Remember the days when people wrote with their bare hands? We recently put on display in our Prime Ministers of Australia gallery some private writings by Alfred Deakin.
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‘Bores are in a class of infinite variety. But the worst are those who occupy public time.’ So declared Sir George Reid (1845-1918), Australia’s fourth prime minister.
The Menzies Memorial Cricket Trophy is on loan to the museum and is presented to the winner of the Prime Minister’s XI cricket match each year.
To those unfamiliar with the luminaries of the first two decades of Australian federal politics, even a casual glance at the photographs of the era’s protagonists reveals an obvious and unmistakable distinction from later generations of politicians.
On 6 July 1945 Frank Forde was sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia following the sudden death of John Curtin in office. Six days later he learned Ben Chifley had won the Labor Party leadership, and would become the new Prime Minister. Whatever Forde’s private thoughts, he remained outwardly dignified. ‘I must say a little prayer for Ben’, he said. ‘It’s not an easy job.’
The Hon. Don Page MP has held the seat of Ballina for the Nationals in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly since 1988. He became Minister for Local Government, and Minister for the North Coast in 2011.
The museum recently acquired a rather lovely new item: a photo of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, taken by 12 year-old Sophie Deane, which now forms part of the museum’s digital collection.
We’ve just made some changes to the ‘light-hearted gallery’ within our Prime Ministers of Australia exhibition. This gallery features objects that demonstrate how Australians revere, revile or ridicule our leaders. Although many objects were created with a certain irreverence, they also document national events and concerns.
I was recently having breakfast at home reading the Canberra Times (10 April 2013) report of the death of British Prime Minister, Mrs Margaret Thatcher. The article included a series of photos documenting Mrs Thatcher’s life. One of the photos caught my interest. The caption read ‘Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and British PM Margaret Thatcher in Canberra’ 1st July 1979.
This is a rather different item from our Oral History collection: a recording of a radio campaign speech rather than an edited excerpt from an interview. In this broadcast, Sir Earle Page GCMG MP (1880-1961), who had been Deputy Prime Minister since 1923, sees industrial relations as the main issue for the 1929 election.
Last Saturday, 27 April, was the 109th anniversary of the Watson government. On 27 April 1904, the government of Alfred Deakin collapsed after Labour members led by John Christian Watson withdrew support. Watson was then commissioned to form a government, which lasted just four months.
Currently on display in the museum’s Prime Ministers of Australia exhibition is former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s boots. The black leather RM Williams riding boots were worn by Kevin Rudd when he tabled a motion in the Commonwealth Parliament on 13 February 2008 apologising to the Stolen Generations for the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families.
The museum recently acquired two significant objects for its permanent collection which provide an opportunity to explore the road to reconciliation for Australia’s Indigenous people—a message stick and a kangaroo skin petition book.
Recently the museum purchased a unique item. In 1936 former Prime Minister and still-serving Member of the House of Representatives William (Billy) Morris Hughes bought a copy of the book Caravan, by John Galsworthy, as a gift for his daughter Helen.
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’.
Fourteen prime ministers conducted important discussions and made decisions which changed the course of the nation at this desk. What hard-won deals, what visionary dreams, what shattered hopes were witnessed from this well used desk?
‘Shyness and reserve … obscures the warmth, sensitiveness, and acute perceptions’ of rulers, said sculptor Kathleen Scott. Her fine bust of Stanley Bruce makes the point.
The Museum of Australian Democracy is proud to announce it has purchased an artwork by Penny Byrne for the museum’s collection – Saint Kevin 07 and the real Julia (2010). The museum has a particular interest in collecting material relating to prime ministers, and this acquisition is part of a collection that includes caricatures and cartoons.
In this oral history excerpt, veteran journalist, Wallace ‘Wal’ Brown, recalls how Prime Minister Robert Menzies gave him a scoop – without saying a word!
The recent decision that Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will need to vacate the Lodge while urgent renovations are undertaken reminds us that the PM’s official Canberra residence is as old as Old Parliament House, home of the museum and jewel in its collection.