Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 17 August 1976
Page: 2

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon) (Prime Minister) - Mr Speaker,Richard Gardiner Casey died on 1 7 June. In the history of our country few men have attracted, or earned, the respect due and paid to Lord Casey. Not only was his public contribution one of great distinction and lasting value; he was also a man of integrity and enormous common sense. He was the kind of man who imparted stature to the institutions he served. The Australian people can count themselves immensely fortunate to have had him as a servant over such a long period.

When I became a member of this Parliament in 1955 I found that Dick Casey was always prepared to listen and to help. One of his great qualities was that he was always prepared to assist younger people and to share his experience with them. I first came to know R. G. Casey through my family. He and my father were close friends over many years. They grew up together and they went to school and university together. I recall that they were both interested in automobiles, a part of history that might not be widely known.

Lord Casey was an engineer by training, and proud of it. He wanted to understand how things worked and why. He always believed that the more engineers in Parliament the better it would be. At one stage my father and he became interested in a new engine designed by A. G. M. Michell. I am advised that at the time there were discussions about the engine with 2 major American firms but unfortunately, even though apparently the engine went very close to being sold to one of those firms, the sale did not quite come off. The Depression hit immediately afterwards, and that was the end of a radical new design motor. It was typical of Lord Casey that he would try to help someone with a good idea. They attempted to promote the engine. They were unsuccessful.

One of Lord Casey's most impressive characteristics was his immense capacity for work. His industry was remarkable, and it was this extraordinary application that enabled him to undertake so many careers in the course of his lifetime. He was, at one time or another, a soldier, an administrator, a politician, a diplomat and a ViceRegal personage. In all of these careers he served with conspicuous success. In 1 9 1 4 he volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force and served with distinction at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. He was mentioned in dispatches, and for his valour he won the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross.

From 1924 to 1931 he served his country in the External Affairs Department as Australian political liaison officer in London. His political career commenced in 1931 when he became a member of this House for the seat of Corio, a seat he held until his first resignation from the Parliament in 1940. During the period of the great Depression he served in several portfolios. He was Assistant Federal Treasurer from 1933 to 1935 and Federal Treasurer from 1935 to 1939. As Treasurer he took an active role in the development of a national insurance scheme which, for reasons beyond his control, was never implemented. From 1937 to 1939 he was Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research- an association he continued after the war and through his retirement and one of great lasting benefit to that organisation and to the nation.

Lord Casey was a Liberal in the full sense. He was a man of progressive instincts, not fearful of change. He welcomed the challenge of a new circumstance, a new job. He was often ahead of his time and keen to play a part in defining a new role for his country. He represented Australia to the world in a critical period of our history. In 1940 Lord Casey resigned from the Parliament to become the first Australian Minister to Washington. He used his great energies in making sure that Australia's position was well known to the American Administration and the President of the time, Mr Roosevelt. In 1942 at the request of the British Prime Minister, the late Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Casey assumed the position of Minister of State for the Middle East and had the rank of Cabinet Minister in the British War Cabinet. Speaking in the early part of this decade about the controversy that surrounded his acceptance of such a post, he remarked that such an appointment in the Middle East was far more important than the post he had left in Washington. He appreciated the need for Australia to recognise that its security depended on events in a number of areas of the world.

In 1943 he took up his first Vice-Regal position as Governor of Bengal. During his time there from 1943 to 1946 he experienced at first hand contacts with leaders of the Indian nation which would stand him in good stead when he assumed responsibility for Australia's foreign policy. In 1949, in that vital election for Australia's future, Lord Casey returned to active politics as the representative for the seat of La Trobe. He held the seat until his retirement from politics in 1960. In 2 tasks which he undertook following the 1949 election he showed again the importance he placed on looking to the future and his concern that Australia should develop into a strong outward looking and tolerant nation. Immediately after the election he became Minister for Works and Housing and continued his involvement with the CSIRO, being Minister in charge from 1950 to 1960. It was in 195 1 that he became Minister for External Affairs and he held the post until his retirement. Looking ahead as always, he worked to establish a new set of relationships with the countries of our region. His permanent head at the time has recently recorded that Lord Casey's statements during his visit to Japan in 1 95 1 marked the first real movement from enmity to close co-operation between Australia and Japan. He appreciated the great significance of Australia's location close to the new states emerging in Asia and moved rapidly to expand our representation in the region. Earlier than most, he foresaw the importance of bringing China into the international community. He was always a realist about the world and never feared to see facts as they were. His advice was wise, his judgment sound.

Lord Casey's career showed that deep patriotism could be combined with an outward-looking and humane international perspective. In 1965 he assumed a post for which he was superbly equipped- the Governor-Generalship. He had much of value to say. He used the position to dignify Australia and to symbolise the standards of public and private behaviour we all should strive to achieve. In his life he was assisted at all times by his wife, Lady Casey- a remarkable woman in her own right. She was to him, in all of his careers, a great comfort and a point of courage. This was exemplified by her devoted action of daily attendance at his hospital bed after his serious motor accident in 1 974.

Richard Gardiner Casey upheld the highest standards of public life and in his private life was unfailingly generous and kindly. What he achieved he earned by his industry, his courage, his integrity and his humanity. He loved Australia, and because of his life we have a better sense of ourselves and what we can become. To Lady Casey and to her son and daughter I extend, on behalf of the Government, my deepest sympathy at the loss of a husband and a father. Australia has lost a devoted servant. I move:

That this House expresses its deep regret at the death on 1 7 June 1 976 of the Right Honourable Lord Casey, Baron of Berwick, Victoria, and of the City of Westminster, England, K.G., P.C, G.C.M.G., C.H., D.S.O., M.C., K.St.J., a former Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia from 1965 to 1969, a member of this House from 1931 to 1940 and from 1949 to 1960, and a Minister of the Crown from 1 935 to 1 940 and from 1 949 to 1 960; places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service; and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.

Suggest corrections