A statement by Hon Warren Truss, immediate past Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Member for Wide Bay.
Former Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Warren Truss, today paid tribute to his predecessor as Member for Wide Bay, Clarrie Millar, who died in Brisbane on Tuesday evening aged 92.
Mr. Truss said Clarrie Millar was a truly remarkable Member of Parliament who was deeply respected by both sides of the political spectrum, the Parliamentary staff, and all who knew and worked with him.
Despite leaving school at an early age, Clarrie had an extraordinary command of the English language and his parliamentary speeches, which he always delivered without notes, are memorable for their wonderful descriptive phraseology. It was said that he never used a single word when a whole paragraph would do.
Clarrie served in many roles in the Parliament but the role he most enjoyed was that of Deputy Speaker. Many observers regard him as the finest ever Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He often told the story about the occasion when as Acting Speaker during Question Time, he ordered Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to sit down for failing to adhere to the Standing Orders.
Clarrie Millar was born in South Australia but at a young age moved to Tasmania with his mother and step-father. His first job was as a telegram delivery boy with the Postmaster-Generals Department. He later served in the Australian Air Force in Darwin as a code-breaker and received the coded message from General Macarthur announcing the end of the war in the Pacific. Clarrie and the late Tom Uren were the last two World War II veterans to serve in the Australian Parliament.
Later he moved to Queensland to settle on a dairy farm in Kilkivan with his young wife Dorothy. They raised five children, Wendy, Robert, David, Lisa and Trudi.
He was an unknown and surprise selection as the then Country Party candidate for Wide Bay in the 1974 Federal Election. His selection was headlined in the Maryborough Chronicle of the day as “CLARRIE WHO?”. Those words became the catalyst for the campaign which resulted in him defeating popular long term Member for Wide Bay, Brendan Hansen. During that time, Clarrie and his family moved to Gympie where he lived until after he retired from the Parliament in March 1990.
Clarrie was a strong advocate for the Wide Bay region. When sand-mining was terminated on Fraser Island, he obtained a major compensation package for the region including the new Maryborough (now Fraser Coast) Showgrounds and the construction of the Cooloola Coast Road. One of the bridges on that road carries his name. He was a great supporter of the development of Torbay Retirement Village and one of the wings is named in his honour.
Clarrie became a well-respected representative for the electorate both because of his oratory and the strength of the service his electorate office provided to his constituents. When I succeeded Clarrie, I inherited two of his electorate staff (Mary Ann and Cecily) who were still working for me when I retired 26 years later.
Prior to his retirement, I was his Party Divisional Council Chairman and met and married his third staff member, Lyn. Clarrie proposed the toast at our wedding and in that speech, jokingly commented that I was not only “coveting” his seat, but also his secretary.
Clarrie has always had a special place in our hearts. He had very deep feelings for our country and what he wanted it to be, and expressed those views with eloquence and passion. He often advocated that this country needed its politicians to join together in a war-time like Cabinet to address the serious financial and social problems confronting the nation at the time. Even though he often despaired at the behaviour of some of its participants, he loved the institution of the Parliament and believed in its traditions and central role in creating the future of our nation.
Lyn and I extend our deepest sympathies to Dorothy and his family and pray that God will grant them strength and encouragement in their bereavement.