Australian Dictionary of Biography Volume 19: 1991–1995 (A–Z)
FAIRBAIRN, Sir DAVID ERIC (1917–1994), grazier and politician, was born on 3 March 1917 at Claygate, Surrey, England, younger son of Australian-born Clive Prell Fairbairn, pastoralist, and his wife Marjorie Rosa, née Jowett. Clive had served in the Scots Guards in World War I and, twice invalided out, brought his family to Australia in 1918. He bought a 25,000-acre (10,117 ha) property at Woomargama, near Albury, New South Wales. His alcoholism became a factor in the break-up of the marriage in the 1930s.
Taught initially by governesses, David attended a preparatory school before boarding at Geelong Grammar School, Victoria, from 1927. In 1935 he followed his father and grandfather to Jesus College, Cambridge (BA, 1938; MA, 1944), where at his father’s suggestion, he read agriculture. He rowed in the successful college eight and, in 1938, just missed selection for the Cambridge first crew. Returning to Australia, he assumed management of the farm, Dunraven, in 1939, introducing improvements that in the next thirty-two years raised the carrying capacity from less than one sheep to more than four sheep per acre (0.4 ha).
Fairbairn served in the 21st Light Horse Regiment (Riverina Horse), Citizen Military Forces, before enlisting as air crew in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 3 February 1941. Commissioned as a pilot officer in September, he was sent to Britain and posted in March 1942 to No. 4 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He flew Mustangs on low-level reconnaissance flights over occupied Europe. In October he was reassigned to No. 140 Squadron, with which he completed high-level mapping preparatory to D-Day, and was one of the first to photograph a V-2 rocket site.
Promoted to flight lieutenant on 23 September 1943, Fairbairn returned to Australia in January 1944. He was ‘rather shocked’ (Fairbairn 1985) to learn he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation described him as ‘an extremely keen and able deputy flight commander’ who had ‘destroyed five locomotives, one ship and attacked many troop concentrations’, and commended him for obtaining photographic material when under heavy fire (NAA A9300). Posted in June to No. 79 Squadron, RAAF, and based on Manus Island, New Guinea, he became so disenchanted with the low morale and general inactivity that in January 1945 he secured early demobilisation to return to his civilian occupation. His unblemished record included his commanding officer’s report describing him as ‘an excellent type’ and ‘an above average fighter pilot’ (NAA A9300). On 1 December 1945, at St Mark’s Church, Woomargama, where he was a churchwarden and played the organ, he married Ruth Antill Harrison, née Robertson, in a Church of England ceremony. She was the widow of Lieutenant Frank Harrison who was killed in New Guinea in July 1943, and with whom she had had a daughter.
Having joined the Australian Country Party after the war, Fairbairn soon switched to the Liberal Party of Australia. He had an impressive political pedigree: both his grandfathers—Sir George Fairbairn [q.v.8] and Edmund Jowett [q.v.9]—had served in the Australian parliament, and his father’s cousin, James Fairbairn [q.v.8], was one of three ministers in the Menzies government killed in the 1940 Canberra air disaster. Recruited by senior Liberal officials from Sydney, Fairbairn stood for the New South Wales seat of Farrer in the 1949 Federal election. He won, after the distribution of ACP preferences, and easily retained the seat at the next ten elections.
His parliamentary colleague (Sir) Paul Hasluck [q.v.] found this scion of the ‘squatter class’, with his ‘erect carriage, good appearance and agreeable manners’, to be strangely lacking in self-confidence (Hasluck 1997, 181–84). He believed that Fairbairn was in politics only because his ‘overambitious’ wife wanted him there (Hasluck 1997, 181–84). According to Les Irwin, a Liberal member of parliament, ‘Ruth had become Ruthless’, (NAA M3787/1/48). (Sir) Robert Menzies [q.v.15] appointed Fairbairn minister for air in August 1962 and, in June 1964, moved him to national development, and into cabinet. In this portfolio, Fairbairn focused on the Ord River scheme, dam construction, energy, forestry, and minerals.
Malcolm Fraser prodded Fairbairn into supporting (Sir) John Gorton for the Liberal leadership following Harold Holt’s [q.v.14] death in 1967. Following the government’s near defeat in the 1969 election, and disillusioned by the prime minister’s maverick style—evident in his attack on state finances—Fairbairn refused to serve under Gorton. After he and (Sir) William McMahon [q.v.18] failed in separate leadership challenges, he joined the anti-Gorton backbenchers. He became a spear carrier in a plot involving the journalist Alan Reid (Hancock 2002, 302), to embarrass the prime minister over his refusal to consult the States before seeking Commonwealth control over the continental shelf and the territorial sea. Insisting that he, when minister for national development, had committed the government in September 1969 to consultations, Fairbairn, with no official record to support his claim, was reduced to questioning the state of public morality and the ‘irresponsibility of the permissive society at Government level’ when a government could override a legally unenforceable promise (Canberra Times 1970, 10).
Both Fairbairn and his wife were consulted by Fraser before he resigned as minister for defence in March 1971, triggering a successful party room revolt against Gorton. McMahon, the replacement prime minister, appointed Fairbairn to the education and science portfolio in 1971 and later that year to defence. Following the election of the Whitlam government in December 1972, Fairbairn initially shadowed Rex Connor [q.v.13], minister for minerals and energy, but left the front bench, announcing that after the 1974 election he would not stand again.
He retired from parliament in 1975, and was appointed KBE in 1977. Sir David served as ambassador to the Netherlands (1977–80). Having sold Dunraven in 1971, and dispensed with other land and residential properties, he settled in Canberra in 1980. In retirement, he retained an interest in national and international politics and frequently attended diplomatic, charity and gala functions. He enjoyed openings of exhibitions, and race meetings organised by the Canberra Picnic Race Club. He was a keen gardener, and a member of the Royal Canberra Golf and Commonwealth clubs. Survived by his wife, their two daughters, and his stepdaughter, he died in Woden Valley Hospital on 1 June 1994 and was cremated.
‘Australian Legislative Election.’ Accessed 16 June 2017. psephos.adam-carr.net/countries/a/australia. Copy held on ADB file; Canberra Times. ‘Government is Accused.’ 9 May 1970, 10; Fairbairn, Sir David. Interview by Mel Pratt, 24 March 1976. Transcript. National Library of Australia; Fairbairn, Sir David. Interview by Robert Linford, 4–27 June 1985. Transcript. National Library of Australia; Hancock, Ian. John Gorton: He Did it His Way. Sydney: Hodder Headline, 2002; Hasluck, Paul. The Chance of Politics. Melbourne: Text Publishing, 1997; Howson, Peter. The Howson Diaries: The Life of Politics, edited by Don Aitkin. Ringwood, Vic.: Viking Press, 1984; National Archives of Australia. A9300, FAIRBAIRAN D.E, M3787/1/48, Gorton papers; National Library of Australia. MS 5000, Liberal Party Papers; Starr, Graeme. Carrick: Principles, Politics and Policy. Ballan, Vic.: Connor Court, 2012.
I. R. Hancock
FALKINDER, CHARLES WILLIAM (BILL) (1921–1993), air force officer and politician, was born on 29 August 1921 in Hobart, eldest of five children of English-born John (Jack) Stanley Falkinder, insurance company manager, and his Tasmanian-born wife Harriet Bush, née Jackson. A student at Hobart High School from 1933, Bill excelled at cricket, Australian Rules football and tennis. When his father died in 1935, he left school without matriculating to help financially with the raising of his younger siblings. In 1936 he became a clerk with Medhurst & Sons Pty Ltd, a Hobart business selling electrical goods, and was in this employment when World War II broke out in 1939.
Enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 25 May 1940, Falkinder undertook aircrew training—initially as a pilot, but later as a navigator—graduating as a sergeant air observer in March 1941. On 9 April he was among the first Empire Air Training Scheme trainees who embarked for overseas service with the Royal Air Force. Arriving in England on 1 August, he flew over Europe with two Wellington bomber squadrons (No. 405 and No. 419) of the Royal Canadian Air Force and by August 1942 had completed more than thirty operational sorties. He was commissioned on 30 June, and shortly afterwards survived a crash that killed four of the six-man crew. On 30 December he was promoted to flying officer.
After eleven months instructing with No. 11 Operational Training Unit, in July 1943 Falkinder transferred to No. 109 squadron, part of the Pathfinder Force that flew ahead of bomber formations to mark target areas for attack. During this period he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his high skill, fortitude, and devotion to duty. He completed another two tours in Mosquito aircraft with No. 109 Squadron, flying more than eighty missions over the next eighteen months. He was awarded a Bar to his DFC for the skill and efficiency he displayed against a wide variety of targets. Acting flight lieutenant from December 1943, Falkinder was promoted to that rank on 30 June 1944.
On 7 November 1944, at the Milford parish church, Hampshire, he married Dulcie Patricia Dey, an intelligence officer in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Returning to Australia with his wife in February 1945, he received the Distinguished Service Order in April for his consistent proficiency, courage, and determination, making him one of the most highly decorated RAAF navigators of the European theatre. He was demobilised in November but remained in the RAAF Reserve. Falkinder became commandant (1950–67) of the Air Training Corps in Tasmania with acting rank of wing commander.
At the 1946 Federal elections Falkinder won the Tasmanian seat of Franklin for the Liberal Party of Australia, narrowly defeating the sitting member, C. W. Frost [q.v.14]. Although he was the ‘baby’ of the eighteenth parliament, he was not—as he later claimed—the youngest person ever elected. After the Liberal Party won office under (Sir) Robert Menzies [q.v.15] in 1949, he was one of three parliamentary under-secretaries appointed in February 1950, becoming assistant to the minister for commerce and trade, (Sir) John McEwen [q.v.15]. Falkinder was initially very much in favour with Menzies, who named him for the inaugural Australian Prime Minister’s Invitation cricket XI in October 1951, but his repeated dissent from government policy caused Menzies to remove him as under-secretary in May 1952. He ‘had a sturdy independence that did not endear him to Menzies’ (Whitington 1977, 143) and he remained on the backbench for the rest of his parliamentary career.
Falkinder decided not to contest the 1966 elections, and in 1967 was appointed CBE. He became a public relations consultant with the British Tobacco (Australia) Company Ltd (later renamed Amatil Ltd) and resided at Mosman, Sydney, until returning to Tasmania in 1980. Survived by his wife, daughter, and son, he died on 11 July 1993 in the Repatriation General Hospital, Hobart, and was cremated. His portrait, painted by Ivor Hele in 1957, is in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
Falkinder, Charles William Jackson. Interview by Peter MacFie, 21 March – 10 April 1984. Transcript. Parliament’s oral history project. National Library of Australia; Mercury (Hobart). ‘Surprise Win in Franklin’, 15 October 1946, 4, ‘Mr. Falkinder Leaves Post as Secretary’, 19 May 1952, 1, ‘Tasmania’s Third Award’, 11 April 1954, 6, ‘Tasmanian Wartime Air Ace Dies’, 13 July 1993, 7; National Archives of Australia. A12372, R/6517/H; Whitington, Don. Strive to be Fair. Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1977; Woods, Laurie. Halfway to Hell: Aussie Sky Heroes in Bomber Command. Moorooka, Qld: Boolarong Press, 2011.
FARQUHAR, MURRAY FREDERICK (1918–1993), chief magistrate, was born on 7 July 1918 at Broken Hill, New South Wales, son of South Australian–born Elsie Victoria Ethel Farquhar; his father is unknown. Elsie and her son lived with her mother and brothers in the Railway Town district of Broken Hill. They were a working-class family, but Broken Hill High School opened up new opportunities for Murray. After leaving school in 1935, he won a scholarship to Sydney Teachers’ College, where he was briefly enrolled before joining the State public service in 1936, and securing a coveted berth in the petty sessions branch of the Department of the Attorney-General and of Justice. Starting work as a junior clerk in the Broken Hill Court of Petty Sessions, he set out on a career path that would eventually lead to appointment as a magistrate.
War interrupted Farquhar’s progress. On 25 June 1940 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Posted to the 2/48th Infantry Battalion, he saw action at Tobruk, Libya, and El Alamein, Egypt. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in January 1943, and returned to Australia later that year. In New Guinea (August 1943 – March 1944), he was active in campaigns at Lae, Finschhafen, and Sattelberg. He served at Tarakan, Borneo (April–September 1945), before transferring to the Reserve of Officers on 13 October 1945 with the rank of major. He later wrote Derrick, V. C. (1982), a biography of Tom Derrick [q.v.13], his comrade in their battle-hardened unit. While on leave in Adelaide, on 30 December 1944 he had married South Australian–born Dorothy Hilda Hunt at Scots Church. They separated in the early 1980s.
After the war Farquhar began a series of postings as a clerk of petty sessions at Wentworth, Narromine, and Cootamundra, punctuated by a stint as deposition clerk at Sydney’s Central Court of Petty Sessions. Promotion to the magistracy had traditionally depended on this kind of apprenticeship, which also involved internal public service examinations, but ambitious officers like Farquhar anticipated that legal qualifications would soon be required. Studying after hours, he qualified as a solicitor in November 1958.
Following secondment to the Public Solicitor’s Office, and appointments as a clerk of petty sessions at the busy courts of Kogarah, Newtown, Redfern, and Central, Farquhar was appointed as a stipendiary magistrate in April 1962. He later completed a graduate diploma in criminology from the University of Sydney (1968). Farquhar was also active in the Citizen Military Forces. In July 1953 he had joined the 4th infantry battalion. He was appointed assistant adjutant general of the 1st division and promoted to lieutenant colonel in March 1963. Appointed OBE in 1967, he retired on 7 January 1969. This story of the Broken Hill boy made good was crowned by his appointment as chairman of the bench of stipendiary magistrates in March 1971.
In the early 1970s Farquhar’s reputation was high: the Askin [q.v.17] coalition government considered appointing him to the District Court bench. He improved the administration of the local courts and took several progressive initiatives, including encouraging Sydney magistrates to refer arrested alcoholics and vagrants to welfare agencies and participating in developing pre-sentence diversion programs for drink-drivers and drug users. This approach was consistent with the policies of the Wran Labor government that was elected in 1976, and in August 1977 he was appointed chairman of its interim Drug and Alcohol Authority.
But there were rumours that Farquhar’s gambling habit, developed as a teenager in Broken Hill, exposed him to Sydney’s criminal milieu. In 1978 the National Times revealed that the magistrate, a member of the Australian Jockey Club, had secured a ticket to the members’ enclosure at Randwick for George Freeman [q.v.17], named in parliament as an ‘organised crime figure’ (Clark 1978, 8). A photograph later emerged, showing a smiling Farquhar sitting near Freeman. The Justice department and the Public Service Board investigated discreetly but found that, despite the damaging publicity, Farquhar had committed no offence under public service legislation. Nudged by the authorities and driven by his own ill health, he eventually retired in May 1979.
Rumours persisted that Farquhar had misused his position as chairman of the bench, which carried considerable patronage and power over other magistrates. In 1983 the whispers became a roar when the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Four Corners program broadcast allegations that Farquhar had interfered, at the request of Premier Neville Wran, in committal proceedings against Kevin Humphreys in August 1977. Humphreys, then president of the New South Wales Rugby Football League, had been accused of defrauding the Balmain Leagues Club, where he was secretary-manager. Chief Justice Sir Laurence Street conducted a royal commission to investigate. He concluded that Farquhar, who was described by a colleague as ‘overbearing’ (New South Wales, Transcript 1983, 107), had insisted that magistrate Kevin Jones hear the case and had pressured him not to commit Humphreys. Street found no evidence that Wran was involved, although Farquhar had invoked ‘the Premier’. Nor did Street establish Farquhar’s motive; he could only suggest that pressure might have come from Freeman, from whom Farquhar regularly solicited racing tips. Street noted that the magistrate had been ‘deliberately evasive’ about this relationship (New South Wales, Report 1983, 59). The chief justice did not ask whether Farquhar’s intervention in the Humphreys case was part of a pattern of behaviour.
In March 1985 Farquhar was convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice and sentenced to four years imprisonment. Even before this conviction his career was being viewed through the prism of an escalating corruption debate. In 1984 the Age had published front-page stories based on transcripts of illegal police surveillance tapes; these revealed connections between criminals, police, politicians, and the judiciary. Farquhar was mentioned in the transcripts. In this climate his liberal attitudes to punishment and rehabilitation were discounted or discredited. His judgments were scrutinised and some appeared decidedly questionable as attention focused on matters that had been excluded from the Street royal commission because of its narrow terms of reference. In 1979, for example, Farquhar had decided a drug importation case, which should have gone to a higher court, but came before him because the police considerably reduced the value of the drugs. He gave the defendants, Roy Cessna and Tim Milner, light penalties, which contradicted his stated approach of leniency for drug users and stringency for drug traffickers. The Cessna–Milner case raised questions about Farquhar’s relationships with other figures who had been featured in the Age, especially the defendants’ solicitor, Morgan Ryan. Certainly Farquhar’s successor, Clarrie Briese, became convinced that Farquhar had been implicated in corrupt networks of influence.
On his release in 1986 Farquhar attempted to vindicate himself with a self-published account of the Humphreys affair, Nine Words from the Grave. He survived reports that new charges could be laid against him over the Cessna–Milner case, but subsequent events in his life were increasingly bizarre. In 1991 he was back in court, charged with knowingly possessing paintings stolen from the Melbourne home of the millionaire Samuel Smorgon. He was acquitted, the jury apparently accepting his story that he bought the paintings after meeting a man in a pub, and was shocked to find they were stolen. Farquhar was immediately committed for trial on another charge, that of conspiring to obtain false passports. When the trial finally began in November 1993 the prosecution asserted that the passports were to be used to enter the Philippines, where conspirators planned to remove gold bars from the Central Bank under cover of a coup against President Corazon Aquino. The prosecution claimed Farquhar helped to plan and finance this escapade, while he claimed to be the victim of an elaborate confidence trick.
Farquhar did not live to hear a verdict. A diabetic with a history of stroke and cardiac arrest, he died on 3 December 1993 at Randwick and was cremated. His son and daughter survived him. Gregarious and self-confident, he was at times insensitive. In obituaries his early achievements as a reforming magistrate were overshadowed by his criminal conviction, the later charges, and unresolved questions about corrupt connections.
Bottom, Bob. ‘A Man from Both Sides of the Bench.’ Australian, 6 December 1993, 13; Clark, Andrew. ‘The Chief Magistrate and the Racing Ticket.’ National Times, 6–11 March 1978, 8; National Archives of Australia. B2458, 2149147; New South Wales. Royal Commission. Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Committal Proceedings Against K. E. Humphreys. Sydney: Government Printer, 1983; New South Wales. Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Committal Proceedings Against K. E. Humphreys: Transcript of Proceedings. Sydney: Government Printer, 1983; Sutton, Candace, and Steve Warnock. ‘The Fall from Grace.’ Sun-Herald (Sydney), 5 December 1993, 16; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Gambling Led to the Ruin of Magistrate.’ 7 December 1993, 6; Whitton, Evan. ‘Farquhar: A Burly Man Who Keeps a Low Profile.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 12 May 1983, 2.
FATNOWNA, OLIVER NOEL (NOEL) (1929–1991), ambulance officer, government adviser, historian, and community activist, was born on 16 May 1929 at Mackay, Queensland, fifth of ten surviving children of Harry Norman Fatnowna [q.v.14], labourer, and his wife Grace, née Kwasi, both Queensland born. A third generation Australian South Sea Islander whose ancestors were among the 18,000 Solomon Islanders who took part in the labour trade to Queensland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Noel grew up in a grass house at Eulberti farm on the road between Bucasia and Eimeo. He attended Eimeo Road State School until the age of fourteen. His more important learning occurred outside school, on the beaches fishing with and listening to old Islander men and women who educated him in the customs of the Solomon Islands. These original immigrants felt it was ‘especially important’ (Fatnowna 1989, 23) to teach the Fatnowna children about their ancestry and history, as their father was a Christian. Formerly a lay preacher in the Anglican Church, Harry Fatnowna had been the prime mover in the introduction of Seventh Day Adventism to the Mackay Islander community in the 1920s, and the faith was central to the lives of Noel and his family.
‘Growing up black in a white world’ (Fatnowna 1989, 33) presented numerous challenges, some of which Fatnowna resolved on the football field, because ‘if you wanted to thump someone you could do it quite legally’ (1989, 42). While playing Rugby League with the Pioneers, he commenced first aid training with the Mackay Ambulance Centre. Following the example of his brother Norman, in 1950 he joined the local ambulance service as a bearer. For many years they were the only black ambulance bearers in Queensland.
On 22 February 1951 at the Central Methodist Church, Mackay, Fatnowna married Queensland-born Minnie Choppy of Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, descent. He continued working for the ambulance service for the next forty years, eventually becoming senior bearer, and was involved in fundraising and publicity for the service. This, together with his work within local South Sea Islander and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, made him well known in the district. He served as an advisor to the Queensland Government on Indigenous health, and was appointed special commissioner for Pacific Islanders (1977–83). For his community service, he was awarded the BEM in 1981.
During the 1970s Fatnowna had begun researching the Solomon Islander experience in the Mackay district, collecting oral histories, accounts of past events from local families, and local records, documents, and photographs. Following the lead of his cousins Willie and Henry Bobongie, in 1973 he visited Malaita, Solomon Islands, in search of his roots. He later forged stronger links between Malaita and Mackay, resulting in several marriages between islanders and Australian descendants. His book, Fragments of a Lost Heritage, edited by Roger Keesing, told the story of his childhood and journey to reunite with his Malaitan family.
Around 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm) tall and heavy-set, Fatnowna was skilled in oratory and persuasion and always in his element in front of the public, never more so than in May 1988 when, as part of national bicentennial commemorations, twenty-two Solomon Islands–born Malaitans, watched by o1,000 people, took part in a re-enactment of the arrival of Islanders at Mackay in 1867. Fatnowna masterminded the symbolic and emotional event that took place on the banks of the Pioneer River where his grandparents John Kwailiu Abelfai Fatnowna [q.v.8] and Maggie Orrani first came ashore. The following year the re-enactment became part of a television documentary, Kidnapped.
Survived by his wife and their two sons and four daughters, Fatnowna died on 27 February 1991 at the Prince Charles Hospital, Chermside, Brisbane, after a heart operation, and was buried at Walkerston cemetery with Seventh Day Adventist forms. The descendants of the children of Kwailiu and Orrani include the Fatnowna, Bobongie, Mooney, and Fiukwandi families. By sheer numbers and prominence in the local community, the Fatnownas are the major South Sea Island family in the Mackay district and Queensland, and, through Noel Fatnowna, the nation.
Canberra Anthropology. ‘Noel Fatnowna 1929–1991.’ 14, no. 1 (1991): 125; Fatnowna, Noel. Fragments of a Lost Heritage. Edited by Roger Keesing. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1989; Personal knowledge of ADB subject.
Clive R. Moore
FEATHERSTON, GRANT STANLEY (1922–1995), industrial designer, was born on 17 October 1922 at Geelong, Victoria, eldest of three children of Stanley Ernest Featherston, pharmacist, and his wife Eva May, née Catterall, both Victorian born. His parents made beautiful, simple objects for the home, helping to foster an ethos of social and environmental awareness. Grant attended a private primary school at Newtown and Geelong Junior Technical School, before studying architecture (1938) at the Gordon Institute of Technology, Geelong. At sixteen he became an apprentice draughtsman with the Melbourne glass manufacturer Oliver-Davey Glass Co. Pty Ltd. He then joined (1939) the lighting firm Newton & Gray Pty Ltd, where he was exposed to modern design.
On 14 August 1941 Featherston enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces and served as a draughtsman in the Cartography Company at Army Headquarters in Melbourne. In October he was promoted to corporal. From December he was stationed at 7th Military District headquarters, Darwin, before returning to Melbourne in May 1942. Suspected to be suffering from a peptic ulcer, he was discharged as medically unfit on 18 September 1943. While working for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Fisherman’s Bend, he studied modernist design, following the Bauhaus movement’s philosophy. He found direction more broadly in humanism.
At the Presbyterian Church, Healesville, on 15 June 1945 Featherston married Claire Frances Skinner, an artist; they would divorce in 1958. The couple began a glass jewellery business, its success financing the development of his Relaxation chairs, showcased by Robin Boyd [q.v.13] in the Small Homes section of the Age newspaper in November 1947. That year Featherston became a founding member of the Society of Designers for Industry (Industrial Design Institute of Australia from 1958). As an office bearer and spokesperson for the society, he worked to promote good professional design and persuade Australian manufacturers and consumers to support local innovation. Handsome with thick wavy hair and smartly groomed, he cut a striking figure. The press was captivated by his engaging personality and enthusiasm for design.
In April 1948 Featherston launched his practice in the magazine Australian Home Beautiful, promoting his furniture as exemplars of machine design for contemporary living. He achieved prominence in October the next year, with his furniture for Boyd’s ‘House of Tomorrow’ at the Modern Home Exhibition, Melbourne. A period of exploration followed, leading to the development of his Contour chair range (1951–54). Acclaimed for its aesthetic and technical innovation and modular production system, the series featured in design publications in Britain, Europe, and the United States of America. In 1955 an R152 Contour chair became the first Australian piece of industrial design acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) as a ‘unique icon’ (Featherston Chairs 1988, 7) of postwar aspirations.
During 1956 Featherston designed the ceremonial furniture for Wilson Hall at the University of Melbourne, served on the City of Melbourne’s Olympic civic committee, and opened Featherston Contract Furniture (later Featherston Contract Interiors), arguably Australia’s first modernist furniture showrooms. Working with architects and clients including Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Australia and New Zealand Bank Ltd, and Brighton Municipal Council, he led the development of the contract furniture and interior design industry. In 1956 he had also joined Aristoc Industries Pty Ltd as a consultant developing general purpose, steel-framed furniture. Under his guidance Aristoc became a model for design-led, mass manufacture, producing two of the highest selling Australian designed chairs, Mitzi (1957) and Delma (1963), and dozens of Industrial Design Council of Australia Good Design award winners.
On 18 September 1965 at the Office of the Government Statist, Melbourne, Featherston married Mary Bronwyn Currey, an English-born interior designer. Their first joint project, the Expo ’67 chair with its built-in speakers, featured at the 1967 Montreal Expo Australian pavilion. Engaged to fit-out and furnish the NGV (1966–68), their approach focused on ease of use for curators and visitors. In line with Grant’s quest to simplify manufacture and minimise the use of natural resources through plastic (moulding) technologies, they designed some of the most sophisticated furniture of the era: Stem (1969), Poli (1971), Numero IV and VI (1973–74), and Obo (1974). The 1970s, however, were years of struggle as the heavy reliance on overseas patents by furniture manufacturers reduced opportunities for local designers. With the decline of his practice, Grant channelled his energies into environmental and consumer activism. He also supported Mary’s design of learning environments including the Children’s Museum at the Museum of Victoria.
At the Industrial Design Institute of Australia (president, Victorian chapter, 1966–69), Featherston had helped to establish the Australian Design Index (1963) and the Design Centre (1964), Melbourne, and lobbied for a national design policy. In 1988 a retrospective exhibition by the NGV highlighted Featherston’s successful integration of aesthetic excellence into the mass production of furniture. On 9 October 1995 he died at Heidelberg West and was cremated. He was survived by his wife, the son of his first marriage, and one of the two sons of his second. In 1983 he had been elected a life fellow of the Design Institute of Australia and, with Mary, was posthumously inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1996.
Featherston Chairs: National Gallery of Victoria, 30 March–7 August 1988. Curated by Terence Lane. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1988. Exhibition catalogue; Featherston, Mary. Personal communication; Featherston Papers. Private collection; French, Helen. Personal communication; Grant, Kirsty, ed. Mid-Century Modern: Australian Furniture Design. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2014; Howard, John. Personal communication; Jenkins, Lindsay. Personal communication; Whitehouse, Denise. ‘Encountering Art in the People’s Gallery: Grant and Mary Featherston and the Interior Furnishing and Fit-Out of the National Gallery of Victoria, 1966–1968.’ Art Journal of the National Gallery of Victoria 54 (2015): 9–24 Whitehouse, Denise. ‘Speaking for Australia: The “Talking Chair”.’ In Modern Times: The Untold Story of Modernism in Australia, edited by Ann Stephen, Philip Goad, and Andrew McNamara, 186–91. Carlton, Vic.: Miegunya Press with Powerhouse Publishing, 2008.
FELSCHE, SUSAN LEE (1961–1993), army medical officer, was born on 24 March 1961 in Brisbane, daughter of Queensland-born Bryan Laurence Stones, mechanic, and his Victorian-born wife Elaine Marie, née Randall. Susan was educated at Cleveland District State High School and the University of Queensland (MB, BS, 1984). Having joined the Australian Army undergraduate medical scheme in 1983, she undertook medical training at Townsville, Brisbane, and Richmond, New South Wales. She was then posted in January 1987 to the 5th Camp Hospital at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Australian Capital Territory, as a captain, Royal Australian Army Medical Corps (RAAMC). While in Canberra she studied part time and worked after hours at Woden Valley (Canberra) and Calvary hospitals. On 6 August 1988 at Trinity Uniting Church, Wellington Point, Brisbane, she married Major Klaus Dieter Harald Felsche, an officer in the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps. They were to have no children.
Promoted to major in January 1991, Felsche was posted to the Directorate of Army Health Services, Canberra. That year she was admitted as a fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and in 1992 joined the 1st Military Hospital, Yeronga, Brisbane, as medical officer-in-charge of clinical services. In 1993 she was appointed medical officer of the 4th Australian Contingent that was deploying to provide communications for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. The mission had its headquarters at Laayoune and deployed observers to remote team-sites in the desert.
The Australian contingent, numbering forty-five, arrived on 18 May. On 17 June Felsche began a series of visits to southern team-sites, and on 21 June boarded an aircraft at Awsard bound for Dougaj. Soon after taking off, the plane developed problems and crashed. The Swiss pilot and a Norwegian technician were killed, and Felsche died a little later; a Swiss nurse was seriously injured but survived. Major Felsche was the first Australian female soldier to die on overseas duty since World War II.
Her remains were returned to Australia and a military funeral was held on 28 June at the Trinity Uniting Church where she had taught Sunday school for fifteen years and had been married five years earlier. A committed Christian, she had been a popular officer, and a respected and dedicated doctor. The Australian contingent renamed its ‘Kangaroo Club’ canteen the ‘Major Susan Felsche Bar’. On 6 May 1994, shortly before it withdrew from Western Sahara, a remembrance ceremony took place at a memorial dedicated to her and the other crew who had died in the accident. Each year the Royal Military College awards the Major Susan Lee Felsche Memorial Trust prize to the best RAAMC graduate. Felsche received the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld medal posthumously.
Australian War Memorial. ‘Who’s Who in Australian Military History.’ Accessed 11 June 2009. www.awm.gov.au/people/1078604.asp. Copy held on ADB file; Breen, Neil, and Glenn Schloss. ‘Sahara Victim Devoted Life to Others: Mum.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 23 June 1993, 7; Department of Defence. A6721, 96/1344 pt 1, Commander’s Diary, 17 June 1993; Felsche, Klaus. Personal communication; Horner, David, and John Connor. The Good International Citizen. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2014; Stewart, Cameron, and Shirley Twist. ‘Female Digger Dies in Western Sahara Plane Crash.’ Australian, 23 June 1993, 1.
FENNELL, WILLIAM JOHN (WILLIE) (1920–1992), actor, comedian, producer, and author, was born on 20 January 1920 at Bondi, Sydney, son of New South Wales–born parents William Hugh Fennell, vocational trainee, and his wife Alma Doris, née Tie. Finding employment as a travelling salesman, William pursued interests in script writing, tap dancing, radio entertainment, and comedy theatre. In World War II he served full time in the Citizen Military Forces from 1 October 1941 and the Australian Imperial Force from November 1943. Having qualified as a signaller and been promoted to sergeant, he was posted to successive training units in Australia as an instructor. Meanwhile, he wrote scripts and impersonated Hollywood stars in army shows. On 28 April 1944 he was discharged from the AIF for employment in an essential occupation, with the Department of Civil Aviation. He worked as a radio operator at the flying boat base at Rose Bay, Sydney.
In 1945 Fennell decided to try his hand at show business, successfully auditioning for a role as a radio performer. At the time the greatest opportunities for would-be comedians lay in the Colgate-Palmolive Unit, maintained by the advertising agency George Patterson [q.v.15] Pty Ltd. The unit’s biggest star was Roy Rene (‘Mo’) [q.v.11], who ruled over Calling the Stars, the flagship comedy and variety program. Though Fennell was proudest of his Hollywood impersonations, he gained a spot on the program because of his character comedy: he wrote and performed as ‘Phooey’ Fennell, a supercilious British Broadcasting Corporation race caller.
The unit’s producer, Ron Beck, thought that ‘Phooey’ was rather too sophisticated for the Colgate-Palmolive audience, so Fennell wrote and developed the character of ‘Willie’, a sad little Australian underdog, whose catchphrase—‘Ow are yer, mate?’—quickly became famous. Contrasting Fennell’s style with Rene’s blue vaudeville comedy, one astute critic said that Willie had ‘a kind of sad humour which goes much deeper than the casual belly-laugh’ (Nicholls 1950, 17). Fennell stayed with the unit as a scriptwriter and performer until its demise in 1953. He made countless personal appearances around Australia, doing much work for charity and becoming one of the unit’s greatest and most durable stars. An advertisement in Launceston’s Examiner (9 December 1949, 18) dubbed him ‘the man who makes the continent laugh’.
Fennell wanted, however, to be more than a stand-up or character comedian. In 1952 he starred in a short-lived radio series based on the newspaper comic-strip characters of Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead: this was popular but was cancelled after a threatened plagiarism suit by the strip’s creator, Chic Young. Fennell saw the potential of a half-hour family situation comedy based on Australian suburban characters, but he could not interest advertisers in the idea. He borrowed money he could ill afford to repay, wrote scripts, booked a studio, engaged a cast, and produced the first episode of Life With Dexter, about the adventures of a hapless suburbanite named Dexter Dutton, his wife and children, and their neighbours. Often based on incidents from Fennell’s family life, it was squarely in the tradition of Australian comedy about suburbia by such writers as Lennie Lower [q.v.10] and Ross Campbell [q.v.17].
Life With Dexter was an immediate hit with the Australian public. Fennell observed that ‘listeners felt that Dexter and Jessie and the rest weren’t just actors. They were real’ (Kent 1990, 43). The show lasted on air for eleven years, and was also sold to radio stations in South Africa and New Zealand. It earned Fennell a comfortable living: he wrote and starred in more than 500 episodes and retained all rights. He also wrote a series of books based on the characters he had created, which were published between 1959 and 1962.
After television came to Australia in 1956, Fennell gradually abandoned Dexter and embarked on a career as a character actor. He appeared on stage at the Ensemble Theatre, Sydney, from the late 1950s, notably several times as Wacka in Alan Seymour’s play The One Day of the Year. During the 1970s and 1980s he had recurring roles in many television series, including The Young Doctors, Sons and Daughters, A Country Practice, G.P., The Flying Doctors, and Chopper Squad. He appeared in Australian films including Cathy’s Child (1979) and Hoodwink (1981), and the television mini-series A Fortunate Life (1985).
Willie Fennell was one of the very few actors whose talent, skill, and versatility earned him a career in various branches of Australian show business over nearly fifty years, and at a very difficult and transitional time for the industry. His slightly nasal, rasping voice and moustache, as well as the porkpie hat he often wore, made him immediately recognisable.
On 30 November 1946 at St Canice’s Catholic Church, Elizabeth Bay, Fennell had married Joy Therese Hawkins. It was a stormy relationship that ended in divorce in 1975. They had two daughters, one of whom became the children’s television presenter Jane Fennell, who was best known as ‘Miss Jane’ from the Australian Broadcasting Commission series Mr Squiggle and Friends. Survived by his two daughters, Fennell died on 9 September 1992 at Kirribilli, Sydney, and was cremated. The actor Geoffrey Rush, who appeared with Fennell in Gogol’s The Inspector General, and whose clowning shares something of the same manic though melancholic quality, later paid tribute to him as a major influence on his early style.
Kent, Jacqueline. Out of the Bakelite Box. Sydney: ABC Books, 1990; National Archives of Australia. B883, NX164962; Nicholls, Alan. ‘Is “Willie” Stealing the Show from “Mo”.’ Argus (Melbourne), 8 July 1950, 17.
FINLAYSON, HEDLEY HERBERT (1895–1991), mammalogist, was born on 19 March 1895 in Adelaide, South Australia, sixth of seven children of Ebenezer Finlayson, sharebroker, and his wife Finnetta, née Champion. Hedley attended Kyre (later Scotch) College, Unley, prior to enrolling in science at the University of Adelaide. An explosives accident in 1910 while he was a cadet in the chemical faculty injured his left hand and a more serious explosion in 1913 resulted in the loss of his left hand and right eye. Though he did not graduate, he was sufficiently well regarded to be appointed to the teaching staff of the university in 1914, working largely as a chemistry demonstrator until his retirement in 1958.
From as early as the 1920s Finlayson’s primary academic interest had shifted to Australian mammalogy. He was appointed honorary associate in Mammalia at the South Australian Museum in 1927 and its honorary curator of mammals in 1930, a post he held until 1965.
Finlayson travelled widely collecting Australian mammals, most notably in outback South Australia and the Northern Territory. In the period 1931–35 he privately financed four collecting expeditions to these regions during the height of summer over the long university break. Determined and capable, he also had the good fortune to be working at a time when many small- to medium-sized ground-dwelling desert mammals were still to be found, though much of his early success came from working with local pastoralists and Aboriginal people. When he returned to central Australia in the 1950s he found that many of the species he had collected in the 1930s had either declined or disappeared completely, including the desert rat kangaroo and lesser bilby. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Finlayson was one of the earliest advocates of the need for large conservation reserves in outback Australia.
The author of sixty-three scientific papers, the best known of which deal with the taxonomy and ecology of Australian mammals, Finlayson published his first paper in 1920 and the last in 1963; five appeared in Nature. An accomplished landscape and natural history photographer, Finlayson amassed approximately 5,000 carefully annotated negatives, now housed in the Northern Territory Archives. His 1935 book, The Red Centre, a popular account of his work in Central Australia, has been reprinted eight times. Reflecting his great love of the inland deserts, it is a compelling evocation of inland Australia and its title has entered the lexicon of literature and the Australian travel industry.
For his scientific work Finlayson was awarded the Royal Society of South Australia’s Verco [q.v.12] Medal in 1960 and, for his geographical research and writing, the John Lewis Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (South Australian Branch) in 1962.
Finlayson was a relatively tall man, strong and resourceful in the field, but he was always conscious of both his lack of formal qualifications and his physical disabilities. His private collecting, although self-funded and legitimate at the time for honorary associates and curators, led to some strains in his relationship with the South Australian Museum. Shortly before his death he arranged for much of his private mammal collection to be transferred to Alice Springs, where it is now housed in the Museum of Central Australia. His collection of meticulously registered specimens and his many published papers remain highly regarded by scientists.
Finlayson led a very private life and little is known of his close personal beliefs and values. A bachelor, he died on 29 July 1991 at North Adelaide and was cremated. His ashes were buried at the Mitcham General Cemetery in Adelaide.
Advertiser (Adelaide). ‘A Serious Explosion.’ 23 September 1910, 7; ‘Work of S. A. Scientists.’ 27 December 1932, 8; Chronicle (Adelaide). ‘Young Inventor’s Hand Shattered.’ 31 May 1913, 41; Ericksen, Ray. Review of The Red Centre, by H. H. Finlayson. Australian Book Review, September 1981, 13; Haynes, Roslynn. Seeking the Centre: The Australian Desert in Literature, Art and Film. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1998; Johnson, Ken. Personal communication with author; Kerle, J. A. and M. R. Fleming. ‘A History of Vertebrate Fauna Observations in Central Australia: Their Value for Conservation.’ In Exploring Central Australia: Society, the Environment and the 1894 Horn Expedition, edited by S. R. Morton and D. J. Mulvaney, 341–66. Sydney: Surrey Beatty & Sons, 1996; South Australian Museum Archives. AA93, Hedley Herbert Finlayson; State Library of South Australia. PRG 1092, Papers of H. H. Finlayson; Tonkin, Don. A Truly Remarkable Man: The Life of H. H. Finlayson and His Adventures in Central Australia. Adelaide: Seaview Press, 2001.
FISHER, NELLIE IVY (JACKIE) (1907–1995), industrial chemist, was born on 15 October 1907 in London, fifth of six children of Francis Frederick Fisher, master jeweller, and his wife, Mary Jane, née Davis. Educated at Paddington and Maida Vale High School (matriculating in 1924), Nellie studied chemistry at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London (BSc, 1929), where she was president (1928–29) of the Imperial College Women’s Association. She undertook a further year of postgraduate research with Harry Lister Riley, for which she received the Diploma of Imperial College.
Fisher was employed in 1930 by Photographic Plates and Paper Ltd, a division of Ilford Research Laboratories, where she was a research assistant to Dr Frances Mary Hamer. In 1934 she followed Hamer to Kodak Ltd at Harrow, where the two undertook research into the preparation and properties of cyanine dyes, the substances that provide spectral sensitivity and were important in the development of colour photography. The partnership was fruitful, resulting in several research publications and patents. As an external candidate of the University of London, Fisher completed a doctoral thesis (PhD, 1938) entitled ‘New Methods of Preparation and Some New Dyes of the Cyanine Series’.
In late 1939 Fisher accepted the invitation of C. E. Kenneth Mees, head of research with Eastman Kodak at Rochester, New York, to relocate to Australia as a specialist organic research chemist, who could provide expertise in preparing emergency quantities of spectral sensitisers in case supplies were restricted during World War II. Following a perilous wartime voyage, she reached Melbourne in February 1940. At the Abbotsford plant of Kodak (Australasia) Pty Ltd, she worked with the head of research, Neil ‘Blue’ Lewis, synthesising dyes and preparing ‘gelatine colour correction Wratten-type filters and safelight screens’ (Stevens 1995, 18).
Fisher gave a lecture illustrated with lantern slides to a meeting of the (Royal) Australian Chemical Institute in August 1944, on the subject ‘Colour in Relation to the Structure of Organic Compounds with Special Reference to the Cyanine Dyes’. A newspaper notice of the meeting mentioned that the dyes were useful as sensitisers in aerial photography, a rare, if oblique, reference to wartime scientific work by Kodak. In 1953 Lewis addressed the institute on the science of colour photography, emphasising the contributions of Kodak and the use of modern methods of chemical analysis. Nellie Fisher had led the introduction of these techniques to Kodak’s Australian operations.
Kodak established a separate emulsion (sensitising) laboratory under Fisher’s leadership in 1948. She trained dozens of chemists, many of whom went on to senior roles in the company. When the Kodak factory was re-established on a larger site at Coburg in 1961, she supervised the establishment of the laboratory. Described by colleagues as ‘extremely gentle yet very determined and with a reputation above reproach’ (Herald Sun 1995, 53), she was thought to be the first female scientist to head a chemical laboratory in Australia. Retiring in 1962, she maintained contact with the Australian company, being a guest at retirement and other functions, and she also travelled overseas from time to time, for example in 1978 to attend the celebration of Kodak’s fifty years at Harrow.
Outside work, Fisher was always known as Jackie. She and her de facto partner, a New Zealand–born medical practitioner, William Wishart, were keen bushwalkers, often making this activity the centrepiece of holidays taken in Australia and overseas. After Wishart died in 1977, Fisher joined the Melbourne Women’s Walking Club and was an active member until failing health curtailed her activities in the early 1990s. She died on 10 August 1995 at Box Hill, Melbourne, and was cremated.
Barrett, Anne. Women at Imperial College: Past, Present and Future. London: World Scientific Publishing, 2017; Herald Sun (Melbourne). ‘Nellie Fisher: First Woman to Head Research Lab.’ 29 August 1995, 53; Kinsey, Fiona. Museums Victoria. Personal communication; Maclaren, Charlie (née Meredith). Interview by Ian Rae, 22 January 2017; Mitcham, John. Interview by Ian Rae, 24 January 2017; Mittag, Alison Wishart. Personal communication; Museums Victoria. Kodak Heritage Collection; Rayner-Canham, Marelene, and Geoff Rayner-Canham. Chemistry Was Their Life: Pioneer British Women Chemists, 1880–1949. London: Imperial College Press, 2008; Stevens, Sue. ‘Kodak Scientist a Woman Well Ahead of Her Time.’ Age (Melbourne), 31 August 1995, 18; Sutherland, Joy. Interview by Ian Rae, 30 December 2016; Woods, Edward. Interview by Ian Rae and Carolyn Rasmussen, 11 October 2016.
Ian D. Rae
FITZGERALD, CHARLES PATRICK (1902–1992), sinologist, was born Karl Patrick Van Hoogstraten on 5 March 1902 in London, the fourth child of South African–born Hans Sauer, medical doctor, and his Irish-born wife Cecile Josephine, née Fitzpatrick. His father, who did not practise medicine, was a financial assistant to Cecil Rhodes in South Africa and England. Patrick, as he was known, was educated at Clifton College, Bristol. Although he passed the entrance examination to the University of Oxford, his family could not afford the fees and he worked for a bank instead. He had become interested in East Asia at an early age. Intrigued by the short-lived restoration of the monarchy in Peking (Beijing) in 1917, he determined to go there and took classes towards a diploma in Chinese at the School of Oriental Studies, University of London. In 1923 he sailed for Shanghai.
Unlike most expatriates, Fitzgerald was actively interested in the country and the people, and he soon left the isolated society of the treaty ports to work in China proper. After being employed as a storeman for the Peking–Mukden railway, he went to Wuhan to join an American company preparing the innards of pigs to be used for sausages. He dealt regularly with the Chinese in their own language and learned how the common people—hard-worked and exploited—resented their oppressors, both warlords and foreigners. He became convinced that although the 1911 uprising had overthrown the empire ‘a “real revolution” was, if not just round the corner, certainly inevitable’ (Fitzgerald 1985, 92).
Returning to London in 1927, Fitzgerald completed his diploma (1930). He went back to China in 1930, travelling from Vietnam into Yunnan and Guizhou, then from Chungking (Chongqing) down the Yangtze (Yangzi) River to Nanking (Nanjing) and north to Peking (Beijing). From south-west to north-east, he had seen regions of China largely unknown to foreigners and, concerned that few outsiders knew anything of the country’s past, he resolved to write its history. At this time, though major texts had been translated into Western languages and serious scholarly work was available, little was suitable for the beginner or general reader. In 1933 Fitzgerald’s Son of Heaven, a biography of Emperor Taizong of Tang, was published. Its successful reception was followed two years later by China: A Short Cultural History, which remained a valuable introduction nearly eighty years later. Awarded a Leverhulme fellowship (1935–39), he returned to Yunnan for two years in the late 1930s, and published his account of the minority Min Jia people of that region, The Tower of Five Glories (1940).
Fitzgerald spent World War II in England, advising the government on Chinese affairs and serving in the intelligence base at Bletchley Park. On 15 February 1941 at the parish church, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, he married Pamela Sara Knollys with Church of England rites. Returning to China in 1946, he worked for the British Council in Nanking and was present in Peking when Communist forces captured the city in 1948. Despite his sympathy for the ideals of revolution, however, the new government viewed him with suspicion, for the British Council had elsewhere served as a cover for intelligence operations. Professor Sir Douglas Copland [q.v.13], who had been Australian minister to China (1946–48), had met Fitzgerald in Nanking. As vice-chancellor (1948–53) of The Australian National University (ANU), he arranged a study tour for Fitzgerald to visit Australia. Copland then invited Fitzgerald to Canberra where, at the ANU, he became visiting reader in Oriental studies (1950), reader (1951), and professor (1954–67) in Far Eastern history. He became a leading commentator on Chinese affairs, seeing the new regime as a continuation of past tradition rather than a qualitative change. Revolution in China (1952) and Flood Tide in China (1952) gained wide influence. In 1954 he co-authored a statement with Bishop Ernest Burgmann [q.v.13] and professors Jim Davidson [q.v.13] and Manning Clark [q.v.] that upset the conservative side of politics by warning the Australian government against following American policy in Indochina. He could not, however, have predicted the turmoil in China of the late 1950s and 1960s and, while he never lost his admiration for the Chinese people, he became critical of their government; on a visit to China in 1959 he thought little of the Great Leap Forward.
Fitzgerald’s own department reflected his broad interests, attracting scholars from many countries in a range of fields, among them archaeology, philosophy, dynastic histories, and non-Chinese peoples. Many of his students became leading figures in Chinese studies and Australian politics. He was a founding fellow (1969) of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and a member (1953) of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. His publications included a biography of Empress Wu of Tang (1955) and an elegant monograph, Barbarian Beds: The Origin of the Chair in China (1965).
In 1968 the ANU conferred a doctorate of letters on Fitzgerald—his first degree. He continued to write in retirement: The Southern Expansion of the Chinese People (1972) and an autobiography, Why China? (1985). His admiration and affection for the Chinese people were informed by good humour and good sense. Among his friends and colleagues, he was celebrated for his hospitality, featuring hearty wine and splendid barbecues. Predeceased by his wife and elder daughter but survived by two younger daughters, he died on 13 April 1992 at Camperdown, Sydney, and was cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium, North Ryde.
de Crespigny, Rafe. ‘Emeritus Professor C P Fitzgerald (1902–1992).’ ANU Reporter, 22 July 1992, 7; Fitzgerald, Charles Patrick. Why China?: recollections of China 1923–1950. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1985; Fitzgerald, Charles Patrick. Interview by Hazel de Berg, 30 March 1967. Transcript. Hazel de Berg collection. National Library of Australia; Fitzgerald, Charles Patrick. Interview by Ann Turner, 20 February 1992. Transcript. National Library of Australia; Foster, Stephen Glynn, and Margaret M. Varghese. The Making of the Australian National University. Canberra: ANU E Press, 2009; Hetherington, John. Uncommon Men. Melbourne: F. W. Cheshire, 1965; National Archives of Australia. A6119, 674, 675, 2858, 2859, 2860, 2891; National Library of Australia. MS 5189, Papers of Charles Patrick Fitzgerald (1902–1992); Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Scholar of China Who Tested Asian Thinking.’ 16 April 1992, 4; Turner, Ann, and Ian Wilson. ‘C. P. Fitzgerald 1902–1992.’ Thai-Yunnan Project Newsletter, 24 March 1994, 17–19; Wang Gungwu. ‘In Memoriam: Professor C. P. Fitzgerald 1902–1992.’ The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No. 29 (January 1993): 161–3.
Rafe De Crespigny
FITZGERALD, THOMAS MICHAEL (TOM) (1918–1993), journalist, economist, and owner of a fortnightly magazine, was born on 28 August 1918 at Marrickville, Sydney, eldest of six children of Sydney-born Thomas Michael Fitzgerald, milk vendor, and his Irish-born wife Elizabeth (Lizzie), née Trant. Tom attended Erskineville convent school; Marist Brothers Boys’ School, Kogarah, where he completed his Intermediate certificate; Marist Brothers’ High School, Darlinghurst; and Christian Brothers’ High School, Lewisham, where he earned an exhibition. Joining the Commonwealth Public Service in 1936, he worked for the Department of Defence at Victoria Barracks; although he later gained an appointment with the Treasury, he remained seconded to Victoria Barracks. His evening studies at the University of Sydney (BEc, 1943) were disrupted by the deaths of his mother in 1937 and his father in 1940. After his father died, he left the public service and returned to the family milk run around Marrickville, becoming chair of the local milk-zoning committee.
During World War II Fitzgerald served in the Royal Australian Air Force, enlisting on 5 November 1942. After training as a navigator, he was sent to Britain, where he flew (1944–45) in Liberator bombers on anti-submarine operations with No. 547 Squadron, Royal Air Force. He was demobilised in Australia on 13 December 1945 as a flight lieutenant. He had become engaged by post to Margaret Mary Pahlow, whom he had met at Victoria Barracks; they had married at St Vincent’s Roman Catholic Church, Ashfield, on 14 November 1945.
Impressed by the intellectual vibrancy he had perceived in the United States of America when travelling to England during the war, and encouraged—as in all his endeavours—by Margaret, Fitzgerald applied without success for an immigrant visa until the mid-1950s. He joined the Bulletin as a financial journalist in 1946, editing its Wild Cat Monthly from 1948. In 1950 he transferred to the Sydney Morning Herald as commercial editor on a salary of £1,000 a year, becoming financial editor from September 1952 and economics leader writer in 1956. His columns at times revealed others’ ill-doings; at one point, four people who had sought stop-writs were serving gaol sentences for offences he had exposed. Although management dangled before him the Herald editorship, he kept his distance, in the spirit of George Orwell, whose death he felt like ‘a second father or an elder brother’ (Fitzgerald 1988).
By 1956 managerial control of editorial content at the Herald convinced Fitzgerald that he should quit and set up his own publication. He later remarked that it was hard ‘for people to realise … that to a journalist who was in the kitchen of a daily newspaper, having the freedom to produce your own paper, however small, is infinitely more rewarding than to be the nominal editor of any bloody metropolitan paper’ (Fitzgerald 1988). Eventually the Fairfaxes agreed to his conducting Nation (‘an independent journal of opinion’) without leaving his employment at the Herald. Issued fortnightly from 26 September 1958, Nation was funded by mortgages against the family home in Abbotsford. Sales would eventually reach more than 10,000.
At Lorenzini’s late-night eatery, Barry Humphries introduced Fitzgerald to George Munster [q.v.18], who joined Nation as business manager, forming a personal and intellectual intimacy that would last until Munster’s death in 1984. Nation attracted a galaxy of writers, including the art critic Robert Hughes, theatre critic Harry Kippax (‘Brek’), and film critic Sylvia Lawson, together with Clive James, K. S. (Ken) Inglis, Cyril Pearl [q.v.18], Brian Johns, Peter Ryan, and Maxwell Newton [q.v.18]. The Nation crowd later met at Vadim’s coffee house in Kings Cross, until it closed in 1969. On some occasions, Fitzgerald and Munster would continue subbing nearby in the all-night Hasty Tasty. He left Fairfax in 1970, cashing in part of his superannuation to keep Nation afloat. The funds were not enough and he sold it to Gordon Barton; it emerged as Nation Review from 29 July 1972. From August 1970 to December 1972 Fitzgerald worked for Rupert Murdoch as editorial director of News Ltd. He later recalled those years as ‘ignominious’, especially after Murdoch dismissed Adrian Deamer as editor of the Australian in July 1971 (Fitzgerald 1988).
In the wake of the mining-share boom and bust of 1968–70, Fitzgerald advised the Senate select committee on securities and exchange. That experience led him in June 1973 to undertake research for the Labor minister for minerals and energy, Rex Connor [q.v.13], who raised a question which he recalled no expert having posed: what had been the contribution of the resources boom to Australian welfare? He calculated a $55 million deficit during the six years to 1972–73 in subsidies and tax concessions to resource companies over taxes paid; the Industries Assistance Commission came up with a figure of only $5 million. Fitzgerald resisted Connor’s push for immediate higher returns, believing that any changes should be introduced gradually. From 1975 he worked for the royal commission on Australian government administration chaired by his friend H. C. ‘Nugget’ Coombs. He was an economic advisor in Premier Neville Wran’s ministerial advisory unit in New South Wales from 1976 to 1983.
Returning to study, Fitzgerald took classes at his alma mater from 1967 to 1970, including units in the history and philosophy of science, philosophy, and classical Greek, as well as receiving private tutoring in mathematics. He also researched the intellectual formation before 1935 of the Labor leader John Curtin [q.v.13] as a self-taught economic thinker. His interest had been sparked by his sense that the Whitlam administration had undone itself by not following Curtin’s precept: if you get the economy wrong, you cannot get anything right. He also wrote on another autodidact, the financier and pioneer of hire purchase, Ian Jacoby [q.v.14].
When the Australian Broadcasting Commission chairman David Hill, a colleague from Wran’s office, invited Fitzgerald to deliver the 1990 Boyer [q.v.17] Lectures, he wove together a lifetime of reflections on current problems in Between Life and Economics, declaring his preference for the former by opening with Charles Darwin [q.v.1] and poetry. When he was a boy, his mother had given him the works of Shakespeare before he went to secondary school. J. M. (Baron) Keynes had appealed as a literary figure as much as an economist, though Fitzgerald’s major influences in the late 1930s were T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Selected Essays 1917–1932, and Murder in the Cathedral, from which he could quote passages fifty years later.
Always courtly and in his later years growing portly, with ‘the round, rosy face of a very shrewd-looking cherub’ (Souter 1981, 386), he could be scathing about fools in high places, notably those in the besieged manufacturing sector. Inglis described his Herald editorials as the product of ‘a powerful, cultivated, clear and independent mind’ (Inglis 1989, 4); an obituary in the Australian recalled his ‘gentlemanly belligerence’ (Australian 1993, 3). He declined offers of appointment to the Order of Australia on the ground that it could do him no honour to be associated with people about whom he knew enough to gaol. His unmet ambition was a seat on the board of the Reserve Bank, in order to unearth how it arrived at its decisions. A heart attack in 1975 and continuing heart disease culminated in surgery in 1989. He feared a loss of mental powers more than death, which came on 25 January 1993 in St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst. An atheist since his late teens, he was cremated after a private ceremony. He was survived by his wife, two sons, and two daughters.
‘Economic Critic Kept Alight Flame of Social Welfare.’ 27 January 1993, 3; Brazier, Jan, ‘Tom Fitzgerald’s Nation: An Australian Independent Journal of Opinion 1958–72.’ Australian & New Zealand Journal of Serials Librarianship 2, no. 1 (1991): 35–43; Fitzgerald, T. M. Interview by Ken Inglis, 10 February–3 September 1988. Transcript. National Library of Australia; Inglis, K. S., ed., assisted by Jan Brazier. Nation: The Life of an Independent Journal of Opinion 1958–1972. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1989; Lawson, Valerie. ‘A “Lion” of Australian Journalism Dies.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 27 January 1993, 2; McQueen, Humphrey. ‘A Human Face of Economics and an Emperor of Ice Cream.’ 24 Hours, April 1993, 84–88; National Library of Australia. MS 7995, Papers of Tom Fitzgerald, 1956–1987; Souter, Gavin. Company of Heralds: A Century and a Half of Australian Publishing by John Fairfax Limited and its Predecessors 1831–1981. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1981.
FITZHARDINGE, LAURENCE FREDERIC (LAURIE) (1908–1993), classicist, librarian, and historian, was born on 6 July 1908 at Chatswood, Sydney, eldest child of New South Wales–born parents, James Frederic (Eric) Fitzhardinge, solicitor and book collector, and his wife Florence Marion, née Rutherford. She had been a prize-winning history graduate at the University of Sydney (BA, 1900) and a cataloguer at the Public Library of New South Wales. Laurie was educated at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) and the University of Sydney (BA, 1930), where he resided at St Paul’s College and excelled in Greek and Latin. He continued his classical studies at New College, Oxford (BA, 1932; BLitt, 1933; MA, 1937).
Although Fitzhardinge considered becoming a bookseller, in 1934 he was appointed research officer responsible for Australian collections at the Commonwealth National Library (National Library of Australia, since 1960), Canberra. His tertiary studies in history had not extended beyond Roman times, but he immediately immersed himself in the published sources on Australian history. A meticulous bibliographer, he compiled the first edition of the Annual Catalogue of Australian Publications (1936) and worked closely with John Ferguson [q.v.14] on the early volumes of a Bibliography of Australia (1941). He also contributed to the expansion of the library’s manuscript collection. He acquired the extensive papers of Sir Littleton Groom upon which was based Nation Building in Australia: The Life and Work of Sir Littleton Ernest Groom (1941); Fitzhardinge was a major contributor. Seconded (1944–45) to Canberra University College as director of the school of diplomatic studies, he lectured in Australian history to diplomatic cadets.
Fitzhardinge was appointed lecturer in classics at the University of Sydney in 1945. He spent his sabbatical (1947–48) in Britain visiting university presses in connection with his post as supervisor of the nascent Sydney University Press. Based at Oxford University’s Clarendon Press, he was especially interested in dictionary projects including the Dictionary of National Biography. In 1951 he returned to Canberra to take up the position of reader in sources of Australian history in The Australian National University’s (ANU) Research School of Social Sciences. A strong advocate for a national dictionary of biography, with Pat Tillyard (Wardle) [q.v.] as his research assistant, he commenced compiling a biographical register in 1954. When Sir Keith Hancock [q.v.17] took over as head of RSSS and its history department in 1957, he strongly supported Fitzhardinge’s campaign to establish the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
In 1951 W. M. Hughes [q.v.9], the former prime minister, appointed Fitzhardinge as his biographer, a formidable task on which he was engaged for almost thirty years. Despite criticism from colleagues, pressure from Hancock, and complaints from Hughes’s widow, he set his own leisurely pace and the first volume, That Fiery Particle, 1862–1914, did not appear until 1964; the second, The Little Digger, 1914–1952, followed in 1979. Although the work was an uneven coverage of Hughes’s long career, it was widely acclaimed as a major contribution to the political history of the Commonwealth.
On 1 August 1936 at the registrar’s office, Wellington, New Zealand, Fitzhardinge had married Hope Verity Hewitt [q.v.17], a school teacher, to whom he had become engaged when he was an undergraduate. In their early years in Canberra, they were well-known figures in the town’s cultural and intellectual circles. Verity established a bookshop, while Laurie gave public talks on classical literature, ancient history, and book production. He was president (1954–55 and 1961–63) of the Canberra and District Historical Society, which he had helped to found, and wrote several publications on Canberra history, including W.M. Hughes in Search of a Federal Capital (1964) and Old Canberra and the Search for a Capital (1983).
He and his wife had moved in 1959 to a farm, River View, near Queanbeyan, New South Wales, where they bred cattle. Following his retirement from the ANU in 1973, Fitzhardinge returned to the classics and published The Spartans (1980), a survey of the art of ancient Sparta. He was elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (1983) and of the Royal Australian Historical Society (1987). He continued to collect rare books, adding to the library that he had inherited from his father.
Predeceased by Verity (d.1986) and survived by their two sons, he died at Queanbeyan on 31 October 1993 and was cremated. Remembered as much as a ‘character’ as a historian, colleagues described him as ‘a scholar of gentle temperament’; he was an eccentric in the English academic style, and a man ‘with an unquenchable desire to talk’ (Gollan 1993, 53). The J. L. and L. F. Fitzhardinge Collection of rare books is held in the National Library of Australia.
Cochrane, Peter, ed. Remarkable Occurrences: The National Library of Australia’s First 100 Years, 1901–2001. Canberra: National Library of Australia, 2001; Fitzhardinge, Laurence. Interview by Bill Tully, January–February 1983. Sound recording. National Library of Australia; Gollan, Robin. ‘Laurence Fitzhardinge 1908–1993.’ Proceedings (Australian Academy of the Humanities), 1993, 53–54; Nolan, Melanie and Christine Fernon, eds. The ADB’s Story. Canberra: ANU E Press, 2013.
FLEAY, DAVID HOWELLS (1907–1993), zoologist, naturalist, and conservationist, was born on 6 January 1907 at Ballarat, Victoria, eldest of the three children of Victorian-born parents William Henry (Harry) Fleay, pharmacist, and his wife Maude Edith Victoria, née Glover (1869–1965). David’s mother was a talented artist who, before her marriage, had been tutored by Frederick McCubbin [q.v.10] at the National Gallery of Victoria’s school of drawing. When David was eighteen months old he contracted polio but, with his mother’s nursing, suffered only slight damage to the muscles of his left side. The close bond forged between mother and son would remain until her death.
The family moved, probably in 1912, to a house on a half-acre (0.2 ha) block. There, David was able to accumulate a miniature zoo, which included a powerful owl. He attended Pleasant Street and Macarthur Street State schools and gained his secondary education at Ballarat Church of England Grammar School (1921–23). His lifelong crusade for the protection of native wildlife began with a successful campaign against the hunting of waterbirds on Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree. On turning sixteen he was indentured to his father to learn pharmacy part time. By 1926 his father had recognised that he had no interest in the profession. That year the grammar school’s headmaster, E. V. Butler, appointed him as a junior master with time off to study at Ballarat Teachers’ College. At the school he gathered a group of enthusiastic students into a field naturalists’ club, ran field trips, and established an animal sanctuary.
In 1927 Fleay began full-time study at the University of Melbourne (BSc, 1932; DipEd, 1933) and Melbourne Teachers’ College. Six feet one inch (187 cm) tall and physically strong, he was a keen athlete, proficient in shot-put. At university he met a New Zealander and fellow student, Mary Sigrid Collie (BSc, 1931), who accompanied him on weekend trips observing and collecting wildlife. They were married on 23 December 1931 at Holy Trinity Church of England, Erskineville, Sydney.
Fleay taught in Melbourne at Toorak Central State School in 1933. That year he applied for the position of director of the Tasmanian Museum, with the express purpose of studying the endangered thylacine and its life history. He was not selected but his visit to Hobart for an interview enabled him to photograph the thylacine in the city’s zoo. His excellent portraits and movie footage have been continually reproduced, often without acknowledgement.
In 1934 Fleay won appointment as curator of a new Australian section of the Melbourne Zoological Gardens. His part of the zoo proved very popular and he initiated night tours that acknowledged the nocturnal nature of much native fauna. The media recognised the originality of his work: he commenced radio broadcasts in 1935 and was also given film to record events at the zoo for newsreel companies. In the Depression, however, his practice of providing his animal charges with the food they ate in the wild was expensive. He clashed with the director, Hector Kendall [q.v.9], over the feeding and general care of the animals and the zoo’s board forced him to resign in August 1937.
Appointed director of the Sir Colin MacKenzie [q.v.10] Sanctuary at Badger Creek, Healesville, in November, Fleay developed the reserve with an array of native fauna in natural settings. He was able to undertake scientific research, even while his successful caring for wildlife created an attraction that drew crowds of tourists. His proficiency in Australian zoology gained international recognition, especially in 1943 when he became the first person to breed the platypus in captivity. This success reinvigorated his hope of rescuing the Tasmanian thylacine. In the summer of 1945–46 he undertook an expedition to the State’s south-west, but was bitterly disappointed to find only bits of fur and footprints of one of the animals.
Film crews and zoos in the country and overseas turned to Fleay for assistance with the management and handling of Australian fauna. In 1947 the sanctuary granted him four months leave to deliver three platypuses to the New York Zoological Society’s Bronx Zoo. He gave many talks and addresses as he and Sigrid travelled across the United States of America, while also continuing his natural history collecting. Again finding himself in conflict with a management committee more interested in revenue from tourism than in scientific research and the care of wildlife, he was dismissed on his return. He lived by writing about nature until, following a government inquiry into the sanctuary, its committee re-employed him in 1949 as natural history consultant and later as research officer.
In 1951 Fleay purchased a house and land overlooking the Tallebudgera Creek estuary at West Burleigh on Queensland’s Gold Coast, in order to continue, independently, his collecting and scientific study of native birds, reptiles, and mammals. He moved his family and personal wildlife collection there in February 1952. Over the next thirty years he would manage Fleay’s Fauna Reserve—eventually covering 64.5 acres (26.1 ha)—on naturalist principles, leading to many firsts in captive breeding, including the powerful owl and the wedge-tailed eagle.
Fleay’s regular articles on nature in the Brisbane Courier Mail and his production of snake venom for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory’s antivenene program supplemented his income in the difficult founding days until the reserve became established as a major tourist attraction. His bravery in milking snakes that had caused human fatalities was publicly acclaimed and his efforts helped develop antivenene for several species, including the taipan.
The reserve drew a new generation of international scientists, celebrities, and film crews in the 1950s and 1960s. A long interval between successes in breeding platypuses caused him to investigate the prevalence of pesticides in the natural feed he had been providing his animals, leading him to publicly campaign against dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and other new chemical pesticides. He also fought repeated threats to his reserve from development in the 1960s and 1970s that included plans to build a freeway through it and to modify Tallebudgera Creek for a canal residential estate. In 1962 he was a founder of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. Sigrid Fleay became president of the society’s biggest branch, the Gold Coast, which led the way in successful battles against sand-mining and canal developments, and against oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef.
As the Fleays neared retirement, they wanted to ensure that their land remained a natural habitat and was preserved as a centre for the study of Australian wildlife. After protracted negotiations, the State government acquired the property in portions, for nominal amounts, between 1982 and 1985. The main area of 8.1 ha, where the animals were enclosed, would be renamed the David Fleay Wildlife Park in 1997; the remaining land eventually became Tallebudgera Creek Conservation Park.
Numerous awards and distinctions were bestowed on Fleay. He was elected as a corresponding member of the Zoological Society of London (1945) and the New York Zoological Society (1947), a fellow of the Explorers Club of New York (1979), an honorary member of the Field Naturalists’ Club of Victoria (1945), and an honorary associate of the Queensland Museum (1978). He was appointed MBE (1960) and AM (1980). The University of Queensland conferred an honorary doctorate of science on him in 1984. Five years later he was awarded the freedom of the city of the Gold Coast. The Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax fleayi and the Fleay’s barred frog Mixophyes fleayi were named for him.
A rare figure in the Australian environment movement, Fleay managed to make the transition from the first wave to the modern movement that mobilised using new mass-media techniques in the 1960s. In his youth and early adulthood he absorbed the ideals of the field naturalist tradition that campaigned for the protection of native animals and promoted a love and appreciation of Australian flora and fauna. The renowned nature writer Donald Macdonald [q.v.10] had mentored him in these early days. Fleay’s newspaper contributions to, among others, the Ballarat Courier, the Argus, and later the Courier Mail helped build the fledgling Australian second wave. His links with the international zoological community made him open to fresh ideas and ways of reaching audiences. As well as his newspaper columns, he contributed scientific papers and popular articles to Australian and international journals. He wrote eight books, including multi-editions of We Breed the Platypus (1944), Living with Animals (1960), and Nightwatchmen of Bush and Plain (1968).
Fleay was a charismatic man who won the loyalty of volunteers and workers. He dressed daily in business shirt, tie, and hat. His obsession with animals made him an excellent zoologist but it placed immense strains on his family. The unrelenting effort of keeping the reserve open nearly every day of the year and tending to the needs of visitors took a toll on his wife, who suffered depression and a nervous breakdown. Despite these challenges, she was extremely proud of her husband and his achievements, and loyal to him and his vision. She died in 1987. On 3 October that year at Burleigh Heads he married Catherine Sylvia Arnold. He died at West Burleigh in his home adjoining the reserve on 7 August 1993 and, following an Anglican service, was cremated. His wife survived him, as did the two sons and one of the two daughters of his first marriage. The collection of his daughter, Rosemary Fleay-Thomson, includes numerous photographs of him, together with his portrait as a twelve-year-old, painted by his mother.
Fleay, Stephen J. ‘Living [Wildlife] History.’ Wildlife Australia 49, no. 3 (Spring 2012): 36–37; Fleay-Thomson, Rosemary. Animals First: The Story of Pioneer Australian Conservationist & Zoologist Dr David Fleay. Natural Bridge, via Nerang, Qld: Petaurus Publishing, 2007; Fleay-Thomson, Rosemary, comp. David Fleay’s World of Wedge-tails: The Writings of David Fleay on the Wedge-tailed Eagle. Natural Bridge, via Nerang, Qld: Petaurus Publishing, 2002; Hetherington, John. Uncommon Men. Melbourne: Cheshire, 1965; Laker, Linda. ‘David Fleay: Australian Naturalist and Educator.’ Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland 17, issue 11 (August 1998): 515–524.
FLEMING, IAN BOWMAN (1913–1993), aircraft design engineer, was born on 24 June 1913 at Walcha, New South Wales, fourth of five children of Victorian-born Frederick Bowman Fleming, grazier, and his New South Wales–born wife Maybelle Hall, née Johnston. The family moved to Mount View, Wahroonga, in 1917. Ian attended Knox Grammar School and the University of Sydney (BCE, 1935). In 1935 he entered Jesus College, Cambridge (MSc, 1937), England, to study aeronautics under the supervision of (Sir) Bennett Melvill Jones.
Following his graduation, Fleming was employed as a stress engineer at A. V. Roe & Co. Ltd, Manchester, and then at Fairey Aircraft Co., Middlesex, before returning to Australia in 1939. He joined the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd, Melbourne, as assistant designer (1939–43), and later experimental and flight engineer (1943–47), working on the Woomera, Boomerang, and CA-15 aircraft. In 1946 and 1947 he was attached to the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, England. On his return to Melbourne he commenced work at the Government Aircraft Factories (GAF), Fishermens Bend, Victoria, as chief designer. From 1948 he led a team designing a radio-controlled jet-propelled target aircraft for joint British and Australian guided-missile testing. One of two manned prototypes, called Pika, took to the air in 1950. Named the Jindivik, the pilotless model began flying in 1952. The GAF built more than 500 Jindiviks. They flew in Sweden and the United States of America, as well as Britain and Australia, and remained in service until the late 1990s.
Shy about his role in designing the Jindivik, Fleming was eager to share the praise that came from many quarters, stating: ‘It’s the team work that counts’ (Herald 1954, 5). Nevertheless, he was considered a ‘near genius’ (Whitington 1960, 2), whose creativity and ‘patient persistence’ (Cranston 1992, 23) was responsible for the Jindivik’s success. He was appointed general manager of GAF in 1957. The following year he was made controller of aircraft and guided weapon supply, Department of Supply (later Department of Industry and Commerce).
Valued for his expertise in aircraft production methods and costs, in 1954 and 1960 Fleming travelled overseas as part of Australian missions to examine new planes for the Royal Australian Air Force. The second mission recommended the Mirage III, which was subsequently built at GAF. Strongly in favour of maintaining an Australian aircraft industry, Fleming later advocated production of the Nomad, which ultimately received government approval. He witnessed several attempts to rationalise the industry, which, despite short-term peaks in activity, gradually declined during the 1960s and 1970s.
Fleming was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II coronation medal in 1953 and was appointed OBE in 1958. He served as president of the Australian division of the Royal Aeronautical Society (1971–73) and became a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 1976. In retirement he was appointed a special adviser (1976–77) to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, and later acted as an industrial consultant for Panavia Aircraft GmbH (1977–78) and the Office Française d’Exportation de Matériel Aéronautique (1978–83).
Quietly spoken, distinguished in appearance, and slight in build, Fleming was about 5 feet 10 inches (178 cm) tall. He had an excellent eye for detail, measured views, and quiet determination, and he was good at managing people and encouraging discussion and rapport. An enthusiastic traveller, he enjoyed driving fast on European highways in the latest BMW. He had married Jocelyn Phyllis Priestley, an English-born artist, at Christ Church, South Yarra, on 11 July 1941. She died in 1982. On 7 October 1989 he married Winifred Margaret Grace Davis at Ebenezer, New South Wales. Survived by his wife and the two daughters and three sons of his first marriage, Fleming died on 17 November 1993 in Canberra.
Boughton, Trevor. ‘Fleming, Ian Bowman, OBE.’ Man and Aerial Machines, no. 44 (July–August 1994): 52; Cranston, Frank, ‘Marathon Flight of the Jindivik.’ Canberra Times, 26 August 1992, 23; Fleming, Ian B. ‘Thirty Years Later—Jindivik in Retrospect.’ Aerospace 6, no. 9 (November 1979): 14–23; Herald (Melbourne). ‘Phlegmatic Mr Fleming Gives Nothing Away.’ 12 August 1954, 5; O’Connor, Des. ‘Engineer Who Made Ideas Fly.’ Australian, 20 December 1993, 13; Whitington, Don. ‘Trade Ship in Troubled Waters.’ Canberra Times, 8 August 1960, 2.
David A. Craddock
FLETCHER, Sir ALAN ROY (1907–1991), farmer and politician, was born on 26 January 1907 at Pittsworth, Queensland, eldest child of New South Wales–born Alexander Roy Fletcher, grazier, and his Queensland-born wife Rosina Wilhelmina, née McIntyre. Rosina came from a large Darling Downs farming family. Her uncle Donald McIntyre pioneered dairying and commercial cheese making on the Darling Downs, was a founder (1891) of the Queensland Farmers Alliance (precursor of the Country Party in Queensland), and member (1907–08) of the Legislative Assembly for Aubigny. Her brother Malcolm McIntyre had farming properties at Mount Tyson, near Pittsworth; was MLA for Cunningham (1944–53); and served as chairman of directors of the Mount Tyson Co-operative Dairy Association, chairman of the Queensland Cheese Marketing Board, and director of the Queensland Cheese Manufacturers’ Association. Violet Brodie, whose husband A. H. Davis (‘Steele Rudd’) [q.v.8] wrote On Our Selection, was her cousin.
Alan was educated at the local state school and Scots College, Warwick. On leaving school he commenced dairy farming at Mount Tyson. He also farmed at Mount Russell. On 15 March 1934 at Mount Tyson, he married, with Presbyterian forms, Enid Edna Phair Thompson, a New Zealand–born music teacher. In World War II Fletcher served part time (1942–44) as a sergeant in the 7th Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps. From 1945 to 1955 he held office on the Pittsworth Shire Council, including nine years as chairman. He was a director of the Queensland Co-operative Milling Association, president of the Old Scots Collegians’ Association, and a member of the council of the Warwick Presbyterian School.
In 1953 Fletcher succeeded his uncle as the Country Party member for Cunningham. He was appointed Speaker by the incoming (Sir) Frank Nicklin [q.v.15] coalition government four years later. The first non-Labor speaker since 1932, Fletcher was fair and judicious, exercising firm control over debates; this approach did not endear him to his Country Party colleagues. He became minister for lands and irrigation in 1960.
Despite representing himself as an ‘unsophisticated rustic’ (Qld Parliament 1953–54, 111), Fletcher was neither unpolished nor unaware of rural challenges. During his lifetime small dairy farming on the Darling Downs virtually collapsed. Almost all small butter and cheese factories, which his forebears had done so much to establish, closed. Fletcher’s attacks in parliament on margarine production and his warnings ‘that the continued prosperity and even security’ (Qld Parliament 1953–54, 107) of the State and the nation was largely dependent on the efforts of small primary producers, especially dairy farmers, could not stem the rush towards larger mixed farms. Fletcher himself admitted that he did not like dairying: ‘It is not a pleasant job. You have to be at it for seven days a week’ (Qld Parliament 1953–54, 1213). While he personally retained a dairy herd, he increasingly focused on grain growing and beef cattle production on his farms.
As minister, Fletcher was determined that the Fitzroy Basin Brigalow Land Development Scheme should succeed. He sponsored converting manageable leasehold properties into freehold estates, the successful consolidation of the labyrinthine Queensland land laws into clear and concise regulations, the easing of land taxes on small proprietors hit by rising land values, and restrictions on the use of pesticides. Never a patron of large graziers, either individuals or companies (he believed that the owner of the land should operate it), he ran foul of the powerful United Graziers’ Association of Queensland.
In January 1968 Fletcher stood against (Sir) Johannes Bjelke-Petersen for the deputy leadership; unpopular with graziers, and lacking support within the party, he was defeated. When Bjelke-Petersen was elected premier in July, Fletcher again sought the deputy leadership, but was unsuccessful. He had been appointed minister for education and cultural activities in January that year. An education reformer, he oversaw the passage of legislation to establish the James Cook University of North Queensland (1970), Griffith University (1971), and the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (1971). Under his leadership the Board of Secondary School Studies was established to replace the junior and senior external examinations, and State pre-school education was commenced.
A member of an uncompromisingly conservative government, Fletcher, as minister, was cool and detached. He endorsed university autonomy and, while supporting the Queensland Literature Board of Review’s banning of The Little Red Schoolbook, nevertheless conceded that ‘some of its statements were sound’ (Qld Parliament 1972, 913). He was knighted in 1972.
Following his retirement from parliament in 1974, Sir Alan was appointed chairman (1975) of the Queensland Theatre Orchestra, and vice-president (1977) of the Pittsworth Historical Society. A long-term advocate of equality of access to education, he was patron of the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association. His recreations included tennis, croquet, fishing, shooting, and cricket; he had served as captain of the Irongate Cricket Club for twenty-four years, returning to his electorate on weekends to play.
Six feet (183 cm) tall with blue eyes and brown hair, Fletcher was a committed Presbyterian. He was the last of the politically significant agrarian yeomen of the Darling Downs. Survived by his wife, a son, and a daughter, he died on 7 October 1991 at Toowoomba and was cremated. One daughter and one son pre-deceased him. The Alan Fletcher Research Station, Sherwood, Brisbane, was named after him.
Cato, Nancy. ‘Keeping a Tight Rein on Progress.’ Canberra Times, 16 February 1972, 14; Kingston, B. R. Personal communication with author; Lack, Clem, ed. Three Decades of Queensland Political History 1929–1960. Brisbane: Government Printer, 1962; National Archives of Australia. B884, Q225174; Queensland. Legislative Assembly. Parliamentary Debates. vols. 206–07. 1953–54, 107–111, 1212–14, vol. 212. 1955, 231–35, vol. 214. 1956–57, 804–09, vol. 234. 1962, 2280–83, vol. 255. 1970–71, 2198–2200, vol. 257. 1971, 640–46, vol. 259. 1972–73, 913, vol. 320. 1991, 1724–31; Toowoomba Chronicle. ‘Former MP Sir Alan Fletcher Dies.’ 9 October 1991, 4; Waterson, D. B. ‘The Darling Downs: Changing Patterns and Altered Perspectives, 1920–1989.’ In Peripheral Visions: Essays In Australian Regional and Local History, edited by B. J. Dalton, 8–24. Townsville: James Cook University Press, 1991.
D. B. Waterson*
FLETCHER, OWEN MAYNARD (1908–1992), solicitor and philanthropist, was born on 27 December 1908 at Hawthorne, Brisbane, fifth of six children of New Zealand–born Sidney Day Fletcher, solicitor, and his Queensland-born wife Lucy Jane, née Merry. Sidney Fletcher was a founder of the Brisbane legal firm Morris and Fletcher (later Morris Fletcher & Cross, and then Minter Ellison). Owen was educated at the New Farm State School and Brisbane Boys’ College (1922–25). Articled to his father, he was admitted as a solicitor in 1932. On Sidney’s retirement in 1933 he became a partner of Morris Fletcher & Cross.
From an early age Fletcher participated in church and community activities. He was superintendent of the Morningside Methodist Sunday School, and vice president (1933) of the Brisbane and Metropolitan Sunday School Superintendents’ Association. On 30 October 1935 at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, he married Elizabeth Wilson Galloway Robertson (1909–1990). The eldest child of Hubert John Robertson, Presbyterian minister, and his wife Elizabeth Wilson, née Galloway, Betty was born on 28 November 1909 at Ayrshire, Scotland. She migrated to Australia with her parents in 1913. She was educated at Somerville House school for girls, Brisbane, and the University of Queensland (BA Hons, 1931). She taught classics at Somerville House until her marriage. The couple purchased land and built a house at Indooroopilly.
Enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force on 9 November 1942, Fletcher was commissioned in January 1943 and appointed to the Administrative and Special Duties Branch. He spent most of his service with No. 3 Wireless Unit, RAAF Station, Coomalie, Northern Territory, which intercepted Japanese radio messages. On 9 January 1946 he was demobilised as an acting flight lieutenant.
After World War II Fletcher practised primarily in conveyancing and probate law. He regarded a case which went as far as the Privy Council as the high point of his legal career. In another case, Dorothy Beale, a missionary and reluctant beneficiary of the estate of her brother, Sir Howard Beale [q.v.17], agreed to Fletcher’s suggestion that the inheritance could construct student accommodation at the University of Papua New Guinea. He maintained a connection with the fledgling university, donating his law library when he retired in 1968. An official solicitor for the Methodist Church and a member of the Methodist Conference, he acted as honorary solicitor for the Queensland Spastic Welfare League. During the late 1960s and early 1970s he served on the board of directors of the One People of Australia League. A fellow OPAL board member, Senator Neville Bonner, found him to be a ‘compassionate mentor; guide and friend, and legal advisor’ (Fletcher 1991, 143). Fletcher was also a director of several companies, including Besley & Pike Pty Ltd, Brittain Brickworks Pty Ltd, and Forrers Pty Ltd.
A lover of music, Fletcher received many years instruction in singing and pianoforte, and later played the organ. He served as choir master for the Indooroopilly Methodist congregation (1936–41). In 1946 he and Betty were among the original subscribers to a series of orchestral concerts initiated by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. They joined the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s subscribers’ committee in 1950. Fletcher was president (1958) of the Brisbane Handel Society, and a life member (1984) of the Organ Society of Queensland. He was also involved with the Queensland Opera Company and the (Royal) Queensland Theatre Company.
Fletcher was deputy chairperson (1971–79) and chairperson (1979–83) of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music advisory council. With the visual arts board of the Australia Council for the Arts, in 1975 he and Betty funded a mural by the Brisbane artist Roy Churcher which extended for three stories on the front façade of the conservatorium building, then located on the Queensland University of Technology campus. In 1980 he donated $25,000 to establish the Owen Fletcher Master Teacher Project, which brought distinguished teachers and performers to the conservatorium. He obtained grants from the Board of Advanced Education and the Utah Foundation for a pipe organ for the conservatorium in 1981, subsequently named the Owen Fletcher Pipe Organ. He was appointed an honorary fellow of the conservatorium in 1983 and in 1992 was posthumously awarded an honorary doctorate by Griffith University (which had amalgamated with the conservatorium the previous year).
Betty Fletcher became an inaugural member of the University of Queensland’s Alumni Association in 1968; she and Owen were both granted honorary life membership in 1988 (even though Owen was not a graduate). Together they worked for the expansion of Grace College during the 1970s, and the Fletcher Wing was named in their honour. In 1980 Fletcher established the Owen Fletcher Research Fund for the purpose of expanding and promoting research studies in law. Betty was elected first patron (1988) of the Friends of Antiquity, a group within the Alumni Association. She was also a benefactor of the Museum of Antiquity located within the department of classics and ancient history.
In retirement Owen and Betty Fletcher travelled extensively, visiting countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America. Following Betty’s death on 29 August 1990, the Friends of Antiquity established the Betty Fletcher memorial travelling scholarship for classics graduates.
More than 6 feet (183 cm) tall with an upright bearing, shrewd gaze, and friendly manner, Fletcher was noted for his wisdom, generosity, and ‘true brotherly love’ (Fletcher 1991, 143). Survived by a daughter, he died on 20 August 1992 at Auchenflower, Brisbane, and was cremated. He is commemorated by the Owen Fletcher postgraduate prize awarded by the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University.
Brisbane Courier. ‘Personal.’ 4 May 1932, 10; Bonner, Neville. Courier Mail (Brisbane). ‘The Woman’s World.’ 31 October 1935, 21; Fletcher, Owen. Fifty Five Years of Our Life Together, 1935–1990. Normanby, Qld: Boolarong Publications, 1991; National Archives of Australia. A9300, FLETCHER, O. M.
FLEWELL-SMITH, BERNARD (1898–1992), fruit grower and fruit producers’ co-operative manager, was born on 4 March 1898 at Lowood, Queensland, third surviving child of English-born John Francis Flewell-Smith, farmer, and his Queensland-born wife Frances Maude, née Stephens. A citizen-soldier and lieutenant colonel in the Queensland Defence Force, John commanded (February–July 1901) the 5th (Queensland Imperial Bushmen) Contingent, and then held the appointment of area commandant at Colesberg, in the South African War. He later served in the Commonwealth Citizen Military Forces. As a colonel (1916–17) in the Australian Imperial Force’s (AIF) Sea Transport Service in 1916–17, he commanded troops on board HMAT Boorara. He retired from the CMF in 1920 as an honorary brigadier general.
Bernard, affectionately known by family members as ‘Bon’, attended Tarampa State School. He completed his education at Ipswich Grammar School after winning a State scholarship in 1912. A brilliant student, in 1915 he was awarded the Thomas Joseph Byrnes [q.v.7] memorial medal, given annually to the most successful candidate in the junior public examination held by the University of Queensland. The outbreak of World War I altered the direction of Flewell-Smith’s life. Intent on a career in medicine, he instead managed the family farms in his father’s absence until he too went to war.
On 18 April 1917 Flewell-Smith enlisted in the AIF. Joining the 15th Battalion on the Western Front in April 1918, he suffered a minor wound in June. In the battle of Hamel on 4 July, he took command when his section commander was wounded, rallied the men around him, and secured the objective. He was awarded the Military Medal for his courage and leadership. Promoted to sergeant in July 1919, he was discharged from the AIF in Brisbane on 14 September. Under the soldier-settlement scheme he bought a small farm at Bracken Ridge on the northern outskirts of Brisbane and began growing pineapples. He married Mary Ethel Carlin Darling at the Congregational Church, Cheshunt, Victoria, on 30 April 1921.
Actively involving himself in the affairs and problems of Queensland’s struggling fruit-growing industry, Flewell-Smith was the Bracken Ridge delegate to the Pineapple Growers’ Advisory Council in 1923. In 1925 and 1928 he was elected as a delegate to the Pineapple Sectional Group (PSG) committee of the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing (COD), a cooperative organisation established by the State government in 1923 to protect the interests of fruit growers particularly from over-production, and to improve marketing strategies. Through regular letters to the editor of Brisbane’s Courier newspaper, Flewell-Smith did much to counter criticism of the COD from growers and others who objected to its methods. He was appointed chairman of the PSG committee in 1929, acting manager of the COD in 1931, and (general) manager of the COD in 1935.
The organisation was in serious financial trouble when Flewell-Smith took over, but his superb managerial skills resulted in its return to profitability within twelve months. By 1950 the COD was one of Australia’s largest marketing agencies. Flewell-Smith’s support for the establishment of two COD canning factories was largely responsible for this turnaround. The first factory, located in the Brisbane suburb of Northgate, commenced operations in 1947; a second factory was opened at Koongal near Rockhampton in 1953. The Northgate factory processed 3,740 tons (3,800 tonnes) of pineapples in its first year of operation. Initially trading as Queensland Tropical Fruit Products, with Golden Circle as its brand name, it became known as the Golden Circle Cannery. The enterprise quickly expanded into the canning of a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, as well as diversifying into jams and the production of fruit juice and cordials. Flewell-Smith was a member of the board of directors until his retirement in 1968.
Over 6 feet (183 cm) tall with grey eyes and light brown hair, Flewell-Smith was a very private man, especially in his business relationships. He had received a Coronation Medal in 1953. In 1958, in recognition of his service to the fruit and vegetable industry in Queensland, he was appointed CBE; he attended the investiture at Buckingham Palace. He was a member of Rotary International and was also involved with the Save the Trees Campaign in Brisbane. He moved to Caboolture in retirement. Predeceased by his wife and survived by his two daughters and one son, he died on 24 August 1992 at the War Veterans’ Home, Caboolture, and was cremated.
Buckley, Arch, and Janette Flewell-Smith. ‘Pioneer and Soldier: The Life of John Francis Flewell-Smith.’ Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland 15, no. 8 (1994): 385–92; Covell, Roger. ‘These Queenslanders Fought Their Own Way to Fame and Fortune.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 13 March 1950, 2; Courier Mail (Brisbane). ‘New Manager for COD: Mr Flewell-Smith Appointed.’ 14 December 1935, 19, ‘Ex-Fruit Boss Dies.’ 26 August 1992, 15; Flewell-Smith, Bernard. ‘Queensland Fruit Trade.’ Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland 5, no. 3 (1955): 1090–1102; National Archives of Australia. B2455, Flewell-Smith, B; State Library of Queensland. John Oxley Library. Flewell-Smith Family Papers; Shogren, Diana. ‘The Creation of the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing.’ Queensland Heritage 2, no. 5 (1971): 31–38.
FLORANCE, SHEILA MARY (1916–1991), actress, was born on 24 July 1916 at East St Kilda, Melbourne, elder child of Victorian-born parents James Horn Florance, schoolteacher, and his wife Frances Josephine, née Lalor, costumier. Sheila was educated at Presentation Convent, Windsor. After leaving school aged fifteen she became interested in the theatre, appearing with Old Caulfield Grammarians (her father taught at Caulfield Grammar School). She also attended some classes at the National Gallery Art School where her unusual beauty led to employment as a model. Trying to further her theatrical ambitions, she took on small parts with Brett Randall’s Little Theatre at St Chad’s in South Yarra.
On 19 April 1934 at the Holy Angels Catholic Church, Balaclava, Florance married a visiting Englishman, Roger Lightfoot Oyston. The following year the couple took their infant daughter, Susan, to England, where they stayed briefly with Roger’s parents at Scarborough, Yorkshire, before moving into a house at nearby Bridlington. Sheila found time to perform in local theatricals and to attend the theatre in London. A son, Peter, was born in 1938.
At the outbreak of World War II, with her husband in the British Army, Florance joined the Women’s Land Army and worked as a farm hand at Mill Park, near Bempton. She later claimed to have had a baby daughter, Bridget, blown out of her arms during a bombing raid at Temple Meads Station, Bristol, and to needing psychiatric care. No record of Bridget’s birth or death has been found, but Temple Meads Station was bombed in January 1941 and Bridget is listed on Sheila’s death certificate. In 1942 Susan and Peter were sent to boarding schools, but later returned to Mill Farm. Sheila’s husband died on active service during the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Their younger son, Philip, was born posthumously. On 3 September 1946 at the Church of the Holy Cross, Hucknall, Nottingham, Florance married John (Jan) Adam Balawaider (d. 1983), a Polish former airman.
Florance returned to Melbourne in 1948 with Balawaider and her three children. The family rented a cottage at Windsor, later to be a centre of Sheila’s generous hospitality to fellow actors and artists. She struggled to achieve her stage ambitions but by 1951 she was again acting with the Little Theatre Movement. At Frank Thring [q.v.] junior’s Arrow theatre at Middle Park, she was stage manager before taking the role of Jocasta opposite Thring in Oedipus Rex in 1953. Tragedy struck in 1954 when Susan died in a fall from a city building. The coroner returned an open finding. Florance later told New Idea that Susan had died in a car accident, but shortly before her own death she spoke of the tragedy as suicide. In 2012 the Victoria Police cold case squad investigated allegations that in 2005 a dying man had confessed to murdering three women, including Susan. He allegedly claimed to have been fearful Susan would expose one of his earlier murders.
Florance was increasingly offered character parts with John Sumner’s newly formed Union Theatre Repertory Company, although in 1962 she was to play the leading role of Lady Macbeth, once again opposite Thring. A highlight in 1956 was the part of Cassandra in Giraudoux’s Tiger at the Gates, directed by Irene Mitchell, at the opening of St Martins Theatre, South Yarra. In 1957 she played Anne Frank’s mother in a commercial production of The Diary of Anne Frank in Melbourne and Sydney. With the Little Theatre she won an ERIK award for best actress (1959) for her role in Shadow of Heroes, a play about the Hungarian Revolution. She supplemented her income working as a television floor manager for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In 1969 she and Jan moved to a flat at St Kilda.
Film and television gradually became Florance’s main work and in 1979 she created the role for which she is chiefly remembered: Lizzie Birdsworth in the television series Prisoner. Playing the part until 1984, she was a worldwide cult figure many years after she had retired from the show. Florance herself was said not to like this enormously popular character, although she won Sammy (1981) and Logie (1981, 1983) awards for the part. Her personal life was filled with caring for her disabled husband, raising her grandson, gardening, entertaining, and urging the St Kilda municipal council to clean up drugs and prostitution on the streets of the raffish suburb.
Sheila’s film career continued into the last decade of her life including roles in The Tale of Ruby Rose and Paul Cox’s Cactus. Her courage was shown in her willingness to play a dying woman in Cox’s A Woman’s Tale (1991) when she herself was dying from cancer. For this role she received the Australian Film Institute award for best actress only one week before her death. Survived by her two sons, Florance died on 12 October 1991 at Malvern, and was buried with Catholic rites in Brighton cemetery. A complex character, she was a versatile actor and loyal friend but sometimes dramatised aspects of an already interesting and tragic life.
Age (Melbourne). ‘TV Veteran “Lizzie” Dies.’ 13 October 1991, 1; Argus (Melbourne). ‘Smiling Girl Crashed to Her Death.’ 8 July 1954, 6; Australian Film Institute Newsletter. ‘Sheila Florance – A Woman’s Tale.’ December 1991, 10; Martineau, Helen. On the Inside: An Intimate Portrait of Sheila Florance. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2005; New Idea (Melbourne). ‘The Tragic Private World of Sheila Florance.’ 7 February 1981, 10–11; Performing Arts Collection, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne. Sheila Florance Collection; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Veteran Not Afraid to Die.’ 14 October 1991, 8.
FORSTER, FRANK MENZIES (1923–1995), obstetrician, gynaecologist, and medical historian, was born on 21 September 1923 at Double Bay, Sydney, second of three children of Victorian-born parents Cameron McDougall Forster, medical student and later practitioner, and his wife Jean Catherine, née Officer, psychology graduate and later a pioneering remedial teacher. Frank was educated at Ashfield Grammar School for Boys, Sydney. Following his parents’ separation he lived with his mother in Victoria and attended Princes Hill State School, Carlton, before gaining a scholarship to Melbourne Church of England Grammar School. In 1940 he entered medicine at the University of Melbourne (MB, BS, 1948). His degrees were interrupted by the discovery of a tumour on his spine. The surgery, while successful, left him with spinal weakness and intermittent pain. Encouraged to return to study by Professor (Sir) Roy (Pansy) Wright [q.v.18], dean of medicine, he graduated with honours in surgery as well as obstetrics and gynaecology.
In 1948 Forster began his surgical training as a resident medical officer, then registrar, at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. He was a resident at the (Royal) Women’s Hospital (RWH) by 1951. On 1 July 1952 he married Prudence Isobel Swan Edgar, a nurse, at the Melbourne Church of England Grammar School chapel. The next year the couple travelled to London where Frank worked at the Hospital for Women, Soho Square, and gained membership (later fellowship) of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Clinical work drew Forster back to the RWH. From 1954 to 1958 he was a gynaecological assistant in the professorial unit. In 1955, while (Sir) Lance Townsend, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, was on sabbatical, Forster taught resident medical staff and medical students. His bedside teaching and lively lectures, emphasising the meticulous care of pregnant women, were highly regarded. By the late 1950s he had established a private practice in Collins Street. He continued at the hospital as an honorary associate surgeon and then honorary obstetrical surgeon to outpatients until 1965 when the number of private patients he attracted caused him to step down.
Forster became a specialist in dealing with difficult pregnancies. To overcome cervical incompetence and possible loss of the unborn child, he refined a procedure to insert a cervical suture, designing an implement that became known as ‘the Frank Forster needle’. In the 1960s he was regarded as an expert on liver disease in pregnancy. From 1956 to 1984 he was a visiting specialist, and later honorary consultant at Fairfield Hospital overseeing complications during pregnancy and childbirth from diseases such as polio and hepatitis. He also provided obstetric and gynaecological services at Her Majesty’s Female Prison, Fairlea.
Developing a passion for collecting medical books, ephemera, and instruments, Forster had joined the Victorian branch of the Section of Medical History (later the Medical History Society) and served as its president (1966–68 and 1980–82) and treasurer (1979–80). In the late 1960s, with the paediatrician Glynn White, he purchased a building in East Melbourne for consulting rooms that included space for his expanding library. At the RWH he helped to establish the Tracy (Maund) Memorial Lecture and delivered the inaugural presentation in 1964. During his second term as president of the Medical History branch, he initiated and edited the Medical History Australia newsletter. He also participated in the Medico-Legal Society of Victoria and the State branch of the Book Collectors’ Society of Australia (president, 1983–85).
A prolific author, Forster published articles, booklets, and catalogues on aspects of Australian medical history. In 1978 and 1979 he held the Norman Haire [q.v.14] fellowship at the University of Sydney. He catalogued the Haire archives and began to research Haire’s life as an Australian gynaecologist who was outspoken on issues such as birth control, sex education, and sexual reform. A fellow (1978) of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RACOG), he co-authored its history, Super Ardua, in 1981 and helped to establish the Glyn White research fellowship.
Fellow collector and medical colleague Bryan Gandevia recalled that Forster had ‘a wicked chuckle and a notable capacity to recount anecdotes of people past and present’ (Gandevia and Attwood 1995, 2). In 1987 Forster donated his collection of books, instruments, and other items relating to women’s health to the RACOG. Three years later he was awarded the president’s medal. Survived by his wife, their daughter, and their three sons, he died on 18 March 1995 at East Melbourne and was cremated. That year the RACOG library was renamed in his memory.
Forster, Frank M. C. ‘30 Years On. Medical History Society, 1953–83. Australian Medical Association (Victorian Branch), with Accounts of Other Activities Promoting Medical History in Australia.’ In Occasional Papers on Medical History Australia, edited by Harold Attwood, Frank Forster, and Bryan Gandevia, 157–99, Parkville, Vic.: Medical History Society, A.M.A. (Victoria branch), and Medical History Unit, University of Melbourne, 1984; Gandevia, Bryan, and Harold Attwood. ‘Frank Menzies Cameron Forster, 1923–1995. A Tribute.’ Newsletter of the Australian Society of the History of Medicine, August 1995, 1–3; McDonald, Ian A., Ian Cope, and Frank M. C. Forster. Super Ardua: The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Australia, 1929–1979. Melbourne: Australian Council RCOG, 1981; Muir, Claire. The Medical History Society of Victoria, 1953–2006. Melbourne: The Medical History Society of Victoria Inc., 2007; Royal Women’s Hospital. ‘Forster, Frank Menzies Cameron (1923–1995).’ Created 15 November 2006. Accessed 17 August 2012. www.thewomenshistory.org.au/biogs/e000089b.htm. Copy held on ADB file; Winspear, Rosalind. ‘A College Benefactor: Frank Forster—Obstetrician, Gynaecologist, Medical Historian and Bibliophile.’ Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 44 (2004): 3–5.
FORSYTH, WILLIAM DOUGLASS (1909–1993), schoolteacher, scholar of international relations, historian, and diplomat, was born on 5 January 1909 at Casterton, Victoria, eldest son of Victorian-born parents James Douglass Forsyth, commission agent, and his wife Martha Alice, née Lamborne. The family’s social isolation, stemming from James’s drinking, gambling, and financial difficulties, was a significant source of tension, especially for William whose chronic asthma was aggravated by stress. A bright student, he attended local schools and Ballarat High School before leaving in 1924 to become a student teacher. He received a Melbourne Teachers’ College studentship in 1927, enabling studies in history and politics at the University of Melbourne (DipEd, 1930; BA Hons, 1932; MA, 1947). He was inspired by P. D. Phillip’s lectures and Institute of Pacific Relations Council member F. W. Eggleston [q.v.8] to focus on international affairs. Professor Ernest Scott [q.v.11] provided considerable encouragement during his postgraduate years, declaring that ‘Forsyth is, I have no hesitation in saying, one of the half-dozen best students of history who I have known in twenty years’ (NLA MS 5700). His honours thesis earned him the annual Harbison-Higginbotham research scholarship (1935); revised and enlarged, it was published in 1935 as Governor Arthur’s Convict System, Van Diemen’s Land, 1824–36: A Study in Colonization.
Forsyth tutored in a University of Melbourne extension course while teaching at Sale High School (1933–34). He transferred to Shepparton High School in 1935. On 19 December 1935 at the Shepparton Presbyterian Church he married eighteen-year-old Thelma Joyce Sherry, a talented local musician and singer who worked as a typist. With the support of (Sir) Douglas Copland [q.v.13], he secured a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation (1936) to facilitate British-based postgraduate research on how migration to the Dominions contributed to national development. Initially based at the University of London, he later moved to Balliol College, Oxford, where his younger brother Russell had just completed his Rhodes scholarship. Following a period of intense international research-related travel, including visits to the International Labour Organization at Geneva, he took extended leave from Oxford at the end of 1937 for health and financial reasons. Returning to Australia, he secured a one-year University of Melbourne research fellowship. The Rockefeller Foundation agreed to fund his return to Oxford the following year, enabling him to complete a BLitt in 1939 (conferred 1946). The University of Melbourne had also provided a travel grant and extended his research fellowship.
On returning to Melbourne in late 1939, Forsyth was appointed a research officer with the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA), a position funded by a Rockefeller grant. During World War II he worked for the Commonwealth Department of Information (DoI), collecting and compiling secret intelligence from the Department of External Affairs (DEA) and the intelligence services and coordinating information about the war supplied to Australian press and radio. A second Harbison-Higginbotham scholarship (1940) resulted in The Myth of Open Spaces: Australian, British and World Trends of Population and Migration (1942), which questioned Australia’s ability to ‘absorb vast numbers of immigrants’ (Canberra Times 1993, 12). Forsyth advocated greater self-sufficiency by linking future selective immigration and settlement with habitable areas associated with industrial development, involving reduced trade barriers and the stimulation of productivity. He also advised that Australia would increasingly need to draw its labour from non-British sources.
At the end of 1942 the DEA—on the recommendation of Australia’s ambassador to China, Eggleston—secured Forsyth’s transfer from the DoI. In the DEA’s postwar section in 1943, Forsyth produced a series of Pacific area research reports that included a proposal for a system of regional international collaboration involving a South Seas Commission. During 1945 his work included advising the Australian delegation to the United Nations (UN) Conference on International Organization in San Francisco and the Australian force commander for the Japanese surrender in Portuguese Timor (Timor-Leste). He also worked with Australian Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs H. V. Evatt [q.v.14], and Australian Minister to the United States of America Eggleston, at the inaugural meeting of the Far Eastern Advisory Commission in Washington, DC. In early 1946 he led the FEAC’s Australian delegation to occupied Japan, holding consultations with the supreme commander, General Douglas MacArthur [q.v.15]. Following his return to Canberra that year, he was promoted to first secretary in the department’s newly established Pacific Affairs Division, assisting Evatt on Pacific Island bases negotiations.
Forsyth played an important role in the six-power South Seas Conference held in Canberra in January 1947, which resulted in the establishment of the South Pacific Commission (SPC), a Noumea-based consultative and advisory body on the economic and social advancement of Pacific peoples. He was appointed secretary-general of the SPC in Noumea in 1948, overseeing the inauguration of its operations. From 1951 to 1955 he served as Australia’s permanent representative to the UN in New York. Appointed OBE in 1955, he later described the award as ‘an inglorious gong, best forgotten as a consolation prize for someone who did not fit in’ (NLA MS 5700).
In 1956 Forsyth became assistant secretary of the DEA. During the Suez Crisis that year he opposed Prime Minister (Sir) Robert Menzies’s [q.v.15] support for British–French–Israeli efforts to keep the Suez Canal under Franco-British control, arguing that it would damage Australia’s foreign relations, particularly with African and Asian countries at the UN. With Cold War tensions increasing in Indo-China, in 1959 he was posted to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) as Australia’s first ambassador to South Vietnam; he was concurrently Australian minister to Laos. He resumed the role of assistant secretary, DEA, in 1961, before his second appointment as secretary-general of the SPC (1963–66).
Appointed in February 1967 as Australia’s first ambassador to Lebanon, Forsyth arrived just before the Six-Day War between Israel and neighbouring Arab states. Following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, he attracted international attention by refusing to shake hands with the Soviet ambassador at an Iraq national day reception. Despite ongoing medical treatment, he became increasingly unwell with anxiety, asthma, and bronchitis related to stress and overwork, resulting in a breakdown that saw him seek relief in Cyprus. A subsequent Australian Security Intelligence Organisation investigation into his twenty-four-hour absence without leave was the culmination of events that irrevocably damaged his career. His chronic asthma ruled out his return to full-time work in the department and he was forced to retire on medical grounds in October 1969.
In 1970 Forsyth published Captain Cook’s Australian Landfalls. The election of the Whitlam Labor government in 1972 inspired him to begin writing his autobiography, a three-part manuscript entitled ‘Recollections of a Maverick Diplomat’. He terminated his connection with the AIIA in 1977 on the grounds that it had become too heavily influenced by the United States. His contribution to public dialogue was subsequently confined to letters to the editor of the Canberra Times on diverse and often controversial topics.
Of compact build and short stature, Forsyth was shy and reserved with a scholarly manner and keen sense of humour. He was highly perceptive and deeply reflective, viewing himself as an awkward, unconventional outsider. He had a considerable capacity for work, although associated nervous tension tended to exacerbate his asthma, leading him to drink alcohol excessively at times. He confessed that he had been ‘too fond of joyful living, of fair ladies and the wine of life, to affect a straight-laced demeanour consistently’ (NLA MS 5700). Survived by two daughters and one son, Forsyth died on 3 March 1993 in Canberra. He has been remembered as ‘one of Australia’s most distinguished diplomats’ (Cotton 2016, 480) and as a ‘man of pragmatic vision’ (SPC 2007, 20).
Canberra Times. ‘William Douglass Forsyth, OBE: A Distinguished Diplomat.’ 8 March 1993, 12; Cotton, James. ‘The Institute’s Seventieth Volume: The Journal, Its Origins and Its Engagement with Foreign Policy Debate.’ Australian Journal of International Affairs 70, no. 5 (2016): 471–83; Forsyth, William Douglass. Interview by Mel Pratt, January–February 1972. Transcript. Mel Pratt collection. National Library of Australia; National Library of Australia. MS 5700, Papers of William Douglass Forsyth, 1875–1993; South Pacific Commission. Meeting House of the Pacific: The Story of the SPC, 1947–2007. Nouméa, New Caledonia: SPC Secretariat, 2007.
FRANCIS, IVOR PENGELLY (1906–1993), artist, teacher, and art critic, was born on 13 March 1906 at Uckfield, Sussex, England, eldest of three children of Ivor Francis, journeyman ironmonger, and his wife Florence Keziah Francis, née Wheatley. He was educated at Merton Court Preparatory School in Kent, followed by Woodbridge School in Suffolk. Prior to emigrating under an assisted scheme, Ivor worked as a photographer’s apprentice. On 19 February 1924 he arrived in Adelaide and was joined by his parents and two sisters the next year. He initially worked on Eyre Peninsula as a farm hand.
To meet a pressing need for teachers in rural areas, the South Australian government advertised for trainees. Francis was given a trial at Elliston, then appointed to Marratta in 1925. The local inspector saw his potential and encouraged him to apply for the one year course speedily developed at Adelaide Teachers’ College to meet the shortage. He completed the course in 1926 and taught at a number of schools in rural South Australia until he was posted to suburban Adelaide in 1930. He continued teaching until moving into broadcasting in 1948.
From 1926 to 1940 Francis studied part time at the South Australian School of Arts and Crafts where his teachers included Marie Tuck [q.v.12], Mary P. Harris, and Frederick McCubbin [q.v.10]. On 21 January 1931 at St Margaret’s Anglican Church, Woodville, he married Ethel Saunders (d. 1986), whom he had met while teaching at Jamestown, north of Adelaide. She became his greatest critic and supporter. They initially settled at Prospect but from 1957 lived at Crafers in the Adelaide Hills.
By the mid-1930s Francis was rising to prominence as an artist. During the very early stages of his artistic career he showed exceptional ability in design and composition. In 1936 he was awarded the McGregor memorial prize (poster design), and in 1939 won the John White prize (landscape painting, South Australia). He participated in exhibitions of contemporary art including, in 1942, the controversial breakaway show First Exposition: Royal South Australian Society of Arts Associate Contemporary Group. In the same year he was a foundation committee member of the newly formed Contemporary Art Society of Australia (South Australian branch), later chairman in 1944, and became a spokesperson for contemporary art. He organised a second highly contentious exhibition of contemporary art in Adelaide, The Anti-Fascist Exhibition, in 1943. His painting, Finality Concept, showed ‘how human life is made uniform and mechanical in the Fascist way of life, and that man loses his personality in the machine of State’ (News, 1943, 6). In 1944 he was appointed a fellow of the Royal South Australian Society of Arts (RSASA), serving as vice-president from 1953 to 1955.
From the early 1940s Francis published articles on contemporary art in journals including Angry Penguins and the South Australian Teachers’ Journal. He was art critic with the News (1944–56), and continued critical writing until 1977, editing and publishing his monthly Ivor’s Art Review (1956–60), and contributing to the Sunday Mail (1965–74) and the Advertiser (1974–77). From 1948 until his retirement in 1968 he was supervisor of youth education, Australian Broadcasting Commission, Adelaide.
During the 1940s his interest in surrealism grew, as shown in both his painting and his writing, causing the leading Adelaide poet and the inaugural editor of the Angry Penguins magazine, Max Harris [q.v.], to dub him ‘Apocalypt’. It is for paintings from this period that he is best known, despite having a productive painting career spanning six decades. A surrealistic theme runs through much of his work, and an underlying despair at mankind’s continuing capacity for self-extermination.
Francis exhibited regularly in group exhibitions, and in 1945 had a joint exhibition with Douglas Roberts. However, he had only four one-person exhibitions during his career: 1948 at the John Martin’s Gallery, Adelaide; 1965 at the RSASA; 1978 at Avenel Bee Gallery in the Adelaide Hills and the 1987 retrospective exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia. His work Schizophrenia, painted in 1943, was his first to enter a public collection (Art Gallery of South Australia, 1945) and he is well-represented in major public collections throughout Australia. Five of his paintings were included in Aspects of Australian Surrealism 1976 (AGSA) and three in the major international survey Surrealism: Revolution by Night, 1993 (National Gallery of Australia).
The recipient of an Australia Council emeritus award in 1988, Francis was appointed AO for his service to art as a painter, critic, and teacher in 1989. ‘A gentle, thoughtful, softly spoken man’ (Advertiser, 1987, 38) who championed artistic innovation, he died on 6 November 1993 in Adelaide, and was cremated. His autobiography, Goodbye to the City of Dreams, was published in 2004.
Harris, Samela. ‘Ivor Francis looking back with a sort of wonderment’, Advertiser, 11 July 1987, 38; Hylton, Jane. Ivor Francis: An Adelaide Modernist. Adelaide: Art Gallery Board of South Australia, 1987, Adelaide Angries: South Australian Painting of the 1940s. Adelaide: Art Gallery Board of South Australia, 1989; Ward, Peter, ‘The Penguin’s day has finally arrived’, Australian, 4 August 1987, 7.
FREEMAN, Sir JAMES DARCY (JIMMY) (1907–1991), Catholic cardinal and archbishop, was born on 19 November 1907 at Annandale, Sydney, eldest of four surviving children of New South Wales–born parents Robert Patrick Freeman, train conductor, and his wife Margaret Jane, née Smith. Jimmy was educated by the Sisters of Charity at St Canice’s primary school, and by the Christian Brothers at St Mary’s Cathedral High School, where he enjoyed reading and various sports. He remembered learning the beauty of religion from his parents. After high school, he entered the seminary at St Columba’s College, Springwood, completing his studies at St Patrick’s College, Manly, in 1929.
Ordained by the apostolic delegate Archbishop Bartholomew Cattaneo on 13 July 1930, Freeman said Mass at his home parish, St Canice’s. Between August 1930 and March 1932 he was attached to Grafton and Murwillumbah in the diocese of Lismore. At first he read his sermons ‘head … up and down like the proverbial cocky on the clothes line’, but later decided to write out his homilies and memorise them (His Eminence Cardinal James Freeman 2002, 79). Returning to Sydney, he was assistant priest at Strathfield, and then curate to Father Edward O’Brien at Mosman (1935–38). There he began the Literary, Social and Debating Club and the Mosman Catholic Tennis Club. Parish ministry epitomised his aspirations.
Later in life Freeman remembered ‘the awful impact of the Depression’, recalling men who had not eaten enough who ‘collapsed while digging drains on public works projects’, and the ‘real heroines’, the wives and mothers trying to overcome their men’s difficulties (Cameron 1983, 18). Appointed to St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, in 1938, he became private secretary to Archbishop (Sir) Norman (Cardinal) Gilroy [q.v.14] in March 1941. During World War II he embraced the Church’s emphasis on charity and social justice for the postwar order.
In 1946 Freeman became the first director of the Catholic Information Bureau, working for many years in catechetics. From 1949 he was also pastor of St Francis’ Church, Haymarket. That year he was created a domestic prelate with the title monsignor. He was parish priest at St Michael’s, Stanmore (1954–63), and later at St Mary’s, Concord (1963–68). At Stanmore, Father Michael O’Sullivan, his curate from 1955 to 1959, remembered ‘a wonderful parish priest’, ‘great storyteller’, and ‘humble man’, who would bring a ‘rough diamond’ taxi driver in for a cup of tea and light-heartedly shadow-box with a ‘punchy’ ex-boxer parishioner from County Cork (O’Sullivan, pers. comm.). Appointed titular bishop of Hermopolis Parva and auxiliary bishop to Gilroy in December 1956, Freeman was shaken by this and later appointments, perturbed that he was no longer simply a priest. His ‘sense of sacred responsibility before God in his role as bishop weighed upon him heavily’, according to Bishop Bede Heather (Heather, pers. comm.).
Freeman established the Sydney Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in 1958. Anticipating one aspect of the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), he worked at nights with Father Ron Hine training lay parishioners to work as catechists in their communities. During the 1950s he also became secretary of the Sydney Catholic Radio and Television Committee and a member of the board of directors of the Catholic Weekly (chairman, 1957–68), as well as writing for the Sun-Herald and giving radio talks for the Australian Broadcasting Commission and 2SM; he continued his public outreach efforts into the 1980s. Talented with words, he was described by Cardinal Edward Clancy as having a Damon Runyonesque style with ‘short, choppy sentences’ (Clancy, pers. comm.). His private secretary and friend Father John Sullivan later recalled that he was determined that ‘there be no fat on what you had to say’ (John Sullivan, pers. comm.). Appointed a knight commander with star of the papal Order of the Holy Sepulchre, he became bishop of Armidale in October 1968.
Gilroy set in motion the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) dutifully but reluctantly. Freeman, although temperamentally dissimilar, shared Gilroy’s pragmatic conservatism. When he succeeded Gilroy as archbishop of Sydney in August 1971, he brought ‘little change in the Gilroy style’ apart from ‘removing something of its harsher edge’ (O’Farrell 1985, 419). Yet because he related to people well, he was able to work for understanding and unity. He followed through in education and liturgy, continuing Gilroy’s implementation of liturgical and ecumenical commissions and priests’ retirement homes. Taking Vatican II as authoritative, he was partly responsible for publishing Australian editions of liturgical texts. Interviewed in the Bulletin in 1980, he observed that while some people ‘feel a certain nostalgia for the old Latin days and find the changes awkward’, those reforms had ‘helped people participate more intimately and directly in the Church’s ceremonies’ (Bell 1980, 31).
With Archbishop James Knox [q.v.17] of Melbourne, Freeman was named as a cardinal in March 1973. The following year he set up five archdiocesan regions, each to be overseen by a local auxiliary bishop. In September 1976 he hosted an international Sydney Marian congress, his episcopal motto being Per ipsum ipsa duce (‘With Him, under her leadership’). He was appointed KBE in 1977, and participated in the two papal conclaves of 1978, the ‘year of three Popes’. Reaching the mandatory retiring age of seventy-five, he stepped down in 1983.
Ministering within a climate of widespread ambivalence to religion, Freeman advocated ‘counter-cultural’ Christianity throughout his life. He exemplified authentic Australian episcopal servant-leadership, exercised within a traditional Roman ecclesiology. Having great fidelity to the Church and respect for the canon law, he humanised this formality with Australian values of benevolent egalitarianism: ‘We’re all the same in the surf!’, he was fond of saying. His theology was conventional, reflecting an enduring faith-based acceptance of its essentials rather than a lack of sophistication, and his strength lay in his ability to relate to people. As archbishop, he supported a pastoral priesthood and what was best for the people. He was approachable, consultative and conscientious, perhaps trying to reconcile both the spirit and letter of the law. Scrupulous, he repeated himself at ordinations and the consecration of a Mass to ensure he omitted nothing, sometimes being accompanied quietly by a secretary beside him.
Not having been trained overseas, Freeman was attached to the tradition of Australian Catholicism and ‘very strongly Australian in his attitudes’ (Heather, pers. comm.). He enjoyed Australiana, and had extensive knowledge of Australian art. Reserved, he was friendly in the right company, with a laconic wit. He died on 16 March 1991 at St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, and was buried in the crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral. The former St Canice’s primary school playground was named the Cardinal Freeman Peace Park by parishioners, and he is also remembered by the Freeman Catholic College, Bonnyrigg Heights, Sydney.
Baxter, Cliff. ‘Not of the “Me” Generation, He was the Very Soul of Sydney.’ Catholic Weekly, 20 March 1991, 2; Bell, Glennys. ‘Freeman’s Golden Year.’ Bulletin, 22 July 1980, 31–32; Cameron, Bob. ‘The Cardinal.’ New Idea, 26 February 1983, 18–19; Clancy, Cardinal Edward B., interview by the author, tape recording, 8 September 2004; Heather, Bishop Bede. Personal communication, 16 May 2005; His Eminence Cardinal James Freeman, 1907–1991. Bonnyrigg: Freeman Catholic College, 2002; McConville, Terry. ‘Priestly Ministry of Caring, Humility.’ Catholic Weekly, 23 February 1983, I–IV; O’Farrell, Patrick. The Catholic Church and Community: An Australian History. Kensington: New South Wales University Press, 1985; O’Sullivan, Rev. Michael, interview by the author, tape recording, 15 February 2005; Sullivan, Rev. John, interview by the author, tape recording, 5 November 2004; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘A Leading Churchman and Great Australian.’ 18 March 1991, 6.
Michael P. Cullen
FRENCH, KATHLEEN CARINA (KATH) (1926–1994), community advocate, was born on 16 May 1926 in Perth, third of four children of Francis Aitchison Porter, hotel proprietor, and his wife Ivy, née Healey. Kath’s early childhood was spent in Roebourne where her father managed the Victoria Hotel, which was owned by her grandmother. When she was eight the family returned to Perth and her father became manager of the railway refreshment rooms at Fremantle. The family lived in Nedlands. She was educated at St Joseph’s Convent, Fremantle, but left school to undertake a secretarial course. Commencing work at sixteen, she was employed at the Perth office of the agricultural firm Elder, Smith & Co. Ltd. On 4 May 1946 she married Robert William Shenton French at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth. He had served as a lieutenant in the Australian Imperial Force during World War II; one of her uncles who had served under his command introduced the couple.
In the early years of married life, while her husband worked as an accountant, French concentrated on homemaking and her children’s education, and was involved in school parents’ organisations. She became active in community groups in the early 1960s. With the committee of the women’s auxiliary of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Western Australia), she was honorary secretary (1963–71), and then chief organiser of fundraising functions (1974–80). She undertook a similar role (1971–82) for the Ryder-Cheshire Foundation, which in Western Australia provided low-cost accommodation for country people travelling to Perth for medical treatment. In 1983 she was elected a member of the State council of the Girl Guides Association of Western Australia (executive committee 1983–84), remaining on the council until 1987. With the Young Women’s Christian Association of Perth (Inc.), she served as a director and, in 1984, as chairman of its social responsibilities committee. In 1972 she had been a foundation member of the ‘Three L’s Club’, a luncheon group connected with the State division of the Liberal Party of Australia.
French’s growing reputation as an effective organiser and community advocate brought her a series of appointments to Commonwealth and State government committees and councils. She strongly believed that the work women performed in the home deserved recognition and that greater respect would improve self-esteem: ‘Women at home resent being seen as little Mrs Fixit, with Preen at the ready’ (Accord 1986, 2). After the Fraser government established the National Women’s Advisory Council, she was appointed an inaugural member (1978, 1981–82). She was also a member (1983–86) of the Western Australian Women’s Advisory Council to the Premier. As a deputy member (1989–94) of the State Equal Opportunity Tribunal, she assisted the president, Nicholas Hasluck QC, to deal judicially with cases of discrimination which could not be resolved by mediation. In 1991 she was appointed chairperson of the Advisory and Co-ordinating Committee on Child Abuse, which provided advice to the State government on services and resources for affected families. She became involved with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), initially as a supporter of the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra, then as a member of the State advisory council. Subsequently she was appointed convener (1991–94) of the national ABC Advisory Council. Her interests extended to the conservation of wildlife and she was president (1991–94) of the Zoological Gardens Board of Western Australia. She also served as a member (1991–94) of the Royal Perth Hospital Ethics Committee. In June 1994 she was appointed AM.
A brief battle with cancer ended French’s diverse community service. Survived by her husband (d. 1995) and their four sons and one daughter, she died on 25 September 1994 at St John of God Hospital, Subiaco, and was cremated after a requiem mass at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Nedlands. A former colleague, Diana Warnock, remembered her as an effective, energetic, and generous leader, who worked hard herself and thus inspired effort in others. Hasluck recalled her ‘wise counsel’ on the Equal Opportunity Tribunal, her ‘strong physical presence’ (pers. comm.), and sense of humour. She placed great emphasis on the old-fashioned courtesies and the concept of good manners. Her daughter, Rebecca, described her mother’s ability to solve problems as ‘a mixture of common sense and uncommon wisdom’ (1994, 5). The Kath French Memorial Garden was established in 1994 at the ABC offices in Perth to honour her support for the organisation. In recognition of her contribution to the care of children, a secure assessment centre at Stoneville in the Perth hills was named in her memory in 1999. Her eldest son, Robert, later served as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia (2007–18).
Accord: Western Australian Women’s Advisory Council to the Premier, no. 9 (1986), 2; French, Rebecca. ‘A Tribute to Kath French A.M.’ Beads (Holy Rosary Parish, Nedlands, WA), December 1994, 5; French, Robert. Personal communication; Hasluck, Nicholas. Personal communication; Sanctuary: Official Newspaper of the Perth Zoo & Perth Zoo Society. ‘Obituary.’ December 1994, 12; Seymour, Jane. ‘Community Devotion Honoured.’ West Australian, 29 September 1994, 40; Warnock, Diana. Personal communication.
FRIEDRICH, JOHN (1950–1991), company director and fraudster, was born Friedrich Johann Hohenberger on 7 September 1950 at Munich, West Germany, the younger of two sons of Johann Christian Hohenberger, possibly a textile manufacturer, and his wife Elisabeth Sophie Christina, née Wehner. Neighbours recalled that Fritz, as he was known in childhood, attended a nearby school and joined the local rescue patrol. He later claimed to have been born at Mount Davies, South Australia, in 1945.
In December 1974 Hohenberger was working for a road maintenance company in Munich when it was discovered that he had defrauded it of 300,000 deutsche marks. He disappeared before police could apprehend him, giving the impression that he had committed suicide or been killed in a skiing accident in Italy. On 20 January 1975 a man calling himself Friedrich Johann Hohenberger arrived at Melbourne Airport on a flight from Auckland, New Zealand. Although he was booked to fly on to London and airline records showed that he had departed, Hohenberger almost certainly remained in Australia.
In March, using the name John Friedrich, he took up a position as a community officer at Pukatja (formerly Ernabella), a remote Aboriginal settlement in South Australia, in which role he revealed both his organisational skills and a controlling personality. While there, he met Shirley Kay Manning, a nurse, whom he married at St David’s Presbyterian Church, West Strathfield, Sydney, on 10 February 1976. In the following year he made false claims regarding his qualifications to secure an appointment as a safety engineer at the National Safety Council of Australia (Victorian division) (NSCAV), a non-profit public company founded to prevent road and industrial accidents. With his ‘hypnotic personality’ (Evans 1991, 1) and talent for cutting through red tape, he rose quickly, becoming its director in 1982. He lived a modest lifestyle with his family on a property at Seaton near the organisation’s base at West Sale in Gippsland.
A physically robust man with a large bald head and, at the height of his powers, an impressive dark beard, ‘Freddo’ was an autocratic but respected leader who often joined his staff on training exercises and rescue operations. The ‘affable, motivated workaholic’ (Goodsir and Silvester 1989, 9) quickly transformed the Victorian division into a sophisticated search and rescue organisation by fraudulently borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars, at times using as security empty crates that he persuaded bankers contained expensive equipment.
Organised on paramilitary lines, the NSCAV boasted a fleet of helicopters, fixed-wing planes, a 42-metre flagship, a midget submarine, decompression chambers, and an infrared scanner. Pigeons were being trained to assist with rescue missions, and dogs to be parachuted with their handlers into remote areas to look for missing people. Friedrich was especially proud of the elite para-rescue group, or PJs (parachute jumpers) as they were known. As an advanced search and rescue organisation, the NSCAV gained the admiration of politicians and had prominent clients such as the Department of Defence. Its staff grew from 100 in 1984 to 450 in 1989. By this time, the NSCAV was winning contracts overseas. Friedrich, fearing exposure if he attempted to use a passport, invariably sent members of his staff abroad to negotiate with clients. In 1988 he had been awarded the OAM.
When in March 1989 the organisation’s chairman, Max Eise, asked Friedrich to explain anomalies in the accounts, he disappeared, becoming the target of a police manhunt that attracted feverish media attention. After sixteen days the police located him near Perth. The Victorian division’s debts on its collapse in 1989 were estimated at about a quarter of a billion dollars, with the State Bank of Victoria the biggest creditor at over $100 million. Rumours abounded that Friedrich was a Central Intelligence Agency officer, or that he had been involved in clandestine activities such as arms and drug running, and money laundering. Friedrich fuelled the rumours with cryptic public statements and a posthumously published memoir of demonstrable unreliability, Codename Iago: The Story of John Friedrich (1991). While it is plausible that intelligence services had shown interest in utilising the resources of the NSCAV, no evidence has come to light to indicate that it was an intelligence front.
Extradited to Victoria, Friedrich spent six weeks in prison before being released on bail in late May 1989. In December he applied for permanent residency but no decision was made pending the outcome of fraud charges. Over the following months he made numerous court appearances that included attendance at the liquidation hearing into the collapse of the NSCAV in the Supreme Court. On 26 July 1991 Friedrich, fearing imprisonment and deportation as an illegal migrant, committed suicide near his home by shooting himself in the head, shortly before he was due to stand trial for fraud. Survived by his wife, daughter, and two sons, he was cremated.
The scandal at the NSCAV, one of the largest and most infamous frauds in Australia, resulted from inadequate government regulation, reckless bank lending, and the influence of a charismatic and driven man. A deeply flawed visionary, Friedrich had immense intelligence and energy, matched by dishonesty and a talent for self-promotion. He did not act out of a desire for personal monetary benefit but to build up the organisation to which he had tied his own reputation and identity. It was later found that he had been planning a further fraud related to land surveying in Queensland shortly before his death.
Evans, Louise. ‘Friedrich’s Mother Disowns “Fritz”.’ Canberra Times, 2 August 1991, 1; Friedrich, John, with Richard Flanagan. Codename Iago: The Story of John Friedrich. Port Melbourne: William Heinemann Australia, 1991; Goodsir, Darren, and John Silvester. ‘The Man Behind the Mask.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 30 March 1989, 9; Monks, Suzanne. ‘John Friedrich’s Last Hours.’ Woman’s Day, 10 September 1991, 14–16; National Archives of Australia. A8680, 9; Sykes, Trevor. The Bold Riders: Behind Australia’s Corporate Collapses, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1994; Thomas, Martin. The Fraud: Behind the Mystery of John Friedrich, Australia’s Greatest Conman, Richmond, Vic.: Pagemasters, 1991.
FRYBERG, Sir ABRAHAM (ABE) (1901–1993), public health physician, army medical officer, and medical administrator, was born on 26 May 1901 at Bendigo, Victoria, third of six children of Henry Fryberg, a Victorian-born pawnbroker, and his Polish-born wife Rose, née Marks. Abe attended (1915–19) Wesley College, Melbourne, forming a proud association with the school, with which he would identify throughout his life. While studying at the University of Melbourne (MB, BS, 1928), he resided at Queen’s College. Gregarious and personable, he played the violin and Australian Rules football, the former with considerable skill, the latter without.
After graduating, Fryberg moved to Queensland and served (1928–30) as a resident medical officer at the Brisbane General Hospital, the Lady Bowen [q.v.Supp] Lying-In Hospital, and the Hospital for Sick Children, where he was appointed registrar in 1930. To raise money for his planned overseas training in paediatrics, he began practising privately at Hughenden three years later. In 1934 he was back in Brisbane. His clinical prospects were greatly compromised in September when, a right-handed person, he lost that hand and the lower part of the forearm in a motor vehicle accident.
Encouraged by Edward (Ned) Hanlon [q.v.14], Queensland home secretary (later secretary for health and home affairs), Fryberg decided to study for a career in public health and preventive medicine. With characteristic resilience, he gained diplomas in public health and tropical medicine (both 1936) from the University of Sydney, while working as a resident medical officer in psychiatry at the Callan Park Mental Hospital. In 1936 Hanlon appointed him State health officer. He was given the additional duty of medical superintendent of the Elizabeth Kenny [q.v.9] Clinic and Training School, which had been opened, under controversial circumstances, in Brisbane in 1935 to treat poliomyelitis using methods derided by most doctors. Fryberg’s tact and his scientific objectivity were significant in the gradual acceptance of many of Kenny’s claims.
Fryberg’s brief period at the clinic (1936–37) identified him as an able medical administrator, capable of firm resolve in the face of conflicting advocacy. At the Lady Bowen hospital he had met Vivian Greensill Barnard, a senior nurse, whom he married on 30 September 1939 at the Presbyterian manse, Clayfield. In 1946 the Queensland government sent him and the orthopaedic surgeon Thomas Stubbs-Brown [q.v.18] on an international study tour, one purpose of which was to review Kenny’s methods as practised in the United States of America. On return, to the consternation of many in the Queensland branch of the British Medical Association, the two doctors reported that much of her therapy had merit.
In World War I Fryberg’s elder brother, Louis, had been decorated with the Military Medal for gallantry. On 1 July 1940 Abraham was appointed to the Australian Imperial Force as a captain, Australian Army Medical Corps. Being a specialist in public health, he worked in the crucial military-health spheres of hygiene, preventive medicine, and tropical medicine. He was posted as officer commanding the 2/4th Field Hygiene Section, attached to the 9th Division. Embarking for the Middle East in December, he served (April–October 1941) in the siege of Tobruk, Libya. He demanded the highest standards of sanitation and cleanliness in his sector. At first his responsibilities also included the hygiene care of 10,000 Italian and German prisoners of war. His specialist training and creative flair resulted in the invention of a moveable, fly-proof latrine. Stubbs-Brown, who was also at Tobruk, gave him the appellation ‘Flyberg of Flibya’; among his old comrades, the nickname stuck for the rest of his life.
From July 1942 Major Fryberg served in Egypt, taking part in the battle of El Alamein (October–November). For his work in the North African campaigns, he was appointed MBE (1942) and mentioned in despatches. He returned to Australia in February 1943 and held senior administrative positions in Brisbane as a lieutenant colonel before transferring to the Reserve of Officers on 3 March 1945. At headquarters, Northern Command, he was part-time assistant director of hygiene (1946–57), and honorary colonel of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps (1962–67).
In 1945 Fryberg had resumed his post as State health officer. One of his duties was regularly to visit the leprosarium at Peel Island in Moreton Bay. After assuming office as Queensland’s director-general of health and medical services on 15 April 1947, he periodically continued the practice. He developed an intimate knowledge of the special problems of the lazaret and its inmates. His sympathetic attitudes towards the patients led to many improvements until the institution closed in 1959.
Fryberg was one of the most popular and respected doctors to perform the demanding role of Queensland’s director-general of health and medical services. The free-hospital system suffered from continual resource challenges. At a time of great expansion in health services, he played a significant part in several important initiatives, including the establishment (1946) of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (chairman, 1947–67); the expansion of the (Royal) Flying Doctor Service; the introduction of the Flying Surgeon program (1959); the formation of new divisions within his department, including those of tuberculosis (1949), social work (1960), and geriatrics (1961); and the opening of an alcohol clinic at the Brisbane General Hospital (1958). The first specialists were appointed to provincial hospitals during his tenure. He had a particular affinity for the young people studying medicine under the Queensland government’s fellowship scheme. On graduating they were posted, at his discretion, to provincial and rural hospitals, where they could obtain wide experience.
A foundation fellow of the (Royal) Australian (Australasian) College of Medical Administrators, Fryberg delivered the opening address at its first national meeting in 1968. In that speech he explored the relationship between the medical and public service heads of a government health department. He argued that the senior medical officer must always have direct access to the minister. Moreover, he averred, any difference of opinion between the medical and public service chiefs must be taken to the minister for resolution. He faithfully served the minister of the day, irrespective of party-political affiliation, and was noted for giving advice ‘with clarity, sometimes quite forcibly’ (Patrick 1993).
Like many leading doctor-soldiers of his era, Fryberg was closely associated with the St John Ambulance Brigade; he was an influential member (1954–67) of the Queensland district’s executive committee and, as such, prominent in the governance of the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade. He was also a supporter and lecturer for the St John Ambulance from 1949. For his service to both the salaried and volunteer ambulance services, he was decorated as a serving brother in the Order of St John of Jerusalem in 1958.
Fryberg was a man of strong personality, who displayed intense loyalty to his peers, staff, and profession. His firm but compassionate use of authority was particularly manifest in his role as president (1947–67) of the Medical Board of Queensland; he sheltered unfortunate victims of alcoholism, especially those who had seen active war service, from people who did not understand the aftermath of combat. He contributed advice to the National Health and Medical Research Council. As a member (1946–68) of the University of Queensland’s senate, he facilitated the foundation in 1960 of the university’s department of child health.
Although engrossed in his work, Fryberg found time for lawn bowls and horse racing. His major recreation was attending the races each week. He was a member (1958–67) of the committee of the Brisbane Amateur Turf Club. In 1968, following concerns about the probity of the trotting industry, the government appointed him inaugural chairman of the Queensland Trotting Board, in which capacity he oversaw the redevelopment of the sport in the State. He was also a Freemason, intermittently attending lodge meetings in Brisbane.
Retiring on 31 December 1967, Fryberg was knighted (1968) and was Sir Abe to many; but he remained simply Abe to his wide circle of friends and professional colleagues. In 1969 the University of Queensland awarded him its second honorary doctorate of medicine. Sir Abraham was proud of his Jewish heritage and identified with liberal Judaism in a quiet and non-demonstrative way. The Jewish community valued his significant contribution and leadership in Queensland society. He died on 13 October 1993 at Windsor, Brisbane, and was cremated. His wife survived him, as did their son, George, a judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland.
Administrator.’ The Quarterly (Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators) 40, no. 4 (December 2007): 14–21; Fryberg, Abraham. Interview by Professors Gordon and Doherty, 6 August 1980. Transcript. Fryer Library, University of Queensland; Fryberg, George. Eulogy Delivered at the Funeral of Sir Abraham Fryberg Held at Mount Thompson Crematorium, Mount Gravatt, Brisbane, on 17 October 1993. Unpublished manuscript, 1993. Fryberg family papers. Private collection; Patrick, Ross. Eulogy Delivered at the Funeral of Sir Abraham Fryberg Held at Mount Thompson Crematorium, Mount Gravatt, Brisbane, on 17 October 1993. Unpublished manuscript, 1993. Fryberg family papers. Private collection; Patrick, Ross, and John Tonge. ‘Sir Abraham Fryberg, MBE, SBStJ, MB BS, DPH, DTM, FRACMA, MD(Hon).’ Medical Journal of Australia 160, no. 1 (7 March 1994): 299, 301; Walker, Allan S. Middle East and Far East. Vol. I of Series 5 (Medical) of Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1953; Wilson, John, and John Pearn. ‘Sister Elizabeth Kenny: Her Nursing and its Influence on Innovation and Leadership.’ In Pioneer Medicine in Australia, edited by John Pearn, 219–240. Brisbane: Amphion Press, 1988.
John H. Pearn
FUDGE, OLGA DAGMAR (1897–1993), Aboriginal community worker, was born on 25 April 1897 at Point McLeay, South Australia, daughter of Bertha Wilson and an unknown European. Mentored by her uncle Mark Wilson [q.v.12], a respected Ngarrindjeri elder, Olga was a good student, but had only three to four years’ schooling at Point Pearce mission school. At thirteen she was sent, just in the clothes she was wearing, into domestic service, ‘pot walloping—at five bob a week’ (Mattingley 1988, 120). She ran away from one place and was found hiding in a fowl shed by a farmer’s wife, who took her in and taught her to cook.
Studying music with Miss E. Treloar at Port Pirie, Olga gained a grade V in music theory (1926). Blessed with a fine voice, she enrolled in singing at the University of Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium (1926–27). She was not awarded a scholarship and, feeling she suffered discrimination, continued private training. The anthropologist Diane Bell later recorded that she would sing songs such as the ‘Pelican Love Song’ in Ngarrindjeri (2014, 185). In the 1950s she aspired to write an opera based on Aboriginal legends and produce it with Aboriginal singers, a hope not realised.
Later, working and travelling widely as a shearers’ cook, Olga met Leo Thomas Fudge (d. 1983), a farm labourer. After marrying at the office of the registrar general, Adelaide, on 2 January 1930, they lived at Bungaree station in South Australia’s mid-north. On January 1943, having moved to Adelaide for her daughter’s schooling, the fair-skinned Olga was granted a certificate of unconditional exemption from the provisions of the Aborigines Act 1934. This meant that, legally, she and her children were no longer considered to be Aboriginal, and so were not subject to the regulatory measures of the Act.
Nevertheless, Fudge became an advocate for Aboriginal people and, in her beautiful clear hand, during the 1950s was indefatigable in writing to newspapers, and to the chief protector of Aborigines (after 1940 the secretary of the Aborigines Protection Board), W. R. Penhall, and his successor, C. E. Bartlett. A strong believer in the importance of education, in 1956 she unsuccessfully sought help in establishing a hostel for Aboriginal students coming to Adelaide for secondary schooling, offering to run it herself. People were being sent off missions with no experience of the outside world, arriving in the city not knowing how to cope. Many came to her house and she provided beds and food, and fostered neglected girls.
In 1956 Fudge applied unsuccessfully for a Housing Trust house, but she and her husband finally were able to buy the house they rented in the city from their landlord. She said, ‘The kindness of strangers made the difference to our lives’ (McNamara, pers. comm.). When glaucoma became a handicap she acquired a telephone, using it effectively to campaign on behalf of Aboriginal people. She kept in touch with Gladys Elphick [q.v.17] and the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia, established in 1964, continuing to speak out on social issues, and advocating a ‘Good Neighbour Council’ to promote better cross-cultural relations. Later, she would be visited by politicians, including Premier Don Dunstan, and journalists at her home, where she was always ready to dispense refreshments from her ‘generous teapot’ and provide ‘wise advice about Aboriginal matters’ (Forte 1995, 9).
For more than twenty years, Fudge attended St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, Norwood. Known to many Aboriginal people as Mootha (grand old relation), she spent her latter years in Flora McDonald Lodge, Cowandilla, Adelaide. Survived by a son and a daughter, she died on 19 May 1993 at Cowandilla, and was buried beside her husband in Centennial Park Cemetery; another son had predeceased her. A hostel, established in Adelaide to serve the needs of young, homeless Aboriginal women, was named to honour her memory.
Advertiser (Adelaide). ‘A Down-to-Earth Rap on the Collar from “Mootha”’, 16 August 1983, 13, ‘Olga Still “Sees” the Good Things in Her Life, 23 September 1989, 4; Bell, Diane. Ngarrindjeri Wurruwarrin. A World That Is, Was and Will Be. North Melbourne, Vic.: Spinifex, 2014; Forte, Margaret. Flight of an Eagle: The Dreaming of Ruby Hammond. Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 1995; Mattingley, Christobel, and Ken Hampton (eds). Survival in Our Own Land: “Aboriginal” Experiences in “South Australia” since 1836, told by Nungas and Others. Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 1988; McNamara, Natascha. Personal communication; South Australia. State Records, GRG 52/16/0/2; South Australia. Unconditional Exemption from the Provisions of the Aborigines Act, 1934–1939. Certificate No. 126. SA State Records, GRG 52/19/0/3; University of Adelaide Archives Series 589, Register of Entries for Public Examinations in Music; University of Adelaide Archives Series 311, Elder Conservatorium Student Record Cards.
FULLERTON, WILLIAM (BILL) (1909–1994), fruit grower and fruit marketing director, was born on 29 December 1909 at Possilpark, Glasgow, Scotland, eighth of nine children of Scottish-born parents Robert Fullerton, railway signalman, and his wife Isabella, née Smith. The family migrated to Australia aboard the Orvieto, arriving at Brisbane on 3 April 1911. Three years later they moved to a selection of 160 acres (65 ha), located between mounts Ngungun and Coonowrin, 2.5 miles (4 km) from the village of Glass House Mountains. The property was called Dunnottar, and would remain Bill’s home until 1979. Known as Willy when young, he attended Glass House Mountains State School (1917–23), after which he worked on the farm with his father.
In the late 1920s William and his younger brother, Alister, joined their father in the partnership R. Fullerton & Sons, growing pineapples. William followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a member of the United Fruitgrowers’ Co-operative Association, Glasshouse Mountains, as soon as he was old enough to join. The family took up more land in the nearby Beerwah district and in 1936 he was involved with three of his brothers—Hector, Robert, and Alister—in the formation of the Coochin Creek Fruitgrowers’ Co-Operative Association. On 12 October 1940 at St Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Glass House Mountains, he married Jean Edith Shaw (d. 1980), whose parents were neighbouring farmers.
William and Alister, with their brother John, formed in 1956 a further pineapple-growing enterprise, Fullertons Elimbah Pty Ltd. On the family’s farms, Bill introduced labour-saving practices, such as mechanical harvesting and bulk handling, and utilised scientific methods, including tissue sampling (to determine plant nutrition) and the chemical management of weeds and nematodes. In 1966 he was one of four men whom the industry sent to Hawai‘i to study higher-density planting and the operation of large harvesting equipment. Fullertons Elimbah and R. Fullerton & Sons were consolidated in 1989 to form Fullerton Farms Pty Ltd, one of Australia’s largest pineapple producers.
From the mid-1940s several of the Fullerton brothers were members of sectional group committees of the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing (COD), a cooperative organisation established in 1923 by the State government to protect growers’ interests. William was on the COD’s pineapple sectional group committee from 1958 to 1985 (chairman, 1961–85); he joined the COD’s executive in 1970.
The COD had operated its own cannery, with the brand name of Golden Circle, at Northgate, Brisbane, from 1947. Legislation in 1964 placed the ownership, control, and operation of the factory in the hands of the Cannery Board, to which Fullerton was elected that year. Succeeding his brother James as chairman in 1974, he held the office until 1985. William had been a leader of a successful campaign in 1968 to stabilise the pineapple industry by means of a two-pool quota system for supplying the cannery, in which all growers would be required to become shareholders. Those who mainly sent their produce to the fresh fruit market objected but the majority approved the plan. In 1979 he was appointed OBE for his services to the industry.
Community minded, Fullerton took pride in his association with the Glass House Mountains School of Arts, which he had joined in the 1930s (chairman, 1939 and 1950–60; trustee, 1957–93). After World War II, he and his friend Bob Murphy obtained cinema equipment and employed an operator, so that weekly pictures could be shown in the hall. Having organised renovations to the building, he led the celebrations of their completion in 1954. When young, he had been proficient at cricket and soccer. He was patron of the Beerwah–Glass House Mountains United Soccer Club (1986–94), the Glasshouse Mountains Sports Club, and the Glasshouse Mountains Bowling Club (1978–94), of which he was also president (1958–67, 1973–75, and 1978–79).
Although easygoing, Fullerton was astute and determined in everything he did. He educated himself through extensive reading. Deeply religious, he was an elder of the Uniting Church. In 1979 he moved to the town of Glass House Mountains. He died there on 20 February 1994 and was cremated. His four sons survived him; two of them, Kenneth and Barry, continued Fullerton Farms.
Reid, Ainslie, and Carole Fullerton, comps. The Story of the Family of Robert and Isabella Fullerton. Glass House Mountains, Qld: Fullerton Reunion Committee, n.d.; Glasshouse Country News (Beerwah). ‘The Passing of a Pioneer.’ 24 February 1994, 1–2; Queensland Country Life (Brisbane). ‘Pineapple Industry Leader Dies, Aged 84.’ 3 March 1994, 20.