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Monday, 3 December 2018
Page: 12213


Mr MORRISON (CookPrime Minister) (14:01): I rise on indulgence to acknowledge the passing of the Hon. George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States. George Bush lived a remarkable life. He was a congressman, the first American Envoy to China, Director of the CIA, Vice President of the United States, President of the United States and father of a president. George Bush was a great friend and true friend of Australia, from his days as a serviceman in the Pacific theatre to his time as President working with Prime Ministers Hawke and Keating on the formation of the modern APEC.

He was part of what was to become known as the greatest generation—the generation of men and women who fought and served during the Second World War to provide the world that we have today. He joined up on his 18th birthday and became America's youngest naval aviator. He completed 58 missions. In 1944, on a mission to attack a Japanese stronghold, his Avenger was shot down over the Pacific. He ejected from his burning plane and miraculously was picked up by a US submarine, the USS Finback. The silent price of war escapes no man or woman, and late in life the former President admitted that every single day of his life he thought about the two crewmates who did not survive that mission.

His life experience during the Second World War deeply influenced his thinking as president. It guided his values and tempered his hand towards prudence. When Kuwait was invaded by Iraqi he saw parallels with the 1930s and famously declared, 'This will not stand,' and it didn't. With a UN mandate he drew together a 32-nation coalition to expel Iraq from Kuwait. Australia proudly contributed to this coalition that freed Kuwait and restored the international order. He showed incredible international and personal leadership. He resisted the calls that America chase Saddam Hussein all the way to Baghdad, because he did not want to be a conqueror or an occupier.

Under his watch the Cold War ended without a shot, the Soviet Union was disbanded and the Berlin Wall fell, not from a barrage of tanks but from the hand picks of thousands of citizens. When the wall fell, President Bush was criticised for understating the triumph that it surely was, but he was prudent again, knowing the risk to Gorbachev being overthrown by hardliners.

He was a man who embodied the best of public service. George Bush and Bill Clinton fought a bruising campaign in 1992, yet Mr Clinton arrived in the Oval Office to find a letter from his predecessor, as is their custom, that said: 'You will be our President when you read this note. Your success now is our country's success.' In the years that followed, they became friends. In time, his son George W Bush would even refer to President Bill Clinton as 'his brother from another mother'. When President Bush passed, his family had a code word to let each other know what had happened. It was 'CAVU'. Throughout his life, he kept that word on his desk. It stands for 'ceiling and visibility unlimited'. And he once wrote to his family:

CAVU was the kind of weather we Navy pilots wanted when we were to fly off our carrier in the Pacific. We had little navigational instrumentation, so we wanted to CAVU—"Ceiling and visibility unlimited."

…   …   …

… because of the five of you … whose own lives have made me so proud, I can confidently tell my guardian angel that my life is CAVU; and it will be that way until I die—all because of you.

We remember today the late Barbara Pierce Bush, his wife of 73 years—perhaps President Bush's greatest achievement. And we extend to President Bush's children—George, Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy—and his extended family our deepest condolences.

On the weekend, I had the opportunity to pass the condolences of our nation directly to President Trump, who, when I met with him, advised me that President Bush was very, very gravely ill and close to death. Indeed, the next day that proved to be the case. We have no greater friend than the United States. We have no greater ally. We have been together for a century and more. It is a bond that is built in what we believe and the sort of world we want to live in. George Bush personified that vision and those beliefs as much as any other great President of the United States could have. We thank him for his friendship, we thank him for his service and we pray for his family. May God bless America.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition, on indulgence.