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Monday, 2 December 1985
Page: 2633


Senator COLLARD (Leader of the National Party of Australia) —On behalf of the Opposition, I support the motion of condolence moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Button). As he has indicated, Sir Charles Davidson was born in Brisbane on 14 September 1897. He was the son of a sugar grower and his father became a cane inspector. Sir Charles served in World War I, having enlisted in the Australian Infantry Forces in 1916. He served as a Lieutenant in the 42nd Battalion in Flanders, France. He also served in World War II, once again in the 42nd Battalion, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He served in New Guinea and was twice mentioned in dispatches. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1945 and the Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1964. After the world wars he transferred to the Reserve of Officers.

He was a dairy farmer on the Atherton Tablelands from 1921 to 1925 and at the same time worked as a bullocky. In Evelyn Maunsell's book Suppose I Die-that is our former colleague Senator Ron Maunsell's mother-he was mentioned in his role as a bullocky on the Tableland. He always dressed a little differently and a little better than the rest of the bullockies who operated in the timed industry at that time. In 1925 he had an interest in a sugar farm in the Flaggy Rock area south of Sarina and he maintained that interest until 1973. At that time he was also a member of the Plane Creek Mill Suppliers Committee and the Mackay and District Cane Growers Committee. Later he held many other high positions in the sugar industry. Of course, that industry has done so much to decentralise and provide stability in the economy of the great State of Queensland.

In 1946 he won the seat of Capricornia, which was much larger then than it is now, for the then Country Party. After the redistribution he won the seat of Dawson in which he served from 1949 to 1963. He was a contemporary of Sir Arthur Fadden, Sir Jack McEwen and Sir Charles Adermann. One of his first positions, I think in 1950, was that of Country Party Whip in the House of Representatives, which puts him in much more illustrious company than mere mortals. As has been indicated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, he was also the Postmaster-General and the Minister for the Navy.

Before the Senate met today I read his maiden speech. I wish to read three excerpts from his maiden speech which go to prove that nothing much changes over a period. On 26 November 1946 he said:

I do not propose, however, definitely and emphatically to align myself with those speakers who contend that there cannot be any recovery of our pre-war standard of living in this country, or any realization of the possibilities that we are so fond of saying lie ahead of this country, until there has been restored to everyone in the community, incentive to produce and to improve himself-an incentive that is not evident in the community to-day.

He also spoke about rural industry which, of course, was his first love, and he was quite conversant with it. He said:

There are two main methods by which the Commonwealth can assist primary industries. The first is that of providing means to ensure at all times adequate returns to the producers. I emphasize those three important words-``At all times''. The second is that of taking nation-wide action to reduce losses caused by recurrent disastrous droughts.

The third quote is from a short paragraph of his maiden speech when he spoke about subsidies. He said:

I warn honourable members that the term ``subsidy'' is becoming more and more bitterly resented by primary producers because, by its use-and it is a misnomer-primary producers are being made to appear as beggars instead of as a national asset.

As I said, nothing much has changed since Sir Charles Davidson took his place in this Parliament and, indeed, nothing much has changed so far as the rural industries are concerned. The fact that they do make a considerable contribution was probably as misunderstood then as it is now. I support the motion of condolence moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and place on record my appreciation, as a National Party senator from Queensland, of the life of a great man who served this country with distinction in both war and peace. Indeed, in many ways he was a pioneer, not least on the land in opening up dairy farms and sugarcane farms. I would like to extend my sympathy and the sympathy of the Opposition to his widow and to the rest of the members of his family.