Australian Dictionary of Biography Volume 19: 1991–1995 (A–Z)
PACKARD, EILEEN MARY (1928–1995), sporting club and professional association administrator, was born on 27 January 1928 at Greenwich, Sydney, fourth child of South Australian–born Charles Harrison Packard, sales manager, and his New South Wales–born wife Eileen, née Brown. Mary was educated at Sydney Church of England Girls’ Grammar School. By 1949 she was employed as a typist. After working for a short period in Britain she returned to Australia in 1952, and held various office jobs in Sydney.
In 1960 Packard accepted work with Geoffrey Sykes [q.v.], who was establishing a motor racing circuit at Warwick Farm funded by the Australian Jockey Club. The 1960s were the golden years of Australian motor racing when the affable Sykes attracted European Formula 1 drivers to Australia in the summer months to take part in the Tasman series. At first glance, she seemed ill-suited to the job. Fond of classical music and literature—she was inclined to quote from Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare throughout her life—she was initially uninterested in cars and diffident about motor sport. Agreeing to work for Sykes for three weeks, she remained for twenty-six years.
While she never owned an exotic or sporty car, Packard was soon enthusiastically embracing motor racing. Her role involved managing the membership of the club Sykes established to foster grassroots motor racing—the Australian Automobile Racing Club (AARC). She was to many members its public face. In the AARC’s office in central Sydney she performed secretarial and receptionist duties. On race days at Warwick Farm, whether members’ meetings or National Open events, she oversaw with assurance the intense atmosphere of the pit offices, among other duties preparing detailed race reports for the benefit of journalists. Spirited and direct, at times she went beyond her role as Sykes’s assistant, instructing him on what to do instead of waiting for directions or advice. Presenting her with a service award in 1979 from the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), Sir Jack Brabham spoke of her ‘calm efficiency’, and stated that ‘motor sport is yet another of those activities that rely on people, special people, and Mary Packard is one of the most special that we know’ (Australian Automobile Racing Club Newsletter 1979, 676).
When the circuit at Warwick Farm closed in 1973 and Sykes retired, Packard succeeded him as club secretary of the AARC. The club relocated its racing to Amaroo Park, in north-western Sydney. With the aid of a lively events committee, Packard achieved much during the following years; the AARC organised several club race meetings per year. Her work included running an annual mileage marathon sponsored by the Shell Oil Co. of Australia Ltd, the first of which was held on 8 June 1980 at Warwick Farm (and later at Amaroo Park). In 1986 she was made a life member of CAMS.
With encouragement from Sykes, and in a plane owned by the AARC, Packard learned to fly. She became a capable private pilot who often set off for distant locations in her two-seater Cessna 150. From 1977 to 1980 she was the federal secretary of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association, in which role she encouraged younger members and was the mainstay in advertising and coordinating the association’s scholarship drive.
Neat and invariably well-dressed, Packard had a warm, pleasant smile. She never married. She enjoyed loving friendships with the distinguished fellow aviators Senja Robey and Heather Innes, and commanded enduring respect in the motor racing community. Falling ill during an event at Amaroo Park, she was rushed to hospital, where she was diagnosed with a serious cancer that later returned to claim her life. Aware that her days were numbered she travelled extensively, undertaking a first-class rail trip through the United States of America and revisiting Britain. She died on 27 November 1995 at Petersham, and was cremated. When the AARC had closed in 1986, Archie White, Shell’s long-term competitions manager in Australia and the club’s chairman, said that she had ‘done more for Club Motor Sport in this country than any other person or organisation’ (1986, 1). The Historic Sports and Racing Car Association of New South Wales awards a trophy in her honour to acknowledge an outstanding contribution to the club’s activities.
Australian Automobile Racing Club Newsletter. ‘A.A.R.C. Secretary Honoured by C.A.M.S.’ 79, no. 3 (July 1979): 676; Kable, Mike. ‘Pilot Had Organising Drive.’ Australian, 18 December 1995, 13; Moore, Andrew. Aintree Down Under: Warwick Farm and the Golden Age of Australian Motor Sport. Petersham, NSW: Walla Walla Press, 2017; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Eulogies delivered at funeral of Mary Packard, 1995. Unpublished typescripts held by Mrs Senja Robey; White, Archie. ‘Chairman’s Final Message.’ In Australian Automobile Racing Club: History and Events of the Club 1962–1986. [Sydney]: Australian Automobile Racing Club, 1986: 1.
PALLIN, FRANK AUSTIN (PADDY) (1900–1991), bushwalker, conservationist, and businessman, was born on 28 November 1900 at Hartlepool, England, fifth of seven children of George William Pallin, joiner, and his wife Catherine Ann, née Thompson. As a child, Paddy developed a love of the outdoors through family picnics to the beaches of Hart Sands and walks in the nearby hills. In 1918 he served in the Royal Flying Corps (Royal Air Force). He then worked as an average adjustor and in 1920 moved to London, where he lived for five years in the Central London Young Men’s Christian Association building. There he became active in the scouting movement. Detesting the confinement of office work, on weekends he would head out of the city on his bike and on foot, camping wherever he could. He became engaged to May Bell Morris, but the idea of raising a family in London held no appeal and the pair decided to emigrate.
Arriving in Australia in 1926, Pallin initially worked as a share farmer on a dairy farm near Singleton, and as a fence-builder. He soon realised, however, that without capital he had no future in farming. Moving to Sydney, he gained work as an insurance clerk. Once again he drew his satisfaction from his leisure. He joined the scouts, helping to build a training camp at Pennant Hills, and started to go on bushwalks in Sydney’s two national parks and in the Blue Mountains. These environments contrasted sharply with the English landscapes with which he was familiar but he gradually developed a fierce love and appreciation for the Australian bush. He joined the newly formed Sydney Bush Walkers club in 1927. May joined him in 1929; the couple married on 11 May at Thornleigh Methodist Church. They went on many camping excursions, including an adventurous twelve-day canoe trip down the Shoalhaven River from Marulan to Nowra.
In 1930 Pallin lost his job. Aware of the lack of specialised lightweight walking gear in Australia, he decided to open an outdoor equipment business. He already made some of his own gear. Starting a business in the Depression was a bold move but May’s secretarial job provided financial stability. A room in the family home at Lindfield served as a sewing room and he began to sell groundsheets, tents, sleeping bags, and rucksacks to Sydney’s growing bushwalking fraternity. Within a few months he was able to rent a room in the city and take on an employee. Paddymade gear quickly developed a reputation for its quality and suitability for the serious walker. The business expanded, enabling a move to larger premises in George Street, and by 1934 it was generating modest profits. Pallin organised agents to sell his gear in other states, and established a mail-order system. He would eventually open shops and outlets throughout Australia, with sales boosted by the boom in backpacking as a form of travel from the 1960s. In World War II he served part time (1942–45) in the 8th Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps, rising to sergeant.
Pallin wanted others to experience and care for the Australian bush as he did. His guidebook, Bushwalking and Camping, first published in 1933, provided practical advice about equipment, bush etiquette, and how to camp. A fourteenth edition was published in 1995. He helped to found the River Canoe Club in 1935 and the Bush Club in 1939 to cater for walkers who desired easier conditions of membership to those demanded by the dominant clubs. His expertise as a bushwalker meant he was often called upon to help locate lost walkers. In 1944 he helped set up Bushwalkers Search and Rescue and served as its convenor until 1976. He played key roles in establishing the National Fitness Council in 1939 and the Youth Hostels Association in 1944, serving several years as chairman of the association. Becoming an avid conservationist, he lent his support to many campaigns to save and protect the bush. In the 1970s he established a foundation to provide financial support to environmental causes, as a way to give ‘something back to bushwalkers’ (Chester 1986, 113).
At the age of fifty-four, Pallin took up cross-country skiing. Despite breaking his leg twice he remained a devotee, undertaking many trips in New South Wales and Victoria. In 1965 he co-founded a ski-race from Round Mountain to Perisher. Known as the Paddy Pallin Classic, it ran annually until 1989. He led a trek to Everest in 1970, and in 1977 skied from Kiandra to the Hotel Kosciusko.
Through his equipment business and his dedication to the outdoors movement Pallin had a profound influence on the development of bushwalking, camping, and skiing in Australia. He was awarded the OAM in 1975. In 1987 he published his memoirs, Never Truly Lost. Survived by his wife and two daughters and one of two sons, he died on 3 January 1991 at Wahroonga, and was cremated. He is remembered by the Paddy Pallin Reserve, Lindfield. Paddy Pallin equipment stores remain a family business, and the Paddy Pallin Foundation continues to fund conservation causes.
Chester, Quentin. ‘Australia’s Bushwalking Legend: Paddy Pallin.’ Australian Geographic, July–September 1986, 112–13; State Library of New South Wales. MLMSS 6016, Paddy Pallin Papers, 1916–1990; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Camping Gear Maker Took the Weight Out of Bushwalking.’ 7 January 1991, 4.
PANNELL, NITA VERONICA (1904–1994), teacher, actress, and theatre director, was born on 1 July 1904 at Wellington Mill, Western Australia, eighth of nine children of Victorian-born Patrick Hanrahan (d. 1920), saw filer, and his Tasmanian-born wife Emily, née Connolly. At the local primary school, Nita was exposed to the linguistically diverse population of the small timber town, benefiting her later career as an actress: she developed an uncanny ear for accents and their attendant speech rhythms. Encouraged by her theatre-loving mother, at nine she began learning music at the Sisters of Mercy convent at Bunbury, 25 miles (40 km) from Wellington Mill. In 1918 she won a government scholarship to the selective Perth Modern School, from which she graduated in 1922.
Hanrahan taught infants at Bunbury (1924), worked (1925) as an assistant teacher at Collie High School, and was then appointed to Subiaco State School as assistant to the headmaster (1926–27). She learned to teach by classroom observation, and taught classes in eurythmics, folk dancing, music, and acting. In 1927 she moved to Bunbury, where her mother and two sisters were living, and worked (1927–29) at Bunbury Senior School until she married William James Pannell, an English-born doctor, on 1 June 1929 at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, West Perth. They were to have three children.
After a period at the wheatbelt town of Goomalling, where William had a general practice, in 1933 the couple moved to Perth, and lived at the hills suburb of Darlington. While William served in the Australian Army Medical Corps in World War II, Pannell was involved in amateur productions of Noël Coward’s Hay Fever and Design for Living, staged at the Darlington Hall. She joined Edward and Ida Beeby’s Patch Theatre, a speech, drama, and dance studio that offered the city’s only organised theatre training. Her performance as Maggie in Hobson’s Choice (1943) led to parts at the Repertory Club, the principal amateur dramatic group in Perth. Because of a shortage of directors, she was asked to direct more than perform, ‘which broke my heart, but at least I went on and did it’ (Pannell 1976, 16). In 1950, with the actress Dorothy Krantz, the producer Sol Sainken, and the speech teacher Lily Kavanagh, Pannell initiated the Company of Four, the State’s first professional theatre company, which amalgamated in 1956 with the Repertory Club to form the National Theatre Company. She directed its first production, The Teahouse of the August Moon, at the Playhouse Theatre.
Pannell came to national attention in 1958 after the director Robin Lovejoy [q.v.18] cast her as Momma Bianchi in an Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust production of Richard Beynon’s The Shifting Heart. The play toured the eastern States for ten months, Pannell appearing in some 250 performances. After a series of roles in Perth, Colin Ballantyne [q.v.17] cast her in his 1960 Australian premiere production of Errol John’s award-winning Moon on a Rainbow Shawl at the Adelaide Festival of Arts. Lovejoy then invited her to take the part of Dot Cook in the first professional production of Alan Seymour’s The One Day of the Year, which opened at the Palace Theatre, Sydney, in April 1961. The play was controversial for its critique of Anzac Day, and the dress rehearsal was interrupted by a bomb scare. When the play was staged later the same year at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, London, the cast was told: ‘They won’t appreciate this in London, they won’t understand it’ (Pannell 1976, 20). Nevertheless, it received a standing ovation on opening night and achieved a successful London season.
The novelist Patrick White [q.v.18] had seen Pannell in the Sydney production of Seymour’s play and, having read the London reviews, cast her as Miss Docker, ‘an old lady who charges through the community, leaving a trail of disorder’ (Akerholt 1988, 66), in the stage adaption of his short story ‘A Cheery Soul’. Night on Bald Mountain, White’s next play, opened at the Union Hall, Adelaide, on 9 March 1964, with Pannell as Miss Quodling, ‘an eccentric woman who lives in a hut on Bald Mountain with a herd of goats as her only companions’ (Akerholt 1988, 99). She considered it one of her best parts. White told her that solo roles—monodramas—were her forte, advice repeated by the English director Sir Tyrone Guthrie, when Pannell delivered scenes to him from her play Swan River Saga. In the play Pannell collaborated with the author and historian (Dame) Mary Durack [q.v.] to present the story of the Irish pioneer Eliza Shaw at the Swan River Colony. Her ‘superb portrayal’ (Barron 1973, 3) recreated Shaw’s experience of migration and settlement in the nascent colony over a thirty-year period. The play opened at the Hole in the Wall Theatre, Leederville, Perth, in May 1972, played in Hobart, Launceston, Canberra, and Melbourne in 1973, and was revived at the Effie Crump Theatre, Northbridge, Perth, in February 1993, Pannell’s last professional performance.
Appointed OBE in 1977, Pannell was Western Australian Citizen of the Year, in the category of arts, culture, and entertainment, in 1981. In 1989 she was appointed AM. Over her professional career she appeared in nearly sixty stage productions. A devout Catholic, she would scatter holy water on the stage before her performances, ‘to the bemusement of less devout members of the cast’ (McIlwraith 1994, 21). A colleague, Ray Omodei, recalled her ‘formidable technique’, her voice like ‘a Lyrebird in that it could take on many forms and guises but remained itself essentially sweet, clear and of effortless carrying power’ (1994, 3). Predeceased by her husband, and survived by her two sons and one daughter, she died on 29 September 1994 in a nursing home at Claremont and was buried at Karrakatta cemetery.
Akerholt, May-Brit. Patrick White. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi B.V., 1988; Barron, Paul. ‘Pioneer Portrayed Superbly.’ Canberra Times, 30 May 1973, 3; Marr, David. Patrick White: A Life. North Sydney, NSW: Random House, 2008; McIlwraith, John. ‘Thespian Held Theatre Sacred.’ Australian, 11 October 1994, 21; Museum of Performing Arts, Perth. Papers of Nita Pannell; Omodei, Raymond. ‘Obituary.’ State Alliance (Perth), November 1994, 3; Pannell, Nita. Interview by Chris Jeffery, 7 April 1976. Transcript. State Library of Western Australia; Parsons, Philip, and Victoria Chance, eds. Companion to Theatre in Australia. Sydney: Currency Press in association with Cambridge University Press, 1995.
David J. Hough*
PAPASAVAS, SAM (1941–1993), solicitor, soccer administrator, and community leader, was born Savvas Lazarou on 20 March 1941 at Larnaca, Cyprus, second of three children of Lazaros Papasavas, labourer, and his wife Loukia, née Saveriades. He migrated to Australia with his mother and sisters in 1954, arriving in Melbourne on 3 October. His father was already in Melbourne. In Australia he adopted the Christian name Sam and abandoned the patronymic Lazarou in favour of his father’s surname. The family settled at Footscray, where Sam assisted with singing the liturgy at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Educated at North Fitzroy Central (1955–56) and University High (1957–60) schools, he studied at the University of Melbourne (LLB, 1965) and opened his own law firm in Lonsdale Street in 1967. He registered as an Australian citizen in 1968, served on the city councils of Footscray (1966–69) and Melbourne (1980), and at the 1976 State election he stood unsuccessfully as the Labor candidate for the seat of Oakleigh. On 26 August 1973 in Cyprus he had married Elly Antoniou, a hairdresser and Cypriot migrant. They made their home at Elwood and later at Toorak.
Papasavas was the driving force in Victorian soccer for more than two decades. He was president (1972–82) of the South Melbourne (Hellas) Soccer Club during a period when it became one of the most successful clubs in Australia, on and off the field. He later explained: ‘I get a kick out of seeing 10,000 people at a Hellas match genuinely enjoying themselves. … Win or lose, your senses come alive’ (Schwab 1993, 29). In 1977 the club was a foundation member of the National Soccer League. As chairman (1981–91) of the NSL, Papasavas helped to ease early tensions between the new league and the Australian Soccer Federation, subsequently serving as a commissioner of the ASF. Under his leadership the NSL briefly split into two conferences (1984–86) and in 1989 the playing season moved to summer to avoid competition with the more established football codes.
In 1979 Papasavas had been elected to the board of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria. As president (1983–88) he was a popular figure, who tried to avoid polarisation and to obtain agreements by consensus. He played a leading role in the creation of the Federation of Greek Communities of Melbourne and Victoria and was its first president (1985–88). In 1987, with the former South Australian premier Don Dunstan, he founded the annual Greek community cultural festival, Antipodes. The celebrations in Lonsdale and Russell streets on 25 March were attended by huge crowds, including Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who in a letter to Papasavas described the festival as ‘a splendid example of what can be achieved by our ethnic communities when they make creative and independent efforts on their own behalf’ (Hawke 1987). In August 1987 Papasavas and the board of the GOCMV negotiated the purchase of the Parade College campus at Alphington, which eventually became Alphington Grammar School, the Greek Orthodox community’s school. He lost the presidency of the GOCMV at the community elections the next year.
Papasavas was awarded an OAM in 1983. He was a life governor of Prince Henry’s Hospital, a member of the governor-general’s bravery awards advisory committee, and from 1985 he was chairman of the interim Greek language program consultative committee for the Special Broadcasting Service. Summing up his involvement in public affairs, he remarked: ‘What appeals to me are pursuits that affect people’s lives directly for the better’ (Schwab 1993, 29). Survived by his wife and their daughter and son, he died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Melbourne on 26 September 1993. Following a funeral at St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Prahran, he was buried in Cheltenham cemetery. His contribution to soccer was recognised by the introduction of a medal for the best and fairest under-21 player in the NSL, and he was an inaugural inductee of the Football Federation Australia Hall of Fame in 1999. The Sam Papasavas Building in Melbourne’s Greek precinct on Lonsdale Street commemorates his contribution to the city’s Greek community.
Ellinikos Kosmos (Melbourne). 29 September 1993, 1, 6, 38; Fifis, Christos. ‘Navigating through the Generations: A History of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria, 1897–2008.’ PhD thesis, La Trobe University, 2009; Hawke, Robert J. Letter to Sam Papasavas, 2 April 1987. Private collection. Copy held on ADB file; Herald-Sun (Melbourne). ‘Soccer Chief.’ 28 September 1993, 57; Neos Kosmos (Melbourne). 27 September 1993, 1, 30 September 1993, 4, 23; Papasavas, Lazarus. Personal communication; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Schwab, Laurie. ‘Hellas’ 6–2 Cup Win a Tribute to Papasavas.’ Age (Melbourne), 27 September 1993, 29.
Christos N. Fifis
PARBERY, GRACE MARY (1913–1993), social worker, was born on 23 September 1913 at Marrickville, Sydney, only child of Sydney-born parents Hugh Victor Parbery, linesman, and his wife Ivy Evelyn May, née Townsend. Grace spent most of her childhood at Shell Harbour. She enrolled at Sydney Girls’ High School in January 1928, leaving in December 1930 to pursue domestic duties. During this time the family lived at 16 Glen Street, Marrickville. She qualified as an almoner (medical social worker) at the University of Sydney (Cert.Soc.Stud., 1939), and became assistant almoner at the Rachel Forster Hospital for Women and Children, Redfern.
During World War II Parbery worked for the Australian Red Cross Society at two military hospitals: the 113th Australian General Hospital, Concord, and the 114th Australian General Hospital, Goulburn, where she gained experience in mental health care. In 1947 she succeeded Elizabeth Ward as almoner at the Royal Newcastle Hospital (RNH), and in 1949 she was the RNH representative eligible for election to the New South Wales Council of Social Services. Describing the role of the almoner, she explained that assisting people with financial, emotional, or environmental problems supported physical recovery, and that knowledge of an individual’s living conditions was necessary to better understand their circumstances. This broad approach reflected social work theory and practice. Her article ‘The Almoner Department in the Royal Newcastle Hospital’ in the Australian Journal of Social Work (1950) detailed the various departments, other public facilities, and the role of staff in the Newcastle public health service. She emphasised the essential function of almoners in all areas of medicine, as well as in the community.
In 1950 Parbery and Richard Gibson [q.v.14] surveyed people with multiple sclerosis—and later also aged people with a disability—in the Hunter region. Their report, which recommended domiciliary, nursing, and medical care, was supported by the hospital’s medical superintendent, Christian McCaffrey [q.v.15], and its board. Parbery and Gibson developed a model whereby elderly patients received hospital-based programs of assistance and rehabilitation in their own homes. In 1954 a domiciliary care service and retraining unit was established, providing in-patient care, a day hospital, and home support. Parbery played a key part in instituting this comprehensive geriatric service, referred to as the ‘Newcastle Experience’. At the time, the only other such facility was the Montefiore Medical Center, New York, United States of America. The Newcastle service would remain the only one of its type in New South Wales until the mid-1960s. Senior medical social worker at the RNH from 1969, Parbery retired in 1973. In 1986 she was awarded the OAM.
Parbery was a tall, sturdy woman. She was widely respected, sociable, and interested in current affairs, politics, and the arts. Her home was an ‘enchanting waterfront retreat’ (Newcastle Herald 1986, 6) at Eleebana, Lake Macquarie, where she entertained people from all walks of life. She believed in a team approach and that medicine must be seen in its social context. The application of these principles enabled her, as a social worker, to make a significant contribution to the new field of geriatric medicine. Her innovative approach to domiciliary care influenced practices in Australia and internationally. Later in her life, she herself depended on the program she had helped establish, receiving home care, visits from the district sister, and Meals on Wheels. She died on 15 March 1993 at New Lambton Heights and was cremated following a service at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cooks Hill. She had never married. The following year the Hunter branch of the Australian Association of Social Workers initiated the Grace Parbery award in her memory.
Australian Social Work. ‘In Memoriam: Grace Mary Parbery.’ 47, no. 2 (June 1994): 16; Gibson, R. M. ‘The Newcastle Experience.’ In Recent Advances in Gerontology, edited by Hajime Orimo, Kaoru Shimada, Masami Iriki, and Daisaku Maeda, 389–93. Amsterdam: Excerpta Medica, 1979; Marsden, Susan, assisted by Cynthia Hunter. The Royal: A Castle Grand, a Purpose Noble, the Royal Newcastle Hospital 1817–2005. New Lambton, NSW: Hunter New England Area Health Service, 2005; Newcastle Herald. ‘Pioneer in Scheme for Disabled Honoured.’ 19 January 1986, 6, ‘RNH Pioneer Noted for Teamwork.’ 17 March 1993, 9; Parbery, Grace. ‘The Almoner Department in the Royal Newcastle Hospital.’ Australian Journal of Social Work 3, no. 4 (1950): 1–4; University of Newcastle. Cultural Collections. Royal Newcastle Hospital. A7376 (ii), Correspondence Files and Miscellanea.
PARKER, Dame MARJORIE ALICE (MARGOT) (1900–1991), philanthropist and community leader, was born on 30 June 1900 at Ballarat, Victoria, second of eight children of Victorian-born parents Walter Collett Shoppee, salesman, and his wife Victoria Alice, née Tilley. Educated in Victoria, in 1920 Marjorie gained employment at Burnie in north-west Tasmania as a millinery specialist; by 1921 she was conducting her own exclusive salon, La Salon. On 12 June 1926, at St John’s Church of England, Devonport, she married salesman James Maxwell Parker. They moved to Launceston in 1935.
Quietly spoken and always well dressed, Parker was a regular at the races and enjoyed playing golf. When her husband joined the Australian Imperial Force in 1940, she commenced a ‘new life’ (Clayton 1965, 6) of community work, beginning with her election to the Launceston committee of the Australian Comforts Fund in January 1941. In 1942 radio 7EX asked her to ‘help stimulate the war effort by doing special broadcasts’ (Clayton 1965, 6). Under the name ‘Margot’ she gave weekly, thirty-minute radio broadcasts on women’s issues and, from 1944, wrote a regular column for the Examiner newspaper. A gifted organiser and natural tactician, she kept interest in the war effort alive ‘by planning new ideas and new schemes’ (Examiner 14 July 1945, 9), enabling the 7EX Women’s Association, of which she was president, to distribute almost £40,000 to patriotic and charitable causes during the war.
Identifying a need for a place where women could learn practical skills, and conduct charitable fundraising activities, after the war Parker was ‘unremitting’ (Examiner 12 July 1946, 6) in her efforts to bring about the 7EX Women’s Centre in Launceston. She helped to establish Launceston’s first crèche in 1948 (later the Dame Marjorie Parker Crèche), and from 1947 to 1975 organized the 7EX Children’s Christmas Fair, raising more than $300,000 for thirty-three charities. The driving force behind 7EX’s support for the building of a Girl Guide headquarters in Launceston in 1949, she also served as public relations adviser (1954–68) to the Girl Guides Association. In 1952 she formed a 7EX Women’s Association hospital auxiliary to comfort female surgical patients at the Launceston General Hospital.
A founder of the Soroptimists Club for business and professional women in Launceston in 1949, Parker became the first president (1951) of the Divisional Union of Tasmanian Soroptimist Clubs. She was an active member of the National Council of Women, serving as deputy chairman (1960–64); she was made a life member in 1974. Reflecting a special interest in the welfare of disabled children, Parker was an executive member of the Society for the Care of Crippled Children (life member from 1973), the Tasmanian Division of the Miss Australia Quest (1964–71), and the Acropolis Club (which she formed in 1969), all of which raised money for this cause. She increased public knowledge of migrant needs through radio broadcasts and as public relations officer (1965–69) of the Tasmanian Good Neighbour Council. She also worked for the elderly, leading a Red Cross committee to establish the first Tasmanian Meals on Wheels service in March 1960.
Parker received many honours, awards, and life memberships. She was appointed MBE in 1950, OBE in 1970, and DBE in 1976. That year she also received the Australian Red Cross Distinguished Service award; she was made a life member of the society in 1979. Withal, Dame Marjorie regarded her ‘real reward’ as finding ‘her niche in life’ (Clayton 1965, 6): she counted herself ‘lucky to have had a knack for raising money’ (Haswell 1976, 3). In 1984 she was granted Freedom of the City of Launceston.
Approachable, charming, diplomatic, and kind, Parker brought out the best in those around her. Predeceased by her husband (d. 1976) and survived by their son, she died on 18 February 1991 at Launceston. She was inducted into the Launceston Hall of Fame in 2007, and is further commemorated by the Dame Marjorie Parker Memorial Award at the University of Tasmania, funded by Soroptimist International of Launceston.
Clayton, Jack. ‘Launceston’s Community Millionairess.’ Express (Launceston), 17 July 1965, 6; ‘Work Hard for Patriotic Funds.’ Examiner (Launceston), 14 July 1945, 9; ‘Opening of 7EX Women’s Centre by Mayor.’ Examiner (Launceston), 12 July 1946, 6; ‘After 29 Years It’s Time to Step Down.’ Examiner (Launceston), 21 November 1975, 4; Haswell, Jan. ‘There’s Nothing Like Our Dame Marj.’ Examiner (Launceston), 31 December 1976, 3; Polonsky, Mark. ‘Legend of Local Radio.’ Examiner (Launceston), 22 February 1991, 6; Winter, Gillian. The Hand of Friendship: A History of the Good Neighbour Council of Tasmania 1949–1992. Hobart: Good Neighbour Council of Tasmania, 1993.
PARKS, STANLEY WALTER (STAN) (1925–1994), Fremantle city manager, was born on 8 October 1925 at Subiaco, Western Australia, son of Victorian-born Walterena Jane, née Lay, and her Western Australian–born husband Clement Ormond Parks, barman. Growing up in a working-class community, Stan was educated at North Fremantle State and Fremantle Boys’ schools. When he was a child his father abandoned the family. To supplement his mother’s income as a cleaner, Stan sold newspapers, worked on a baker’s round, and delivered ice. In January 1941 he was employed as a junior clerk at Fremantle Prison.
On 14 January 1943 Parks was mobilised in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve for service in World War II. Following his training, he was posted in November to the sloop HMAS Warrego. The ship carried out escort, screening, survey, and shore bombardment duties in the South-West Pacific Area. In 1945 it supported the landings at Lingayen Gulf, Philippines (January), and Balikpapan, Borneo (July), and land operations around Wewak, New Guinea (June). Parks had been promoted to able seaman in August 1944. He was demobilised in March 1946. Back home, he trained as an accountant under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme and was appointed assistant town clerk (1949–53) and then town clerk (1953–61) with the North Fremantle Municipal Council. After the municipality amalgamated with the City of Fremantle in November 1961, he became deputy town clerk (1961–66). He was promoted to town clerk in 1966 and in 1970 he was appointed city manager.
Collaborating with two influential mayors, Sir Frederick Samson [q.v.16] (1951–72) and Bill McKenzie (1972–84), Parks was instrumental in transforming the council into a ‘people servicing agency’ (Lindsey 1978), a significant extension of the customary local government functions of land management, roads, and rubbish collection. Better access to Commonwealth taxation revenue and grants allowed the council to expand health, welfare, and environmental services to benefit the city’s working-class and multicultural populations. He supported efforts by community organisations, including the National Trust of Australia (Western Australia) and the Fremantle Society, to develop an inventory of heritage buildings (1974) and thus to preserve and restore convict, Victorian, and Edwardian-era buildings and streetscapes threatened by redevelopment proposals. Adept at securing grants for restoration and re-use, he helped to save a number of decaying and moribund public buildings during his tenure, including the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum (1970) and the Fremantle Markets (1975). Following his retirement as city manager in January 1983, he was made an honorary freeman of the municipality, the third person after Samson and Kim Beazley senior, the Federal member for Fremantle (1945–77), to be granted such an honour.
After a short period as commissioner of the Carnarvon Shire Council, in March 1984 Parks became chairman of both the State Housing Commission and the Urban Lands Council. Appointed a commissioner of the State Planning Commission in 1985, he was later deputy chairman (1991–93) and chairman (1993). He was awarded the OAM in 1985. Described as a ‘big man with a quiet but clear voice … and ready smile’ (Lindsey 1978), and a ‘born diplomat and negotiator’ (Prince 1994, 4), he played a pivotal role in the revitalisation of the city he loved.
In 1948 Parks had married Elizabeth Lindley Hicks; she died suddenly in February 1952. He married Pearl June Lorraine Thomson, a typist, on 7 June 1954 at Scots Presbyterian Church, Fremantle; the marriage ended in divorce in 1975. He then married Joan Nina Davidson, née Hodgson, a widow. Survived by his wife, a son from his first marriage, and two sons and one daughter from his second marriage, Parks died suddenly on 13 April 1994 and was cremated. The Fremantle regional headquarters of the State Housing Commission (Homeswest) was named in his honour.
Davidson, Ron, and Diane Davidson. Fighting for Fremantle: The Fremantle Society Story. Fremantle: Fremantle Society Inc. and Fremantle Press, 2010; Ewers, John K. The Western Gateway: A History of Fremantle. Fremantle: Fremantle City Council, 1971; Homefront. ‘A Tribute to Stan Parks.’ April 1994, 1; Lindsey, Pat. ‘Mr Stanley Walter Parks.’ Unpublished manuscript, 1978. City of Fremantle Local History Collection; National Archives of Australia. A6770, PARKS S W; Parks, Stan. Interview by Erica Harvey, May–August 1993. Typescript. City of Fremantle Local History Collection; Prince, Kevin. Speech Notes: Naming of ‘Stan Parks House.’ Unpublished manuscript, 17 May 1994. City of Fremantle Local History Collection; West Australian. ‘Parting Tribute to City Manager.’ 17 February 1983, 13.
PARSONS, GEOFFREY PENWILL (1929–1995), pianist, was born on 15 June 1929 at Summer Hill, Sydney, youngest of three sons of Sydney-born parents, Francis Hedley Parsons, carrier, and his wife Edith Vera, née Buckland. Geoffrey’s education was at Summer Hill Public School and then (1941–45) at Canterbury Boys’ High School. Obtaining his Leaving certificate in 1945, he placed first in New South Wales in music, winning a university exhibition and a Teachers’ College scholarship. He subsequently enrolled in architecture at the University of Sydney but took no serious part in the course. In 1947 he enrolled in arts but did not proceed, instead accepting a scholarship, offered the previous year, to study at the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music. He graduated in 1948 but had already begun making a name in Australian music.
The Parsons family was musical. Both Geoffrey’s parents and his elder brothers were choristers at the Petersham Congregational Church and Frank and Vera were also members of the Royal Philharmonic Society of Sydney and the Hurlstone Choral Society. But Geoffrey’s musical gift was special and had been first noticed by a family friend, the eminent musician George Vern Barnett. Barnett arranged for one of his young pupils, Elva Biggs, to teach piano to the seven-year-old boy. By 1941 he was well known as a pianist, notably as a member of the group of schoolfellows organised by Leslie Sage, the music master at Canterbury Boys’, which included the brilliant boy-soprano Frank Osborne and two flautists; they performed in the Sydney Town Hall and other venues. About the time of his twelfth birthday, Parsons began seven years of study with the renowned performer and pedagogue Winifred Burston [q.v.13], who had brought the Busoni tradition to Australia, at the conservatorium of music. In 1939 he had won the prize for under-twelve piano solo in the City of Sydney Eisteddfod; in 1944 he won the Associated Music Clubs of Australia scholarship; and in 1945 he ‘enthralled’ (Forbes Advocate, 1) an audience at Forbes with Chopin and Addinsell: a reporter wrote that he ‘plays with a dramatic intensity that is astounding for a boy of sixteen’ (Forbes Advocate 1945, 6). By this time he was already performing for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), including on the Young Australia program.
In 1946 Parsons was one of a duo that won the City of Sydney Victory Eisteddfod open prize for piano duet, and in 1947 he was one of the State finalists in the ABC concerto and vocal competition. When he performed in those finals (with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Joseph Post [q.v.16]) in April, the Sydney Morning Herald’s critic, Stanley Monks, astutely wrote that his playing showed ‘great spaciousness’, ‘command over wide tonal shading’, and ‘a vivid colouring which he could tone down to pastel shades’ (Sydney Morning Herald, 8). Indeed, in later years a colleague heard him repeating a chord scores of times: ‘I want to achieve a “fat” pianissimo’, Parsons explained (Chard, pers. comm.). In late 1947 he won the open piano championship at the City of Sydney Eisteddfod.
By the middle of that year Parsons was giving concerts both as soloist and accompanist, while attracting favourable reviews: one newspaper item described him as a ‘cheery, fair-haired … pianist’ (Sun 1947, 12). In mid-1948 his career as an accompanist had a serious start when (with the contralto Essie Ackland [q.v.13] and the young violinist Carmel Hakendorf) he made an Australia-wide tour. It was the first of thirty-four tours he made of Australia. The following year he was associate artist with the baritone Peter Dawson [q.v.8] on tours of Australia and New Zealand, during which Dawson described him as ‘one of the leading accompanists in Australia and Britain’ (Barrier Miner 1949, 3) and ‘the best accompanist he ever had’ (Brisbane Telegraph 1949, 8). Dawson took him on a tour of Britain in 1950: though the venues and repertoire were not especially elevating, the professional experience and opportunities for contacts were valuable. Remaining in Britain, he earned a living partly by playing in sometimes seedy hotel bars.
In 1957 Parsons made his first return tour of Australia with the British tenor Richard Lewis, whom he had met while working on the music staff of the Glyndebourne Opera in 1955. He returned to Glyndebourne in 1958 and, subsequently, in each season from 1960 to 1965, all the time greatly admired by the singers. In between, at the invitation of the German baritone Gerhard Hüsch (whom he had avidly listened to on ABC radio as a boy), he travelled to Munich to deepen his musical education. They had performed together in Britain, notably with Winterreise, and developed a rapport, principally because the young Australian learned a great deal from him about Schubert, Parsons’s lifelong favourite composer. In Munich he studied and performed with Hüsch and undertook some chamber-music concerts. He also had an intense series of lessons from Friedrich Wührer, who, Parsons said, taught him how to practise as well as inducting him into the essence of performing Schubert and showing him ‘how to make the best possible sounds on the piano’ (Davis 2006, 56).
Back in Britain Parsons filled his diary with concerts for an array of singers and instrumentalists. A turning point came in 1961 when the recording producer Walter Legge asked him to play for his wife, the legendary singer (Dame) Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Together, in what some considered the most significant musical partnership of his career, they were to grace international concert platforms and recording studios until 1979.
Another patron, Lady (Harriette) Lamington, supported him financially and hectored London agents on his behalf, with some success. She also underwrote the costs of his visit to Munich. But his most important partnership, outside professional music, though it did involve a musician, was with the Toowoomba-born baritone and singing teacher Erich Vietheer, whom he had met in 1958. Though, like most such personal relationships, it had its ups and downs, they were essentially soul mates with no musical rivalry between them. They did, early on, give some recitals together, but as Erich’s success as a teacher grew, that aspect of their lives remained something for conversation at their home in West Hampstead (‘The Parsonage’, as friends called it). Erich’s death from a heart attack in 1989 left a void in Parsons’s life; he commissioned a stained-glass window in Vietheer’s memory in St Cyprian’s Anglican Church, Marylebone—the church they had attended and where Parsons organised a musically lavish memorial service.
Appointed OBE in 1977 and AO in 1990, Parsons was an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music (1975) and the Guildhall School of Music (1983); a fellow of the Royal College of Music (1987); and the Royal Philharmonic Society’s instrumentalist award (1992). From 1983 he taught at the Royal College of Music, being appointed Prince Consort Professor of Piano Accompaniment in 1994. His last months were torrid, with the discovery and surgical removal of tumours caused by the skin malignancy Merkel cell carcinoma. Despite numerous operations, he insisted on fulfilling many of his recital commitments, giving his last concert, in Stockholm, with Barbara Bonney on 10 December 1994. He died on 26 January 1995 at Westminster and was cremated; his ashes were brought back to Australia. His funeral service was held in the same church as Vietheer’s.
Parsons was one of Australia’s greatest musicians and, as an international star, was the peer of Dame Nellie Melba [q.v.10] and Dame Joan Sutherland in calibre and renown. His discography is extensive and the catalogue of singers and instrumentalists with whom he performed and recorded is long, including such names as Birgit Nilsson, Dame Janet Baker, Olaf Bär, Christa Ludwig, Jessye Norman, and Lauris Elms. Though he loved performing with Australians, he almost never played Australian music (and, in any case, was out of sympathy with all twentieth-century music, apart from Richard Strauss’s works). Nevertheless, he was supportive of fledgling Australian musicians when they came to Britain; the pianist John Talbot remembered his ‘kind and generous intercession’, which ‘gave me a swifter entrée into the musical life of London than … I might have found by my own unaided efforts’ (Talbot, pers. comm.).
Virtually everyone who performed with Parsons revered the experience and used words like profound, impeccable, insightful, and musically imaginative to describe his playing; experts considered him superior to Gerald Moore, whom he succeeded in renown. Some wondered why a musician of his brilliance did not pursue a career as a soloist; his invariable answer was that he derived greater musical and emotional satisfaction from collaborations, especially with singers. Friends also remembered the fastidiousness of dress and grooming of the elegant man: ‘Mad on clothes’ (Kimber pers. comm.), he had transformed from a plump schoolboy in short trousers to a musician of close to 6 feet (183 cm) tall, who seemed born to appear in a suit of tails.
Music was almost a religion for Parsons, but he was also a committed Christian. Though brought up Congregationalist, he had become a confirmed Anglican (in St Paul’s Cathedral) quite soon after moving to London. Family was also of profound importance, especially his devotion to his mother. When he left Australia, his father had written to him: ‘Be steadfast in your faith … accept praise as a reward for work well done … disdain what is obvious flattery’ (Davis 2006, 20). One of his aphorisms probably epitomises the man and his values: ‘The why of music is terribly important’. The Accompanists’ Guild of SA Inc. named an award in his honour, and the University of Sydney established the Geoffrey Parsons Australian scholarship.
Barrier Miner (Broken Hill). ‘Peter Dawson Has Sense of Humor.’ 29 April 1949, 3; Brisbane Telegraph. ‘Peter Dawson on Queensland Tour.’ 28 May 1949. 8; Chard, Geoffrey. Personal communication; Davis, Richard. Geoffrey Parsons: Among Friends. Sydney: ABC Books, 2006; Forbes Advocate. ‘About People.’ 14 September 1945, 6, ‘Youthful Pianist Enthralls Audience.’ 7 September 1945, 1; Garrett, David. ‘Accompanist who Was “Simply the Best.”’ Sydney Morning Herald, 31 January 1995, 15; Kimber, Beryl. Personal communication; National Library of Australia. MS Acc04.252, MS Acc05.150, MS Acc05.186, MS Acc06.117, MS Acc07.016, MS Acc12.050, Papers of Geoffrey Parsons, 1950 – c. 1999, 2005; Sun (Sydney). ‘Youth Has Fling on Air.’ 24 August 1947, 12; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘A.B.C. Finalists Appear at Town Hall.’ 18 April 1947, 8; Talbot, John. Personal communication.
PAUL, VICTOR BARRY (1938–1994), businessman, was born on 11 October 1938 at Marrickville, Sydney, son of Joseph Victor Paul, carrier, and his wife Emily Millicent Lillian, née Bullow. Barry was educated at Trinity Grammar School (1949–53) and West Sydney Technical College. He began his working life as a cadet with the Electricity Commission of New South Wales, where he remained for six years. During this period he became a qualified accountant, and on 7 February 1959 at Trinity Grammar’s chapel he married Sydney-born Yvonne Kaye Alexander, a clerk; they later divorced. After working as an accountant for the building firm Paynter and Dixon Industries Ltd (1960–69) and as a commercial manager for Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd (1970–72), he moved to Townsville, Queensland, in 1973 to take up a role as company secretary and then general manager for Kern Bros Ltd.
By the time Paul began work there, Kern Bros was a well-established Queensland construction company, concentrating on developing land and building houses in several areas of the State. As a result of the illness and subsequent death of the company’s founder, Ronald Kern [q.v.15], Paul was appointed chairman and managing director of the Kern enterprise, a position he held from 1976 to 1991. Under his leadership, Kern Corporation Ltd (as it became known) grew from a profitable Queensland firm building a large number of houses to a national company that constructed a string of costly shopping complexes and office buildings in the cities and towns of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. Among the corporation’s achievements was the construction of Grosvenor Place in Sydney, which in 1989 was ‘Australia’s largest commercial building’ (Abbott 1989, 8).
Brisbane became the headquarters of Kern Corporation in 1979, and Paul developed a high profile within the city’s business and political community. He helped to raise funds for the State Library of Queensland and the St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, and was involved with the civic promotion of Brisbane as chair of Tourism Brisbane, as well as through committee work on Brisbane’s unsuccessful bid to host the 1992 Olympics. On 24 July 1982 at Pullenvale, Brisbane, he married Stephanie Phillips, a public relations consultant. In 1986 he was appointed OBE.
Although not a financial member, Paul was a supporter of the National Party and vocal admirer of the Queensland premier, (Sir) Joh Bjelke-Petersen. He chaired a fundraising dinner for the Bjelke-Petersen Foundation in 1980, but was angered by Australian Labor Party allegations that Kern Corporation was given special treatment because it donated money to the foundation. Although he helped to organise a series of business dinners in September–November 1986 which provided the catalyst for the ‘Joh for PM’ campaign, he played no further role in Bjelke-Petersen’s unsuccessful bid for Canberra. He subsequently threw his support behind Mike Ahern as replacement for Bjelke-Petersen in 1987.
One of Paul’s unfulfilled dreams was his plan to construct a ‘massive Chicago-style glass and granite office tower’ (Wilson 2003, 41), following a design by the American architect John Burgee. Between 1987 and 1990, Kern Corporation purchased a large parcel of property in the Brisbane central business district to realise this vision, attracting condemnation from some residents because heritage buildings were demolished in the process.
Ultimately the tower was not built because, in September 1991, Kern Corporation went into receivership. While the company held more than $1.15 billion in assets as late as 1989, it had accumulated large debts. With the property boom of the 1980s now over, the corporation’s main creditor, the Commonwealth Bank, effectively withdrew its support and the company could not continue operating. Whether Paul could have saved the corporation from collapse by better anticipating the end of the boom and preparing more thoroughly for the economic downturn is a matter for speculation. It is noteworthy, however, that he was not condemned in the media as a reckless, ruthless businessman as other contemporary high-flyers who fell victim to the boom–bust cycle had been portrayed.
Paul described Kern Corporation’s collapse as the worst day ‘in his business life’ (Lehmann 16 October 1991, 1). Soon afterwards, he filed for bankruptcy, but in February 1992 his creditors agreed to release him. This allowed him to continue his business career in Brisbane, primarily as a director and deputy chairman of Palmer Tube Mills Ltd, a steel fabrication company. Calm in negotiation and ever tenacious, he was fond of saying ‘the only thing you get from looking back is a sore neck’ (Scott 1994, 3). He died of cancer on 18 August 1994 at Anstead and was cremated. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and two sons of his first marriage, and one son of his second.
Abbott, Greg. ‘Corporate Whiz Wants to be MP.’ Sunday Sun (Brisbane), 25 June 1989, Sun Magazine 8; Canberra Times. ‘Kern’s Chief’s Bankruptcy Dropped.’ 13 February 1992, 19; Daily Mercury (Mackay). ‘Businessman Dies After Illness.’ 24 August 1994, 4; Lehmann, John. ‘Kern Boss Lists Debts of $7.6mil.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 16 October 1991, 1; Lehmann, John. ‘No High-Flyer, But Fall Just as Harsh for Paul.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 21 October 1991, 21; Lunn, Jack. ‘Up North, Kern Bros Expand with Tenacity.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 30 September 1980, 26; Scott, Leisa. ‘Brisbane Farewells a Battler.’ Australian, 27 August 1994, Property 3; Stewart, Andrew. ‘Joh Comes Back to Haunt Jane, Mike.’ Sun-Herald (Sydney), 28 February 1988, 3; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘At No Time Have I Ever Asked For …’ 4 April 1981, 5; Wilson, Bob. ‘Pie in the Sky.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 8 August 2003, 41.
PAYNE, ALAN NEWBURY (1921–1995), naval architect, was born on 11 December 1921 at Brockley, London, elder son of Sidney Arthur Payne, master mariner, and his wife Gladys Newbury, née Rowing. The family moved to Australia in 1929, first living in Brisbane, where Sidney worked ashore, and later moving to Rose Bay, Sydney. Alan attended Sydney Grammar School, passing the Leaving certificate examination in 1938. He then held a cadetship in the drawing office at the Cockatoo Island dockyard while studying naval architecture at Sydney Technical College; he gained his diploma in 1945.
At school Payne had shared a love of sailing with his brother Bill and lifelong friend Bryce Mortlock. The three boys began designing boats, including the Payne Mortlock sailing canoe. Described as a ‘legendary craft’ (Mortlock 2004, 42) among sailors, the 19-foot (5.8 m) boat was known for its canoe-shaped hull and sailing speed, and could sometimes outpace the famous 18-foot (5.5 m) skiffs of Sydney Harbour and Brisbane.
After completing his cadetship, Payne established a practice as a naval architect, advertising his services in the design of wood or steel vessels under power or sail. His sailing craft gained him a reputation among Sydney’s yachting community. A local yachtsman, Ernest Merrington, gave him his first commission, Thurloo, a 39-foot (11.9 m) steel yacht suitable for both offshore racing and cruising. Payne competed in the first Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 1945 aboard Horizon. The event would showcase his later designs. Nocturne, a timber vessel planned as a harbour racer, won line honours in 1952 in light conditions. Solo, a steel cruising yacht built and owned by Vic Meyer, was also a victorious ocean racer, winning on handicap in 1956 and 1962 and taking line honours in 1958 and 1959. Payne’s wooden Tasman Seabird class was particularly successful, with Cherana winning the event on handicap in 1959 and Kaleena finishing second on handicap the following year.
When Sir Frank Packer [q.v.15] and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron—of which Payne was a member—challenged for the 1962 America’s Cup, Payne was commissioned to design the Australian challenger, Gretel. He studied both the complicated design rules of the competition’s 12-metre class, and the lines of the American vessel Vim, which was chartered and brought to Sydney Harbour. Twice visiting the United States of America, on one trip he was allowed to test scale models in the towing tank at the Stevens Institute of Technology at Hoboken, New Jersey. He designed the hull, rigging, and sail plans, and ‘broke new ground’ (d’Apulget 1980, 104) with some of Gretel’s innovative fittings. Built by Lars Halvorsen Sons Pty Ltd, Sydney, it was launched in February 1962.
The New York Yacht Club successfully defended the Australian challenge in September, but the moment when Gretel surged past the American defender, Weatherly, to take the second race was a defining moment in Australian yachting, opening the possibility of winning the America’s Cup. Payne worked on the design of Gretel II for another unsuccessful Australian challenge for the trophy in 1970. His Advance proved uncompetitive in the series to determine a challenger in 1983.
At the registrar general’s office, Sydney, on 4 March 1965 Payne had married Betty Lucille Forsyth, née Jones; they later divorced. On 12 May 1973 he married Gwendolene Avice (Wendy) Hay, an English-born teacher, in a Presbyterian service at Mosman. In a diverse career, he had worked as an engineer at the Bond’s Industries Ltd clothing factory and as chief designer for De Havilland Marine in the 1960s, and had collaborated with a number of naval architects and boat designers. During the 1980s, in partnership with Keith Lawson, he developed the design for the First Fleet class catamaran ferries for service on Sydney Harbour. He also engineered the hydraulic hoist used to raise and lower the flag on new Parliament House, Canberra. In 1993 he was appointed AM.
Payne is remembered for his innovations in yacht design, and for his strong seaworthy cruising craft. The America’s Cup challengers Gretel and Gretel II were considered by some to be superior to the American defenders, and his cruising yachts have completed circumnavigations of the world and sailed into Antarctic waters. Gretel II’s skipper in 1970, Sir James Hardy, later said that ‘the word magic could be applied to Alan’ (Mundle 1995, 18). Modest and quietly spoken, he had ‘great determination, sincerity, and spirit’ (Davis 1967, 149). He died on 20 June 1995 at his Mosman home, survived by his wife and twin daughters; he was cremated. In 2005 he was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. His daughter Rosetta also became a naval architect.
Australian National Maritime Museum in association with Sydney Heritage Fleet. ‘Australian Register of Historic Vessels: Alan Payne.’ Accessed 24 February 2017. arhv.anmm.gov.au/people/11147; Baverstock, W. The America’s Cup: Challenge from Down Under. Sydney: The K. G. Murray Publishing Company, 1967; d’Alpuget, Lou. Yachting in Australia: Yesterday Today Tomorrow. Research assistant Tony Mooney. Richmond, Vic.: Hutchinson Group (Australia), 1980; Davis, Murray. Australian Ocean Racing. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1967; Mortlock, Richard. ‘Intellect Behind the Aesthetic.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 2004, 42; Mundle, Rob. ‘Design Genius Set Course for Cup Triumph.’ Australian, 23 June 1995, 18; Stephensen, P. R. Sydney Sails: The Story of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s First 100 Years (1862–1962). Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1962.
Carlin De Montfort
PEDEN, HAROLD (1920–1993), trade unionist, was born on 11 March 1920 in Perth, eldest of three sons of English-born parents Charles Harold Peden, watchman and cleaner, and his wife Dorothy, née Durden. Harold left school at fourteen and worked as a messenger boy at a department store. His father’s death in 1939 brought him added responsibility as the family’s principal wage-earner. With the outbreak of World War II he found a welding job, enabling him to gain his tradesman’s rights certificate as a welder in the boilermaking trade. He became a provisional member of the Boilermakers’ Society of Australia, and a full member in 1958, after gaining his A Certificate in welding.
Radicalised by the Depression, Peden had joined the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1941. On 3 October 1942 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Perth, he married Jessie Garden, a shop assistant. Between 1940 and 1968 he worked as a welder, a reserved occupation during the war, and served (1952–68) as a shop steward for the union at engineering and metal fabricating shops and on construction sites around Perth and the Kwinana industrial area. Told that he was ‘as Red as Red can be’ (Layman 2014, 9), employers sometimes sacked him when the opportunity arose. In those years he developed industrial deafness.
Peden began full-time union work in 1968 with the boilermakers union, known since 1965 as the Boilermakers’ and Blacksmiths’ Society of Australia. He was elected BBS organiser in 1970, and continued in the role (1973–78) after the union became part of the Amalgamated Metal Workers’ Union (AMWU). In August 1972 he helped coordinate direct action (including a ‘flying squad’ of pickets) to successfully resist an attempt by employers to cut over-award payments. A fiercely fought campaign for shorter working hours targeted Alcoa’s Pinjarra Alumina Refinery operations and in 1975 resulted in a thirty-six-hour week for metalworkers at the site. He was prominent in the campaign to extend this victory by embedding a 38-hour week in the metal trades award. He was elected State president of the AMWU in 1978 and, until his retirement in July 1985, he led the Western Australian component of the union’s nationwide struggle to halt the decline of Australian manufacturing.
Failures in occupational health and safety were among the problems Peden tackled as a union official. The Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984 came about partly because of his tireless advocacy and lobbying of the State government. Championing workers’ education and active in shop stewards’ training, he set up an education program with a dedicated officer within the AMWU, and assisted the work of the Trade Union Training Authority after it was established in 1975.
As a committed member of the CPA until 1984, Peden continued to believe that unions should extend their activities beyond wages and working conditions into politics. Although he was aware of opposition from some members who did not see such protests as union business, he strongly supported Aboriginal rights, and threw the AMWU’s weight behind the protest against oil drilling on Noonkanbah station in 1980. He opposed race and sex discrimination, and supported equal pay. A peace campaigner, he helped lead the mass action against the Vietnam War, organising the earliest of Perth’s moratorium marches. In 1975 he helped establish the Friends of East Timor (Western Australia) and in the 1980s was central to union participation in the People for Nuclear Disarmament protests.
A delegate to the Trades & Labor Council of Western Australia (the peak body of State unions) since its establishment in 1963, Peden had been a member of its disputes committee, and was elected to executive positions (1978–85), including junior and later senior vice president; he was made a life member in 1985. In 1990 he was awarded an OAM. With his extensive shop floor knowledge and understanding of workers’ concerns, Peden was highly respected by the rank and file, and admired for his honesty, integrity, and wisdom. ‘What’s the workers’ view?’ (Layman 2014, 11) was his consistent inquiry to shop stewards. Dedicated to his family, he also loved sailing and fishing and each year spent his annual holidays at Garden Island. He died in a boating accident off Rottnest Island on 28 January 1993, and was survived by his wife, a daughter, and a son; he was cremated. An annual lecture commemorates his contribution to the Western Australian labour movement.
Brown, Neil. Personal communication; Clarke, Arthur. ‘Harold Peden Lecture.’ Unpublished Manuscript. 18 October 2001. Copy held on ADB file; Gandini J. R. ‘Eulogy for Harold Peden.’ Unpublished Manuscript. 4 February 1993. Copy held on ADB file; Layman, Lenore. ‘“What’s the Workers’ View?” Harold Peden (1920–1993).’ Western Worker: Journal of the Perth Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, no. 3 (October 2014): 5–19; Mathers, Jan. Personal communication; Peckham, Keith. Personal communication; Peden, Harold. Interview by Stuart Reid, 3 August, 14 September 1988, 21 January 1989. TLC(WA) oral history project, State Library of Western Australia; Peden, Harold. Interview by Judyth Watson, 1979. State Library of Western Australia; Peden, Harold. ‘WA Strike Shatters Wage Attack: Strikers Establish … Workers’ Embassy a “Flying Squad”.’ Amalgamated News, October 1972.
PETERKIN, ANGUS ROY (1906–1991), children’s home administrator, was born on 8 March 1906 at Maylands, Western Australia, only surviving son of Scottish-born John Peterkin, engine-driver, and his South Australian–born wife Alice, née MacDonald. Roy was educated at Maylands primary school, Perth Boys’ School, and Perth Modern School. He joined the Education Department as a monitor in 1923 and by 1924 had been posted as teacher and librarian to the Fairbridge Farm School, where he developed a keen interest in child welfare. That year he was awarded a teaching certificate by the Claremont Teachers College, and then taught at a succession of schools in the Perth metropolitan area. He studied part time at the University of Western Australia (BA, 1936). On 29 December 1932 at St George’s Cathedral, Perth, he had married Mary Alice Louise Paterson, also a teacher.
By 1938 Peterkin had returned to the teachers college as a lecturer in geography. In 1942 he wrote a textbook, The Industrial Development of Western Australia: A Handbook of Information on the Primary and Secondary Industries of the State. An aspiration to work in the field of child welfare was achieved when, in April, the ‘elusive vacancy … for which I had waited so long’ (Peterkin 1988, 69) led to his appointment as resident manager of the Swan Boys’ Orphanage at Middle Swan. Staff and boys, who had resented the dismissal of his predecessor, opposed him at first but he won them over with skilled management.
Soon after taking up his position, he successfully handled the problem of finding accommodation for children evacuated from the Perth Girls’ Orphanage as a wartime precaution. In 1943 the orphanages were amalgamated into the Anglican Homes for Children (known as Swan Homes), with Peterkin as manager. With the assistance of Mary, who took an important role in the activities of the institution, he established a school and a recreational program on the premises, and implemented a cottage system in which small groups of children lived in a family environment. Not content that the children should be trained only for farm work or domestic service, he encouraged their enrolment at local high schools. Buildings were improved and extended, and recreational facilities such as tennis courts were provided. Budget restraints were tight, but he was adroit at making ends meet and gradually built up an endowment fund.
After World War II Peterkin’s belief that ‘the child was the best migrant’ (Peterkin 1988, 105) led him in 1947 to welcome a scheme sponsored by the Church of England Council of Empire Settlement. During the next twelve years, over 200 British children, unaccompanied by their parents, were placed at the Swan Homes. Two years later, the Parkerville Children’s Home came under Peterkin’s control after the Anglican Community of the Sisters of the Church withdrew. In 1955, at the request of the State government, the board of the Anglican Homes for Children accepted responsibility for accommodating young offenders, and opened the Anglican Farm School (later ‘Hillston’), at Stoneville in the hills east of Perth.
By the late 1950s support for British child migration was dwindling, and official policy was shifting to favour the fostering of necessitous children rather than institutional care. The Swan Homes were renamed Swanleigh in 1960 and adapted to provide accommodation for rural high school students studying in Perth; they made up half of the residents in 1961 and over three-quarters in 1966. Peterkin’s job title was changed to director of Anglican institutions.
In 1966 Peterkin was awarded the British Empire Medal. After retiring in 1971, he and Mary (d. 1989) moved first to Albany and then to an aged-care village at the Perth suburb of Bull Creek. There he wrote a history of Swanleigh, while indulging his passion for travel, fishing, gardening, and community service. Survived by two daughters and a son, he died at Como on 11 August 1991 and was cremated. Roy and Mary Peterkin had been caring guardians of the children entrusted to them, and devoted members of the Anglican Church. Described by his daughter as ‘conscientious, resourceful, and reflective’ (Peterkin, pers. comm.), Peterkin could be a hard taskmaster, and felt the weight of responsibility in caring for the children of others.
Anglican Messenger. October 1991, 5; Peterkin, Angus Roy. Interview by Chris Jeffery, 1985. Transcript. State Library of Western Australia; Peterkin, A. Roy. The Noisy Mansions: The Story of Swanleigh 1868–1971. Midland, WA: Swanleigh Council, 1988; Peterkin, Judith. Personal communication; State Records Office of Western Australia. Education Department Teacher’s Records.
G. C. Bolton*
PETERSILKA, AUGUSTIN (GUS) (1918–1994), café owner, was born on 20 July 1918 in Vienna, son of locally born Rudolf Petersilka, businessman, and his wife Josefine, née Pospisil, born in Bohemia (Czech Republic). While at school, Gus was encouraged into hospitality by his father, who ran a restaurant in Vienna. He was assistant manager (1934–38) of a farm supplying hotels while enrolled in a commercial course by correspondence. Rudolf’s socialist politics also influenced Gus, who ran food for the Republikanischer Schutzbund (Republican Defence League) during its February 1934 uprising. Following Austria’s annexation by Germany in 1938, Rudolf, who was Jewish, was forced into a labour camp, while Gus ‘disappeared’ into the Alps, where he lived by tending livestock. His encounters with arbitrary violence at the end of World War II sharpened his conviction never ‘to fail to speak up for what I believed in’ (Farquharson 1994, 21), while his association with Allied investigations into collaboration, as an employee of the United States military, firmed his desire to seek a future outside Europe.
In October 1950 Petersilka arrived in Sydney, joining his elder sister Else, who had migrated with her husband two years earlier and settled at Willoughby. Their parents followed the next year. Petersilka also applied for entrance to Australia on behalf of his wife Amalia, née Circa, a shop assistant he had married before leaving Austria; the application was approved, but she never emigrated. Finding Sydney ‘primitive’, he headed ‘outback’ (Petersilka 1994, 15), managing the dairy herd at O. R. Falkiner’s [q.v.8] Boonoke station, north of Deniliquin, New South Wales. Alone for long hours, he wrote intensively about his wartime experiences, but destroyed this work. Moving into timber cutting, he was based at Echuca, Victoria, until injury brought him back to Sydney. While convalescing, with a job delivering dry cleaning, he wrote an ambitious film script, ‘Pro Patria’, set on a Luftwaffe airbase and expressing his conviction that ‘peace and liberty cannot survive without sacrifice’ (NAA A1336). Divorced from his first wife, on 23 December 1959 at the registrar general’s office, Sydney, he married Maureen Cecilia Montgomery, a secretary.
The Petersilkas moved to Canberra in 1961, Gus having been impressed by opportunities in the rapidly growing city while visiting friends. He was naturalised that year. Working as a hardware salesman, he was active in the Austrian-Australian Cultural Society, providing local audiences with foreign-language theatre and film. In 1965 he borrowed funds from the developers of a new retail court at Manuka to establish a café. Supporting live music and poetry readings, the Thetis Court Café proved popular, particularly with younger patrons. Other retailers were less happy with late-night dancing and the proposed staging in 1968 of ‘Viet Rock’, an anti-war musical. In 1969 Petersilka established a theatre-restaurant adjoining the capital’s new performing arts centre, but was impeded by restrictions on selling alcohol after midnight. His determination to transform Canberra from ‘a large museum which closes down at night’ (Canberra Times 1966, 6) would face continuing obstacles.
Petersilka’s most sustained campaign centred on his next enterprise—‘Gus’s Café’—which he leased in 1970 with the intention of providing pavement service on a European model in the city centre. The Department of the Interior initially opposed such provision, and then imposed restrictions that Petersilka disregarded. In a series of confrontations, authorities confiscated tables, umbrellas, and canopies, leading to public demands for their return. With a sharp eye for publicity, Petersilka similarly protested at rent increases, barricading himself against sheriffs. His frustration led, in 1978, to a venture in nearby Queanbeyan, New South Wales, providing ‘old-fashioned’ service in a converted mill: it was not a success. Selling his city café in 1982, he returned to Vienna in 1984, marrying Andrea Bees-Costin while there. But he was back the following year, declaring ‘whatever shortcomings Canberra has, its good points outweigh them by far’ (Longhurst 1985, 2).
Beyond business, a prolific stream of letters to the Canberra Times conveyed Petersilka’s advocacy for many causes. With tenacity, high principle, and teasing humour, he opposed—among much else—the fluoridisation of Canberra’s water supply, the introduction of poker machines, and the use of napalm in Vietnam. His concern with ‘profiteers’ encompassed causes ranging from health (he inserted his own cancer warnings on the cigarette packets he sold) to ‘moral pollution’, including opposing the liberalisation of access to pornography. Complaining of a loss of ‘self-discipline’, he called for the reintroduction of national service in 1978. Towards the end of his life, he criticised homosexual rights campaigns as a challenge to the ‘social fibre of western civilisation’ (Canberra Times 1994, 2).
Short and dapper, Petersilka had an appetite for controversy that made him a figure of affectionate regard in a community keen for personalities. He was named Canberran of the Year in 1978. Translating that appeal into politics was more challenging. In 1970 he sought election to the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, committed to increasing community engagement; in 1979 he ran as an Independent candidate for the House of Assembly, promising ‘sit-ins’ against over-regulation. Both campaigns were unsuccessful. Opposing the introduction of self-government through the 1980s, he judged the ACT had already developed effective forms of citizen participation.
In several enterprises, Petersilka continued to test the market for, and regulations around, his ideal of hospitality. He was famed for his cosmopolitanism and generosity perhaps more than for the catering at his premises. His last venture was Café Augustin, a smoke-free venue in the city specialising in Viennese cuisine, which he established in 1991. News of his final illness in 1994 brought tributes to an enigmatic ‘Canberra institution’. He died of cancer on 23 October 1994 at Woden Valley Hospital and was buried in Queanbeyan lawn cemetery. Divorced three times, he was survived by Ding Shu Jian, whom he had married in Canberra on 12 March 1992. A street in the Canberra suburb of Gungahlin is named after him and a plaque commemorates him in the ACT Honour Walk. ‘Gus’s Café’ was placed on the ACT Heritage Register in 2011.
Canberra Times. ‘City Called a Big Museum.’ 30 December 1966, 6. ‘Good Morning: May I Spoil Your Breakfast.’ 27 March 1994, 2, ‘Stronger Voice in ACT Affairs.’ 4 September 1970, 10; Farquharson, John. ‘The Little Emperor.’ Canberra Times, 2 October 1994, 21; Longhurst, Frank. ‘Wanted: A Green Party for Canberra.’ Canberra Times, 27 April 1985, 2; National Archives of Australia. A1336, 57783, SP244/2, N1950/2/12092, SP244/3, N1950/3/9481; Petersilka, Gus. Interview by John Farquharson, 1 September 1994. Transcript. National Library of Australia.
PETROV, VLADIMIR MIKHAILOVICH (1907–1991) and Evdokia Alekseevna Petrova (1914–2002), Soviet intelligence officers and defectors, were husband and wife. Vladimir was born Afanasii Mikhailovich Shorokhov on 15 February 1907 into a peasant family at Larikha, in central Siberia, Russia. He and his two brothers became fatherless when he was seven. After attending a local school (1915–17), from the age of fourteen he helped to support his mother as a blacksmith’s apprentice. His ascent in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union began in 1923 when he established a local Komsomol (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League) cell. Later he qualified as a cipher specialist in the Soviet Navy. In 1929 he changed his surname to Proletarskii and four years later was recruited by the OGPU (Joint State Political Directorate). He survived Stalin’s purges in the 1930s and served in China (1938–39) as chief of a cipher unit, for which he was awarded a Red Star.
In June 1940, now a major in the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs), Proletarskii married Evdokia Alekseevna Kartseva; both were divorcees. She was born on 15 September 1914 in the village of Lipki, in Riazan province, near Moscow. During the famine of 1919 the family travelled to Siberia where they experienced further hunger and hardship, before moving back to Moscow in 1924. There she joined the Pioneers, the official youth movement for all children under fifteen, which conferred eligibility to join the Komsomol. Later, she studied English and Japanese, was recruited by the OGPU in 1933, and specialised in code breaking.
Proletarskii was renamed Petrov, regarded as a more suitable name for a foreign posting. In July 1942 he and his wife, by then an experienced cipher expert, were sent to the Soviet embassy in Stockholm under diplomatic cover. They returned to Moscow in 1947, and he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the MGB (Ministry of State Security); Evdokia held the rank of captain in the MGB. On 5 February 1951 they arrived at the Soviet embassy in Canberra. As cover for their intelligence work, he was designated consul and third secretary, she an embassy clerk and accountant.
Evdokia had access to top-secret cable traffic from the central headquarters of the KGB (Committee for State Security which in 1954 succeeded the MGB) and acquired extensive knowledge of Soviet espionage operations. Vladimir performed the duties of the chief MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) resident, penetrating local anti-Soviet organisations and recruiting Australian agents for espionage activity. In the latter task he was singularly unsuccessful. The hunter was already the hunted. Five months after his arrival, Petrov was befriended by an apparently pro-communist Russian-speaking Polish émigré, Michael Bialoguski [q.v.17] and, like Petrov, a prodigious drinker and womaniser. Petrov believed Bialoguski was ‘ripe for recruitment’ (NAA A6201, 156) but Bialoguski was working for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), under the codenames Diablo and Jack Baker, and was tasked with cultivating Petrov and persuading him to defect.
Petrov and Bialoguski first met at the Russian Social Club in Sydney on 7 July 1951. As their friendship flourished, their lives became entwined and increasingly seedy. Together, they frequented the bars and brothels of Kings Cross and commenced an illegal but lucrative trade in the sale of duty-free whisky. Bialoguski was pivotal to Petrov’s defection. During the weekend of 21–22 November, when Petrov stayed at Bialoguski’s Sydney flat, as he often did, Bialoguski first offered financial assistance if Petrov stayed in Australia.
After Stalin’s death in March 1953 events in the Soviet Union intensified Petrov’s anxieties and readiness to defect. In June Lavrentii Beria, first deputy premier, head of the MVD and Petrov’s protector, was arrested, and six months later, executed. Menacingly, the Petrovs were accused of forming an anti-party ‘Beria cell’ within the embassy. In September 1953 a new Soviet ambassador arrived in Australia. The Petrovs were becoming scared: Evdokia was accused of insulting the ambassador’s wife and dismissed from her embassy positions, and the ambassador was highly critical of Vladimir’s performance. The likelihood of a recall to Moscow loomed. On 21 February at Bialoguski’s flat, Vladimir met ASIO’s deputy director, Ron Richards [q.v.18], who offered him political asylum in Australia. At a second meeting on 19 March, he was offered £5,000 produced in cash from Richards’s briefcase. This had a great impact on Petrov, as did a personal meeting with ASIO’s director-general, (Sir) Charles Spry [q.v.]. On 3 April he formally sought political asylum and the next day he defected.
Vladimir kept Evdokia ignorant of his decision and had abandoned her. For two weeks following his defection she was, in effect, a prisoner inside the embassy until diplomatic couriers arrived to take her back to Russia. In her own words, she was ‘very frightened’ (NAA A6201, 12) and had even attempted suicide. Her fear was palpable when, on 19 April 1954, her burly couriers, Karpinsy and Zharkov, roughly escorted her across the tarmac at Sydney’s Mascot airport amid a highly charged public demonstration against her apparent kidnapping. Photographs, now iconic, of Evdokia’s obvious terror and lost high-heeled shoe captured her distress. Further drama ensued when the plane landed in Darwin to refuel. There the couriers were forcibly disarmed by local police; phone calls were made between Prime Minister (Sir) Robert Menzies [q.v.15], ASIO, and the Petrovs; and an ambivalent Evdokia eventually announced her wish to stay in Australia, just fifteen minutes before the plane was scheduled to depart. On 21 April she applied for, and was granted, political asylum. The couple were reunited in Sydney, but their marriage was strained: for weeks ASIO safe-house teams heard her ‘long wailing cries echoing through the night’ (NAA A6122, 96), and witnessed her being physically assaulted by an intoxicated Petrov. The possible fate of her family in Moscow also haunted her. However, although her father was dismissed from his job, she corresponded with her mother and in 1990 was reunited with her sister who migrated to Australia.
Evdokia’s expertise in ‘sigint’ (signals intelligence) was as important as the information Vladimir had gleaned from his unrestricted access to embassy safes. During an early debriefing with ASIO on 6 April 1954, Petrov had revealed the whereabouts of the two missing British diplomats, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean. His revelation that they had defected to the Soviet Union caused great consternation in Britain. The intelligence that the Petrovs supplied to ASIO and, by default, the Western intelligence community, was highly prized. They identified 600 Soviet intelligence officers; gave detailed information on espionage activity in Britain, Sweden, and the United States; provided new insights into Soviet methods of disinformation and crypto-analysis; contributed to the further decrypting of the Venona cables of Soviet intelligence messages; and were debriefed by overseas spy agencies about the organisation, structure, and modus operandi of Soviet espionage. According to Spry this amounted to ‘a world coup’, while a senior MI5 officer observed that the Petrov case ‘certainly put ASIO on the map’ (Horner 2014, 380).
The Soviet government withdrew its embassy from Canberra, followed by reciprocal action from Australia. The defections resulted in the Royal Commission on Espionage, which commenced on 17 May 1954. It sat for 126 days, examined 119 witnesses and received over 500 exhibits. The latter included the controversial ‘Petrov Papers’, a substantial number of documents he had removed from the Soviet embassy over several months and handed over to ASIO at the time of defection. Although many communist supporters alleged these to be forgeries, the Venona decrypts confirmed their authenticity when they were published in 1996. Despite the royal commission finding that a Soviet spy ring operated in the Department of External Affairs between 1945 and 1948, prosecutions could not be initiated without compromising the Venona operation. The leader of the Opposition, H. V. Evatt [q.v.14], rejected the findings of the commission, considering it to be part of a Menzies government conspiracy. The defections of the Petrovs may have assisted the Menzies government to a narrow electoral victory in 1954, but Evatt’s politically inept reaction to the royal commission and its findings was a factor in the Australian Labor Party’s split, which contributed to a series of electoral defeats. The ALP remained in opposition until 1972.
On 12 October 1956 the Petrovs were granted Australian citizenship, guaranteed protection by a Federal government ‘D’ notice, and provided with a safe house in the Melbourne suburb of East Bentleigh. Their book, Empire of Fear, ghost-written by an ASIO intelligence officer, Michael Thwaites, was serialised in newspapers in 1955, and published in book-form in 1956. Contentment proved elusive as the Petrovs feared they would be assassinated. It was later revealed that their belief was not fanciful: they were named on a KGB wanted list and condemned to death. Viktor Cherkashin, a KGB officer, located a Sydney safe house just after the Petrovs had been moved from there, and a KGB general, Oleg Kalugin, discussed Petrov’s assassination with Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB (1967–82) and later the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1982–83).
Vladimir and Evdokia were given new identities of Sven and Maria Allyson and they bought a house in Bentleigh. He found employment in June 1957 at the Ilford photographic company in Upwey, while she worked as a typist with William Adams Tractors Pty Ltd, Clayton. She also did voluntary work for Meals on Wheels and Vladimir enjoyed Australian Rules football and rabbit shooting. In 1974 he suffered a series of strokes and was admitted to the Mount Royal Geriatric Hospital, Parkville, where he remained for the rest of his life. His anonymity was controversially breached a decade later when the Truth newspaper published a front-page photograph of him confined to a wheelchair. On 14 June 1991 Vladimir Petrov died of pneumonia and was cremated. His funeral service was held secretly, attended only by his wife, a few friends, and ASIO officers including Spry. Evdokia died on 19 July 2002 at Bentleigh and was cremated at Springvale crematorium.
Vladimir Petrov had not been a glamorous spy. Described as ‘a peasant’ (Horner, 459), he was a stockily built drunkard, with an abusive personality. By contrast, Evdokia, with her attractive looks, blue eyes, courtesy, kindness, and love of fashion was far more appealing. When she died, a neighbour described her as ‘a nice lady, and really feisty’; he was remembered as ‘a drunken sod’ (Manne, 27 July 2002). Both Petrovs embodied the emotionally wrenching impact, as well as the perils and the complexities, of defection to the West during the Cold War.
Bialoguski, Michael. The Petrov Story. Port Melbourne: Mandarin Australia, 1989; Canberra Times. ‘Petrov, 84, the Former Soviet Spy at the Centre of the 1950s Espionage Scandal, Dies.’ 17 June 1991, 3; Horner, David. The Spy Catchers: The Official History of ASIO 1949–1963. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2014; Manne, Robert. The Petrov Affair. Politics and Espionage. Rushcutters Bay: Pergamon Press Aust., 1987, ‘Mrs Petrov’s Death Brings Bizarre Spy Affair to End.’ Age (Melbourne), 27 July 2002, 1, 14; National Archives (UK). KV2/3440; National Archives of Australia. A6122, 96, A6201, 12, A6201, 156, A6282, 14, A6214, 3, A6283, 14, A6283, 80; Petrov, Vladimir and Evdokia Petrova. Empire of Fear. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1956; Petrova, Evdokia Alexeevna. Interview by Robert Manne, 21, 28 June 1996. Transcript, Petrova, Evdokia Alexeevna. Interview by Robert Manne, 5, 12 July 1996. Transcript. National Library of Australia; Thwaites, Michael. Truth Will Out: ASIO and the Petrovs. Sydney: Collins, 1980.
PETTIGREW, ALAN CHARLES (ALLAN) (Allan) Charles Pettigrew (1935–1993), public servant, journalist, and cricket administrator, was born on 2 December 1935 at Bundaberg, Queensland, fourth child of Queensland-born parents Stewart Campbell Pettigrew, ironmonger and later company managing director, and his wife Muriel Tindel Marks, née Lane. Having attended Bundaberg West State and Bundaberg High schools, Alan spent two years (1952–53) at Brisbane Boys’ College, where he was outstanding at sport, being a member of the college’s first cricket, rugby union, and tennis teams in the Great Public Schools competition.
After completing the senior public examination, Pettigrew returned to Bundaberg in 1953 to commence a cadetship in journalism with the News-Mail; he later became its sports editor and writer. On 29 November 1958 at Christ Church, Bundaberg, he married, with Anglican rites, Dorothy Hintz, a nurse. In 1960 he moved to Brisbane to work as a government roundsman and political writer for the Telegraph. He was well liked by his contemporaries, who observed that he never allowed his own beliefs to influence his reporting of political events. Because of his background, he also covered sport.
On 4 October 1965 Pettigrew joined the Queensland Public Service as a liaison officer, employed as press secretary to John Herbert, the minister for labour and industry (labour and tourism from 1966; tourism, sport, and welfare services from 1972) in the Country and Liberal parties’ coalition government. In this position, Pettigrew gained the respect of all political parties. He moved to the post of director of marketing for the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau in 1974. Appointed as an assistant under-secretary in the Department of Community and Welfare Services and Sport in 1976, he became deputy director-general (family and community programs) in the Department of Welfare Services in 1981.
An able public administrator, on 6 February 1986 Pettigrew was appointed under-secretary (permanent head) of the Department of Welfare (later Family) Services, under Yvonne Chapman, the first woman to be a Queensland cabinet minister. In September 1989 he responded to representations by members of the staff of the John Oxley Youth Centre, Wacol, about the institution’s management. With the approval of the then minister, Beryce Nelson, he initiated an inquiry by Noel Heiner into the staff complaints and other matters touching the security and treatment of detainees. In December 1989 the new Australian Labor Party government transferred him to the position of director-general of tourism, sport, and racing, before cabinet’s controversial decision to close the inquiry and destroy related documents. So thoroughly was he an old-style, publicly neutral public servant that, when the ALP took office (after he had worked for the coalition for twenty-four years), he was the sole serving departmental head to gain one of the fifteen new positions of director-general opened to competitive selection.
Pettigrew had an abiding interest in cricket, having played first grade in Bundaberg at thirteen years of age. On arriving in Brisbane, he had begun a lifelong association with the Northern Suburbs district club, first as a solid right-hand batsman for eight seasons and then in various administrative positions, being awarded life membership in 1973. The club named its oval at Windsor after him in 1993 but later shifted the title to its Kedron oval.
In 1965 Pettigrew had been elected to the Queensland Cricket Association’s executive committee; he represented the country division, of which he was treasurer (1966–69), secretary (1969–70), and president (1970–72). From 1965 to 1970 he organised the annual Country Week Carnival in Brisbane. When the separate Queensland Country Cricket Association was formed in 1972, he was the inaugural president, holding this office until 1977. For his tireless service, he was granted life membership of the QCCA in 1972 and the QCA in 1977. As chairman of the QCA from 1988, he moved to streamline its cumbersome administration, aiming to lift its public profile and promote the game effectively. In 1992 he succeeded in abolishing the unwieldy twenty-one-member executive and replacing it with a board of ten directors, under his chairmanship. He retired in August 1993. The QCA named the second grade of its premier competition the Alan Pettigrew Shield in recognition of his services.
Elected in 1974 to represent Queensland on the Australian Cricket Board, Pettigrew had become, at thirty-eight, the youngest member-director. He joined the board’s executive in 1988 and served on the financial review (1987–89) and the international umpires’ allocation (1987–93) committees. When he stood down in 1993, he was the ACB’s longest-serving member. Known affectionately in cricket circles as ‘Petals’, he was highly regarded as the game’s ‘gentle voice of reason’, Cam Battersby saying of him that his ‘trademark was his smile and his style was conciliation, discussion and hard work’ (News-Mail 1993, 40).
On 6 November 1992 Pettigrew had retired from the public service, planning to travel and then settle by the sea at Bargara. Soon taken ill, however, he died of cancer on 16 December 1993 in his home at Aspley, Brisbane, and, following a Catholic funeral, was buried in the Bundaberg lawn cemetery. His wife and their three sons and one daughter survived him.
Callaghan, Allen. Personal communication; Diehm, Ian. Green Hills to the Gabba: The Story of Queensland Cricket. Sydney: Playright Publishing Pty Ltd, 2000; News-Mail (Bundaberg). ‘Pettigrew Loses Fight.’ 17 December 1993, 40; Queensland State Archives. Item ID935514, Personnel file; Torrens, Warwick. ‘Life Member: Alan Charles Pettigrew 1972.’ 2008. Accessed 8 March 2011. www.qldcricket.com.au/clubs/default.asp?PageID=8274. Copy held on ADB file.
PEWTRESS, MARGARET ISABEL (MARG) (1932–1995), women’s sport leader and netball administrator, was born on 21 November 1932 in Melbourne, elder daughter of Tasmanian-born Robert William Stanley Tubb, shearer, and his Victorian-born wife Margaret Pearl, née Green. Marg grew up in Albert Park and South Melbourne and was educated at Middle Park Central and Albert Park Primary schools. Encouraged by her mother, she continued her studies at Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School (MGHS) and completed the trained primary teachers’ certificate at Melbourne Teachers’ College (1951). She joined the State teaching service and taught in several schools before being appointed (1953) to the physical education staff and then returning for a period to MGHS. On 28 December 1953 at the Presbyterian Church, South Melbourne, she married William Alex Pewtress, a plumber who later taught in technical schools.
A talented player of women’s basketball (renamed netball in 1970), Margaret Pewtress was a member of the Victorian team and was awarded (1954) the coveted national All Australia umpire’s badge. During the 1960s, she coached the State (1960–62, 1964–66) and national (1967) teams with an innovative emphasis on circuit training and physical fitness. She also co-founded and coached the successful Palladians club, named for the MGHS alumni association. As a national selector (1967, 1979–88), she was noted for encouraging the inclusion of young players in the team. In 1967, having helped to amalgamate the three associations into which the Victorian game had been divided, she was elected president of the reconstituted Victorian Women’s Basket Ball Association. During the following two years she inaugurated the Victorian schoolgirls’ championship and successfully campaigned for an indoor State netball stadium at Royal Park. In 1973 she was awarded life membership of the Victorian Netball Association. That year she began studying arts part time at Monash University (BA, 1985).
Noted for her problem-solving skills, sense of humour, and down-to-earth manner, Pewtress proved to be a talented administrator. She was appointed to the Victorian Sports Council in 1982 and then recruited to join the new Australian Sports Commission (ASC) in 1984. As one of only five women out of twenty-one members selected, she relished the challenges offered. She served on the commission’s children in sport committee in 1985 and chaired the women’s sport promotion unit formed in 1987. The unit’s National Policy and Plan for Women in Sport was published that year, and she lobbied the press for greater coverage of women’s sporting achievements to encourage commercial sponsorship and to increase participation. She was appointed OAM in 1989 and that year retired from teaching.
Pewtress had been elected president of the All Australia Netball Association (later Netball Australia) in 1988. She restructured the organisation, developing its first strategic plan. In 1990 she was appointed chair of the World Netball Championships Company. The AANA staged the championships in Sydney in 1991. Considered to be ‘the most successful event that Australian netball has been involved in’ (Dix 1995, 14), the national team won the final by one goal. During the same year she negotiated with Mobil Oil Australia Ltd to sponsor a super league pre-season competition and a national coaching program. The breakthrough into live telecasts of games followed soon after. At the same time, she warned against expanding too quickly at the expense of grassroots and interstate competitions. She argued too for the preservation of the game’s amateur status, while encouraging leading players to secure personal sponsorship. She also supported a national players’ committee initiative for a regular trans-Tasman competition. In answer to those who claimed the sport had ‘awakened’, she replied ‘I sometimes smile and think “it took you a long time to find us”’ (Active 1995, 4). She was presented with the AANA’s service award in 1994.
As part of the campaign for Olympic recognition, Pewtress aimed to extend netball beyond Commonwealth countries. She had led a tour of players and coaches to China in 1990 and to Japan in 1992. While visiting South Africa on behalf of the ASC’s sport program for children in mid-1993, she attended an interim meeting to discuss the amalgamation of that country’s four racially based netball associations. Although she acknowledged that further measures were needed to ensure racial integration was effective after the merger was finalised, she supported South Africa’s readmission to the International Federation of Netball Associations in 1994. It was South Africa that the Australian team defeated in the final of the World Netball Championships in Birmingham the following year. Too ill to travel, she watched the game from her hospital bed in East Melbourne. The Australian captain declared in an interview after the game, ‘This one’s for you, Marg’ (Dix 1995, 14). Pewtress died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma eight days later on 6 August 1995 and was cremated. Her husband and their daughter and two sons survived her.
Contemporaries judged her to have been ‘a role model for sports administrators throughout Australia and the world’ (Dix 1995, 14). The ASC created the Margaret Pewtress Individual Contribution to Sport award in 1995 and Netball Australia named the Margaret Pewtress Team of the Year for her in 2002. She was inducted into the halls of fame of Netball Victoria in 2001 and Netball Australia in 2010.
Active. ‘A Lasting Legacy.’ 3 (October 1995): 4; Dix, Noeleen. ‘Netball Doyen’s Goal Was Excellence.’ Australian, 23 August 1995, 14; Netball Victoria. Personal communication; Pearce, Linda. ‘Netball Legend a Mentor to Many Sportswomen.’ Age (Melbourne), 13 August 1995, 10; Pewtress, Bill. Personal communication; Pewtress, Margaret. ‘The Wisdom of Keeping Options Open.’ In Living Generously: Women Mentoring Women, edited by Jocelynne A. Scutt, 305–16. Melbourne: Artemis, 1996; University of Melbourne Archives. 2014.0089, Melbourne Teachers’ College—Student Course Record Cards and Registers; Victorian Netball. ‘Margaret Pewtress OAM President All Australian Netball Association.’ October 1995, 3–4.
PHUNG NHAT MINH (1926–1995), South Vietnamese diplomat, was born on 21 January 1926 at Cua Ong, northern Vietnam, eldest of eight children of Phung Thoi Tien and his wife Do Thi Soan. A ‘ready scholar’ who ‘loved nature, poetry, and song’ (Armstrong 1995, 7), Phung had to leave home for his education. He was studying for the baccalaureate when famine engulfed northern and north-central Vietnam, killing an estimated 1 million people between 1944 and 1945.
At the end of World War II, Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Viet Minh, briefly seized power in Hanoi. Phung joined the Viet Minh in 1946, after members of a battalion were billeted in his grandmother’s house. Over the next three years, he was enmeshed in the brutality of war in the countryside. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese died in purges between 1945 and 1947, and while violence did occur on both sides of politics, it was far more systematic on the part of the Viet Minh. Phung became disillusioned with the communist control of the Viet Minh, and was fortunate to survive leaving them. Financially supported by his father, he went to France for further study. He enjoyed the cultural attractions and nightlife of Paris, but became addicted to gambling and later felt guilty about misusing his family’s money.
Following the 1954 Geneva Agreements, Vietnam was partitioned at the seventeenth parallel. One million refugees fled from the communist north to the non-communist south including Phung’s parents, who resettled in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). He joined them there. After his father’s death, Phung became the head of the family and began working as a teacher. He then secured employment in the foreign service of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) as third secretary at the embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. Following the coup d’état against South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963, he lost the position and found employment as a translator. During the next year he met and married Valerie Joe King Chew, a New Zealander who was working at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club.
Reinstated to the foreign service in 1965, Phung was appointed first secretary in Kuala Lumpur under the ambassador Tran Kim Phuong. In 1967 they were both transferred to Australia. As first secretary at the embassy in Canberra, Phung appeared regularly in the local press. On 25 August 1967 he apologised for a booklet on ‘The Truth of Vietcong Terror’ being sent in error by the embassy to schoolchildren. In February the next year, as guest speaker at the Australian Capital Territory branch of the Democratic Labor Party, he reported that the communists fighting in Vietnam had superior weapons, supplied by the Soviet bloc and China, and on Saigon’s concerns about the allied forces’ unwillingness to attack communists in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam. During 1968 he also spoke about foreign adoptions of Vietnamese children, drew attention to reports of disillusionment in North Vietnam, and wrote letters to the Canberra Times rebutting criticism of South Vietnam. On 19 July, after he delivered an address on the war at the University of Queensland, a protesting student held a noose over his head (Courier Mail 1968, 7). Phung was promoted to counsellor in November and was often chargé d’affaires when the ambassador was overseas.
In January 1970 Phung returned to South Vietnam, where he was appointed chef de cabinet to the foreign minister. During the next year he was a delegate to the Viet-Nam Troop Contributing Countries meeting and he accompanied the foreign minister to the United States of America to meet with representatives of allied nations. In mid-1971 he took up a senior post at the embassy in Washington, DC. Described as a ‘thin man of philosophic calm’ (Pace 1973, 3), he remarked on the heightened workload at the embassy during the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973. In addition to reporting on the American political situation, and dealing with 200 letters a day, the seven staff assisted South Vietnamese representatives to lobby members of Congress. Soon after, he was directed to take up a post in Rome. By then he ‘despaired of the south’s cause’ (Armstrong 1995, 7) and its likelihood of success, and left with his family for Australia, assisted by friends there. After the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975, his youngest brother Cuong was sent to a re-education camp, and was shot for refusing to dismantle landmines. Phung did not keep in touch with former colleagues or with the Vietnamese refugee community after that year.
Based in Sydney, Phung was employed by Amatil Ltd while Valerie worked as a judge’s associate. His friend the philosopher David Armstrong—whom he had met during his diplomatic career—wrote that ‘the cloud lifted’ from Phung, and in retirement he ‘entered an Indian summer, taking up the hobby of cutting gemstones’ (1995, 8). He became an Australian citizen on 8 August 1991. In his last weeks he recorded his life history, and observed that: ‘During the time that I have lived in Australia, for more than 20 years, I have never received so much sympathy, so much solicitude, from people everywhere’ (Armstrong 1995, 8). Survived by his wife and son, he died of stomach cancer on 7 July 1995 at Riverwood and was buried in Woronora cemetery.
Armstrong, David. ‘Phung Nhat Minh.’ Australian, 7 August 1995, 7–8; Canberra Times. ‘Children Sent War Book “By Mistake.”’ 25 August 1967, 1; Courier Mail (Brisbane). ‘Vietnam Goes to University.’ 20 July 1968, 7; Luu, Tuong Quang. Email correspondence with author, 9 December 2018; National Archives of Australia. A1838, 1500/1/65/2 Part 1, A1838, 1500/1/65/2 Part 2; Pace, Eric. ‘Saigon’s Embassy Is Beset by Work and Worries.’ New York Times, 21 January 1973, 3; Scalmer, Sean. Dissent Events: Protest, the Media, and the Political Gimmick in Australia. Sydney, NSW: NewSouth Publishing, 2002.
Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen
PIDDINGTON, SYDNEY GEORGE (1918–1991), showman, was born on 14 May 1918 at Randwick, Sydney, son of New South Wales–born parents Albert Sydney Keith Piddington, commercial traveller, and his wife Hilda Mabel, née Warby. He attended Sydney Grammar School, winning prizes for history in 1933 and 1934. On gaining his Intermediate certificate, he was articled in February 1935 to C. A. Le Maistre Walker, a Sydney firm of chartered accountants. He remained with the company for the next six years.
Piddington demonstrated early potential for the entertainment industry by becoming an accomplished conjuror, practising a repertoire that included card tricks, the pea-and-thimble distraction, and the linked rings. One of its more hazardous features was ‘the disappearing lighted cigarette’; it failed to disappear at one rehearsal, in his bedroom, and the fire brigade had to be called. Refining the art, he won a junior conjuring competition and was frequently engaged for appearances at social events. There were indications, too, of his capacity as an entrepreneur: when one prospective client offered him a talent fee of £1, he asked instead for £2—and got it.
Never notably passionate about the profession of accountancy, after World War II broke out Piddington enlisted on 2 May 1941 in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). He was posted to the 2/15th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, which embarked for Singapore in July. Following the Japanese invasion of Malaya in December, he fought in the battle of Muar in mid-January 1942 then joined the retreat south to Singapore. On 10 February he was promoted to lance sergeant. When the Allies surrendered five days later, he became a prisoner of war. Over the next three years and six months, he was held at Changi, where he established himself as courageous and resourceful in the operation of concealed radio receivers. His sleight of hand proved useful when components had to be hidden from the guards.
It was another form of showmanship, developed while at Changi, that eventually brought Piddington international recognition. He found at the camp a magazine article about the art of stage telepathy. In company with an artillery comrade, Russell Braddon [q.v.], he developed a mind-reading act that helped relieve the monotony of prison life. Their commander in captivity, Lieutenant Colonel (Sir) Frederick Galleghan [q.v.14], subsequently reflected that ‘I know of nothing that kept the men’s minds and their mental capacity more agile than the contribution to their welfare made by Piddington’ (Sydney Morning Herald 1991, 4). In front of an audience of fellow prisoners, Piddington would ‘project’ images and thoughts towards Braddon: colours, shapes, cards, names, and addresses. Braddon later wrote of the controversy that ensued, with fierce disputes erupting over the question of whether or not there had been the exercise of a sixth sense (Braddon 1950, 123–25).
Released from imprisonment after Japan’s capitulation, Piddington was discharged from the AIF on 10 November 1945. He was inspired by the reaction to his wartime act, and took it to radio, television, and the vaudeville circuit. On 19 July 1946 at St Mark’s Church of England, Darling Point, he married Lesley Elizabeth Pope, an actress and daughter of Rear Admiral Cuthbert John Pope [q.v.11]. Lesley became her husband’s telepathy partner. Their program made its début on Sydney radio station 2UE in July 1947, achieving such immediate popularity that stations in Melbourne and Brisbane also took it. On the strength of that response, and further encouraged by a profitable Queensland tour, they ventured abroad. This initiative was typical of the energy and confidence, verging on audacity, that Piddington displayed throughout his career. He had an unfailing ability to promote himself. That quality was complemented by his appearance: tall and slim, with well-defined cheekbones and impeccably groomed hair, he dressed with meticulous care and an eye for fashion. Yet his speech was mildly afflicted by an impediment in delivery: a hesitancy that could lead to a stammer.
After auditioning successfully in London for the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Piddingtons presented a season of eight radio broadcasts in 1949, followed by televised shows and another season in 1950. Their manager, Braddon, sent Lesley to a variety of inventive locations: into the Tower of London, underwater in a diving bell, and 15,000 feet (4,570 m) above Bristol in an aircraft. Whatever the degree of physical separation, she appeared able to ‘read’ with a consistent degree of accuracy the messages purportedly transmitted by her husband from the BBC studio. Listeners were intrigued, especially when she would deliver a line from a book selected apparently at random by a member of the studio audience. The chosen passage was written on a blackboard by one of the celebrity guests acting as a judge, but never read aloud by Piddington. The intimate and seemingly unrehearsed nature of their act, devoid of slick patter, protected them from violent accusations of fakery.
The act aroused considerable public debate. Capitalising on the controversy, the Piddingtons appeared at British provincial theatres, topped the bill at the London Palladium, and made tours of Austria, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), New Zealand, and Australia (an eight-week Sydney season and a month’s run in Melbourne, in 1951). They eventually retired the act in 1952. From surviving recordings, it is apparent that word-cues were employed in ‘transmitting’ colours and shapes. But the more complex aspects, especially those requiring identification of sentences selected from a book, continued to defy explanation. The Piddingtons maintained the mystique: when interviewed over the decades, they gave evasive responses. A letter Braddon had written to his mother in 1949 provided a clue; he told her that it all relied on ‘a memory system’, but did not elaborate (Starck 2011, 84).
Remaining in Britain for another two years, Piddington joined the impresario Harold Fielding as agency director. In 1954, he turned to advertising and sales management in Australia. This led by 1964 to appointment in Sydney as general sales manager of the television company ATN7 and later as chief advertising manager for Fairfax newspapers. Sydney and Lesley divorced in 1966; the following year, on 20 October, he married Carol Lesley Cowell, an insurance clerk, at the registrar general’s office, Sydney.
In 1972 Piddington’s second marriage was dissolved, and, on 25 October, he married Robyn Delca Anne Greig, a personnel consultant, at the registrar general’s office, Sydney. With her, he re-launched the act. Ever the entrepreneur, he took his revived show to the club circuit and generated widespread attention by sailing 100 nautical miles (185 km) out to sea aboard a Russian liner and transmitting ‘thought waves’ to his new partner in the 2GB Sydney radio studio. His energies were further displayed in publicity engagements for the retail corporations Lend Lease and Myer, and for Singapore Airlines.
Moving to Leura in the Blue Mountains, Piddington and Robyn developed a boutique tourist accommodation operation. His final years were shadowed by illness. Following surgery for cancer of the larynx, he lost the ability to speak. Survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter from his first marriage, and the son of his third, he died on 29 January 1991 at Katoomba and was cremated.
Braddon, Russell. The Piddingtons. London: Werner Laurie, 1950; Hazlitt, Lesley. Personal communication; National Archives of Australia. B883, NX5822; Piddington, Robyn. Personal communication; Starck, Nigel. Proud Australian Boy. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2011; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘ESP Showman Sent Images from Plane to Diving Bell.’ 31 January 1991, 4.
PINNEY, PETER PATRICK (1922–1992), traveller, writer, and soldier, was born on 10 June 1922 at Epping, Sydney, younger child of Victorian-born Charles Robert Pinney (1883–1945), civil servant, and his New South Wales–born wife Mary Desmond, née Murray. Young Pinney had been given the second name of Plunkett at birth but he used Patrick throughout his life. Mary was the daughter of (Sir) Hubert Murray [q.v.10], the lieutenant-governor of Papua. Charles had joined the Territory’s Lands Department in 1906. In World War I he served in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), rising to captain and being awarded the Military Cross. After the war, he returned to Papua and later held office as administrator of Norfolk Island (1932–37).
Apart from early schooling in Port Moresby and school holiday visits to Norfolk Island, Peter and his sister spent their childhoods in and around Sydney, their mother with them for some of the time. Despite distance, Peter was close to Sir Hubert, acquiring his habit of diary keeping, but cooler towards his father. Both men shared his enthusiasm for photography. He boarded, lonely and alienated, at St Ignatius’ College, Riverview, from 1934 to 1939. As a teenager he gained a reputation for dangerous escapades, such as hanging upside down from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and spent holidays hiking in the Blue Mountains and hitching rides in trains and trucks to Grafton and Albury, and to Cairns in Queensland.
Craving adventure, Pinney volunteered for service in World War II, enlisting on 9 July 1941 in the AIF. He spent a few months in the Middle East, then, as a signaller with the 2/3rd Independent Company in New Guinea, took part in the 1943 Wau-Salamaua campaign, during which (Sir) Ivor Hele [q.v.] sketched his portrait (Australian War Memorial collection, Canberra). Back in Australia, in September 1944 he was court-martialled for striking an officer. He told his family that he ‘was looked upon as a malcontent and military revolutionist merely because I want to go away and fight’ (UQFL 288). Military life, which had appeared an opportunity to escape the claustrophobia—as he perceived it—of his teenage years, seemed merely its continuation. From November he served on Bougainville with the 2/8th Commando Squadron. He was promoted to corporal in January 1945 and was awarded the Military Medal for inspirational leadership in successive attacks in January–February. His series of illegal wartime diaries, camouflaged in khaki cloth, later provided the substance of a three-volume ‘narrative memoir’ by the imaginary ‘Signaller Johnston’: The Barbarians (1988), The Glass Cannon (1990), and The Devils’ Garden (1992). The diaries expressed frustration with what he saw as the inadequacy and mediocrity of some officers and the Bougainville campaign’s peripheral contribution to the war effort.
It was only after his return to Australia in October 1945 and discharge from the AIF on 9 May 1946 that Pinney was able to pursue the life of unfettered adventure he sought. Travelling the world, he worked in myriad jobs: as a crewman in a ship sailing from New York to Trieste, Italy; night editor for the Athens News; camera assistant filming Charles Chauvel’s [q.v.7] Sons of Matthew; and broadcaster on All India Radio. He wrote constantly—diaries, letters, and stories—and published articles about his travels. His writing was self-aware and self-deprecating; claiming that ‘my main object seems to be to defeat dullness’ (UQFL 288), he honed a persona as an audacious rebel.
The first of his twelve books and the most successful, Dust on My Shoes (1952), recounted his journey overland (1948–50) from Greece to Burma (Myanmar). It established his trademark laconic and picaresque style, and celebrated his haphazard, anti-authoritarian mode of travel. Carrying little documentation, he enjoyed having to persuade, bribe, or evade border authorities. In the Middle East he used a pass that identified him as a Dutch engineer, endorsed by the Netherlands ambassador in London: ‘the reward of two hours’ labour with typewriter and pen at the house of a Damascene in [Turkey at] Kayseri’ (Pinney 1952, 79). He often travelled with women or men he met on the road. In Dust on My Shoes he eulogised Robert Marchand, his Dutch-born ‘peerless companion’ (Pinney 1952, 312); an adventurer who shared Pinney’s wanderlust, he drowned in the flooded Chindwin River in 1949 on their way to Rangoon (Yangon).
The book was well received in Australia and abroad. Orville Prescott, the New York Times’ principal reviewer, attested to Pinney’s ‘high rank among modern travellers’, and wrote: ‘a brasher, more daring, more foolhardy and resourceful young man would be hard to find anywhere in the world. Also a tougher or more slippery one’ (1951, 29). In subsequent years Pinney reported meeting—occasionally staying with—fans who had pursued their own adventures after reading his books. He was a prototype for the hippie-trail-style travellers of later decades, and he criticised those tourists who stayed in luxurious hotels and rarely discovered the charm and vitality of ordinary locals. In contrast, Pinney travelled with a string bag, often on foot or hitchhiking, and survived on odd jobs.
Yet Pinney’s ambition as a writer set him apart from most drifters. His seeming fearlessness and his encounters with the law were interwoven with his writing. As he told his mother, ‘I’ve never outgrown that tingling scary thrill I get when I’m on the wrong side of the law and the cops appear’ (UQFL 288). Jailed at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, in 1951 for attempting to smuggle gold to India, he claimed to be seeking ‘colour for his stories’ (Kalgoorlie Miner 1951, 4) but the magistrate condemned his ‘idle and useless life’ (Age 1951, 7). He used the experience for an unpublished novel, ‘Outside the Law’.
In the 1950s and 1960s, while wandering in Africa and the Americas, Pinney published more travel books, including Who Wanders Alone (1954) and Anywhere but Here (1956), and a novel, Ride the Volcano (1960). In Costa Rica in 1958 he married Alice Brown, an American copywriter and radio journalist; their daughter, Sava, was born in 1959. They sailed a yacht through the Caribbean, smuggling whiskey and cigarettes. In the British Virgin Isles they ran the Tortola Times, the local newspaper. When Sava almost died from dysentery, they decided that she and her mother would join Peter’s family in Australia; the two arrived in 1960. He took about a year to follow and he and Alice subsequently divorced, acrimoniously.
Pinney settled in Australia and produced travel writing based on his trip home and expeditions to North Queensland, the Northern Territory, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and Europe. From 1963 he lived with Estelle Margaret Runcie, first in a houseboat on the Brisbane River, then aboard a cray-fishing boat in the Torres Strait, and finally in Brisbane. They married in November 1968 at Daru, TPNG. Together they wrote Too Many Spears (1978), a semi-fictional account of Frank Jardine’s [q.v.4] adventures at Cape York from 1864 to 1874. Pinney’s earlier travel books had sold well but by the 1970s many more Australians were having backpacking adventures abroad, and his idiosyncratic and often exaggerated style was less warmly embraced by publishers; his manuscript ‘Europe’s Full of Foreigners’ was rejected in 1978. In his later years he wrote scripts for television series, including episodes of The Sullivans and The Flying Doctors. Survived by his wife and the daughter of his first marriage, he died from prostate cancer on 22 October 1992 in Brisbane and was cremated.
Age (Melbourne). ‘Gaoled and Fined £300 in Gold Case.’ 10 January 1951, 7; Fryer Library, University of Queensland. UQFL 288, Papers of Peter Pinney; Kalgoorlie Miner. ‘Illicit Gold Case, Evidence of Smuggling.’ 9 January 1951, 4; National Archives of Australia. B883, NX38335, B2455, PINNEY CHARLES ROBERT; Pinney, Peter. Dust on My Shoes. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1952; Pinney, Sava. Personal communication; Prescott, Orville. ‘Books of the Times.’ New York Times, 14 November 1951, 29; State Library of New South Wales. MLMSS 3269, Collection 03: Angus & Robertson Ltd further records, 1880–1974, including publishing correspondence and business records.
PITMAN, EDWIN JAMES GEORGE (1897–1993), professor of mathematics and statistician, was born on 29 October 1897 at Kensington, Melbourne, fourth of eight children of English immigrant parents Edwin Edward Major Pitman, storeman, and his wife Ann Ungley, née Hooks. Edwin attended Kensington State School, and then South Melbourne College (1911–15) thanks to a scholarship. He was awarded the exhibition in geometry and trigonometry at the senior public examinations in 1914 and won further exhibitions in algebra, elementary mechanics, and physics in 1915. Having secured (1914) a grant to support his studies at the University of Melbourne, he gained a scholarship to live on campus at Ormond College. In 1917 he was awarded the Wilson prize for mathematics and natural philosophy, and the Dixson scholarship in mathematics.
On 5 February 1918 Pitman enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Arriving in England on 14 November, he was attached to the Australian Army Pay Corps, before being granted leave to study at the London School of Economics, and the Berlitz School of Languages. After returning to Australia in October 1919, he was discharged on 11 November 1919, and resumed his studies at the University of Melbourne. He graduated BA (1921) with first class honours in mathematics and was awarded Dixson and Wyselaskie scholarships, then BSc (1922), and MA (1923).
In 1922 and 1923 Pitman was acting professor of mathematics at Canterbury College, University of New Zealand. Returning to the University of Melbourne, he was tutor in mathematics and physics at Trinity and Ormond Colleges, and part-time lecturer in physics. Early in 1926 he was appointed professor of mathematics at the University of Tasmania and moved to Hobart. On 7 January 1932 he married Edith Elinor Josephine Hurst at St John’s Church of England, New Town; Elinor had graduated BA from the university the previous year.
Despite heavy duties and academic isolation, Pitman’s research in statistics began in the 1930s, with eight papers published between 1936 and 1939. During World War II, while continuing his university duties, he served in the rank of acting squadron leader, Royal Australian Air Force, as honorary education officer, No. 6 Recruiting Centre, and later also as wing training officer in the Tasmanian Air Training Corps. Recognition of his earlier work came in 1947–48 with an invitation to the United States of America and election as a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. In 1948 and early 1949 he was a visiting professor at Columbia University, New York, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with some weeks at Princeton University, New Jersey. From his return in 1949 until retirement in 1962, he continued at the University of Tasmania, apart from a year overseas in 1957, when he was a visiting professor at Stanford University, California, and visited England.
Through his teaching and his leadership of the mathematics department, Pitman contributed significantly to mathematics education in Tasmania. His lectures were clear and persuasive, and he encouraged and inspired interested students. He had a long connection with school mathematics education and in 1967 was made an honorary life member of the Mathematical Association of Tasmania.
Pitman took an active role in university affairs, including continuing efforts to overcome problems of funding, and of buildings and accommodation, particularly the move from the Domain to a new campus at Sandy Bay. He served as chairman of the professorial board (1936–40; 1942–46; 1960–61) and as staff representative on the university council (1935–37; 1941–47; 1954–56), his final term encompassing the 1955 royal commission into the university, and the start of the decade-long Sydney Sparkes Orr [q.v.15] case. In 1956 the university summarily dismissed Orr, following findings against him by two committees that both included Pitman.
From 1954 onwards Pitman was actively involved in new Australian learned societies: the Australian Academy of Science (fellow 1954, vice-president 1960–61); the Australian Mathematical Society (second president 1958–60, honorary life member 1968); and the Statistical Society of Australia (honorary life member 1966). He was elected a member of the International Statistical Institute (1956, vice president 1960) and honorary fellow of the Royal Statistical Society (1965).
After retiring Pitman held visiting appointments at Johns Hopkins University (1963), and the universities of California, Berkeley (1963); Adelaide (1965); Melbourne (1966–67 and 1974); Chicago (1969); and Dundee (1973). The University of Tasmania awarded him an honorary DSc (1977) and named its library’s mathematics collection after him (1987). He was the first recipient (1978) of the Pitman Medal awarded annually by the Statistical Society of Australia.
Describing himself as a mathematician who strayed into statistics, Pitman made an influential contribution to the field through teaching and informal contact as well as publications. His seminal early work included papers dealing with location and scale parameters; introducing a measure of ‘closeness’ of statistical estimates; and presenting the first systematic account of distribution-free tests using permutation methods, the topic later known as non-parametric inference. He presented his extensive further work on non-parametric inference in a lecture course given twice in the United States in 1948 and later in lectures elsewhere. Lecture notes on his 1948 course at the University of North Carolina, although never published, were widely circulated and were the basis of further development in the field. Further work in statistics included an invited review (1957) of R. A. Fisher’s Statistical Methods and Scientific Inference (1956) and culminated in his monograph Some Basic Theory for Statistical Inference (1979). His work on probability culminated in his 1968 study of the relationship between properties of a probability distribution and the behaviour near the origin of its characteristic function.
An active member of the Anglican church, Pitman served on the Tasmanian diocesan council and was a diocesan representative on the Australian general synod (1943–60). His wider interests included reading, art, music, the performing arts, bridge, gardening, and travel with family. On first meeting he could be daunting and seem aloof, but he soon established good relationships with students and colleagues, and he had a gift for friendship. He is remembered by many as an inspiring teacher and mentor.
Pitman’s academic activity continued until 1982, when Elinor suffered a stroke, leading to a period of declining health for her, and later for him. He died on 21 July 1993 at Kingston, and was buried in Hobart Regional Cemetery, Kingston; his wife, two daughters, and two sons survived him. A portrait by John Henson hangs in Jane Franklin Hall, a college of the University of Tasmania.
Brown, Bruce M., and Evan J. Williams. ‘Conversations with Edwin J. G. Pitman.’ Australian Journal of Statistics 34, no. 3 (1992): 345–60; Cohen, Graeme. Counting Australian In: The People, Organisations and Institutions of Australian Mathematics. Sydney: Australian Mathematical Society, 2006; Davis, Richard. Open to Talent: The Centenary History of the University of Tasmania, 1890–1990. Hobart: University of Tasmania, 1990; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Pitman, E. J. G., Lecture notes on non-parametric statistical inference. Lectures given for the University of North Carolina, Institute of Statistics, 1948. (Unpublished lecture notes.); Pitman, E. J. G. ‘Reminiscences of a Mathematician Who Strayed into Statistics.’ In The Making of Statisticians, edited by J. Gani, 112–25. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1982; University of Tasmania Library, Special Collections. UT 543, E. J. G. Pitman section; Williams, Evan J., ed. Studies in Probability and Statistics: Papers in Honour of Edwin J. G. Pitman. Jerusalem: Jerusalem Academic Press, 1974, ‘Edwin James George Pitman 1897–1993.’ Historical Records of Australian Science 10, no. 2 (1994): 163–71.
PLOMLEY, NORMAN JAMES BRIAN (1912–1994), biophysicist, anatomist, museum director, and historian, was born on 6 November 1912 at Woollahra, Sydney, elder son of locally born parents Morris James Plomley, medical practitioner, and his wife Winifred Julia, née Pickburn. Brian was educated at Barker College, Hornsby, and the University of Sydney (BSc, 1935) where he won the Eleanor Chase memorial prize in zoology (1931). He then spent two years in England gaining research experience at Imperial College, London, and the Molteno Institute, University of Cambridge.
When visiting Launceston, Tasmania, in 1938, Plomley became temporary assistant curator at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) and, after the death of H. H. Scott [q.v.11], was briefly its acting director. He also served as secretary (1938, 1946–49) of the northern branch of the Royal Society of Tasmania (RST), in which capacity he called for the preservation of Tasmania’s historical records. From 1939 to 1943 he was a research student in the physics department at the University of Tasmania, and would be awarded a master of science degree in 1947 for his thesis on the effects of ultraviolet radiation on a species of fungus. During World War II he was secretary of the technical committee on fuels, secretary and accountant to the Hobart annex of the optical munitions panel, and in charge of the Commonwealth Food Control’s Hobart laboratory. On 2 September 1944 at St Raphael’s Anglican church, Fern Tree, he married Mary Edney Moore (d. 1960), an optical munitions worker; the couple separated in 1957.
In 1946 Plomley was appointed director of the QVMAG. Here he was quick to promote interest in the Aboriginal people of Tasmania by exhibiting the R. W. Legge collection, comprising mainly Indigenous artefacts, and presenting talks to community groups. In June 1948 he again made an appeal for the preservation of the State’s history, noting that what had been written, mostly by visitors, was ‘scrappy and incomplete’ (Examiner 1948, 3). At the same time he fostered scientific research, appointing a geologist and an anthropologist to the museum staff. He noted that ‘no real attempt had been made to trace the true habits of the Tasmanian aborigine’ (Examiner 1949, 7), and that the anthropologist would contribute to a project assessing the information currently available.
Plomley left Launceston in April 1950 to take up a position as senior lecturer in anatomy at the University of Sydney. Eleven years later he moved to a similar position at the University of New South Wales. From the late 1950s he had used his sabbatical leave and a Nuffield Foundation grant (1964) to survey French manuscripts and collections of Tasmanian Indigenous material in European institutions. In 1965 he went to University College, London, becoming a senior lecturer and tutor in anatomy and embryology. On 1 October 1971 at the Register Office, Hendon, London, he married Swaran Marwah, a university lecturer; this marriage would also end in divorce. By 1973 he had returned to Australia. His last academic position was senior associate in Aboriginal and Oceanic ethnology at the history department, University of Melbourne. In 1977 he moved back to Launceston.
When in Sydney, Plomley began transcribing George Augustus Robinson’s [q.v.2] journal accounts of his early work with Tasmanian Aboriginal people. The resulting book, Friendly Mission (1966), was a seminal text, notable for the meticulous research which became a distinguishing characteristic of Plomley’s writing. Certainly he gave little credence to oral history. Lyndall Ryan, one of those in the next generation of historians who was inspired by Plomley’s work, noted that ‘as a physical scientist and imbued with the beliefs of scientific racism’ he found scant evidence of massacres in official sources of the Black War, so did not believe they were widespread (Ryan 2010, 44).
In 1987 Plomley published Weep in Silence, incorporating Robinson’s later journals written when he was in charge of the Flinders Island Aboriginal settlement. In the intervening period Plomley had produced A Word-List of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Languages, an annotated bibliography of sources, and a history of the Baudin [q.v.1] expedition (1802). Other major publications dealt with the adventurer Jorgen Jorgenson [q.v.2] and the D’Entrecasteaux [q.v.1] expedition (1792–93), while his many shorter writings ranged in scope from the sealers of Bass Strait to cicatrices as tribal indicators.
While Plomley’s works were considered to have ‘reawakened interest in the study of Tasmanian Aboriginal history’ (Valentine 2006), he was never involved in the political and social activities of the descendants of Aboriginal people. By nature somewhat retiring, he was, however, quick to take offence and equally quick to offend. He was appointed AM in 1979 for services to historical research and awarded the Clive Lord Memorial medal of the RST in 1983. He died in Launceston on 8 April 1994 and was survived by his only child, a daughter of the first marriage, from whom he was estranged.
In 1979 Plomley had established the Tasmanian Aboriginal Research Trust, based at the State Library of Tasmania. Insurmountable personal differences with board members resulted in the dissolution of the trust by an Act of Parliament in 1984. Reconstituted as the Plomley Foundation and administered by the QVMAG, it continued to support projects on the State’s natural and cultural heritage, with a particular interest in Indigenous matters.
Examiner (Launceston). ‘State History Lost.’ 17 June 1948, 3, ‘Tasmanian Aborigine Was Negroid Type.’ 12 July 1949, 7; Glover, Margaret. ‘Norman James Brian Plomley, 1912–1994.’ Papers and Proceedings of the Tasmanian Historical Research Association 41, no. 2 (June 1994): 125–26; Plomley, N. J. B. Several Generations. Sydney: Wentworth Books, 1971; Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. CHS53, Plomley Collection; Roe, Michael. ‘Brian Plomley a Very Rare Scholar.’ Mercury (Hobart), 18 April 1994, 12; Ryan, Lyndall. ‘“Hard Evidence”: The Debate about Massacre in the Black War in Tasmania.’ In Passionate Histories: Myth, Memory, and Indigenous Australia, edited by Frances Peters-Little, Ann Curthoys, and John Docker, 39–50. Canberra: Aboriginal History and ANU E Press, 2010; Stevenson, Martin. ‘Noted State Author Dies Aged 81.’ Examiner (Launceston), 9 April 1994, 10; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Valentine, Barbara. ‘Norman James Brian Plomley.’ In The Companion to Tasmanian History, edited by Alison Alexander. Hobart: Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania, 2006. Accessed 14 October 2016. www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/P/Plomley.htm. Copy held on ADB file.
PONSFORD, WILLIAM HAROLD (BILL) (1900–1991), cricketer, was born on 19 October 1900 at North Fitzroy, Melbourne, eldest of four children of Victorian-born parents William Ponsford, letter-carrier, and his wife Elizabeth, née Best. Bill attended (1906–14) Alfred Crescent State School, North Fitzroy, where he won two medals for cricket. In 1915 he enrolled at Hassett’s Coaching College, Prahran, crammed for the bank clerk’s examinations, and, having passed, secured a post at the State Savings Bank of Victoria in the city. After the books were balanced each day, he hurried to the nets at Fitzroy Cricket Club, where he batted as a junior on matting pitches. When the family moved to Elsternwick in 1916, he transferred to the St Kilda Cricket Club, where he played for the first XI on turf wickets. He also played baseball for Fitzroy and St Kilda, excelling as a batter and catcher, and was a regular member of the Victorian team from 1919 to 1934.
Ponsford began playing cricket for Victoria in 1921, but only cemented his place in the side in February 1923 when he broke the world record for a first-class innings with a score of 429 against Tasmania. He made his debut for Australia in 1924–25, playing against the touring Englishmen, and became the first player to follow a century on Test debut with another in the next Test match. In 1927 he broke his own first-class record by scoring 437 against Queensland—the record stood until (Sir) Donald Bradman surpassed it in 1930. Before Bradman burst onto the scene, ‘Ponnie’ was the man who amassed mammoth scores and was idolised by the Australian crowd.
After his second world record, Ponsford was employed as a sports columnist and publicist for (Sir) Keith Murdoch’s [q.v.10] Herald and Sporting Globe, and the St Kilda Cricket Club appointed him treasurer on an honorarium of £102 per annum. Both posts were ‘shamateur’ ploys to stop his going to the Blackpool Cricket Club in England on a lucrative contract. On 22 March 1924 at the Orrong Road Methodist Church, Elsternwick, Ponsford had married Vera Gladys Neill, a milliner. They lived in a newly built house in South Caulfield and Bill’s cricket-related earnings enabled him to acquit his mortgage in 1928. They had two sons.
Playing for both Victoria and Australia, Ponsford formed one of the great opening pairs with his captain, Bill Woodfull [q.v.12]. Oddly, for an opening batsman, Ponsford was a superlative player of spin bowling and suspect against extreme pace bowling. In his column, drawing on his experience on his first illness-dogged tour of England in 1926, he pronounced foolishly that the England express bowler Harold Larwood ‘was not really fast’ (Leckey 2006, 66). Predictably, in the second Test of the 1928–29 series in Australia, a Larwood delivery shattered Ponsford’s little finger and sidelined him for the season. Touring England again in 1930 he averaged 55 for the series, second to Bradman’s 139, in a winning team.
During the infamous ‘bodyline’ series of 1932–33, Ponsford again succumbed to Larwood’s pace and was dropped from the team for the second Test. Returning to play in Adelaide, but batting ignominiously down the order, he scored a memorable 85. Bodyline cut his series average to 23 and Bradman’s to 56, and England won back the Ashes in controversial circumstances. Touring England for the last time in 1934, with bodyline now banned, Ponsford had his finest Ashes series: averaging 94.83, he shaded Bradman as best batsman, and the two won the series with a tremendous partnership of 451 at The Oval, London. He retired from first-class cricket that year, citing family responsibilities following his father’s death and disillusion with the no-holds-barred modern game.
Ponsford played twenty-nine Tests with a batting average of 48.22 runs and 162 first-class matches at 65.18. Of his 235 first-class innings, 47 (20 per cent) resulted in centuries, including thirteen double centuries, and four triple centuries. Ponsford’s ability to convert centuries to larger scores compares favourably with Bradman’s record, although Bradman made more centuries at 35 per cent of his innings.
In maturity, ‘Puddin’ Ponsford was 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm) tall and square-built. Very taciturn and shy, he was gruff and stand-offish to all but a few cherished intimates; on the field he let his ‘Big Bertha’ bat, weighing 2 pounds 10 ounces (1.2 kg), do the talking. He was a front-foot player, fast between wickets, strong in defence, able to drive through the covers and to the on side, but with a superb cut shot and, when he risked it, the best hook in the game. Deceptive preparatory shuffling heralded deft footwork and his unsurpassed level of concentration was made even more essential by acute colour blindness, discovered only when he applied to join the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II. He was generally an accumulator of runs rather than a flamboyant stroke maker. Opposition bowlers complained that one rarely saw his stumps, though facing bodyline he deliberately turned his back to the ball to avoid spooning catches and, as a consequence, not only suffered many painful blows but often fatally exposed his leg stump. Arthur Mailey [q.v.10], New South Wales and Test leg-spinner and wit, wrote memorably that Ponsford at the crease was ‘dour, sullen, determined, [a] breaker of batting records and bowlers’ hearts’ (Leckey 2006, 100).
In 1932 Ponsford had left journalism for a clerkship with the Melbourne Cricket Club, where he worked until retirement in 1969, meticulously administering net practice, selection, membership, and all events at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Vera died in 1977, and Ponsford, pursuing interests in Freemasonry, fishing, and lawn bowls, moved to Woodend, to live with his younger son. He was appointed MBE in 1981. Survived by his sons, he died on 6 April 1991 in a nursing home at Kyneton and was cremated. He is memorialised thrice at the MCG: in the Ponsford Stand (1986, 2004); on Robert Ingpen’s bronze doors (1988), turning to leg; and in Louis Laumen’s bronze statue (2005), completing a cover drive.
Fiddian, Marc. Ponsford and Woodfull. Melbourne: Five Mile Press, 1988; Frith, David. Bodyline Autopsy. Sydney: ABC Books, 2001; George, Anthony. W.H. Ponsford: His record innings-by-innings. West Bridgford: Association of Cricket Statisticians, 1986; Leckey, John A. The Real Story of Bill Ponsford. Melbourne: Arcadia, 2006; Robinson, Ray. Between Wickets. Sydney: Collins, 1946; Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. ‘Obituary: Bill Ponsford.’ 125 (1992): 1267–68.
PONT, GEORGE WILLIAM (1910–1992), trade union official and industrial commissioner, was born on 14 October 1910 at Bloomfield station in western Queensland (though his birth certificate records nearby Blackall), third and youngest child of Queensland-born parents George William Pont, shearer and station hand, and his wife Minnie, née Howard. Pont senior had been prominent in the 1891 shearers’ strike; he was convicted of intimidation but, after five months in gaol on remand, acquitted of arson. Known as ‘Bluey’ on account of his red hair, young George attended Blackall State School then, although nominally an Anglican, St Joseph’s Catholic primary school. He embraced union principles, buying his first Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) ticket when he secured a school holiday job as a ‘picker-upper’ at the town’s wool-scouring works. Leaving school at fourteen, he briefly held an apprenticeship to a motor mechanic, and later worked throughout the central west as a truck driver, shed hand, and wool presser. From 1931 to 1936 he was a labourer and miner at Mount Isa, before moving to Mackay where he earned wages as a rock driller and mill hand.
On 19 June 1937 at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Mackay, Pont married Mona Rose Schmidt. In 1940 the AWU appointed him organiser at Mackay; in 1942 he occupied a similar position at Julia Creek; and in 1943 he became the union’s western district secretary, based at Longreach. Four years later he was transferred to Cairns as far northern district secretary, a position he was to hold until 1966. A big man, 6 feet 3 inches (191 cm) tall and weighing at least 16 stone (102 kg), he used his size to impress if not intimidate others, whether on the football field (he was a useful rugby league player) or as a union official.
Pont was determined yet realistic in pursuing and protecting members’ interests, particularly during World War II when workers faced pressure to moderate their claims. Like other leaders of the AWU, he was committed to arbitration rather than direct action, and insisted on award provisions being observed by both workers and employers. From the 1950s technological change in the sugar industry inexorably reduced the size of the workforce and thus AWU membership. In fighting to preserve existing jobs and regulate new occupations, Pont was later described as a ‘union policeman enforcing rules whose purpose belonged to the past’ (Burrows and Morton 1986, 133). He would have taken the comment as a compliment.
In some but not all respects Pont fitted the AWU mould of strong, hard-nosed officials, such as Clarrie Fallon [q.v.14], Tom Dougherty [q.v.14], and Joe Bukowski [q.v.13]. Pont was less ambitious and less inclined to manipulative power plays, though still active in quelling dissent from ‘the Commos’ (Townsville Daily Bulletin 1950, 1). He was prominent in the union, attending all annual Queensland delegate meetings from 1943 to 1966, except one (in 1964, when seriously injured in a car accident), and most national conventions. Following Fallon’s death in January 1950, the State executive appointed Pont president of the Queensland branch two months later. In December, however, he lost the ballot to Bukowski, who viewed him as a rival, especially when he again unsuccessfully contested the office in 1952.
Pont was a long-term and committed Australian Labor Party member, even during those periods when the AWU severed its affiliation with the ALP. His political connections, coupled with the dominance of the AWU during the long period of Labor government in Queensland (1932–57), played a part in his serving on two royal commissions: into the sugar industry (1950) and into off-the-course betting (1951–52). He was a frequent ALP election campaign director at Cairns and a regular delegate to Queensland Labor-in-Politics conventions. In 1957 he opposed the party’s expulsion of Premier Vince Gair [q.v.14], because he knew it would cause a split, and he was saddened by the ensuing schism, for which he blamed Gair.
Appointed to the Queensland Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Pont assumed office on 18 July 1966. His selection by the Country and Liberal parties’ coalition government demonstrated the respect he had earned in industrial relations circles, regardless of political and union connections. The government doubtless also regarded him as a safer choice than one from a more radical union. Commissioner Pont’s decisions were typically clear, well informed, and briefly expressed. Perhaps his most significant case was the 1967 award ending discriminatory pay and conditions for the State’s Aboriginal station hands. Pont had some misgivings that equal pay would mean higher Aboriginal unemployment, but resisted the opposition of employers and the obstructionist tactics of the State government. Not notably progressive, he nevertheless had a strong sense of justice. He was primarily influenced by his deep knowledge of actual working conditions, his empathy with those subject to them, and, in the equal pay case, his experience organising Aboriginal employees in the north.
In 1978 and 1979 Pont was the centre of controversy when employers and the government criticised supposedly generous provisions he awarded to pastoral workers. The president of the National Party, Sir Robert Sparkes, and the premier, (Sir) Joh Bjelke-Petersen, linked the decision with Pont’s AWU background, suggesting further that the commissioner chose the cases he wanted. The president of the State Industrial Court, Justice R. H. Matthews, then held a special sitting of the full bench publicly to defend the integrity of the commissioners and the rostering system. Pont also responded forcefully to his critics. On 17 July 1980 he retired, having served two seven-year terms and being close to the statutory retirement age of seventy.
In retirement he lived at Cairns. He had a keen interest in sport and he enjoyed fishing and gem-fossicking, the latter with his wife. Unlike her, he was not a churchgoer but regularly mowed the lawn of St Peter’s Anglican Church. A widower from 1991, he moved to Bundaberg, the home of his youngest daughter. He died there on 30 October 1992 and was buried in the Forest View cemetery, Cairns. His two sons and three daughters survived him.
Australian Worker. ‘Union Bids Farewell to a Lifetime Friend.’ 14 December 1992, 4; Burrows, Geoff, and Clive Morton. The Canecutters. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1986; Hearn, Mark, and Harry Knowles. One Big Union: A History of the Australian Workers Union 1886–1994. Oakleigh, Vic.: Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1996; May, Dawn. Aboriginal Labour and the Cattle Industry: Queensland from White Settlement to the Present. Oakleigh, Vic.: Cambridge University Press, 1994; Pont, G. W. Autobiographical notes. Unpublished manuscript, n.d. Fryer Library, University of Queensland; Queensland. Parliament. Parliamentary Debates, 2 May 1979, 4437, Parliamentary Debates, 4 September 1979, 221; Tennant, Kylie. Speak You so Gently. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1959; Townsville Daily Bulletin. ‘Plebiscite System to be Retained.’ 25 February 1950, 1.
D. W. Hunt
PORUSH, ISRAEL (Porusch-Mandel) (1907–1991), rabbi, was born on 16 July 1907 in Jerusalem, Palestine (Israel), second of seven children of Elias (Eliyahu) Porusch-Mandel, hospital manager, and his wife Deborah Gittel, née Makofki. Strict Orthodox Jews, Elias’s family had arrived in Palestine in the first half of the nineteenth century from Eastern Europe; Deborah came from a well-known rabbinic family. Israel grew up in a deeply religious home, studying at the Etz Chaim Yeshiva until the age of fifteen. Wanting him to have a secular education, his father sent him to school in Germany in 1922. Matriculating in 1927, he studied mathematics and other secular subjects at the University of Berlin and rabbinics at the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary, Berlin. In 1931 he completed a doctoral thesis in algebra at the University of Marburg (PhD, 1933), and the following year was ordained.
Employed as a principal of a Talmud Torah, he lost his work permit in 1933 and, repulsed by the oppression of Jewish people under Hitler’s regime, decided to migrate to London. Rabbi Dr Isidore Epstein, principal of Jews’ College, employed him as a tutor and later commissioned him to translate two tractates for the Soncino Talmud. He enrolled in an English matriculation class at the London Polytechnic and with improved English skills accepted a job at Finchley Synagogue in 1934. The same year on 7 October he married Berta (Bertha) Link at Golders Green Synagogue.
In 1938 Porush refused the offer of a post at the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation. A year later, concerned at the gathering war clouds and hopeful that the role would enable him to deal with a broader range of religious and community matters, he accepted the position of senior rabbi at the Great Synagogue, Sydney.
Inducted on 6 June 1940, Porush served for nearly thirty-three years, becoming known as the ‘uncrowned chief rabbi of Australia’ (Apple 2008, 96). The Commonwealth’s chief rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, described him as combining ‘rabbinical learning, general scholarship and exceptional leadership’ (Apple 1988, 5). His years of service covered a watershed period in Australian Jewish history, due to the impact of the pre– and post–World War II European Jewish refugees and survivors. He was naturalised on 25 September 1941. Concerned at the influence of Nazi anti-Semitism, he founded the New South Wales Council of Christians and Jews in 1943.
The ultimate diplomat, he needed to be so, given that the term of his predecessor, E. M. Levy, had ended in controversy. He worked to bridge the gap between the established Anglo-Jewish community and the newcomers. Faced with the challenges of intermarriage and low levels of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), he strengthened observance. He had to make compromises, such as continuing with a mixed choir, but upheld the most significant principles of Jewish law. A strong supporter of religious Zionism, he was a member of the Mizrachi movement. He served as head of the Sydney Beth Din (rabbinical court) from 1940 to 1975, and oversaw the congregation’s expansion and the opening of the War Memorial Centre in 1956. He established the Great Synagogue Youth, providing intellectual dialogue, but was also able to play table tennis with young people. Always there to provide wise counsel to congregants, he maintained an office to receive visitors at the synagogue and at home.
Porush organised the first conference of the Australian rabbinate in 1946; it became the Association of Jewish Ministers of Australia and New Zealand in 1952. He served as its president until 1975, convening seven conferences. One of his regrets was that he was not able to create greater unity in the rabbinate. He experienced tensions with some of his colleagues. His strong Orthodox position resulted in conflict with Rabbi Rudolf Brasch, the senior Reform rabbi. He found Rabbi L. A. Falk [q.v.8] ‘difficult’ (Apple 2008, 98), and faced a conflict with the leadership of Sydney’s Central Synagogue, especially in 1961 when Rabbi Harry Freedman [q.v.17] created a rabbinical assembly competing with Porush’s authority in New South Wales. He clashed with the lay leader Maurice Ashkanasy [q.v.13] in relation to rabbinical representation and official recognition of marriage celebrants.
Deeply interested in education, Porush worked closely with the New South Wales Board of Jewish Education, serving as honorary director for over twenty years, and as president (1950–51 and 1969–73). He was active in the creation of suburban education centres, which later developed into congregations. A strong advocate for Jewish day schools, he also assisted in the formation of the New South Wales Association of Sephardim and the Canberra Jewish Community.
Another of Porush’s passions was his people’s history in Australia. President of the Australian Jewish Historical Society (1948–74), he wrote a history of the Great Synagogue, The House of Israel (1977), as well as twenty-one articles for the AJHS Journal of Proceedings, over 200 articles for the Great Synagogue Journal, and entries in the Encyclopaedia Judaica. Selected sermons were published as Today’s Challenge to Judaism in 1972, and his memoirs, The Journal of an Australian Rabbi, in 1992. From 1951 he lectured part time in the department of Semitic studies at the University of Sydney. Appointed OBE in 1966, he received the B’nai B’rith award in 1981.
Of imposing appearance, Porush was dignified, with a neatly trimmed beard. Throughout his career Bertha was his constant companion. She assisted newcomers in both London and Sydney, and worked for the women’s auxiliaries of the synagogue and the New South Wales Board of Jewish Education. After his retirement from the synagogue in 1973, the couple lived at Bondi, before settling in Melbourne in 1975, after he stepped down from the Beth Din. He died on 22 May 1991 at North Caulfield, survived by Bertha and one daughter; another daughter had died in 1969. He was buried at the Springvale Chevra Kadisha cemetery in Melbourne and was later reinterred at the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem. His portrait, painted by William E. Pidgeon [q.v.18], won the Archibald Prize in 1961 and was later donated to the Great Synagogue. He is also remembered by Hillel College’s Rabbi Porush Kindergarten.
Apple, Raymond, with members of the congregation. The Great Synagogue: A History of Sydney’s Big Shule. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2008; Apple, Raymond, ed. Yismach Yisrael: Historical Essays to Honour Rabbi Dr Israel Porush. Sydney: Australian Jewish Historical Society, 1988; Porush, Israel. Interview by Hazel de Berg, 29 November 1974. Transcript. Hazel de Berg collection. National Library of Australia; Rosenberg, Louise. ‘An Appreciation: Rabbi Dr. Israel Porush O.B.E. 1907–1991.’ Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal 11, part 2 (1991): 259–69.
Suzanne D. Rutland
POTTER, Sir WILLIAM IAN (1902–1994), financier, philanthropist, and patron of the arts, was born on 25 August 1902 at Scarborough, Sydney, third of four children of English-born James William Potter, then a soap maker, and his Scottish-born wife Maria Louisa Townsend, née McWhinnie. James was a charming wastrel, who lost his wife’s inheritance on a series of failed business ventures, while Louisa’s strong character held the family together as its financial position worsened. In 1903 the Potters moved to Bradford, England, where James had previously worked in the wool trade. There are stories in the family that speak of an unsuccessful investment in the woollen industry, and the Potters returned to Sydney in 1910. They lived in rented accommodation at Mortdale, then an outer southern suburb.
In later life Potter seldom talked of his childhood and the accounts he provided were misleading. Although he gave the impression that most of his schooling had been in England, he attended Mortdale Public School before winning a scholarship to Cleveland Street Intermediate High School, Redfern, in 1915. After topping his class in 1916, he went to work, possibly as a clerk for the shipping firm McIlwraith, McEachern & Co. Pty Ltd, and later for the Pacific Islands trader William Blacklock. He saved enough to pay university fees and, after matriculating (1924), studied economics at the University of Sydney (BEc, 1928), winning the Economic Research Society’s prize (1925), a G. S. Caird scholarship (1926), and a Chamber of Commerce prize (1928). He graduated top of his final year, and briefly considered an academic career before opting for business. On 5 April 1928 he married Victoria Bernice Moorhead in Mosman Presbyterian Church.
Through R. C. Mills [q.v.10], professor of economics at Sydney, Potter obtained employment with the Melbourne stockbrokers Edward Dyason [q.v.8] & Co. in 1929. He not only took on a new job but a new persona, rejecting the name Bill by which he had been known in Sydney and calling himself Ian, and presenting a false picture of having come from an affluent background. His work at Dyason brought him into contact with many influential clients, including the commerce professor (Sir) Douglas Copland [q.v.13] and the politician Richard (Baron) Casey [q.v.13]. In 1931, unaccompanied by his wife and daughter, he was a resident fellow at Queen’s College, University of Melbourne, where he became friends with Harold Holt [q.v.14] and (Sir) Richard Eggleston, among others. In spite of the onset of the Depression, he flourished, making a favourable impression in Melbourne financial circles, and in 1933 became private secretary to Casey, then assistant treasurer in the Lyons [q.v.10] United Australia Party government. His sixteen months in the role gave him an understanding of government finance as well as many contacts in politics and the Federal bureaucracy.
In 1931 Potter had purchased a seat on the Stock Exchange of Melbourne and four years later he set up his own stockbroking firm, known from 1938 as Ian Potter & Co. From the start he saw himself more as a merchant banker than a share trader and he rapidly became known as a daring and resourceful underwriter of new issues. During World War II he rose to prominence, his firm challenging J. B. Were & Son for the position of Melbourne’s leading stockbrokers. Elected to the committee of the Stock Exchange of Melbourne in 1942, he was involved in the establishment of the Institute of Public Affairs (Victoria) and the Liberal Party of Australia. From 1941 to 1943 he served in small craft of the Volunteer Coastal Patrol and its successor, the Naval Auxiliary Patrol. His cabin cruiser, the MY Nordecia, was used by the patrol until the navy requisitioned it in January 1943.
While many feared a postwar slump, Potter saw that the growth of Australian manufacturing combined with a strong rise in incomes would result in a booming economy. However, the Australian financial system was poorly adapted to provide the capital for construction and industrial expansion. It was his greatest achievement, in the wake of the economic difficulties of Sterling-area countries, to open up new sources of overseas investment money, especially funds from the United States of America and through the World Bank. This made possible Australia’s rapid economic growth in the next two decades. During the 1950s he raised capital for many of Australia’s largest manufacturing ventures, while in the 1960s he played a central role in bankrolling the massive capital investment required for the expansion of mining, notably the iron-ore mines of the Pilbara.
Belying the cool calculation he brought to his business career, Potter had an active and complicated romantic life. Having divorced his first wife in 1941, on 2 July 1942 he married Gwenyth Winifred Izzard, an amateur actress, at the Cairns Memorial Presbyterian Church in East Melbourne. The marriage was turbulent and he filed for divorce on the ground of desertion. His petition was initially refused, before being granted on appeal to the High Court of Australia in 1954. On 5 February 1955 he quietly wed Patricia Ann Garvan, née Fitzgerald; this marriage also ended in divorce. Twenty years later, on 27 March 1975, he would marry Primrose Catherine Dunlop, née Anderson Stuart, in the Chapel of St George the Martyr, HMAS Watson, at South Head, Sydney.
In 1967 Potter retired from Ian Potter & Co. He remained active in business for many years, but increasingly his interests turned to the arts and philanthropy. His financial acumen was vital for the establishment and growth of many major cultural institutions. He had been the inaugural treasurer (1947–53) of the National Gallery Society of Victoria and later a member of the National Art Gallery and Cultural Centre building committee, playing a key role in the development of the Arts Centre on St Kilda Road. While a member of the University of Melbourne’s finance committee, he provided support that made possible the formation of the Union Theatre Repertory Company (later the Melbourne Theatre Company). He also worked closely with H. C. Coombs to set up the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust (AETT) in 1954, which in turn created the Elizabethan Theatre Trust Opera Company (later Opera Australia) and the Australian Ballet, as well as giving encouragement and support to many other artistic companies.
Potter was always interested in education, science, and medical research. He served (1949–71) on the University of Melbourne council and was a long-standing supporter of the Australian Academy of Science, being elected a fellow in 1978. Early in the 1960s he worked with Derek Denton, and Kenneth [q.v.] and Baillieu Myer to set up the Howard Florey [q.v.14] Laboratories (later the Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine) at the university. The Myer brothers and Potter gave large sums of money for the Florey, and Potter was instrumental in gaining funding from the Federal government, writing directly to Prime Minister (Sir) Robert Menzies [q.v.15] and receiving the memorable reply: ‘Dear Ian, I have spoken to Harold [Holt] and that will be all right, Yours, Bob’ (Denton Papers).
Although Potter’s business skills made him rich, he had little interest in the accumulation of wealth for its own sake, and he lived comfortably rather than ostentatiously. Inspired by the Myer Foundation, in 1964 he established the Ian Potter Foundation Ltd as a vehicle for his personal philanthropy. When he set up the foundation, there was no provision for tax deductibility for gifts to public charitable trusts, and Potter used all his powers of persuasion on Holt, then Federal treasurer, to amend taxation laws. This was eventually achieved—though only after Potter made an initial non-deductible gift to the foundation of £1 million in shares—and proved to be a vital step in the growth of philanthropy in Australia.
Potter was handsome, blue-eyed, and as he aged, sported a full head of silver hair. Cordial, considerate, and generous, he moved with confidence in the highest circles of business and politics in Australia and abroad. He had innumerable acquaintances and business connections, but only a small circle of close friends. Despite Potter’s charm, many felt that he was impenetrable and few got to see behind his public mask. Some associates described him as shy, but it would be more accurate to see him as reserved and intent on preserving his privacy.
Knighted in 1962, Potter was awarded the honorary degree of doctor of laws by the University of Melbourne in 1973, and appointed to the Royal Order of the Polar Star (Sweden) in 1983. Sir Ian was made an honorary fellow of the Australian Stock Exchange in 1991, and was an honorary life member of the AETT, the Australian Ballet Foundation, the Australian Opera, and the National Gallery of Victoria. On 24 October 1994 he died at his home in Melbourne and was cremated. His wife and a daughter from each of his first and second marriages survived him. In November a memorial service was held at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Melbourne. His estate was valued at about $85 million and, after family and other bequests, the balance of some $58 million was left to the Potter foundation.
Denton, D. A., and M. H. Ryan. ‘William Ian Potter, 1902–1994.’ Historical Records of Australian Science 11, no. 4 (December 1997): 541–50; Denton Papers. Private collection; Glezer, Leon. ‘Sir Ian Potter and His Generation.’ In Australian Financiers, Biographical Essays, edited by R. T. Appleyard and C. B. Schedvin, 401–26. South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1988; Parker Bowles, Carolyn. Personal communication; Potter, Lady (Primrose). Personal communication; Potter, Robin. Personal communication; University of Melbourne Archives. MS 2007.0033, Ian Potter Papers; Yule, Peter. Ian Potter: Financier, Philanthropist and Patron of the Arts. Melbourne: Miegunyah Press, 2006.
PRESS, ANNE ELIZABETH (1903–1992), politician, was born on 25 August 1903 at Dubbo, New South Wales, and registered as Annie, eldest child of Victorian-born parents Thomas Speechley, contractor, and his wife Charlotte, née Lacey. Educated privately, between June 1921 and May 1922 Annie undertook a short course of teacher training. She taught in three public schools: Condobolin North from May 1922; Tichborne from January 1923; and Forbes from April 1924 to May 1925, when she resigned. On 1 September 1924 at St John’s Church of England, Forbes, she had married Thomas Francis Press, a farmer. They lived first on Yarralee, outside Condobolin, and later moved to Myall Park, Tullibigeal.
Continuing her interest in education, Anne Press served (1950–60) on the council of the Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations of New South Wales, becoming country vice-president in 1953. She was also a director (1953–78) of the Condobolin District Hospital and a supporter of the Far West Children’s Health Scheme. Since 1943 she had been active in the Australian Labor Party (ALP); she was secretary of the Condobolin branch for some years and a delegate to the party’s annual conferences sixteen times.
Between 1934 and 1978, elections to the New South Wales Legislative Council were the responsibility of the two houses of parliament, which sat together every three years to choose one quarter of members for a twelve-year term, or to fill vacancies left by retirements. Press won a by-election in October 1959 for the seat left vacant by the death of Gertrude Melville [q.v.15]. The result drew newspaper comment, contrasting her position as ‘a farmer’s wife’ with that of her Liberal Party of Australia opponent, Nancy Bird Walton, a ‘well-known air-woman’ (Sydney Morning Herald 1959, 4). In December the Labor government introduced a bill for a referendum on the abolition of the Legislative Council. She was one of seven Labor members of the council expelled from the party for voting with the Opposition in a procedural motion designed to prevent the legislation from being passed. A majority vote in the referendum in 1961 ensured the council’s continued existence.
Press and her companions formed the Independent Labor Group, which existed until 1977. She became a Liberal supporter. Apparently attempting to pressure her, in 1966 the ALP chose her sister Eva Speechley as its main candidate for a close Legislative Council by-election. Press resented the move. Next year she joined the Liberal Party. She was re-elected in 1970 but, when direct election of the council was introduced in 1978, she did not nominate.
A fierce opponent of gambling, Press particularly disliked poker machines, which she called ‘iniquitous monsters’ (NSW LC 1959, 2529). She consistently upheld what she saw as the interests of country people, and encouraged closer settlement. The (Sir Harold) Wyndham [q.v.18] scheme to restructure secondary schooling attracted her strong backing. She criticised the running of child welfare institutions and the neglect of Aboriginal reserves and settlements. Taking an unpopular stand, she supported a Country Party member, W. G. Keighley, when he called for legislation to allow abortion on request. Press spoke passionately on the subject, citing cases she had known personally or been told about, and accused men who opposed change of wanting ‘to keep a woman chained to the double-bed and the kitchen sink’ (Sydney Morning Herald 1971, 1).
In 1967 Press was made the public’s representative on the Taxi Advisory Council, an appointment which carried no remuneration and which she held for eleven years, working on numerous sub-committees. She travelled, on her own, to and from Sydney by train when the Legislative Council was sitting. When it rose she returned to Myall Park, where she bred pigs. Late in life she and her husband retired to Condobolin. Survived by her husband, their two daughters, and one of their two sons, she died on 23 August 1992 at Condobolin and was buried in the Anglican section of the local cemetery.
New South Wales. Legislative Council. Parliamentary Debates, vol. 30, 2 December 1959, 2529, vol. 140. 23 August 1978, 447–50; O’Hara, John. ‘Labor’s Choice “Upsets” M.L.C.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 1966, 8; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Farmer’s Wife Arrives for By-Election.’ 13 October 1959, 7, ‘A.L.P. Takes 10 Minutes to Expel Seven M.L.C. “Rebels”.’ 12 December 1959, 1, ‘Break “Chains” on Abortion—Woman MLC.’ 13 August 1971, 1–2, ‘Ten MLCs Seek Place on Lib Council Ticket.’ 24 June 1978, 2.
PROCTOR, Sir RODERICK CONSETT (1914–1991), accountant and businessman, was born on 28 July 1914 at Neutral Bay, Sydney, son of New South Wales–born parents Frederick William Proctor, insurance inspector, and his wife Ethel May, née Christmas. Educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School and Hale School, Perth, Roderick left school at the age of sixteen. With his family he moved to Queensland in 1937 and joined the accounting firm of Clarke & Son which later merged with Hungerford, Hancock & Offner (eventually KPMG Peat Marwick). In the late 1930s he was an amateur rowing champion, representing Queensland and Australia in rowing and sculling contests.
Appointed as a lieutenant, Australian Army Service Corps, Australian Imperial Force, on 15 November 1940, Proctor performed supply duties with the 9th Division in the Middle East, serving at Tobruk, Libya (1941), and El Alamein, Egypt (1942), and was mentioned in despatches for his conduct at Tobruk. He was attached to senior headquarters in Papua and New Guinea (1943–44) and Advanced Allied Land Forces Headquarters in the Netherlands New Guinea and East Indies in 1945, rising to major (1944). For his contribution to supply planning for the Borneo operations in 1945, he was appointed MBE (1947). His ‘organizing ability, unflagging energy’, and ‘tact, courtesy and cheerfulness’ impressed his superiors (NAA B883). On 13 December 1946 in Brisbane he transferred to the Reserve of Officers. He later commented that ‘the army discipline [and] the methods of command and delegation provided a good grounding’ for later life (Grant 1987, 13).
Proctor had married Kathleen Mary Murphy (d. 1978), a receptionist, at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney’s Catholic basilica, on 19 March 1943. He resumed his pre-war occupation in 1947, becoming a partner in 1951 and a senior partner in 1966. In 1976 he retired to concentrate on his many directorships. He was chairman, director, or partner in dozens of firms, notably Bundaberg Sugar from 1965 to 1986 and the SGIO Building Society (later Suncorp) from 1979 to 1985. On the recommendation of the State National–Liberal coalition government, he was knighted in 1978 for services to the business community.
Sir Roderick’s attitude and outlook appeared typical of prominent and wealthy businesspeople in Premier (Sir) Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland. In a 1981 interview he saw ‘a bright and promising future for Queensland’ and commented that the state’s ‘private enterprise government’ was ‘doing a good job’ (McPhee 1981, 18). Four years later, in September 1985, he was sacked as chairman of the SGIO Building Society. Some observers had predicted his removal after he defied Bjelke-Petersen by supporting the introduction of poker machines. Following his dismissal Proctor criticised the government for its apparent intrusion into private industry. He had been a trustee of the National Party since 1978, and his public pronouncements provoked the ire of many in the party. In a radio interview in May 1986 he claimed that the Queensland economy was ‘not in good shape’ (Aust. Senate 1986, 1014) and that Queensland was being outperformed by some Labor states.
On 22 October 1986, just days before the Queensland State election, Proctor accused the National government of cronyism and suspect tendering practices: ‘On a number of occasions tenders have been called when it was fairly obvious this was only a charade and … it had already been decided who was to be granted the contract’ (Courier Mail 23 October 1986, 1). He said that Queensland did not really qualify as a free-enterprise state and that, in many ways, it was the most socialist state in Australia.
Proctor added that he disagreed with the National Party’s description of Queensland as the lowest-taxed state and described government opposition to poker machines as ‘illogical and hypocritical’ (Courier Mail 23 October 1986, 1). In his capacity as chairman of Jupiter’s Casino on the Gold Coast, Proctor had lobbied unsuccessfully not only for the introduction of poker machines but also for a cut in government tax from 20 per cent (which Proctor believed to be the highest casino tax in the world) to 10 per cent. The premier characterised his attack as the result of ‘sour’ feelings (Courier Mail 23 October 1986, 1). Sir Robert Sparkes, the National Party president, accused him of participating in a Liberal Party set-up, the Nationals and Liberals having been at loggerheads since the break-up of the coalition in 1983. Russ Hinze [q.v.], a senior National Party minister, claimed that Proctor was ‘the architect of cronyism in this state’ (Courier Mail 24 October 1986, 4). Proctor resigned from the party a few days later.
At an electorally sensitive time, Proctor’s outspoken criticism of the government isolated him from his peers, but enhanced his reputation for personal integrity. Though his political activity was finished, his business interests kept him busy. At the time of the controversy he was chairman of six public companies and director of a further five, worked a ten- to twelve-hour day five days a week, and travelled extensively.
Described as ‘tall, healthy-looking, genial and urbane … with a Gold Coast tan’ (Trundle 1986, 5), Sir Roderick was a notably handsome man, with luxuriant white hair, a square jaw, and a military-style moustache. He had married Janice Marlene Pryor, a stenographer, in a civil ceremony at his residence in Brisbane on 15 May 1980. Survived by his wife and the four children from his first marriage, he died from pancreatic cancer on 30 August 1991 in Brisbane and was cremated.
Australia. Senate. Journals, no. 107. 28 May 1986, 1014; Charlton, Peter. ‘Proctor Praised as a Man of Courage.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 4 September 1991, 13; Courier Mail (Brisbane). ‘Now is Time to Join Up – Tobruk Digger.’ 18 August 1941, 4; ‘Nationals’ Trustee Revolts.’ 23 October 1986, 1; ‘Party Needs a Miracle Now, Says Sparkes.’ 24 October 1986, 1; ‘With a Friend like Sir Rod …’ 24 October 1986, 4; ‘Hinze Thanks Proctor.’ 24 October 1986, 13; ‘Sir Roderick Proctor Resigns from Nationals.’ 3 November 1986, 1; Grant, Heather. ‘Business Profile: Sir Roderick Proctor.’ Daily Sun (Brisbane), 21 February 1987, 13; Grant-Taylor, Tony. ‘Knight Who Lost Faith with Qld Nats.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 3 September 1991, 27; Howard, Steve. ‘Government Sacks Sir Roderick.’ Daily Sun (Brisbane), 5 September 1985, 5; McPhee, Lynette. ‘Interview: Sir Roderick Proctor.’ Australian Stock Exchange Journal, May 1981, 18; National Archives of Australia (NAA). B883, QX6447; Trundle, Peter. ‘Sir Roderick’s Big Gamble.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 24 October 1986, 5.
Brian F. Stevenson
PUNCH, LEON ASHTON (1928–1991), farmer, grazier, and politician, was born on 21 April 1928 in North Sydney, second son of Sydney-born parents Thomas Sydney Punch, medical practitioner, and his wife Neta Linette, née Wood. Educated at Inverell High School and The King’s School, Parramatta, from 1947 Leon worked on his father’s dairy farm at Jerrys Plains. Having managed that business from 1952, he moved in 1959 to the family’s grazing property at Barraba.
Spurning his father’s hope that he would enter the medical profession, Punch developed a love of the land and, during his time at Barraba, of politics. He was elected to the Barraba Shire Council in 1956 and served until 1959, when he won the seat of Upper Hunter in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in a spirited dual-endorsement contest with a fellow Country Party (CP) candidate and the incumbent member since 1939, D’Arcy Rose. The same year he met Suzette Meyers, a physiotherapist and later interior designer, from Sydney. The couple married on 15 September 1960 at St Philip’s Church of England, Sydney.
Following an electoral redistribution in 1962, Punch moved to the seat of Gloucester, which he was to hold until his resignation from parliament on 2 July 1985. His rural interests developed alongside his political career, and in 1963 he acquired a property, Glen Martin, at Dungog.
Punch’s first years in parliament were spent on the opposition benches, as the Australian Labor Party had been in office since 1941. It was not until May 1965 that the Liberal and Country parties under (Sir) Robert Askin [q.v.17] and (Sir) Charles Cutler won an election and formed a coalition government. Punch was variously chairman of committees, acting Speaker, minister for public works and for ports, and acting minister for local government and for decentralisation and development. He became deputy leader of the CP in January 1973. As minister for public works, he oversaw the completion and opening by Queen Elizabeth II in October 1973 of the Sydney Opera House, and supervised the planning and tendering for a major redevelopment of Parliament House in Macquarie Street.
Cutler supported Punch to replace him as party leader and deputy premier when he retired from parliament on 16 December 1975. As leader, he maintained the public works and ports portfolios. At the 1976 election, however, the coalition narrowly lost office to the Labor Party under Neville Wran. For the first time in New South Wales the Country and Liberal parties maintained a formal coalition in opposition. Instability in the Liberal Party resulted in the ‘Wranslide’ elections in October 1978, at which the Liberals lost eleven seats to be returned with only eighteen members, of a possible ninety-nine, one more than the CP. Three by-elections in September 1980 saw the CP holding one more Assembly seat than the Liberals, prompting Punch to consider demanding the Opposition leadership. He went so far as to obtain a legal opinion on the matter. His plans were thwarted by some of his own colleagues, notably his former deputy, James ‘Tim’ Bruxner, who threatened to sit as an Independent, believing that the Liberals would soon have the dominant numbers once more and that insisting on the Opposition leadership in the interim would cause irreparable damage to already strained coalition relations.
An excitable character, Punch had sandy red hair that matched his temperament. He stormed through the corridors of Parliament House, waving papers around, staff trailing behind him, always itching to go face to face with Wran. The clashes between the two became legendary, and their relationship was one of mutual dislike. Punch relentlessly attacked Wran over corruption and played a part in exposing scandals in the New South Wales Police Force that enveloped the deputy commissioner, Bill Allen; dishonest administration of the prisoner early release scheme by the corrective services minister, Rex Jackson; and perversion of the course of justice by the State’s chief stipendiary magistrate, Murray Farquhar [q.v.]. On one occasion, Wran demanded that Punch should ‘get out of the gutter’, to which Punch shot back: ‘It’s the only place I can find you!’ (Davey 2006, 280). For his part, Wran instructed his deputy, Jack Ferguson, that if he, Wran, died in office and the parliament moved the usual condolence motion, Ferguson was to gag the debate the moment Punch rose to his feet.
The New South Wales CP changed its name to National Country Party (NCP) in 1977, and then to National Party (NP) in 1982. Initially unenthusiastic about the latter change, Punch became an ardent supporter prior to the Wagga Wagga conference that decided the matter. He was partly influenced by the success of the party in Queensland, which was making inroads in outer metropolitan Brisbane seats following its name change. Of greater significance were the Wran government’s electoral reforms. Part of these abolished smaller electoral quotas for country seats and introduced a system of one vote one value, meaning a wholesale redistribution and the abolition of six seats held by the NCP. They also replaced compulsory preferential voting with optional preferential for the Legislative Assembly, jeopardising the Coalition’s ability to manage a tight exchange of preferences in three-cornered contests. Punch perceived that, to combat these changes, the NCP must modernise and broaden its electoral appeal. He also realised the need for better relations between the non-Labor parties, and worked to minimise three-cornered contests and laid much of the ground work that resulted in the Coalition’s return to office under Nick Greiner and Wal Murray in 1988.
At the NP’s annual general conference in June 1985, Punch announced he would stand down as leader and retire from parliament. Giving his farewell speech, he argued for the merger of the CP with the Liberal Party, a proposal he had previously opposed; the conference rejected the idea. Survived by his wife and two sons, and with a history of heart problems, he died of myocardial infarction on 29 December 1991 at Lovett Bay, Sydney, and was cremated. He was accorded a State memorial service at St James’s Church, Sydney.
Dale, Brian. Ascent to Power: Wran and the Media. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1985; Davey, Paul. The Nationals: The Progressive, Country and National Party in New South Wales 1919 to 2006. Sydney: The Federation Press, 2006; Gardiner, Jenny. Interview by the author, 8 October 2011; Hogan, Michael, and David Clune, eds. The People’s Choice: Electoral Politics in 20th Century New South Wales, vol. 3, 1968 to 1999. Sydney: Parliament of New South Wales and University of Sydney, 2001; Parliament of New South Wales. ‘The Hon. Leon Ashton PUNCH (1928–1991).’ 2009. www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/members.nsf/ec78138918334ce3ca256ea200077f5d/773483970067409fca256e510080d7fa?OpenDocument. Copy held on ADB file; Parliament of New South Wales. Parliamentary Debates, 25 February 1992, 47–61; Parliament of New South Wales. Parliamentary Record, Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly 1824–2003, vol 7. Sydney: Parliament of New South Wales, 2003; Punch, Justin. Personal communication; Punch, Thomas. Personal communication; Richardson, Nick. ‘Leon Leaves Politics with a Little Less Punch.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 8 January 1991, 4; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Battling Parliamentary Leader Gave No Quarter.’ 30 December 1991, 2.
PURBRICK, ERIC STEVENS (1903–1991), vigneron and winemaker, was born on 4 August 1903 in North Sydney, eldest of three sons of Victorian-born Reginald Purbrick, company manager, and his English-born wife Dorothy, née Stevens. Educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School (1916–21), Eric read history and law at Jesus College, Cambridge (BA, 1925; MA, 1929). While skiing in Switzerland in 1928 he survived a fall into an ice crevasse. A romance subsequently blossomed between Purbrick and Victorian-born Marjory Mary Sutherland, who witnessed the accident. They married on 12 March 1929 at the parish church of St George, Hanover Square. Called to the Bar on 12 June 1929, he spent twelve months at the Inner Temple, serving a ‘pupillage’. Meanwhile, his father became a member (1929–45) of the House of Commons.
When he returned to Australia in 1931, Purbrick took over the management of his father’s Australian investment property, the Chateau Tahbilk winery, established in 1860 and located on the Goulburn River, near Nagambie, Victoria. Intent upon turning its fortunes around after decades of neglect, he set about revitalising the winery. He mastered the craft of winemaking, established marketing and distribution networks, instigated promotional and advertising campaigns, and won awards at wine shows. If, when he took over the vineyard, ‘the name of “Tahbilk” stank in the nostrils of every reputable wine merchant’ (Purbrick 1964, 390), he soon brought the quality of wine back to that of its golden age of the 1880s. In 1934 his father made him the sole owner of Chateau Tahbilk.
On 22 August 1940 Purbrick enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. After cavalry training, he was commissioned in November 1941 as a lieutenant. He served (August 1942 – January 1944) in the Northern Territory with the 2/1st North Australia Observer Unit and was placed on the Retired List on 4 August 1944. In 1945 he joined the Australian Red Cross and sailed for Greece, where he served as an honorary assistant commissioner (1945–46) and was awarded the medal of the Royal Greek Red Cross.
Wartime absence did not help Purbrick’s marriage and he divorced in 1950. Marjory subsequently married the grazier Douglas Thornley Boyd [q.v.13]. On 25 May 1950 at the South Yarra Presbyterian Church Purbrick married a widow, Phyllis Clemenger Aitchison, née Smith, daughter of the late Brigadier General Robert Smith [q.v.11]. She died in 1955 of tuberculosis. In 1958 he married Mary Dechaineux, née Harbottle, an actress and widow of the naval officer Emile Dechaineux [q.v.13].
From the 1950s Purbrick pioneered the naming of varietal wines. The distinct Shiraz and Marsanne varieties, so perfectly suited to the Nagambie region, became synonymous with the names Purbrick and Tahbilk. In 1960 Chateau Tahbilk’s renaissance was celebrated at a centenary luncheon attended by 250 guests, including the prime minister, (Sir) Robert Menzies [q.v.15]. A history of the winery by Enid Moodie Heddle [q.v.] was published the same year. In 1974 Purbrick retired as managing director in favour of his only son John (b. 1930) but he remained as chairman. His grandson Alister took over as winemaker in 1978.
Purbrick made a major contribution to various wine industry bodies. He was president (1955–58) of the Viticultural Society of Victoria and a foundation member (1958–68) and president (1964–67) of the Wine and Brandy Producers’ Association of Victoria. The Victorian delegate (1948–68) to the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers’ Council of Australia, he was a deputy member (1950–64) of the Australian Wine Board. In 1980 he was made an honorary member of the Viticultural Society of Victoria and an honorary life member of the Wine and Food Society.
As a younger man and into maturity, Purbrick was handsome and athletic, and his energy appeared boundless. At the same time, he cultivated the persona of an urbane English gentleman, the effect enhanced by the ever-present pipe in his mouth. He had a sparkle in his eye, possessed a wicked sense of humour, and was fond of practical jokes. Survived by his third wife and his son, he died on 17 December 1991 in East Melbourne and was cremated. On 19 January 1992 his ashes were scattered among the original 1860 Shiraz vines at Tahbilk; a memorial service followed, attended by hundreds of friends and industry colleagues.
Argus (Melbourne). ‘Romance in Switzerland.’ 18 January 1929, 12; Dunstan, Keith. ‘Vintage Character behind Tahbilk’s Grand Tradition.’ Sunday Age (Melbourne), 26 January 1992, 6; Halliday, James. ‘A Formidable Gentleman of Tahbilk.’ Weekend Australian, 20–21 June 1992, Weekend Review 14; Heddle, Enid Moodie. Story of a Vineyard, Chateau Tahbilk. Melbourne: F. W. Cheshire, 1960; Purbrick, Eric. ‘Australian Chateau.’ Wine Magazine (London, England), November/December 1964, 390–94; Woodhouse, Fay. Vintage Stories: A 150 Year History of Tahbilk. Tabilk, Vic.: Tahbilk Pty Ltd, 2010.
PUREGGER, MARJORIE ISABEL (1905–1995) and WILLIAM JOHN PUREGGER (1907–1984), community leaders, were wife and husband. Marjorie was born on 16 November 1905 at Sherwood, Brisbane, younger child of Queensland-born parents Robert Albert Bulcock, fruit grower, and his wife Emily Hemans, née Palmer, poet and journalist. The politician and businessman Robert Bulcock [q.v.3] was Marjorie’s grandfather and the writer Vance Palmer [q.v.11] her uncle. She began her formal education at Caloundra State School in 1914. Moving to Brisbane, she excelled at Toowong State School (1917–19) and, on scholarships, at Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School (1919–23) and the University of Queensland (BA Hons, 1927); she was head girl at BGGS and the 1927 recipient of the university’s McDermott prize for English. Having briefly tried teaching, she switched to journalism with the Sunday Mail and then Truth. Her earnings, together with financial help from her family, enabled her to acquire a house at Milton and to depart in January 1935 for a tour of Britain and Europe. There, she attended concerts and plays, investigated social conditions, and observed the growing menace of Nazism, before returning to Brisbane in December.
In Vienna Bulcock had boarded with the writer Helene Scheu-Riesz, through whom she met her future husband. He had been born on 15 September 1907 at Tulln and named Wilhelm Johann Ludwig, son of Austrian-born parents Josef Michel Franz Puregger, lawyer, and his wife Ludowika Maria, née Mallin. By 1935 he was an industrial chemist and a social democrat active in opposing the Austrofascist regime. In 1937 he migrated to Australia and on 17 March that year he and Marjorie were married in a Baptist service at Hamilton, Brisbane. Bill became production manager at the West End ice-cream factory of Peters [q.v.11]-Arctic Delicacy Co. Ltd and was later chief chemist with Queensland United Foods Ltd. A leader of his industry, he served as federal president (1952–53) of the Council of Australian Food Technology Associations and general secretary (1973–75) of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology.
After her return from Europe and in the early years of her marriage, Marjorie Puregger had engaged in occasional paid work, including broadcasting on radio and writing newspaper articles. In this period, she and Bill began the busy round of humanitarian and community activities that would characterise their lives. From 1936 she served on relief committees for war victims in Spain and China. Following the Anschluss in March 1938, Bill joined her in assisting Jewish and political refugees to migrate from Austria to Australia. The next year she was a founder of the Refugee Emergency Council of Queensland, which helped new arrivals obtain housing and employment. She enjoyed gardening, and also acted in plays, one of her parts being Florrie in Waiting for Lefty (1937). Her involvement in leftist political theatre reflected her abhorrence of social injustice, rather than an interest in socialism or communism.
One of Puregger’s early preoccupations was the civic and cultural development of Brisbane. In talks and newspaper articles, she advocated a central square, more parks and gardens, and, on the banks of the river, tree-lined boulevards, open-air restaurants, musical entertainments, and flood-lit public buildings. A conservatorium of music and a cultural centre for the city were major focuses of her campaigning. After the birth of her daughter in 1940, she broadened her endeavours to include welfare work for women and children. She helped to establish the Kindercraft Association and its Brisbane day nursery, opened in 1943. Three years later she was pressuring the government to improve conditions in maternity wards. Active in the National Council of Women of Queensland, she was a vice-president (1948–50) and convenor of several of its standing committees.
The Pureggers were members, and Bill an office bearer, of the State branches of Musica Viva and the Australian Institute of International Affairs. He was also prominent in the Queensland Marriage Guidance Council and Australian Rostrum, Queensland Zone. In 1982 he was awarded the OAM for his community service.
With Jessie (Lady) Groom and Ruth Don, in 1941 Marjorie Puregger had founded the Brisbane Forum Club to teach women public speaking, meeting procedure, and the duties of office holders; to encourage them to further their education; and to foster their increased participation in public life. Clubs sprang up throughout Queensland and interstate: in 1947 the Association of Queensland Women’s Forum Clubs was formed, followed in 1975 by the Association of Women’s Forum Clubs of Australia. Puregger was the second president (1949–51) of the State committee (known as dais). At the request of the association, in 1956 she produced a handbook on how to chair a meeting. This undertaking led to what she called ‘the most useful thing I’ve done’ (Puregger 1989), the publication of the expanded Mr. Chairman!: A Guide to Meeting Procedure, Ceremonial Procedure and Forms of Address, with Specimen Meetings, and Standing Orders (1962). Frequently reprinted, the book went through five editions in her lifetime and in 1998 would be revised as The Australian Guide to Chairing Meetings.
Bill Puregger was 5 feet 9.5 inches (177 cm) tall, athletically built, dark-haired, and bespectacled. He was a careful, thoughtful, and considerate man, who could talk to people no matter their background. Outwardly, Marjorie Puregger was bright, cheerful, and pleasant company; inwardly, a strong-minded perfectionist. A small woman—5 feet 1 inch (155 cm) tall—she was always well-groomed and smartly dressed. In old age she lamented the effects of development on the pristine Caloundra environment of her childhood but applauded the establishment in Brisbane of the civic amenities and enhancements she had advocated half a century earlier. Bill died on 17 April 1984 at Taringa and Marjorie on 1 November 1995 at Seventeen Mile Rocks; both were cremated. Their daughter survived them.
Association of Women’s Forum Clubs of Australia. Forum: 50 Golden Years, 1941–1991. Brisbane: The Association, 1991; Fairlie, Linnet (née Puregger). Personal communication; Morell, Lettie. ‘City Loses One of Its Cultural Icons.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 4 November 1995, 12; Puregger, Marjorie. Interviews, 1989. Puregger Collection Oral History. State Library of Queensland; Puregger Papers. Private collection (extracts copied for ADB file).
PYE, AUBREY DAVID (1901–1994), surgeon and hospital administrator, was born on 11 June 1901 at Windsor, New South Wales, fourth of five children of New South Wales–born parents Robert Adam Pye, pharmacist, and his wife Esther, née Dunston. His two elder brothers, Cecil [q.v.11] and Eric, served in the Australian Imperial Force in World War I, the former being killed in action in 1917. Having attended Windsor Superior Public School and Hayfield (a small boarding school at Carlingford), Aubrey went to Barker College, Hornsby (1915–19), where he was school captain and captain of the first XI cricket and first XV rugby union teams.
At the University of Sydney (MB, ChM, 1925), Pye played rugby and was recorded as ‘quiet, and a keen worker’, whose ‘slender form may be fairly often seen on the dancing floor’ (Sydney University Medical Society 1924, 88). After graduation, he served as a resident medical officer (1926–27) and medical administrator (1928) at the Newcastle Hospital. In 1929 he travelled to Britain for postgraduate training in surgery, working in hospitals in London and Edinburgh (fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, 1930). Back in New South Wales, he was briefly a general practitioner and probationary surgeon at Muswellbrook.
In September 1931 the Brisbane and South Coast Hospitals Board (BSCHB) unanimously selected Pye from forty-one applicants for the position of assistant general medical superintendent, based at the (Royal) Brisbane Hospital and second-in-charge of the ten (eventually eleven) hospitals under the board’s control. Appointed in 1933 as acting general medical superintendent, he was confirmed in the post on 17 January 1935. When the BSCHB was split in 1959, he became responsible to the new North Brisbane Hospitals Board and continued to oversee the Brisbane Hospital and the board’s seven others. He saw himself as both servant of, and chief executive officer for, the respective boards. His role encompassed administration, surgical practice, hospital construction, and innovations in health care. On 19 March 1931 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Parramatta, Sydney, he had married Gwen Finlayson (d. 1988); she supported him throughout his career, particularly in providing the regular hospitality his professional commitments entailed.
Pye’s administrative responsibilities were onerous. From 1933 he chaired the Brisbane Hospital’s medical clinical advisory board. Every second weeknight and every second weekend, alternating with his deputy, Dr Solomon Julius, he was superintendent on duty for all the board’s hospitals. He was forced constantly to defend the Brisbane Hospital from criticism of overcrowding, especially in the years between 1946 and 1950. Concurrently he had to manage the junior salaried medical staff, who were working long hours and struggling under the immense demands placed on them.
Subject to political direction from above while clinically responsible for the hospitals’ medical staffs, Pye had become involved in two major conflicts early in his term. The BSCHB, subservient to successive Australian Labor Party governments (1915–29 and 1932–57) and the party’s platform of free hospital health care for all, sought essentially a full-time salaried hospital service. The British Medical Association and the powerful honorary visiting staff vehemently opposed the introduction of socialised medicine, which threatened the then standard model with its ethos of control by doctors. Pye was appointed at the peak of the turbulence and he inherited the professional and administrative challenge of implementing government policy while maintaining the hospitals’ service and preserving the morale of their staffs. He recommended that, for large hospitals (more than 100 beds), there should be a salaried core of senior medical staff and a paid part-time cadre of visiting specialists. The specialists proposed a similar scheme and the system was introduced in 1938; then pioneering, it would become universal in Australia.
The second conflict that Pye helped to manage was Sister Elizabeth Kenny’s [q.v.9] dispute with a majority of Queensland doctors over her methods of clinically managing acutely paralysed limbs. Her approach clashed with that of contemporary medical and nursing practice. Pye was impressed by the progress of patients in her ward at the Brisbane Hospital compared with those treated by conventional methods. He was one of six Queensland doctors who facilitated her government-funded travel in 1940 to the United States of America, where her methods could be tested with less controversy. By the 1960s her system was accepted as the standard nursing and physiotherapy treatment.
A fellow (from 1933) of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Pye earned wide respect for his proficiency, particularly in emergency surgery. It was said that he was ‘the best man inside a hot belly in Queensland’ (A. Morton 2015). He taught basic surgical skills to the hospital’s resident medical officers, scores of whom later served as sole doctors in country hospitals. In World War II his clinical work increased, despite his heavy administrative load, and he was on call one night and one weekend in three for after-hours emergency surgery.
The (Royal) Brisbane Women’s Hospital (opened in March 1938) had been one of numerous major building projects initiated and completed during Pye’s term. Situated in the grounds of the Brisbane Hospital, it was an up-to-date obstetric hospital. The South Brisbane (Princess Alexandra) Hospital was established in 1956 with his help. In 1967 he oversaw the completion of the University of Queensland’s Clinical Sciences Building at the Brisbane Hospital. He was a friend of the Hospital for Sick Children (Brisbane Children’s Hospital) and fostered its building works.
Influential in a number of important innovations in Queensland’s health care, in the 1930s Pye had introduced the first in-patient beds in public hospitals for psychiatric patients. In 1935 and 1936 he played a leading part in the decision to establish the University of Queensland’s faculty of medicine; he served on the faculty board from 1936 to 1967. With others, he promoted the foundation (1944) of the Queensland Radium Institute; he would be a member until 1967. Following the establishment (1945) of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, he was appointed to its council (deputy chairman, 1947–67), again serving until 1967. He was created a fellow of the QIMR (1981) for his distinguished contributions to it and to medical science generally. Both ex officio and because of his personal qualities, he served on many other bodies, including the State Nutritional Advisory Board (from 1937) and the postgraduate education committee of the Queensland branch of the British (renamed Australian in 1961) Medical Association.
In 1953 an unnamed person, apparently a member of the University of Queensland’s medical faculty, had reported Pye to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation for alleged communist sympathies. With Julius, a communist, he had written a paper for a 1941 congress in Brisbane on medical aid to the Soviet Union, then Australia’s wartime ally. Intensely loyal to his country, Pye repudiated Julius’s politics. An investigation by ASIO affirmed his innocence. The slur was a source of astonishment to him and his family.
Pye exerted firm authority through his strong presence and rare ability to combine clinical leadership and sound staff management. Another esteemed surgeon, Sir Clarence Leggett, later observed: ‘Aubrey had an absolute genius for picking the right man for the right clinical job’ (A. Morton 2015). It was said that he knew every staff member’s name in the Brisbane Hospital, and that he visited the wards every day. For his services to medicine and medical administration, he was appointed CBE (1965).
Retiring in 1967, Pye worked in the regimental aid post at Victoria Barracks and held office as vice-president of the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade. He enjoyed success in lawn bowls. His son, the surgeon James Cecil Pye (1934–1976), died from malignancy. Having sustained at least three coronaries over a thirty-year period, Aubrey Pye died on 16 June 1994 at Tarragindi, Brisbane, and was cremated, according to his wishes, without religious forms. His daughter, Elizabeth Morton, survived him. The family holds his portrait (1969) by Graeme Inson. Pye Gardens and the heritage-listed Pye House at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital commemorate him.
Charlton, Peter. ‘Why Did ASIO See Red.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 7 December 1991, 5; McGuire, L. I. ‘The Pye Era: 1931 to 1967.’ In History of the Division of Surgery Royal Brisbane Hospital, edited by Simon Siu, 37–81. Brisbane: Division of Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital, 2003; Morton, Dr Anthony Park. Interview by the author, 8 October 2015; Morton (née Pye), Elizabeth Finlayson. Interview by the author, 8 October 2015; National Archives of Australia. A6126, 806; Patrick, Ross. A History of Health and Medicine in Queensland 1824–1960. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1987; Pearn, John. Focus and Innovation: A History of Paediatric Education in Queensland. Brisbane: Amphion Press, 1986, Symbols of Service: The Armorial Bearings, Symbols, Motifs, Badges and Medals of the Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane. Brisbane: Amphion Press, 2012; Personal knowledge of the ADB subject; Senior Year Book, Faculty of Medicine. Sydney: The Society, 1924; Tyrer, John H. History of the Brisbane Hospital and Its Affiliates: A Pilgrim’s Progress. Brisbane: Boolarong Publications, 1993.
John H. Pearn