Sir Paul Hasluck

Sir Paul Hasluck

Sir Paul Meernaa Caedwalla HASLUCK, (1905-93), Governor-General of Australia, was born in Fremantle, Western Australia, on 1 April 1905. He was the second child and son of Major E'thel Meernaa Caedwalla and Patience Eliza (Wooler) Hasluck. As his parents served in the Salvation Army, his early childhood was spent in country towns in WA. These childhood experiences of Collie, York, Kalgoorlie and Guildford shaped the man. Following secondary education at Perth Modern school on a scholarship, he became a cadet journalist with the West Australian in 1922 completing this career as a foreign news sub-editor in 1938. He was also the drama critic and wrote historical essays under the pseudonym of 'Polygon'. The journalist became a founding member and secretary of the Royal WA Historical Society in 1932 and through part-time study at the University of Western Australia achieved an MA in history.

He became a university lecturer in history during 1939-40, and was seconded to the Department of External Affairs in 1941. This diplomatic career covered the birth of the United Nations at the 1945 San Francisco Conference as head of the Australian Mission. He resigned in 1947 and returned to the University of Western Australia as a Research Reader in History. Although not a doctrinaire conservative he won endorsement from the Liberal party for the first Federal seat of Curtin (WA) and following the election in 1949 became a backbencher member in the Menzies Government in the House of Representatives.

As Minister for Territories, 1951-63, he encouraged Papua New Guinea participation in administration as an essential step towards self-government. The portfolio included the Northern Territory which enabled him to work on behalf of the Aboriginal population, a life long concern, placing emphasis on education and health.

As a Minister for Defence in 1963 and for External Affairs, 1964-9, he dealt calmly but firmly with problems created by Indonesian confrontation and the dispatch of Australian troops to Vietnam. He was eager to see Australia cultivate closer links in Asia, and was chairman of important ECAFE, SEATO and Colombo Plan conferences.

On the death of Prime Minister Harold Holt in 1967 he stood for the leadership of the Liberal Party, but narrowly missed the position. He resigned from parliament and became Governor-General of Australia in 1969, being appointed GCMG in the same year, and GCVO in 1970. He established himself as a person who could transcend party interests and use his office to foster a stronger national identity. His term as Governor-General ended in 1974. In 1979 he was created a Knight of the Garter (KG) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He attended the annual ceremony at Windsor Castle. Throughout his nineteen years in retirement, Sir Paul remained intellectually active. He set about placing his public career on record, the writing of history and poetry, listening to music and continued his love of the Australian bush. He accepted speaking engagements while refusing to become entangled in partisan debates.

He married Alexandra Margaret Martin Darker (1908-93) in 1932, author and historian, who became a Dame in the Order of Australia in 1978. They had two sons - Rollo (d.1974) and Nicholas who is a lawyer and an author. There are four grand children.

Sir Paul died in Perth on 9 January 1993. A State funeral and memorial service was held in St. George's Cathedral, Perth WA. At his request no eulogy was spoken. His son Nicholas chose to gave a farewell message taken from Sir Paul's writings. On 28 May 1993 his Banner was presented at a Memorial Evensong in St. George's Chapel Windsor, and was then transferred to St. George's Cathedral in Perth WA.

In 2001 the Federal Electoral Division seat of Hasluck in Western Australia was created. It was named in recognition of the service to the country by Sir Paul and Lady Alexandra Hasluck, their contribution to public life and the part they played in the growth of the Australian nation.

By this author:

To view a list of book titles of this author click here

<< back
back to TOP