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The white glove treatment

  • Written byGabrielle Edwards
  • DateMon, 07 Jan 2013

After years consigned to the spare room, the garage and the share house, a television has finally come back to its original home in the Prime Minister’s Suite at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. 

The bugs, dust and cobwebs have been carefully removed and it is the white glove treatment from now on for this object from the 1980s.

This television is special because it was closely watched by influential speechwriters, Stephen Mills and Graham Freudenberg, during the Hawke era (1983-1991). Perched atop a filing cabinet in their small and crowded office they tuned in to keep abreast of the news and current affairs. Nowadays having a television in your office, or at least the ability to stream live television, is unremarkable but in the 1980s it was unusual and no doubt a valuable aid to speechwriting for Mills and Freudenberg.

This 1980s Sony Trinitron television is a fitting addition to our heritage collection. It was in this building when the federal parliament was here, highlights the integral role of the press in Australian democracy and reminds us of the developing power of television as a political medium in the last century. Bob Hawke was considered a consummate television performer and was well known for his powerful speeches and addresses to the nation. This humble portable television played its role in keeping his speechwriters up to date on the issues of the day and deserves its new ‘white glove’ status.

The speech writers’ office, the media room where Hawke conducted many interviews and the Prime Minister’s Office are all open for the public to see and experience for themselves in the Museum of Australian Democracy.