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Tuesday, 12 March 1968

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) - I express my sympathy to the widow and family of the late Harold Holt for the great, tragic and irreparable loss that they suffered by his tragic and unexpected death on that Sunday, 17th December last. The ship on which I was travelling back to Australia drew into Cape Town harbour when we heard the news. Most of the 1,500 passengers aboard had not heard of the name Harold Holt, but everybody was stunned when they knew that something terrible had happened to the Prime Minister of this nation. There was great grief everywhere. I believe that that is true of what happened all around the world. With the exception of the honourable member for Darling (Mr Clark), who entered Parliament with the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), I am the only one in this Parliament who knew Mr Harold Holt from 1940 onwards. I learned to respect him for his honesty, integrity and loyalty to his leader and party. In all the vicissitudes of those times and in all the years in which the present government parties were in opposition in this Parliament, he displayed that same humble loyalty and devotion to principle that were the characteristics of his life. 1 have always thought of Harold Holt as one of the best men I ever knew. He was a humane, charitable and generous man and though he fought hard, determinedly and with all the moral and physical courage to which the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has referred, he could meet all his opponents and friends and sometimes some of his critics in his own parties outside this House with great urbanity, sincerity and overwhelming friendship. I never had a cross word with Harold Holt outside Parliament and I had very few with him inside except, of course, at election times. I always like to think of Harold Holt, as I will, as a man who started behind scratch in his attempt to win a place and a name for himself in the life of this nation.I knew his story; he told it to me several times. I knew of his struggles. I always admired him because he never sought to blame anybody else for anything that happened in his lifetime. I always admired himtoo, for the tribute he paid to others who helped him. His widow suffered grief that we would not like to see suffered by any woman but which happens, through life, to many people. But we in Australia, and the people outside Australia who knew him, would hope, 1 am sure, that on this final occasion when we pay tribute to his memory time will help to assuage the grief that the Holt family so naturally feel and that the sympathy of their friends will help them bear the sorrow so suddenly cast upon them. We who sit in the Parliament will remember Harold Holt with affection and pride, but never again will we see the light of his countenance nor enjoy the warm kindly friendship of his handshake.

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