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Wednesday, 6 February 1929

Mr HUGHES (North Sydney) . - I join with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in paying a tribute to the memory of a man whose name will live in the history of this country. He was for very many years my colleague and my friend. Of the work that he did for Australia there is no need to speak now. The Leader of the Opposition has well epitomized his character. He was above all a man of the people. He understood, if any man did, the feelings of the people of Australia. He saw life from their angle, he voiced their aspirations, he fought their battles. He led them firmly and unfalteringly along the path that he conceived they should tread.

Of what he did as a builder of the Empire I let others Speak; what he did for Australia speaks for itself. For many years he laboured diligently to advance its interests. He did great things. In the first place, he helped to build up an Australian democracy. No one did more for the Australian Labour movement than Andrew Fisher; no man led it more successfully. He was the very incarnation of the ideals of Labour. He was a man at whom no one could cast a stone; hig character was unsmirched by the faintest breath of suspicion. He was not a brilliant, but rather a sterling and honorable man. He was incapable of intrigue, and was loyal to his friends, party, and country. The Leader of the Opposition said something about what Andrew Fisher did for Australia, and the Prime Minister has spoken of what he did at the 1911 Conference. He did two things that stand out. He established the Commonwealth Bank, without which, in my opinion, it would have been impossible for us to finance the war. It was the lead which that bank gave to the other financial institutions that enabled us to do what many of the financial experts of this country thought to be impossible. Mr. Fisher led the movement for an Australian Navy. Those are two great monuments to his memory. What monument it is intended to erect in the heart of the Empire I do not know, but these two will endure for generations. On the foundation stone of the Commonwealth Bank is inscribed the name of Andrew Fisher; but it is inscribed still more indelibly in the hearts of the people.

This occasion affords us an opportunity of reminding a later generation of what manner of man he was and the work he did for democracy, for Australia, and for the Empire.

I was his colleague for very many years; "my associations with him were intimate. I have never had a more loyal colleague nor a more faithful friend. We disagreed on occasions, for he was a man who formed strong opinions, which he held with tremendous tenacity ; but in all the years we never had a cross word. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that Andrew Fisher never lost the respect of any man whose respect was worth having. He never had a personal enemy. Men differed from him, but they never ceased to respect him and to regard him as a friend.

He was a very manly man; his ideals were lofty; his ideas broad. He was incapable of stooping to mean things, and he was above everything petty.

Now he has gone, and we are left to carry on the work to which he devoted his life. He leaves a widow and family. How they are circumstanced I do not know. Andrew Fisher did great things for Australia, and I would suggest to this Parliament and to the Prime Minister that the responsibility rests upon us to see that his widow and family are placed in circumstances worthy of the man we honour to-day and of the country he served so faithfully and so well.

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