measuring up to the best in the world. He made a first hand study of airline operations in many countries and negotiated important international air agreements for Australia.

During his term as Minister for Defence he conducted - as those of us who sat with him at the time remember vividly - a searching review of our defence programme and of the nation's defence needs. He was Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1959 to 1964 when he became Leader of the Government and, as a consequence, a member of the Senate Standing Orders Committee. The defence portfolio came to him in April 1964. As Minister for Defence he went to South-East Asia and the United States of America last year, visiting Australian forces in the field and negotiating defence contracts. At various times in his career Sir Shane Paltridge acted for the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Civil Aviation and the Treasurer.

The death of a man wilh such talents as an administrator and with such breadth of experience at a time when the best years of service seemed clearly to lie ahead of him is a tragic loss to this country. We can regard ourselves as fortunate to have had the benefit of his wise counsel in Cabinet for so many years. He devoted much of his life to public service and during his parliamentary career gave unstintingly of his time, his energy and his great abilities. The award of a knighthood by Her Majesty the Queen in the New Year Honours List was a well deserved recognition of his service to Australia. He served his country well in the Second World War as a gunner with the 2/7th Australian Field Regiment.

That is in outline a recital of a great career of public service - a distinguished, a successful career - 'but as we reflect on it today our minds will tend to dwell increasingly on what we recall of a very remarkable man - his warm personal qualities and the loyalty and depth of friendship that he accorded to all his colleagues. Those of us who were privileged to know him require no verbal tribute to keep our memories of him fresh and green. The contribution that he made to his country will have a lasting memorial in the gratitude of his fellow Australians.

He will be sadly missed, of course, by his many friends in his native Western Australia, where he had come to be one of the leading figures of his own community. But it is the members of his own family, who are well known to so many of us in the two Houses of the Parliament, who have suffered the most grievous loss. Those of us who were at the funeral ceremony will recall the calm and courageous dignity with which his widow and his two daughters comported themselves in their sadness. Our deepest sympathy goes to them. Through the years we shall recall the richness of our friendship with a man who found a place in the hearts of all of us.

Suggest corrections