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Thursday, 17 March 1966

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

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Robert Duncan Sherrington, a senator from the State of Queensland, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

It is my sad duty formally to advise the House of the death in Brisbane yesterday of Senator Sherrington, a highly regarded member of the Senate. Senator Robert Duncan Sherrington had been a member of the Parliament only since 1962, but in that comparatively short time he made a deep impression on his parliamentary colleagues. It was a matter of great sadness to myself and my colleagues to learn last night that, after the long illness against which he had struggled so valiantly, he had passed away.

Although Senator Sherrington had not been in the Senate for any great length of time, he was very well known to many of us in this House. He had for many years been a prominent figure in the sugar industry in his State of Queensland. He had taken, and continued to take right up until the final days of his illness, a most active part in the political life of his State and, in particular, in the political activities of the Liberal Party. Indeed, at the time of his death he was, and had been for a period of two years, President of the Queensland Division of the Liberal Party.

I personally came to know Senator Sherrington most closely over the past 12 months. I had met him over a period of years before that and had found him a warm, breezy, companionable man. He seemed to me to radiate the whole spirit and atmosphere of the spacious State he represented. If ever a man was typical of the area from which he came, I think Bob Sherrington could be so described. He was not only a man of remarkable personal qualities which endeared him to those who came in contact with him, but also he had an inner strength, a strength of conviction and a strength of character, which saw him through his most trying periods as his illness worsened for him. Sir, it is a mark of the courage and character of the man that, knowing for many months before the end came that death threatened him and in all probability awaited him at an early point of time, this merely served to spur him into redoubled efforts in the objectives he saw ahead of him in the political field.

He served Australia with great devotion throughout his lifetime and he continued with active service right until his untimely end. We of the Liberal Party mourn a respected colleague for whom our admiration grew as we came to know him more closely. The Government Parties have sustained a loss; but I believe that the Parliament as a whole also has sustained the loss of a man who bore no malice to any of those who disagreed with him politically. He gave, in the best interests of Australia, the highest service that he could bring to the country and he leaves behind him the honoured memorial of a man of character and a man of high personal qualities whom we could all join in admiring and respecting.

In paying our tribute to him this morning, we would at the same time convey an expression of our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Sherrington and her family. I saw a good deal of her over recent months. She too knew of the danger that threatened to take him from her at any time. Yet her own courage never faltered. She supported him in every way that it was humanly possible for a devoted and loving wife to do. I hope it will be of some comfort to her in a bereavement and sadness we share with her to know that her husband was so highly regarded and so profoundly liked and admired by his colleagues in the two Houses of the Parliament. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and my colleague, the Leader of *he Australian Country Party (Mr. McEwen), will pay their tributes in this place. There are few men who have come here in my Mme in the Parliament for whom I developed a more profound personal regard than for the late Bob Sherrington.

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