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Wednesday, 6 February 1929

Mr BRUCE (Flinders) (Prime Minister - Minister for External Affairs) . - (By leave) - I am sure that every honorable member learned with deep regret of the death, during the recess, of the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher. I now move -

That this House expresses its profound regret at the death of the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher, P.C., and places on record its appreciation of the distinguished service rendered to Australia by him as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and subsequently as High Commissioner for the Commonwealth in Great Britain, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

Although some years have elapsed since the late right honorable gentleman was actively identified with public life, no member of this House is unaware, and indeed very few people in Australia, are without knowledgeof his distinguished career and of the monumental service which he rendered to the Commonwealth. He arrived in Australia in 1885 and settled in Queensland. Eight years later he entered the Parliament of that State, and in 1899 became a Minister of the Crown in a Queensland administration. He was elected a member of the first Federal Parliament in 1901, and represented the constituency of Wide Bay continuously until his retirement from Federal politics in 1915. He was Minister for Trade and Customs in the Watson administration, Prime Minister and Treasurer from November, 1908, to June, 1909, from April, 1910, to June, 1913, and from September, 1914, to October, 1915. As Prime Minister he represented the Commonwealth at the opening of the Union Parliament of South Africa in 1910, and attended the Imperial Conference in 1911, and in that year was made a privy councillor by His Majesty the King. The conference of 1911, as honorable members will recall, largely concerned itself with Empire defence, and as the representative of Australia at that gathering, the late Mr. Fisher played a very important part. The supreme value of the work done by the conference was realized when the Empire was plunged into the cataclysm of the world's war in 1914. As Prime Minister of the Commonwealth at the outbreak of the war, the late Mr. Fisher proved himself to be a true statesman, fully alive to the responsibilities of his high office. All honorable members will recall the great service which he rendered to the Empire in the early days of the war by his wholehearted support of the cause of the allies. His attitude was embodied in, and he will be long remembered for, his notable utterance that Australia was in the war to the last man and the last shilling.

The late Mr. Fisher resigned his seat in this Parliament in 1915 to assume the office of High Commissioner for Australia in London, a position which he held until 1921. During that time, and especially in the later days of the war, he rendered great service to this country. But whilst he was a great Prime Minister, I think he will be better remembered for the man he was, for the ideals which he upheld, and for his fervent patriotism and love of this, his adopted country. He was a man of great and wide sympathies, lofty ideals, great dignity, and a most striking personality. I think that everybody in Australia, irrespective of political belief, recognizes the great service that Mr. Fisher rendered to this country, and would desire that I should publicly express regret at his death. He has left behind him a name that will be honored throughout our history. To Mrs. Fisher and the members of her family, honorable members, I am sure, offer their sincerest sympathy.

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