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Tuesday, 18 October 1983
Page: 1805

Mr HAWKE (Prime Minister) —I move:

That this House expresses it deep regret at the death on 17 October 1983 of the Honourable Sir (Oliver) Howard Beale, KBE, QC, a former member of this House for the Division of Parramatta from 1946 till 1958, a former Minister of the Crown and Ambassador to the United States of America from 1958 till 1964, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

Sir Howard Beale died last night in Sydney at the age of 85. He was born in Tamworth, New South Wales in December 1898. He was the son of a Methodist Minister, whose family had come to Australia in 1838. Sir Howard's parents moved throughout rural New South Wales until 1910 when they settled in Sydney. Sir Howard was educated at Sydney High School and at the University of Sydney, from which he graduated. He was called to the Bar in 1925, where he established his own practice. In 1927 he married Margery Ellen Wood to whom he later dedicated his book This Inch of Time. Sir Howard's legal practice flourished. In 1942 he undertook service as a sub-lieutenant on anti-submarine duties with the Royal Australian Naval Reserve.

In the general election of 1946, Sir Howard succeeded Sir Frederick Stewart in the seat of Parramatta, New South Wales. From 6 June 1947 to October 1949 he served as a member of the then Standing Committee on Public Works. From 1949, after the election of the Menzies Government, he commenced what was to be an unbroken period of service as a Minister of the Crown until his retirement from the Parliament in 1958. He served as Minister for Information and Minister for Transport until 6 March 1950 and then served continually until 10 February 1958 as Minister for Supply. From October 1956 until February 1958 he also served concurrently as Minister for Defence Production. At various times he also served as Acting Minister for Immigration, Acting Minister for National Development and Acting Minister for Defence.

Following his resignation from this House and from the Ministry on 10 February 1958 he took up his appointment as Ambassador to the United States of America, a position he held until 1964. In 1961 Sir Howard was created a Knight Commander of the order of the British Empire for distinguished public service. Following his retirement in 1964, he was Regents' Visiting Professor in the University of California in 1966. He was Regents' Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin in 1967 and 1969, and President of the Arts Council of Australia from 1965 until 1968.

Sir Howard once said, Mr Speaker, that a man's influence upon his times depends a good deal upon the kind of man he is and this in turn upon the influences which shaped him. He was a man deeply rooted in Australian tradition, strongly committed to the advancement of Australian interests. Considering why he had entered politics, Sir Howard observed in his book that Australia had just emerged from a desperate struggle which had brought great challenges, exposed us to new ideas and created new social and legal problems demanding new thinking and new imaginative solutions. Sir Howard was not prepared to stand back from these problems. Instead, he sought to grapple with them. There was a real idealism in his approach. He looked to the Parliament as a place through which to attempt social change and he believed strongly that, as with the family so with the nation-not each for himself but unity and each for all. In this way he rightly believed Australia could have a place in the sun.

Sir Howard had a long-standing interest in international affairs. In his maiden speech to this House on 14 November 1946 he addressed the implications of the changing alliance with Great Britain, the formation of the United Nations and the then perceived Soviet threat. Subsequently he exercised the role as Ambassador to the United States with great distinction. He saw that role as a solid, practical task of getting information and giving it, of persuading, of warning, of advising, of encouraging, of interpreting and of building up for Australia a reputation for goodwill, reliability independence of judgment. He served his country well. Sir Howard is survived by his wife, Lady Beale, and his son, Julian. On behalf of the Government and the people of Australia I extend our sympathy to the family.