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Tuesday, 19 September 1995


MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister): Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Dame Pattie Menzies, who was an active resident and promoter of Canberra, and tenders its profound sympathy to her daughter, Heather, and her family in their bereavement.

Mr Speaker, it was with much sadness that I learned of the recent death of Dame Pattie Menzies at the grand old age of 96. Dame Pattie earned the admiration of all Australians for her dedication, grace and eloquence. She was a remarkable Australian and the wife of a great Prime Minister.

Born in Alexandra, Victoria, in 1899, Dame Pattie was the eldest daughter of John Leckie, who was to become a senator for Victoria. She met Robert Menzies, an up-and-coming barrister, in early 1919 and they were married on 27 September 1920. This tremendous partnership lasted for 58 years and ended with the death of her husband in 1978. Dame Pattie was a no-nonsense person and a tireless worker on behalf of her fellow citizens. As the wife and confidant of the Prime Minister, Dame Pattie stood by Sir Robert through many politically difficult times. She did not become involved in politics herself, but she was very quick to sum up the character and mettle of a person and often was more accurate in this regard than her husband. Sir Robert recognised this and other aspects of her character which supported him in his role as leader. In fact, Sir Robert once observed, “When people meet with her they think rather better of me ...”.

She tirelessly carried out her duties associated with being the wife of the Prime Minister while at the same time supporting charitable work whenever she could. She also made a home for her family and raised her children, providing the backbone for the family's life. Many women in our community today will readily relate to the juggling that must have been needed for Dame Pattie to balance these important responsibilities. She had great concerns for her fellow citizens, particularly for women. She was mindful of the importance of recognising the role of women in the development of the nation. On one occasion she was opening a power station for the Snowy Mountains Authority. In her address, she made sure that she celebrated the role of the women in what was then still a quite isolated area of our nation.

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