Staffers to prime ministers
666 ABC Canberra Mornings presenter, Alex Sloan, and museum historian, Dr Barry York, are sharing stories from the museum’s oral history collection during September. The latest theme from the collection is ‘staffers to prime ministers’.
Cheryl Cartwright worked as a secretary for Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser from 1978 to 1980. Cheryl recalls the office, its routines, technologies and staff.
Cheryl Cartwright audio transcript (MS Word)
Cheryl Cartwright was recorded for the Oral History program by Barry York in 2009 and 2010. The full interview is not currently available online but can be listened to in the Australian Prime Ministers Centre. Please contact the Centre prior to your visit and quote the reference number OHI 161.
Frank Jennings was Senior Private Secretary to Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies from 1963 to 1966. In this excerpt from an interview in the Oral History collection, Mr. Jennings recalls the personal relationship that developed with Menzies in the office. The Prime Minister called him “laddie”, liked martinis after hours but never drank alone, and loved talking about his grandchildren… and the cricket. Jennings found him to be a very different person to the ‘arrogant dictatorial’ character sometimes portrayed by his opponents. Listen to the excerpt and also discover how and why Menzies found solace in Shakespeare.
Franks Jennings audio transcript (MS Word)
Frank Jennings was recorded for the Oral History program by Barry York, in 2007 and 2008. The full interview is not currently available online but can be listened to in the Australian Prime Ministers Centre. Please contact the Centre prior to your visit and quote the reference number OHI 141.
Carol Summerhayes worked at the Provisional Parliament House between April 1967 and April 1975, initially as Stenographer in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Gough Whitlam and from December 1972 as Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister. She describes the office, which was democratically run, but the work was “all-consuming”, and recalls the difficulty of working for a Prime Minister who loved making speeches. And it was a time when everyone smoked!
Carol Summerhayes audio transcript (MS Word)
Carol Summerhayes was recorded for the Oral History program by Edward Helgeby in 2009. The full interview is not currently available online but can be listened to in the Australian Prime Ministers Centre. Please contact the Centre prior to your visit and quote the reference number OHI 153.
Immortality at 300
Share your memories and experiences of Provisional Parliament House between 1927 and 1988 for your chance to become the 300th oral history recorded in the Museum of Australian Democracy collection.
The winner will receive four audio copies of the 300th oral history interview and a historian guided museum tour. The museum’s oral history collection currently features interviews with librarians, journalists, tradespeople, gardeners, parliamentary staffers, prime ministers, waitresses, stenographers and telephonists who reflect on their memories of Provisional Parliament House.
Terms and conditions apply and entries close 5pm, Friday 28 September 2012.
Share your memories at abc.net.au/canberra.