SUDDEN DEATH IN CANBERRA OF MR. J. B. CHIFLEY
COLLAPSE IN HOTEL ROOM,
WORKED TO THE END
Joseph Benedict Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia from July 1945 to December 1949, died suddenly in Canberra at 10.45 last night.
Mr. Chifley had a heart attack in his bedroom at Hotel Kurra- jong and died in an ambulance on the way to hospital.
He will be given a State funeral, probably at Bathurst.
On his death being announced, the State Ball came to an end at Parliament House.
The President and Speaker' reception for this afternoon has been cancelled.
Close associates of Mr. Chifley saw little sign yes- terday of his.impending end, but they can read into
some of "his recent utter- ances, expressing concern for the future of the La- bour Party a foreboding that his time in active lead- ership was approaching its close.
He was in a happy mood in his room at Parliament
earlier in the day.
Instead of attending the
ball he was working in his room at Hotel Kurrajong when he suffered a heart seizure.
At first he made light of it,, and attempted to dissuade his typist, Miss Donnelly, who was making him, a, cup of tea, from calling a doctor.
As his condition deteriorated Miss Donnelly took matters in- to her own hands and called Dr. John Holt, who ordered his im- mediate removal to hospital.
Mr Chifley was dead when he was examine Medical by the Medical Superintendent of the Canberra
Community Hospital (Dr. Ol- ver).
His secretary, Miss Donnelly,
who has been with Mr. Chifley throughout; his' entire political career, was the last one to see him alive.
On hearing the news of his collapse, a number of Labour members, Including the Deputy Leader of the 'Opposition, Dr.
Evatt, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Sena- tor McKenna, rushed to the hos- pital, but Mr. Chifley was dead, before they could see him.
Mr. O'Connor communicated with a Roman Catholic Priest, who administered the last rites;
Dr. Olver has placed Mr. Chif- ley's tody in a private room, on the top floor of the hospital,: where it will remain until fune- ral arrangements are completed.
Immediately upon hearing of Mr. Chifley's death, the Goven- or-General (Mr McKell) placed his aircraft flight at the dis- posal of Mrs. Chifley and re- latives.
Mrs. Chifley Distressed
Mrs. Chifley, who was in a state of semi-collapse after hear- ing the news, last night agreed to a State, funeral, but the de-, tails are not likely to be flnalised before this morning.
Mrs. Chifley will decide the time and place of the funeral un-
less Mr. Chifley's will discloses
a special request!
Mr. Menzies Calls
At. 11.00 p.m., guests crowded round the Prime Minister (Mr Menzies) in the King's Hall to hear him say: "It is my very sorrowful duty during this cele- bration tonight to tell you that Mr. Chifley has died.
"I don't want to try to talk, about him now, because although we were political opponents, he was a friend of mine and yours, and a fine Australian.
"You will all agree that in the circumstances the festivities should end.
"I doesn't matter about party politics on an occasion like this. Oddly enough, in Parliament we get on very well.
"We sometimes find we have the warmest friendships among people whose politics are not burs. "Mr. Chifley served this coun- try magnificently for years.
Mr. G. Menzies was obviously distressed, and made his an- nouncement in a halting subdued voice.
The guests, murmuring their admiration of, the late Labour leader and their sorrow at his sudden death left the King's Hall which barely an hour before had been packed with gay
Earlier, when Mr. Chifley was rushed to hospital the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) ordered that no expense be saved in ob- taining quiet and efficient atten- tion. The best heart surgeons in Canberra were summoned but it was too late.
The reception to have been tendered by the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies to Members, Sena- tors and wives on Friday after- noon has been postponed indefi- nitely.
Dr. Evatt Overcome
'Mr. Chifley's death is a great blow not only to the Australian Labour Movement but to Austra- lia," the Deputy Leader of the 'Opposition (Dr Evatt) said last night.
'We are all so deeply distressed tonight that, we cannot say any more than that," he added.
"He devoted his life to the wel-
fare of Australia and to all humanity. Our thoughts go out especially to Mrs. Chifley in her. great, loss.
"Members of the Federal Lab- our Parliamentary Party are stricken at the loss of our be- loved leader," Dr. Evatt conclu-
This was conveyed in the form of a message to a. Press confer- ence at Parliament house because Dr. Evatt was'too overcome and grief-stricken to attend in person.
Labour Party Upset
A meeting of the Federal Par- liamentary Labour Party, will be held this morning, when it is ex- pected that- the Deputy Leader of the Party (Dr. Evatt) will be asked to lead, pending a for- mal election of a leader.
It is how generally recognised among members that Mr. Chifley forced himself from his sick bed to lead his party, at the last elec- tions. . ... '
He did 'this to maintain soli- darity among members of the movement and to stop difficult situations arising from sugges- tions that certain members, of the Labour. Party were assisting the Communist Party by indirect means!
Persons associated with Mr.
Chifley during the last election campaign knew that it had taken a tremendous "toll of his last re- serves of strength. ,
In Canberra, in the past few days Mr. Chifley appeared ill.
. He spoke in the House of Rep- resentatives yesterday.
On Tuesday he made a vigor ous protest against the past ad- ministration of the Speaker of the House (Mr. Cameron). When he spoke in the House yesterda he appeared pale and worn.
The House of Representatives and the Senate will meet next Tuesday, as arranged formerly, and it is expected that for both Houses the only business will be the paying of respect to the appropriate work of Mr. Chifley.
It is understood that . both Houses will then adjourn for 24 hours in'the customary manner for such occasions.
Shock In State
Amid absolute silence, and speaking in a hushed voice, the speaker. (Mr. .Lamb) announced In the N.S.W. Legislative Assem- bly late tonight the death of Mr.
Members of both sides of thc House were shocked by the an-
The Premier (Mr McGirr) was deeply affected. ;
The Speaker asked members to stand in. silence as a mark of re-
"I am sure that all members are as deeply shocked and feel as I do," he said, in a voice tremb- ling with emotion.
Earlier, the Premier (Mr. Mc Girr) had asked .Mr. Lamb if he had heard a report that Mr. Chif- ley was gravely ill.
Mr. Lamb replied: "It has noth- ing to do with the Bill under dis- cussion, but if correct lt would be deeply regretted."
Canberra Labour Tributes
The death of Mr. Chifley shocked local, A.L.P., officials and leading members of the trade union movement in Can-
Many recalled that Mr. Chif- ley was not well during the past campaign, (but' few realised that his health had deteriorated so rapidly.
"Mr. Chifley was, I believe, the greatest, and the best loved leader this country has had," Mr. Jim Fraser, member for the A.C.T, said last night.
"Not only thc Australian
Labour Party. but the whole Australian nation has suffered in his passing a greivous loss.
'In a full life, in which he never spared himself, but gave considerate thought always to others Ben Chifley fought and strove always for the good of the ordinary men and women of the country he loved and served.
"lt is in the hearts of the people that his memory will be forever enshrined.
"Humble, people In all parts of .this continent mourn the lessing, of a 'true and steadfast f rt:«itl.*»v l-.,-; - ¦;- .^ ....¦
; 'H'o former Canberra Branch I've-kWnt of "the. AX.?. (Mr. J. r T^yler) .sajd last night:
'Ten Chifley-lias won for hlm ?'';lf a In sting place 'ut the hearts u" f'o Australian people.
'"n'nac of us who have been '?'?' "l 'erred to know him person-
ify iidriiired him above all for 1U3 great human qualities, and
for his sincere and abiding con- cern for the welfare, of the little people tb whose service his
life was dedicated.
The ' senior, Vice-Presdiunt ,of 'the Canberra Branch of thc A.L.P. (Professor L. P. Crisp) said last night: . .
. "The news of the death of Mr. Chifley comes as a deep and toittcr shock to those who had welcomed his lighting speech at the New South Wales State con- ference only last week-end as apparent evidence of fully re-
"Mr. Chifley was our keenest supporter in the' campaigns of 1949 .'and later in 1951, which won thc Canberra Parliament- ary seat for -Labour. ? ".
"He took a genuine personal [delight in our local Labour win i just six weeks ago.
! "Over and above -all that, Mr. ! Chifley was thc warm and pn Iticnt personal friend bf many of jus?always willing to give us his Ulme for a yarn .about party or (personal problems, or thc old | days or future bf the Labour
I. "We felt a deep «nd real [affection for. 'Chif.' ...
. "Far beyond the Labour Party I ranks, - the same 'affection was jfelt for Mr. Chifley by many ; public servants and private re- sidents of thc A.C.T.
1 "He loved this city, and spent .more, time. in. lt than any other jnational leader, with thc excep- tion cf the late Jolui Curtin.
i "Two of nis.great legacies to ' it were thc -Australian .National .?University, which he backed r whole-heartedly in Cafainet; and j the. funds that he made ayailr , able to-sponsor thc development i of cultural activities.". ;
Thc-President of tho A.C.T. iTradcs-and Labour Council (Mr.
j S. R. Rhodes) said last night:
j "Thc-death .of Mr. Chifley is
the greatest blow that the La-
bour Party, has ever cxpericnce<t ¦
"He was a. great leader, and j foremost in his thought at all I
times was the welfare of thc great; mass pf workers.
'He'dedicated' his life to the, citizens bf the Commonwealth,
and the nation as ,a whole has' greatly benefited by his devo- tion and leadership, both in peace'and¦ in war.'.'
Liberal Party Regrets
TlHv'Seoretft'ry of the Canberra branch bf the' Liberal 'Party, Mr. W. /J. tOusley, said the death of Mr. Chifley provided a stark-con- trast vwith,: the Jubilee celebra- tions ]bf; the''past few days.
"All", Australians will regret the passing of a man of !great en- ergy, who. did-not spare himself in his.efforts, to serve his coun- try," Mr.. Ousley said.
"I am deeply shocked by the tragic suddenness of Mr. Chif ley's.death, and on behalf of? the branch, I extend our sympathies to Mrs. Chllley, he said.
The late j. r3. GKifley;