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Thursday, 11 September 1958

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) (Minister for Labour and National Service) .- I move-

That the House do now adjourn. In doing so, I direct the attention of the House to the fact that in the life of one of our colleagues this is a very significant night indeed. This is the last occasion on which the right honorable member for McPherson (Sir Arthur Fadden), who was formerly leader of the Australian Country party, will be sitting in this chamber as a member of the House of Representatives. Of course, the right honorable gentleman will not be leaving the service of the Parliament immediately, because he has important official business to conduct overseas on behalf of the Government.

For him, as one who has regularly taken his place in this chamber for more than 22 years, this must be, as it is for the rest of us, a parting that he regrets and even a moment of sadness in which I am sure we all share. Ever since the right honorable gentleman announced his intention to retire from the Parliament he has been pursued, one may say, by an amazing succession of sincere tributes of farewell from all sections of the community. What must be to him one of the most touching aspects of the tributes so warmly and generously paid to him is the variety and range of those tributes and the sources from which they have come. I know that, amongst the many official tributes that have been paid to him, none has touched him more deeply than those that have come from persons associated with the work of. the Parliaments - not so much members of the Parliament whom he has known well and closely over the years, but the various parliamentary staffs. The private secretaries, the staffs of this House-, the refreshment room staff, have all sought in their own way to pay tribute to our friend and colleague. Surely, there has never before been in the history of political life in this country - certainly not in my own experience - a range of farewell tributes paid to any public man such as those paid to the right honorable member for McPherson.

Mr Ward - Where is the Prime Minister?

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - The honorable member for East Sydney has anticipated my next sentence. I was about to say that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) would have wished to be here to-night to say, very much more eloquently than I could hope to do, the things we all feel by way of tribute as members of this Parliament to our friend. The Prime Minister has taken the opportunity presented to him on two earlier occasions - the luncheon given by the Cabinet and the function given by the Government parties to the Treasurer earlier this week - to pay his own public tribute to the record of a warm friend and a devoted colleague. The Prime Minister would have been with us to-night had not an earlier official engagement prevented him from doing so, but the right honorable gentleman did ask me to associate him most wholeheartedly with whatever was said here.

I must say that I feel it a privilege to have been able to take the opportunity myself to say something on this occasion, not only because of the long official association I have had with the Treasurer on the Government side of the House and when we were allies in Opposition together, but also because of my own personal friendship with the right honorable gentleman. That friendship goes back now 22 years, and we think of the time when I moved and he seconded the Address-in-Reply so far back as 1937. There has never been- a- rift in that friendship through all those years, and I am most happy to be able to associate myself, in a very sincere way, with the- tribute of respect and, indeed, of gratitude from the Parliament and the people of Australia tohim.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is not necessarytonight to go into any detail about the record of our colleague. This is not an obituary occasion, and we do not set out to put down in detail the great contribution that he has made to his country. I would merely mention in passing his long term as leader of one of the great political parties in our national Parliament - the Australian Country party - and the record term he has served as Treasurer, a record term in which he has brought distinction upon himself, and, I believe, made a notable contribution to the prosperity and development of his country.

But we think more particularly to-night of his personal qualities, and the personal qualities - the warm, endearing personal qualities - are the things which have stamped him in our minds and, indeed, have made him a legend in his own lifetime. The right honorable gentleman's warm humour, his willingness to help a colleague at all times and to give the benefit in a kindly way of his advice, encouragement and assistance will be remembered by almost every man in this chamber. The Treasurer has demonstrated a special quality of mateship which is almost peculiarly his own. His definition of mateship is that anybody can be with you when you are right; a true mate is one who sticks by you when he thinks you are wrong. The right honorable gentleman has demonstrated that quality to many of us in many a stormy passage when he might have had his own doubts of the wisdom of the course we were pursuing.

We want him to know that he will go from this Parliament with friends in every section of it, and outside it among those who have a hand in the working of the Parliament. We shall not imagine him as having gone out of active public life or the life of Australia. One can hardly imagine Artie Fadden without seeing his lively personality manifesting itself wherever he happens to be. We wish him farewell from the Parliament; but he knows that wherever he goes in Australia, he will meet with old friends and new - old friends whose friendship will never fade. We thank him, from the Parliament, for the contribution he has made to Australia, and wish him and Lady Fadden that close association together in his retirement which, over these many years, they have not been able to enjoy while he has been so actively engaged in the service of his country. Sir Arthur Fadden does not leave a single enemy in the House; and wherever he turns, he turns to a friend:

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