Kilmore Free Press Thursday, July 12, 1945 Printed and Published by Jack Bailey, Proprietor, at the "Free Press" Newspaper and General Printing Office, Sydney Street, Kilmore, Victoria. John Curtin In the past few days Australia has suffered a grevious loss, and this editorial column would not be complete without reference to the debt this country owes to one of its native sons. The Hon- orable John Curtin, Prime Min- ister of the Commonwealth, died as he lived, his mind on the wel- fare of those around him, for it is reported that his last spok- en words were to his wife: "Mrs Curtin, it is best that you go to bed!" Throughout his life the late beloved statesman was a true son of the common people, and despite his high office and a necessary association with dig- nitaries of all Nations, Kings and Presidents, Princes and Am- bassadors, he remained unspoil- ed. There were many apt to be- little John Curtin when he as- sumed the responsibilities of Prime Minister, but they lived to applaud his oratory, his in- tellectualism and his statesman- ship. He dies at a comparatively early age, worn out by the heavy load he had to carry, but he leaves behind a record of achievement that this Nation will forever remember with deep gratitude. He held office when the country was for the first time menaced by invasion by a foreign power, when there was tendency to frenzy, but the quiet dignity and fluent logic of his broadcasts to his people quieted their fears, instilled confidence in their hearts and welded the Nation into a phalanx determined to face the coming crisis with equanimity and ten- acity. Unfortunately it is not until a man is dead that his praises are truly sung, and of all the panegyrics the most pur- poseful utterance was from a former Labor Prime Minister (the Hon. J. H. Scullin): There was a lesson to be learned from Mr. Curtin's pas- sing. It was not hard work that killed men; it was anxiety and worry. How much consideration was ever given to words spoken in opposition and to the effect they might have on one who was listening? None of them was blameless. Here as they mourn- ed the loss of a great man they might try to console one anoth- er, even in Opposition, against some of the barbs of criticism that fell on all of them, many of them underserved. The late Prime Minister, im- bued with the Labor cause by a lifetime of associations, had the perspicacity to distinguish the time to play at politics and the time for independent action. Some of his followers, ardent, dyed-in-the-wool Laborites, and certainly with the courage of theirconvictions, had not the gifted perception of their leader and so unintentionally brought upon him much obloquy and scorn. Unionists for whom he labored all his life did not help him to carry his heavy burden. To follow a set course of action, irrespective of principalities and
peoples, is possible for subdordin- ates, but a leader in wartime must steer a middle course, guided by circumstances and en- vironment. In attempting this John Curtin fell by the way- side, and now though his voice be stilled his idealism will re- main about the precincts of Canberra's famous halls. He came to us in the hour of need, saw us out of the Slough of Despond, and evidently his work was done. We can say with Doc- tor Farrar, once Dean of Can- tebury, in his Funeral Oration on General Grant— The hour came; the man was needed. . . . That great men needed for some tremendous crisis have stepped often, as it were, out of a door in the wall which no man had noticed; and unannounced, unheralded, with- out prestige, have made their way silently and single-handed to the front .... He had not at- tained the allotted span of hum- an life, and for him we might have hoped that many years would elapse before he went down to the grave, full of years and honors. Life at its best is but as a vapor that passeth away. The glories of our birth and state are shadows, not sub- stantial things. But when death comes, what nobler epitaph can any man have than this, that, having served his generation, by the will of God he fell asleep? And so we mourn John Curtin for what he was: Sincere, hum- ble, devoted, one of us! "The Free Press" expresses sympathy to his bereaved wife and family, to the relatives, including the Reverend Mother of the Presen- tation Convent, Heathcote, who is a cousin, to his colleagues and Parliamentary associates and to the cause of the underdog for which he lived and died.