Australian Dictionary of Biography Volume 19: 1991–1995 (A–Z)
SAKZEWSKI, Sir ALBERT (BERT) (1905–1991), accountant, sportsman, off-course betting administrator, and philanthropist, was born on 12 November 1905 at Minden, Queensland, son of Queensland-born parents Otto Theodor Sakrzewski, storekeeper, and his wife Anna Emilie Mathilda, née Neuendorf. Of Prussian origin, Otto was in partnership in a general store and produce agency, and a founding board member, later chairman, of the then Lowood Shire Council. It is said that Bert, aged sixteen, was introduced to billiards while waiting for a haircut at the local barbershop and billiards hall. He was easily defeated in that first game but, without hesitation, took up the challenge and was soon beating all comers. He went on to become Queensland amateur billiards champion five times, Australian amateur billiards champion in 1932 with a record break of 206 points, and eight-times winner of the Queensland snooker championships between 1931 and 1940. Placing his accountancy career first, he reluctantly declined an offer to turn professional but served as president of the Queensland and Australian billiards associations.
Educated at Lowood Primary and Ipswich High schools, Bert moved with his family to Brisbane in 1923 to complete accountancy studies, dropping the ‘r’ from his name to simplify its spelling and pronunciation. He commenced work as a public accountant in 1929. Admitted to the Institute of Accountants the same year, he was later elected a fellow of the Australian Society of Accountants. He established A. Sakzewski & Co. in 1931, piloting the firm through the turbulent years of the Depression and World War II and remaining senior partner until his retirement in 1976. During these years, his reputation for integrity and business acumen saw him appointed as either a director or chairman of nineteen leading companies. He married an English-born typist Winifred May Reade on 7 February 1935 at the Anglican Church of All Saints, Brisbane. Winifred died in 1972.
In 1927 Sakzewski had joined Tattersall’s Club (Tatts), then the home of Queensland racing interests. His financial astuteness and careful attention to administrative detail were clearly demonstrated during his years as the club’s honorary treasurer (1936–52). Awarded life membership in 1951, he was elected president (1953–56) and remained a lifelong trustee. Personable and always stylishly dressed, he helped promote an expansion of the club’s social activities, while crediting his frequent success at billiards, tennis, golf, and cricket to a natural aptitude for sport. Sakzewski belonged to numerous sporting clubs, was a committed supporter of cultural organisations, and was an inaugural benefactor of the Queensland Art Gallery.
Horse racing became a passion. His colours of green jacket and purple cap were registered under the name Anthony Dare, a choice Sakzewski never explained. From 1941 onwards, his horses lodged more than 100 wins, including the Queensland Turf Club Sires Produce Stakes and Queensland Guineas, both in 1951 with Friar’s Frolic. Breeding also took his interest. With such a background, he was seen as the logical candidate for government nominee on the proposed Totalisator Administration Board. The TAB was to administer a system of off-course licensed betting facilities and to determine the distribution of around 85 per cent of betting revenue to race clubs throughout Queensland. Despite concerted opposition from the principal clubs and other industry interests, the minister for racing, (Sir) Thomas Hiley [q.v.17], wanted Sakzewski as the first TAB chairman. In 1962 he finally agreed, but not before securing a guarantee of an independent authority free from government or other interference. Although highly regarded by successive ministers for racing, he was constantly battling them to retain the board’s independence. As he reflected: ‘What began as an interesting challenge became a cause, a way of life’ (Cohen 1992, 99). It ended when his appointment was terminated in controversial circumstances on 29 June 1981.
In 1972 Sakzewski had been knighted for his distinguished contribution to commerce, sport, and charity, and his generous philanthropic activities; in 1977 he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee medal. Acknowledging his own good fortune, Sir Albert had begun his philanthropy with Tatts fundraising events. He later made substantial contributions to many charities, acted as either honorary accountant or treasurer for other organisations and served as a director (1959–74) of the National Heart Foundation (Queensland). In 1971 he established the Sir Albert Sakzewski Foundation that during the next decade distributed more than $1 million to charities; the focus changed in 1982 to financing specific projects. A further change came in 1986 when it was decided to fund one major project—establishment of the Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Laboratory (Centre from 1987). Acknowledged as the largest private medical research endowment in Queensland hospitals, the SASF’s commitment of more than $1.3 million over five years supported the development of the centre as a pre-eminent research facility in medical virology, particularly paediatric virology.
Survived by his two sons, Sir Albert died from heart failure at Holy Spirit Private Hospital, Brisbane, on 6 July 1991 and, after a funeral at St John’s Anglican Cathedral, was cremated. Portraits of him are held by the Totalisator Administration Board and Tattersall’s Club. Although luck may have played a part in his success, he said ‘Luck comes, I think, with hard work’ (Rowbotham 1984, 5).
Cohen, K. T. Character and Circumstance: Thirty Years of the Totalisator Administration Board in Queensland: 1962–1992. Brisbane: Boolarong, 1992; Guerassimoff, Judithann. ‘Knight Shares His Bounty.’ Daily Sun (Brisbane), 27 September 1986, 5; Kavannagh, Laurie. ‘A Misspent Youth That Paid Dividends.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 9 August 1985, 36; Kerr, Ruth S. Confidence and Tradition: A History of the Esk Shire. Esk, Qld: Esk Shire Council, 1988; Killen, Sir James. ‘Achiever Gives a Helping Hand.’ Sunday Sun (Brisbane), 6 March 1988, 40; Longhurst, Robert. Friendship is Life: A History of Tattersall’s Club. Brisbane: Tattersall’s Club, 1993; Lowood – the First 100 Years: A Salute to the Pioneers. Lowood, Queensland: Lowood State School Centenary Committee, 1981; Rowbotham, Jill. ’A Success Story Born in the ‘30s Depression.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 18 October 1984, 5; Sakzewski, Brian. Personal communication with author; Sakzewski, Sir Albert. Interview by Ralph Reader, 18 May 1989. Transcript. National Heart Foundation of Australia collection. National Library of Australia; Sir Albert Sakzewski Virus Research Centre. Annual Report. Herston, Qld: The Centre, 2010–11.
SALISBURY, HAROLD HUBERT (1915–1991), police commissioner, was born on 30 March 1915 at Little Comberton, Worcestershire, England, elder of two sons of Hubert Salisbury (d. 1920), carpenter, and his wife Ethel Annie, née Steed. Harold was educated at Newland Choir, Malvern, and Worcester Royal Grammar schools. In 1933 he obtained a junior position in the London Metropolitan Police Force and in 1938 entered the Metropolitan Police College, Hendon, after which he was promoted to junior station inspector. In World War II Salisbury joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and rose to the rank of lieutenant (1943). A pilot in the Fleet Air Arm, he flew Seafire fighters and served in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Pacific, and Home fleets. On 21 November 1942, at the parish church, Gerards Cross, Buckinghamshire, he married Joan Mary Macdonald Nash. Following the war he returned to the London Metropolitan Police and advanced rapidly. He became assistant chief constable (1953) of the North Riding of Yorkshire police and chief constable (1968) of an amalgamated Yorkshire police service. In 1970 he was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service.
Salisbury was appointed commissioner of South Australian Police in July 1972 by the Australian Labor Party premier, Don Dunstan. To many it seemed a strange appointment for a progressive, reformist premier to have made. Holding conservative social values, Salisbury deplored permissive policies and social changes that he believed undermined valuable conventions and respect for authority. He publicly supported capital punishment, tough sentencing for law breakers, and corporal punishment in schools, and he opposed the liberalisation of drug laws. Privately, he rejected any religious belief. In contrast to his public image as an old-fashioned, hard-working police commissioner, some close associates regarded ‘Holiday Harold’ as a figurehead who delegated excessively.
On 17 January 1978 Dunstan dismissed Salisbury for ‘giving inaccurate information … to the Government’ and ‘having so misled the Government that wrong information was given to Parliament and the public’ (Advertiser, 18 January 1978, 1). This action followed an inquiry into the nature of files held by the police special branch. The inquiry concluded that many of the files related to matters, organisations, and persons that were not security risks, but to ‘political, trade union and other sensitive matters’; and that, despite the premier’s enquiries, the commissioner had not adequately informed him about the existence of these files (White 1977, 6, 67). Salisbury conceded that his answers to the government had been incomplete but argued that the police commissioner, though responsible to the government, was not subordinate to it but was responsible directly to the Queen or her representative in Australia.
A public rally in Adelaide calling for a ‘fair go’ for Salisbury attracted 8,000 people. Protests appeared to become a rallying point for those who had been uneasy with Dunstan’s policies. A royal commission found that Salisbury had misled the government and that there were grounds for his removal from office. It rejected his view of the police commissioner’s place, stating that he failed to understand the constitutional systems of South Australia and Britain. Salisbury returned to England in May 1979.
Notwithstanding these findings, a number of ministers felt that the sacking of Salisbury was a political mistake that seriously damaged the government’s standing. The incoming Liberal government, however, took no steps to re-employ him after it regained office in September 1979 despite its sustained criticism of Dunstan’s actions. Survived by his wife and two daughters, Salisbury died of a cerebral haemorrhage on 6 May 1991 at Pershore, Worcester, and was cremated.
Advertiser (Adelaide). ‘Why He Was Sacked – Dunstan.’ 18 January 1978, 1; ‘Thousands Rally to Salisbury.’ 26 January 1978, 1; Cockburn, Stewart. The Salisbury Affair. Melbourne: Sun Books, 1979; Dunstan, Don. Felicia: The Political Memoirs of Don Dunstan. South Melbourne: Macmillan, 1981; Grabosky, P. N. Wayward Governance. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 1989; Kelton, Greg. ‘Govt. Not Entitled to Secret Dossiers.’ Advertiser (Adelaide), 21 January 1978, 1; Kelton, Greg and John Templeton. ‘S. A. Police Chief Dismissed.’ Advertiser (Adelaide), 18 January 1978, 1; Mitchell, Roma (Royal Commissioner). Royal Commission 1978 Report on the Dismissal of Harold Hubert Salisbury. Adelaide: Government Printer, 1978; Summers, John. ‘The Salisbury Affair.’ In The Flinders History of South Australia: Political History, edited by Dean Jaensch, 339–50. Netley, SA: Wakefield Press, 1986; White, J. M. Special Branch Security Record Initial Report. Adelaide: Government Printer, 1977.
SALOMON, HORST EGON (1920–1994), restaurateur, real estate agent, and property renovator, was born on 28 April 1920 in Berlin, youngest of three sons of Ernst Alfred Joseph Salomon, lawyer, and his wife Elisabeth Gertrud, née Mendelsohn. After Horst’s parents divorced in 1923, his father took custody of his elder brothers while he stayed with his mother. She subsequently married Heinz Golzen, a judge. Although all Horst’s close family were of Jewish descent, some identified as Lutherans while others were not religious.
The Nazi Nuremberg laws of 1935, which defined Jews by race rather than religion, caught Salomon and his relatives—Christian as well as Jewish—in their net. His stepfather was dismissed from the judiciary, while he was forced to leave public school. He secured a scholarship to an agricultural high school in Denmark and earnt his keep by working on the associated farm. In 1938, unable to stay in the country at the expiration of his student visa, he wrote frantic letters seeking some alternative to returning to Germany. His appeal for assistance reached Dr Rudi Lemberg [q.v.15] of the German Emergency Fellowship Committee, Sydney, and Pastor Karl Mützerfeldt of the Lutheran Immigration Aid Society, Adelaide. They arranged and funded the migration of Horst and his brothers, Gerd Hugo and Guenther Ernst (Ernie).
By late February 1939 all three had arrived in Sydney. After relocating to Adelaide, they were supported by Mützerfeldt who found them employment with Lutheran farmers. At the outbreak of World War II, Horst was working as a kitchen hand in a hotel at Lorne, Victoria. As an enemy alien he reported weekly to the police. When he moved back to Adelaide in March 1940 without permission, he was arrested. Further investigation elicited testimony from informers about his alleged pro-German sympathies which led to his internment at Tatura, Victoria, in June 1940. An appeal instigated by his brothers failed, the tribunal concluding that his ‘personality is unpleasing, impetuous, and egotistical’; and that his ‘unbalanced and tactless temperament’ would be ‘likely to cause serious unrest in any Australian community in which he was present’ (NAA D1915).
Salomon found the internment experience transformative. Allocated at first to a camp dominated by Nazi sympathisers, he complained and was eventually transferred to another compound at Tatura. From this point he more openly identified as Jewish, though not to the extent of religious observance. In January 1942 he was relocated to Loveday Camp near Barmera, South Australia, before being released in April the next year. Reclassified as a refugee alien, he then worked for Pope Brothers Ltd. In 1944 he enrolled in economics at the University of Adelaide, but financial stress would prevent him from completing his degree. There he was introduced to a politically active and intellectual set of friends who opened the door to a new life. His associates, then and later, included Max Harris [q.v.], Don and Gretel Dunstan, Clyde Cameron, and Neal and Jill Blewett. On 15 March 1945 he enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces and served with the 6th Employment Company and the 29th Works Company in South Australia and Victoria. He was discharged on 27 September 1946 and naturalised in December that year. On 20 November 1954 he married Betty Dorne Lewis, a nurse.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s Salomon was a business partner in the bohemian Rendezvous Café at Glenelg. In March 1954 he applied for registration as a land salesman. Through this work he noticed the unrealised potential of Adelaide’s historic homes and cottages. The success of his first sympathetic renovation, of a dilapidated pair of cottages on Wellington Square, led to more work in North Adelaide, some of it undertaken in conjunction with the architect John Chappel. In total he completed forty-seven house redevelopment projects, their success helping to popularise heritage over demolition in South Australia. Although his restorations did not always accord with conservation practice, it awoke private owners and the broader community to the benefits of retaining old buildings.
After giving up real estate Salomon operated Horst’s Restaurant in Grenfell Street from 1979 to 1988. His extroverted personality and witty repartee drew a clientele of journalistic, literary, academic, and political notables. When he was awarded an OAM in 1990, he characteristically remarked that he found it amusing to be honoured by the country that imprisoned him as an undesirable alien. Survived by his wife and their son and three daughters, he died on 24 August 1994 in Adelaide and was cremated.
Adelaide Review. ‘Getting an Education.’ No. 33 (December 1986): 6; Advertiser (Adelaide). ‘Refugee Was Pioneer in Restoration.’ 26 August 1994, 7; Muenstermann, Ingrid, ed. Some Personal Stories of German Immigration to Australia since 1945. Adelaide: Xlibris [for the author], 2015; National Archives of Australia. A446, 1959/55757; B884, S115799; D1915, SA12688; M1103/1, PWS3042; Salomon, Betty. Interview by the author, 28 May 2019; Salomon, Horst. Interview by Anthony Michael Kaukas, 15 October 1983. Transcript. J. D. Somerville Oral History collection. State Library of South Australia; Salomon, Horst. Interview by Mandy Salomon, between April and December 1993. Transcript. J. D. Somerville Oral History collection. State Library of South Australia.
SANGSTER, JOHN GRANT (JOHNNY) (1928–1995), musician and composer, was born on 17 November 1928 in Melbourne, only child of Scottish-born parents John Sangster, stock-keeper, and his wife Isabella Dunn, formerly Pringle, née Davidson. Grant, as he was then known, attended Sandringham and Vermont primary schools, and Box Hill High School, completing the Leaving certificate in 1945. He taught himself to play the trombone and cornet, learning with his friend Sid Bridle from recordings; the two formed a band. At Melbourne Technical School in 1946 he began, but did not complete, a diploma of civil engineering. Isabella’s hostility towards Grant and his jazz activities came to a head on 21 September 1946, when she withdrew permission for him to attend a jazz event; in the ensuing confrontation he killed her with an axe but, after more than two months on remand, was acquitted of both murder and manslaughter.
In December 1946 Sangster—by this time known as Johnny—attended the first Australian Jazz Convention in Melbourne, and at the third in 1948 he won an award from Graeme Bell for being ‘the most promising player’ (Linehan 1981). He first recorded on 30 December that year, and participated in the traditional jazz scene, including through the community centred on the house of Alan Watson in Rockley Road, South Yarra. On 18 November 1949 at the Church of Christ, Malvern, he married Shirley Drew, a calculating-machine operator. In 1950, playing drums, he recorded with Roger, and then Graeme, Bell, and was invited to join Graeme’s band as drummer for its second international tour from October 1950 to April 1952. During this tour he recorded his first composition, and encountered Kenny Graham’s Afro-Cubists and the British composer and instrumentalist Johnny Dankworth, which broadened his stylistic interests.
With Graeme he toured Korea and Japan in 1954 and 1955, and then the two worked in Brisbane, where Sangster began playing the vibraphone. Shirley filed for divorce in 1957; the decree absolute would be granted in September 1959. Bell and Sangster relocated to Sydney from February 1957 for a residency at the Hotel Bennelong. Playing little jazz, their band recorded current skiffle hits, with Sangster on washboard; one of these, ‘Freight Train’, made the top ten, leading to radio and television exposure, and to their engagement as supporting performers for Johnnie Ray’s 1957 Australian tour.
Freelancing from 1959, Sangster also joined Ray Price [q.v.18], Don Burrows, and Judy Bailey, and became active in music for film and television. By 1962 he was living with his partner, Janice Patricia Byrnes (d. 1980), nicknamed ‘Bo Diddley’. Their apartment was above the El Rocco Jazz Cellar, where he was central to experiments in the genre. The visiting American pianist Bob James introduced him to the avant-gardists Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, and Cecil Taylor, expanding his music to a degree then unequalled in Australia. On a 1966 Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) airing his trio freely improvised over pre-recorded percussion. He was one of a few composers ‘who used electronic sound before the 1970s’ (Riddell and Whiteoak 2003, 249) in Australia. His participation in Donald Westlake’s 1966 ‘Best of Both Worlds’ concerts, combining the Don Burrows’ Quartet with the New Sydney Woodwind Quintet, included his own compositions.
The interest in fusions, which informed Sangster’s experiments with non-Western forms, extended to the psychedelic counterculture. He played in the pit band for the rock opera Hair from 1969 and at Australia’s first rock festival, at Ourimbah, New South Wales, in 1970. His film music ranged from the experimental (Albie Thoms’s 1969 Marinetti) to children’s animation (Hanna-Barbera’s The Funky Phantom in 1971 and 1972), while his music for the ABC television series In the Wild with Harry Butler (1976–81) displayed his fascination with the musical representation of Australian landscape. Moving to Narrabeen in 1971, he began composing suites based on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Between 1973 and 1978 he produced more than eight hours of recorded music, spanning ragtime to avant-garde. The instrumentation expanded from the standard traditional jazz line-up to include woodwinds, brass, strings, electric guitars, vocals, synthesiser, and studio-produced effects.
In 1988 Sangster was entered on the Montsalvat Jazz Honour Roll. He moved to Brisbane in 1992, where he met Petra Schnese, a Berlin-born musician, and the two began living together. In spite of ill health he continued performing. His final gig was at the Noosa Jazz Party in September 1995. He died of liver cancer on 26 October that year at Red Hill, with Petra at his side, and was cremated.
Sangster was prominent in several major developments in Australian music. Bell’s band was seminal in the formation of an Australian jazz sound. Sangster was also at the forefront of progressive jazz movements in this country: experimental, free-form, electronic, and fusions. He had the broadest palette of any Australian performer/composer, with influences ranging from the classic jazz corpus to jazz/pop avant-gardists and art music composers, notably Maurice Ravel. Mick Kenny described his music as ‘cosmic Dixieland’ (Myers 1982, 21). His life and music disclose a far more complex sensibility than the ocker/hobbit persona that he cultivated on stage and in his memoir Seeing the Rafters: The Life and Times of an Australian Jazz Musician (1988). He was ‘possibly the most talented of all the musicians who inhabit[ed] the jazz world of Australia’ and ‘one of the most intuitive musicians Australia has produced in any idiom’ (Williams 1981, 53).
Australian Music Centre, Sydney. John Sangster files, including full list of compositions and discography; Bell, Graeme. Graeme Bell, Australian Jazzman: His Autobiography. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Child & Associates Publishing, 1988; Johnson, Bruce. The Oxford Companion to Australian Jazz. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1987; Linehan, Norman. Bob Barnard, Graeme Bell, Bill Haesler, John Sangster on the Australian Jazz Convention. Sydney: The Australian Jazz Convention Trust Fund, 1981; Myers, Eric. ‘John Sangster: Music for Fluteman.’ Jazz: The Australasian Contemporary Music Magazine 2, no. 12 (November/December 1982): 21; Riddell, Alistair, and John Whiteoak. ‘Electroacoustic Music.’ In Currency Companion to Music and Dance in Australia, edited by John Whiteoak and Aline Scott-Maxwell, 248–50. Strawberry Hills, NSW: Currency House in association with Currency Press, 2003; Sangster, John. Interview by Bruce Johnson, c. 1989, transcribed by Timothy Stevens; Sangster, John. Interview by Roger Beilby, 28 January c. 1994, transcribed by Timothy Stevens; Schnese-Kleist-Sangster, Petra. Personal communication; Stevens, Timothy. ‘The Death of Isabella Dunn Sangster.’ 28 November 2013. Accessed 5 June 2015. timstevens.com.au/the-death-of-isabella-dunn-sangster/. Copy held on ADB file; Stevens, Timothy. ‘Early Ensembles and Recordings of John Grant Sangster.’ Context: Journal of Music Research, no. 34 (2009): 35–42; Williams, Mike. The Australian Jazz Explosion. London: Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1981.
SAW, CHARLES STUART (RON) (1929–1992), journalist, was born on 11 March 1929 in South Perth, son of Charles Ronald Baden Saw, stockbroker, and his wife Eugenie Marie, née Elliott, both born in Western Australia. Educated (1936–45) at Hale School, Perth, Ron began work as a cadet journalist at Kalgoorlie for Perth’s Daily News. By 1948 he was a regular columnist, displaying the humorous vein that became his trademark. In 1950 he travelled to England, where he met Patricia Jessie Andrew, a journalist. They married on 10 February 1951 at All Saints Church of England, Weston, Surrey. The couple then travelled to Montreal, Canada, where Ron worked variously as a freelance journalist and a short-order cook. They returned to Perth in December 1952.
In 1957 Saw shifted to Sydney. At the suggestion of David McNicoll, editor-in-chief at Australian Consolidated Press Ltd, he commenced as a reporter for the Daily Telegraph. McNicoll became a mentor, as did the editor of News Ltd’s Daily Mirror, Zell Rabin [q.v.16], who later employed Saw and encouraged his unique style. By the mid-1960s he had become a celebrated and controversial columnist, and ‘perhaps the best known humorous writer in Australia’ (McNicoll 1992, 34). Although his work was predominantly light hearted, he also produced thought-provoking and serious journalism. His compassionate story about a whale shark marooned on the shores of Botany Bay at La Perouse, published in the Daily Mirror, won a Walkley award for the best newspaper feature story (print) in 1965. Another memorable article was his emotive account in February 1967 of Ronald Ryan’s [q.v.16] execution. In Vietnam in 1968, with the war at its height, he injected wry humour into his reports.
During his career Saw worked on a number of Sydney publications, including the Telegraph; the Mirror; an afternoon ‘screamer’, the Sun; and later the more restrained Bulletin magazine. In 1974 he sent reports to the Australian Women’s Weekly of his adventures during a ‘world tour’ in his yacht. Usually flippant, these pieces were sometimes in a more serious vein, as in July 1974 when, in the port of Kyrenia, he witnessed the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
Tall and heavily built, Saw could be aggressive and domineering, but also ‘a rollicking, devil-may-care, hard drinking and somewhat wild character’ (McNicoll 1992, 34). Stories about Saw—such as how Sir Frank Packer [q.v.15] sacked him five times, three times in one day—became common in Sydney media circles. A combative and conservative journalist, he was immensely intelligent and witty, and ‘uniquely in tune with Sydney’s rhythms’ (Sydney Morning Herald 1992, 5).
Saw was a nominal Anglican. He and Patricia had two sons and a daughter in the 1950s and later divorced. On 5 October 1963 he married Linden Nicole Louise Martin, a stenographer, at the Presbyterian Church, Pymble. They had two sons. After divorcing a second time, on 15 July 1978 he married Elma Joan Ecuyer, née Bunt, a widowed secretary, at the Uniting Church of Australia’s Wayside Chapel of the Cross, Potts Point.
In 1978 Saw co-wrote a novel, The Back to Back Tango (with Ian Millbank), and published a collection of his articles, The Bishop and the Spinster and Other Cautionary Tales, with illustrations by Alan Moir. Notwithstanding strokes in 1979 and 1980 he continued to write occasionally for the Bulletin. An account of his rehabilitation earned him the Graham Perkin [q.v.15] award for journalist of the year in 1980. He expanded this account into a book, The One-Fingered Typist (1981), and subsequently published Memoirs of a Fox-Trotting Man (1982, illustrated by Moir), Brief Encounters with Uncles, Great Aunts, Wombats, Womcats, Tomcats, Randy Bantam Roosters, Ducks, Pigeons, Seagulls, Elephants, Horses, Dogs, Flora and Fauna, as well as Rare Specimens of Humanity (1984, illustrated by Donald Friend [q.v.17]), and Stroke and How I Survived It (1985, illustrated by Moir). While much of his humorous writing, with its sexist overtones, has dated, Saw produced, if not journalism, then short-form fiction that was literary, funny, insightful, and beautifully crafted. Survived by his wife and the five children of his earlier marriages, he died of cardiac arrest on 14 August 1992 at Cooroy, Queensland, and was cremated.
McNicoll, David. ‘A Giant Struck Down.’ Bulletin (Sydney), 1 September 1992, 34; O’Neill, Ward. Personal communication; Saw, Andrew. Personal communication; Saw, Ron. ‘Transport Terrors.’ Daily News (Perth), 5 March 1948, 2; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘A Writer Uniquely in Tune with Sydney’s Rhythms.’ 15 August 1992, 5.
SCARF, REUBEN FRANCIS (1913–1993), retailer and philanthropist, was born on 23 January 1913 at Hillgrove, near Armidale, New South Wales, seventh child of Syrian-born parents Frank George Scarf, storekeeper, and his wife Nahida Rose, née Herro. Of Lebanese descent, they had migrated to Australia in 1897 following an arranged marriage in their home village, Ain’broudi, near Baalbek. After settling at Redfern, Sydney, among an expatriate Lebanese community, the family moved to the northern tablelands where Frank made a living as a hawker. He later ran a successful store, Scarf’s Emporium, at Hillgrove before moving back to Sydney. Reuben suffered from asthma, contracted a mastoid infection which led to deafness in one ear, and had severe myopia which required him to wear ‘coke-bottle’ glasses from a young age.
Educated first at Christian Brothers’ High School, Lewisham, and then at St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, at fifteen Scarf went to work for his brother Charles in his Balmain store, one of a number of retail businesses established by his father and brothers. He later described his young adult life as undisciplined, recalling that he frittered away money on ‘grog, gambling, girls’ (Scarf 1990). At the urging of another brother, Alex, he began practising his Catholic faith, a shift he claimed placed him on the path to success. He met Mercia Phyllis Taffa, a storekeeper’s daughter and a trainee nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital, and the couple married at St Thomas’s Church, Lewisham, on 15 July 1942.
Scarf began running another of the family’s drapery and mercer’s stores, at Annandale, with his twin sister Millie and brother George. Established in 1928, the store proved too small to sustain all three, so the family allocated other businesses to Millie and George, leaving Reuben at Annandale. Scarf’s Menswear, subsequently known as Reuben F. Scarf, became a highly successful operation. In approximately 400 square metres of retail space, Scarf sold a range of goods, including drapery, blankets, cutlery, towels, cotton goods, eiderdowns, womenswear, and menswear.
In the mid-1950s Scarf embraced the idea that ‘the customer is king’ (Scarf 2017). Realising that he had been serving the interests of his suppliers rather than customers, he invested in a manufacturing plant at Surry Hills to produce suits, which became a specialty of the Scarf brand. A cousin, Paul Scarf, had been making ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ offers through letterbox advertising brochures, and Scarf adopted the practice, offering free items of clothing with the purchase of a single suit; this brought a significant growth in customer numbers. By the 1960s Scarf stores accounted for between 30 and 40 per cent of suit sales in Sydney.
The success of Scarf’s advertising campaigns and other innovations such as time payment and open displays allowed him to expand his network of stores in the late 1960s. In 1973 he retired from day-to-day involvement in business to work full time on charitable activities, and his sons, Richard and Matthew, in partnership with his cousins Khalil and Frank Herro, subsequently ran the chain.
Involved for many years with St Anthony’s Home, a residential care facility for mothers and babies at Croydon, Scarf became interested in a wider range of charitable activities, including the construction of buildings for Catholic religious orders in Sydney. He was also one of the first benefactors of Grow, an international community-based mental health support organisation founded in Sydney in 1957. Taxation rules precluded him from generating income for charity through his stores, so he registered the Frank and Nahida Scarf Memorial Foundation in 1972. Its charter was to produce revenue from commercial trading and investment, including trade with the Middle East, with profits going to charity. Having gained support from the Australian and New South Wales governments, Scarf toured the Middle East with a business associate, Henri Fischer, his first deal being to sell Australian meat to Iraq. After initial success, Scarf and the foundation became embroiled in a political scandal, dubbed the ‘Iraqi breakfast affair’, when the Australian Labor Party attempted to raise campaign funds in the Middle East. Although the foundation continued to function, Scarf ceased his involvement in its management.
Mercia died on 22 June 1984 and on 8 July 1985 Scarf married Mary Carmody at St Mary Magdalene Church, Rose Bay. Survived by his wife and the five sons and two daughters of his first marriage, he died on 24 November 1993 in Gosford District Hospital, and was buried in Northern Suburbs cemetery, North Ryde. Numerous honours were bestowed on him for his services to the community, including appointment as OBE (1965), AM (1985), Order of St Gregory the Great, Papal Knighthood, Knight of Jerusalem, Cavalier of Cedars of Lebanon, and Affiliate Associate of the Disciples of the Carmelites. The name of his foundation was changed to the Reuben F. Scarf Memorial Foundation, which established an annual award to recognise effort by a boy and a girl student in every school in New South Wales.
Hocking, Jenny. Gough Whitlam: His Time. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2014; Records of the Frank and Nahida Scarf Memorial Foundation, held by Matthew Scarf, Rose Bay, NSW; Reuben F. Scarf Memorial Foundation. ‘About the Foundation. ’Viewed 20 June 2020. www.scarf.com.au/. Copy held on ADB file; Scarf, Richard. Interview by Matthew Bailey, 9 August 2017; Scarf, Reuben F. The Key Is Three: Formula for Success, at Home, at Work, in the Community. St Hubert’s Island, NSW: The Scarf Foundation, 1990; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Retail Pioneer Dies.’ 25 November 1993, 7.
SCHRODER, ERNEST MELVILLE (BOB) (1901–1993), chemist and company manager, and Ernest William (Bill) Schroder (1933–1992), engineer and company manager, were father and son. Ernest Melville was born on 23 August 1901 at Wallaroo, South Australia, eldest child of Harold Schröder (1875–1964), analytical chemist, and his wife Florence Lilian Aylmore, née Stimson. Bob, as he was known, grew up in a family that valued enterprise and determination. His father, Harold, was the ninth and last child of Ernest Augustus Schröder, railway manager and an immigrant from Hanover, and his Scottish-born wife Margaret Melville, née Mottley. The family lived in straightened circumstances after Ernest Augustus’s death in 1879.
Harold was educated locally and then at the Moonta School of Mines and the South Australian School of Mines and Industries in Adelaide. Finding employment in the assay office of the Wallaroo smelters, he became a ‘skilled assayer’ with a ‘first-class knowledge’ of metallurgical operations (Schroder 1989, 12). He married Florence Stimson at St Mary’s Church, Wallaroo, on 11 October 1900, according to Church of England rites. The couple moved to New South Wales, where he worked at the Great Cobar Copper-Mining Co. Ltd smelting works at Lithgow (from 1901), and the Electrolytic Refining and Smelting Co. of Australia Ltd, at Port Kembla (from 1908). During the 1910s he found employment as a journalist and in short-term positions at small mines and smelters, including at C.S.A. Mines Ltd, Kandos. In 1922 he was appointed chief chemist at the local Kandos Cement Co. Ltd plant. From 1923 until his retirement in 1945, he was its works superintendent. Having returned to South Australia, he died on 28 August 1964 at his Largs North home and was buried at Centennial Park cemetery, Adelaide.
As a youth Bob Schroder was ‘tall and skinny, poor at sports’ and ‘prone to the onset of severe attacks of asthma’ (Schroder 1989, 59). His education at local public schools, Newcastle High School, and Newcastle Technical College was often interrupted by illness and family relocations. One of his earliest jobs was working with his father at the C.S.A. Mines as an office boy and assayer. In 1920, following a collapse in the price of copper, he seized the opportunity to transfer to Kandos Cement, where profitability issues had forced a shake-up of the management. Two years later the company sponsored him to undertake a lengthy educational tour of cement works in the United States of America and Britain. This led to his rapid promotion to controller of production, then chief engineer. At twenty-four, he was said to be ‘the youngest engineer in the State’ (Sun 1926, 5). After further training at the Holderbank works of the Aargauische Portlandzement Fabrik AG, Switzerland, during 1927, he became chief chemist and deputy works superintendent, in which role he introduced successful changes in production based on his overseas experience.
In December 1929 Kandos Cement merged with the Geelong company, Australian Cement Ltd, to form Australian Portland Cement Pty Ltd. In 1931 Bob Schroder was sent to Geelong, initially on a ‘temporary’ basis to improve production, before being appointed chief chemist at the site. From 1942 to 1944 he served part time in the 6th Victorian Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps, rising to lieutenant (November 1942). In 1943 he was delegated to provide technical assistance to the Adelaide Cement Co. Ltd after it developed serious quality difficulties. His success in resolving the issues so impressed the directors of Adelaide Cement—including (Sir) Edward Wheewall Holden [q.v.9] and Sir Wallace Bruce [q.v.7]—that he was offered the position of general manager. He took up the post in August 1944.
Three years later Bob Schroder was appointed to the board and became managing director of the company. His complete revitalisation of its Birkenhead works (including expenditure on new plant) had, by the end of 1948, turned around the company’s fortunes. Further investment in the 1950s (supported by the South Australian government) overcame the domestic cement shortage. He initiated improvements in plant, processes, and reliability at Birkenhead and at the Klein Point (Yorke Peninsula) limestone quarry. These changes reduced production costs to a level that Adelaide Cement’s major competitor, South Australian Portland Cement Co. Ltd (later Brighton Cement Holdings Ltd), could not match.
Schroder retired on 31 December 1967. He continued to serve on the board and was elected chairman in October 1970. From this position he steered through the merger of Adelaide Cement and Brighton Cement to form Adelaide Brighton Cement Ltd. The merger was strongly contested by Australian and Kandos Cement Holdings Ltd which, after a failed on-market raid, was left with a stranded shareholding in a company soon to be delisted. Schroder strategically delayed buying out the shares until the merger was fully bedded down in 1973. Three years later he stood down from the board. He had also served as a director of several other South Australian companies; as a member of State government committees, including inquiries into railway derailments and into the transport link with Kangaroo Island; and as president of the Cement and Concrete Association of Australia (CCAA; 1953–54, 1960–61), and the South Australian Chamber of Manufactures (1963–65). In 1970 he was appointed CMG.
On 19 May 1928 Schroder had married Winsome ‘Winkie’ Dawson, at the Methodist Church, Kandos, New South Wales. Their second child and elder son, Ernest William, was born on 30 May 1933 at Geelong, Victoria. Bill was educated at Geelong Grammar School, the Collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide, and the University of Adelaide (BE, 1955), and later obtained a diploma in accountancy at the South Australian Institute of Technology. On 1 November 1958, at St Peter’s College Chapel, he married Mary Patricia Genders, a kindergarten teacher. After university he had been appointed as assistant chemist at the Birkenhead works of Adelaide Cement. Within a few months he was promoted to chief chemist following the unexpected retirement of the incumbent. He became works manager in 1966 and general manager in 1968.
In 1971 Bill Schroder was appointed managing director of the merged Adelaide and Brighton Cement. Described as ‘forward thinking’ (SA Mines and Energy Journal 2009, 20), he developed an interest in improving sustainability in manufacturing. At Birkenhead he revolutionised the testing and quality control practices at the site. He implemented the modernisation program devised by his father and supervised the construction and commissioning of MV Accolade I, a self-unloading bulk carrier. Under his direction Adelaide Brighton expanded into interstate markets—establishing production and distribution facilities in Newcastle, Brisbane, Darwin, and Perth—as well as into international markets. He was appointed AO in 1977.
Illness forced Schroder’s retirement in January 1992. He contributed generously to a range of organisations: he was a director of the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd, SAGASCO Holdings Ltd, and a number of public companies; he served on the State committee of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Environmental Protection Council of South Australia, and the council of the National Association of Testing Authorities; and he was president of the CCAA (1987–88) and the South Australian Chamber of Mines (1979–81). Survived by his wife, and their daughter and two sons, he died of bowel cancer on 20 September 1992 in North Adelaide and was cremated. His father died on 15 February the following year, survived by a son and a daughter. Adelaide Brighton commemorated Bill’s contribution by funding the E. W. Schroder Research scholarship at the University of Adelaide and creating Schroder Park, a native forest, at the Birkenhead site.
Advertiser (Adelaide). ‘Cancer Claims Industry Captain.’ 21 September 1992, 11; Fleming, Bruce A. Kandos Cement: A History of the Cement Manufacturing Industry at Kandos. [Kandos, NSW]: The author, 2013; Johnny Green’s Journal. ‘Bill Schroder.’ 1, no. 3 (January 1981): 6; Laidlaw, D. ‘Eulogy for “Bill” Schroder.’ Unpublished manuscript, 1992; Middleton, S. ‘Made His Mark in Cement.’ Advertiser (Adelaide), undated newspaper cutting; National Archives of Australia. B884, V352210; SA Mines and Energy Journal. ‘Business in the Blood.’ October–November 2009, 20–21; Schroder, E. M. I Remember, I Remember: With a Biography of His Father Harold Schroder. [Largs Bay, SA]: Calx, 1989; Schroder, M. P. Bill. Adelaide: Open Book, n.d.; Schroder family. Personal communication; Sun (Sydney). ‘Youngest Engineer.’ 11 April 1926, 5.
H. M. P. Stock
SCHUBERT, MAX EDMUND (1915–1994), winemaker, was born on 9 February 1915 at Moculta on the north-eastern fringe of South Australia’s Barossa Valley, third surviving child of Adolph Carl Schubert, blacksmith, and his wife Emilie Clara, née Linke. His parents were locally born descendants of German-speaking Silesian migrants. Max was educated at Nuriootpa Higher Primary School. At fifteen he began working as an odd-jobs boy at the Nuriootpa winery of Penfold’s Wines Pty Ltd, where his duties included assisting the firm’s first chemist, John Farsch. In 1933 Schubert was transferred to the company’s Magill winery near Adelaide. Apprenticed to the head winemaker, Alfred Vesey, Schubert learned the complex skills of blending, and studied chemistry at the South Australian School of Mines and Industries. He was also tutored by the Nuriootpa winemaker and chemist, Ray Beckwith, in adjusting the pH levels in wine with organic acid to prevent bacterial spoilage.
In defiance of a management order directing workers to stay at their posts, Schubert enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 29 June 1940. He served in the Middle East (1940–42), North Africa (1941), Greece (1941), and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) (1942) with the 2/2nd Army Field Workshops, and in New Guinea with the 6th Division Ordnance Workshop (1943) and the 2/119th Brigade Workshop (1944–45). In June 1944 he was promoted to sergeant. While on leave, on 26 July that year he married Thelma Maud Humphrys, a typist at Penfold’s, at the Kent Town Methodist Church.
Following his discharge from the AIF on 11 September 1945, Schubert returned to Magill. Although he was initially demoted to cellar-hand, within three years he was chief winemaker at the vineyard. In 1950 the company’s chairman, Gladys Penfold Hyland [q.v.15], sent him to Europe to study sherry-making in Spain. As part of a side-trip, he travelled to Bordeaux in France, where he tasted old vintages at first growth estates, and the vigneron and négociant Christian Cruse exposed him to local winemaking practices. At a time when Australia’s wine consumption and exports were dominated by sweet, fortified styles, he was inspired to create a red table wine of a quality, depth of flavour, and longevity previously unknown.
Using shiraz as his base variety and flouting French preference for a single site, Schubert chose to make his experimental wine by blending the best fruit from disparate South Australian regions. Called Grange Hermitage, it married the name of Christopher Penfold’s cottage at Magill with the premier shiraz-growing region of France. The first vintage was produced in 1951 from old-bush vines at Magill and Morphett Vale. Later vintages drew on grapes from Reynella, McLaren Vale, and the Clare Valley, but the wine’s core was ‘grown on low-yielding, old, non-irrigated Barossa vines’ (Halliday 1990, 151). Its character was developed through cool, controlled fermentation, extended contact between the fermenting wine and its grape skins, exposure to air, and long maturation in small barrels of new American oak. The result was ‘a big wine in bouquet, flavour, and balance’ (Schubert 1990, 78).
In early showings, response to the concentrated and tannic wine was almost unanimously hostile and sometimes derisive: critics invoked ‘crushed ants’ and ‘dry port’ (Schubert 1990, 81). Before the 1957 vintage Schubert was ordered to cease production. With the connivance of Jeffrey Penfold Hyland, however, he disobeyed the instruction, covertly employing used barrels to create further vintages. As the early wines aged and softened, assessments at trade tastings improved and production was officially resumed in 1960. From 1962 Grange won an unprecedented run of medals and trophies at Australia’s major wine shows. The leading English wine writer Hugh Johnson praised it as ‘the one true first-growth of the southern hemisphere’ (1983, 472). Grange established itself as Australia’s most famous, expensive, and sought-after wine.
From 1960 Schubert was Penfold’s national production manager and later a director (1968–82). Determined to reform the company’s winemaking practices, he introduced elements of the Grange approach across its range of reds, oversaw the creation of many of the numbered ‘Bin’ varieties, and established a central laboratory. He was also a leader in the adoption of cold stabilisation of white wine to avoid crystal formation, and in the use of plastics to overcome taint from metal. The success of his methods influenced subsequent Australian wine styles and techniques. Struggling with poor health and overwork, and buffeted by changes of management, he reluctantly left full-time work in 1975. He continued as a technical consultant and was instrumental in creating the prestigious Magill Estate Shiraz (released 1983).
A gentle, modest, and dedicated man, Schubert had a deep, somewhat gravelly, voice and a nose ‘made for sniffing wine’ (Halliday 1994, 13). He was appointed AM in 1984, named man of the year by the London magazine Decanter in 1988, and was inaugural winner of the Maurice O’Shea [q.v.15] award, the Australian wine industry’s major honour, in 1990. In later years he promoted the company at events interstate and overseas but was dogged by deteriorating health, developing emphysema after decades of heavy smoking. Survived by his wife, and their son and daughter, he died on 6 March 1994 at Magill and was buried in Centennial Park cemetery, Adelaide. He was widely eulogised as a visionary innovator of Australian winemaking and in the year of his death a State electorate encompassing the Barossa Valley was named after him.
Evans, Len. Complete Book of Australian Wine. 3rd ed. Dee Why West, NSW: Paul Hamlyn, 1978; Faith, Nicholas. Liquid Gold: The Story of Australian Wine and Its Makers. Sydney: Pan Macmillan, 2002; Gent, Charles. Mixed Dozen: The Story of Australian Winemaking since 1788. Sydney: Duffy & Snellgrove, 2003; Halliday, James. ‘First Growth Winemaker.’ Australian, 9 March 1994, 13; Halliday, James. More Vintage Halliday: Wine Writing. North Ryde, NSW: Angus & Robertson, 1990; Hooke, Huon. Max Schubert: Winemaker. Alexandria, NSW: Kerr Publishing, 1994; Johnson, Hugh. Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion: The New Encyclopaedia of Wines, Vineyards, and Winemakers. Sydney: Colporteur Press, 1983; National Archives of Australia. B883, SX6898; Schubert, Max. ‘The Story of Grange Hermitage.’ In Penfolds: The Rewards of Patience. 2nd ed., 70–84. [St Peters, NSW]: Penfolds, 1990.
SEAGER, JOYCE DEBENHAM (JOY) (1899–1991), medical practitioner, was born on 20 September 1899 at Edgbaston, Birmingham, England, youngest of three daughters of Theodore Stephen Tearne, music teacher, and his wife Maude Mary, née Lee. The family migrated to Australia in 1907 and two years later Theodore was appointed superintendent of music in the New South Wales Department of Public Instruction. Joy was educated at Sydney Church of England Girls’ Grammar and Sydney Girls’ High schools, and won a scholarship to study medicine at the University of Sydney (MB, 1924). After graduation she worked in hospitals in Sydney and at Young. In January 1925 she responded to an urgent requirement for a doctor at Kingscote, on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.
There was no hospital on the island and Joy was the sole medical practitioner. In the early months she had no access to a car or telephone and rode a horse over rough bush tracks to reach rural patients. She also acted as pharmacist and dentist at her surgery, a tiny metal shed. On 29 July 1925 at St Paul’s Church of England, Adelaide, she married Harold William Hastings Seager (d. 1976), a sheep farmer who had been a major in the Australian Imperial Force.
The Seagers lived on a property at Hawks Nest, 26 miles (42 km) from Kingscote. They installed a telephone and Joy, now equipped with a car, consulted at Kingscote two days a week as well as responding to emergencies all over the island. She set up a temporary hospital at Kingscote until a permanent one opened in 1930. Her resourcefulness and sense of humour were often called upon. On one occasion, caught in the bush without her medical bag, she pulled hairs from a horse’s tail, sterilised them, and used them to stitch a gash in a man’s leg.
In 1945 the Seagers moved to Kingston, on the mainland in the State’s south-east, Hal taking up a new grazing property. A diphtheria epidemic claimed Joy’s immediate attention. Again, she was the only doctor in the area and, once more, she established a hospital in difficult circumstances, with few facilities or trained staff. She was one of the first in South Australia to use penicillin. The family moved again in 1950 to a merino stud at Mount Pleasant. From there Seager practised variously in Adelaide and, with the school medical service, in the country. Throughout her career she determinedly organised the immunisation of children against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and polio, travelling widely to schools and isolated farming communities.
Seager and her husband, a veteran of Gallipoli, were part of a large contingent which in 1965 travelled by sea from Athens, via several Mediterranean ports, to the peninsula for the fiftieth anniversary of the landing. When many of the old soldiers became ill on the voyage, Seager treated them and bought drugs in Cairo and Beirut to supplement the ship’s meagre supplies. She was appointed MBE (1966) for her care of ex-servicemen.
On 8 January 1977 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Tintinara, Seager married Stanley Charles Henniker, a grazier. Her memoir, Kangaroo Island Doctor (1980), was later the basis for a two-part television drama, Shadows of the Heart. At age eighty-three she was described as ‘small, merry-eyed and bubbling with vitality’ (Haywood 1982, 12). Survived by her son and one of her two daughters, she died on 7 September 1991 at Mount Pleasant and her ashes were scattered on the family farm.
Gregory, Julie. ‘All in a Day’s Work for the Island Doctor.’ Advertiser (Adelaide), 20 December 1980, 1; Haywood, Rose. ‘The Island Doctor Comes Ashore.’ South Australian Magazine (Port Adelaide), October 1982, 12–13; Inglis, Ken. ‘Gallipoli Pilgrimage 1965.’ Journal of the Australian War Memorial 18 (April 1991): 20–27; Seager, Joy. Kangaroo Island Doctor. Adelaide: Rigby, 1980; Seager, Michael. Personal communication with author; South Australian Medical Women’s Society. The Hands of a Woman. Kent Town, SA: Wakefield Press, 1994; Villis, Rhonda, and Nancy Smith. Interview by Joan Durdin, 11 March 1985. Transcript. State Library of South Australia.
Alexandra Mary Readman
SEGAL, IZA JOAN (1914–1994), obstetrician and gynaecologist, was born on 6 May 1914 at Randwick, New South Wales, second of three children of Victorian-born Alfred Harris [q.v.9], journalist, and his English-born wife Celia Esther, née Harris. Later in life Iza explained that she had been named for Iza Coghlan, one of the first women to graduate in medicine from the University of Sydney. Iza’s two brothers, Godfrey Moses and Louis Leslie, would also become medical practitioners. The family valued education. Her parents were proponents of secular Judaism and anti-Zionism. For Iza this would translate into a lifelong commitment to humanism and a search for social justice, particularly in medicine.
Shortly after Harris’s birth, the family moved to Brisbane. They remained in Queensland until 1925, when they returned to Sydney, and Harris enrolled at Sydney Girls’ High School. Her academic capabilities were evident early. At fourteen her results in the Intermediate examination gained media publicity, and in 1930 she was dux of the school. After winning a public exhibition to medicine at the University of Sydney (MB, BS, 1937), Harris, with two others, topped her first year of 120 students in 1931, and was awarded the Renwick [q.v.6] prize for proficiency. Over the next five years of exams she never stumbled, and she was equal top of her class in fifth year. In her final exams she was awarded first-class honours, the Windeyer [q.v.12] prize for obstetrics and clinical obstetrics, and the Dagmar Berne prize for proficiency among women candidates.
Harris was appointed a resident medical officer at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1937. By the end of 1939 she had completed a master of surgery from the University of Sydney, planning a career in general surgery. At the time, an essential next step to enable her to later seek senior surgical positions was to obtain a fellowship to one of the two British colleges of surgery. She was unable to undertake this final step. On 31 May 1938 she married South African–born Reuben Segal, a fellow medical practitioner, at the Great Synagogue. Perhaps as a result, her second residency, at the Royal Hospital for Women, was terminated.
Having grown to adulthood during the Depression, Segal was concerned about financial security. Medical practice at this time could be a haphazard source of income, and many women graduates, where possible, joined forces with their medical fathers or husbands. Although Iza’s husband was a general practitioner, he had a particular interest in obstetrics but no additional qualifications in the field. This disparity might have led to some tension in the marriage (Pringle 1998, 55). This combination of personal and professional pressures led her to ‘women’s medicine’ instead of general surgery. She set up in general practice with Reuben at Canterbury, and joined him as an honorary medical officer at Canterbury District Memorial Hospital, which enabled the continuing development of her surgical skills. After the birth of her children, she continued to work, aided by the employment of a housekeeper and a maid.
In 1940 Segal had been appointed an honorary junior assistant surgeon at Sydney’s Rachel Forster Hospital for Women and Children, run by women. She remained at the hospital until 1946. While the RFH had been established partly to meet medical women’s need for advanced professional training, and continued to offer women rare opportunities to train and progress in the medical specialities, it is possible that she also found the hospital’s otherwise conservative political ethos difficult to negotiate. The hospital’s reputed animosity to contraception and its anti-abortion position were both issues which became central to her later work. Indeed, responses to her work in this field both from colleagues and the wider public led to frustration, which tempered her satisfaction with helping women find ways to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
A practitioner of the 1940s and 1950s could be more flexible in their medical specialisation than would later become the case. The fluidity of the time enabled Segal to continue to practise in both gynaecology and general surgery, her main passion. In the 1950s, however, pressure to specialise led her to focus on obstetrics and gynaecology, in which fields she undertook additional training at Philadelphia, United States of America, and in London. Honorary assistant gynaecologist at Canterbury Hospital, and honorary obstetrician at the Bethesda Maternity Hospital, she also established two private practices: one in suburban Campsie, and another in Sydney’s specialist heartland, Macquarie Street.
While the 1960s brought a growing acceptance of contraception, it was not a propitious time for those interested in abortion law reform, particularly perhaps for those in Segal’s specialist field. Nevertheless, her political commitment began to emerge during this period. It solidified after the Whitlam government’s election in 1972 and the consequent rapid changes in health care policy. In 1974, following an invitation by the Federal government for community health proposals, the Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre (LWCHC) commenced work; among other services, it provided abortions. Segal soon joined the organisation, as ‘the only specialist who offered to work as a consultant’ (Hirshman 1994, 7) for this controversial facility. She found there a congenial environment to contribute to women’s rights to health and choice. Growing from this commitment was a brief involvement with the movie industry, when she appeared in Margot Oliver’s feminist film Charlene Does Med at Uni (1977), which charted the consequences for a young female medical student on discovering she was pregnant.
Contemporaneous with the emerging women’s health movement was the Whitlam government’s plan to establish a universal health system known as Medibank, eventually established in 1975. A number of medical practitioners who embraced the idea formed the Doctors Reform Society to fight for its introduction. In 1973, as a founding member of the DRS, Segal worked alongside her colleagues to ensure that ‘it maintained a strong commitment to women’s issues such as contraception and abortion’ (Hirshman 1994, 7). She was also a member of the Medical Association for Prevention of War and the New South Wales Humanist Society.
Segal’s career spanned a transitional period for women in medicine, reflected in her places of work, if not the focus of that work. For an earlier generation, work for women’s health was made concrete through the Rachel Forster Hospital, and drew on the social standing of wealthy supporters. This strategy was transformed in the postwar decades into a focus on the impact of social factors on women’s health, particularly, in the 1970s, through the women’s health movement and one of its progeny, the LWCHC. The goal of these generations of medical women—improving women’s health—may have remained the same, but the strategies they adopted were dramatically different.
Described as sociable and gregarious, Segal was happiest among people. Following Reuben’s death in 1980 she contemplated a solitary life with dread. On 10 October 1987 at the registry of births, deaths, and marriages, Sydney, she married a second time, to Chester Marmion Gray, a scientist. She died on 1 May 1994 at Paddington, and was cremated. Her husband, and one son and two daughters from her first marriage, survived her. Segal’s life was one immersed in medicine. As a colleague, John Ward, articulated, she ‘never lost touch with the idea that medicine should serve the people’ (Sydney Morning Herald 1994, 6).
Hirshman, John. ‘A Humanist of Tireless Energy.’ New Doctor, no. 62 (Summer 1994): 7; Pringle, Rosemary. Sex and Medicine: Gender, Power and Authority in the Medical Profession. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998; Segal, Lynne. Making Trouble: Life and Politics. London: Serpent’s Tail, 2007; Siedlecky, Stefania, and Diana Wyndham. Populate and Perish: Australian Women’s Fight for Birth Control. North Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1990; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Doctor Who Wanted Access for Everyone.’ 10 May 1994, 6; WEL-Informed. ‘How Do Men Know How Women Feel? Iza Segal, a Well-Known Gynaecologist, Talks to Dorothy Simons.’ No. 145 (May 1985): 13–15.
SHANNON, DAVID JOHN (1922–1993), air force officer and company executive, was born on 27 May 1922 at Unley Park, South Australia, son of Howard Huntley Shannon, auctioneer and later (1933–68) a member of the South Australian parliament, and his wife Phoebe Madeline, née Watson. His grandfather, John Wallace Shannon, had also served in the South Australian parliament (1896–1902) and was later a Liberal and then Nationalist member of the Australian Senate (1914–20). David was educated at Unley High School where he completed his Leaving certificate.
Standing 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm) tall, of youthful appearance with fair complexion and grey eyes, Shannon worked as a clerk with the Western Assurance Co. before joining the Royal Australian Air Force on 4 January 1941 as an aircrew trainee under the Empire Air Training Scheme. He graduated as a bomber pilot in September at the RAAF Station, Pearce, Western Australia, and was commissioned before being posted to England in October to serve with No. 106 Squadron, Royal Air Force Bomber Command. Flying a Lancaster, he was regarded as a gifted pilot. Between June 1942 and February 1943 he flew thirty-six sorties over Nazi-occupied Europe, surviving at least four flak hits. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (London Gazette, 12 January 1943, 269).
Invited by the commanding officer of No. 106 Squadron, Guy Gibson, to transfer with him to a new unit formed for a secret, low-level operation, he readily accepted. It was Shannon’s posting to No. 617 Squadron, RAF, in March 1943 that would make his name as an exceptional airman. He always said he was a ‘low-level fanatic’ (AWM AWM65). The squadron became known as the ‘Dam Busters’ after a night raid on five dams in the heart of the German industrial Ruhr district on 16–17 May 1943. Shannon flew in the first wave, which had the primary task of attacking the Möhne and Eder dams. Other aircraft having breached the Möhne, he flew a further 60 miles (100 km) to the Eder. After making several unsuccessful circuits, he scored a direct hit but the wall held until a bomb from a second aircraft collapsed it. ‘My mine had destroyed the waterproofing of the dam’, he said later, ‘and the second aircraft created a bow-wave which carried it away’ (Crossland 18). He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on the day after his twenty-first birthday (London Gazette, 28 May 1943, 2362). The raid was a great morale booster, although fifty-three aircrew died and its value to the war effort was subsequently questioned.
No. 617 Squadron participated in further special raids. On the night of 15–16 September 1943, Shannon was flying one of eight aircraft ordered to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal, a major transportation waterway. The weather was exceptionally bad and Shannon had trouble finding the target. Although five aircraft were shot down, he eventually attacked while under enemy fire, damaging the canal. Awarded a Bar to his DFC (London Gazette, 12 November 1943, 4972), he was promoted to flight lieutenant a week later. On 21 September 1943, at the parish church of St Mark, North Audley Street, London, he had married Ann Somerset Fowler (d. 1990), an officer with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
Shannon was known for his sharp tongue and insistence that his subordinates maintain the highest professional standards. Throughout 1943 and much of 1944, he continued operational flying against targets in France and Germany. In September he was awarded a bar to his DSO (London Gazette 1944, 4441). He had flown sixty-nine operations, more than twice that normally required for a tour. Shortly afterwards he was rested from bombing raids and posted to No. 511 Squadron to fly transport Liberators. Promoted to squadron leader on 1 January 1945, he transferred to No. 246 Squadron in March for further transport flying duties. Shannon was demobilised in Britain on 15 December 1945.
In 1946 he joined Shell Petroleum Co. Ltd as a general trainee. For the next sixteen years he worked on oil drilling operations in Borneo, Kenya, Tanganyika (Tanzania), Venezuela, Suez, Colombia and Uganda, rising within the company to the position of refinery coordinator, Shell Co. of East Africa Ltd. On 23 September 1961 he retired to a farm in Suffolk where he raised poultry, beef cattle, and pedigree Welsh ponies. In September 1968 he returned to the oil industry, becoming assistant to the managing director of Offshore Marine Ltd, part of the Trafalgar House Group. He conducted offshore surveys in Canada, Australia, and the Far East, and became managing director of the company in November 1973. In 1978 he transferred to Geoprosco Overseas Ltd, taking over as managing director. He retired on 30 September 1984.
On 19 July 1991 at the register office, Camberwell, London, Shannon married Eyke Barbara Joan Taylor (née Wilson), a painter. Survived by her and a daughter from his first marriage, he died on 8 April 1993 at Denmark Hill, London, a few weeks before the fiftieth anniversary reunion of the Dam Buster airmen. From the mid-1980s Shannon had been chairman of the 617 Squadron Aircrew Association. He was buried beside his first wife at St Michael and All Angels Church, Clifton Hampden, Oxfordshire. His portrait by Sir William Dargie is held by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, as are his medals, uniform, and log book. A street in Glenelg North, South Australia, is named in his honour and a memorial to Shannon and two other South Australians who took part in the Dam Buster mission was unveiled in Adelaide in 2008. The actor Ronald Wilson played the part of Shannon in the 1955 film, The Dam Busters, based on the book by Paul Brickhill [q.v.].
Australian War Memorial. AWM65, 4634; Brickhill, Paul. The Dam Busters. London: Evans Brothers Limited, 1955; Burgess, Colin. Australia’s Dambusters. Loftus: Australian Military History Publications, 2003; Crossland, John. ‘Obituary: David Shannon.’ The Independent (London) 10 May 1993, 18; King, Nikki. Personal communication; London Gazette 12 January 1943, 269, 28 May 1943, 2362; 12 November 1943, 4972, 26; September 1944, 4441; National Archives of Australia. A9300, Shannon, David John; Times (London). ‘Obituaries. David Shannon.’ 16 April 1993, 19.
SHAW, MANSERGH (1910–1993), professor of mechanical engineering and woodcarver, was born on 8 January 1910 in Liverpool, England, younger of two sons of Mansergh Shaw, schoolteacher, and his wife Maud Bury, née Maitland. His family lived in South Africa until his father’s death in 1912, subsequently moving to Sheffield, England, where his mother became a teacher. As a child he learned woodcarving from his grandfather, a master carver. Educated at Firth Park Grammar School, in 1925 he was apprenticed to Davy Brothers Ltd as a fitter and turner. He subsequently worked for two years as a draughtsman while attending night classes at Sheffield Technical School.
Awarded a Whitworth Scholarship in 1932, Shaw studied mechanical and electrical engineering at the University of Sheffield (BEng Hons, 1935; MEng, 1936). He received the Mappin medal in 1935 and was appointed an assistant lecturer, conducting research on fluid flow through nozzles. In 1937 he embarked on an exchange lectureship at the University of Melbourne (MEng, 1943), where he was soon appointed a senior lecturer. He was followed to Australia by his fiancée, Charlotte Gordon Georgeson, a Scottish-born teacher, whom he married on 17 December 1938 at St Mark’s Church of England, Camberwell.
During World War II Shaw organised the University of Melbourne’s workshops for research on new methods of production and precision manufacture of optical and other instruments required by the Australian defence forces. His research included studies of transient cutting forces and factors affecting surface finish. In 1947 he returned to Britain for study leave, and cycled through France, Switzerland, and Germany, to observe production techniques. The next year he extended his leave and was appointed the first Tube Investments Research Fellow in engineering production at the University of Birmingham, for which he investigated the production methods of the automotive and aerospace components company Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds Ltd.
In 1949 the University of Queensland appointed Shaw the inaugural professor of mechanical engineering. During his twenty-six-year tenure the number of final-year engineering students majoring in mechanical engineering grew from four to thirty and postgraduate studies flourished. He established a world-class sugar milling research facility, and a metrology laboratory (registered by the National Association of Testing Authorities) in which he developed tools for scientific measurement and for the education of the blind. He fostered studies into solar energy and directed an extensive research program into the stability and safety of agricultural tractors. ‘An innovator, and a mentor, with a receptive open mind’ (Grigg 1993), he successfully expanded both the staff and research facilities of his department. He supervised the design and construction of new mechanical engineering buildings at the St Lucia campus, which were later named in his honour.
Shaw was closely associated with various technical colleges and institutes in Queensland and was a fellow of many professional organisations, including the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, of which he was Australian branch chairman for many years; the Institution of Engineers, Australia (Queensland division chairman, 1957); and the Australian Institute of Management. He was also a member of the Institution of Production Engineers, for which in 1974 he delivered the (Sir) James N. Kirby [q.v.15] paper, titled The University and Industry. He was appointed OBE in 1975, the year he retired.
Profoundly deaf in one ear due to a childhood illness, Shaw would indicate his displeasure at the direction of a discussion by calmly but conspicuously turning off his hearing aid. According to a colleague ‘he could convey his expectations, encourage or chastise in a forceful, and effective, but non-emotional manner’ (Grigg 1993). A gifted woodcarver, he produced a shield displaying the coat of arms of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for permanent display in the foyer of the Mansergh Shaw building at the University of Queensland, and the principal’s chair for Emmanuel College. Suffering from Parkinson’s disease during the last decade of his life, Shaw died on 14 February 1993 at Chelmer, Brisbane, and was cremated. His wife, son, and daughter survived him. In 2010 he was inducted into the Queensland Engineering Hall of Fame.
Cossins, Geoffrey, ed. Eminent Queensland Engineers. Vol. 2. Brisbane: Institution of Engineers, Australia, Queensland Division, 1999, 96–97; Grigg, F. W. Eulogy given at M. Shaw’s funeral. Unpublished manuscript, 1993. Copy held on ADB file; Nature (London, England). ‘Mechanical Engineering in Queensland: Prof. Mansergh Shaw.’ 163 (1949): 559; Shaw, John. Eulogy given at M. Shaw’s funeral. Unpublished manuscript, 1993. Copy held on ADB file; University News (St Lucia, Qld). ‘Uni Mourns a Pioneer.’ 10 March 1993, 10; Whitmore, R. Professor Mansergh Shaw. Staff file, Mansergh Shaw. University of Queensland Archives.
SHEN, MARGARET (1942–1994), restaurateur and businesswoman, was born on 22 January 1942 in Peking (Beijing), elder of two children of Tang Yu, Chinese Air Force pilot, and his wife Shen Hung Wen (later Irene). The family lived a privileged life in the environs of the Summer Palace, as Margaret’s maternal grandfather was the chief justice. Her father was killed in January 1946, and her mother reverted to her maiden name; Margaret became Shen Wa. Following the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 Irene moved her children and her mother, Shen Chau Shi, out of China. With the help of family and friends, they travelled to Hong Kong, via Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Taiwan.
Once in Hong Kong, Shen Wa learnt English, became a Catholic, and took the name of Margaret. By 1954 she had sufficient English to enable her to attend St Mary’s School in Kowloon, where she spent a year before completing studies in England and at a finishing school in Switzerland. She returned to Hong Kong in 1960, by which time her mother had married Walter Scragg, a senior Hong Kong police officer, and she had a half-brother.
As an eighteen-year-old Shen was fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Shanghainese, as well as English, later adding Italian and German, together with a good knowledge of other European languages. These language skills helped to gain her a job as an interpreter with the special branch of the Hong Kong police. In 1961 at the Union Church she married Bruce Beaumont, an Australian advertising executive; the couple later lived in Bangkok where a daughter, Michelle, was born. It was a short-lived marriage, and after their divorce she returned to Hong Kong with their daughter, taking a job with the Australian Trade Commission.
By 1963 Shen was dabbling in modelling, appearing in a Qantas campaign promoting its Asian destinations. Constantly on the move, she left her daughter with her mother and stepfather—Michelle would live with them until aged twelve—and went to London to undertake a business course (1964–65). By 1966 she was in New York studying at the New York Institute of Photography. In 1968, with Trevor Wilson, she published A Complete Guide to the Ski Trails of Australia and New Zealand; she was also the photographer for Lenk (1968), which documented skiing in the Swiss Alps, where her daughter joined her for a short while.
Shen’s mother and stepfather had left Hong Kong by early 1966, first settling in New Zealand, before moving to Australia. By 1969 she herself had moved to Sydney, initially joining a group of photographers in a North Sydney studio and having photographs published in Men in Vogue. Specialising in children’s portraits, she held an exhibition in 1969. Neither modelling nor a photographic career had satisfied her entrepreneurial spirit. But after beginning to work for Oliver Shaul as a hostess at his Summit Restaurant, she discovered a love for the restaurant industry.
With Peter Steele, her then de facto and business partner, Shen looked for premises in which to open a Chinese restaurant. They took a lease in Cremorne Plaza, which became the Peking Palace: an up-market Chinese restaurant, rich in décor and introducing dishes from northern China, especially Peking and Szechuan specialities. It was different from most such restaurants of the time, which usually served only Cantonese food on plastic tabletops. Persuading one of Sydney’s most respected Chinese chefs, Lum Bah, to join her, she flew to Hong Kong to recruit another. Having always wanted to repay Chan Kum Fook—then a chef in Hong Kong—for helping her family to flee from China, she offered him a job, which he accepted. Opening in 1973, the Peking Palace was immediately successful. It became a favourite for advertising executives and those living on the lower North Shore. Concurrently, Shen and her friend Rosalie Wattel opened two shops in Sydney, selling handbags made from Indian snakeskin. The business folded after the Indian government largely outlawed the harvesting of snakes in 1972.
In September 1984 Shen opened another Chinese restaurant, Noble House, the name referencing James Clavell’s book of that title. Located in the city’s financial district, Noble House became popular with politicians, lawyers, police, businessmen, stockbrokers, and merchant bankers. Her wit and taste helped her establish a loyal customer base, and her affable personality meant she became her customers’ friend, albeit one who knew when discretion was needed. Providing private rooms, Noble House was somewhere politicians could meet for private discussions while dining. For her it was hard work: up early every second day to source produce from the Sydney Fish Market, most days working until midnight.
By 1987 Shen had taken on another venture, contracting the building of a Hong Kong-style floating restaurant, the Tai Pan. Designed to seat 500 diners, the 35-metre vessel was to run four cruises daily, for morning and afternoon coffee, lunch, and dinner. Opening in 1988 it was initially a success. However, there were those who waged a campaign against the Tai Pan, on aesthetic grounds; among them was the critic Leo Schofield. ‘Sink the Taipanic’ became a catch cry, letters to the editor appeared in the Sydney broadsheets, and it became a subject on talkback radio. Those close to Shen felt that many of the objections were political, as the Tai Pan took business from other restaurants. Eventually the restaurant was sold at a loss. By December 1990 it was being towed out of Sydney Harbour.
While Noble House was providing a good income, the landlord was not willing to commit to a long-term lease, so Shen began looking for other ventures. One such enterprise was acquiring a factory in Xi’an, China, to produce phosphate for sale in Australia as fertiliser. Having finalised a joint-venture agreement for her Sydney-based company, China Sea International Trading Group, she was to join a delegation seeking stronger trade relations between New South Wales and China, led by the State’s premier, John Fahey.
On 6 June 1994 Shen boarded a flight to Guangzhou, where she was to meet the other delegates. The plane crashed shortly after take-off from Xi’an, resulting in the deaths of all on board. When her body was brought back to Sydney two weeks later, and with parliament suspended for the day as a mark of respect, a requiem Mass was held at St Mary’s Church, North Sydney; she was buried in Frenchs Forest cemetery. Her daughter and her de facto partner Barry Forrester survived her. Although best known for the Peking Palace, Noble House, and Tai Pan, Shen had owned about six restaurants, including the Summer Palace at Bondi and Maharajas Palace—sourcing spices and staff from India—on Sydney’s Bridge Street. Shen’s charm, strength of character, and generosity were qualities which saw her rise to fame during a time when racial prejudice against the Chinese was still fairly strong.
Ballantyne, Tom. ‘Chinese Food Afloat.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 10 November 1987, 10; Beaumont, Michelle. Personal communication; Johnson, Sue. ‘Deals Done Over Classy Chinese.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 5 August 1986, Good Living 1, 3; Pao-Lo, Lin. ‘Restaurateur With an Appetite for Challenge.’ Australian, 16 June 1994, 11; Steele, Peter. Personal communication; Urban Design Forum. ‘Sink the Taipanic.’ No. 14 (March 1991): 1; Wattel, Rosalie. Personal communication.
SHOWERS, HENRY ARTHUR (HARRY) (1899–1991), naval officer, was born on 24 May 1899 at Carlton, Melbourne, youngest of four surviving children of Victorian-born Charles Showers, hotelier, and his English-born wife Alice Mary, née Villar. In 1913 Harry entered the Royal Australian Naval College (RANC), Geelong, Victoria, with the first intake of cadet midshipmen. The college moved to Jervis Bay, Federal Capital Territory, in 1915. Awarded colours for rowing, rugby, and cricket, in 1916 he graduated with prizes for theoretical, practical, and workshop engineering.
Midshipman Showers served in the British battle cruiser HMS Glorious in 1917, seeing action at the second battle of Heligoland Bight. Next year he joined the submarine HMS K22 but it was damaged in a collision and he returned to Glorious. He completed professional courses and in 1919 sailed to Australia as a sub-lieutenant in the submarine HMAS J3. In 1920 he undertook further training in Britain and, while there, was promoted to lieutenant and selected for the All-England rugby union team; injury prevented him from playing. Back with the Australian submarine flotilla in 1921, he served in surface warships after it was disbanded in 1922.
Following navigation training (1923) and minesweeper service with the Royal Navy (1923–25), Showers joined HMAS Moresby as assistant surveyor on the ship’s hydrographic survey of the Great Barrier Reef. On 19 November 1927 at the Presbyterian church of St Stephen’s, Phillip Street, Sydney, he married Jean Alison Cunningham, sister of an RANC classmate, Ernest Cunningham, who had been killed in a submarine accident in 1918. The couple sailed to England where he studied tactics and served in HMS Douglas as a lieutenant commander. Back home, in the early 1930s he refereed for the New South Wales Rugby Union between sea postings. In 1933 he was promoted to commander. After further courses in Britain in 1934, he served in the Mediterranean as navigator and staff officer operations in the light cruiser HMS Arethusa. Two years later he was appointed the Australian Squadron’s navigation officer, embarked in HMAS Canberra. He was an honorary aide-de-camp (1937–45) to the governor-general, Baron Gowrie [q.v.9].
Having commanded the sloop HMAS Swan from January 1939, Showers took over the light cruiser HMAS Adelaide in September. He was promoted to captain on 31 December. Adelaide supported a Free French coup in New Caledonia in September 1940; Showers ‘rendered excellent service in a situation requiring considerable discretion and sound judgment’ (NAA A2676), mediating between de Gaullists and Pétainists. From June 1942 he commanded the light cruiser HMAS Hobart in operations in the Pacific, including the Allied offensive in the Solomon Islands, until the ship was torpedoed and seriously damaged in July 1943. His next command, from May to September 1944, was of the heavy cruiser HMAS Shropshire, which supported amphibious landings in New Guinea and the Netherlands East Indies. As a commodore, 2nd class, he became second naval member of the Naval Board (1944–46). He was appointed CBE in 1945.
One of Australia’s most experienced and respected cruiser captains in World War II, Showers took Shropshire to London in 1946 for the victory celebrations. His subsequent appointments were as commodore superintendent of training at HMAS Cerberus, Westernport, Victoria (1946), second naval member of the Naval Board (1948–50); and, having been granted the acting rank of rear admiral, flag officer-in-charge, New South Wales (1950). Admiral Sir Guy Royal had recommended him for promotion but Vice Admiral Sir John Collins [q.v.17] judged him too diffident and lacking in intellectual capacity for flag rank; he remained a substantive captain. Showers was described as ‘A thick-set man with an even voice but a manner of briskness combined with warmth’ (Sydney Morning Herald 1954, 30). The sailors considered him a gentleman and served happily under his command. On 8 February 1955 he ceased full-time service.
President of the United Service Institution of New South Wales (1951–54), Showers was later federal president of the Navy League (1957–68) and secretary of the Nuclear Research Foundation, University of Sydney (1955–68). He had a love of gardening and was a member of the Royal Sydney Golf Club. Predeceased by his wife, and survived by his daughter, he died on 31 July 1991 in Sydney and was cremated. He had been the last surviving member of the first class of RANC cadets.
Eldridge, Frank Burgess. A History of the Royal Australian Naval College. Melbourne: Georgian House, 1949; Gill, G. Hermon. Royal Australian Navy 1939–1942. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1957; National Archives of Australia. A6769, SHOWERS, HENRY ARTHUR; A2676, 574 Attachment 1; Royal Australian Navy. ‘Rear Admiral HENRY ARTHUR SHOWERS.’ Accessed 29 April 2015. www.navy.gov.au/biography/rear-admiral-henry-arthur-showers. Copy held on ADB file; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Man in the Public Eye. A Naval Occasion.’ 17 October 1954, 30.
SIMMONDS, JOHN HOWARD (JACK) (1901–1992), plant pathologist, was born on 13 June 1901 at Taringa, Brisbane, elder of two children of Victorian-born John Howard Simmonds, stone-mason, and his English-born wife Rose, née Culpin. His father was an enthusiastic field naturalist and shell-collector and his mother became a notable photographer later in life. Educated at Boys’ College, Clayfield (Brisbane Boys’ College), Jack graduated from the University of Queensland (BSc, 1923; MSc, 1926) with first class honours and was appointed to the staff of the entomology branch of the State Department of Agriculture and Stock.
Simmonds became the first full-time plant pathologist in the department. He combined an interest in research and extension in all plant diseases, and produced a steady stream of publications from 1927. From March 1931 until April 1932 he took leave without pay to study developments in plant pathological research in the United States of America, Canada, Britain, the Middle East, India, Malaya, and Java. He also completed one term of a postgraduate course at Imperial College, London. On 10 November 1933 at her parents’ home in South Brisbane, he married Marjorie Isabel Dowrie, with a Presbyterian clergyman officiating.
Called up for full-time duty on 15 September 1941 as a captain in the Citizen Military Forces, Simmonds transferred to the Australian Imperial Force twelve months later. He commanded the 11th Malaria Control Unit in Papua and New Guinea between July 1943 and June 1944. Landing at Madang and Alexishafen (April 1944) with the first Australian troops, he ensured minimal rates of infection and carried out valuable experiments; he was appointed MBE (1945) for this work. In February 1945 he was promoted to major. From April to November he commanded the 1st Mobile Entomological Section in New Guinea and Bougainville. Back in Australia, he transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 28 February 1946.
On returning to his department, Simmonds was placed in charge of the science branch, overseeing the entomology, plant pathology, and botany sections, and continuing his personal research program. Following reorganisation of his branch into separate entities, he continued to lead plant pathology until 1961 when, on his own volition, he stood down to concentrate on his own research, such as a host index of plant diseases in Queensland. He retired in 1966, having seen the section grow from only a few to twenty scientists covering specialist activities in mycology, bacteriology, and virology, and with plant pathologists situated at seven field stations around the State. The University of Queensland conferred an honorary doctorate of science on him in 1969.
Simmonds set a fine example of originality and application. He carried out research on a wide range of crops, but his particular interest was in tropical fruits. Among his outstanding research contributions was an understanding of the epidemiology of banana leaf spot (Mycosphaerella musicola), which led directly to improved control measures. He was one of the first researchers to use mild strain protection to control a virus disease, the woodiness virus of passion vine. He established a world reputation for research into the ripe fruit rots of tropical fruits, especially through revealing the processes of latent infection in these diseases. He organised the taxonomy of the species of Colletotrichum involved in ripe fruit rots and described a new species, Colletotrichum acutatum.
An ardent member of the Queensland Naturalists’ Club, and a boating enthusiast, Simmonds was a humble and quiet man, deeply respected by all who knew him well. Predeceased by his wife but survived by two daughters he died on 3 November 1992 at Indooroopilly, Brisbane, and was cremated at Mt Thompson crematorium.
Alcorn, J. L., and G. S. Purss. ‘A Tribute to John Howard Simmonds.’ Australasian Plant Pathology 21, no. 3 (1992): 91–93; Fenner, Frank, ed. History of Microbiology in Australia. Canberra: Australian Society for Microbiology, 1990; National Archives of Australia. B883, QX33890.
G. S. Purss
SINCLAIR, JEAN DOROTHY (1940–1991), political staff worker, was born on 11 May 1940 at Coulsdon, Surrey, England, third of five children of Alec Morgan Parker, actuary, and his wife Caroline Noelle, née Perkins. When she was six she migrated to Melbourne with her family; they settled at Brighton. Jean was educated (1946–56) at Merton Hall (Melbourne Church of England Girls’ Grammar School), where she studied British history, social studies, English, and biology. In her final year she was appointed a councillor (prefect). Matriculating at the age of sixteen, she proceeded to the University of Melbourne (BCom, 1960). After working for an investment consultant, James Cowan, she toured Europe and the Soviet Union. Returning to Melbourne, she took a post with McKinsey & Co., international management consultants, as a researcher working with (Sir) Roderick Carnegie. Her work included stints in the company’s office in New York. On 4 March 1968 at John Knox Presbyterian Church, Gardenvale, she married William Angus Sinclair, who had been her economic history lecturer. They spent a sabbatical year overseas in 1970.
In 1973 Sinclair responded to a small advertisement in the Age and was appointed personal assistant to the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Robert J. (Bob) Hawke. Although she claimed to know nothing about unionism, she rapidly reduced the chaotic office of the ACTU to order. Six weeks after she began, Hawke’s appointment to the presidency of the Australian Labor Party increased the volume of work. She joined the ALP while working at the ACTU. Small with elfin features and a warm smile, Sinclair ruled the office pleasantly but firmly, determining who had access to Hawke, driving him to appointments, travelling with him, and handling with calm efficiency his public and personal affairs, while maintaining a professional distance between them.
When, in 1980, Hawke was elected to the House of Representatives for the seat of Wills, Sinclair became his senior political staffer. In 1973 Angus Sinclair had been appointed professor of economic history at Flinders University, Adelaide. He returned to Melbourne as dean of the faculty of economics and politics at Monash University in 1983, just as Hawke’s accession to the leadership of the Opposition and subsequent election as prime minister ensured that Canberra would be the centre of Jean’s activities. Both committed to their work, the Sinclairs shared weekends in their terraced house in East Melbourne or in Adelaide or Canberra. Although Jean enjoyed opera and reading, her weekend leisure was frequently interrupted by phone calls.
Sinclair was Hawke’s senior adviser for eighteen years, a loyal friend, confidante, and defender. Graham Freudenberg described her as ‘Hawke’s right arm’ (Ramsey 1991, 25). Remaining factionally unaligned, she was perceptive and honest in her judgements and Hawke valued her as a sounding board. Although she did not seek to influence policy decisions, her opinion was often sought. In Canberra as in Melbourne, she was admired and respected for her quiet strength, her common sense, her warmth, and her wry humour. Freudenberg, who shared an office with her on Hawke’s staff, saw her as ‘a river of calm’ (Hawley 1988, 18). Her working relationship with Hawke ended only when she died of cancer on 9 September 1991 at East Melbourne. After a funeral at St Peter’s Anglican Church, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, she was buried in Flinders cemetery, Victoria. Her husband survived her. To her sorrow, they had no children.
D’Alpuget, Blanche. Robert J. Hawke: A Biography. Melbourne: Schwartz/Lansdowne Press, 1982; D’Alpuget, Blanche. Hawke: The Prime Minister. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2010; Gordon, Michael. ‘Passing of the PM’s Right-Hand Woman.’ Age (Melbourne), 15 September 1991, 7; Hawley, Janet. ‘The Other Woman in Bob Hawke’s Life.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 24 December 1988, Good Weekend 16–25; Ramsey, Alan. ‘Jean Sinclair: Hawke Loses His Right Hand.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September 1991, 25; Sinclair, Angus. Personal communication; Wyndham, Susan. ‘Jean Sinclair, the Quiet Grammar School-Educated Woman in Bob Hawke’s Office.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 31 July 1982, 30.
SINGH, GURDIP (1932–1991), palynologist, was born on 11 July 1932 at Katni, Madhya Pradesh, India, son of Mohan Singh, railway engineer, and his wife Janam Kaur. His father’s employment meant that the family moved often, and Gurdip attended eleven schools before entering Government College (BSc, 1951), Hoshiarpur, Punjab. He then studied botany at the University of the Punjab (BSc Hons, 1953; MSc, 1955). Focusing on the postglacial vegetation history of the Kashmir Valley, he undertook doctoral studies in Quaternary palynology and pollen morphology at the University of Lucknow (PhD, 1961), Uttar Pradesh. He also held several research and teaching positions in the Birbal Sahni Institute for Palaeobotany at the university between 1955 and 1969.
Singh had married Brinder Kaur Hanspal at Amritsar, Punjab, in 1959, before travelling as a Colombo Plan scholar to undertake a second doctorate at Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland (PhD, 1964). On completion he returned to the Birbal Sahni Institute, lecturing in palynology and palaeobotany, and conducting field research and pollen analysis on salt lakes in the Rajasthan Desert, north-western India. His work was ‘much acclaimed and very frequently cited in literature’ (Meher-Homji 1996, 250), notably its contribution to understanding the impact of climatic change on the Indus Valley’s ancient Harappan civilisation. In July 1970 he commenced as a research fellow in the department of biogeography and geomorphology in the Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University (ANU), Canberra.
For thirty years the focus of Singh’s research was the Quaternary vegetation of the world’s arid and semi-arid regions. According to his colleague Donald Walker, ‘nobody knew more about this [field] and nobody made a greater individual contribution to it’ (1991, 2). Singh’s palynological research in Australia, where the field was still in its infancy, made him ‘a pioneer in examining the natural history of the continent’ (Swete Kelly and Phear 2004 9). His analysis of core samples from Lake Frome and Lake Eyre, part of the ANU’s salt lakes, evaporites, and aeolian deposits research program, made a significant contribution. He also established a network of modern pollen survey stations across south-eastern and central Australia, studying present-day pollen distribution as an aid to interpreting core sample data. By supervising the research of several young palynologists, he contributed to the field’s growth in Australia.
In 1973, 1980, and 1987 Singh undertook study in India and Pakistan, in the United States of America, and at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, respectively. Numerous papers and presentations resulted, culminating in a major article titled ‘History of Arid Land Vegetation and Climate: A Global Perspective’ (1988), which collated his fieldwork and research into an account of the global development and history of arid land plant communities since the advent of angiosperms in the Cretaceous period. The exceptional quality of his research was recognised by his election as a fellow of the Indian-based Palaeobotanical Society, an F. L. Stillwell award (1981) from the Geological Society of Australia (shared with J. M. Bowler and N. D. Opdyke), and a guest research fellowship at the Royal Society of London (1987).
A study of an 18-metre core sample from Lake George (Weereewa), near Canberra, in the 1980s produced Singh’s most controversial assertion. Continuing with the interdisciplinary application of his palynological research, he posited that the presence of charcoal, dated from the last interglacial period (120,000 years ago), could be the result of Aboriginal burning practices. The figure dwarfed contemporaneous archaeological estimates of the duration of Aboriginal occupation of Australia, 40,000 years being the generally accepted figure at the time. He was aware of the contentious nature of the claim but saw no other explanation for the evidence of regular burning he found in the core. Later research, however, argued that his analysis had overlooked groundwater fluctuations that may have affected the stratigraphy, and therefore the dating, of organic and carbonaceous materials in the core.
While the early date proposed by Singh has never been accepted by archaeologists as plausible, he is remembered as one of a small cohort to advance the notion that Aboriginal use of fire had a role in shaping the Australian landscape. His assertion that Lake George was ‘one of the world’s most important repositories of information about climatic and biological changes in ancient time’ (ANU Reporter 1984, 1) is supported by the fact that it remains a topic of study and debate. A dapper man, with a well-kept goatee, dark hair, and deep-set eyes, he was remembered by a laboratory assistant, Gillian Atkin, as ‘a formal academic, and a gentleman, seldom seen without a shirt and tie’ (2014, 215). He was a secular Sikh and with his wife was an active member of Canberra’s Indian community. His colleagues valued his humble, polite, and inquiring nature. He died suddenly from a cardiac arrest after a family game of badminton on 9 August 1991 in Canberra and was cremated. His ashes were scattered on Lake George and in his home country. He was survived by his wife and their three daughters.
ANU Reporter. ‘Did Aborigines Arrive 130,000 Years Ago: Are Eucalypt Forests Artefacts? Lake George Opens a Window to Australia’s Tantalising Past.’ 24 August 1984, 1–2; Atkin, Gillian. ‘Fieldwork and Fireworks: A Lab Assistant’s Tale.’ In The Coombs: A House of Memories, edited by Brij V. Lal and Allison Ley, 213–19. Acton, ACT: ANU Press, 2014; Australian National University Records. Gurdip Singh staff files, 12187-001–003; Canberra Times. ‘Indian Editor Greeted at Cocktail Party.’ 17 January 1981, 14; Canberra Times. ‘Many People at Indian Reception on Wednesday.’ 30 January 1983, 16; De Deckker, Patrick. ‘The Record of Weereewa-Lake George with an Ambiguous Dating Issue.’ Quaternary Australasia 37, no. 1 (July 2020): 21; Meher-Honji, V. M. ‘Past Environments through Palynology: A Short Appraisal with Reference to the Western Ghats.’ Environment and History 2, no. 2 (June 1996): 249–52; Singh, Brinder. Personal communication; Singh, Gurdip, and Elizabeth Geissler. ‘Late Cainozoic History of Vegetation, Fire, Lake Levels and Climate, at Lake George, New South Wales, Australia.’ Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 311, no. 1151 (1985): 379–447; Singh, Hari Pall. ‘A Tribute to Gurdip Singh, 1932–1991.’ Palaeobotanist 42, no. 2 (1993): 242–43; Swete Kelly, Mary Clare, and Sarah Phear. ‘After the Fire: Salvaging the Stores of the Department of Archaeology & Natural History, Australian National University, Canberra.’ Conference paper presented at the 19th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, New York, 14 May 2004. Copy held on ADB file; Walker, Donald. ‘Obituary.’ ANU Reporter, 27 November 1991, 2.
SINNAMON, Sir HERCULES VINCENT (1899–1994), business executive, philanthropist, and landowner, was born on 13 November 1899 at Seventeen Mile Rocks, Brisbane, fifth of nine children of Irish-born James Sinnamon, farmer, and his Victorian-born wife Jane Eliza, née Jackson. The Sinnamons were descendants of Huguenots who fled from Saint-Armand-les-Eaux, France, to (Northern) Ireland. James was one of ten (later eleven) children who in 1862 migrated to Queensland with their parents, James and Margaret Sinnamon. They were seeking economic opportunities and, as devout Methodists, an escape from sectarian conflict.
James Sinnamon senior bought land in 1865 on the southern bank of the Brisbane River at Seventeen Mile Rocks. He built the homestead Beechwood, and he and his sons developed prosperous farms, embracing dairying, small cropping, and horse-breeding. James junior purchased land adjacent to his holding in 1880 and erected the house Glen Ross. Herc had an idyllic rural childhood.
Educated at Seventeen Mile Rocks (1905–12) and Taringa (1912–13) State schools, in 1914 Sinnamon joined the staff of the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd and attended Stott & Hoare’s Business College part time. He had a deep love of music and in the Trinity College of Music, London, exams for 1917 shared first place among local candidates in the advanced junior division. Although he did not embark on a musical career, he would be a keen concert-goer throughout his life. Studying at night, in 1929 he qualified as an associate of the Federal Institute (later Australian Society) of Accountants and of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries of Joint Stock Companies and Other Public Bodies (fellow, 1946). He would remain with National Mutual until he retired as a senior executive in 1964.
Shrewd advice from his uncle George Sinnamon and guidance from specialists within his firm assisted Sinnamon to become a skilled investor. In 1944 he bought Glen Ross farm from his father’s estate and in 1949 added his uncle Benjamin Sinnamon’s adjoining property, with its Avondale homestead; the combined holding comprised 430 acres (174 ha). He also owned land in the Mary Valley. Share farmers worked the properties. By 1993 his assets, including the farms, would be valued at $18 million.
Sinnamon was a bachelor who enjoyed gentlemen’s clubs in the city as well as country pleasures, such as horse-riding. He was a committed member of his local Methodist (later Uniting) church. Charities he supported included the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. In 1980 he became a founder benefactor of the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation, with a donation of $100,000; he saw it as a worthy cause, although admitting he `wouldn’t know a Dobell [q.v.14] from a tram bell’ (Courier Mail 1980, 10). A Freemason from 1990, he provided land from his farm for the Taringa lodge to erect a temple in memory of his parents.
After his retirement, Sinnamon devoted his energies to maintaining the Seventeen Mile Rocks properties. As he recounted: ‘I bought the farms to preserve the pattern of family ownership … and to retain some of the district’s original buildings in the form of a historical village on the original farm’ (Sinnamon 1980, 4). In the early 1960s he had resisted a plan by the Brisbane City Council to resume a strip of land through his property for a highway leading to a bridge abutting his river frontage. This infrastructure was intended to support a major development of residential and commercial properties by Hooker Rex Pty Ltd. Sinnamon collaborated with William Prentice, whose land on the river’s northern bank the council also sought to resume. In Prentice v. Brisbane City Council (1966) the Supreme Court of Queensland ruled that the council did not have the power to compulsorily acquire land to assist private development. The road and bridge were relocated upstream and opened in 1964. Sinnamon was not opposed to all development, however, later selling 160 acres (65 ha) to A. V. Jennings [q.v.] Industries (Australia) Ltd for housing.
Consistent with the views of his father, who had been a special constable in the Brisbane general strike of 1912, Sinnamon had conservative political sympathies. He was on friendly terms with Premier (Sir) Joh Bjelke-Petersen, whom he described as ‘a man of the land like me’ (Allen 1985, 5). In 1980 Sinnamon was appointed OBE for his philanthropy. He then asked B. T. Ball, the general manager of Queensland Trustees Ltd, to nominate him for a knighthood, on Ball’s understanding that he would leave his land at Seventeen Mile Rocks to the public in perpetuity as a model dairy to educate city children. Although duly knighted in 1985, he bequeathed to the State only 4 hectares, later reduced to one, containing the historic buildings; the government refused the gift.
As Sinnamon’s mental and physical health declined he became increasingly dependent on his brother Ivan and a close friend, Norman Henry, who acted as a primary carer. He transferred his land to them and, at his request, they disposed of the bulk of his assets in 1993. All the farmland was sold, including the heritage site. Sir Hercules had been admitted to the Bethesda Nursing Home, Corinda, the previous year. He died there on 27 February 1994 and was buried in Sherwood cemetery.
Between 1963 and 1993 Sinnamon had executed more than fifteen wills or codicils, varying his bequests to individuals as well as changing his endowments for public purposes. His notion of an educational working farm was doomed by his vacillation over the final disposition of his assets; proximity to the city, which caused land prices to rise steeply; government reluctance to embrace the project; and the indifference of members of his family to heritage values. Community action later ensured that the historic and heritage-listed buildings he sought to preserve—the restored houses Beechwood, Glen Ross, and Avondale (with outbuildings), and his old schoolhouse and church (which he had moved onto his land for the purpose)—survived as components of the Sinnamon Farm heritage precinct, at several locations along Seventeen Mile Rocks Road, Sinnamon Park.
Allen, Ric. ‘A Grand Vision for the People.’ Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 13 January 1985, 5; Courier Mail (Brisbane). ‘There’s a Beauty in the Bush.’ 29 August 1980, 10; Gordon, Meg. ‘Sinnamon Farm Heritage Precinct – A Brief History.’ Centenary Suburbs Historical Society. Accessed 13 August 2019. cshsoc.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/sinnamon-farm-heritage-precinct-summary.pdf. Copy held on ADB file; Queensland State Archives. Item ID780962, Ecclesiastical (Will) File; Item ID973135, Ecclesiastical (Will) File; Sinnamon, H. V. The Gentleman Farmer’s Paradise: A Story of Pioneering Last Century in Jindalee, Other Centenary Suburbs, 17 Mile Rocks and Oxley by Several Families Including the Sinnamon. Seventeen Mile Rocks, Qld: The author, 1980; Sinnamon, Drynan, Taylor & Henry v. Proe  Queensland Supreme Court 164 (4 September 1996). www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/qld/QSC/1996/164.html; Todd, Alison. ‘History of the Sinnamon Family Pioneers of the Oxley District.’ Unpublished typescript, 1973. Queensland Museum Library.
SLUCZANOWSKI, PHILIP (1951–1994), mathematician and fisheries scientist, was born on 14 July 1951 in Johannesburg, South Africa, only child of Polish parents Wladyslaw Sluczanowski, a Russian-born civil engineer, and his wife Jadwiga Maria Paulina, née Groyecka. His parents had met in Krakόw, Poland, and were married in 1936. Having suffered deprivations and separation, they were serendipitously reunited in an Italian refugee centre after World War II and relocated to South Africa in 1947. Philip was educated at St Henry’s Marist Brothers’ School, Durban, and the University of Witwatersrand (BSc Hons, 1972), Johannesburg. In October 1973 he commenced doctoral studies in optimal control theory in the faculty of engineering at Imperial College, London (PhD, 1981). He married Sharon Odile Barbara Palmer on 3 January 1975 at Mariannhill, South Africa. The couple migrated to Australia later that year and would be granted citizenship in 1979.
Settling in Armidale, New South Wales, Sluczanowski worked as a research assistant in agricultural economics and statistics at the University of New England. In 1977 he moved to Adelaide, South Australia, and was employed as a senior research officer at the State Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (Department of Fisheries from 1979), where he was based for the remainder of his career. Working in the population dynamics section, he inventively applied optimal control theory to generate models of fisheries. His study—which formed the basis of his doctoral thesis—focused on the Spencer Gulf prawn (Penaeus latisulcatus), significantly contributing to improvement in its management. He was also an early advocate of integrating fisheries data with computer-based interactive graphics packages. Using his modelling skills, he created tools that supported the ethical and sustainable development of natural resources. He soon became recognised as ‘one of Australia’s brightest and most innovative fisheries scientists’ (SARDI Communicator 1994, 2).
In 1984 Sluczanowski visited leading research institutes in Canada and the United States of America. Back in Australia, he spent eighteen months as head of research and development in a private firm as part of an industry exchange before returning as acting manager of the fisheries research branch (1987–89). He was a member of numerous professional organisations including the Australian Marine Sciences Association, Australian Society for Fish Biology, and International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade. Drawing on his department’s previous collaboration with scientists in Mexico, he appeared before the Federal Senate inquiry into trade and investment relations between Australia and Latin America in 1991. He noted the similarity of their marine environments and highlighted the benefits of cooperative research.
During the mid-1980s Sluczanowski had pioneered the fine-scale management of abalone (Haliotis spp.) at the metapopulation level, and developed and applied novel egg-per-recruit analyses to these fisheries. Turning his attention to the declining Australian southern shark stocks (school shark, Galeorhinus galeus, and gummy shark, Mustelus antarcticus), he was the principal investigator in a project that created SharkSim, a fishery graphics simulation. He had attracted funding from the Fishing Industry Research and Development Council, and Fisheries Development Trust Account. The program was highly commended in the IBM Conservation awards and a paper on it was awarded the conservation prize at the Sharks Down Under workshop at Taronga Zoo in 1991. SharkSim was widely recognised as having alerted biologists, fishers, and managers to the precarious state of the fishery, and helping to save it from an imminent collapse.
A colleague Jeremy Prince recalled that Sluczanowski ‘was all about demystifying the science’ (pers. comm.). He brought together artists and scientists, encouraging them to make user-friendly computer programs that would assist non-scientists to understand principles underpinning fisheries management and sustainable development. As chair (1990–91) of the Australian Network for Art and Technology, he recognised that artists might help to ‘design and create tools that offer easier and deeper insights into complex relationships’ (Sluczanowski et al. 1995, 72). Two decades after his death, his modelling tools continued to be used for teaching fisheries population dynamics in universities around the world.
Sluczanowski was passionate and highly principled—as a young man he had left South Africa after developing ‘a profound sense of the injustice there’ (Prince and Fairbairn 1994, 13). Outside work, he enjoyed cooking and African jazz music. One of his most cherished achievements was his 1981 certification as a master juggler, a skill he used to amuse and entertain his colleagues and friends. Diagnosed with cancer in October 1993, he died on 23 May 1994 at his home in Goodwood, South Australia. His wife, and their three sons survived him.
Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Prince, Jeremy. Personal communication; Prince, Jeremy, and Lesley Fairbairn. ‘Fisheries Research Opened Up Resources Technology.’ Australian, 27 June 1994, 13; SARDI Communicator. ‘Dr Philip Sluczanowski Obituary, 1951–1994.’ 2, no. 5 (28 July 1994): 2; Sluczanowski family. Personal communication; Sluczanowski, Philip R. W., R. K. Lewis, Jeremy D. Prince, and John Tonkin. ‘Interactive Graphics Computer Models for Fisheries Management.’ In Assessment Methodologies and Management: Proceedings of the World Fisheries Congress, Theme 5, edited by G. T. Sakagawa, 71–79. New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt Ltd, 1995; South Australian Department of Fisheries. ‘Final Report.’ Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Project 90/13: Fisheries Graphics Simulator for Shark, Tuna, and Gemfish. 1992. Accessed 3 August 2017. www.frdc.com.au/Archived-Reports/FRDC%20Projects/1990-013-DLD.pdf. Copy held on ADB file.
S. A. Shepherd
SMITH, GEORGE CHARLES IVAN (1915–1995), radio broadcaster and diplomat, was born on 11 July 1915 at Rose Bay, Sydney, eldest of three children of New South Wales–born parents George Franklin Smith, prison governor, and his second wife May, née Sullivan. His father, a strident critic of the penal system in Australia, was responsible for introducing new methods that favoured the humane treatment of prisoners. His leading role in penal reform profoundly affected his son, fuelling a lifelong crusade against institutional oppression, as well as instilling sympathy for the underprivileged. Although frequently shortened to Smith, George’s surname, as he later explained, stemmed from his maternal grandmother’s ‘Gaelic belief that a dynasty of “Ivan Smiths” sounded more like future kings of Ireland than “Sullivan Smiths”’ (Bodleian Library MS Eng.C.6497, 216). Educated at Goulburn and Bathurst High schools, he spent a year as a jackaroo before joining the Sydney Truth as a cadet reporter. He attended Workers’ Educational Association night classes at the University of Sydney (1933–34). On 6 November 1936 at the district registrar’s office, Chatswood, he married Madeleine Claire Oakes, a kindergarten teacher.
Ivan Smith joined the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the following year, where he developed a series of youth programs. Promoted to editor of talks for New South Wales in 1939, he produced Australia Calling—soon renamed Radio Australia. Seconded to the British Broadcasting Corporation, he moved to London as director of Pacific services (1941–46) and was also responsible for a series of broadcasts devoted to Australian literary achievements. On 1 July 1946, having divorced his first wife, he married Mary Stephanie Conner, a divorcee, at the register office, Marylebone, London.
As adviser to the J. Arthur Rank Organisation (1946–48), Ivan Smith produced cinematic newsreels titled This Modern Age, with a focus on Commonwealth affairs. In 1948 he joined the United Nations (UN) Organization secretariat, New York, as chief of English-language radio, and from 1949 directed the UN information centre, London. When Dag Hammarskjöld became UN secretary-general (1953), he took Ivan Smith as an aide on a tour of the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. On other important missions, Ivan Smith became familiar with the problems and peoples of newly emerging countries in Asia and Africa. During the Suez crisis of 1956 he helped draft reports on the UN peacekeeping force, and when it was deployed to Israel, was political advisor to its UN commander. Hammarskjöld appointed him director of a new external affairs division (1958–61), giving him responsibility for all UN information centres.
In 1961 Ivan Smith was sent on a one-man mission to Africa to negotiate the establishment of UN development offices. In October he travelled to the Republic of the Congo to ease tensions between Katangese and UN forces. Kidnapped by mercenaries and savagely beaten, he would have been assassinated but for the intervention of an American diplomat. Appointed personal representative in south-eastern and central Africa (1963–66) to U Thant, Hammarskjöld’s successor as UN secretary-general, he was responsible for the organisation’s technical assistance board and special funds programs. Based in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika (Tanzania), and later Lusaka, Zambia, he travelled extensively, setting up major development projects and representing the UN at the independence celebrations of nine African countries.
Ivan Smith was deeply critical of the white minority regimes in southern Africa but, consistent with his long-held beliefs about structural abuse, he eschewed the role of race and nationality and instead emphasised the ‘hideous evil linked to power and corruption that wrongly based power brings’ (Bodleian Library MS. Eng.C.6465, 87). A year later he was forced to admit that the whites were ‘outright racist’ and that the ‘whole Southern African question is now so chronic that you can be sure it won’t be settled by resolutions or limited sanctions of any kind’ (Bodleian Library MS. Eng.C.6497, 260). When several African countries nominated him to be the first secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Nations, Prime Minister (Sir) Robert Menzies [q.v.15] withheld Australian support.
After a sabbatical as visiting professor in international relations at Princeton (1964) and Harvard (1965) universities, Ivan Smith returned to London in 1966 to study the problems of nuclear proliferation. In 1967 he became U Thant’s representative covering Britain, Ireland, and parts of Western Europe, before again assuming the role of director of the UN information centre (1968–75). Retiring in 1980, he continued to work for the UN in an advisory capacity. A regular contributor to international journals, he also published Ghosts of Kampala: The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin (1980). Some of his earlier optimism for African nationalism had waned, but he interpreted the Ugandan tragedy as yet another example of a vicious system that became self-perpetuating because its leaders and foot-soldiers ‘grew to depend on the system and on the privileged life-style it gave them’ (Smith 1980, 25). He was appointed AO in 1992.
A self-described ‘international diplomat’, Ivan Smith was committed to the concept of world community and throughout his UN career promoted the development and participation of peoples who had historically been excluded from it. The former UN diplomat and close friend Conor Cruise O’Brien said that Ivan Smith loved ‘poetry both good and bad’, had ‘an exuberant sense of humour’, and was ‘tough and wily with a face like a sunset over a sheep farm’ (O’Brien 1962, 306). In retirement he moved to the Cotswolds. He died on 21 November 1995 at Gloucester, survived by his wife, their adopted Tanzanian daughter, his stepdaughter, and the two children of his first marriage.
Age (Melbourne). ‘Radio Australia’s Creator Became UN Troubleshooter.’ 27 November 1995, 16; Bodleian Library, Oxford. MSS Eng.C.6454-534. Papers of George Ivan Smith; Curnow, Ross. ‘Newsman and Envoy.’ Herald Sun (Melbourne), 28 November 1995, 61; Ford, John. ‘Father of Radio Found Voice in UN.’ Australian, 27 November 1995, 12; National Archives of Australia. A1838, 899/5/2; O’Brien, Conor Cruise. To Katanga and Back: A UN Case Study. London: Hutchinson Ltd, 1962; Smith, George Ivan. Along the Edge of Peace: Reflections of an International Civil Servant. Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1964; Smith, George Ivan. Ghosts of Kampala: The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin. London: George Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd, 1980; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Menzies Denies Bid to Block Australian for New Post.’ 16 June 1965, 3.
SMITH, JOHN DAVID (1934–1995), professor of computing and industry consultant, was born on 5 November 1934 at Keighley, Yorkshire, son of Wilfrid Cockroft Smith, worsted spinners’ manager, and his wife Mary Kathleen, née West. After attending Ripon Grammar (1943–51) and Bradford Grammar (1951–52) schools, John graduated from the University of Edinburgh (MA, 1956), with honours in mathematics and natural philosophy. On 18 July 1956, in a Church of Scotland ceremony at Falkirk, he married Mary Taylor Stark. He spent his two years of national service (1956–58) in the Royal Air Force in England, being commissioned in April 1957. Between 1959 and 1962 he was a district officer with the colonial government of Tanganyika (Tanzania); in 1962 and 1963, an industry consultant at Newport, Wales; and from 1964, science officer with the British Council at Madras (Chennai), India. There, separated from his wife (divorced 1973), he formed a relationship with Rita Dorothy Moore, née Moss, his partner until her death in 1985.
In November 1968 the couple migrated to Australia and Smith took up an appointment as a senior lecturer in mathematics at the Queensland Institute of Technology (Capricornia), Rockhampton. Resigning in October 1970, he joined the management consultants W. D. Scott [q.v.18] & Co. Pty Ltd in Sydney. The firm sent him to the Philippines in 1971 to assist the San Miguel Corporation in Manila. He returned in July 1973 to the renamed Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education (CIAE) (University College of Central Queensland from 1990), as head of mathematics and computing.
Smith was well placed to exert a progressive influence on the new institution. From the outset, he had been active in building its ties with local industry, notably through the Industry Institute Group and the Central Queensland Computer Users’ Society, which he would lead throughout his career. At a 1975 symposium, which he and four others convened, he was critical of government agencies that sought to impose solutions to regional problems without sufficient regard to input by locals. He went on to argue for the establishment of an independent ‘Central Queensland Information, Planning & Research Centre’, acting as a policy and problem-solving agency, ‘with technological skills, capable of working across the lines’ (Anderson et al. 1975, 115).
Appointed as foundation professor of computing when the college became the autonomous University of Central Queensland in 1992 (Central Queensland University from 1994), Smith regularly presented papers at international conferences on artificial intelligence and expert systems, co-published on those topics in professional journals, and obtained external research grants for their application in industry. He was a long-term member, executive committee man, and fellow of the Queensland branch of the Australian Computer Society (ACS); a fellow (1974) of the British Institute of Mathematics and its Applications; and a member (1973) of the Australian Mathematical Society and its applied mathematics division.
The bearded Smith cultivated the air of a humanist philosopher, rather than that of a technocrat. Unusual in the breadth of his vision, he supported the establishment within the university of the Capricornia Aboriginal and Islander Tertiary Education Centre; advocated a stronger presence for the humanities and the arts; and championed the adoption of social and cross-disciplinary perspectives to complement the ‘nitty gritty engineering [and] business studies’ (Anderson et al. 1975, 186). He was active in the university’s offshore education initiatives in the 1990s, and he contributed to the Academic Board and its sub-committees. His example and endeavours influenced the outlooks of his science-oriented colleagues and anticipated and helped to nurture the ethos towards university autonomy.
Smith’s partner after Rita’s death, Ruth Dunshea, described him as ‘tall, with clear blue eyes and a very deep voice’ and as ‘a particularly kind, creative, energetic and appealing man’ (Dunshea, pers. comm.). He died of cancer on 6 August 1995 at his Rockhampton home and was buried in Emu Park cemetery. His partner survived him, as did the two sons and one daughter of his first relationship; the son, and the stepson and stepdaughter, of his second; and the two sons and one daughter of his third. An official tribute acknowledged him as a ‘unique and towering figure’ throughout the long transition of the CIAE to full university status (CQU 1995, 16). The ACS established a prize in his name, to be awarded annually to the top Queensland undergraduate in the field.
Anderson, John, Bob Firth, Lex Ross, Norman Smith, and John Smith, eds. Central Queensland and Its Institute. Rockhampton, Qld: Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education, 1975; Central Queensland University. Annual Report. Rockhampton, Qld: CQU, 1995; Cryle, Denis. Academia Capricornia: A History of the University of Central Queensland. Rockhampton, Qld: University of Central Queensland, 1992; Dunshea, Ruth. Personal communication; Lundin, Karen. Personal communication; Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld). ‘Wake Planned to Remember Friend.’ 10 August 1995, 6; National Archives of Australia. J25, 1974/5203; Smith, Gareth. Personal communication.
SMITH, WILLIAM JOSHUA (1905–1995), artist, was born on 12 March 1905 at Annandale, Sydney, third of five children of New South Wales–born parents James Alexander Smith, coach painter, and his wife Louisa, née Thorpe. Only Joshua and his eldest sister, Matilda, survived infancy. During his childhood the family moved to Alexandria to be close to the Randwick tramway workshops, where James worked. He left Alexandria Public School at fourteen and was employed by a commercial artist, and then by the Randle Photo Engraving Company.
At the age of nineteen, with no formal training in art, Smith walked into the office of Albert Bruntnell [q.v.7], the New South Wales minister of public instruction, declaring that he wanted to ‘make a start by painting [Bruntnell’s] portrait’ (Muswellbrook Chronicle 1925, 3) for the Archibald [q.v.3] prize. The portrait was shown in the 1924 Archibald prize exhibition at the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, and it was well received by the Sydney Daily Telegraph’s influential art critic, William Moore [q.v.10]. Granted a year’s free tuition in drawing by Bruntnell, Smith began his art training at the East Sydney Technical College, studying drawing and painting under Edward M. Smith and sculptural modelling under Rayner Hoff [q.v.9]. Examples of his student work appeared in an exhibition held by the Department of Education in 1926. The Smith family moved in 1928 to Earlwood, where Joshua would remain for most of his adult life.
In the 1930s, having begun exhibiting with the New South Wales Society of Artists, Smith undertook further studies in painting at the Sydney Art School. Training under Julian Ashton [q.v.7], and then Henry Gibbons, he was an active contributor of illustrations—modernist wood block prints—and articles to the Art Student, the school’s annual journal, between 1930 and 1934. He travelled to Victoria and, on his return to Sydney, showed the resulting works in the Sydney Art School students’ exhibition in 1934 at Macquarie Galleries. In 1937 he studied drawing under Adelaide Perry [q.v.15], winning a prize for drawing during the sesquicentenary celebrations in 1938. His work was included in the first exhibition of the short-lived Australian Academy of Art in 1938 and in a group exhibition titled ‘The Five Painters’, held at Sydney’s David Jones [q.v.2] Art Gallery in December 1939. He was also gaining attention for his entries in the Archibald and Sulman [q.v.12] prizes. The National Art Gallery of New South Wales acquired Portrait Group, showing his parents, from the 1942 Archibald exhibition.
During World War II Smith carried out mobile camouflage work with the Civil Constructional Corps. One of his colleagues was the painter (Sir) William Dobell [q.v.14] and, while they differed in their approach to painting conventions, they became friends. In 1943 Dobell entered a portrait of Smith into the Archibald prize, while Smith entered a portrait of the poet Dame Mary Gilmore [q.v.9]. In a close contest, the trustees of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales voted for Dobell’s portrait ahead of Smith’s. The controversy that followed the awarding of the prize to Dobell in January 1944—which centred on whether the painting was a portrait or a caricature—ended Dobell’s friendship with Smith, although Smith attempted to reconcile.
Impressed by the Gilmore portrait, the Federal government’s Historic Memorials Committee commissioned Smith in February 1944 to paint a portrait of the speaker of the House of Representatives, John Solomon Rosevear [q.v.16], for display at Parliament House in Canberra. Smith requested permission to enter the work in the 1944 Archibald prize. This required careful consideration as some had reservations about an officially commissioned portrait being entered into an open competition, especially a work that might be drawn into the controversy surrounding Dobell’s portrait of Smith. The committee members, however, were pleased with the portrait and agreed. It won the prize.
In 1953 Smith became a fellow of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales. From 1967 he began to teach portraiture, initially for the Royal Art Society, before in 1972 beginning his own school at Lane Cove. He continued to paint portraits for commissions and competitions, as well as producing landscapes, still lifes, and genre and figure studies. Best known as a portraitist, he had also entered his landscape paintings in the Wynne prize between the late 1940s and the late 1960s, although none were prize-winning. One of his students, Yve Close, became his assistant, exhibiting partner, and eventual biographer.
Smith never married. The nature of his relationship with Dobell has long been the subject of speculation. The Bulletin’s coverage of the 1943 Archibald prize exhibition dismissed Dobell’s portrait of Smith as ‘arty to the point of effeminacy’ (MacH 1944, 2), and subsequently some biographers have posited that Smith and Dobell’s falling out was as much about a failed romantic relationship as it was about artistic differences. ‘Diffident but with a keen intelligence and sensitivity’, Smith had ‘a ready understanding of other artists’ work’ (Kolenberg 1995, 12). He died on 22 July 1995 at Lane Cove, and was cremated; his funeral was held at St Andrew’s Congregational Church, Balmain. Close continued his school for a decade afterwards. Several self-portraits are held in private collections, while the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Portrait Gallery own sketches and photographs of him; Dobell’s portrait was badly damaged by a house fire in Adelaide in 1958. Smith’s paintings and sketches have been acquired by many national, State, and regional art collections.
Close, Yve. Joshua Smith: Artist 1905–1995. New South Wales: Yve Close, 1998; Hawley, Janet. ‘The Niece’s Story.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 9 August 1997, Good Weekend, 14–18; Hawley, Janet. ‘A Portrait in Pain.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 18 August 1990, Good Weekend, 19–29; Kolenberg, Hendrik. ‘Artistic Genius Thrown into Unwanted Limelight.’ Australian, 26 July 1995, 12; ‘MacH’, quoted in ‘Sundry Shows.’ Bulletin, 2 February 1944, 2; Muswellbrook Chronicle. ‘An Ambitious Boy: Painting for Archibald Prize.’ 29 May 1925, 3; National Archives of Australia. A463, 1965/2334; Rost, F. W. D., and Yve Close, ‘Joshua Smith b. 1905.’ Design and Art Australia Online. 2007, last modified 2011. Accessed 7 July 2015. www.daao.org.au/bio/joshua-smith/biography/. Copy held on ADB file; Woodrow, Ross. ‘A Different Dobell.’ In Painting Men: Dobell from a Different Perspective, edited by Ross Woodrow, 5–10. [Newcastle]: School of Fine Art, University of Newcastle, 2001.
SOMERSET, Sir HENRY BEAUFORT (HARRY) (1906–1995), industrial chemist, company executive, and director, was born on 21 May 1906 at Mount Morgan, Queensland, eldest child of Queensland-born Henry St John Somerset [q.v.12], assayer, and his New South Wales–born wife Jessie Bowie, daughter of the politician and free-thinker John Bowie Wilson [q.v.6]. Harry’s father was chief metallurgist at the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Co. Ltd, and the family lived in a timber cottage overlooking the mine. In 1912 they moved to Hunters Hill, Sydney, and Harry attended Girrahween and Malvern schools. A plain youth with red hair and freckles, he wore glasses, having been almost blinded in his right eye when young. While his impaired sight made participating in sports challenging, he was considered a brainy boy with great promise.
The Somerset family relocated to Port Pirie in 1917. Harry studied at the local high school before attending the Collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide, where he excelled academically (equal dux 1923). Moving to Victoria, he studied engineering and science at the University of Melbourne (BSc, 1927; MSc, 1928) and lived at Trinity College. He was made an honorary scholar of the college in 1927 and won the Dixson (1927) and Kernot [q.v.5] (1928) scholarships in chemistry. Interested in learning about forests and paper-making, he travelled to the United States of America and spent eight months with Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. In 1929 he joined Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd as a chemist at Billingham, in the north of England. On 4 November 1930 at St Mary Abbots Church, Kensington, London, he married Patricia Agnes Strickland, an arts graduate who had been a resident at Trinity’s Janet Clarke Hall. They returned to Australia in 1933.
On 4 September 1936 Somerset was appointed technical assistant at the newly formed Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd (APPM) at Burnie, Tasmania. His first task was to commission the construction of a laboratory where investigative work could be done on timber. He took a no-nonsense approach to his work, was unpretentious in manner and dress, and developed warm relationships with his colleagues. In September 1940 he became general superintendent of the mill; four years later he was made a director of APPM, and in 1948 he was appointed managing director. He encouraged consultation, introduced a bonus scheme and a sickness and accident fund, and embarked on a bold policy of expansion. Active in the local community, he chaired the Burnie Technical Classes Council and was a committee member of the local branch of the Liberal Party of Australia. During World War II he had served as chairman of the Burnie Waste Products Sub-Committee and chief air raid warden for the north-west coast.
Somerset’s career also included positions on the boards of chemical, cement, fertilizer, and mineral companies, several of which had Tasmanian interests. Through the postwar expansion of these businesses and ‘the pulp’ (as APPM was known), he helped to create a prosperous north-west coast. The Advocate dubbed him ‘the man whose name spells progress in Burnie’ (1959, 19). In July 1964 he was appointed as chancellor of the University of Tasmania. Over the next two years he worked to finalise a settlement with the former professor of philosophy Sydney Sparkes Orr [q.v.15], who claimed he had been wrongfully dismissed in 1956. After months of intense negotiations, Somerset considered that this was the hardest task he had ever undertaken.
Stocky in build and with severe features and pebble glasses, Somerset exhibited a serious manner which tended to hide his essential kindliness and wicked sense of humour. He had been appointed CBE in 1961 and was knighted five years later. In 1969 he retired from APPM and moved to Melbourne. Remaining active in business, he was also a long-time member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (president, 1958 and 1966), a member of the executive of the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (1965–74), a trustee (1968–77) of the National Museum of Victoria, and inaugural chairman (1970–83) of the Australian Mineral Foundation. By the early 1980s he had relinquished his directorships.
Aspects of Sir Henry’s life were contradictory. Although he ran companies that chopped down trees and dug holes in the ground, he was also a bushwalker, a conservationist committed to the preservation of species, a keen field naturalist, and a collector of fossils and shells. In 1981 an orchid conservation area near Latrobe, Tasmania, was named after him. Predeceased by his wife, and survived by their two daughters, he died on 15 September 1995 at Richmond, Victoria, and was cremated.
Advocate. ‘Incentive Payments Here to Stay—A.P.P.M. Head.’ 10 July 1959, 19; Carolan, Jane Mayo. No Run-of-the-Mill: A Biography of Henry Beaufort Somerset. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2006; Jamieson, Allan. The PULP: The Rise and Fall of an Industry. Hobart: Forty Degrees South Pty Ltd, 2011; Lawrence, Tess. A Whitebait and a Bloody Scone: An Anecdotal History of APPM. Melbourne: Jezebel Press, 1986; Parbo, Arvi. Down Under: Mineral Heritage in Australia. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 1992; University of Melbourne Archives. 1974.0138, Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited, 1936–1970. Papers; 106/45, Somerset, Henry (Sir). Papers; Walker, Ruth. APPM Council 1938–1988: 50 Years of Caring. Burnie, Tas.: Associated Pulp and Paper Makers, 1988.
SOUTER, HAROLD JAMES (1911–1994), trade unionist, was born on 2 October 1911 in Adelaide, fourth of eight children of Harry Souter, coach painter, and his wife Martha Jemima, née Standley, both born in South Australia. Educated at Sturt Street Public School and Adelaide Technical High School, Harold trained as a fitter and turner. He worked as a self-employed repairman, then found a job in the tool shop at General Motors-Holden’s Ltd. On 20 October 1934 he married Victorian-born Kathleen May Stanford at the Maughan (Methodist) Church in Adelaide.
At the age of twenty-eight, while working in the maintenance section of the South Australian Railways, Souter became an assistant organiser for the Amalgamated Engineering Union, rising to the position of Adelaide district secretary in 1941. During World War II he worked on secondment in the Department of Labour and National Service, assigning skilled labour to essential industries. In 1947 he moved to Melbourne to take up an appointment as the AEU’s arbitration officer, representing the union at the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration for seven years. Associates would recall that he was an impressive advocate and ‘more radical in his approach to industrial problems’ (Australian 1969, 9) than later in his career.
In 1954 the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) appointed Souter as its first research officer, in which role he compiled a productivity index of Australian industries. The ACTU executive chose him as acting secretary following the death of Reg Broadby [q.v.13] in 1956, and his appointment was ratified at the ACTU Congress the next year, when he stood unopposed. Souter was secretary of the ACTU for twenty-one years and was known for his diligence as an administrator rather than as a public figure. He regularly dealt with wage cases on behalf of the council, making a significant contribution to improved living standards for workers, including the establishment of the forty-hour week. He cautiously supported equal pay for women, while maintaining the ACTU’s broader focus on men’s work and a basic social wage. In a time of industrial militancy, he was unafraid to defend arbitration against those who advocated direct action.
By 1969 Souter’s reputation had grown sufficiently for him to stand for election for the ACTU presidency following Albert Monk’s [q.v.15] resignation. Souter’s opponent, Robert J. Hawke, had succeeded him as research officer, and they engaged in a tetchy contest. Souter was a traditional working-class unionist from the rank and file, and received the majority of his support from the right wing of the movement—such as the powerful Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia—owing to his moderate approach. The younger Hawke, from the educated middle class, advocated union reform and was backed by the movement’s left. Hawke recalled that Souter ‘had few intimate friends among his working colleagues’, and that his non-drinking was ‘undoubtedly a handicap for him in the protracted leadership fight’ (1994, 46). At the congress in September, Hawke prevailed with 399 votes to Souter’s 350.
Retaining his position as ACTU secretary, Souter gave the new president his support. He served on a number of government boards and advisory committees, including the Australian Broadcasting Control Board (1974–75) and the Australian National Airlines Commission (1974–75). Appointed AM in 1975, in that year he helped establish ACTU-Solo Enterprises Pty Ltd, a joint venture with Solo Petroleum Pty Ltd, which offered retail discounts on petrol. In October a royal commission found that he had deceived the minister for minerals and energy, Rex Connor [q.v.13], over a deal to purchase crude oil at a government approved price; the oil was subsequently resold by ACTU-Solo at a higher price. Souter was found not to have benefited personally, and he maintained his innocence, but he resigned from several Federal government committees.
Retiring from the ACTU in 1977, Souter expressed his delight at never having been a member of a particular faction within the labour movement: ‘They’ve never pinned a ticket on me’ (Herald 1977, 14). Hawke paid tribute to Souter’s ‘single-minded commitment to the concerns of the ACTU, to his enormous appetite for work and to his integrity’ (Martin 1977, 433). In retirement, he served on the boards of Solo Petroleum Pty Ltd and the union-affiliated 3KZ Broadcasting Co. Pty Ltd, grew orchids and frangipanis, and was known for his charitable work with pensioners. He was promoted to AO in 1988. Survived by his wife, and their two sons and a daughter, he died at Malvern on 19 October 1994 and was cremated. In a tribute, the ACTU secretary Bill Kelty remembered Souter as ‘hard-working, pragmatic [and] moderate, with a deep social conscience’ (Sydney Morning Herald 1994, 9).
Argus (Melbourne). ‘A.C.T.U. Post to Local Man.’ 18 September 1956, 5; Australian. ‘Souter: A Quiet Man Behind the Scenes.’ 11 March 1969, 9; Donovan, Barry. ‘Union Stalwart Helped Mould the Modern ACTU.’ Australian, 26 October 1994, 18; Hawke, Bob. The Hawke Memoirs. Port Melbourne: William Heinemann, 1994; Herald (Melbourne). ‘My Plans for Aged—Souter.’ 17 September 1977, 14; Martin, R. M. ‘The ACTU Congress of 1969.’ Journal of Industrial Relations 11, no. 3 (September 1969): 261–68; ‘The ACTU Congress of 1977.’ Journal of Industrial Relations 19, no. 4 (December 1977): 424–34; Souter, Allan. ‘Harold Souter, 83.’ Age (Melbourne), 1 November 1994, 11; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Obituary: Long-Serving ACTU Man.’ 20 October 1994, 9.
SPARNON, NORMAN JAMES (1913–1995), Japanese linguist and ikebana (flower arrangement) exponent, was born on 26 September 1913 at St Kilda, Melbourne, youngest of six surviving children of South Australian–born Thomas Wills Sparnon, tramway employee, and his Victorian-born wife Christina, née Duncan. The family lived at St Kilda, where Norman went to school. Later he attended business college in Melbourne, where he was offered the chance to learn French. Instead, he asked the Berlitz School of Languages if he could learn Japanese. The school was unable to instruct him, but recommended a teacher, and so he began weekly evening sessions with Shigeo Yasuhara, the Melbourne manager of the Okura Trading Co. Ltd. In the mid-1930s he followed Moshi Inagaki’s weekly Japanese program on Australian Broadcasting Commission radio, using Oreste and Enko Elisa Vaccari’s kanji (character) cards and a booklet published by the ABC. He also took lessons with Ethel (Monte) Punshon [q.v.18], and, as her only student, he passed the Intermediate examination in Japanese.
Following the outbreak of World War II, the Department of Defence employed Sparnon in Melbourne from August 1940 as a Japanese language student. On 21 January 1942 he began full-time duty in the Citizen Military Forces (Australian Imperial Force (AIF) from 1943). Commissioned as a lieutenant in April 1942, he was posted to the Australian-American Allied Translator and Interpreter Section, serving in Papua (1942–43), Queensland (1943–44), and the Netherlands New Guinea (1944–45). Captain Sparnon was mentioned in despatches for his leadership between April and September 1944 of the American 158th Regimental Combat Team Language Detachment. He went to Hong Kong for the Japanese surrender in September 1945. In Manila in November, he began a brief diary, including his experience as document officer at the trial for war crimes of General Tomoyuki Yamashita.
On 14 December 1945 Sparnon arrived in Japan for the first time and eagerly began exploring. From January 1946 he headed the British Commonwealth Occupation Force’s Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre at Kure, in the rank of temporary major (February). With his AIF appointment terminating on 12 June, he consulted his father about staying on in Tokyo. Thomas Sparnon, who died not long afterwards, encouraged him to take the chance, saying ‘everything in life is a gamble’ (AWM PR04750). He joined the headquarters of the supreme commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) as a civilian interpreter. The United States of America awarded him its Bronze Star Medal (gazetted 1948) for his services.
Living in Tokyo for twelve years, Sparnon participated in its postwar cultural renewal. In January 1948 he married American-born Mary Melissa Griest (d. 1989), a colleague at SCAP who also shared his growing interest in ikebana. In 1949 he began lessons in flower arrangement with Kobayashi of the Eishin school, and then with Hako Terai of the modern Sōgetsu school in Mita, where Sōfū Teshigahara was the iemoto (grand master). He was also taught at the traditional Ikenobō school, where Tadao Yamamoto was iemoto. In 1950 he first showed his work, at the Hibiya Park pavilion, and he went on to take part in more exhibitions than anyone from a Western country before him had done, including the All-Japan Ikebana Art exhibition and the One-Hundred Man exhibition; he also held a solo exhibition. He reached the most senior rank as a teacher of both Sōgetsu and Ikenobō. After he retired from SCAP in 1957 he attended classes with Yuchiku Fujiwara at Ikenobō, and often visited Teshigahara. He published his first book, Japanese Flower Arrangement Classical and Modern, in 1960.
Between 1958 and 1960 Norman and Mary Sparnon had travelled in Europe and the United States. Arriving in Sydney in 1961, they settled at Darling Point. As the director of the Sōgetsu school, he founded eight groups in Australian cities and four in New Zealand. He also demonstrated and exhibited in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. President of the Ikenobō Society in Australia, he was also an honorary advisor to Ikebana International. He revisited Japan several times, and wrote books and articles aimed at inspiring and instructing Australian flower arrangers in using local plants.
The first book in Sparnon’s three-volume series, Creative Ideas for Japanese Flower Arrangement, was The Beauty of Australia’s Wildflowers (1967). With E. G. Waterhouse [q.v.12], he then co-authored The Magic of Camellias (1968). The third was The Poetry of Leaves (1970). He also published A Guide to Japanese Flower Arrangement (1969), Ikebana With Roses (1974), and Creative Japanese Flower Arrangement (1982); translated Fujiwara’s Rikka: The Soul of Japanese Flower Arrangement (1976); and wrote entries about ikebana for Encyclopaedia Britannica and the English-language edition of Encyclopedia Japonica. Awarded an OAM in 1979, he was appointed to the fifth class of the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun in 1982 and received the Sōfū Teshigahara memorial award in 1991.
Described by Beth Higgs, a former student, as ‘light hearted in his approach but always very serious about his art’ (Herald Sun 1995, 54), Sparnon was ‘a serene, humourful man whose eyes [became] vibrant’ over ikebana (Tarrant 1993, 135). During a visit to Tokyo shortly after Mary’s death, he had a stroke; this resulted in his becoming unable to speak Japanese. ‘Fortunately’, he wrote, ‘I was able to use my Japanese at a time when I needed it’ (AWM PR04750). He died childless on 19 June 1995 at Bondi, and was cremated. A bequest established the Norman and Mary Sparnon scholarship, which assists Australians to study at Sōgetsu.
Australian War Memorial. PR04750, Sparnon, Norman James (Captain, b.1913 – d.1995); Broinowski, Alison. ‘A Long Journey on the Ikebana Road.’ National Library of Australia Magazine 8, no. 1 (March 2016): 20–23; de Crummere, Barry. ‘Norman Sparnon.’ Australian Sogetsu Teachers Association Inc., New South Wales Branch. Accessed 4 April 2017. www.sogetsu-ikebana.org.au/artists/norman-sparnon. Copy held on ADB file; Herald Sun (Melbourne). ‘Seduced by Japanese Floral Art.’ 27 June 1995, 54; Murray, Jacqui. Watching the Sun Rise: Australian Reporting of Japan, 1931 to the Fall of Singapore. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2004; Tarrant, Deborah. ‘Soldier’s Life Blossoms.’ Sun Herald (Sydney), 4 July 1993, 135.
SPRIGG, REGINALD CLAUDE (REG) (1919–1994), geologist and ecotourism operator, was born on 1 March 1919 near Yorketown, South Australia, third and youngest child of Claude Augustus Sprigg, storekeeper, and his wife Pearl Alice Irene, née Germein, both South Australian–born. The family moved to Adelaide and Reg was educated at Goodwood Primary and Adelaide Technical High schools. Interested in rocks and fossils from an early age, he studied geology at the University of Adelaide (BSc, 1942; MSc, 1944), where Sir Douglas Mawson [q.v.10] considered him to be precocious, but a gifted student. On 24 December 1942 at the Flinders Street Baptist Church, Adelaide, he married Patricia Amy Day; they would divorce in 1949.
During World War II Sprigg’s studies were interrupted by work for the Commonwealth Department of Munitions and then the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In July 1944 he was seconded to the South Australian Department of Mines before being appointed as an assistant geologist in the department in April the next year. The nuclear arms race that accompanied the onset of the Cold War led to a world-wide demand for uranium. Already familiar with South Australia’s deposits of the mineral, Sprigg was placed in charge of the department’s uranium project and sent on a nine-month international study tour (1948–49). This, along with suspected communist sympathies, resulted in him being placed under surveillance for a decade by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
From 1949 Sprigg led the department’s new regional mapping section, which increased his knowledge of the State’s mineral and petroleum potential. In 1954 he resigned to form one of Australia’s earliest geological and geophysical consultancy companies, Geosurveys of Australia Ltd. The firm became closely associated with the exploration company South Australia and Northern Territory Oil Search Ltd (SANTOS), directing its efforts to the Cooper Basin in the far north-east of South Australia, where gas was discovered in 1963. It was an early example of the many ventures that Sprigg would undertake with Geosurveys and his later company Beach Petroleum Ltd.
Sprigg was unconventional and innovative. In the 1960s when there was little interest in offshore petroleum prospects, he had a diving chamber built for underwater exploration. He also embarked on several projects that were never going to be remunerative. Famously, he fought for many years to have mainstream geologists recognise that fossils he had found in 1946 at Ediacara in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges were of Precambrian age, evidence of the first large and varied multicellular animals on earth. The fossil genus Spriggina was named after him in 1957, but it was not until 2004 that his insights were acknowledged through the ratification of the Ediacaran Period, the first new period to be defined in 120 years.
While in Scotland during his study tour, Sprigg had met Griselda Agnes Findlay Paterson, a radiographer. After a courtship conducted largely by correspondence, the couple married on 3 February 1951 at Scots Church, Adelaide. Griselda often accompanied him into the field and, with their two children, completed the first vehicular crossing of the Simpson Desert in 1962. Six years later they purchased Arkaroola, a rundown sheep station in the northern Flinders Ranges. Although Reg turned his attention to ecotourism, he remained a director of Beach Petroleum (until 1987) and continued consultancy work. Apart from its scenic grandeur, Arkaroola contained geological sites that he had visited with Mawson in his student days. It was an ambitious venture, the property being remote from popular tourist routes and subject to isolation during heavy rains.
Appointed AO in 1983, Sprigg was awarded honorary doctorates of science by The Australian National University (1980) and Flinders University (1990). He was the recipient of the Verco [q.v.12] medal of the Royal Society of South Australia in 1968, and the inaugural Lewis G. Weeks [q.v.16] medal of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association in 1982. In addition to his scholarly writing, he published a comprehensive account of Arkaroola in 1984 and two volumes of recollections in 1989 and 1993. Survived by his wife, and their son and daughter, he died on 2 December 1994 in Glasgow while on holiday in Scotland. His ashes were scattered at Arkaroola. Awards, a lecture series, a mineral, an undersea canyon, and a research centre at the University of Adelaide, among other things, have been named after him.
McGowran, Brian. ‘Scientific Accomplishments of Reginald Claude Sprigg.’ Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 137, no. 1 (2013): 1–52; O’Neil, Bernard. Above and Below: The South Australian Department of Mines and Energy, 1944 to 1994. Adelaide: Mines and Energy, South Australia, 1995; Parkin, Lee. ‘Geologist Dug Deep into Earth’s Mysteries.’ Australian, 9 December 1994, 13; Sprigg, Griselda. Dune is a Four Letter Word. Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2001; Sprigg, Reg. Geology is FUN (Recollections) or The Anatomy and Confessions of a Geological Addict. Adelaide: the author, 1989; Sprigg, Reg C. A Geologist Strikes Out: Recollections, 1954–1993. Adelaide: the author, 1993; Weidenbach, Kristin. Rock Star: The Story of Reg Sprigg – an Outback Legend. Adelaide: East Street Publications, 2008.
SPRY, Sir CHARLES CHAMBERS FOWELL (1910–1994), army officer and director-general of security was born on 26 June 1910 at Yeronga, Brisbane, youngest child of Queensland-born Augustus Frederick Spry, bookkeeper, and his English-born wife Firenze Josephine Eglington, née Johnson. Charles was educated at local State schools, Brisbane Grammar School (on a scholarship), and the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Federal Capital Territory, which he entered in February 1928. The college moved to Victoria Barracks, Sydney, in February 1931; he graduated in December that year and was appointed as a lieutenant in the Australian Staff Corps.
Although Spry excelled at sport—including cricket, tennis, squash, hockey, golf, and boxing—at school and the military college he had not worked hard academically. Thereafter, however, he applied himself diligently to all his duties and received excellent reports from his commanding officers, who noted his high professional standards, self-confidence, enthusiasm, knowledge, and strong character. He served in infantry units in Brisbane, Sydney, and Launceston, Tasmania. From September 1935 he was in India for a year with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, engaged in operations on the North-West Frontier. Returning to Australia, he was adjutant and quartermaster of the Sydney University Regiment, where he earned the nickname ‘Silent Charles’, and then became a staff officer at Army Headquarters, Melbourne. On 1 June 1939 at Christ Church, Church of England, South Yarra, he married Kathleen Edith Hull Smith (d. 1992), a journalist with the Age.
After the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, Spry was one of the first officers to transfer to the Australian Imperial Force. Promoted to captain, he was general staff officer, grade 3, with the 6th Division, commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Blamey [q.v.13]. In July 1940 he arrived in Egypt and, after attending the staff college at Haifa, Palestine (Israel), was promoted to temporary major and posted to the headquarters of I Australian Corps, now commanded by Blamey. He served with Blamey in the Greek and Crete campaigns in April and May 1941. A contemporary later described the ‘fearless’ Spry helping to organise the evacuation from Greece: ‘I saw him turn in no time a chaotic mass of about 2,000 soldiers, nurses and wounded into orderly groups’ (Fleming, 2). He only just avoided capture but reached Crete and later held further staff appointments in Palestine and Egypt. Promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel in January 1942, he returned to Australia in March, and in April was promoted to temporary colonel (substantive 1950).
In August 1942 Spry became the senior staff officer of the 7th Division, commanded by Major General Arthur Allen [q.v.13], just as the division embarked for Papua. Two months later they were together on the Kokoda Trail as the division began a counter-offensive against the Japanese. Major General George Vasey [q.v.16] relieved Allen at the end of October. Slightly wounded by a strafing enemy fighter plane a month later, Spry was evacuated. For his conduct in the campaign, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order; his citation read: ‘Under the stress of extreme physical and mental strain he was untiring in his efforts, never sparing himself’ (NAA B2458). He spent the rest of the war in senior training and staff appointments.
After serving (August 1945 – February 1946) as a member and later head of the Australian Army mission in Singapore and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), in April 1946 Spry was appointed director of military intelligence at Army Headquarters, as part of an effort to bring bright, capable officers into the organisation. He focused on communist subversion, believing that the Soviet bloc represented a threat to Australia equal to that of the Axis powers in the war. As a member of the joint intelligence committee, he played a major role in restructuring the Department of Defence’s intelligence organisations. Lieutenant General (Sir) Sydney Rowell [q.v.16] considered him ‘one of the outstanding officers in the Australian army’ (NAA B2458).
The first director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Justice (Sir) Geoffrey Reed [q.v.16], had never intended to serve for more than a year following its establishment in March 1949 by the Chifley Labor government. At the suggestion of a Federal minister, Richard (Baron) Casey [q.v.13], Spry was selected to replace Reed and took up the appointment in July 1950 on secondment from the army. Drawing on his military experience, he quickly reorganised ASIO, establishing a formal headquarters, moving it from Sydney to Melbourne, and engaging new staff.
It was the height of the Cold War. The interception of Soviet intelligence service communications in the 1940s (codenamed Venona) had implicated members of the Communist Party of Australia in espionage activities on behalf of the Soviet Union. At the government’s direction, ASIO undertook surveillance of members of the CPA, ‘front’ organisations, and sympathisers, and advised on the employment in sensitive positions of persons considered a security risk. Spry set up sections to penetrate the CPA. When the government conducted a referendum to ban the party, Spry assisted the government with information. The leader of the Opposition, H. V. Evatt [q.v.14], campaigned strongly against the ban on the grounds of civil liberties and the referendum was ultimately unsuccessful.
Spry’s four-year appointment and secondment from the army ended in 1954 and the government confirmed him as head of ASIO until he turned sixty. This was done to provide job security, and to place ASIO above party political considerations by ensuring continuity of management even if there was a change of government. Resigning from the army as brigadier on 14 June, he joined the Reserve of Officers.
In March 1954 Spry and ASIO had a major triumph when Vladimir Petrov [q.v.], third secretary and intelligence officer of the Soviet Embassy in Canberra, opted to remain in Australia with his wife Evdokia [q.v.], an embassy clerk, cypher expert and accountant. The Petrovs provided valuable information to Australian and allied intelligence services on the identities of Soviet KGB (Committee for State Security) officers. As a consequence of their information as well as the Venona findings, on Spry’s recommendation the Royal Commission on Espionage was established and began sitting in May 1954.
Evatt used the royal commission to accuse ASIO of engineering the Petrov defections, and of falsifying documents to embarrass him and to assist the coalition. His allegations, which proved to be untrue, poisoned the relationship between ASIO and the Australian Labor Party for two decades. Spry had believed that ASIO should be non-partisan and had previously sought to keep the leader of the Opposition informed on security matters. When Arthur Calwell [q.v.13] succeeded Evatt in March 1960, Spry sought to re-establish relations, and met with Calwell several times, particularly to discuss communist penetration of the ALP.
In 1956 Spry had convinced the government to pass the ASIO Act, which gave the organisation a legislative basis (until then, it had operated under a charter from the prime minister). The Act also allowed for the interception of telephone conversations, and better defined the crimes of treason, treachery, and sabotage. He established offices overseas to vet prospective migrants to Australia and to liaise with foreign intelligence services. Spry was appointed CBE in 1956. In 1963 he persuaded the government to declare a Soviet diplomat and intelligence officer, Ivan Skripov, persona non grata, after it was revealed that he had been cultivating a woman who was actually an ASIO double agent.
During the 1960s ASIO conducted extensive surveillance of Australians who were protesting against conscription for service in Vietnam and more generally against Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The organisation came under increasing criticism as it struggled to adapt its activities to the changing nature of Australian society and politics. By this time the CPA had fragmented and was losing influence in the community. Spry had had good relations with Menzies [q.v.15] as prime minister, but he had less influence with Menzies’ successor, Harold Holt [q.v.14], and even less with Prime Minster (Sir) John Gorton. Spry had been too long in the job. As early as 1962 officers who earlier had a high regard for him saw him drinking too much and returning to the office under the effects of alcohol. In 1964 he was knighted. Following a heart attack, he resigned in late 1969 for health reasons.
Standing 5 feet 8 inches (174 cm) tall, with a brisk military air, Spry was a confident and inspiring head of ASIO. His administrative style was autocratic and paternalistic, but most ASIO officers, who appreciated his direct approach, held him in high regard. Those who served under him or knew him well trusted him completely. Despite his military moustache and homburg hat, away from the office he was a man of charm, wit, and courtesy. A bon vivant, without pomposity or self-pity, he had a good sense of humour; pursued interests such as golf, cooking, painting, and poetry; and was an entertaining raconteur. In retirement he maintained a close interest in ASIO and state security, and cared for his ailing wife after she had been immobilised by a stroke. Survived by his son and two daughters, he died in his home at Toorak, Melbourne, on 29 May 1994 and was cremated.
Blaxland, John. The Protest Years: The Official History of ASIO 1963–1975. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2015; Fleming, A. P. ‘Brigadier Sir Charles Spry. Speaking to His Memory.’ Memorial Service, St Peter’s Church, Eastern Hill, Melbourne. Unpublished manuscript, 1994. Copy held on ADB file; Horner, David. General Vasey’s War. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1992; Horner, David. The Spy Catchers: The Official History of ASIO 1949–1963. Sydney: Allen& Unwin, 2014; Horner, David. ‘Spy Chief Led Fight against Communism.’ Australian, 7 June 1994, 15; National Archives of Australia. A8913, 3/1/13, B2458, 338; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Thomson, Judy. Winning With Intelligence. Sydney: Australian Military History Publications, 2000.
STAMPFL, FRANZ FERDINAND (1913–1995), athletics coach, was born on 18 November 1913 in Vienna, fourth of seven children of Josef Stampfl, surgical instrument maker, and his wife Karolina Katerina, née Josepow. As a young man Franz studied art and showed promise in skiing and javelin throwing (junior champion, 1935). He was an assistant trainer with the Austrian team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where German militarism shocked him.
In 1937 Stampfl went to England partly because of disquiet at Nazism, but not persecution, as he was Catholic. He studied at Chelsea Art School, and then moved to Northern Ireland where he coached athletics, experimenting with novel methods. Returning to England, he taught at Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnett, Hertfordshire, in early 1940 before his arrest and internment as an enemy alien to be deported to Canada. His ship the SS Arandora Star was torpedoed and sunk on 2 July and he spent several hours in the water before being rescued. On 10 July he was transferred to HMT Dunera for its notorious voyage to Australia. After being interned at Hay, New South Wales, then Tatura, Victoria, and employed in fruit picking, he enrolled in the Citizen Military Forces on 8 April 1942 for service with the 8th Employment Company. He completed courses in physical training, unarmed combat, and lifesaving, and was a corporal (1945) when discharged on 11 January 1946.
Later that year Stampfl returned to Northern Ireland and coached for the province’s Amateur Athletic Association (AAA). In April 1947 he was joined by Patricia Mary Cussen, a librarian and granddaughter of Sir Leo Cussen [q.v.8], whom he had met in Australia. They married on 8 May at the registrar’s office in Belfast. After moving to London Stampfl coached freelance and was hired by several clubs and institutions, including the John Fisher School at Purley—winner of the Public Schools Challenge Cup (1952 and 1953)—and the Oxford University Athletic Club (1954–55). He perfected his system of interval training: athletes completing multiple repetitions over a specific distance. Guided by a stopwatch, he varied their speed and distance at each session.
In late 1953 Stampfl coached Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher, and advised (Sir) Roger Bannister in his quest to break the 4-minute-mile barrier. On 6 May 1954 in blustery conditions at Iffley Road track, Oxford, Bannister—paced successively by Brasher then Chataway, and guided by Stampfl, who bellowed ‘relax’ in lap two—ran the distance in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. Stampfl, supporting an exhausted Bannister at the tape, was integral to surpassing the ultimate human physical obstacle of its day. His book, Franz Stampfl on Running (1955), professed interval training, the power of will, and coaching as both science and art. More than 500,000 copies were sold.
By May 1955 Stampfl had been engaged to coach by the Victorian AAA and Women’s AAA, the Department of Education, the National Fitness Council, and the University of Melbourne. After arriving in Melbourne in August, he trained potential Olympians and praised their prospects. To encourage the participation of women in athletics, he advised them that they would not ‘lose their charm’ by competing. That year he was appointed as a lecturer in physical education at the University of Melbourne (later adviser on athletics) and began writing a column for the Argus newspaper. He became an Australian citizen on 12 November 1956, prior to the Melbourne Olympic Games. While he trained successful athletes in a range of track and field events, he developed champions in middle-distance running. His coaching rivalry with Percy Cerutty [q.v.13] descended into name-calling as their protégé milers, Merv Lincoln and Herb Elliot respectively, battled on the track. In 1968 he guided Ralph Doubell to an astonishing victory in the 800 metres at the Mexico Olympic Games. Doubell’s time of 1 minute 44.4 seconds equalled the world record, and set a long-standing Australian record.
Stampfl held court at his fibro hut beside the University of Melbourne’s athletics track until his retirement in 1978, remaining thereafter as honorary coach. In this role he shared his ideas about athletics, art, and philosophy of the mind with elite and amateur runners. He was a strong, fit man, tallish at about 180 centimetres, with brown eyes and curly hair. In summer he was often bare-chested and tanned at track side, in winter decked in gloves and a sheepskin coat, his massive voice booming, instructing his squad. He was appointed MBE (1981), made an associate of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (1989), and posthumously inducted into the Athletics Australia Hall of Fame (2013). Like Cerutty, with whom he shared a passion for athleticism and a rampant individualism, he never became a national athletics coach; their independence made officialdom wary.
In November 1980 Stampfl was left a quadriplegic after his sports car was ‘rear-ended’ at an intersection. He coached on, using the force of his voice, intellect, and gigantic personality. Survived by his wife and their son, Anton, he died on 19 March 1995 at Hawthorn and was cremated. He remains a towering figure in modern athletics coaching; he is the subject of a biography, Franz Stampfl: Trainergenie und Weltbürger: Biografie e–ines Visionärs (2013) by Andreas Maier, and a documentary, ‘A Life Unexpected: The Man Behind the Miracle Mile’, in production (2015).
Argus (Melbourne). ‘Franz Stampfl’s Advice to Girls: Athletics Won’t Spoil Your Charm.’ 28 July 1956, 20; Bannister, Roger. Twin Tracks: The Autobiography. London: The Robson Press, 2014; Doubell, Ralph, and Franz Stampfl. Interview by Amanda Smith, 28 July 2000. The Sports Factor, ABC Radio National. Accessed 1 June 2010. www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/archived/sportsfactor/ralph-doubell--franz-stampfl/3470140. Copy held on ADB file; Larkin, John. ‘Actor, Father Figure, Philosopher and One of the Last of the True Eccentrics … COACH.’ Age (Melbourne), 9 December 1978, 17; Lebensaft, Elisabeth, and Christoph Mentschl. ‘The Man Behind the Four-Minute Mile: Franz Stampfl.’ Translated by Antonia Lehn. Dunera News, no. 90 (April 2014): 12–15; National Archives of Australia. A446, 1956/57146; B78, 1956/STAMPFL F; B884, V377434; MP1103/1, E40712; MP1103/2, E40712; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Stampfl, Anton. Personal communication
STARKE, Sir JOHN ERSKINE (1913–1994), judge, and Elizabeth Monica Starke (1912–1992), community worker, were the children of Victorian-born parents (Sir) Hayden Erskine Starke [q.v.12], barrister and later a justice of the High Court of Australia, and his wife Margaret Mary, née Duffy, daughter of John Gavan Duffy [q.v.4]. They were born at Malvern, Victoria, Monica on 22 January 1912 and John on 1 December 1913. Their schooling reflected the Catholic and Protestant backgrounds of their parents; Monica was educated at Sacré Cœur (1922–25) and St Catherine’s (1926–28) schools while John attended Melbourne Church of England Grammar School (1922–31). Although John claimed that his father had never seen his point of view since the age of three, he followed Hayden Starke into the law. At the University of Melbourne (LLB, 1937) he initially resided in Trinity College but was asked to leave because of his partying and reluctance to study.
In March 1939 Jack Starke was admitted to practice and began work as a barrister. He had served in the Melbourne University Rifles while a student. On 21 October 1939, seven weeks after World War II broke out, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Commissioned in April 1940 as an artillery lieutenant, he served with the 2/11th Field Regiment in the Middle East (1941–42) and the Northern Territory (1943–44). He occasionally acted as defending officer in courts martial, including two murder trials. In 1944 and 1945, as a captain and temporary major with the 1st Naval Bombardment Group, he was attached to a succession of Allied ships providing gunfire support to land operations in the South-West Pacific Area. On 25 October 1945 he transferred to the Reserve of Officers. He would later display his low enlistment number, VX580, on the registration plate of his car. On 19 July 1946 he married Elizabeth (Beth) Darby Campbell at St John’s Church of England, Toorak. They would have no children.
Tall and heavy, with a commanding voice, Starke built his career on success in trials. He employed elements of theatre, such as throwing down his wig and thumping on the bar table, and diversionary tactics, muttering to one opponent, ‘why don’t you just sit down, you silly-looking prick?’ (Woodward 2005, 70). Behind the bluster was his conviction that fearless and independent barristers promoted impartial justice. He became the dominant jury advocate at the Victorian Bar and in 1955 was appointed QC. During 1950 and 1951 he had been junior counsel defending the author Frank Hardy against the charge of criminally libelling John Wren [q.v.12] in the book Power Without Glory. He appeared before royal commissions on off-the-course betting (1959), the Victoria Market (1960), and the collapse of Kings Bridge (1963); and before boards of inquiry into aircraft disasters near Mackay (1960) and in Botany Bay (1962). In 1959, after the withdrawal of John Shand [q.v.16], he represented Rupert Max Stuart at the South Australian royal commission that investigated his conviction for murder. Three years later, having defended Robert Tait [q.v.18] at his trial for murder, he appeared in the hearing at which the High Court of Australia reprieved Tait on the day before he was to be hanged.
On 31 January 1964 Starke became a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. ‘I never really was … much of a bloody lawyer’ (Faine 1992, 36), he said, but his judgments were characterised by attention to the limits of the judicial role, disdain for pretence, and protection of liberties guaranteed under the common law. His determined defence of the principle that the prosecution must prove intention in criminal cases was endorsed by the High Court in He Kaw Teh v. The Queen (1985). He disliked having to sit through dull cases in silence and spoke out against the introduction of blood-alcohol testing of drivers and in opposition to capital punishment. Nevertheless, presiding over the trial of Ronald Ryan [q.v.16] in 1966, he was obliged to deliver the last death sentence to be carried out in Australia. He believed that Tait’s reprieve increased the determination of Premier Sir Henry Bolte [q.v.17] to hang Ryan and he later blamed himself for not doing more to sway the Victorian State cabinet (Bone 1985, 2; Heinrichs 1994, 4).
Retiring from the Supreme Court in November 1985, Starke chaired the Victorian Sentencing Committee. He had been knighted in 1976 and served as president (1967–85) of the Library Council of Victoria, chairman (1969–85) of the (Adult) Parole Board, and a trustee (1974–81) of the Australian War Memorial. His friend ‘SEK’ Hulme wrote that Starke was ‘sometimes, but only intentionally, astronomically and apocalyptically rude’ (1994, 14). Towards women he could be contemptuous or dismissive. He delighted in the turf and was a member of the Victoria Racing Club and the Australian Club. Survived by his wife, he died on 22 November 1994 at Mornington and was cremated.
His sister, Monica, sometimes chafed under restrictions placed on women. ‘We were the people who made the tea’ (Hazell, pers. comm.), she said. Yet her restless energy found many outlets. During World War II she became an Australian Red Cross Society volunteer and worked in the Victorian division’s personnel department from September 1939. On 22 October 1941 she enrolled in a Voluntary Aid Detachment and over the next four months served in military hospitals in Melbourne. Appointed as an ARCS representative for service with the army on 11 March 1943, she was in charge of diversional therapy for injured servicemen at Buna, Papua. In April 1945 she was detached to the Royal Naval Hospital in Britain to assist repatriated prisoners of war, before returning to Australia where she was demobilised on 6 May 1946.
Starke later worked in the accounts department at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital. In 1951 she was appointed secretary to the board of the nursing service division, Melbourne District Nursing Society, and began studies for a Diploma in Hospital Administration (1954) from the Australian Institute of Hospital Administrators. By 1958 she was secretary of the Victorian Society for Crippled Children (and Adults), before becoming a relieving officer attached to the Hospitals and Charities Commission (1961–69). In retirement she volunteered at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission, and the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). At the trust she administered the list that later formed the State’s register of protected historic buildings. She wrote histories of the Queen’s Fund (unpublished) and of the Alexandra Club (1986) of which she had been a director (1965–83). Committed to the Roman Catholic Church and proud of her Irish ancestry, she shared her brother’s daunting persona but not his indifference to conventions of polite behaviour. She died on 8 August 1992 at East Malvern and was cremated.
Behan, J. C. V. Diary, 1933. Behan, John Clifford Valentine 1890–1941, 1983.0128, Box 3. University of Melbourne Archives; Bone, Pamela. ‘Defender of Law, and the System.’ Age (Melbourne), 16 November 1985, 2; Dawson, Daryl. ‘Vale—John Starke.’ Victorian Bar News, no. 91 (Summer 1994): 19–22; Faine, Jon. Taken on Oath: A Generation of Lawyers. Sydney: Federation Press, 1992; Hazell, T. A. ‘Monica Starke 1912–1992.’ Footprints: Quarterly Journal of the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission 10, no. 3 (September 1993): 21–22; Hazell, T.A. Personal communication; Heinrichs, Paul. ‘The Judge Who Reluctantly Sentenced Ronald Ryan to Hang Dies.’ Age (Melbourne), 24 November 1994, 4; Hulme, Sek. ‘Ryan Judge a Peerless Advocate.’ Australian, 24 November 1994, 14; Jack, David. ‘The Judge Who Doesn’t Conform.’ Australian, 1 February 1967, 3; National Archives of Australia. B4717, STARKE/ELIZABETH MONICA; B883, VX580; Public Record Office Victoria. VPRS 4523/P1, unit 380, 3152 Public Record Office Victoria. VPRS 4523/P1, unit 598, 5157; Woodward, Edward. One Brief Interval: A Memoir. Carlton, Vic.: Miegunyah Press, 2005.
STEELE, JOYCE (1909–1991), politician, was born on 29 May 1909 at Midland Junction, Western Australia, the second of four children of South Australian–born parents Mayo Augustus Wishart, teacher and later head of the local technical school, and his wife Evelyn Vera, née Sampson. Joyce’s happy, outdoor childhood, and her education at Perth College were followed by several secretarial-like jobs, including one organising the domestic arrangements of an eccentric surgeon, Marion Ratcliffe-Taylor. In 1934 she spent two adventurous months at Derby with the family of Dr Theodore Hodge, taking part in efforts to contain a deadly malaria epidemic. While there she met Wilfred Steele, twenty-six years her senior and manager of Yeeda station. They married in St George’s Church of England Cathedral, Perth, on 15 April 1936. After a period in far North Queensland, Wilfred retired from outback life, settling the family in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs in 1939, where their second son was born severely disabled.
After a brief period in 1942 as one of the first two South Australian women announcers with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Steele devoted much of her energy to the educational needs of children with disabilities, including those born deaf as a result of the rubella outbreaks of the early 1940s. She was a driving force behind the opening in 1946 of the South Australian Oral Kindergarten, and was a passionate and persistent advocate for the disabled in a variety of state and national bodies. In 1953 she was awarded Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation medal. Wishing to influence decision makers in parliament more directly, she first unsuccessfully contested Liberal and Country League (LCL) preselection for a marginal seat in 1956. Three years later, with family support, she went on to beat her local member, Geoffrey Clarke, for preselection for the blue-ribbon seat of Burnside, which she won easily in March. She and Jessie Cooper [q.v.] became the first women to enter the South Australian parliament, an embarrassing sixty-five years after the right had been won.
A conscientious backbencher and local member, in 1961 Steele was appointed the first female member of the governing council of the South Australian Institute of Technology (SAIT). Widowed in 1964, she became Opposition whip in 1966 after Sir Thomas Playford’s [q.v.18] government fell, and was elevated to cabinet when Raymond Steele Hall led the LCL to victory in the 1968 election. As education minister, she began to broaden the curriculum, established regional education offices, ended the bar against married women trainee teachers, and played a key role in the move of the SAIT to The Levels (Mawson Lakes). Fulfilling a core electoral promise, she instituted a ground-breaking inquiry, under Peter Karmel, into South Australia’s education system. But, beset by militancy on the part of the South Australian Institute of Teachers and departmental constraints, she was transferred in early 1970 to the portfolios of Aboriginal affairs, social welfare, and housing, only thirteen weeks before the government lost office.
Although Steele won the new seat of Davenport in the 1970 election, she chose to retire in March 1973 when challenged by Dean Brown, a future premier (1993–96) whom she knew would be preselected in preference to her. She joined the Queen Adelaide Club and continued to be active in several organisations, notably the Phoenix Society and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra subscribers’ committee. She was appointed OBE (1981) for her public and community work.
In a gracious and effective way, Steele paved the way for women in parliament and cabinet in South Australia but, a woman of her class and era, she was out of sympathy with the more confronting aspects of second-wave feminism. She died on 24 September 1991 in Adelaide and was cremated. Her daughter and one of her two sons survived her.
Cockburn, Stewart. ‘Should Mothers Go To Work?’ Advertiser (Adelaide), 25 January 1964, 2; Cockburn, Stewart. ‘The Woman Who Upset the Male Applecart.’ Advertiser (Adelaide), 21 January 1984, 2; Hutchins, John and Elizabeth Hutchins. To Hear is to Speak: A History of the Cora Barclay Centre for Children with Hearing Impairment 1945–94. Gilberton, SA: Cora Barclay Centre, 1995; Hyams, Bernard. ‘Education.’ In The Dunstan Decade, edited by Andrew Parkin and Allan Patience, 70–90. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1981; Steele, Joyce. Interview by Anne Geddes, September 1984. State Library of South Australia; Steele, Joyce. Interviews by Meg Denton, including speeches at Mrs Steele’s eightieth birthday party, 1989–91. Transcript. State Library of South Australia.
Jenny Tilby Stock
STEELE, RAYMOND CHARLES (RAY) (1917–1993), cricket administrator, was born on 19 May 1917 at Yarraville, Melbourne, second of three sons of Victorian-born parents Stanley Clifford Steele and his wife Ellen Anness, née Jack. His father was a former blacksmith and railway worker who prospered as a moneylender and investor. Ray attended Geelong Road State School, Footscray, and Mont Albert Central School, before moving to Scotch College, Hawthorn (1928–35), where he was captain of football and vice-captain of cricket in his final year. As a resident of Ormond College, he studied law at the University of Melbourne (LLB, 1940), captaining the university in both football (1938) and cricket (1940–41). On 22 July 1940 he married Western Australian–born Alison Mary Beatty at the Scotch College Chapel. The same year, he had joined the Richmond Football Club in the Victorian Football League. In a career interrupted by World War II, he played forty-three games and was vice-captain of the 1943 premiership team. He was admitted to practice as a barrister and solicitor in Victoria on 2 March 1942.
Mobilised in the Citizen Military Forces on 27 March 1942 and transferring to the Australian Imperial Force in September, Steele served with the artillery in Melbourne and briefly (July–August 1944) in New Guinea. He had been commissioned in July 1943 and promoted to captain twelve months later. In November 1944 he was appointed to the Australian Army Legal Corps and posted to the headquarters of the 16th Brigade, with which he again served in New Guinea (May 1945 – February 1946). He transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 14 February 1946.
After the war Steele established a legal practice, Steele & Steele, with his elder brother Stan. In 1957, as Ray’s cricket commitments broadened, they sold the practice and established a finance company. Ray played cricket with Hawthorn-East Melbourne until 1949, when an old football injury forced his retirement. He joined the club’s committee in 1947 and later served (1958–73) as president. In 1954 he was elected as the club’s delegate to the Victorian Cricket Association (VCA). He joined the VCA’s executive committee two years later, subsequently serving as treasurer (1963–72), then president (1973–92).
In 1961 Steele was appointed assistant manager for the Australian cricket team’s Ashes tour of England, and in 1964 he managed the tour of England, India, and Pakistan. As a manager, he was popular among the players. When he was chosen again to manage Australia’s 1972 tour of England, a journalist observed that Steele had ‘that rare ability of getting respect without demanding it’ (Coleman 1993, 755). During that tour, Steele established a strong rapport with the captain, Ian Chappell, who presented him with a match stump in appreciation of his contribution to the team.
Steele was elected a VCA delegate to the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) in 1967, becoming treasurer in 1969. With players pushing for increased payments and a voice on the board, Steele lent his support, but cautioned in 1973 that their demands were limited by ‘what the game can afford’ (Australian Cricket 1973, 25). As VCA president he doubled Victorian player payments in 1974; he later insisted the Australian players were ‘the highest paid cricketers in the world’ (Butler 1979, 252).
In June 1976 Kerry Packer, proprietor of the National Nine Network, approached the ACB for exclusive television broadcast rights. He was rebuffed by the chairman Bob Parish, Steele, and board member Len Maddocks, who were not prepared to break a verbal agreement with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, nor guarantee Packer exclusive rights on its expiry. Offering more money than the ACB, Packer then contracted top Australian and international cricketers, including Chappell, to his private venture, World Series Cricket (WSC).
News of Packer’s coup broke during Australia’s 1977 tour of England and at what was otherwise a high point in Steele’s career. As VCA president he had successfully hosted the Centenary Test in March, and he was appointed OBE for services to cricket in June. Angered by the Packer players’ disloyalty, Steele wanted them banned from all establishment cricket. As he related, before joining Packer’s troupe, leading players had expressed satisfaction with the board’s conditions. In October he branded Packer the ‘private promoter’, and told the VCA ‘there’s a place for that kind of cricket … some place like Siberia’ (Haigh 1993, 113).
The emergence of WSC diminished ACB revenues and embroiled the board in costly legal battles. With State associations and international boards also losing money, pressure mounted on the ACB to resolve the impasse. Initially, Steele was reluctant. He doubted that WSC, with its limited player pool and heavy financial losses, could outlast the board. But in March 1979 he met Packer at the Melbourne Test match between Australia and Pakistan and suggested a lunch with Parish. It was a watershed moment, as both sides wanted a settlement. On 30 May it was announced by Parish, with Steele looking on, that Packer would be granted exclusive broadcast and marketing rights, while the board would continue to administer cricket.
Steele resigned from the ACB in 1985, but continued as VCA president, championing Victoria’s Sheffield Shield team, and hosting the World Championship of Cricket (1985) and the Cricket World Cup final (1992). He retired on 31 August 1992. Survived by his wife, a son, and two daughters, he died on 22 November 1993 at East Melbourne and was cremated. From 1994 the Ray Steele trophy was awarded to the winner of the match between his former cricket teams, Melbourne University and Hawthorn-Waverley (later Hawthorn-Monash University).
Australian Cricket. ‘Steele in the Hot Seat.’ November 1973, 24–25; Butler, Keith. Howzat!: Sixteen Australia Cricketers Talk to Keith Butler. Sydney, London: Collins, 1979; Chappell, Ian. Tiger among the Lions. Leabrook, SA: Investigator Press, 1972; Coleman, Robert. Seasons in the Sun: The Story of the Victorian Cricket Association. North Melbourne: Hargreen Publishing Company, 1993; Haigh, Gideon. ‘Cricket’s Keeper: Often Tested but Seldom Bested.’ Australian, 10 December 1993, 13; Haigh, Gideon. The Cricket War: The Inside Story of Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. Melbourne: Text Publishing, 1993; Haigh, Gideon, and David Frith. Inside Story: Unlocking Australian Cricket Archives. Southbank, Vic.: News Custom Publishing, 2007; McFarline, Peter. ‘“Caster” Steele Admired and Respected by All in Cricket.’ Age (Melbourne), 24 November 1993, 33; National Archives of Australia. B883, VX100823.
STEWART, HAROLD FREDERICK (1916–1995), poet and Buddhist scholar, was born on 14 December 1916 at Drummoyne, Sydney, elder child of New South Wales–born parents Herbert Howard Vernon Stewart, health inspector, and his wife Amy Muriel, née Morris. Harold’s father had spent three decades in India. Fluent in Hindustani, he passed on his interest in Asian civilisations to his son. From his mother, Harold apparently inherited a remarkably retentive memory.
A gifted but cantankerous student, Stewart much preferred the role of teacher or guru to submitting to the lessons of others. He won a scholarship to the Conservatorium High School, Sydney, where he studied the trumpet and theory, before transferring to Fort Street Boys’ High School. There he shone academically until he discovered his homosexuality and abandoned conventional goals. His verse was published in the Fortian, and in 1934 and 1935 he won its prize for poetry. Initially he failed the Leaving certificate, and in 1936 he dropped out of the University of Sydney—where he had enrolled on a Teachers’ College scholarship—after two months. Nevertheless, he maintained that he was destined for poetic greatness.
Mobilised on 28 September 1942 for full-time duty in the Citizen Military Forces and promoted to acting corporal in December (substantive, 1944), Stewart spent the remainder of his World War II service on the staff of Alf Conlon’s [q.v.13] Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs, Melbourne. The army discharged him in April 1946. He first achieved public notice through the Ern Malley hoax, which he perpetrated in 1944 with James McAuley [q.v.15], who was also in the directorate. They composed a body of poems satirising the modernist movement, and invented its supposed author, Ern Malley, a recently deceased automobile mechanic and insurance salesman. These they sent to the would-be doyen of Australian literary modernism, Max Harris [q.v.], who was so impressed that he devoted an issue of his journal, Angry Penguins, to their publication. The hoax, which was soon revealed in the press, delighted local foes of Modernism and shredded Harris’s reputation as a discerning judge of literature, but it left the hoaxers still with the daunting task of each finding his own personal idiom and distinctive theme.
Stewart was to find material commensurate with his ambitions in Far Eastern heritages, as well as realms of discipline and order often absent from his own existence. In 1943 he defended his turn towards the Chinese as a means of opening up a new poetic terrain, and of self-fulfilment:
These are not mere fertilizing interests & agents but the very medium through which I realize myself … What Greece has been, from the Renaissance on, to English poets, Ancient China & the East in general are to me. I am most at home in their art & ideas, most myself, when effacing my self [sic] in those times & places & people (NLA MS 3925).
He later recounted how ‘just when all seems hopelessly lost … by writing a poem I fly together again’ (Stewart 1955). Meanwhile he published Phoenix Wings: Poems 1940–6 (1948) and Orpheus and Other Poems (1956). These volumes reflected his change of focus, and attracted a small but dedicated readership.
By 1950 Stewart had moved to Melbourne, where he headed a Traditionalist reading group, while during the day he worked in the Norman Robb bookshop; he also lectured for the Victorian Council of Adult Education and spoke on Australian Broadcasting Commission radio. The teachings of the so-called Traditionalists heavily influenced his understanding of Eastern philosophic and religious traditions. Both erudite and esoteric, the works of authors such as René Guénon and Ananda Coomaraswamy offered acolytes access to heritages long forgotten by the scientifically oriented West, which constituted a ‘secret intellectual history of the twentieth century’ (Sedgwick 2009, 15). Here was material that conferred a sense of elite knowledge upon its devotees, and of being part of a chosen few. This suited perfectly the autodidact Stewart.
Thanks to the Traditionalists, too, Stewart’s interest in Japan and Pure Land Buddhism was aroused, and direction given to the last thirty years of his life. He published two volumes of haiku translations: A Net of Fireflies: Japanese Haiku and Haiku Paintings (1960) and A Chime of Windbells: A Year of Japanese Haiku in English Verse (1969). In 1961 and 1963 he visited Japan, on the latter occasion with the avowed intention of becoming a Buddhist monk. His resolve failed shortly before induction and he returned to Australia, but he went on to study diligently under Japanese masters and to gain a formidable knowledge of Japanese culture and Buddhism, despite having only a rudimentary grasp of the language.
In 1966 Stewart moved to Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto, where he stayed for the rest of his life. He also travelled widely in Japan, often in the company of his preferred companion, Ueshima Masaaki. Stewart was always an extremely entertaining correspondent, and with time he became an enthusiastic as well as hugely knowledgeable guide to Kyoto for the people who visited him there. Some of these later showed their appreciation by supporting his publishing ventures. In correspondence from these years he presented himself as devoted to Buddhism and his muse. The final results were impressive. In 1980 he published The Exiled Immortal: A Song-Cycle, and the following year his epic work, By the Old Walls of Kyoto: A Year’s Cycle of Landscape Poems with Prose Commentaries, which charts his spiritual pilgrimage. He received the Christopher Brennan [q.v.7] award from the Fellowship of Australian Writers in 1987. Just before his death on 7 August 1995 at Kyoto, he completed his magnum opus, ‘Autumn Landscape Roll: A Divine Panorama’. In 1995 the manuscript, together with other papers, was given to the National Library of Australia, Canberra. He has strong claims to be a great poet in his own right, as well as an important precursor of Australian interest in the Asian region.
Ackland, Michael. Damaged Men: The Precarious Lives of James McAuley and Harold Stewart. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2001; Kelly, Peter. Buddha in a Bookshop: Harold Stewart and the Traditionalists. North Fitzroy, Vic.: Ulysses Press, 2007; National Archives of Australia. B884, N436963; National Library of Australia. MS 3925, Papers of H. M. Green, 1930–1963; MS 8973, Papers of Harold Stewart, 1933–1995; Sedgwick, Mark. Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009; Stewart, Harold. Letter to James McAuley, June 1955. Norma McAuley collection. Private collection.
STEWART, WILLIAM IAN (1914–1994), standards administrator and standardisation advocate, was born William John on 21 October 1914 at Marrickville, Sydney, son of Scottish-born James Sands Stewart, slater and tiler, and his New South Wales–born wife Edith Mary, née Hill. Ian was educated at Fort Street Boys’ High School, and won a public exhibition to the University of Sydney (BSc, 1935), where he studied chemistry, physics, mathematics, and geology. After he graduated, he immediately began to work for the Standards Association of Australia (SAA). On 15 January 1938 at the Methodist Church, Burwood, he married Georgina Louisa Woodger, a clerk. He gained a bachelor of science (economics) from the University of London (1947).
Stewart would spend his entire working life with the SAA. He became its chief technical officer in 1948, was appointed deputy director in 1953, and was director (later chief executive) from 1974 until his retirement in 1979. When he joined SAA, the not-for-profit association was only thirteen years old, and struggling to assert the importance of national standardisation in industry through State acceptance of uniform national standards. Vested interests defended idiosyncratic standards to protect local industries from external competition—a mindset that in turn infected any impetus towards national standardisation. Stewart pursued a long and ultimately successful campaign against this practice, and for harmonisation with international standards. By the time he retired, SAA was deeply engaged in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and was a major promoter of international standardisation.
Early in their careers, Stewart and his predecessor as director, Allan Stewart (no relation), had worked with the formidable SAA pioneer Bill Hebblewhite, under whose leadership the organisation had played crucial roles in the development of war production and civil defence during World War II. In this way Stewart came to appreciate the enormous potential for targeted standardisation to promote industrialisation in the interests of the country’s long-term development.
As deputy director, Stewart championed metrication. He and his organisation took a leading role in implementing the Metric Conversion Act when it became law in 1970. The Federal government appointed him to the Metric Conversion Board, and SAA became an essential part of the country’s swift and comprehensive adoption of the reform. He saw it as an opportunity to simplify and rationalise thousands of standards. He thus successfully pushed for ‘hard’ conversion, as opposed to ‘soft’ conversion whereby imperial measures would simply be rewritten in metrics. He also stymied plans for the dual labelling of products in both imperial and metric terms, thus hastening the cultural change that metrication demanded.
Swift, thoroughgoing metrication gave Australia greater opportunities to harmonise its standards with international ones. Stewart’s directorship of SAA coincided with the Tokyo round of trade meetings (1973–79) under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. During these meetings there was a major thrust to eliminate technical barriers to trade, such as potential trading partners’ inconsistent standards governing manufactured goods. He vigorously promoted this cause, as did ISO, in whose affairs he and his organisation took a greater role. He also started SAA’s training program for standardisers from developing countries, notably from East Africa.
By going back to first principles about the purpose of standards, Stewart exercised a rare facility in being able to urge innovation on associates, often-resistant stakeholders, and governments. He inaugurated SAA’s Monthly Information Sheet, and provided much of its material. From 1962 to 1971 he also lectured part time in mathematical statistics at the University of Sydney.
Highly articulate and an innovative leader in standardisation, Stewart helped transform that field. He saw himself as ‘an “unashamed technocrat with a faith that technology has rarely created a problem that it can’t eventually solve”’ (Moncrieff 1994, 14). He was appointed AM in 1978. A member of the Sydney rugby union and Manly Civic clubs, he enjoyed swimming and golf. In retirement he studied philosophy at the University of Sydney (MA, 1989). He died on 8 August 1994 in North Sydney, survived by his wife, two sons, and one daughter; he was cremated.
Higgins, Winton. Engine of Change: Standards Australia since 1922. Blackheath, NSW: Brandl & Schlesinger, 2005; Mathews, F. M. ‘A Tribute to Ian Stewart.’ SAA Monthly Information Sheet, September 1979, 3–4; Moncrieff, Jack. ‘Standard-Bearer of Metric Conversion.’ Australian, 30 August 1994, 14; Stewart, W. I. National Standards and Their Impact on Australia 1922–1980: An Assessment of the Activities of the Standards Association of Australia and Its Contributions to the Industrial Economy. North Sydney: Standards Association of Australia, 1980.
ST JOHN, EDWARD HENRY (TED) (1916–1994), barrister and politician, was born on 15 August 1916 at Boggabri, New South Wales, fifth of eight children of Frederick de Porte St John, Anglican priest, and his wife Hannah Phoebe Mabel, née Pyrke, both New South Wales born. His was a proud ecclesiastical family that appeared in Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage and Burke’s Peerage. The family moved to vicarages at Uralla and then Quirindi. Ted attended Armidale High School, where he proved an excellent student, winning an exhibition to the University of Sydney (BA, 1937; LLB, 1940). There he met Gough Whitlam, a fellow law student who became a close friend. He was admitted to the New South Wales Bar in May 1940.
Volunteering for service in World War II, St John enlisted on 28 May 1940 as a gunner in the Australian Imperial Force. On 3 August 1940 at St Alban’s Church of England, Quirindi, he married Sylvette Cargher, a French Jewish émigré of Romanian background who had arrived in Sydney in 1934. He served in the Middle East, first with the 2/1st Anti-Aircraft Regiment (July 1941 – January 1942) then at the AIF Base Area, where he was commissioned (September) as a lieutenant. By February 1943 he was back in Australia. As a captain, Australian Army Legal Department, from May, he was posted to successive headquarters. This employment included a period (August 1943 – February 1944) with the 9th Division in Papua and New Guinea. He transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 30 June 1945.
Back home, St John, a brilliant lawyer, was determined to make his way in the law and at the Bar. By 1948 he had moved his young family to a new house at Castlecrag in Sydney’s north and was working in chambers in the city. In 1954 Sylvette, who had suffered from several depressive episodes, died after taking an overdose of sedatives. The following year on 25 October he married at St James’s Church of England, Sydney, Valerie Erskine Winslow, an education officer whom he had met on the way to London for a Commonwealth legal conference.
In 1956 St John took silk. From 1960 to 1962 he was Challis lecturer in legal interpretation at his alma mater, and in 1966 he was appointed an acting judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The same year, however, he opted for politics, winning the blue-ribbon seat of Warringah for the Liberal Party of Australia at the general election. His maiden speech in 1967 brought him notoriety when he criticised Prime Minister Harold Holt [q.v.14] for failing to hold a second inquiry into the controversial HMAS Voyager disaster. His impassioned speech severely embarrassed the prime minister and over the following years he became increasingly isolated in Canberra. Uncompromising and confident, he had few supporters in the party when in March 1969 he denounced Prime Minister John Gorton for arriving at the Embassy of the United States of America in Canberra with the nineteen-year-old journalist Geraldine Willesee after a press gallery dinner. He later expanded his attack to encompass Gorton’s style of leadership, which he perceived as overly presidential. His candour was too much for his colleagues and St John was eventually forced to resign from the party and move to the cross-benches. Undeterred, he stood unsuccessfully as an Independent at the 1969 election, publishing a book, A Time to Speak, in which he outlined his views on democracy and society and justified his stance.
Away from politics St John did not immediately return to the law and instead undertook various mining and real estate projects. He was also active in conservation causes. That activism led to Whitlam’s appointing him to the 1973 committee of inquiry into the flooding of Lake Pedder in Tasmania. In 1975 he resumed work at the Bar and over the next few years represented many important clients as well as working pro bono. He defended the company directors Alexander Barton and his son Thomas on charges relating to companies in which shareholders had lost millions of dollars. In 1983 he retired from practice.
St John promoted a mix of right-wing and left-wing causes. He opposed apartheid in South Africa, serving as president of the South Africa Defence and Aid Fund in Australia from 1963 to 1967. He worked tirelessly on peace and anti-nuclear issues, including backing the singer Peter Garrett when he stood for a New South Wales Senate seat for the Nuclear Disarmament Party in 1984. That year he worked with the poet Les Murray on a joint composition, ‘The Universal Prayer for Peace: A Prayer for the Nuclear Age’. Over the next decade he continued to publicise environmental issues and researched a book on nuclear war, Judgement at Hiroshima, which was released posthumously. He also supported the World Court Project. For many years he served on the International Commission of Jurists, becoming president (1961–73) of the Australian section.
Although St John served only one term in the Australian Parliament, he was one of the best-known politicians in the country in the 1960s. Some critics claimed that his public denunciation of Gorton opened the way for the shift of power from the Liberal and Country parties coalition to the Australian Labor Party under Whitlam in 1972; St John argued that he had simply followed his principles. He died on 24 October 1994 at Strathfield, and was cremated. His second wife, the two daughters of his first marriage, and the three sons of his second, survived him. At his memorial service at St Luke’s Anglican Church, Mosman, Justice Michael Kirby said that St John had ‘attracted calumny and praise in equal measure’ (Kirby 1994, 37). A decade earlier St John had said: ‘Part of my trouble is … that I basically have always belonged in the middle of the road, I am not an extremist, I am an idealist and I certainly did have an identification with the underdog’ (St John 1983). One of his daughters, Madeleine, became a prominent novelist.
Kirby, Michael. ‘Edward Henry St John QC—Valiant for Truth.’ Bar News (NSW Bar Association), Spring/Summer 1994, 37–38; National Archives of Australia. B883, NX18056; National Library of Australia. MS 7614, Papers of Edward St. John, 1963–1978; St John, Edward. Interview by Veronica Keraitis, 29 September 1980. Transcript. National Library of Australia; St John, Edward. Interview by Vivienne Rae-Ellis, 5–7 July 1983. Transcript. Parliament’s oral history project collection. National Library of Australia; State Library of New South Wales. MLMSS 6660, MLOH 312, Edward St John—Papers, 1939–1997; Trinca, Helen. Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John. Melbourne: Text, 2013.
STOKES, CONSTANCE (CONNIE) (1906–1991), artist, was born on 20 February 1906 at Miram Piram in the Wimmera district of Victoria, fifth child of South Australian–born James Henry Parkin, farmer, and his Victorian-born wife Mary Jane, née Martin. Connie grew up on her parents’ property and then at Nhill where she attended the local State school. Of slight build and under 5 feet (152 cm) tall, she would earn the sobriquet ‘La Petite’. In 1920 the family moved to Melbourne. She continued her education at the Genazzano convent school, Kew, where her art teacher, Susan Cochrane, recognised and encouraged her talent.
Between 1925 and 1929 Parkin studied at the National Gallery of Victoria’s school of painting under the director Bernard Hall [q.v.9]. In 1929 she won the prestigious National Gallery Travelling scholarship. The next year she exhibited with the Australian Art Association at the Athenaeum Art Gallery in Collins Street, where her painting Portrait of Mrs W. Mortill attracted the praise of (Sir) Arthur Streeton [q.v.12]. Taking up her scholarship in 1931, she studied drawing at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and then painting with the cubist artist André Lhote in Paris. In contrast to the conventional style she had employed earlier, she developed an interest in the use of abstract colour, post-impressionism, and cubism. After touring Spain and Italy, she returned to Melbourne in 1933. On 26 August that year at St Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Brighton, she married Eric Wyborn Stokes, a manufacturer. She held her first solo exhibition at the Decoration Co. Pty Ltd gallery in October. The couple departed soon after on an extended honeymoon in Europe. While there she took anatomy classes at the Royal Academy and visited trade shows with Eric.
Back in Melbourne by mid-1934, they settled in Collins Street in the city. In 1939 she exhibited with the Contemporary Art Society’s inaugural exhibition, alongside George Bell [q.v.7] and progressive younger painters such as (Sir) Sidney Nolan [q.v.]. The following year Stokes seceded with Bell to his new Melbourne Contemporary Artists group. While never his pupil, she regularly attended informal life-drawing classes at his Toorak studio. She also benefited from his guidance in early modernism, adopting a glazing technique that imbued her textured work with rich colour and luminosity. While recognised for her religious works, still lifes, and rural scenes, she was best known for her depictions of women. Characterised by a warmth and intimacy, her lively female portraits included watercolour and rhythmic open-line drawings of monumental nudes. Her works, such as the well-regarded Woman Drying Her Hair (c. 1946), were described as womanly without being sexual.
Between 1937 and 1942 Stokes had three children. Describing herself as ‘half mother and half painter’ (1965), she endeavoured to combine art with motherhood and life in the suburbs. Although family obligations limited her output, she continued to develop her skills and in 1948 produced one of her best-known works, Girl in Red Tights. In 1953 she was one of twelve artists invited to represent Australia in an Arts Council of Great Britain exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries, London. She and Eric attended the opening before travelling to the 1954 Venice Biennale, where some works from the exhibition were later shown, and visiting New York.
Eric’s death in 1962 left Stokes with substantial debts and prompted her to produce new works. Her exhibition two years later at the Leveson Street Gallery, North Melbourne, was financially successful. Her painting became progressively decorative; she used high-keyed flat colours, lighter in application, and often reminiscent of the style of Matisse. The mastery of her line-work also became increasingly evident. Retrospective exhibitions of her work were held at the Mornington Peninsula Arts Centre (1974) and Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery (1985), the latter touring Victoria, and to the S. H. Ervin [q.v.14] Gallery, Sydney. She was represented in the Australian Women Artists exhibition at the University of Melbourne (1975), and in the Victorian touring exhibition, The Heroic Years of Australian Painting, 1940–1965 (1977–78). Her last solo exhibition was held in 1981 at the Australian Galleries, Melbourne; and her final painting, Alice Tumbling Down the Rabbit Hole was created in 1990. After suffering a pulmonary thromboembolism, she died on 14 July 1991 at Prahran and was buried in Box Hill cemetery. She was survived by her daughter and two sons.
Stokes is well represented in private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. The NGV featured her work in its seminal exhibition Classical Modernism: The George Bell Circle in 1992, and the next year held a retrospective exhibition that traced her critical and commercial successes and affirmed her position as an acclaimed modernist artist.
Burke, Joseph. ‘Introduction.’ In Constance Stokes: Retrospective Exhibition, 4–7. [Swan Hill, Vic.]: Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, 1985. Exhibition catalogue; Constance Stokes 1906–1991. Curated by Jane Clark. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1993. Exhibition pamphlet; Lloyd, Andrea. ‘Constance Stokes: Her Life and Art’, BA Hons thesis, University of Melbourne, 1991; Moore, Felicity St John. Classical Modernism: The George Bell Circle, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1992; Stokes, Constance. Interview by Hazel de Berg, 2 December 1965. Transcript. Hazel de Berg collection. National Library of Australia; Summers, Anne. The Lost Mother: A Story of Art and Love. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2009; Wyborn d’Abrera, Lucilla. Constance Stokes: Art & Life. Malvern, Vic.: Hill House Publishers, 2015.
STONEHAM, CLIVE PHILIP (1909–1992), railway clerk, mayor, and politician, was born on 12 April 1909 at Maryborough, Victoria, third son of John Stoneham, piano tuner, and his wife Ada Florence, née Esnouf, former textile worker. While John had been born in Victoria, Ada migrated with her family from Jersey, Channel Islands, to New Zealand, before moving to Australia. Her early involvement as a trade union activist in the anti-sweating campaigns in New Zealand and her long-standing advocacy of workers’ rights profoundly influenced Clive, who later commented that he was ‘reared from the cradle on Labor politics and trade union history’ (Age 1953, 2).
Educated at Maryborough East State and Maryborough High schools, Stoneham joined the Victorian Railways at fifteen as a junior clerk. He took out his union ticket and Australian Labor Party (ALP) membership on his first day. On 13 October 1930 he married Maisie Beatrice Chesterfield at Christ Church, Maryborough. They would have three daughters and a son who died in infancy. Prodigiously active in his local community and the labour movement, Stoneham was elected to Maryborough Borough Council at twenty-nine, and was mayor at thirty-three. His involvement with the Victorian Decentralisation League brought him national attention.
Stoneham successfully contested the by-election for the seat of Maryborough and Daylesford in the Legislative Assembly after the death of its sitting Labor member, George Frost, in 1942. His maiden speech advocated water conservation and decentralisation: these were the bedrock issues he promoted for the rest of his career. He entered parliament critical of the ALP’s recent support of (Sir) Albert Dunstan’s [q.v.8] United Country Party government. Immediately, he found himself in a fierce dispute with the premier over what he considered to be the government’s poor record on decentralisation; later, he attacked it for failing to respond adequately to the findings of the royal commission investigating the 1939 Black Friday bushfires.
In late 1942 Stoneham was blocked from volunteering for war service by the Labor leader, John Cain [q.v.13], who believed his country seat was crucial to forming government. He was rewarded with an honorary ministry (lands and water supply and decentralization) during the Cain government’s ill-fated four-day term of September 1943. After an electoral redistribution, he successfully stood for the seat of Midlands in 1945. During Cain’s subsequent two terms in office he held the portfolios of transport (1945–47), State development and decentralization (1945–47, 1952–55), agriculture (1952–55), and water supply (1952–55). The loyal, hard-working, and non-ideological Stoneham managed to weather the calamitous 1955 split in the ALP that terminated the latter of those ministries.
On the death of Cain in August 1957, Stoneham became deputy leader to Ernie Shepherd [q.v.16]. A little over a year later Shepherd was also dead and Stoneham, a safe option given the continuing tumult in the party, was elected leader of the Opposition, a position he held from 1958 to 1967. Hamstrung by a State executive that was increasingly dominated by the industrial left, thwarted by the breakaway Democratic Labor Party and its anti-Labor preference strategy, and outfoxed by the Liberal premier, (Sir) Henry Bolte [q.v.17], he led a parliamentary rump that came to be seen as a ‘permanent Opposition’ (Rivett 1967, 2).
Nevertheless, Stoneham’s position enabled him to speak on important matters. In 1963 he met with Indigenous leaders protesting against the move to close Lake Tyers Aboriginal station, and spoke passionately in parliament, questioning why Aboriginal Victorians ‘should be forcibly assimilated’ (Vic. LA 1962–63, 3178). He also advocated the need for disarmament; boycotted the visit of the South Vietnamese prime minister, Air Vice Marshal Nguyễn Cao Kỳ; and, as a member of the Citizens’ Anti-Hanging Committee, was involved in efforts to spare Robert Tait [q.v.18] and Ronald Ryan [q.v.16] from the hangman’s noose, condemning the government for its ‘official reversion to barbarism’ (Age 1966, 1).
Despite taking the fight to Bolte on numerous occasions—at one point calling him a ‘dirty rotten coward’ (Vic. LA 1965, 764)—Stoneham was unable to upset the premier’s supremacy. The last election he contested as Opposition leader, in April 1967, delivered Bolte a record fifth consecutive term. Stoneham was seen as ‘too tame’ (SMH 1967, 2) to trouble Bolte and there were doubts about whether he had either the energy or capacity to renew the party. Labor looked to the post-split generation to reverse its fortunes and chose Clyde Holding as his replacement.
A big man, with pale blue eyes, Stoneham was a Labor leader in the old mould, relying on a sturdy pair of boots and a gregarious nature. He was fundamentally decent, and ‘knew everybody … and they knew him’ (Vic. LA 1992, 4). A dedicated local member, he devoted his Sundays to his constituents, who waited for him on the verandah of his home in Fraser Street. He retired from parliament in 1970, and the same year was appointed OBE. Maisie who, along with Stoneham’s mother, maintained a supportive and stable home environment, died in 1978. He remained a visible and loved local identity and continued to live in the house in which he was born, until old age and infirmity forced him into care. Survived by his three daughters, he died on 2 July 1992 at Maryborough and was buried in the local cemetery.
Age (Melbourne). ‘Hanging of Ryan Set for Jan. 9.’ 13 December 1966, 1; ‘Mr. C. P. Stoneham—Railman.’ 15 January 1953, 2; Cleary, Colin. Bendigo Labor: The Maintenance of Traditions in a Regional City. Epsom, Vic.: Colin Cleary, 1999; Costar, Brian, and Paul Strangio, eds. The Victorian Premiers: 1856–2006. Annandale, NSW: Federation Press, 2006; Maryborough District Advertiser. ‘Clive Stoneham Dies, 83.’ 7 July 1992, 2, 8; Rivett, Rohan. ‘Firebrand Leader.’ Canberra Times, 16 May 1967, 2; Stoneham Papers. Private collection; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘“Get Bolte” Policy Unlikely to Succeed.’ 21 April 1967, 2; Victoria. Legislative Assembly. Parliamentary Debates, vol. 270, 1962–63, 3178; vol. 279, 1965, 764; vol. 408, 1992, 4.
STORY, EDWINA LOVETT WILLIS (TWINK) (1913–1992), radio personality and pianist, was born Edna Lovett Willis on 16 December 1913 at Newcastle, New South Wales, daughter of New South Wales–born Ethel Adelia Mary Willis. She took the surname of her adoptive parents Ernest Edwin Ford, house painter, and his wife Mary Ann, née Waring, who had two older children. Her parents bought a piano when Edna was eight, and she could soon play by ear. Receiving lessons, from the age of ten she sang and played piano in eisteddfods and concerts, becoming accustomed to performing in public. She passed examinations with the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music, the Victoria College of Music (London), and the Australian Conservatorium of Music Board. The family moved around Newcastle, so Edna attended various schools. She left at the age of fifteen and began teaching piano, singing, and speech.
On 27 September 1930 Ford married Albert Motto Prize Giggins, an ironworker, at St Andrew’s Church of England, Mayfield. The couple had two children by 1940. Aided by a live-in nanny, Giggins continued performing. During World War II she sang and played for troop concerts in halls, Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia clubs, and army camps.
Giggins aspired to a career in radio and had done some freelance work on commercial stations and for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In 1945 she was appointed the children’s program and concert organiser by the new manager of the radio station 2HD, Oliver James (Jim) Storey. He had been born on 28 June 1909 at Hertford, England, the son of James Story, journeyman house painter, and his wife Rhoda, née Dyball. Edna took to her new job ‘like a duck to water’ (Story 1988). She adopted Twinkle as her radio name, and began using the name ‘Edwina’. From late 1945 she produced and conducted 2HD radio eisteddfods, which won a commercial stations award for fostering talent. As her knowledge of broadcasting grew, she was promoted to musical director at 2HD. She produced Community Frolics, a weekly show featuring artists and a singalong with herself at the keyboard, at venues around the Hunter region.
In 1950 Storey was divorced from his wife Doris, née Britten, a schoolteacher whom he had married on 1 March 1939 at the Methodist parsonage, Maryborough, Queensland, and with whom he had a daughter. The same year Giggins divorced her husband, and on 13 May that year they were married at the Central Methodist Mission, Newcastle. They dropped the ‘e’ from their surname and she came to be known as ‘Twink’ Story. When the Newcastle television station NBN 3 began broadcasting in 1962, she was asked to conduct the children’s program. Despite ‘marvellous reports’ (Brown 1962), she felt ‘stiff in front of a camera’ (Biggins 1985, 2) and returned to radio. From 1963 2HD focused on pop music and her children’s program was reduced to birthday and sick calls, but her signature tune ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ became entwined with her name.
Together with her husband, Story travelled overseas investigating radio stations and programs, and she devised the idea for Swap Shop, which became her greatest radio success. It began in 1970, airing for half an hour a week, with listeners ringing the station to sell and buy items. After she partnered with Mike Jeffries, and humour was injected into the show, the program expanded to one hour a day.
The Storys retired from 2HD in 1974. The switchboard was jammed with people ringing to farewell Twink, whose ‘clean, sophisticated voice’ had been ‘heard throughout the Hunter Valley’ (Sharpe, n.d.) for thirty years. She continued as a public figure, maintaining her involvement in a range of charities; remaining active in the Maitland Gilbert and Sullivan Society, which she had co-founded; playing piano in her Palm Court Ensemble; orchestrating charity concerts; and addressing groups. Jim died on 14 September 1984 at Maitland, and was cremated. In 1986 Twink was appointed OAM, and was made an honorary freeman of the city of Maitland in November 1992. She died on 3 December that year at Maitland and was cremated. The daughter and son of her first marriage survived her, as did the stepdaughter of her second. Her memorial service was held at Maitland Uniting Church. A tall, elegant woman with sculptured blonde hair pulled back into a bun and glasses said to have resembled those of Dame Edna Everage, Story had been remarkable for her prominence and longevity in male-dominated commercial radio. Although her husband was her mentor, she had to ‘prove’ herself ‘every step of the way’ (Story 1988), becoming a household name in the region in the process.
Biggins, Felicity. ‘The Story of Twink.’ Newcastle Herald, 1 July 1985, 2; Brown, John D. Letter to Twink Story, [April 1962]. Story Papers. Private collection; Maitland Mercury. ‘The Final Curtain for First Lady of Music.’ 4 December 1992, 1–2; Sharpe, Donna. ‘Twink Retired from Radio … But Not from a Full Life.’ Newspaper cutting, n.d., Scrapbook, Story Papers. Private collection; Story Papers. Private collection; Story, Twink. Interview with Bill Barrington, 8 August 1989. National Film and Sound Archive of Australia; Story, Twink. Interview with Leonie Milgate, 1 October 1988. Transcript. Margaret Henry Oral History Archive. University of Newcastle. livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/75591.
STOVE, DAVID CHARLES (1927–1994), philosopher and conservative polemicist, was born on 15 September 1927 at Moree, New South Wales, fifth surviving child of New South Wales–born parents Robert James Stove, schoolteacher, and his wife Ida Maude, née Hill. After studying at Newcastle Boys’ High School, where he excelled in running and was captain of the school, David attended the University of Sydney (BA, 1950), graduating with first-class honours in moral and political philosophy. He was strongly influenced by the Challis [q.v.3] professor of philosophy John Anderson [q.v.7], and though he later came to abhor many of Anderson’s libertarian views, he would never lose an emphasis on rigour in argument.
Appointed a teaching fellow at the University of Sydney in 1951, Stove became a lecturer in philosophy at the New South Wales University of Technology (later the University of New South Wales) in 1952. On 4 November 1959 at the registrar general’s office, Sydney, he married Jessie Amelia Leahy, a biochemist. The next year he returned to the University of Sydney. Promoted to senior lecturer in 1963 and associate professor in 1974, he would teach there until his retirement in 1987.
In the early 1970s Stove was alarmed by the spread of radical left-wing ideas on campus, especially in his own department. With his colleague David Armstrong, the Challis professor of philosophy, he strongly resisted the introduction of courses in Marxism-Leninism and feminism. Although the subjects went ahead, the disputes resulted in a split in the department, with Stove and Armstrong joining a new department of traditional and modern philosophy (colloquially ‘T & M’). Stove headed the department in 1981 and 1982. While the other, left-wing, department was troubled by political schism, he felt that T & M was a perfect environment for serious work; he believed it to be ‘the best club in the world’ (Stove 2014, 43). He had been elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1975.
Stove’s technical work in philosophy mostly concerned the problem of induction. In Probability and Hume’s Inductive Scepticism (1973) and The Rationality of Induction (1986), he argued that inference from the observed to the unobserved was justified for purely logical reasons: there exists a non-deductive or probabilistic kind of logic which renders ‘The next swan is white’ probable, though not certain, on the evidence that all swans so far observed have been white. His more polemical philosophical work included Popper and After: Four Modern Irrationalists (1982), which accused leading philosophers of science, such as Sir Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, of undermining, rather than, as they claimed, defending science. Jokes as well as logic were essential to his style of argument. Popper had concluded, in his massive The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1934), that science could never establish truth; Stove compared that to Aesop’s fable of the fox and the grapes, adding: ‘The parallel would be complete if the fox, having become convinced that neither he nor anyone else could ever succeed in tasting grapes, should nevertheless write many long books on the progress of viticulture’ (1982, 52). The Plato Cult and Other Philosophical Follies (1991) widened the attack to include other philosophers, such as Nelson Goodman and Robert Nozick.
Angered again in the 1980s by the spread of postmodernist varieties of left-wing thought, in 1986 Stove published a scathing article entitled ‘A Farewell to Arts’. It began:
The Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney is a disaster-area, and not of the merely passive kind, like a bombed building, or an area that has been flooded. It is the active kind, like a badly leaking nuclear reactor, or an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle (8).
It attributed the ‘disaster’ to ‘Marxism, semiotics, and feminism’ (9).
Central to Stove’s intellectual life, and his views on women and race, was his opinion that the only path to the truth was through deduction and simple induction. Witty, irreverent, and principled, he was of pessimistic temperament, finding no consolation in religion or hopes for political progress. He found some comfort in classical music, old books, and nature, enjoying planting trees at his rural property at Mulgoa. He also liked cricket, which he had played at grade level, and rugby league. A heavy smoker, he contracted oesophageal cancer. After a period of depression following severe treatment for the disease, he committed suicide on 1 or 2 June 1994 at Mulgoa, and was cremated. His wife and their son and daughter survived him.
Several of his books were published posthumously. The first was a collection of his polemical essays, Cricket versus Republicanism and Other Essays (1995), which included his opinions that the intellectual capacity of women is on average lower than men and that races differ in traits. There followed Darwinian Fairytales (1995), an attack on the sociobiological strand of evolutionary theory. His views proved popular in some American conservative circles, leading to the publication of further books of his essays: Against the Idols of the Age (1999), On Enlightenment (2003), and What’s Wrong with Benevolence (2011). Their general theme is that well-meaning schemes designed to improve society by planning are doomed to fall victim to adverse unintended consequences.
Armstrong, David. ‘David Stove 1927–1994.’ Quadrant 38, nos 7–8 (July–August 1994): 36–37; Franklin, James. Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia. Sydney: Macleay Press, 2003, Franklin, James. ‘Polemicist Divided Friend and Foe.’ Australian, 21 June 1994, 13; Kimball, Roger. ‘Who Was David Stove?’ New Criterion 15, no. 7 (March 1997): 21–28; Stove, David. ‘A Farewell to Arts.’ Quadrant 30, no. 5 (May 1986): 8–11; Stove, David. Popper and After: Four Modern Irrationalists (Oxford and New York: Pergamon Press, 1982); Stove, David. ‘A Tribute to David Armstrong.’ Quadrant 58, no. 3 (March 2014): 42–43; University of Sydney Archives. P212, David Stove Papers.
STREETER, JOAN (1918–1993), naval officer, was born on 25 April 1918 in Melbourne, daughter of Francis Charles Gordon Ritchie, draper manager, and his wife Elsie Ada, née Muir. Educated at Elwood Central State School and Hassett’s Business College, Prahran, Joan worked as a clerk. On 3 December 1938 she married Alan Willis Streeter at Holy Trinity Church, Oakleigh, in a Church of England ceremony. He was an accountant who in World War II became a squadron leader in the Royal Australian Air Force. The marriage was to be dissolved in 1948.
With her husband serving in Darwin, on 25 January 1943 Streeter joined the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS), in which women filled positions in shore establishments. After training and brief employment as a writer (naval clerk) at HMAS Penguin, Sydney, Streeter was commissioned on 26 May and posted to HMAS Cerberus, Westernport, Victoria, for officer training. She then performed administrative duties at HMAS Penguin (from September); HMAS Kuranda, Cairns, Queensland (from May 1944); and in Sydney at HMAS Kuttabul (January to September 1945 and April to November 1946), and HMAS Rushcutter (September 1945 to April 1946). In July 1945 she was promoted to second officer. She had volunteered for overseas service, but WRANS were restricted to service in Australia. With the end of the war the WRANS were disbanded. Demobilised on 8 November 1946, Streeter moved to London where she was employed as company secretary with Cragoe Ltd, before working in Canada.
Manpower shortages in the Royal Australian Navy and the outbreak of the Korean War resulted in the WRANS being reconstituted in 1951. In 1954 Streeter was working as a company secretary and office manager with Kennedy Insurance Agency, Toronto, when she was offered a short-service commission in the WRANS, beginning on 11 June; extensions of service would follow. Her first two postings were as the unit officer, WRANS, at HMAS Harman, Australian Capital Territory (1954–55), then—in the rank of first officer—at HMAS Cerberus (1955–58). On 13 January 1958 she was appointed as director of the WRANS at Navy Office, Melbourne. Initially an acting chief officer, she held the substantive rank from December. Navy Office moved to Canberra in the following year. She was appointed OBE in 1964. In April 1968 Streeter was granted a permanent commission and on 11 July promoted to superintendent; this rank was equivalent to captain and was so retitled in 1972.
As head of the WRANS, Streeter worked assiduously to expand the numbers of naval servicewomen and to widen the employment categories open to them. A persistent and determined advocate for the welfare of her charges, she was influential in developing government policy to encourage women to enter naval careers. She strove to improve conditions of service, including providing better training and standards of accommodation, and permitting servicewomen to contribute to the military superannuation scheme. Demanding high professional standards, she was a capable leader and administrator who guided the WRANS wisely and diligently. When she assumed command, the WRANS had been a small temporary force; on her retirement in April 1973, it had become a permanent component of the navy, some 750 strong.
Always elegant, she was slim and 5 feet 6 inches (168 cm) tall. Her manner was dignified but approachable. For much of her life, she was a heavy smoker. In retirement she lived quietly, socialising with her friends and enjoying music and reading. She died on 14 April 1993 at her home in Canberra and was cremated.
Bennet, Mary, compiler. Recollections of Captain Joan Streeter by Retired Officers, 2016. Manuscript held on ADB file; Canberra Times. ‘Director of WRANs Reaches Top Rank.’ 25 July 1968, 3; ‘Women Who Win Professional Equality.’ 16 January 1967, 2; National Archives of Australia. A3978. A6769; Spurling, Kathryn. ‘Willing Volunteers, Resisting Society, Reluctant Navy.’ In The Royal Australian Navy in World War II, edited by David Stevens. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1996.
STRIDE, DOUGLAS WILLIAM (DOUG) (1911–1995), banker and philanthropist, was born on 25 November 1911 at Ballarat, Victoria, third of five children of Godfrey Nicholas Stride, civil servant, and his wife Ruby Langridge, née McKenzie, both Victorian born. Ruby’s parents ran McKenzie’s Hotel, a popular holiday resort at Woodend, and her brother William served (1927–47) in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. The family moved to Caulfield, Melbourne, and Doug attended (1925–27) University High School before joining the Commercial Bank of Australia as a junior clerk in 1928. He became a share clerk and by 1934 was attached to the general manager’s office at the bank’s Melbourne headquarters. A keen sportsman, who had played lacrosse at school, he met Eunice Dorothy Thorn, a clerk, playing tennis. They married with Anglican rites on 25 February 1939 at St Mary’s Church, Caulfield.
Rising steadily through the bank hierarchy, Stride was secretary to the general manager (1946–51) and then chief accountant (1951–57). His international focus was sharpened as manager (1957–64) of the London office, where he became ‘well known and respected throughout the financial community’ (Perry 1995, 19), fostering Australasian business opportunities in Britain and the European Economic Community. Returning home, he served as manager (1964–65) of the Melbourne office, assistant general manager (1965–69), chief manager (1969–71) of the corporate and international division, and deputy general manager (1970–71), before his appointment as managing director in 1971.
With striking blue eyes and a quiet, direct, and informal manner, Stride ‘was always calm in a crisis’ (Perry 1995, 19). He was jovial with a cheeky sense of humour when circumstances allowed. His time as managing director coincided with large-scale mining and energy project investment opportunities and rising consumer expectations, but ongoing tight financial controls in Australia. His resulting priorities—aimed at providing returns for shareholders and customers, and good employment conditions for staff—included internationalisation, diversification, and modernisation. In his seven years at the helm, annual operating profits rose more than fivefold as the bank grew and transformed from ‘a fairly stuffy style to a modern, progressive operation’ (National Times 1972, 36). Active in most time zones, the bank adapted to changing global economic conditions, and utilised improved long-distance communication and computerisation to support accelerated development in Australia and the western Pacific through ‘an integrated range of financial services’ (Wood 1990, 339).
The bank’s updated facilities extended to futuristic skyscrapers for capital city offices, but a 1973 plan to demolish the old domed banking chamber at the Collins Street headquarters was in conflict with an emerging public sentiment to preserve notable architectural history remaining in the city centre. To Stride’s intense disappointment, the dome became one of the first buildings listed on Victoria’s new Historic Buildings Register in 1974.
Retiring as managing director in 1978, Stride was appointed AO. He continued until 1982 as a non-executive director, during which time the bank merged with the larger Bank of New South Wales to form Westpac Banking Corporation. As chairman (1979–81) of the newly created Australian Dried Fruits Corporation, he helped to promote the export of dried vine fruit. He was a member of the Melbourne, Australian, and Athenaeum clubs and played bowls at the Auburn Heights Recreation Club (later MCC Kew Sports Club), where the ‘Doug Stride Green’ (Chapman 1999, 53) bears a plaque to his memory.
Stride was a generous benefactor to many organisations both through the bank and in a personal capacity. He received the National Gallery of Victoria’s medal (1977) for distinguished service to art, was appointed a life governor (1987) of the Austin Hospital at Heidelberg, and supported St Mark’s Anglican Church, Camberwell, where he worshipped. Widowed in 1972, he married Eleonoh Eileen Mars, née Harris, at St Mark’s on 3 July 1975. Her father and first husband had been successful mining engineers and she and Stride established the Mars-Stride Trust in 1985 to support children in need. Survived by his second wife, and the two sons and daughter of his first marriage, he died on 26 July 1995 at Kew, Melbourne, and was cremated. In 2002 Stride Lane in Gungahlin, Canberra, was named in his honour.
Bankers’ Magazine of Australasia 84 (April 1971): 301; Chapman, John, and Gloria Chapman. The History of the Auburn Heights Recreation Club, 1904 to 1998. Melbourne: Surrey Printing, 1999; National Times (Sydney). ‘Douglas William Stride.’ 3–8 July 1972, 36; Perry, Jack. ‘Stride Gave All to Banking, Business and Bowls Club.’ Age (Melbourne), 18 September 1995, 19; Wood, Rodney. The Commercial Bank of Australia Limited: History of an Australian Institution 1866–1981. North Melbourne: Hargreen Publishing Company, 1990.
Beverley F. Ronalds
STRONACH, NELLIE ELIZABETH (1892–1991), community worker, was born on 28 March 1892 at Balmain, Sydney, only child of Scottish-born John Stronach, marine engineer, and his New South Wales–born wife Helen, née McDonald, a former teacher who had taken her stepfather’s surname of Tulloch. Young Nellie attended a private school until she was twelve then continued her education under a governess, finishing at age fifteen. Because of her father’s work, the family spent periods in Scotland during her childhood.
By 1908 the Stronachs had settled at Ballina, New South Wales. Nellie ran an infants’ school and sang at concerts, functions, and musical festivals in the district. She volunteered with the Australian Red Cross Society and Girls’ Patriotic League during World War I, in which she lost her fiancé. The family returned to Balmain, probably in 1920. Stronach became a partner in a tea and sandwich shop, while caring for her ageing parents both of whom died in the 1930s. Joining the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in 1930, she ran the organisation’s cafeteria in the city from about 1935.
On 6 March 1942 Stronach enlisted in the Australian Women’s Army Service, putting her age back to forty-three to be eligible. She served as a cook with the 2nd Ambulance Car Company in Sydney and at Tamworth. Promoted to sergeant in June, she applied for a commission but was rejected because of her age, the truth having been discovered. In May 1943 she was promoted to warrant officer, class two, and in July was posted to the Australian Defence Canteens Service Club (later retitled No. 9 Australian Army Canteens Service Club) at Railway Square, Sydney. She was transferred in September 1944 to No. 1 AACS Women’s Club, Melbourne. At both establishments, she maintained discipline with ‘tact & good humour’ (Weir 1992, 6).
Discharged on 27 April 1945 to become a YWCA philanthropic representative with the army women’s services, Stronach was attached to barracks in New South Wales at Bathurst and Albury. The next year she became matron of a cannery workers’ dormitory at Leeton. She left for Japan in 1947 as a YWCA welfare officer with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. Attached to the 130th Australian General Hospital, Kure, the ever-popular ‘Stronnie’ supported nursing and medical staff and, when the Korean War started in 1950, took over the patients’ mess in the renamed British Commonwealth General Hospital. In 1952 she was appointed MBE for ‘service to the troops far beyond the normal call of duty’ (AWM AWM88). She taught Western-style cooking, social customs, and home-craft to Japanese brides and fiancées of Australian servicemen.
Returning to Sydney in November 1953, Stronach served as matron of Glen Mervyn Legacy House hostel for students at Randwick, Sydney, and then of the Church of England’s Gilbulla conference centre at Menangle. In 1961 she was appointed director of Tremayne, Kirribilli, a YWCA hostel for young women from outside Sydney studying and working in the city. Short, slightly built, and bespectacled, she superintended ‘with an iron fist coated with kid leather’, yet became ‘like a mother’ (Gain 2014) to her charges and was ‘much loved’ (Dunn 1991, 135). Off duty, she resided with her close friends Keith and Beryl Gain at Mosman, being ‘Aunt Stron’ to their children. After retiring in 1976, she lived with the Gains until moving to Parramatta in 1980. Energetic and sociable, she cherished her friendships and her faith, and continued her voluntary community work. She never married. On 20 November 1991 she died at her Parramatta home and, following a Uniting Church service, was cremated.
Australian War Memorial. AWM88, AMF K/56, MT885/1, S/8/27; Dunn, Margaret. The Dauntless Bunch: The Story of the YMCA in Australia. Clifton Hill, Vic.: Young Women’s Christian Association, 1991; Gain, Louella. Personal communication; National Archives of Australia. B884, N390423; Parramatta Advertiser. ‘Nellie Remembered as “Full of Joy”.’ 27 November 1991, 29; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘She Teaches Japanese Our Cooking.’ 30 September 1952, 5; ‘Y.W.C.A. Pioneer in Japan Returns Home.’ 13 November 1953, 23; Weir, Joan. ‘Nellie Elizabeth Stronach MBE (Post War) NF390423 – WOII.’ Khaki 16, no. 1 (March, April, May 1992): 6–7.
SUMMERS, DAVID ROBIN (DAVE) (Don Ric Dave) (1932–1995), trade union official, was born on 7 February 1932 at Nottingham, England, and registered as David Robbin [sic], son of Edith Eveline Summers, a general domestic servant. In November 1948 Edith, then a process worker on clocks, and Dave, a dry cleaner, sailed for Australia as third-class, assisted passengers aboard the Mooltan. He was 5 feet 8 inches (173 cm) tall and had brown hair and grey eyes. Arriving in Brisbane on 5 February 1949, mother and son both stated they intended to work in Australia and stay ‘for good’ (NAA BP26/1). He obtained employment as a clerk.
On 12 June 1954 at the Baptist Church, Bulimba, Summers married Violet (Vi) Ada Clark, a packer. He claimed they met while both were moonlighting at Brisbane’s Theatre Royal: he backstage and she as a featured soprano in George Wallace [q.v.16] junior’s variety company. They would have six children and work closely together until his death. Both were staunch supporters of the Australian Labor Party; he became a member in 1955 and she in 1980. When Summers applied for registration as an Australian citizen in 1968 (approved the next year), he was working as a storeman. He joined the Federated Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia and was a shop steward while employed by the clothes manufacturer Edward Fletcher & Co. Pty Ltd. His long crusade against what he termed ‘Australian workers’ jobs being exported to cheap labour Asian Countries’ (UQFL118) probably began at this time.
Summers came to prominence about 1973 when he, Vi, and others initiated the annual Queensland Variety Wallaces awards, named in honour of both George Wallace senior [q.v.12] and junior. On 10 May 1976 he was elected, simultaneously, as secretary of the Queensland division of the Actors’ and Announcers’ Equity Association of Australia (Actors Equity of Australia from 1982), and of the Actors, Entertainers, and Announcers Equity Association, Queensland, Union of Employees (the two bodies operated as one). He made particular efforts to sign up entertainers at popular commercial attractions, including the new theme parks, such as Sea World, on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Under his leadership, the union engaged in disputes with a wide range of organisations, from the Australian Broadcasting Commission to commercial radio and television stations.
Fiercely protectionist, Summers complained about the ‘flooding of Australian television screens with overseas shows’ (UQFL118), argued against a proposed national satellite system that he feared would adversely affect employment at regional radio and television stations, and fought to prevent overseas actors appearing in Australian films. He also opposed the appearance at the 1980 Brisbane Warana Festival of ‘30 visiting cultural performers’ (UQFL118) from Indonesia, Japan, and Papua New Guinea, unless they joined Equity; the festival’s management resisted, on the grounds that they would not appear in commercial, political, fundraising, or even charitable events.
Summers devised a system for paying union dues which suited the unpredictability of work in the entertainment industries but also enabled him to inflate total Equity membership. Any member could go on suspension simply by informing his office but nobody could resign without first paying their entire back dues. The apparent size of the union added weight to his position on the Trades and Labour Council of Queensland. Because artists, journalists, musicians, and stage workers belonged to four separate unions, demarcation disputes were endless. Efforts by the TLC to bring the unions together made little headway during his tenure, in part as a result of his opposition.
Compering in suburban hotels and clubs appears to have been the limit of Summers’s own stage career. He was best suited to supporting those at the variety end of the entertainment business and was dogged in pursuing wage justice for them. The actor and former Equity committee member Leo Wockner recalled Summers’s going to Geraldo Bellino’s illegal casino in Fortitude Valley and being evicted by the ‘bouncers’ when he sought entry to complain that some of the female employees had not been paid. Summers refused to give up and eventually secured a meeting with Bellino, who wrote out a cheque. He engaged less with the theatre, opera, and ballet companies, but served as treasurer (1975–90) of the Actors’ Benevolent Fund.
From early in Summers’s secretaryship, there was disquiet among Equity’s committee members over dubious bookkeeping, chaotic administration, and conflicts of interest. Vi worked in the office and was paid an honorarium but together they also ran a private theatrical agency; in their view, there was mutual benefit through combining these roles: those for whom they found work had to join Equity.
In November 1990 an organised campaign resulted in a landslide electoral defeat for Summers, who failed even to retain a position on the divisional committee. He fought bitterly but unsuccessfully in industrial tribunals to have the election declared applicable to the federal union only, leaving him as secretary of the State union. The new joint executive found Equity heavily in debt and its records out of date and inaccurate.
By 1988 Summers was styling his given names as Don Ric or Don Ric Dave. Soon after he lost his position, Vi turned sixty and began receiving the age pension; he obtained unemployment benefits. A consequent dispute with the Department of Social Security disclosed that they owned their own house and had moderate investments so, in a turbulent industry, their working lives, if opportunistic and sometimes perhaps unscrupulous, were successful. Don Summers died on 18 March 1995 at Meadowbrook and, following a Catholic service, was buried in Beenleigh lawn cemetery. His wife and their five sons and one daughter survived him. A plaque in Brisbane’s Twelfth Night Theatre commemorates his career.
Affiliated Unions Correspondence, Actors Equity 1978–1983. Trades and Labour Council of Queensland records, 1894–, UQFL118, box 78. Fryer Library, University of Queensland; Anonymous. Interview by the author, 12 December 2014; Condon, Matthew. Jacks and Jokers. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 2014; National Archives of Australia. BP26/1, SUMMERS D R; New Lines. Actors Equity of Australia, Queensland Division, Quarterly Newsletter (Spring Hill, Qld). ‘Election Results—Queensland Division.’ 1, no. 1 (January 1991): 5; ‘Ballots for Divisional Committee Members—AEA Rule 61.’ 1, no. 1 (January 1991): 6; ‘Roving Deputies.’ 1, no. 1 (January 1991): 8; ‘Actors Equity: Benevolent Fund.’ 1, no. 4 (October 1991): 8; ‘1991: A Retrospective.’ 2, no. 1 (January 1992): 2; ‘Getting on with the Job.’ 2, no. 1 (January 1992): 3; Re Don Ric Summers and Department of Social Security  Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia 46 (10 February 1993). Copy held on ADB file; Partridge, Des. ‘Actors to Farewell Unionist and Mate.’ Courier Mail (Brisbane), 21 March 1995, 22; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Wockner, Leo. Interview by the author, 9 December 2014; Wockner, Leo. Letter to the author, 16 April 2015.
SUNDERLAND, Sir SYDNEY (SYD) (1910–1993), professor of experimental neurology, was born on 31 December 1910 in Brisbane, only surviving child of Harry Sunderland [q.v.16], journalist, and his wife Annie, née Smith, both Queensland-born. Syd was educated at Kelvin Grove Boys’ State School and briefly at Scotch College, Melbourne, while his father worked for the Sun-News Pictorial. After the family’s return to Queensland, he attended Brisbane State High School. A talented student and athlete, he was awarded an open scholarship (1929) to study science at the University of Queensland. He was dux of first year, won the Alexander and Elizabeth Raff memorial scholarship, and proceeded to medicine at the University of Melbourne (MB, BS, 1935; DSc, 1945; MD, 1946). Having already passed the primary fellowship examination of the Royal College of Surgeons, England, he won the Jamieson [q.v.Supp] prize in clinical medicine as well as the Keith Levi memorial and Fulton scholarships in his final year.
After graduation Sunderland accepted a senior lectureship in anatomy at the university. He also worked at the Alfred Hospital as an assistant neurologist in Leonard Cox’s [q.v.13] clinic and as an assistant to the surgeon Hugh Trumble [q.v.16]. When the professor of anatomy Frederic Wood Jones [q.v.9] returned to Manchester in 1937, he arranged a position for Sunderland as a demonstrator in (Sir) Wilfrid Le Gros Clark’s department of human anatomy, Oxford. The two had an unsatisfactory relationship; some colleagues surmise that Sunderland was distracted by Nina Gwendoline Johnston, a law student he had met in Melbourne. The couple would marry at St Philip and St James Church, Oxford, on 1 February 1939.
While overseas Sunderland developed new skills and connections including with (Sir) Hugh Cairns [q.v.7], a fellow Australian and leading neurosurgeon, and Pío del Río Hortega, a Spanish histologist who had helped to revolutionise techniques for staining cells. In July 1938 Sunderland was offered the chair of anatomy at the University of Melbourne. After protracted negotiations the university agreed that he could take up his position early in 1940. During the interim he toured Europe and North America, meeting prominent figures in his discipline and acquainting himself with the latest experimental techniques. In mid-1939 he spent three months at Wilder Penfield’s Montreal neurological institute, before visiting neuroanatomical and clinical groups at Toronto, Harvard, Yale, and Johns Hopkins universities, among others. Many of those he met became close professional colleagues and helped to stimulate his interest in peripheral nerve injuries.
Sunderland returned to Melbourne at the end of 1939, after the outbreak of World War II, to find a university suffering from the constraints of funding and manpower. He took over the bulk of administration and teaching in the anatomy department, aided by a skeleton staff of mainly volunteer surgeons. He also became a visiting specialist at the 115th Australian Military Hospital, Heidelberg, where soldiers suffering from peripheral nerve injuries were sent. Presented with a wealth of clinical material, he studied the treatment and recovery of these men. His widely admired monograph Nerves and Nerve Injuries (1968) drew heavily on this research.
Consolidating his position in the faculty of medicine, Sunderland was elected dean in 1953. Under his leadership the medical school grew to be one of the premier academic institutions in the country. Following Sir Keith Murray’s [q.v.] report (1957) and the subsequent Menzies [q.v.15] government initiatives to strengthen and expand Australian universities, Sunderland skilfully used his political contacts to get the best for his school, much to the annoyance of many outside his discipline. A brilliant strategist, he headed off the prospect for a new medical school at La Trobe University in favour of doubling the capacity at Melbourne. The result was a significant increase in funding, buildings, and staff. In 1961 he was appointed professor of experimental neurology.
A man of ‘quiet dignity, with stern yet twinkling eyes’ (Ryan 1995, 251), Sunderland worked long hours and kept a sofa-bed at the university for the nights when it was too late to catch the tram home. Despite his administrative commitments, he was a successful laboratory researcher and published regularly. He also maintained an interest in the work of observational biologists and particularly in morphological studies of Indigenous Australians. A frequent traveller, he held visiting professorships at Johns Hopkins University (1953–54) and the University of California (1977). He was a member of numerous State and Federal government committees, including the Australian Universities Commission (1962–75); a governor (1964–93) of the Ian Potter [q.v.] Foundation; and a foundation fellow (1954) of the Australian Academy of Science. He was also instrumental in helping to establish several medical schools in South-East Asia. During the 1970s he was awarded honorary doctorates by the universities of Tasmania, Queensland, and Melbourne, and by Monash University. Having been appointed CBE (1960), he was knighted in 1971. That year he relinquished his deanship. He retired in 1975, but continued working in the anatomy department and would publish Nerve Injuries and Their Repair in 1991.
While Sir Sydney and Lady Sunderland’s well-catered tennis parties at their Toorak home were legendary, the couple also loved to retreat to their property at Lorne. In 1983 he was lucky to escape unscathed after staying to successfully defend their coastal home during the Ash Wednesday bushfires. Survived by his wife and their son, he died on 27 August 1993 at Richmond and was cremated. An international group for the study of peripheral nerves had been renamed the Sunderland Society in his honour in 1981.
Darian-Smith, Ian. ‘Sydney Sunderland: 1910–1993.’ Historical Records of Australian Science 11, no. 1 (June 1996): 51–65; Jones, Ross L. Humanity’s Mirror: 150 Years of Anatomy in Melbourne. Melbourne: Haddington Press, 2007; Ryan, Graeme B. ‘Obituary.’ Journal of Anatomy 187, no. 1 (1995): 249–51; Sunderland, Ian. Personal communication; Sunderland, Sydney. ‘The Melbourne Medical School and Some of Its “Characters” 1931–1975.’ Chiron: Journal of the University of Melbourne Medical Society 2, no. 2 (1992): 46; University of Melbourne Archives. 1996.0035, Sunderland, Sir Sydney (1906–1993).
Ross L. Jones
SUSANS, RONALD THOMAS (RON) (1917–1992), air force officer, was born on 25 February 1917 at Manly, New South Wales, third child of Clarence Joseph Susans, a Melbourne-born stonemason, and his Irish-born wife Florence Bridget, née O’Donnell, who died in 1927. Ron found employment as a junior salesman of business machines and systems for Stott & Underwood Ltd before becoming a sales representative for Beau Monde Hosiery in 1937. Standing 6 feet 1 inch (185 cm) tall, he was a keen sportsman, participating in football, cricket, tennis, golf, rowing, and surfing.
Having served in the Citizen Military Forces from 1938, Susans applied to join the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) when World War II broke out in September 1939. He enlisted on 5 February 1940 and commenced flying training at Point Cook, Victoria. Commissioned in June, he undertook an instructor’s course and by December was training new pilots at Point Cook, and at bases in Western Australia and New South Wales. In April 1942 he was promoted to temporary flight lieutenant. On 1 August that year he married Phillipa Ruth Harvey, a sales assistant, at the Methodist Church, Balgowlah, New South Wales.
After specialised training in fighter aircraft, Susans embarked in Melbourne on 4 November for the Middle East. Joining No. 3 Squadron, he flew P-40 Kittyhawks over North Africa, Malta, Sicily, and mainland Italy—from April 1943 as a flight commander in the unit—often leading the squadron in bombing and low-level attacks on communications and shipping. He was officially credited with shooting down two enemy aircraft and damaging others, for which he was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (1944).
Relieved from operational flying on medical grounds, Susans was invalided to Australia in December 1943. On 13 July 1944 he returned to operations in the South-West Pacific Area as a flight commander in No. 79 Squadron, a Spitfire fighter unit based on Los Negros Island, in the Admiralty group, and later in Borneo. He was appointed commanding officer on 1 January 1945, with temporary rank of squadron leader. In March the squadron moved to Morotai, Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), where he was posted on 4 May to No. 80 (Fighter) Wing, first as wing leader and from 28 June as temporary commander. A month later he was appointed staff officer at headquarters of No. 11 Group on Morotai.
Returning to Australia in August 1945, Susans was placed in command of the RAAF base at Parafield, South Australia. In the following year he undertook training on the P-51 Mustang fighter, before joining the air component of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. After commanding the RAAF’s Mustang-equipped No. 77 Squadron from April 1947, he was posted to staff duties at British Commonwealth Air Headquarters, Iwakuni, in September 1948. On 14 February 1949 he took command of No. 25 (City of Perth) Squadron, a Citizen Air Force fighter unit based at RAAF Station, Pearce, Western Australia.
In June Susans began the RAAF Staff College course at Point Cook, and in February 1950 he moved to a post at RAAF Headquarters, Melbourne. During 1951 he attended a day-fighter leaders’ course at West Rayhnam, Britain, which left him impressed by the potential of the Gloster Meteor, the jet fighter with which the RAAF’s No. 77 Squadron had been recently re-equipped in Korea. By December he was appointed to command the squadron with acting rank of wing commander. The unit’s pilots were deeply demoralised, having been relegated to air defence of the capital, Seoul, after their Meteors were found to be lacking in aerial combat against the MiG-15 jet fighters used by Russian and Chinese opponents. Arranging for the squadron to be given an additional role of ground attack, Susans led the first Meteor rocket mission on 8 January 1952. A month later, he flew a risky mission to test fire a new rocket containing napalm. By the end of February, No. 77 Squadron was flying over 1,000 sorties a month and its relevance to the United Nations mission in Korea had been restored. Susans relinquished command in May, logging 110 operational sorties—nearly all were rocket and strafing attacks over North Korea. On leaving the unit he received an immediate award of the Distinguished Service Order, and was later awarded the United States Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal.
Returning to Australia in June, Susans was sent to London to lecture at the annual Royal Air Force fighter convention on the Meteor’s performance in combat; he was promoted substantively to wing commander on 1 July. Periods of staff duties at RAAF Headquarters, Melbourne, followed. By early 1953 his primary duty was as RAAF representative on the Joint Planning Staff, in which capacity he frequently travelled overseas to attend defence conferences and discussions. In January 1955 he took up duty as staff officer to the head of the Australian Joint Services Staff, Washington, DC, serving (January–June 1957) as assistant air attaché.
Posted to RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia, Susans was senior air staff officer at the headquarters. Several times he was placed in temporary command of the base, and on 19 April 1960 he was appointed acting group captain (substantive 1 January 1962). With barely ten days’ notice, he arrived in Paris on 31 December 1960 at the head of an eight-man team sent to establish a project office for managing the acquisition of the Dassault Mirage IIIO jet fighter. Susans was appointed air attaché (1961–63).
In February 1964, he was posted as officer commanding the RAAF base at Williamtown, New South Wales, and also commandant of the Air Support Unit. Promoted to air commodore on 5 May 1966, in July he took up duty as director-general of operational requirements in the Department of Air. His new post provided him with a significant voice in determining the shape and capability of the future RAAF, and entailed frequent travel. During May 1967 he visited Thailand for the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization’s exercise, Aurora (for which he was appointed deputy air commander), with a follow-on visit to Singapore. In October he embarked on a world tour for talks with aircraft designers in France, Italy, and the United States of America from which Australia was acquiring the controversial F-111 fighter bomber.
Having taken command of the RAAF base at Butterworth, Malaysia, in May 1969, Susans became chief of staff at the headquarters of Far East Air Force in August 1970. On 1 November, as director of the planning team for new joint air defence arrangements covering Malaysia and Singapore, he was promoted to acting rank of air vice-marshal (substantive, 28 October 1971). The headquarters of the Integrated Air Defence System became operational on 11 February 1971, with Susans as its inaugural commander. He was appointed CBE on 1 January the following year.
At the end of 1974 Susans returned to Australia and retired on 26 February 1975. He had logged over 5,000 flying hours, on eighty different types of military aircraft. Although RAAF contemporaries sometimes derided him as a ‘glory seeker’, and a ‘showman and salesman’ overly concerned with his personal image, his commanders consistently rated him during his career as a good leader, an outstanding performer, above average and very efficient (NAA A12372). He and his wife formed a remarkably tight team, she providing the charm and he the humour. For recreation, he fished, skied, and played golf. He died on 2 December 1992 at home at Taree, New South Wales, and was cremated. His wife survived him, as did their two sons, the younger of whom, Martin, had followed him into the RAAF.
National Archives of Australia. A12372, R/4391/H, SUSANS, RONALD THOMAS; A12372, R/4391/P, SUSANS, RONALD THOMAS; O’Neill, Robert. Australia in the Korean War 1950–53. Vol. 2, Combat Operations. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1985; Stephens, Alan. Going Solo: The Royal Australian Air Force 1946–1971. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995; Susans, Ronald Thomas. ‘Down, But Not Out.’ In With the Australians in Korea, edited by Norman Bartlett, 251–54. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1954; Susans, Ronald Thomas. ‘The French Connection.’ In The RAAF Mirage Story, compiled by M. R. Susans, 1–18. Point Cook, Vic.: RAAF Museum, 1990.
SVÉD, GEORGE (1910–1994), engineer and academic, was born on 30 May 1910 in Budapest, eldest of three children of Jewish parents Imre Schossberger, stockbroker, and his wife Elsa, née Grünhut. György (the birth-name he used until the 1930s) was educated at Bolyai high school, matriculating in 1928. In that year he won the Eötvös national mathematics competition and proceeded to the Royal Joseph University (Technical University of Budapest, from 1949). Following a four-year course, he was awarded a diploma in mechanical engineering with the highest honours.
After the collapse of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919, notions that all Jews were communists had become common in Hungary. In turn, anti-Semitism was progressively embedded in policy and law, restricting access to higher education and limiting participation in the economy and liberal professions. By 1932 György had changed his surname from Schossberger to the Hungarian-sounding Svéd. With few job opportunities after compulsory military service, he became works engineer in a flax-spinning mill. In July 1935 he married Márta Wachsberger, a mathematician and teacher, who was also of Jewish descent. Immediately following the incorporation of Austria into the German Reich by the Anschluss of March 1938, the couple made plans to leave Hungary as they anticipated further erosion of Jewish rights and the outbreak of war.
In early 1939 the Svéds fled to Australia, chosen because it was an English-speaking country, and ‘a true democracy, the people easy going, and friendly’ (Sved 2006, 221). Lack of recognition of continental European degrees made it difficult for George to find appropriate work at first. By year’s end he was employed at the Woodville plant of General Motors-Holden’s Ltd in Adelaide, mainly on equipment design. His knowledge became valued as the company’s focus turned from producing car bodies to manufacturing marine craft, guns, and torpedoes for the armed forces in World War II. Seeking an academic post, he was advised that his Hungarian degree could be recognised if he passed the University of Adelaide’s final year examinations in mechanical and electrical engineering. He did so in 1941 without the benefit of attending lectures and was eventually accorded the status of bachelor of engineering ad eundem gradum (1968).
Much of the instruction for the university’s degrees in engineering was entrusted to the South Australian School of Mines and Industry. There Svéd’s examination performance attracted the attention of Walter Schneider, a lecturer in mechanical engineering. In 1943 Schneider invited Svéd to undertake a six-month secondment working with him on a project for the Army Inventions Directorate. Svéd was naturalised in 1945 and the next year he secured a lectureship at the school of mines. In 1950 he transferred to an appointment as senior lecturer at the university. Promoted to reader in civil engineering in 1958, he later served as head of department (1967–68, 1972–74) and dean of the faculty (1969–70). Meanwhile Márta gained employment, teaching mathematics and physics at the inner-suburban Wilderness School from 1942 until 1958. She then became a tutor in mathematics at the University of Adelaide (BSc, 1956; MSc, 1965; PhD, 1985).
George’s research output was widely acclaimed. He promoted the use of computers in solving engineering problems and did much laboratory work, carrying out investigations for industry or government instrumentalities, especially on the behaviour of materials under stress. His abilities in mathematical analysis became legendary, and he was invited to speak at many national and international conferences. Twelve of his published papers identified him as sole author. He persuaded research students or colleagues in Australia or abroad to join him in producing many more. Following the collapse of Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge in 1970, he assisted in its reconstruction, through model testing, and in preparing plans for successfully completing the bridge.
In 1975, the year of his retirement, Svéd was chosen by the Institution of Engineers, Australia, to chair its national committee on metal structures. From 1976 until his death, he remained an honorary visiting research fellow at the University of Adelaide and in 1979 was admitted to the honorary degree of doctor of the university. In 1983 the Technical University of Budapest awarded him its gold diploma. On the occasion of his eightieth birthday the University of Adelaide further honoured him by compiling a volume of thirty-two invited papers and holding a symposium. He was appointed AM in 1991.
The Svéds made good friends in Australia and enjoyed Adelaide, with its freedoms, beaches, concerts, and plays. Survived by Márta (d. 2005) and their son and daughter, he died on 1 November 1994 at Glen Osmond and was cremated, his ashes interred in Centennial Park cemetery. At the university a prize in civil engineering and a laboratory were named after him.
Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide. MSS 0056, George Sved (1910–1994) and Marta Sved (1911?–2005), Papers, 1937–1995; Casse, Ray. Personal communication; Fargher, Philip. ‘Strength Researcher Was Force to be Reckoned With.’ Australian, 11 November 1994, 17; National Archives of Australia. A435, 1945/4/1153, A1068, IC47/18/13; Simpson, Angus R., and Michael C. Griffith, eds. Proceedings of the University of Adelaide Special Symposium on the Occasion of George Sved’s 80th Birthday. Adelaide: Department of Civil Engineering, the University, 1990; Sved, Marta. Two Lives and a Bonus. Norwood, SA: Peacock Publications, 2006.
P. A. Howell
SWANE, VALERIE GWENDOLINE (1926–1993), horticulturist, was born on 19 August 1926 at Ermington, New South Wales, eldest of five children of New South Wales–born parents Edgar Norman (Ted) Swane, nurseryman, and his wife Phyllis Gwendoline, née Rayner. Over forty years previously her English-born grandfather, Edgar Swane (1850–1927), had settled at Ermington; a pillar of the Presbyterian Church, he was mayor and then town clerk. Ted and his brother Harold established Swane Bros’ Enterprise Nursery in 1919, with Ted becoming its sole owner in 1926. Initially, the nursery sold citrus; it would later become renowned for its roses. The nursery remained in Ermington until the mid-1960s, when land was purchased at nearby Dural and the old property sold. In the early 1970s a branch was established at Narromine to grow roses. Four of the children—Valerie, Edgar Norman (Ben), Geoffrey, and Elwyn—would join the business, which was to remain in the family until it was sold in 2000.
Swane attended Hornsby Girls’ High School, completing the Intermediate certificate in 1943. She wanted to be a history teacher, but her father opposed it, so she went to Miss Hale’s Secretarial College in Sydney. After she had worked briefly for Penfolds Wines Pty Ltd, her father encouraged her to join the family business. A romantic interest led her to England and she spent most of 1952 in London, where she worked for an aluminium company. The romance faded and she returned to Australia. Like Elwyn and her brothers, she studied horticulture, undertaking a four-year diploma course at Sydney Technical College.
As a young woman Swane—who was slim and of medium height with brown eyes, brown hair, and always immaculately groomed—appeared in the social pages. A lover of music and an opera goer, she had learnt the piano as a girl and for many years played the organ at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Dundas. Serious about her career, she worked in the office with Elwyn, while Ben was Sydney-based and Geoffrey ran Swane’s at Narromine. After her father died in 1974 she became the managing director, with responsibility for sales and marketing; she would occupy the post until her death. On 23 April 1966 she had married Hector Edward Roy Rogers, a detective sergeant and divorcé, at the Registrar General’s Office, Sydney. At the time of her marriage she bought a large block of land at Pennant Hills on which she built a house and established a beautiful garden. The marriage was dissolved in 1976.
The Swane family was active in the Australian Nurserymen’s Association (ANA), with both her father and her brother Ben serving terms as president. In 1975 Valerie was the first woman president of the New South Wales branch. In 1976 she was elected to the board of the ANA. She was the link between the industry and the Hawkesbury Agricultural College, serving as chairman of the horticulture advisory committee, which established its horticulture course, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She also lectured in landscape architecture at the University of New South Wales some time before 1974, and at Ryde Horticultural College.
From 1980 to 1982 Swane was the first woman national president of the ANA. While in office she travelled to South Africa and the United States of America, meeting with horticultural organisations. She also advocated planting trees to keep houses cool and lobbied for 1981 to be the Year of the Tree. She played a leading role in the Greening Australia movement at State and Federal level, being the first chair of the Greening Australia Committee. In 1983 she was appointed OBE, and in 1985 she was made a life member of the ANA.
A foundation board member of the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens (1982–84), Swane was in demand as a judge of gardens and flowers and spoke at or opened numerous garden events. From 1987 to 1992 she was a judge in horticulture at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. She was also a judge for the Northern Suburbs Garden Competition, and conducted garden tours to Japan and Europe. For about twenty years Swane’s Nursery held an annual fundraiser in their glasshouse, which was filled with rose blooms, to raise money for charity; many other charitable organisations held fundraising visits to Swane’s.
Swane wrote books and articles on gardening. Her two most successful were The Australian Gardeners’ Catalogue (1979, with revised editions in 1983 and 1990), and Growing Roses (1992). Her Sunday Telegraph column ran from 1981, and her Australian Women’s Weekly feature from January 1989. In addition to plant care she often included the history of plants and botanical science news in her very readable columns. Her calm manner and pleasant voice were ideal for radio and she took over the 2BL weekend gardening show from Allan Seale in August 1985, continuing until she became ill. After she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 1992, her sister Elwyn increasingly assisted with her media work, still with Valerie’s byline.
From a young age Swane had been attracted to Catholicism; when she left school she had considered becoming a teaching nun, and she had finally become a Catholic in her early forties. The Sisters of Mercy sought her help in having a rose named for Catherine McAuley, the founder of their order. Though quite ill, she announced the name of the Catherine McAuley rose at the Mater Hospital on 12 November 1992. She died on 21 February 1993 at Pennant Hills. Her requiem Mass was held at St Agatha’s Church, and was followed by cremation. Instead of flowers, mourners were asked to make a donation to the Mater Hospital. A perfumed, white, cream-centred rose is named in her honour.
Frail, Rod. ‘Good Relations Are the Key.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 26 August 1983, 7; Swane, Elwyn. Personal communication; Swane, Geoffrey. Personal communication; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Nursery Guru Blossomed in a Man’s World.’ 22 February 1993, 4.
SYKES, GEOFFREY PERCY (GEOFF) (1908–1992), motor-racing promoter, was born on 6 September 1908 at Plumpton, Sussex, England, eldest of three children of Percy Robert Sykes, technical school principal, and his wife Mabel, née Smith. Educated at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School (1919–23), Geoff was apprenticed to British Thomson-Houston in Rugby, Warwickshire, an engineering company. Certified as an electrical engineer in 1929, he joined H. M. Office of Works. On 23 September 1939 at the parish church of All Saints, Lindfield, East Sussex, he married Margaret Rose White.
Motor racing quickly became a passion for Sykes. He regularly attended pre-war race meetings at Brooklands, he loved riding motorcycles, and he competed in hill-climbs and trials with his open-topped Wolseley Hornet two-seater. He was an active member of the Brighton and Hove Motor Club (BHMC). During World War II he undertook electrical engineering work for the Air Ministry.
After the war, Sykes worked in various management positions before joining the electrical drawing office at the Ministry of Works. He continued to foster his love of cars and motorcycles with the Junior Car Club. When it amalgamated with the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club in 1949 as the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC), Sykes, by then chairman of the BHMC, began working for John Morgan, the club’s secretary. Morgan became his mentor. Charming and mild-mannered, as assistant general secretary Sykes provided a counterpoint to the no-nonsense Morgan. Under Sykes’s direction, a motor-racing circuit was designed and constructed at Aintree racecourse, opening in 1954; it would be the setting for the British Grand Prix on five occasions. At many of its meetings, including the early Grands Prix, Sykes officiated as clerk of the course.
Invited by the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) in 1959 to discuss the design of an Australian version of Aintree, Sykes travelled to Australia for a fact-finding tour in December 1959, returning permanently in June the following year, when work began on the new circuit at Warwick Farm. Due mainly to his planning and organisational expertise, the facility was finished in only six months. The 2.25-mile (3.6 km) circuit was noteworthy at the time for its large expanses of grass and for its white railing (from the horse-racing track). It was extremely safe.
The first Warwick Farm race meeting was held on 18 December 1960. It was followed soon afterwards, on 29 January, by a major international meeting that featured a 100-mile (160 km) event for Formula 1 (F1) drivers and top locals. In intense summer heat, 65,000 spectators watched Dan Gurney, Graham Hill, Innes Ireland, (Sir) Jack Brabham, and the eventual winner—(Sir) Stirling Moss—give the new circuit, and its organisation, their vote of approval.
Sykes, who habitually wore light chino trousers, suede shoes, white shirt, club tie or cravat, sports jacket, and cloth cap, was artistically talented and attentive to detail. He designed the badge of the circuit’s new club, the Australian Automobile Racing Club (AARC), instigated in July 1961, and the circuit’s support merchandise; he nominated a local artist, Peter Toohey, for much of the artwork. A small but efficient operation, the AARC was based in Sydney, with Sykes as general secretary, Mary Packard [q.v.] his assistant, and John Stranger his accountant. The AARC staged several major race meetings at Warwick Farm each year, including the February international and club meetings, as well as members’ film nights. On 10 February 1963 Warwick Farm hosted the Australian Grand Prix.
With his New Zealand counterpart, Ron Frost, Sykes initiated a Tasman Cup in 1964. He travelled to Europe each year to negotiate the appearances of the major F1 teams and drivers, usually timing his trip to allow him to indulge his love of aircraft at the Farnborough Air Show. The AARC eventually owned light aircraft for members’ use, and Sykes flew his own low-wing Thorp T-111 Sky Skooter out of Bankstown. In 1966 he and Margaret divorced. Four weeks later, on 27 October he married Meris Chilcott Broadbent, née Rudder, widow of the aviator H. F. (Jim) Broadbent [q.v.13], with whom he had worked at the BARC; a Presbyterian minister conducted the ceremony at her home at Kirribilli.
Warwick Farm staged the Australian Grand Prix on three further occasions—in 1967, 1970, and 1971. Sykes introduced the popular and affordable Formula Vee cars to Australian motor racing; pioneered the concept of club race meetings and practice days; and, in the 1970s, was one of the key figures behind the choice of production-block Formula 5000 cars as Australia’s premier single-seater category. The AARC continued to promote national race meetings at Warwick Farm until 1973, when the AJC decided to terminate its motor-racing activities. That year, due to Sykes’s declining health, Packard became secretary. The AARC supported club race meetings at Amaroo Park until November 1986.
A kind and generous man, in his retirement Sykes spent much of his time with bikes and cars: he enjoyed restoring historic motorcycles and riding his vintage Velocette. Following a succession of white, automatic Triumph 2000s, he drove a yellow Alfa Romeo GTV. After battling a heart condition for several years, he died on 12 April 1992 in Royal North Shore Hospital, North Sydney, and was cremated; he was survived by his wife, and the two sons and one daughter of his first marriage. Biennial Tasman Revival meetings began to be held in 2006.
Australian Automobile Racing Club: History and Events of the Club 1962–1986. [Sydney]: Australian Automobile Racing Club, 1986; Hanrahan, Bryan. ‘Mr Racing.’ Herald (Melbourne), 23 December 1967, 8; Horsepower: The History of Warwick Farm. [Casula, NSW]: Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and Liverpool Regional Museum, 2005; Personal knowledge of ADB subject; Sykes, Meris. Personal communication.
SYRON, BRIAN GREGORY (1934–1993), actor and director, was born on 21 November 1934 at Balmain South, Sydney, fifth child of New South Wales–born Daniel Syron, a Biripi (Birpai) man who worked as a general labourer, and his wife Elizabeth, née Murray, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. In later life Brian told the story of how his parents met; his mother had not seen an Aboriginal person before and when she realised that the colour of Daniel’s skin was not the result of working in an underground coalmine it was ‘too late … she had fallen in love’ (Syron and Kearney 1996, 16–17). For some of his childhood, Brian lived with his paternal grandmother at Minimbah, near Forster, learning about his Aboriginal heritage and gaining insight into the deprivations Aboriginal people endured. A good student, he dreamed of becoming a physician; however, without money for school uniforms, let alone university fees, the only option was trade school. Ambition turned to rebellion and his teenage years were spent in and out of reformatories.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Syron did not identify as Aboriginal. He moved to Kings Cross, Sydney, where he worked as a waiter and model. With Jack Thompson, Reg Livermore, and Jon Ewing, he began acting lessons under Hayes Gordon at the Ensemble Theatre in 1960. Modelling took him to Europe and the United States of America, where, in 1961, he joined the renowned Stella Adler Theatre Studio, New York. Training alongside Robert de Niro, Warren Beatty, and Peter Bogdanovich, he became a confidant of the principal and a teacher in his own right, while performing with regional and metropolitan theatre companies.
Syron returned to Australia in 1968 conscious of a wider black political struggle. He directed Fortune and Men’s Eyes at the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney (1968) for which he won the National Drama Critics’ Circle award for best director, and two plays for the Old Tote Theatre Company, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1969) and The Merchant of Venice (1969). Hailed as one of Australia’s ‘leading producers’ (Canberra Times 1969, 21), he began teaching master classes in acting in 1969. That year he also taught a group of Aboriginal actors the principles of the Stella Adler method, which stressed the importance of imagination and research. His students included Denis Walker and Gary Foley.
Between directing This Story of Yours (1970) at the Parade Theatre and The Seagull (1972) at the New Theatre, Syron returned to the United States to work on the feature film What’s Up Doc directed by Bogdanovich. Back in Australia in 1973, he co-founded the Australian National Playwrights’ Conference and worked as a children’s acting coach on the award-winning television series Seven Little Australians (1973).
Following the formation of the Aboriginal Arts Board within the Australian Council for the Arts (1973), Syron, who had by then publicly acknowledged his Aboriginality, was appointed a theatre consultant. With Bob Maza, Gary Foley, and others, in 1974 he co-founded the Aboriginal Black Theatre Arts and Cultural Centre. With Justine Saunders he also established the National Black Playwrights Conference (1987) and the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust (1987). None of these organisations lasted more than a few years owing to a lack of continuous funding. Between 1987 and 1988, Syron and Saunders co-presented a series of films on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that showcased Aboriginal issues and ideas. Syron sought to avoid representing Aboriginal people as victims, presenting ‘positive images’ instead (Canberra Times 1987, 24). The ABC appointed him producer of its new Aboriginal unit in 1988.
In the 1980s Syron’s major project was a feature film, Jindalee Lady (1992). A cross-cultural triangular love story and glamorous Hollywood-style melodrama, it starred Lydia Miller as a successful Aboriginal fashion designer who left her philandering white husband for a young Aboriginal cinematographer. Syron wanted to show Aboriginal people, particularly women, in a variety of professional roles in contemporary society. He also wanted to make a film that employed as many Aboriginal people as possible to provide professional skills training and experience. With the exception of the writer-producer Briann Kearney, most members of the cast and crew were Aboriginal. The Indigenous composer Bart Willoughby wrote the score and Bangarra Dance Theatre featured in a fashion show sequence. The film was shot on a shoestring budget of $60,000. Syron’s application to the Australian Film Commission for a post-production grant of $300,000 was rejected, the AFC maintaining that the characters were stereotypical and one-dimensional. He lodged a complaint with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission; subsequently, the AFC reversed its decision and established policies and guidelines for future Aboriginal film projects. Jindalee Lady was successful on the international film circuit, but was not generally released in cinemas.
Syron’s last work in the theatre was a cooperative production with the West Australian writer Mudrooroo and an all-Aboriginal cast led by Justine Saunders—The Aboriginal Protesters Confront the Proclamation of the Australian Republic on 26 January 2001 with a Production of The Commission by Heiner Müller. Due to illness, he was unable to direct the play beyond a staged reading of the script in 1991. When The Aboriginal Protesters premiered at the Sydney Festival in 1996, the Sydney Morning Herald called it ‘a call to arms, for all of us as a people’ and ‘a call to our theatre, to show it where it might go’ (Bennie 1996, 14).
Recognised as a great teacher and actor, Syron was proud of his achievements as a pioneer of Aboriginal theatre. He was a passionate advocate of Indigenous self-determination who angrily fought the bureaucrats of arts funding bodies when he felt they only supported projects that fitted their stereotyped views on Aboriginal Australians. He died in Sydney on 14 October 1993 and was buried in Botany cemetery, Matraville. His struggle to make films for and about Aboriginal people is documented in his co-authored memoir, Kicking Down the Doors (1996).
Bennie, Angela. ‘Call to Arms on Eve of Republic.’ Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 1996, 14; Canberra Times. ‘First Australians Are Positive People Doing Positive Things.’ 18 October 1987, 24; ‘Work by Leading Producers.’ 2 July 1969, 21; Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Theatre Pioneer Had a Career of Many Firsts.’ 19 October 1993, 24; Syron, Brian. ‘The Problem Is Seduction: Reflections on Black Theatre and Film.’ In The Mudrooroo/Müller Project: A Theatrical Casebook, edited by Gerhard Fischer, 161–71. Kensington, NSW: New South Wales University Press; Syron, Brian, and Briann Kearney. Kicking Down the Doors. Edited by Sue Binney. Sydney, NSW: Donobri International Communications, 1996.