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Tuesday, 1 May 1973
Page: 1467

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (Leader of the Opposition) - The Liberal Party of Australia very readily and with warmth supports the motion which has been moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). Our sympathy for Sir Arthur Fadden's family at its loss is heightened by our awareness of the great loss to each of us and to our nation. Sir Arthur was a man for whom all Australians had deep respect and of whom we can justly feel proud as a representative of all that is best in Australia and its people. The nation and each of us are poorer for his passing but his contribution to the building of the nation will not be forgotten and we will always retain the memory of a dedicated and genial leader whom we had the honour to serve just as he so selflessly served the Australian people. Sir Arthur Fadden's remarkable qualities were demonstrated in his rise from the cane fields of his native Queensland to the office of Prime Minister of Australia. Perhaps in all this his greatest single attribute was that he always treated the task before him and his service to the Australian people with the utmost seriousness. But he never fell into the folly of taking himself more seriously than the issues required. Sir Arthur will always be remembered for his warm and vigorous sense of humour, his ability to communicate with other people whatever their background, and for his strong and steady leadership of his Party and the nation.

All of us have some special memories of Sir Arthur, but those of us in the Liberal Party remember particularly that, with the founder of our Party, Sir Robert Menzies, Sir Arthur was the co-architect of the great coalition which governed Australia for 23 vital years. Sir Arthur served in that Government as Australia's most distinguished and longest serving Treasurer. My record indicates that he introduced 10 Budgets. The Prime Minister said that it was 1 1 but it seemed as though he always introduced them, whatever the number might be. He presided over a period of remarkable growth in Australia. In this role he represented Australia with great destinction and effect at innumerable international conferences.

His greatness as a leader and politician was soon evident after his entry into this House in 1936 at a time of growing international concern as the world moved inexorably towards the greatest conflict in its history. After little more than 3 years he was appointed Minister assisting the Treasurer and Minister for Supply and Development. Only months later he was appointed Minister for Air and Civil Aviation and soon afterwards took over the Treasury portfolio to which he was to bring such special distinction over many years. Less than a year later, in August 1941, he became Prime Minister of Australia. He was Prime Minister only briefly, but he brought to the highest office in the Parliament the same strength as he did to all posts in which he served in a political career covering more than a quarter of a century. Twenty-two of those years were spent in this House, and it is here that his memory has a special and honoured place.

It was characteristic of Sir Arthur Fadden that in his farewell speech to this House on 11th September 1958, deeply affected though he obviously was by the break he was making - as those who were here will remember - he should have lightened the occasion for everyone and not just for himself by telling a couple of jokes. The stories he told we all remember, like that one of his in which he said: 'A rooster today and a feather duster tomorrow'. Many stories were told about him. All of us will remember the occasions on which he used to gather people around him and regale them with stories. You would hear people say: 'Artie, tell us the one about so and so.' Artie believed that a story never lost from the retelling, especially when it was in the hands of a raconteur of Artie Fadden's capacity. Everybody will know that very often these sessions of intimacy, of influence on younger members and steeping them in the traditions of this place, went on late into the morning; but everybody knew that by 8 a.m. Artie Fadden was back in his office as bright as a daisy. He had tremendous recuperative powers and extraordinary physical, mental and moral strength. On the occasion to which I have referred he said also:

Parliament is very important. It is the real basis of our existence, from whichever angle you like to look at it. We have different views, our different convictions, our different objectives. If we did not have them, God help democracy!

He went on to say:

We may be divided on policies, but we are united in the ultimate objective of Australianism . . .

We have just had his funeral. It was a funeral to which I went with no sense of sadness. I was very delighted that the moderator in speaking of Sir Arthur Fadden said:

This is an occasion for rejoicing - not sadness - rejoicing in what a man can do and what contribution he can make to a country and to the people with whom he came in contact.

I share that view. I had no sense of sadness. I just felt that Artie would have liked to feel that there were people gathered the night before to think about him and to talk about him, and that they would do so after that very moving funeral oration. Our most fitting memorial to Sir Arthur Fadden will be to live up to the ideals which he expressed and to try to measure up to the standards which he set in this Parliament and for the nation as a whole. Mr Speaker, we will always value his memory. He was a truly great Australian.

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