Early Canberra

1923 Bluett on Canberra

Sydney Morning Herald  29 March 1923


The visitor to Canberra for the first time never fails to express surprise at finding this embryonic city a settlement of far-flung fragments.  He sees no distinctive nucleus around which gather the customary concomitments[?] of a new tow; not hotel, post-office, store, blacksmith’s shop perched on a river bank for the convenience of water, and acting as a magnet for further settlement.  Canberra cannot grow in the manner of other towns nurtured by the allurements of trade and invigorated by the business enterprise of the individual.  It is a close preserve of the Government, planned with compass and rule, and fashioned by the official mind with seemingly scant regard for the social and commercial requirements of the early citizens.  If these considerations are ignored, if the convenience and comfort of the residents are disregarded, if the possibilities of the social intercourse are hindered, then the progress of the city will be checked, and the value of its lands correspondingly restricted.

The Government of the day stipulate that the construction should be on the basis of the acceptance of the plan of the lay-out of the Federal Capital city by Mr WB Griffin. By this plan of the city provision is made for a population of up to 150,000 people. And that 150,000 population must not be cribbed, cabined or confined. It is to dwell in open spaces crossed by broad avenues, with tree-girt strips of garden, separated by parks and along the Molonglo River, by winding areas which, in the years to come, are to be turned into a chain of ornamental lakes.

The public buildings are to nestle in sylvan solitude dotted over the area between the Civic Centre and Blandfordia [Forrest], a distance similar to that between the Sydney Domain and Centennial Park. It is a bold scheme and a beautiful scheme in the ideal, but when it is reduced to the daily necessity of 5000 people in the making of their living, and in the administration of public business, how are these distances going to affect profit and shoe leather? If it be the intention of the Government [hole in paper with words missing] ..develop the …points… there must… effort to… business …is necessary …the early stages slavishly to follow Mr Griffin’s plan anymore closely in distances than should be done in the provision for public buildings. It would be wicked extravagance to build…this date structures suitable for a 50…population when it may be 50 years before …a holds that number.  Be it…in this connection that Washington… [pop]ulation was only 61,000 when  it has…one capital for 60 years.  On this …20 to 25 years should be the horizon of the present requirements, and in most essentials our national energies should be limited to an equivalent in expenditure and distribution. The spread necessary for 150,000 people is wasteful if used for 10,000 or 20,000.


Canberra to-day as far as it is a concrete settlement is represented by some half-dozen wide-spaced sections. Taking as a starting point the civic centre, the area set apart north of the river for the main business division of the city here we have close by some 20 brick cottages served with water and light and sewered.  South-west about 1½ mile is the administrative quarter, including the post-office and Commonwealth Bank where the offices and staff residences are of a temporary character.  The capitol hill upon which the Parliament House will someday will be located is over 2½ miles from the civic population area. At the foot of this hill is the foundations of the much talked hostel[Hotel Canberra] are beginning to show.

South about three miles from the civic population area  is being erected the public school[Telopea Park School], which is expected to serve the city’s children for some years to come. Half a mile east stands the power house, with its surrounding 18 brick cottages, watered and sewered and distant from the administrative section three miles.

South again three miles is Blandfordia [Forrest] the official residential quarter, where f… streets have been constructed and a start is being made for the early erection of 15 cottages. East from the administrative offices three miles is the biggest settlement in the capital territory, Duntroon College.  These distance will give some idea of the expanded baby capital.

It may be assumed with reason that any Government caring for the happiness of the citizens, and with an eye to its own financial gain, would built the city to suit the needs of the people rather than to compel them to conduct their business and home life under irksome and wasteful conditions.  Leading town planners strongly advocate the separation of business, residential and manufacturing areas, but with Canberra which will be largely and official town these distinctions will not come into play so markedly. Would it not be possible, therefore, to concentrate the early settlement round one quarter like the civic centre?

A concentrated population is more easily and economically administered that one spread over a wide area.  A concentrated population also gives much greater and more dependable values to the lands it occupies. It provides a surer gauge of business possibilities to the investor than where the residents straggle of miles of country. And the people country. And the people can be served by the Commonwealth with much less capital outlay for light and water, for roads and sewerage. So with the trade of the city, the buying and selling, the distribution of goods, the hundred and one essential interchanges between man and man; these things which much be borne in mind if the city is to be prosperous and if the nation’s capital is become a profitable undertaking. It is not sufficient for Australia to have a city beautiful regardless of cost.

The capital should be a jewel of the Commonwealth, but with the staggering load of debt we bear the greatest care should be taken and the closest insight be directed into the way the whole finances of the new city are handled.  Its lands are the key to its prosperity. With judicious appreciation of the business side, the capital can be made a thing of beauty, without becoming in any sense a millstone round the neck of the taxpayer. Canberra’s cash position to-day should not be forgotten.

If a balance sheet were struck it would be found that the total outlay has been £2,200,000 (£800,000 for resumption of lands and £1,400,000 for public utilities).  Nearly the whole of this sum, because of cessation of work in 1914 consequent to the war, has been outstanding since 1913. In that period the interest charge has amounted to close upon £500,000.  Against that the farm rents have produced about £200,000 and that in interest paid the country has lost roughly £700,000.  And it will continue to lose at the rate of £100,000 or more a year until such time as the city, by being transformed into the seat of government secures the opportunity of putting its financial house in order.


Another phase of the initial constructional work which must be recognized is the social relations of the people. If the city is to be developed at points so distant it will be deterrent to that community spirit which is such an important factor in good and happy government.  With closer association more united achievement and greater fellow feeling will be made possible.  Friendship is more easily promoted and yields more abundantly when people are reasonable closely in tough.

The people who come to Canberra will come as strangers, and if they are spread in settlements miles apart they will remain strangers to a large extent.  Wherever the homes of officials may be placed, the Government will be in duty bound to transport these official’s family or for the private citizen.  Is it right that these people whose comfort and happiness must have a powerful influence upon the future of Canberra should be left out of the pioneering considerations? 

Further it is the intention of the powers that be to house officialdom in one settlement at Blandfordia some four miles distant from the shopping district of civic centre, nearby which is the residential area for the civil population.  Are these distinctions or classifications necessary or wise? Remembering the all-too-frequent disposition of the Government clerk briefed with passing authority to lord it over his brother civilians (a desire often accentuated in the case of that official’s wife).  Is it in the best interests of Canberra’s human element that officialdom should be segregated in this way?  No sane man wishes to see the belief fostered that the occupant of a Government job is thereby placed in a class superior to his fellows. Should it not be the aim of the controlling body to prevent officials and private citizens from gathering into distinct camps and thereby avert the creation of these barriers?

Friendship and knowledge of one another’s difficulties will help oil the wheels for harmonious work.  The wives and children who make their new homes at Canberra are most likely to settled down in comfort and tranquility if a wider scope in provided for the establishment of friendships.  And the wonders [?] of the capital will have a big influence in the harmony and attractiveness of the city.  The Government has expressed the desire to have the building of Canberra carried out ‘… the plan of the layout,’ as originally approved … these may be resulting aspects which …not occur to the designer, Mr WB Griffin.  It cannot be gained said that a contented person is the first object to be attained….[the remainder of the article is damaged and part missing]


1927 Canberra Builder promotes Canberra

The Canberra Times 27 May 1927


A lecture on ‘Canberra, the City Beautiful,’ was delivered by Mr HL Dawson, the well known builder of Canberra and Queanbeyan in the Lyceum Theatre, the headquarters of the Central Methodist Mission on Sunday afternoon to a large audience of more than 2,000 people. The value of the lecture was enhanced by lantern slides depicting Canberra in its various stages of development.

Mr Dawson said that he had witnesses for some years what had been one of the most thrilling dramas of his life’s experience – the evolving of a Capital City.  The small beginnings, the rapid growth of great buildings, the development of plans of men of genius and the din and bustle of thousands of artisans, culminating in the most remarkable and inspiring ceremonies connected with the opening of Parliament by Royalty.

The early history of Canberra,’ said Mr Dawson, ‘is the unfolding of the life story of some of its pioneers.

            ‘A handful of workers seeking the star of strong intent

            A handful of heroes scattered to conquer a continent.’

Previous to the 18th century. Can Canberra when peopled by a large tribe of Australian blacks because of its abundance of natural food, its stream teemed with edible fish; the surface of its pools with fowl; its forest were the habitat of pigeon, while over its plains roamed the emu. High up in the Kosciusko and Murrumbidgee Ranges the kangaroo and the wallaby bred in abundance. Here the black people hundred and throve.  The first white man to discover Canberra was Dr Throsby of Moss Vale, who in 1820 set out on an expedition south and at the same time discovered Lake Bathurst, Lake George, and the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee Rivers. In 1823 [?] Joshua Moore built the first homestead upon a site near the present Military College. In 1825 James Ainslie brought the first flock of sheep to Canberra all the way from Bathurst. In 1826 Robert Campbell established a church which he named Canberra Church. Round the church very soon sprang up a village so that Canberra Church was really Canberra.  In 1829 Robert Dixon made the first survey of Canberra.  In 1834 John McPherson was born in Canberra. Later he became Premier of Victoria.  In 1838 Rev Edward Smith became Canberra’s first resident minister. In 1834 TA Murray, who owned Yarralumla homestead, the present residence of the Governor-General, 1848 Andrew Wotherspoon established the first school. In 1886 William James Farrer commenced the  ... [?] ma… experiment with wheat in Canberra and what he developed in his laboratory in Canberra has entirely changed the world’s thought in respect to wheat and his method have been adopted in the laboratories of America and England.

The federation of Australian States was the first conceived in the brain of Sir Henry Parkes and was the first considered at a Convention of Australian and New Zealand statesmen in 1889, but it was not until 1910 after spending 10 years investigating almost 100 sites, all more or less full of promise that Canberra was chosen as Australia’s National City.

To To describe the development of many of our inland towns is to simply say that like Topsy, the ‘growed’.  Most of our Australian cities have grown around the ashes of a camp fire.  Not so with Canberra, however, it has been a capital city from the very beginning.

Writing from Duntroon in the year 1831 Lhotsky, the Polish naturalist and explorer said: ‘A fine town will exist here at no distant dat.’

After the dedication service at St John’s Church on Sunday morning May 8 last, I walked around the grave yard and found a tombstone with a somewhat prophetic epitaph inscribed:

            ‘Here we have no abiding city, but seek one to come.’

I met in that graveyard on the same mission as myself, the Hon W Morrow, a member of the South Australian Ministry, and I drove him in my car. He said to me: ‘Mr Dawson, I have travelled the globe several times, and I’ve seen the star cities of the world, but I have never seen a city to equal Canberra for its great natural advantages. It would seem as though nature had especially endowed her to be a capital city.’

I have chatted for hours with the veteran John Gale who is 97 years of age, and still Coroner of the district. He is generally credited with the influencing vote in favour of Canberra. he told me how 75 years ago he crossed the Molonglo River, and made his way up what is now known as Capitol Hill and surveying the wonderful plains below, thought what a wonderful place for a great city.

In the year 1910 the NSW Government transferred to the Federal Government 900 square miles of territory at Canberra as well as 3,300 acres at Jervis Bay for the establishment of a Federal Port.

In the same year a world’s competition was held to secure the best possible design for the city, and the winning design is the basis of the city to-day, a cymmetrical [sic symmetrical] city of circles and squares set within a wonderful amphitheatre of hills, winning for itself the designation, ‘Canberra, the City Beautiful.’

In 1913 the Prime Minister, Mr Andrew Fisher, invited Lady Denman at a special Canberra function to name the Federal Capital city. The selection of the name had caused some heartburning, for it was feared the name was to be changed, but better counsels prevailed. After the singing of that impressive hymn, ‘All People that on Earth do Dwell,’ Lady Denman stepping on the dais said: ‘ I name the Capital of Australia, Canberra.’ Immediately a salute of 21 guns was fired by the Field Artillery, and the band played, ‘Advance Australia Fair,’ and ‘God Save the King.’

After the territory had been made over to the Federal Government, surveys were taken and services commenced, but 1916 practically brought about a cessation of activity owing to the Great War, and for five years development was at a standstill.  In 1920 the Prince of Wales, laid a commemoration stone on the site of Capitol Hill. To use his own words, his Royal Highness added, ‘another foundation stone to a city which I understand consists largely of foundation stones.’  The Duke of York will have somewhat to say to him on his return.

Another move forward was made with the construction in 1921 when Colonel Owen was appointed Chairman of an Advisory Board and empowered to push ahead with all possible haste.

The first definite move to have the Seat of Government transferred was made in 1923, when a resolution was carried in the House of Representatives Melbourne, which read: ‘That his Excellency, the Governor-General be respectfully requested to summon the tenth meeting of Parliament in Canberra.’

In 1925 the Federal Capital Commission succeeded the Advisory Board when Sir John Butters, Sir John Harrison and the late Mr Clarence Gorman were appointed Commissioners. Under the regime of these very able men, Canberra has made phenomenal progress.

A few years ago the dream of over a quarter of a century materialized when Canberra was officially declared by the King’s son, his Royal Highness, the Duke of York, to be the Capital City of Australia.


‘A good deal of criticism,’ said Mr Dawson, ‘has been directed against the Federal Capital Commission concerning civil servants’ cottages and …[illegible] I sympathize with those who have lived in Melbourne or Sydney for many years. Naturally there are ties of relationship and friendship that end and it is perfectly natural that the separation to start life in a new city is truly a wrench.  However, I assure them that they will not be at all disappointed, either with the comfortable cottages prepared for them by the Commission, nor the happiness that awaits them by contact with existing Canberra residents, who are among the most refined and kindly folk I have even been privileged to meet. The cottages are convenient, comfortable and ….[?] magnificent view and …[?]  the price asked for them.

The Commission recently appointed a Social Service Department whose function is to welcome incoming residents and render them any advice or service within their power.  They also render signal service and disperse much sunshine by arranging entertainments and trips to one of the many beautiful tourist resorts that surround Canberra.

It has been said that there are social cliques in Canberra. One man writing to a Sydney paper last week said he visited Canberra during the recent celebrations, and that it is a city of snobbery. I wish to give these statements the lied direct. I am acquainted with most of the permanent residents and have never seen a more democratic people.

Probably many misunderstanding of the Commission’s ordinances concerning building construction, and I suspect many of the erroneous vies expressed can be traced to this source.

Canberra is a model city, and is profiting at the expense of other cities’ mistakes.  There are official building areas, shopping areas, manufacturing areas, brick cottage areas and weatherboard cottage areas. The objective is uniformity. For instance, if you invest in a £2,000 bungalow, your neighbour will not be permitted to erect an unsightly weatherboard building next door and thus depreciate your property. Neither will a residence of any description be permitted in a shopping or factory area or vice versa.  This policy is as much in the interest of the working men who can only afford a weatherboard cottage as it is for a gentleman whose mansion is to cost several thousands. Indeed positively the prettiest area of the whole city is that of the weatherboard cottages.

Of course, a good deal of any Canberra propaganda has emanated from the Melbourne Press. I was recently in Melbourne lecturing on Canberra and I was agreeably surprised to find Melbourne people keenly enthusiastic about Canberra, in spite of the unfair, unjust and untruthful statements of some of their newspapers. As a typical instance a reporter of a prominent paper asked me: ‘Is is true there are blizzards in Canberra,’ to which I replied, ‘There is a keen atmosphere in winter, but as for blizzards, there is not even snow except on the surrounding ranges. On very rare occasions there might be a few light flakes which would be regarded as much a curio as in Melbourne.  He also asked me to give some advice as to roads, camping and parking for the Duke’s visit, which I did. My denial of blizzards was not published.  My advice concerning housing and cliques, but imagine to my surprise to read in the same paper another portion of scurrilous attack upon the Chief Commissioner, Sir John Butters accusing him of fostering cliques and building houses detrimental to the interests of the Melbourne civil servant.’


1930 Canberra's First Registered Marriage

The Canberra Times 20 January 1930:

FIRST MARRIAGE Registered in Canberra

To Mr and Mrs Arthur Bowtell of Bombala has fallen the honour of the first couple to have their marriage registered in Canberra.

By an ordinance which came into operation on January 1, 1930, all marriages, births or deaths occurring in the Federal Capital Territory have to be registered in Canberra instead of Queanbeyan or other places in New South Wales, as was formerly the case.

The marriage was celebrated quietly at the Methodist Church Reid at 11 o’clock yesterday morning, the Reverend EL Vercoe officiating. The bride was Esmae, eldest daughter of the late William Elton and Mrs Elton and the bridegroom Arthur Ernest Bowtell of Bombala.  Given away by her brother, Mr Dalby Elton, the bride wore a smart ensemble of beige crepe-de-chine and carried a beautiful bouquet of gladioli. Miss Regina Elton sister of the bride, was bridesmaid, and Mr Everard Elton acted as bestman.

End of FCC and beginning of Advisory Council

The Canberra Times 13 March 1930





Disappointment was general among Canberra residents  who listened from the gallery in the House of Representatives yesterday to the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Blakeley) in introducing the bill for the abolition of the Commission.

The term for which the new advisory council is to be elected is only twelve months and both the speech and the bill fail to give any indication that the residents will be any better off ultimately than under Commission rule.

It is regarded as inevitable that under the new scheme Parliament will be worried more than ever by local troubles.

The Minister announced that the present functions of the Commission will be divided as follows:-


·         Protection of public health

·         Sanitation – omitting night soil and garbage removal

·         Medical inspection of school children

·         Control and preparation and sale of drugs and food – including abattoirs, dairy supervision, milk supply, sale of meat.

·         Hospitals

·         Control of stock diseases

·         Orchards, fruit and plant pests.


·         Construction and maintenance of all engineering works including roads, footpaths, bridges, culverts, levees, sewers and treatment works, water courses, drains, water supply, dams, reservoirs, electric power stations, mains and services, mechanical works, etc.

·         Construction and maintenance of all buildings and residences other than those constructed privately.

·         Provision of electricity and water.

·         Acquisition and disjustment(?) of all public buildings excluding hotels, private buildings and residences.

·         Control and management of factories and workshops, brick works, quarries, cement products etc.

·         Plant required for construction of all works.

·         Purchase and supply of material and stores.

·         Supply of furniture and fittings for all Commonwealth requirements.

·         Surveys, maps and plans

·         Supply of furniture and fittings for all Commonwealth requirements.

·         Surveys, maps and plans.


·         Registration of titles

·         Preparation of ordinances, by-laws, regulations, etc, for the government of the Territory.


·         Development of the city according to the Griffin plan.

·         Special local government activities.

·         Social Service

·         Preparation of balance sheets.

·         Collection and accounting for all amounts due for rents, rates, electricity, water, garbage, etc etc

·         Approval of designs etc of all buildings erected in the Territory.

·         Subdivisions.

·         Fire Brigade etc.

·         Land valuation.

·         Control and management of Crown lands.

·         Levying and collection of rates.

·         Forestry.

·         Destruction of vermin and noxious weeds.

·         Disposal of residences, including sale, letting and inspection.

·         General municipal government,

·         Education.

·         Hotels and boarding houses.

·         Bus and transport other than for works, tractors and cars for works inspectors.

·         Collection of charges for electricity, water and sewerage.

·         Markets and weighbridges, pounds.

·         Sanitation, garbage removal.

·         Industrial matters, including tribunals.

·         Cemeteries and burials

·         Parks and gardens, recreation grounds.

·         Administration and accounting for above.

This allocation of responsibilities was made at a conference of permanent heads and the Commission and the Departments are ready to function in their new capacity as soon as this bill is passed.

An Advisory Council will be created consisting of the Civic Administrator as president, the secretaries of the Home and Affairs and Works Departments, the Director-General of Health, and three residents of the Territory elected for a period of twelve months under the ordinary adult franchise system.

It is proposed to pay each of the elected members of the Council an honorarium at the rate of 100 pounds per annum.

The functions of the Council are to advise the Minister in relation to any matter affecting the Territory including advice as to the making of new ordinances or the repeal or amendment of existing ordinances.

The Minister informed Parliament that this change will be effected by ordinance. The reason for not including the terms of the ordinance in the bill is purely for convenience.

In moving the second reading of the bill the Minister said that it was introduced in accordance with the expressed policy of the Government to alter the present system of administering the Federal Capital Territory and to provide for more direct Ministerial and Departmental control.

He said that since the decision to establish the Capital City in Canberra was first made, there had been many and varied forms of control. This was in part due to changes in the administering departments, and in part to the unique character of the project upon which the Commonwealth had embarked. For the first time in history, a capital city was to be created, not by the normal process of economic development, but by the order of the Government and Parliament. It was to be expected that in the process unforseen difficulties would be encountered and rapid re-adjustments entailed(?). As a result, the administration of the Territory presents a picture of many administrations each of which served its particular purpose and then gave way to something better calculated to advance the progress of the city to a further stage.

Reviewing past forms of administration the Minister said that the greatest setback to the establishment of Canberra had been the war which caused a drain upon the resources of the Commonwealth and brought the Capital City for many years to a standstill.

In 1921 it was decided that construction should be speeded up and Parliament and the Departments transferred as soon as possible. A criticism of the existing system was that officers in charge of construction in Canberra were responsible to Ministers in Melbourne. The Government of the day thereupon introduced a bill providing for the appointment of a Commission with very wide powers, and with instructions to proceed with construction as quickly as possible. The appointment of the Commission was opposed as being unnecessary and expensive and an abrogation of Ministerial and Parliamentary responsibilities.

‘With the transfer of Parliament,’ the Minister said, ‘ the purely constructional stage of Canberra gave way in importance to the occupation stage. From then on the capacity of the Commission to control the city affairs of Canberra was put to the critical test. It was then that the fears originally expressed by the Labour Party began to take shape. The Commission originally selected because of engineering, constructional and town planning qualifications found itself faced with the task of administering in a civic capacity the affairs of a modern city. Their task was rendered even more difficult by the fact that the land was to be rented under the leasehold system and the outside financial(?) and business agencies were, therefore, not disposed to co-operate in any considerable way. There was, too, a very human factor associated with the transfer of thousands of citizens to a place far from their old associations and under conditions to which they had not then become accustomed. It was inevitable that there would be a certain amount of discontent and it is not to be wondered at that the Commission was soon involved in bitter disputes and hostile criticism inside and outside the Parliament.

“I have nothing to say about the capacity of the men who then comprised the Commission,’ said Mr Blakeley. ‘In their particular and specialised spheres, they did some excellent work and it may be that the sociological problems which so suddenly confronted them, were beyond them. I do say, however, that the Commission form of control under the powers conferred, irrespective of the individuals who might comprise it, was doomed to failure. It was blamed sometimes unjustly not doubt, for all the disabilities under which the citizens laboured, and despite its every effort lost the confidence of the residents.

Realizing the position, the Government of the day amended the Act in order to provide for local representation by means of election. This step, however, proved to be merely another patch upon a city of many vicissitudes. Two such representatives have been appointed: one of them resigned before his term expired [Dr LW Nott]; whilst the other tendered his resignation but withdrew it pending the disclosure of the Government’s intentions with regard to a new form of control.

The relationship between the citizens and the Commission can, perhaps be best illustrated by a survey of the Commission’s meetings since public representation was introduced. [Election of third commissioner 1929] Broadly speaking it has been a succession of acrimonious disputes between the representatives of the Commission and representatives of the Commission and the people’s representative, followed usually by a protest from the latter as to his ineptitude in the circumstances.

It may be taken as certain that if the present form of control were continued, discontent would undoubtedly grown and the whole system collapse.

This was recognised by the previous Government. Before the close of the last Parliament the failure of the Commission form of control. This coupled with the drastic curtailment of the constructional programme, and the almost complete cessation of building activities in Canberra, compelled the Government to refuse to sanction the continuation of the Commission for a period longer than twelve months.

I say unhesitatingly that the Commission form of government has failed on many counts,’ said the Minister. ‘it was wrongly conceived, and because of its extraordinary powers, it tended to usurp the functions of the Parliament and Government. It failed to understand the temperaments and aspirations of the citizens, who disfranchised by circumstances felt themselves unsympathetically treated and powerless to protest.’

Mr Blakeley refuted the suggestion that the Commission form of control had succeeded at Washington.

He quoted a report by Sir John Sulman who pointed out that the difficulties of Washington would have become acute ere now but for the fear of the negro vote and its manipulation by unscrupulous wire-pullers.

Mr Blakeley said that the Government expects to save at least 80,000 pounds of the present year’s vote for Canberra.

On administration alone, savings at the rate of 30.000 pounds per annum have been affected and these will be of a permanent character.

Mr Blakeley said that the Government would welcome a time when Canberra in its municipal services was self supporting and would in that case hand over complete control to a body elected by the citizens. That day is not yet.

‘We have gone as close to direct  control as the circumstances permit,’ he said. ‘ The Council will be the only body dealing generally with all the activities of Canberra, and there will be no higher tribunal sitting on top of the Council rendering all its deliberations and recommendations abortive. Every important subject at present dealt with by the Commission will come before the Council..

The elected representatives will sit alongside the heads of the various Departments controlling whatever subject is before the Council. First-hand information will be always available and the necessity for frequent deputations appealing against the abuse(?) of what was regarded as an autocratic body should disappear.

The heads of the Department will, of course, be in direct contact with their Ministers and also the representatives of the people. A better understanding of the problems to be resolved and a greater sympathy in regard to them must ensue.

In the Parliament, the responsibility of the Commission as it now exists, while it will still be mainly the responsibility of the Minister for Home Affairs, will be shared jointly by no less than three Ministers.

The past has been full of disappointments and bitter recriminations,’ said the Minister, in conclusion, ‘We have had various forms of control and many controlling authorities. Mistakes, have naturally been made, and experiments initiated with great hopes have sometimes ignominiously failed. We should take to heart the lessons we have learned during the many vicissitudes of this promising city, and then relegate the troubles of the past to the limbo of forgotten things.’


Advisory Council Notes 1935

The Canberra Times 6 August 1935




A large agenda confronted the Advisory Council at its meeting yesterday at which the Chairman (Dr Cumpston) presided.


Owing to the lengthy business paper it became necessary to adjourn several motions for a fortnight.



Information sought by Lieut-Col Goodwin concerning charges made for the use of cubicles at Capitol Hill Camp was given by Mr RJ Rain, who said the weekly rentals was 3/- per cubicle.  Tenants in regular employment had current rent deducted and 7/6 per week for arrears (if any).  Relief workers had only current rent deducted.  The charge included electric light, use of truck and driver for obtaining firewood, water, garbage and sanitary services.



A letter from the Department of the Interior stated that the Council’s request for a revision of land rentals in the FCT would be brought before the Minister on his return to Canberra.



Figures given to Mr HC Green by Mr Rain show that on the north side of the river there were two sites purchased for business purposes and two residential sites not yet built on. On the south side of the river figures were four and four.



On the motion of Mr Shakespeare a resolution was carried suggesting the issue of cartridges to trustworthy sportsmen for the destruction of cormorants within the Federal Capital Territory or alternatively the remission of 1/- per head for each cormorant destroyed, such expenditure to be charged against the amounts received from fishing licences.


Mr Shakespeare said that the birds were a menace to fishing as a sport and negative efforts made in restocking the rivers etc.


Mr Rain said that recently the purchase of cartridges to the value of  10 pounds had been authorized for a cormorant drive to be carried out by employees of the Property and Survey Branch and other approved persons. It was intended to arrange an organ…drive shortly.



Attention was drawn to the dilapidated state of the fence and gates surrounding Tharwa Public School by Mr Shakespeare who asked would steps be taken to effect repairs in order to preserve ornamental trees, plants and enclosure.


Mr Gourgaud said that this matter had already been brought under notice by the teacher in charge. It repairs were necessary action would be taken to have them carried out.



In reply to representations made by the Council in June last for the provision of a motor bypass on the Gudgenby road, a letter was received from the Department of the Interior stating that the Commonwealth was prepared to contribute half the cost of the bypass provided the other half was contributed by the residents concerned.  The cost of the bypass was estimated at 65 pounds.



Replying to Mr TM Shakespeare, Mr Daley said that the area of the Canberra aerodrome was considered adequate for the future requirements of the city. The area at present was 100 acres and the total area set aside was 215 acres excluding land for administrative purposes, which comprised about 130 acres.  In addition to this provision had been made for an area of the RAAF, administration buildings.



Dr Cumpston informed Mr HC Green that the nursing staff of the Canberra Hospital worked 60 hours a week and expressed the opinion that the working hours of hospital employees would be within the jurisdiction of the Board of Management to be elected next month.



Asked by Lieut-Col JTH Goodwin when it was proposed to erect a bridge over the Molonglo River at Duntroon near Lloyd’s Gardens, Mr PA Gourgaud said that it had not been possible for the work to be included in the draft estimates for the current financial year.



Questioned by Mr Shakespeare on the subject of the installation of a public telephone at Ainslie, Mr Daley said there was nothing further to report in this direction.  He thought that any further action lay with the Northern Suburbs’ Progress Association.





Advisory council Notes 1936

The Canberra Times 2 June 1936



Note of Meeting


The ninety-third meeting of the Advisory Council was held yesterday, the chairman (Dr JHL Cumpston) presiding.


The chairman formally presented the following ordinances which had previously been before the Council and which had previously been before the Council and had appeared in the Commonwealth Gazette: Real Property Ordinance 1936:  Housing Ordinance 1836: Money Lenders Ordinance 1936: Wild Flowers and Native Plants Protection Ordinance; Bank Holidays Ordinance 1836; Queanbeyan Leases Ordinance 1936;  Careless Use of Fire Ordinance: Canberra University College Ordinance 1936; Hospital Tax Regulations.



The Department of the Interior advised the Council that the necessity for additional accommodation at  the Acton Tourist Camp had been recognised, and provision would be given to consideration of improvements when the estimates were being discussed.



Mr  Percival informed Mr Shakespeare that the question of the provision of a path of access to the grave of the late Mr WJ Farrer was being considered by Cabinet, but no decision had yet been reached.



Mr TM Shakespeare drew attention to the dust nuisance caused by traffic at the Railway Station, and  asked if anything could be done to improve the road. Mr PA Gougaud stated that the matter had been referred to the Railway Commissioner with a request that steps be taken to have the railway improved.



Complaints concerning the unsatisfactory state of Cotter Road, the streets traversing Westridge, and the road leading from Duntroon Road to Russell Hill, were transmitted for consideration by Mr TM Shakespeare who asked that attention be given to the affecting of improvements.


Mr PA Gourgaud stated that the Cotter Road and the streets at Westridge had received attention while the road to Russell Hill would be attended to as soon as possible.



Stating that complaints were still rife regarding the number of cyclists who used city streets without having their machines equipped with lights.  Mr TM Shakespeare requested that the police be instructed to prosecute any cyclist found traveling without lights at night, or whose bicycles were not fitted with reflectors.   Mr CS Daley intimated this would be done.



Mr PA Gourgaud stated that precautions were being taken to guard against pedestrians using the concrete footpath in Mort Street.  However there was always a danger of people slipping on concrete footpaths in wet weather, particularly if they were wearing rubber heals.


Mr Shakespeare had drawn attention to the fact that accidents had occurred on the footpath, and asked that steps be taken to have the path asphalted or kept clean of mud.



Mr T M Shakespeare stated that owing to increased traffic along Cooyong Street Braddon, motorists were anxious that no parking should be permitted within 75 feet of its intersection with Mort Street.  He asked that the matter be considered with a view to lessening of risk of accident at this point.


Mr PA Gourgaud said that this was a matter which would receive early consideration.


Mr Daley stated that plans were being considered to reduce traffic risk at Arthur Circle, Forrest, by the provision of a two-way system.



Replying to Mr Shakespeare who asked when the wooden cottages at Causeway would be painted, Mr Percival stated that the work would be commenced as soon as urgent jobs now in hand had been disposed of.




Consideration of a motion submitted by Mr TM Shakespeare pointed out the necessity for creating a roadway running parallel to Mort Street between Cooyong and Alinga Streets City, was deferred until next meeting of the Council.



Mr TM Shakespeare moved ‘that this Councils consider the imposition of an additional fee of 7/6d for registering motor vehicles half-yearly is excessive and should be abolished.’


Colonel JTH Goodwin said that he would support the motion as he was convinced that the extra charge was not justified.


Mr CS Daley stated that as a means of assisting motorists during the depression the system of registering for shorter periods had been instituted. This had resulted in much duplication and additional office costs.  The charges in the FCT were lower than those of the States. However, he would support a suggestion that the fee be reduced to 5/-/


Mr Shakespeare stated that he preferred the motion to stand, and on being put to the meeting it was defeated on the casting vote of the chairman.


It was resolved on the motion of Mr Shakespeare, to suggest to the Minister the necessity for providing bus accommodation for children to school from Mugga and Jerrabomberra Avenues.



Mr Gougaud stated in reply to a question by Mr TM Shakespeare that provision had been made on the estimates for the surfacing of London Avenue on the south side of  City Hill, Marcus Clark Street from Edinburgh Avenue to Commonwealth Bridge, City and also the new roadway between Kings Avenue and Brisbane Avenue Barton.

Advisory Council 1945

The Canberra Times 5 June 1945



The ACT Advisory Council has notified at its meeting yesterday that it was not possible to exempt from taxation those people suffering from total incapacity and receiving compensation but no other income.


The Secretary of the Department of the Interior in a letter to the Council stated that it would be necessary to change the laws governing taxation if such exemption were to be granted. The Government had given the matter consideration at various times, but it was felt that there could be no real justification, while taxation was being paid on incomes of a similar amount, although not received as compensation.  The amount of income was the governing factor.



The Department of the Interior advised that a number of concrete bus seats were to be installed throughout the city as soon as practicable and of these, three were to be placed at the cemetery.



The Graziers’ Association of NSW  Queanbeyan branch, asked for support in retaining the Wednesday half-holiday in Queanbeyan. It was felt that it would be detrimental to Queanbeyan residents and also many Canberra residents if the change to Saturday were made.


Members of the Council felt that they did not have enough information to act on, and a motion by Dr Nott that the matter be deferred pending further information from the Association was carried.



Mr P Gourgaud informed Mr WE Hurley that there was no special bus from Ainslie terminus for pupils of Canberra High School, but there was a special bus which traveled via Reid and Scott’s Crossing for children attending Telopea Park School. [Canberra High School was near Civic Centre – it is now the Art School.]


Mr Gourgaud added however, that two buses left the Ainslie terminus at 8.36, one traveling via Paterson Street and the other via Cowper Street and Limestone Avenue.  These buses carried pupils of the High School; however neither was reserved exclusively for children.


It was decided that the chairman (Mr Daley) should take up the matter with the headmaster of the High School to see that no abuse of the  bus service made by the children.



Mr Hurley suggested that, as the new bridge leading to Duntroon was out of commission as a result of the recent floods, some road sign should be erected to warn motorists that the bridge was not open.


Mr Johnson said that a road block was being placed across the road leading to Duntroon, thus obviating the necessity for a sign.



Mr Gourgaud stated in reply to Mr Hurly that the Works Director would be asked to provide notices to be placed in the laneway at the Manuka Shops which will state that the parking of vehicles in the lane is prohibited.


Mr Hurley said that many vehicles parked in the lane, sometimes for half and hour and more. One storekeeper at Manuka had to take truck to the font of his shop and carry the goods through his shop to the back because a car was parked near the rear entrance to his premises.



Dairy leases in the Territory cannot be used for any other purpose except that of dairying unless the approval of  the Department has been granted.


Mr Johnson made this reply to Mr Hurley who asked in the event of dairymen, disposing of their herds, what action was contemplated to prevent the leases being used for mixed farming or other purposes not provided for leases.


Mr Johnson added that the Department had no reason to believe that dairying will not be continued on leases.


Dr Nott urged that a complete review should be made of the dairy leases because it seemed that some dairymen had placed their own interests before those of the community, as had been instanced by the growing of vegetables, for which a high price could be obtained in preference to producing enough milk.


The chairman (Mr Daley) said that, rather than dairymen placing their own interests first, it seemed as though they placed the interests of the nation, which needed a great amount of vegetables, first.


Dr Nott said that some vegetables grown at Duntroon had been sent to Sydney, and bought back to the Territory. [The area Duntroon referred to in this section is present day Pialligo.]



Mr Gourgaud stated that the Department had decided against the removal of the tree from the northern end of the features bordering the entrance to the Motor Registration Branch.


Mr Hurley had complained that the tree was a danger to pedestrians and cyclists emerging from that section to the main road, as it blocked their view, but Mr Gourgaud said that persons coming on the main road should take all precautions and anyone that did not do so ran the risk of an accident.


Mr Johnson supported Mr Gourgaud by stating that it was intended to deviate the road from the Lennox Crossing bridge before it reached the offices. [Lennox Crossing was off to the left  before the Commonwealth Bridge on the south side going north.]



Replying to Mr Davies, who asked if the Department kept a record of stock deaths, Mr Johnson said that the Department did not keep such a record, but the Department of Health had advised that about 26 head have died from known causes namely Hoven (bloat).


Mr Johnson in reply to a further question by Mr Davies, said that no analysis had been made of the flood debris as it was felt that such action was not justified; in any event it would be a matter for the Department of Health.


Mr Johnson also informed Mr Davies that arrangements had been made for the ACT to be embraced in any scheme of stock feed rationing in operation in the State.


No restrictions were placed on the sale of chaff, but distributors who require it for essential purposes, are required to locate their own sources and then transport permits will be issued by the State Agriculture Department.


When Dr Nott asked him for a definition of ‘essential purposes’ Mr Johnson said that he would obtain further information and give it to Dr Nott at the next meeting.


Dealking with the future milk supply for Canberra Mr Johnson said that the report of the committee which investigated the question was not at present available, but as soon as it was it would be presented to the Council.


The committee, which carried out their investigation, comprised two officers of both the Departments of Health and Interior and an officer of the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Treasury.


When Dr Nott asked what supplies of DDT insect exterminator are going to be made available to orchardists in the ACT Mr Johnson said that he could not answer this as the limited output is being diverted to the services. The Department of Commerce had appointed a committee to deal with the whole question of the supply and control of DDT.


The chairman (Mr Daley) stated that one Minister had recently said that he was trying to obtain an improved supply of this exterminator.



A Press statement on Canberra scholarships indicated that the Canberra University College proposed to wait on the Minister for the Interior and make certain suggestions in relation to the amendment of the scholarship rules and it is presumed that any such suggestion would be referred to the Council of the College for consideration.


This was the reply given by Mr Daley to Dr Nott, who asked if any information could be given as to the system of allocating scholarships.



Mr Gourgaud said that tests of Commonwealth owned motor vehicles were not carried out at the Registration Branch as these vehicles were overhauled and tested regularly by experts at the Transport Branch. Buses were also serviced in this way.   Vehicles controlled by  the police force were not cared for by the Transport Section, said Mr Gourguard who added that the police look after their own vehicles.



Dr Nott was informed that no electric refrigerators had been installed in Government owned houses in the last six month.



Recent renovations to the Capitol Hill mess camp had cost approximately 257 pounds. The total capacity of the camp is now 26 persons.


These  figures were given by Mr Johnson to Dr Nott, adding that at present there are 13 residents in the camp, apart from staff and 10 cubicles are unoccupied.


When Dr Nott asked why these cubicles could not be let to alleviate the acute accommodation problems, Mr Johnson said that they were kept available for tradesmen coming to Canberra and, if they were let, it would be difficult to get them vacated for the tradesmen.


As the result of a suggestion by Dr Nott representations will be made to the Postal Department to have a telephone, either public or private, installed at the camp.  Dr Nott stated that it was an imperative need as the camp was growing and the housekeeper needed a phone for business reasons.  It was also needed in case of elderly men who often required medical care at short notice.



Mr Faley told Dr Nott that no allocation of land had been made on Oaks Estate for major or minor industries.  All the land is freehold and the only control exercised by the Department of the interior has been under the building regulations.


Consequently added Mr Daley, completed information in regard to persons engaged in minor or major industries on the Estate is not on the Department’s records.


Mr Daley said that the question of the future of Oaks Estate was being considered as a result of an application received in this regard.  The establishment of a minor shopping area at the estate would also be considered.



Mr Daley said that the question of providing small shopping areas at Ainslie and Westridge is receiving the attention of the Department, although no definite plans have been made to date. However it is intended to make such provision as soon as is practicable.



Replying to Dr Nott, Mr Daley said that as the New South Wales laws applying to high-speed machinery in the Territory had been superseded, it was intended to introduce into the Territory similar provisions to those in operation in the State to provide for adequate control of such machinery in the public interest.



Dr Nott asked Mr Daley what plan or scheme of development or what works have been carried out in the ACT since the abolition of the Commission that were not planned for by the Commission.


Mr Daley said that the general development of Canberra has been in accordance with the principles of the Griffin plan, subject to certain minor modifications in detail to suit topography which are endorsed by Parliament from time to time.  The Federal Capital Commission was required to base its development on the approval plan, and, therefore, visualized much of the development that has occurred since April 1930 when it was abolished.


However, many of the individual works that have been designed and executed since had not reached that stage during the life of the Commission and have consequently been the entire responsibility of the Department of the Interior, added Mr Daley.



Mr Daley said that the slit trenches in the proximity to the High School had been filled but, when Dr Nott complained that a person had fallen into one recently, Mr Daley said that he would have an inspection made.  It was thought that the heavy rain some weeks ago may have caused a subsidence.



When Dr Nott was told that a draft of the proposed Gaming and Betting Ordinance has been printed and was being considered by the Attorney-General’s Department, he expressed surprise that it should first be printed and then considered.


However, Mr Daley said that it was only a draft: when the draft was completed it would be submitted to the Council for consideration.



Dr Nott asked Mr Daley what steps, if any, had been taken to limit the entry of aliens into the ACT.  Mr Daley said that it was a matter of Government policy, and, as far as he knew, each case was judged on its merits. 


However, added Mr Daley, he would take up the matter at a future date.   No proposal had been made to the Department of the Interior for premises for the housing of an Italian Legation.



Dr Downes informed Dr Nott that by the removal of a pipe from the roof-level, obnoxious odours from the abattoirs had been eliminated to a great extent.  He had seen the plans for a concrete condensation chamber.


Arrangements were made for members of the Council to inspect the abattoirs next Tuesday afternoon.



Dr Nott asked, in view of the poorer performance given by low grade petrol, was it intended to reduce the price of petrol.  Some commercial uses were only able to obtain about 60 per cent of the milage of the higher octane fuel.


Mr Gourgaud said that he had written to the Department of Supply and shipping, but as yet had received no reply.



Mr Gourgaurd said that he could not give any information at present on what works or plans for landscape and garden development are in view in regard to a programme of continuity in development within the city area. However as far as new works are concerned, during the next financial year they would depend on the amount of money available, and when decisions in this regard had been made, the Council would be notified.


Dr Nott said that he was not particularly interested as to what is to be done in the next 12 months or this financial year; he would like to know of some plan to which the Parks and Gardens Section worked.


Mr Gourgaurd said, that if members wanted to know what works had been suggested in connection with the programme he would prepare a statement for the next meeting.  The Department would appreciate any suggestions along these lines from members of the Council.



Mr JL Davies said that the accommodation shed at Kingston Oval was in a deplorable state and the Department should do something to repair it.


Mr Gourgaurd said that the question of whether the building was to be allowed to remain at the Kingston Oval was receiving consideration, as it had been repaired many times and then smashed by vandals.


Asked to whom the building should be handed over to if it was repaired again, Mr Davies said that, as in nearly all towns, there should be a caretaker.



[this ‘building’ was the Printers Quarters erected in 1926]

In reply to Mr Hurley who asked if an inspection could be made of the Kingston Guest House, Mr Johnson said that certain replacements in the way of furniture and fittings were under consideration.


Mr Hurley said that it had been reported that the Guest House was in a very bad state.


January 1947 Building Problems

The Canberra Times 6 January 1947


Although the greater part of 1946 witnessed chaos, lost opportunities and failure to reach more than 30 per cent of the housing target, a happier outlook for 1947 has been provided by the completion of 78 homes in the last six months of 1946, the impending arrival of British tradesmen, and the release of a number of trainees from the Canberra Technical College.

One of the gathering clouds, however, is the failure so far of the Commonwealth to make provision in the State allocation of building materials for the needs of ACT housing.

The most common excuse heard in the past months for failure to complete projects, Departmental or private, has been ‘insufficient materials and labour.’

Despite these deficiencies the Department of Works and Housing has accelerated its building programme so rapidly that 22 houses were completed in December alone, and some of the 226 under construction are almost complete.

Bricks and timber have been reserved for the minor flood of workmen expected in Canberra. Residents have been warned that there is no guarantee that the workmen will be solely reserved for ACT building but in official circles programmes have been quietly mapped out for the most part dependent on using the majority of the tradesmen from Britain.


Figures released by the Department of Works and Housing revealed that 78 houses had been completed and handed over to the Department of the Interior for occupation  during the 12 months ended December 31, 1946.

Approximately 70 of this number had been completed by day labour, 75 demountable houses at Narrabundah and 12 rebuilt from Tocumwal material.

Contracts have been let for all house construction for which tenders were called in 1946, the last batch for 48 houses in Turner being let a fortnight ago.

In addition tenders have been received for the new Barton Hostel. Plans are being prepared for a block of 40 flats at Narrabundah, in the vicinity of the present housing programme in Jerrabomberra Av. They will be two and three bedroom units.

Additional subdivisions, including Griffith, are expected to be advertised for lease early this year.


The number of leases for which applications were made by the public in 1946 was 81, which is almost double those for the previous year.

Relinquishments, however, are smaller, although many new leases were compelled to secure extensions of time because of high building costs and lack of materials prevented building being commenced.

A total of 137 blocks was available at the end of 1946, comprising; Ainslie 5, Braddon 20, Deakin 38, Forrest 26, Red Hill 24, Reid 4, and Turner 20.

To date 1100 applicants are waiting for homes through the Department of which 690 applications were lodged in 1946.

Applicants are still signing papers and making requests at the rate of 60 to 70 a month, even though it will be 18 or 19 months before their opportunity of securing a home eventuates.

Despite a December allocation of homes to 13 fortunate occupiers in Turner and nine others in Braddon many applicants have been passed over because the rental of available houses is beyond what they could afford to pay.


Many of the houses under construction are being held up because of the lack of essential commodities. Twelve electric stoves are shortly to be installed in homes which originally were designed for fuel ranges because fuel ranges were not available.

Applicants for electrical fittings as far back as 1942 have not yet received electrical fittings for their homes through the Department.

Tiles have always been in short and at a premium. Bricks were rationed to private contractors so that quantities could be stored for the coming of the English labourers.  The same process is being observed with soft and hard woods. Sufficient material is seeping through for work on Government projects.  A shortage of skilled men is slowing down the rate of building.

The greatest deterrent to attracting skilled labour to the ACT is the lack of housing for the men and their families.  Similarly a number of craftsmen have left the employ of contractors on private enterprise construction to work on Government jobs in the hope their change over might assist them in securing a home more rapidly.

There were minor rumbles of unrest during 1946 among the building trades including a demand for day labour to replace contracts. Accusations were made of ‘slowing down’ on Government projects.

Employers have complained that men have been working at week-ends on other jobs and not working satisfactorily during the week.

...(part missing) statute negotiation for arbitration procedure, the inability of the Courts to take adequate measure to protect its authority, reluctance of Governments to enforce disciplinary clauses of industrial law, high taxation, high cost of living, shortages in houses, and in the production of consumer goods.

Mr Obserg said in the face of strong well organised attempt to destroy arbitration, it was obvious that the dignity and effectiveness of arbitration courts and judges must deteriorate rapidly if they were not endowed with the power by imposition of sanctions to enforce their decisions.

All plumbing trainees under the Rehabilitation Training Scheme were unable to start work on completion of their courses because materials were lacking, with the result that some trainees were lost to the ACT.


The keystone of departmental endeavour was the joint pronouncement on March 9 of the Ministers for Works and Housing and the Interior.

It included plans for 200 demountable houses for workers, the erection of flats in the Reid district, the establishment of two additional hostels at Braddon and Barton, and the building of 1,000 homes for residents in Canberra.

Against this, 75 steel-framed fibro walled demountable homes are being erected at Narrabundah. Tenders have been called for the hostel at Barton and the plans for the Braddon establishment are reported to be in an advanced stage of preparation.

Bids received for the Reid flats were claimed to be unjustly high. A further plan made public in August is for the erection of 100 concrete homes in the Turner area, but tenders received from New South Wales contractors are still being considered.

The latest development is the transfer from Tocumwal of RAAF hutments for redesign and re-erection in Ainslie.

Apart from an unsatisfactory start with weatherboard and broken timbers and delays in laying the foundations these homes may prove early relief for large families requiring three or more bedrooms.


There is grave concern at the discouragement during the year of private enterprise contracting. Contractors who started 1946 hopeful of additional labour from returning servicemen, and additional production of materials, quickly discovered they were being hamstrung by State and Commonwealth priority demands.

Some contractors complained their craftsmen were leaving the Territory because supplies were insufficient to keep their men fully employed. This adversely affected tender prices and builders were paying higher rates to skilled men to retain their services even though their work was restricted by material shortages.

There must have been two major clashes during the year involving building materials, effects of which are still being felt. Both resulted directly from tightening up of departmental controls.

The first involved a drastic curtailment of brick supplies, which affected not only building within the ACT but in Queanbeyan.

The second was the stoppage of radiate pine supplies to private enterprise projects.

The immediate effect was to discourage private building and pr..(?) the choice of the remaining contractors and workmen between Government projects in the ACT and going out into the State.

Builders found they were unable to obtain bricks between Canberra and Sydney. They also discovered timber supplies had been requisitioned for Commonwealth projects from all dealers miles from Canberra.

The air was cleared to some extent by a conference between officers of the Department of Works and Housing and the Interior and a deputation of builders.

The reason brought forward for the curtailment of supplies was the need for a reserve of materials in light of the approaching arrival of the English tradesmen.


One of the most anxious concerns for 1947 will be the continuity of building supplies for private housing.  During the war allocation of supplies was made under National Security Regulations. These Commonwealth-made laws delegated the war time control of building materials to the States, but no stipulation was made to reserve supplies for the ACT needs. With the expiry of the National Security Act, allocation of building supplies becomes a purely State matter and unless the Commonwealth authorities reach agreement with the State in reserving some allocation to the ACT the exact position of Canberra housing will be indefinite.


Private enterprise has endeavoured to assist the Government during 1946 in making materials go as far as possible, and is also endeavouring to provide a basis to assure adequate requirements of materials in 1947.

One proposal is to establish a pool for materials designed not only to give private enterprise a representative bargaining body in Canberra, but also to assist in distribution of available materials.

On their availability and efficiency depends much of the immediate success of home building in Canberra.

Architects are endeavouring to induce clients to combine in erecting houses in zones so that one contractor may erect a group of homes, thereby securing as much economy in labour and materials as possible.

To achieve the best results, amendments to the present building regulations are favoured. The Departments of Works and Housing and the Interior are now reviewing local regulations in the light of findings of the Commonwealth experimental housing station at Ryde NSW.

With uniformity of standards it is believed that substantial economies can be achieved both in manpower and materials.


1935 Ladies' Auxiliary

The Canberra Times 28 May 1935



Useful Work in Canberra


Perhaps of all the sixty odd organizations which for all kinds of purposes have come into being in Canberra, the Ladies Auxiliary of the FCT  Branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League is one of the least known.


The Ladies’ Auxiliary was founded by the womenfolk of returned soldiers to assist the League in its work.  Thus, in any movement; for the raising of funds, be this the annual Poppy Day Appeal or a dance at Albert Hall, the services of the Ladies’ Auxiliary are drawn upon. Twice weekly those selected for hospital visiting go to the hospital to cheer sick returned soldiers with a friendly smile and kinds words of encouragement, bringing with them packets of cigarettes, bags of fruit, cakes and sweets or some other delicacy.  Among the sick are men from No 4 Camp or Capitol Hill Camp, knights of the highways who have been struck all during their short sojourn in the Federal Capital. Often when they are ready to leave the hospital, they receive a pair or two of home-knitted socks and some warm underclothing.  Apart from the recipients and a few kindhearted women, how many know that socks are still being knitted, not for the boys at the front,  but for those who were at the front and have since fallen by the wayside.


Now the funds of the Ladies Auxiliary are at a low ebb and they are holding a bridge party in the Returned Soldiers’ Club at two o’clock this afternoon and every woman who can spare the time is invited.  The subscription is one and sixpence and includes afternoon tea.


1937 Light Horse Camp

The Canberra Times 19 May 1936



At Canberra in 1937


Arrangements are now being made for the annual camp of the Seventh Light Horse Regiment at Canberra early in 1937, and an inspection of various camp  sites and areas suitable for manoeuvres was carried out on Sunday by Brigade Major (Captain Richardson), the Commanding Officer  (Col GE Harris MC), the Adjutant (Captain AEL Morgan) and Lieut LC Bird of the Canberra Troop of Light Horse Regiment.


The visit of the officers coincided with the annual inspection of the Canberra Troop.


Various areas considered suitable for encampments were investigated and it is likely that either Acton Racecourse of [or?] Majura Valley will be selected.


If the camp is held at Acton, the area between Red Hill and the Murrumbidgee River will be used for cavalry manoeuvres, but if it is decided to make the encampment in the Mt Ainslie-Majura area, the manouvres will then take place in the Majura Valley on the eastern side of Duntroon. In  this case the camp would probably be erected near Duntroon.


A tentative date has been fixed and the men will probably be under canvas for eight days commencing in the third week in March.


Approximately 250 men of all ranks and detachments will be involved and in addition the Fourth Calvary Brigade Band will be present.  All the men with the exception of the band will be mounted units. Four extra days will be devoted to erecting and striking camp.


Prior to the camp, tactical exercises will be held for the purpose of instructing the officers and NCO’s.  These exercises will be carried out during November at the site chosen for the regimental camp.


On the lighter side of camp life will include an Officers’ Ball, sergeants’ Ball and a number of other functions. There will be church parades and sports meeting during the Sunday on which the men are attending camp.


It was decided by the commanding officers that Canberra would again be the rendezvous for the regimental shoot in July.


At the parade of the Canberra Troop on Sunday, swordmanship tests were conducted, points to count for the RSSILA. Efficiency Trophy, Trooper W Kinnane won the run-off after tieing with Trooper S McCauley, while Troopers G Day and M Blundell tied for third place.


To wind up the season’s activities the Canberra Troop will hold a ‘smoko’ at which the Efficiency Trophy will be presented.



The Canberra Chamber of Commerce has presented valuable trophies for perpetual competition amongst troops of the 7th Light Horse Regiment.


Although the manner in which the trophies will be allocated has not yet been definitely decided it is probable that they will be presented to the Sabre Troop  which is chosen to represent the Regiment in the Prince of Wales Cup Competition and to the Machine Gun section representing the Regiment at the Lord Forster Cup competition.


Six sabre troops and four machine gun sections complete in these matches and represent the various regiments of New South Wales.


1937 Razer Gangs

The Canberra Times 21 April 1937



Talk at Police Conference




The suggestion that haunts for potential razor gangsters existed in Canberra was made at the fifth annual meeting of the Police Association of the Federal Capital Territory on Monday evening.


One speaker referred to Capital Hill Camp as a definite menace and something that should be removed from the precincts of the city.  The fact that razor-gangsterism had not developed there already was attributed to the unremitting efforts of the police.


The president of the Association (Mr W Fellowes) occupied the chair.  Visitors present were the acting Solicitor-General (Mr Mc Boniwell), Chief Officer of Police (Col HE Jones), Asst-Solicitor General (Mr GB Castieru), Col JTH Goodwin, SM, Clerk of Petty Sessions (Mr FCP Keane), Honorary Solicitors to the Association (Messrs WHB Dickson and KC Codd), Messrs B Maugher and A Hamilton representing the Canberra Firemen’s Association and Mr CW  Priestly (honorary member of  the Police Association).  Members of the Police Association in attendance were Messrs Weiss, Brodribb, Bresnan, Hilton, Goodall and Grove.


All members of the executive were re-elected as follows:- President, Mr WO Fellowes; Vice-President, Mr SE Hush, Hon Treasurer, M LJ  Ivey, Hon Secretary, Mr IC Perriman.



It was resolved to press for construction at an early date of the proposed new Police Station, and also to suggest that in the preparation of the details, facilities should be afforded for a recreation room for the use of members of the Police Force. 


A resolution urging that the personel of the Police Force be increased was also carried.



The conference was formally opened by the Acting- Solicitor General (Mr MC Boniwell) who traced the history of the Police Force within the British Empire from its establishment in 1829 and referred to the high state of efficiency which had been reached through the employment of modern methods of crime detection.


In the Federal Capital Territory, he said, the police controlled a small but not turbulent population comprising for the most part of public servants serving the same authority. However, the high percentage of motor cars in the community coupled with the narrow streets caused problems which had the police not continually displayed vigilance, would have resulted in the number of casualties reaching figures which in other countries had been described as ‘massacre’ rates,  In this regard he could give great credit to the members of the Canberra Police Force.


Mr Boniwell said that since the FCT Police Association was formed five years ago it had functioned in a correct manner  with a vital interest to serve, hence its remarkable success.


The police as a body had escaped the discouragement which was usually attached to other classes of public servants – the policemen was never described as a police official although he may be described as a police officer.  The term ‘official’ which was applicable to the general body of public servants carried with it very frequently more than a hint of dislike.  However, the frequently repeated demand for fewer ‘officials’ was not applied to the police and the general demand was for more.


The average citizen regarded the police as officers performing a necessary but somewhat exacting public duty and being entitled to such assistance in the performance of that duty as could be afforded them.


The Chief Officer of Police (Col HE Jones) said that he had noted with pleasure the excellent spirit de corps existing in the force, and declared that the smooth working of the organization depended upon the capacity of the individual constables who was usually called upon to do his duty alone and had to decide instantly on his own responsibility whether or not the circumstances which confronted him called for his interference.  For the most part, the constable had to depend on his own resourcefulness and originality, but he had also to remember that he would be held responsible for the proper discharge of the duty entrusted to him.  It was therefore obvious that a constable who was desirous of advancement in the service should devote such hours as he could spare to reading and study and to general improvement of his knowledge.


There was one part of the policeman’s job that was not fully appreciated by the public generally, and that was the human relationship in connection with the problems of poverty and crime – helping the poor;  relieving them of the temptations to commit crimes, while doing numerous acts which helped to implant in certain children in the community instructs of honesty and virtue which were just as important as the major tasks of preventing and detecting crime. However it was essential that the good law-abiding citizens should be created and preserved.  This could be achieved by the exercise of forbearance and discretion in dealing with minor breaches of the law when committed inadvertently or in ignorance.  The words used by the Commissioner for New South Wales at the New Zealand Conference should also be bourne in mind. They were, ‘The best friend a policeman has is  a policeman.’


Although the value of preserving the goodwill of the public was known this did not relieve the police from observing the precautions necessary to avoid associations prejudicial to good public service.


Everywhere there were special pitfalls for the policeman, and temptations to which he was continually exposed.  In every body of men and in every department of human weakness were bound to make their appearance but these should not be used to break the confidence of the public with the organization as a whole.


Police could not be used to enforce standards of conduct which were widely disapproved of without exposing themselves to condemnation by some sections of the community. It was not enough that laws relating to public morality should have the support of only some elements in the community. The laws must have the substantial support of the whole of the people.  ‘We in Australia,’ said Col Jones, ‘ would do well to adopt some of the principles operating in European countries in which the police are not required to enforce laws which, from the standard of accepted pubic habit or taste, are fundamentally unenforceable.’ Until the time arrived, he added, the members of the Force should exercise discretion, care and honesty to that their actions did not leave open the possibility of any charges against their integrity.


In conclusion Col Jones said that he hoped that the present atmosphere of co-operation and loyalty in the force would long continue.


The annual report of the association disclosed that the Departmental reply to the suggestion that a new Police Station should receive consideration at an early date had not been faourable.


During the past year the Executive had increased its Trust Fund to provide for emergencies.


Two e-members of the Force, Messrs Tandy and Priestly, were made honorary members of the Association.


Appreciation was expressed of the valuable assistance rendered by the honorary auditor (Mr FCP Keane).  The Executive also placed on record its appreciation of the help given by the General Secretary  of the NSW Police Association (Mr CJ Cosgrove) especially for his co-operation in enabling the Association to obtain the books which now formed the Police Association Library.   This library had been housed in a suitable case at the Police Station, in which the records of the Association were also kept.


Apologies for non-attendance were received from the Attorney-General (Mr Menzies) and Sergeant EC Bailey.


Sergeant Bailey intimated that although he had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant he would remain a member of the Association.


1937 Habitual Drunk

The Canberra Times 17 June 1937






The first man to be declared an habitual drunkard in Canberra, Edward Patrick Ryan, a relief worker of Capitol Hill camp, pleaded to a charge of being idle and disorderly and was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment.


In evidence Sergeant Bailey said that he had known Ryan for some years during which he had lived at Capitol Hill camp and had been employed doing odd jobs about Canberra and on relief work.  During the last twelve months whenever he had seen him defendant had been drunk.  He had last seen defendant on Sunday June 14 when Ryan had been in his hut in a filthy condition and was in company with several other men.  They had a five gallon keg of beer and Ryan was hopelessly drunk.  The other men were in various stages of drunkenness. Ryan had had many previous convictions for drunkenness.


Ryan made a tearful appeal for another chance saying that he had a week’s work and would use his wages to get out of  the Territory.


Lieut Col Goodwin in sentencing  him to one month’s imprisonment said that the best place for Ryan was in Goulburn gaol to give him a chance to sober up.



Charles Henry Wilson, relief worker, Capitol Hill pleaded guilty to a charge of drunkenness and was fined 10/-


1938 Queanbeyan Centenary Celebrations

The Canberra Times 4 October 1938



The Queanbeyan Centenary celebrations opened auspiciously with a procession through the streets of the town and carnivals at the Showground during the afternoon and evening.  In the afternoon gate takings amounted to 260 pounds and it was estimated that the evening receipts for admission would swell the total to 500 pounds.

The initial response by the public indicates that success is assured and if yesterday’s glorious weather continues though the week a memorable carnival should be experienced.

From an early hour there were scenes of great activity at East Queanbeyan as the various floats, military units, and other persons participating in the procession were marshalled to their stations by the Chief Marshall (Mr HG Colman) and his assistants.

Headed by the Military Bands of the 3rd Battalion, the procession moved off at about 11.10am crossing the Queanbeyan River Bridge to Monaro Street. The various units evoked expressions of appreciation from thousands of spectators who lined the sidewalks.

When the vanguard had reached the western end of Farrer place, the rear portion had not yet moved off.

Music for the marchers was provided by the Goulburn Military Band and the Queanbeyan Municipal Band.

After proceeding from Monaro Street to Lowe Street, the Lowe, Morrissett, and Crawford Streets, the procession continued by way of Cooma road to the Showground where the judging of the costumes and floats was completed.

Lieut-Col AT Paul and Lieut KE Wheeler led the infantry contingent, which comprised companies drawn from the 3rd Battalion, while the 7th Light Horse Troops were under the command of Captain RT Hassall and Lieut Roberts of Braidwood. Canberra, Bombala, Cooma and Yass Troops were represented.

Major GA Beattie, ED was in command of the 3rd Battalion troops.

The King’s Colours and Regimental Colours were carried in the procession by Lieut JC Dovey (Canberra) and Lieut RF Cairns (Queanbeyan) respectively. This was the first occasion on which His Majesty’s Colours had been displayed at a military parade in Queanbeyan.

The various units comprising the procession moved into position without a hitch under the directi9on of Messrs HG Colman and J Moran, and Mesdames H Lee and Maxwell.

Preceded by the 7th Light Horse Troops the units swung into line in the following order: Band of the 3rd Battalion, Three Companies of Militia with gun Limber, Boy Scouts, Queanbeyan Branch of the Druids Lodge, Junior Red Cross Girls, Queanbeyan Fire Brigade Float, ‘Cobb & Co’ Coach, Legacy club Float, Queanbeyan Hospital float, Queanbeyan Ambulance units, Hospital float (No 2), Red Cross float, (symbolic of the world wide ramifications of the institution), Country Women’s Association float (depicting the work of the Baby Clinic), Queanbeyan Municipal Band, HMS ‘Endeavour’ (carrying a complement of district pioneers(, Canberra Highland Society and Burns Club float, JB Young Pty Ltd float, Hayes and Russell Ltd float, Rickshaw (F Royal MWIOOF, float, Oaks Estate float, Queanbeyan P and C Association float, Timber Industry float (Donoghoe and Hopkins), TW Robinson float, KB Larger float, Elias Southwell float, Koorey’s, Tetley’s and Justfruit floats, Nigger Minstrel float, Arneson, Hume Pipe Co, FB Beattie, Auberne Private Hospital, Moore Bros (Queanbeyan), Harris & Co, Walsh’s Hotel, Queanbeyan School, Jolly’s Garage, Radiola Co, Malvern Star Cycles, Borthwick’s Paints and a number of decorated vehicles and smaller units completed the mile long procession.

All floats with the exception of one entered by the Highland Society and Burns Club were representative of Queanbeyan interests. The Highland Society’s float contained a model of Mt Ainslie, together  with representations of Duntroon House, St John’s Church and other landmarks. Members of the Canberra Pipe Band and Lassies in Highland costumes completed the ensemble.


Historical Section: W Cranswick’s representation of the ‘Endeavour’, with old identities of the district as passengers divided first prize with JB Young Pty Ltd float which depicted and old time garden party with appropriate settings.

Primary Industries Section: Queanbeyan P&C Association float featuring the district’s primary products, wool and wheat.

Secondary Industries Section: Hume Pipe Co (old time and present day methods of culvert construction.)

Topical Section: Miss B Sherd (Sports Queen) and committee (representation of Nigger Minstrels Band).

Humorous Section: Oaks Estate Float (acorn babies).

Business Turn-out: TW Robins and Son and Walsh’s Hotel divide first prize.

Sports Section: Queanbeyan Rugby League (depicting football through the ‘ages’).

Institutional Section: Queanbeyan Legacy Club (symbolic of the Australian Military Forces)1. Queanbeyan Branch of the Country Women’s Association (Babies First float) highly recommended.

Special Awards: Mrs Riley and ‘Cobb and Co Coach.’

Awards for fancy costumes were as follows:

Period costume (lady) Miss L Swan ; Miss P Gibbs 2.

Period costume (gent): Mr W Cranswick (Captain Cook) 1.

Period costume (group): Staff of JB Young Pty Ltd (Bridal party: Miss K Smallhorn (bride), Mr G Ayliffe (bridegroom), Misses M Tetley, P Black, T McInness, Messrs S Kay, J Williams, C Mears and W Warner.

Fancy Costumes (Lady and gent): Mum and Dad (Mr and Mrs JB Corey).

Costumes (boy): Master Boreham (Bushranger)

Costume (girl); Ella Cargill (stork).

Special Costume: Fred Royal (Rickshaw Man).

The costumes were judged by Mrs RG Casey, Mrs P Furley and Mr L Edwards and the floats by Dr Frederick K Watson, Dr LW Nott and Mr JS Crapp.


Thousands thronged the showground for the official opening ceremony and the area presented a gay scene as the gaily decorated floats moved slowly around the arena.

The Mayor of Queanbeyan (Ald J Esmond) extended a warm welcome to Mr and Mrs RC Casey and members of the public.  Ald Esmond expressed regrets at the inability of the Prime Minister (Mr Lyons) and Dame Edna Lyons to attend. ‘In view of the severe stain to which the Prime Minister has been subjected for sometime past, we feel that he is justified in relaxing and we convey to the Prime Minister and Dame Enid the best wishes from the people of Queanbeyan,’ he added.

‘This is one of the greatest days in the history of our town, and I am happy to say that it is being celebrated in an atmosphere much more pleasant than was the case a few days ago.  Thanks largely to the statesmanship of the British Prime Minister, whose noble yet humble efforts to preserve world peace have evoked the admiration not only of his fellow citizens throughout the Empire but of the whole world, it appears that the horrors of war have been averted’ [unfortunately this was not true – the following year the Second World War was begun.]

Ald Esmond reminded Mr Casey that as Commonwealth Treasurer his office in the Federal Cabinet was by no means the most popular, a fact emphasised by his latest Budget, and quoted the Confucian phrase: ‘Kings should not skin their sheep, they should shear them.’ However he hoped that in framing his next Budget, Mr Casey would ‘temper the wind to the shorn lambs.’

The organisers of the Centenary Celebrations appreciated the splendid response on the part of the public, and he hoped that all would have happy recollections of the week of festival. He thanked the military authorities for their co-operation, and the various citizens who had worked untiringly for the success of the activities.

In the unavoidable absence of the Prime Minister (Mr Lyons), the Commonwealth Treasurer (Mr RC Casey) formally inaugurated the centenary celebrations at the Show Ground and warmly congratulated the organisers and the town of Queanbeyan for their magnificent effort. The citizens of Queanbeyan were deservedly proud of their town, just as the Australians as a whole were intensely proud of their country.  He marvelled at the development which had taken place in this district during the past 100 years. This period was only a comparatively short span when compared with the life of cities of the Old World, but practically the whole of the development of Australia had taken place during the period since the establishment of the town of Queanbeyan.


The Military sports and tattoo provided the crowd with plenty of thrills during the afternoon and evening., the exhibition of horsemanship by Staff Cadets of the Royal Military College 7th Light Horse Troops evoking well-deserved praise.

Although there were several minor accidents no one was seriously hurt.

The various Militia units performed like veterans and their marching was favourably commented upon. All personnel entered into the spirit of the occasion and carried out their work in a credible manner.

Thousands flocked to the Show Ground in the evening to witness the demonstrations by members of the 3rd Battalion and 7th Light Horse Troops.

A break-down of the amplifying system caused considerable delay and it was necessary to eliminate some of the less important events.

Special flood-lighting equipment had been installed and various manoeuvres were carried out by the troops in a very credible fashion. These included tent pegging, changing of the guard, and an assault on a block house under cover of barrage of machine-gun and rifle fire during which ‘land mines’ and dummy bombs were exploded.

At intervals during the evening the crowd was thrilled by a splendid fireworks display carried out under the direction of experts. This form of entertainment had not previously been witnessed on such a large scale in Queanbeyan, and was claimed to be one of the best exhibitions ever given in a country town.

During the afternoon and evening the proceedings were enlivened by the 3rd  Battalion and the Queanbeyan Municipal Bands, and side shows did a profitable business.


Sections of Fours over Hurdles; Royal Military College (Staff Cadets, GF Hassett, RB Dawson, E Logan, JG Sedgeley)1.  Cooma Troop (Lieut SH Litchfield, Sergt Boland, Tpr Seears, Tpr Litchfield)2.

Rescue Race: Canberra Troop (Sergt Kinnane and Tpr Faull)1. Canberra Troop (Cpl Johnston and Tpr Blundell) 2.

Obstacle Race: Cpl McAndrew 1. Pte Male 2

100 Yards Footrace: Pte E Smith 1, Pte S Marshall 2, Cpl McAndrew 3.

Tent Pegging (Sections of Four): Bombala Troop (Tprs Kimber, Murdoch, Stewart, Robbins) 1: Cooma Troop (Lieut SH Lichfield, Sergt Boland, Tps Litchfield andSeears)2.

200 yards Footrace: N Lynraven1, T Clear 2.

Gretna Green Race: Tpr J Stewart (Bombala) and Miss Margaret Scupon (Queanbeyan) 1.

Infantry Assault Course (Inter-Company competition): E Company (Canberra) 116 points 1;  A Company No 2 Platoon 114 points 2; B Company (Queanbeyan) 111 points, 2.


Cycle Race (boys under 16) P McAppion 1, T Martin 2.

Women’s Woodchop: Mrs Russell 1, Mrs Tyrie 2.

Footballer’s Race (100 yard), W Milos 1, R Royal 2.

Novice Woodchop: T Tognella 1, J Reminage (?) 2.


A feature of the town decoration was the wool and wheat arch erected over the Farrer Memorial. This structure was the Queanbeyan P and C Association’s contribution to the celebrations and the work was carried out under the direction of Mr Hilton Clothier.

Hundreds of motor tyres and large quantities of inflammable materials were used in the construction of a huge bonfire on the summit of Mount Jerrambomberra. The fire was lit at 7.30pm and was still burning at midnight.



1940 no more temporary buildings

The Canberra Times 3 April 1941










Rejecting the Minister’s proposal for the erection of two secretariats on Capital Hill for the Government offices, the Public Works Committee in its report to Parliament yesterday declared that the erection of further temporary buildings in Canberra is inadvisable and that any additional office accommodation required should be provided in  permanent structure.


The Committee recommended that advantage should be taken of the existence of the foundations for the permanent administrative offices to erect thereon a section of the building sufficient for present purposes and which later could be incorporated in the permanent structure.


As an alternative the Committee favoured the completion of the block of Melbourne Buildings at Civic Centre at a cost of 50,000 pounds which could later be disposed of to private enterprise.


‘Any proposal to erect permanent offices for Commonwealth departments outside the  ‘Government  Triangle’ is in contrary to the Griffin Plan.’ Declared the Public Works Committee’s report.


‘This plan was formally adopted by the Government in 1925 and so modification or variation of such plan can legally be made until after the expiration of thirty (30) days after notification of intention so to vary has been published in the Commonwealth Gazette and the papers have been laid before Parliament.


‘The Griffin plan stipulated that all Administrative buildings with the exception of the Civic Administration should be located in Parkes Place, in what is known as the ‘Government Triangle,’ extending from Parliament House towards the river.  It was intended that the permanent administration offices should occupy a site to the north-east of Parliament House, to be followed later by a complementary building of similar design in a relative position to the north-east of Parliament House.


Present Proposal

The present proposal aims at the construction of two new secretarial buildings each to contain two floors with necessary accommodation in the basement for boiler rooms, cleaners’ rooms etc.  They will provide a net office spa e of 40,000 square feet, plus a Minister’s suite of 800 square feet.  The specification provides for brick walls, wooden floors and concrete foundations.  Accommodation will be provided for between 300 and 400 officials.


Estimated Cost

The estimated cost of the proposal is set down at 80,000 pounds and it was stated in evidence that it should be possible to complete one of the two buildings in nine months and the two of them in twelve months.



The sites selected are on the slopes of Camp Hill, in line with the existing East and West Blocks, and immediately to the rear of the Provisional Parliament House.


Committee’s Investigation

The committee inspected the sites of the proposed buildings, carefully scrutinized the plans submitted and generally sought to inform itself of public feeling in regard to this matter.


Although it is urged that these temporary structures are proposed because of the need for office accommodation is a matter of urgency it was ascertained  in evidence that the proposal has been under consideration since August 1930.  These buildings are referred to as ‘temporary’ but it was stated in evidence that to all intents and purposes they are of permanent construction and may have a  life of as much as 100 years and, as such, their erection on the site proposed would be an infringement of the Griffin plan.


‘No alteration of the accepted Griffin design of Canberra can be legally made unless notice of intention thereof is laid before Parliament, and this has not been done.’


‘Too much insistence cannot be placed on the fact that, unless the adopted design for the lay-out of Canberra is rigidly policed small infringements taking place from time to time will lead eventually to the total destruction of the whole scheme.


The committee, therefore, made inquiries as to whether the requisite office accommodation could be provided elsewhere.


No More Temporary Buildings

Having in mind the plea of the Government that office accommodation is urgently required and that the time factor is paramount the committee gave particular attention to the consideration of the proposal as submitted, but was faces with the fact that the National Capital Planning and Development Committee had reported against any further temporary office building and the weight of evidence obtained was strongly in favour of making a start with the permanent administrative offices.


The erection of a nucleus of the permanent structure of the Commonwealth Offices was most favourably regarded by the committee and considerable evidence was taken in respect of the proposal.


It was represented to the committee that the central frontal section of the permanent structure as originally designed could be erected to its full height  and be later incorporated in the whole building at any future time.  This, it was stated, would give a compact structure of  pleasing aspect, correctly sighted in respect of the Griffin Plan, and if, as claimed in evidence, this section providing accommodation for approximately 565 officials, could be erected for 216,000 pounds, including all engineering services, within a period of twelve months, the committee is satisfied that, taking the long view, this would be the most suitable project to adopt.


Permanent Offices Should be Started

‘The Committee is strongly of the opinion that the permanent administrative offices should be commenced as early as practicable, and is strongly opposed to the erection of any more temporary office accommodation and to any infringement of the Griffin Plan.


If, however, the claims made as regard to cost and time of completion of the nucleus of the permanent building cannot be guaranteed, the committee, as an alternative, is prepared to agree to the provision of the necessary office accommodation by the completion of the Melbourne Block at Civic Centre. Here it is claimed that accommodation for approximately 500 officials could be provided within a period of six months at a cost of 50,000 pounds, but this does not include engineering services such as central heating etc.  This structure would be of a permanent character, used for office accommodation solely for the period until the permanent administrative buildings could be provided.  It would be in accordance with the Griffin Plan and the committee was assured that there would be little difficulty in subsequently disposing of it to private owners for use as shops and offices when the permanent administrative offices were built.






1940 tenders

The Canberra Times 2 March 1940






TENDERS, accompanied by the necessary deposits, will be received up to 2pm Tuesday 12th March 1940 for the following:


External painting to 4 residences – Section 14, Ainslie

External painting to 3 residences – section 14, Acton

Purchase and Demolition and Removal of Tenements Nos 2 and 7 Capitol Hill Camp

Purchase, Demolition and Removal of Tenement No 66 Molonglo ACT

(Fresh Tenders)

Specifications and Tender Forms are available at the Works Branch, Department of the Interior Acton, Canberra, ACT

Tenders in envelopes endorsed with the name of the work should be forwarded to the Secretary, Department of the Interior, Acton, Canberra, ACT.

No tender necessarily accepted.

                                HS FOLL

                Minister for the Interior



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Cost of Living 1927

The Canberra Times 25 November 1927





The cost of living in Canberra was stated, yesterday before the Industrial Tribunal, to be lower in Canberra than in Queanbeyan: but 5 percent higher than in Sydney.

In a statement which chiefly affected workmen residing in the Territory, Mr JA McDowell, Industrial Officer to the Federal Capital Commission showed that the average price of foodstuffs (section missing) in Canberra than in Queanbeyan, although (section missing) per cent higher than in Sydney, on September 1 the ....(part missing) of workmen’s homes in Canberra was claimed to be lower than in New South Wales.

After quoting a multitude of figures the statement concluded by remarking that ‘it will be seen that the position of the workman in Canberra, is, at least as favourable as that of the workman in New South Wales. This investigation has shown that it is the standard of living, and not the cost of living which is high in Canberra, and the repeated applications from Unions for increases in wages is only an attempt to raise wages to meet that inappropriate standard.’

This statement was based upon the average weekly needs of an average workman and his wife living in Canberra. In order to ascertain what the actual difference in weekly expenditure on foodstuffs would mean to a workman living in Sydney, Goulburn, Queanbeyan and Canberra the Industrial Officer prepared what he considered to be a normal weekly ration for a workman and his wife. The scale used was in excess of that used in all living wage investigations and it was considered that it provided insofar as food was concerned, the normal needs of the average employee and his wife.  The following articles, groceries and foodstuffs, with quantities comprised(?) the scale upon which the investigation was based:-

Bread, 4 loaves, flour 3lbs, tea (half?) lb, coffee quarter(?) lb, sugar 3lbs, rice half lb, sago half lb, jam 2lbs, oatmeal 1lb, raisins quarter lb, currants half lb, starch quarter lb, blue 1/1 doz, candles 1 lb, soap 1 lb, potatoes 4lb, meat 10lbs, onions 1lb, kerosene 1 gal, milk 3 quarts, butter 2lbs, cheese quarter lb (not clear), eggs 1 doz, bacon (middle) half(?)lb, bacon (shoulder) half or quarter (not clear), ham quarter lb,

The following table of food prices a unit was taken of a standard brand obtainable at almost any  store and of good quality. The prices are actual retail trading costs in purchasing the quantity shown, and were obtained by actual enquiry over the counters of leading stores in the cities mentioned.

In comparing he prices of dairy produce and meat, it must be remembered that these prices are continually fluctuating, and were very high at the date of inquiry, because of the dry season and consequent shortages. Following the comparative table of prices of groceries, dairy produce and meat in Sydney, Goulburn, Queanbeyan and Canberra (prices in pence).

Article    Amount S              G             Q             C

Bread     2lb          6              6.25        6.5          6.5

Flour       25lb        60           54           60           63

Tea          1lb          30           23.2        30           31

Coffee    1lb          23           28.40      24           24

Sugar      1lb          4.5          5              5              5

Rice        1lb          4.5          4              4              4.5

Sago        1lb          4.5          3.8          4.5          4.5

Jam         1lb          13           15           15           15

Oatmeal 1lb          5.9(?)      4.9          5.4          5.7

Raisins    1lb          8.5          11.2        12           12

Currants 1lb          9              9.2          10           10

Starch     1lb          12           12           12           12

Blue        1 doz      13.5        17.4        16.5        16.5

Candles  1lb          12           12.6        13           13

Soap       2lb          7              9              9              9

Potatoes14lb        25           24           24           24

Onions   1lb          2              2.1          2              2

Kerosene 1 gal     25           27           30           30

Milk 1 quart          8.5          8              10           8

Butter     1lb          28           23.9        28           26.5

Cheese   1lb          15           15.6        15           15

Eggs 1 doz              23           39           24           24

Bacon (mid) 1lb    22           18.8        21.2        24

Bacon (sh) 1lb       14           14           14           12

Ham        1lb          24           20           23           22


The average price per pound for meat was shown to be: Sydney 8.4d, Goulburn 8.6d, Queanbeyan 9.4d and Canberra 9.5d.


A comparison of these prices with the average quantities of rations quoted above shows that the normal total cost of foodstuffs for one week for a working man and his wife in the four places mentioned is as follows:-


Queanbeyan                         1 pound 11 shillings 0 pence

Goulburn                               1 pound, 11 shilling 5 and half pence

Queanbeyan                         1 pound 13 shillings 3 pence

Canberra                               1 pounds 13 shillings 8 pence.


The above scale, Mr McDowell stated showed that the prices of foodstuffs was actually less in Canberra than in Queanbeyan and this was due to the fact that dairy produce was cheaper.


The statement continued: ‘The rent charged for workmen’s cottages in the Territory is considerably lower than NSW. At Molonglo rents range from 6/- to 10/- per week and at Causeway, Westlake and Westridge the rent is 13/- per week. Weatherboard cottages at Ainslie are being let at 22/- per week and brick cottages of four rooms at 22/6 per week. [Not mentioned is that the Molonglo ‘cottages were three roomed or six and than the laundry, bathrooms and lavatories were communal in a shared block between the barrack buildings – buildings unlined and the wind used to come through the cracks between the timbers because unseasoned wood had been used during construction of the ex-internment buildings.]


Workmen living in Queanbeyan are paying 30/- for the portion of a house with the use of the kitchen and in any workmen’s suburb of Sydney it is practically impossible to secure a house under 25/- per week.


It might be argued that all the Commission’s workmen cannot secure the cheap accommodation in the workmen’s settlements, but this is a condition not peculiar to the Territory as building speculators generally throughout New South Wales have ceased erecting cheap types of workmen’s cottages and workmen are being compelled either to share houses or pay higher rentals.




‘To say that the cost of living has gone up or down is tantamount to saying that the purchasing power of the sovereign has altered. The Commonwealth Statistician prepares tables at regular intervals showing fluctuations in the purchasing power of the sovereign (5/-) and in spite of many attempts their accuracy has never been seriously shaken.


It is interesting to note in the connection that 28/- was necessary in 1921 to purchase food and groceries which would have cost 1 pound in 1911m whereas in June 1927 it was 35/- showing an increase in the purchasing power of the sovereign of 2/11 over a period of 6 years.


In the Federal Territory the average increase in the rates of wages per head per week over the same period amounted to 17/8.


In 1918 in the case of the Public Service Association v the Public Service Commissioners, Mr Justice Powers in determining the standard of living for a man and his wife and three children, used the following percentage scale which had been drawn up after careful investigation:-


Rent                        19.93

Food & groceries 45.22

Clothing                 10.22

Fuel & Light           5.70

Miscellaneous      19.13


If this scale is applied in the Basic Wage of 5 pounds, operating in the Federal Territory, the following amounts are available to the workmen for expenditure on the items shown:-


Rent                        19/11d

Food & Groceries 1 Pound 5/11 and halfpenny

Clothing                 10/-

Fuel & Light           19/1 and half penny


[Total]                     5 pounds


In considering the scale it must be remembered that t he wage of 5 pounds is the lowest wage paid to workmen and that the majority receive 5 pounds 6/-.’


 Mr McDowell claimed that when the above figures are compared with food costs and rental charges operating in the Territory, the position of the workman is, at least as favourable as the workmen in New South Wales.


‘this investigation has shown that it is the standard of living and not the cost of living, which is high in Canberra, and the repeated applications from unions for increases in wages is only an attempt to meet that inappropriate standard.’




Deaths by Drowning and Electrocution

The Canberra Times 22 December 1927




While crossing the Molonglo River near the Eastlake Power House yesterday afternoon Samuel (?) Edwin Turner of Molonglo was drowned. The body was recovered by the police last night from 10 feet of water.

Turner had been employed by the Federal Capital Commission in thistle clearing on the Duntroon side of the Molonglo River.  At about 1.20pm yesterday he was observed to enter the river on horseback opposite the pipe works near the power house.  A few minutes later a riderless horse appeared on the opposite bank and in mid-stream a hat was moving slowly with the current.

Volunteers immediately endeavoured to locate Turner with a view to rescue but no sign of the body could be seen.

The Canberra police decided to drag the river and grappling irons were secured. After dragging for sometime the body was recovered from about 10 feet of water at 8.15pm by Constable Broadribb.

The deceased is a married man and has been residing with his wife and one child at Molonglo. He is well known in the Cooma district, his parents residing there.  He is known to have been subject to fits and was not able to swim. It is considered probable that he felt a fit coming on and was taking a short cut home when the tragedy occurred.


The Canberra Times 11 June 1931





In returning a verdict of accidental death from electrocution at the conclusion of the inquiry yesterday into the death of Leo William Jeanette 9, of Causeway, the deputy-Coroner )Mr FP Woodward) commented on the absence of adequate insulation on the phase wire connected with the deceased’s home, contact with which caused death.

He said that it seemed extraordinary that the installations should be allowed to remain for so long in their present uninsulated state. It was an invitation for small boys to climb on the roof of a house and play with the wires. The Works Department should take steps for a proper overhaul of the whole system of house connections, especially at Causeway.

Constable Weiss gave evidence that he viewed the body at 115 Causeway at about 6pm on Friday and saw a mark like a burn on Jeanette’s neck stretching across the throat almost from ear to ear.

Cyril Patrick Hiland and electrical ...man of Causeway described how at about 1.20pmm he cut the phase wire which at the point where Jeanette was suspended by the chin was not more than two inches from the iron roof of the cottage in order to release him. Jeanette had then rolled to the edge of the roof and fallen about 10 or 12 feet to the ground. He said he applied artificial respiration until the arrival of medical assistance.

In reply to questions he stated that he had assisted in the installation of the service wires at Causeway. With one or two exceptions they were no insulated. The current conveyed by the connection on which Jeanette had met his death was 210 volts. In his opinion this was sufficient to cause death.

The Coroner: Is it usual for these wires not to be insulate.

The Witness: No. Since the construction of the permanent cottages it had been the practice to insulate six or seven feet from where the wire is clear of the house. At temporary cottages such as those at Causeway there is no insulation.

The witness said he considered the non-insulation of the wires dangerous and had orally drawn attention of the Works Department and Minister for works to the absence of insulation. He had always stressed the danger to residents at the Causeway of allowing their children to climb on to the roofs of the cottages.

Asked by the father of the deceased whether he had ever heard of a similar accident at Causeway, the witness replied that about 12 months ago a boy had been knocked off the roof by a shock, sustaining a broken arm.

Mr Jeanette: Have no steps been taken since then to make the wiring foolproof?

The witness: No

Charles Joseph Jeanette said that his brother had thrown a quince into the air and it appeared to have lodged on the roof. While the deceased climbed on to the roof to recover it he walked away. Shortly afterwards his sister ran to him and said their brother was hurt.   He ran to the place and climbed to the roof.

When he touched his brother’s hand he received a shock which threw him back about a yard. He then tried to pull him from the wire on which his throat was resting but failed to shift him.

Dr Mollison gave evidence that in the company of Dr Finlay he unsuccessfully attempted to restore life by artificial respiration. In his opinion death had been almost instantaneous.

Henry Percival Moss, Chief Electrical Engineer of the Works Department gave evidence that until three or four years ago it had been impossible to obtain insulation which would defy the weather. Under such circumstances it was considered that insulation wire was much more dangerous than on-insulation because it gave people a false sense of security. A wire had recently come on to the marked, however, which appeared to have weather-resisting qualities. This wire was now being used wherever necessary and had been used in Canberra for two years.

The witness said that it was his opinion that the wiring at Causeway was reasonably safe except when approached from the roof.

The Coroner: The only reason why the wires are not insulated is because of the expense?

The witness: Very little expense is incurred in the insulation.

Then why have these wires not been insulated? It would mean a replacement of the whole of the services.

There is no doubt that if insulation were on the wires they would be much safer?- Only if the insulation had been in good repair. Old insulation is never safe.

Well, it requires inspection – Inspection would not reveal faults.

In reply to the father of the deceased the witness said that it was not considered necessary that notices should be displayed warning people of the danger of such connections. When the danger was obvious notices were not necessary.

John Hubert Hayes, electrical mains superintendent, denied that he had ever made a report of the danger associated with the Causeway wiring. In his opinion there was no danger.

The coroner returned a verdict of death due to shock sustained by accidentally coming in contact with electrical wire.

Leo William Jeannette (spelling Burial Register) died 5th June 1931 aged 9 years and in the same grave is Baby Jeannette died 12 January 1931 – RC Section of Queanbeyan Cemetery.


The Canberra Times 20 April 1933


The Search for Mrs McKinnon


The search for Mrs Betty Hardie McKinnon aged 41, of La Perouse Street Griffith (also Howie’s Cottages and Westlake), ended yesterday when her body was found in five feet of water at the foot of the Cotter Dam. The discovery was made at about 11am by Mr AF Davis, Superintendent at the Canberra Baths, who investigated what proved to be the woman’s body.

Mrs McKinnon was last seen at her home shortly after 11 o’clock on Saturday morning but the police believe that the drowning occurred sometime on Monday.

The deputy-coroner (Lt Col JT Goodwin) viewed the remains at the Canberra Hospital mortuary yesterday afternoon and gave an order for burial, which will take place at St John’s Churchyard at 3pm today.

Although the police believe the affair to have been accidental, an inquest will be held this week.

Mrs McKinnon was the wife of Mr James McKinnon, a plumbing inspector and the mother of Allan McKinnon aged 11 years of age, whom it is believed the deceased went to the Cotter River on Monday to drive home from the boy scout’s camp.

Her disappearance from her home was reported to Sergeant Cook early on Tuesday morning when Mr McKinnon was advised by telephone that his car had been left unattended near the dam. Search parties worked in the vicinity throughout Tuesday and again after midnight. An intensified search was made early yesterday but it was not until the sun was high enough in the sky to shed light on the dark and foaming water at the foot of the wall of the dam that Constable Hughes, Mr Davis and another man discerned from the platform of the dam an object floating amid the weeds.

They immediately hastened to the side of the lower pool and Mr Davis shed some of his clothes and swam to the spot.  The body was later brought to the bank.

The police surmise that Mrs McKinnon, who was a strong swimmer, either slipped or overbalanced at the edge of the pool and struck her head on a rock, stunning her.


The Canberra Times 13 November 1936



Entered Water After Meal

A verdict of accidental death by drowning was recorded by the Coroner (Col JTH Goodwin) at the conclusion of the inquiry concerning the death of Cyril James Febey, who was drowned while bathing in the Molonglo River near Kingston on Sunday last.

James Girvan, plumber, Kingston stated that he knew the deceased very well. In company with Febey and W Lever, said witness, he went to the Molonglo River on Sunday afternoon, and after swimming about for some time deceased suggested that they have another swim across the river and back as he would have to return to the Causeway Mess where he was employed to assist in getting the tea ready.  After recrossing the river, Girven stated that he was the first to step out of the water.  He walked up the bank to where his clothes were and started to dry himself. He looked round and saw Lever leave the water.  Lever was some yards from the water when he saw Febey standing in the water which was about chest deep.  Deceased appeared to sit down and splash water over his head. Witness did not see deceased reappear and called out to Lever, “Grab hold of Jimmy. I think there is something wrong with him.’  Witness indicated the spot where Febey had disappeared and Lever dived in but could not locate deceased. Witness said the he marked the spot with a stick and then dived in again with Lever. Both men dived again and again for half an hour, but could find no trace of their friend.  A man came to the river bank and was sent to notify the police. Witness and Lever continued diving until the police arrived. The water was fairly warm on the surface but was icy cold deeper down.

Replying to Constable Bailey witness stated that deceased was not a good swimmer. The accident happened a few minutes after 3pm. Witness stated that deceased had dinner between 1.30 and 2pm.  There was a deep channel immediately behind the spot where Febey disappeared. The three men were swimming together and there was no one about at the time.

John Ferrel’s Muir blacksmith assistant, Kingston, said that he assisted in the grappling operations from the police boat and was present when the body was recovered from about 10 feet of water.

Dr O Mater, superintendent of Canberra Hospital said that he saw the body of deceased at the hospital and had arrived at the conclusion that death was due to asphyxia caused by drowning.  Death had probably taken place about six hours previously.  There were no marks of violence on the body except a post mortem one on the back of the head.  If a person had a large meal an hour before going into the water it might lead to collapse.  If deceased was in normal health it was probable that this happened.  If the water was cold it would be increase the probability.

Constable Bailey stated that in company with other police officers he commenced grappling operations at the Molonglo River on Sunday afternoon with the assistance of local residents. At about 11pm the body was recovered.


The Canberra Times 28 December 1937



Point Hut Tragedy

A family Christmas dinner party on the banks of the Murrumbidgee river at Point Hut crossing 14 miles from Canberra, ended in tragedy on Saturday when Ann Clarice Blake (16) of Tuggeranong siding was drowned while attempting to assist her father and small brother who had got into difficulties in the water.  Shortly after 1pm the Blake family, father, mother, three sons and daughter, decided upon an after dinner swim. One son, aged 13, got into difficulties in shallow water and the father, fully dressed went to his aid.  The father was not a strong swimmer, and hampered by his clothes had great difficulty in dragging the boy back to safety.

The daughter, Clarice, swam towards the struggling pair to assist them.  She disappeared while the father and son were clambering out of the water.  Her body was recovered three hours later by the Canberra police in a 14ft hole, which fell away suddenly in the shallows.

A funeral took place at Queanbeyan cemetery on Sunday. The inquest will be held tomorrow.


The Canberra Times 6 November 1939


Son of Canberra Pioneer

The new commander of the Australian navy (Rear-Admiral Crace) was born five miles from Canberra and his family has been represented in the Australian Capital Territory since the ‘70s’. His father, Edward Kendall Crace, was one of the pioneers of the Southern Monaro Tablelands and was drowned in Ginninderra Creek near Canberra during the floods in 1892.  Altar rails of brass and cedar at St John’s Church Canberra, were gifts from the rear-admiral’s mother to commemorate her husband.

The Canberra Times 29 January 1940


Disappearance No Noticed

At the Cotter River Swimming Pool yesterday afternoon Wallace Ford (also known as ‘Bunty’ Dunn), who had been living with his guardian, Mr Bert Dunn, of ‘Fernside’ Queanbeyan, was drowned when he went for a swim shortly after having a meal.

The lad was 16 last week and was a member of a party which visited the Cotter for the Trades and Labour Picnic.  After lunch he went to the pool, which was about a mile from the picnic grounds. He could not swim, but was seen to walk in up to his arm pits.

Approximately 100 people were bathing at the time, and when Ford disappeared under the water his plight was not noticed for about two minutes.

Don Boag, of 77 Causeway, saw the lad under the water, and quickly brought him to the bank.  With the assistance of Constable W Sullivan (Queanbeyan), the honorary inspector of the pool (Mr Horrie Thorpe) and Sergeant IC Perriman, Boag attempted artificial respiration. However their efforts were not successful, and on the arrival of a doctor, life was pronounced extinct.

Ford had been a pupil of St Christopher’s School (Manuka) and also the Ainslie Public School. An inquest will be held at Canberra next Saturday at 10.30am


Although the Cotter River Pool is less than 20 yards wide at its broadest point, and not more than nine feet deep in any spot, one drowning fatality occurred there yesterday, while 14 other bathers got into difficulties and had to be assisted from the water.

In the morning 11 children and two adults were assisted from the pool.

A woman who feared that her child was in difficulties jumped fully clothed into deep water. She sank immediately, but was quickly rescued.  Meanwhile the child swam to safety. The woman responded to first aid treatment.  Experienced swimmers believe that most of the people got into difficulties through going into the water too soon after a meal.


The Canberra Times 31 January 1941


Cotter Fatality


The Rev Father John McCusker, Parish Priest of Bungendore was drowned in the Cotter River, yesterday in attempting to save the lives of two boys.

Clifford lee 13 of Bungendore was also drowned but Fergus Campbell, 10, also of Bungendore, was rescued by Mrs NA Fisk of Bungendore.

Father McCusker, with seven altar boys left Bungendore for a picnic at the cotter River yesterday morning.  After lunch two of the boys, Lee and Campbell, were paddling about 400 yards below the dam when they stepped into a hole about seven feet deep. Neither boy could swim.

Although himself unable to swim, Father McCusker plunged to their assistance. He grasped the two boys, hoisting one on to his shoulders, though his own head was below water.

Hearing the cries of other boys, Mrs Fist ran to the scene and swam to their rescue. She brought Campbell to the shore, but meantime Father McCusker and Lee had disappeared.

Mr Harold Cabban, proprietor of the Cotter kiosk continued diving for almost an hour before he located the body of Father McCusker.

Meanwhile, Senior Constables Grove and Egan had been summoned and Constable Grove recovered the body of Lee in almost the same spot.  The bodies were conveyed to the morgue by the Canberra Ambulance. 

The Coroner (Lieut Colonel JTH Goodwin) stated last night that the inquest would be held at the Court-house at 10.30am on Monday.


The Rev Father McCusker, who was 40 years of age, had been Parish Priest of Bungendore for the last four years. He was a well-known figure throughout southern New South Wales, having been Inspector of Catholic schools for t he Diocese of Goulburn in 1932-33.

Father McCusker was born in County Fermanagh, Eire, and was ordained to the Priesthood on June 15, 1924,  He arrived in Australia on November 20, 1924. He was attached to Goulburn until 1926 when he went to Crookwell, where he remained for two years. From 1928 he was stationed at Cootamundra until 1932 when he became Diocesan Inspector of Schools. At the end of 1933 he was transferred to Murrumburrah-Harden, and for the past four years has been Parish Priest of Bungendore.

Father McCusker, who was a scholar of note, was a Bachelor of Arts, and held the higher Diploma of Education.  His quiet and genial personality won him friends from all walks of life. It is as an orator that he will be best remembered. Possessed of a clear insight into current problems, a striking delivery enhanced his eloquence.


The Superintendent of the First Canberra Division of the St John Ambulance Brigade (Mr FEP Strickland) stated last night that members of the brigade would give a demonstration on Saturday on the working of a small respirator which has been installed at the Cotter. In the past the use of the respirator at the Cotter has not been publicised and as a consequence people at the Cotter did not know of its whereabouts yesterday.

Mr Strickland stated that members of the division would give the demonstration at 3.30pm on Saturday, and the public is invited.

Members of the Division are in attendance at the Cotter Swimming Pool on Sundays.


The Canberra Times 28 December 1942



Boxing Day picnics to the Murrumbidgee River were attended with tragic incidents when three persons lost their lives on Saturday in the worst series of river fatalities that Canberra has experienced.

The victims were:

Paule Nicholas 34, tailor of Civic Centre

Charles Henry Button, 11 of Campbell Street Ainslie; and

Pamela Kerridge, 7 of Sydney


In each case the victim was caught unawares in deep holes in the river bed which was obscured by the muddy water of the swollen stream.


The first fatality occurred about 2.30pm at Pine Island where Paul Nicholas with his wife was a member of a picnic party which included many of his Greek compatriots.


Nicholas was wading out in shallow water when he suddenly threw up his hands and called for help as he disappeared. He did not reappear and others who went to his assistance were unable to locate him.


The message was sent to the Canberra Police and Senior Constable Broadribb, Constable Groves and Dr Lane rushed to the scene and at 4.30 recovered the body in a deep hole below the spot where Nicholas had last been seen.


About half an hour later, another tragedy occurred a few miles down stream at the Kambah swimming hole. Four children, Charles Henry Sutton, Pamela Kerridge, Primrose Kerridge and John Kerridge were walking hand in hand in shallow water when they suddenly found themselves in deep water. Primrose and John Kerridge were dragged out but Charles Sutton and Pamela Kerridge had disappeared.


Two Queanbeyan boys named Cretas and Johnston attempted to rescue Sutton and Pamela Kerridge but were unable to find them although eventually the body of Pamela Kerridge was located at about 6.30pm. Meanwhile, Senior Constable Broadribb, Constables Groves and Egan, with Dr Nott arrived on the scene and artificial respiration was applied unsuccessfully to the child.


The search of the body of Sutton was continued until dark and resumed on Sunday morning when it was found at noon.


The Murrumbidgee River had been swollen in recent rains and was in a very muddy condition in which it is impossible to see the bottom and recent scourings had created deep holes near the banks.


Pamela Kerridge, who lived in Sydney, was staying for a holiday with her grandmother at Ainslie. Her father is at present serving with the AIF in the Middle East.


Paul Nicholas is a well-known member of the Canberra community where he had been in business for more than ten years.  He took a prominent part in the Greek Day held in 1940 for the Greek Relief Funds.


It is recalled that as a young man he was responsible for the saving of his mother’s life from drowning in the Aegean Sea.  The family was being transported across the sea which they had seen for the first time, when the breaking of a gang plant precipitated a number of passengers into the water.  Although unable to swim, he seized his mother’s dress and seizing a rope, held her safely until both were rescued. Many of the other passengers were drowned.


An inquest will be opened on the three victims at 11 o’clock this morning. The remains of Paul Nicholas are being taken to Sydney for internment and the funerals of the other victims will take place at Canberra Cemetery this afternoon.


The Canberra Times 25 January 1952



A ten year old boy was drowned when he got out of his depth while bathing in the Molonglo River near the Canberra Power House yesterday afternoon.  He was Michael Constantine of Tench St Kingston.


He was in the river with other children when he stepped into a deep hole and got into difficulties. His companions ran to get help from the Power House, and Mr Pat Hammond and Mr Joe Newman rushed to the scene where they took the boy from seven feet of water.


Constantine was rushed by ambulance to the Canberra Community Hospital where he failed to respond after some time in an iron lunch. This was the first bathing fatality in the ACT this summer.


The Canberra Times 23 February 1952



The Canberra Coroner, Mr FCP Keane found yesterday that the death of William Stokes, 26, brickmaker of Bentham Street Yarrralumla, was due to accidental drowning.


Mr Keane found that Stokes had stumbled while walking along the railway line leading to the Government stores at Kingston on Saturday February 1.  He had then knocked his head on a concrete pillar supporting the rails and fallen unconscious into the storm water channel.


Thomas Haird of Kingston Guest House, Canberra, said that he saw the body lying in the channel about 5.10am on Sunday February 3, lying in about a foot of water.  Dr Brian Monohan said that the injuries could have been received by a person knocking his head on a hard object.  The blow could have rendered the deceased unconscious.

Capitol Hill Camp - a few stories


The Canberra Times 14 October 1926





The opening matches of the Federal Territory Cricket Association’s competition were concluded on Saturday last.  With one exception the matches were productive of small scores, but in the matches between Capitol Hill and Westlake 400 runs were hit up suring the afternoon.

The surprise of the first matches was the defeat by the new South Eastlake club of the Northbourne eleven in the second grade matches.

In the A Grade fixture Capitol Hill v Westlake almost 400 runs were compiled by the two teams during the afternoon, of which Wiles (Capitol Hill) knocked up 96, then retired carrying his bat. The game was very close with only 17 runs deciding the result of the match on the first innings.

Canberra was the only club to suffer defeat of those who participated in the competition last season. Defeat was sustained in both grades, Queanbeyan in the A Grade and Cadets in the B Grade proving too good for Canberra Club cricketers.

Northbourne’s first XI was by far the strongest batting team fielded in the competition but their bowling could be improved by the inclusion of more bowling strength.

Surprise was expressed at the defeat of the Northbourne second XI by the new South Eastlake Club, which team won by a fair margin.


While ‘The Canberra Times’ desired to assist to the fullest extent in making the ensuing cricket season the great success which it promises to be, it will be realised that this may be possible only to the extent that it enjoys the co-operation of secretaries and captains of the clubs in gathering results of matches and other information to which the fullest publicity will be given.  We invite club officials to co-operate in the manner indicated and will welcome any suggestions whereby the popularity of the sport may be advanced.

The draw for Saturday next provides some matches which should be full of interest. In the A Grade the Queanbeyan v Capitol Hill fixture to be played at Queanbeyan should prove a well contested event.  The Cadets v Duntroon should also prove a good game to watch.

Causeway v Eastlake promises to be the best game of the B grade and Westridge v Canberra will also be a good contest. Northbourne, White City, Cadets and South Eastlake should have little difficulty in overcoming their opponents.

The results of the following matches were not forwarded:


Canberra v Queanbeyan



Cadets v Canberra

South Ainslie v Hall

South Eastlake v Northbourne.



The results of last week’s fixtures were as follows:


A GRADE – 1st Division

CADETS (171) defeated AINSLE UNITED (28 and 55)

NORTHBOURNE (7 wickets for TH

NORTHBOURNE (7 wickets for 241 declared closed), defeated AINSLIE  (72 and 92)

DUNTROON received forfeit from HALL on the second day.


A GRADE – 2nd Division

EASTLAKE (139) defeated WESTRIDGE (65 and 56) by an innings and six runs

QUEANBEYAN (161 and none for 59) defeated CANBERRA (116 and 102)

CAPITOL HILL (147) defeated WESTLAKE (130)



CAUSEWAY (53 and 84) defeated WHITE CITY (50 and 73)

RED HILL (56 and 30) defeated AINSLIE UNITED (28 and 55)

SOUTH EASTLAKE (99) defeated NORTHBOURNE (74 and 133)

EASTLAKE received a forfeit from WESTRIDGE on the second day.

CADETS (164) defeated CANBERRA (58 and 85)

HALL (123) defeated SOUTH AINSLIE (22 and 57)...


The Canberra Times 9 August 1935



Information sought by Lieut-Col Goodwin concerning charges made for the use of cubicles at Capitol Hill Camp was given by Mr RJ Rain who said that the weekly rental was 3/- per cubicle.  Tenants in regular employment had current rent deducted and 7/6 for arrears (if any).  Relief workers had only current rent deducted. The rent included electric light, use of a truck and driver for obtaining firewood, water, garbage and sanitary services.


The Canberra Times 16 October 1936


Man Wounded at Capital Hill


Mystery surrounds the shooting of Thomas Patrick Ryan of Capitol Hill who was admitted to the Canberra Hospital on Tuesday evening with a bullet wound through his left shoulder.  The bullet which is believed to have been a 22 calibre passed through Ryan’s shoulder.

A man has been detained in connection with the affair and will appear in the Canberra Court  this morning charges with maliciously wounding. The shooting occurred early on Tuesday evening at the Capitol Hill Camp, but the police in their investigations were confronted by reticence on the part of those concerned, particulary the injured man. It is understood that Ryan’s condition is not serious.


The Canberra Times 22 April 1937


Removal of Camp


Following criticism of the Capital (sic Capitol) Hill Camp at the annual conference of the FCT Police Association it is learned that the removal of the camp has been under official notice for some time past and it is probably that early action will be taken. [It wasn’t –camp not removed until the 1950s]

The removal of the Camp from its present location will probably be urged by several public bodies shortly.

It is understood that the matter will be further discussed at the next meeting of the Canberra Chamber of Commerce.

One of the difficulties attending the proposal to dispense with the camp altogether would be to find accommodation for the bona fide residents after any undesirables had been culled out.

It has been suggested that in view of the fact that many of the men now living at the camp could be provided for at the Causeway Mess where adequate facilities are available.



The Canberra Times 7 June 1937


First in Canberra

The first man to be declared an habitual drunkard in Canberra, Edward Patrick Ryan, a relief worker of Capitol Hill camp, pleaded guilty to a charge of being idle and disorderly and was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment.

In evidence Sergeant Bailey said that he had known Ryan for some years during which he had lived at Capitol Hill camp and had been employed doing odd jobs about Canberra and on relief work.  During the last twelve months whenever he had seen him defendant had been drunk.  He had last seen defendant on Sunday June 14 when he was at Capitol Hill camp. Ryan had been in his hut in a filthy condition and was in company with several other men. They had a five gallon keg of beer and Ryan was hopelessly drunk. The other men were in various stages of drunkenness. Ryan had had many previous convictions for drunkenness.

Ryan made a tearful appeal for another chance saying that he had a week’s work and would use his wages to get out of the Territory.

Lieut Col Goodwin in sentencing him to one month’s imprisonment said that the best place for Ryan was in Goulburn gaol to give him a chance to sober up.


Charles Henry Wilson, relief worker, Capitol Hill pleaded guilty to a charge of drunkenness and was fined 10/-

[Comment – many of the men who were habitually drunk were also ex-servicemen who found it difficult to return to civilian life and received no help to face the traumas they experienced during the war.]


The Canberra Times 22 August 1940



Only one of five men who were living at Capitol Hill camp and against whom ejectment warrants were sought ap0peared at the Canberra Court yesterday.

Mr J Mills of the Crown Solicitor’s Office represented the Department of the Interior and stated that the men who had been served with several notices to leave the camp were in arrears of rent and were the subject of complaints by other citizens.

John Scott who appeared in court was ordered to vacate his cubicle at the camp within 30 days. Evidence against another four men, C Coggins, W Harrigan, Ray Reeves and C Fitzsimmons, was heard ex-parte and a similar order was issued in each case.


The Canberra Times 11 July 1945


Receiving a call at about 9.30 last night to attend a fire at the Capitol Hill Camp, the Canberra Fire Brigade sent out an engine, but on arrival found that it was a false alarm.

Although there is no telephone at the camp, the caller said that he was a Mr Edwards from Capitol Hill Camp and to come quickly as there was a fire there.  When the brigade arrived Mr Edwards [Manager & Mess Caterer] was sound asleep.

On account of the seriousness of false alarms, and also the increasing number of them, the fire brigade officials notified the police of the incident and inquiries were begun.

The Canberra Times 4 November 1948


The abolition of the Capital (sic Capitol) Hill camp is being sought by the Canberra Trades and Labour Council following a letter of complaint on food and conditions generally.

A deputation will approach the Minister for the Interior (Mr Johnson) to discuss closing the camp this month.  It will also seek action to improve conditions in privately operated guest houses.

Delegates criticised the policy of building modern workmen’s camps for occupation by Balts and tradesmen of the Department of the Interior.

An amendment seeking the irregular monthly inspections by union officials to ensure standards were being maintained was defeated.



Percy Douglas Fire Chief and Sportsman

The Argus, Melbourne 27 April 1914

A sign of the progress being made at the Federal Capital site is the formation of a volunteer fire brigade. An instructor and organiser is now sought and applications are invited from experienced men capable of taking charge of all fire extinguishing appliances at Canberra and of controlling  officers and men. The rate of pay mentioned is 12/- per day with uniforms.


The Argus, Melbourne 16 April 1915


A petrol pumping fire-engine purchased by the Home Affairs Department from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade has been sent to the Federal Capital in New South Wales. The engine is capable of delivering 150 gallons of water a minute at high pressure and is expected to serve the purpose of the Capital for some time. Mr P Douglas, a fireman from Melbourne has been put in charge of the fire equipment at Canberra.


The Canberra Times 25 November 1926





Six outbreaks of grass fires have occurred in Canberra during the last week. About thirty acres of grass have been burnt and destruction of fences and timber has accompanied the fires.

Damage threatened to be more extensive only for the promptitude of the Canberra Fire Bridge under Capt PF Douglas who turned out in good style to each call.

The necessity for public co-operation in the matter of fire prevention was emphasised during the week when six outbreaks engaged the attention of the Canberra Fire Brigade.  Over 30 acres of grass were destroyed and fences and timber were destroyed.

In five of the six cases the Brigade under Chief Officer PF Douglas was on the scene before the fires were out of control.

Despite the elaborate precautions that are being taken by the Federal Capital Commission for the control of fires, the public assistance is necessary if disastrous fires are to be avoided during the summer. The increasing dryness of the district and the prevalence of high winds made it necessary for the general observance of the Prevention of Fire ordinance, if a reoccurrence of last year’s havoc is to be avoided.

The first fire reported to the Brigade was at 11am on Sunday when flames spread from the yard of the residence of Mr John Dean at Red Hill into the adjoining grass country. Firemen were quickly on the scene but a 500ft length of hose was necessary before control could be gained. Before the flames were subdued 10 acres of grass were destroyed.

At 1pm on the same day, the Brigade was called out to a fire at Capital Hill where the flames threatened to destroy a number of sheds. Five acres of grass were destroy6ed but the sheds were saved.

...(part missing) broke out is to  ...district and again five acres of grass were destroyed. The cause of these outbreaks is unknown.

At 1.10pm yesterday and extensive fire was reported at Red Hill. The outbreak was subdued after the destruction of ten acres of grass.

While the Brigade was engaged at Red Hill another report came from Eastlake. It is understood that Mr C Harden was burning off in his backyard when his fences caught fire.  A hydrant was rushed to the scene but the fences were damaged.

Shortly afterwards fire was reported in timber stacks at Blandfordia where the Monolyte Coy is constructing a number of concrete cottages. This outbreak was allowed to burn out.  Damage was not extensive.


The Canberra Times 12 March 1938



In June 1914, the present Chief Officer (Mr Percy Douglas) was appointed from the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade to organise the fire fighting activities at Canberra and the first fire appliance was a horse drawn petrol pump which was installed in a fire station built at Acton.

In 1915, Mr Douglas temporarily resigned his position to proceed overseas on active service and during his absence the fire brigade was abolished and was not brought into being again until July 1923 when an up-at-date Hotchkiss motor fire engine was purchased and installed at the present station at Kingston.

Since the reorganisation of the brigade 340 fires have been attended 97 of which have occurred in buildings and dwellings.

The present brigade consists of two officers and eight other ranks and four partially-paid firemen.  The apparatus is as follows: One Dennis motor fire engine capable of pumping 350 gallons of water per minute, one Sunbeam motor fire appliance carrying all first aid gear for combating fires, and one Albion grass fire-fighting engine.

The Albion was originally sent from Melbourne as a straightout pump, but with the advent of the more up-to-date Dennis engine, the members of the brigade altered the arrangement of the Albion pump and it is claimed that this appliance has no equal anywhere for the effective fighting of grass fires.

The alarm system installed at Canberra is of the Melbourne MFH type, and its thoroughness MFH type, and its thoroughness may be gauged from the fact that after many years of experience the London Fire Brigade is now adopting the same principle. The alarm switch-board is ready to be installed in the new fire station, was built to the specification of the brigade’s electrician and it is admitted to be more complete and up-to-date than any other board in the Commonwealth.



The Canberra Times 13 November 1939



The Canberra Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service will probably be established in new quarters at Manuka during the week. For many years the brigade has been functioning with a reasonable degree of efficiency at its headquarters at the rear of the Kingston Power House.

The new station is more centrally located and the fact that the personnel will be housed in close proximity to the main block should enable the fire and ambulance services to function with the smoothness of metropolitan brigades.



The Fire Brigade under Percy Douglas was involved in many sports that included young people – Gymnastics, Boxing, Swimming, Rowing, Football etc.  In 1926 they formed the Canberra Fire Brigade Recreation Club and part of their work was to build a baths in the Molonglo River behind the Power House where Diving Competitions and Swim Meets were held.  The Swimming Pool at Manuka that officially opened in January 1931 (opened for swimming in Dec 1930) allowed the swim meets to move to this pool.  Following are a few articles about the sports run by and involved in by the Fire Brigade Recreation Club.

The Canberra Times  2 December 1926




Preparations for the carnival to be promoted by the Canberra Fire Brigade Swimming Club are well in hand, and indications are that the meeting will be most successful. January 15 should be a gala day, and do much to encourage properly organised swimming sports within the territory.

The programme, which has been adopted is framed to provide for all swimmers, and as races are open to all comers, excellent entries should be received. The CFBSC has shown commendable foresight in donating a cup for the schools competition, and it is gratifying to note that even at this early stage of the Territory’s development attention is being paid to the matter of teaching children to swim.

A proposal to form a swimming club at the Printers Quarters, Eastlake, has not yet reached finality.  Should the suggestion not be proceeded with, the majority of swimmers at the Mess will join up with the brigade club; this intimation was made at the club’s last meeting, but immediate action was with-held in order to note developments in the quarters. There are many promising swimmers at the Printer’s Quarters and it is thought that their inclusion in the Fire Brigade Club would have a strengthening effect.

The formation of a committee will be considered at a meeting of the CFBSC to-night. It is possible that some definite statement regarding the position of swimmers at the mess will then be made.



The Canberra Times 13 January 1927



The swimming carnival which was to have been held in the Molonglo River at Eastlake on Saturday next under the auspices of thee Canberra Fire Brigade has been postponed until a later date which has not yet been decided upon.

Permission has not been yet granted by the Federal Capital Commission to the club to hold the function pending the receipt of the analysis of the river water by the public analyst. The analysis is being taken as a precautionary measure and is to be received before permission can be granted to hold public functions in the river.


The Canberra Times 15 March 1928



The second aquatic carnival of the Canberra fire Brigade swimming Club was held at the Club baths at Kingston on Saturday afternoon. The warm weather and bright sunshine attracted a large gathering to witness the sports which provided some keen racing and generous amusements.

In the chief event, the 100 yards Club Championship for the Edlington Cup, J Thompson was successful. The Club Handicap over the same distance with the W McDonald Cup was ..nnexed by Parl. Miss A Kirkpatrick won the Ladies’ Handicap.

Musical Lifebuoys, the greasy pole contest, the under water swim and a clever exhibition of tandem swimming by the Misses Kirkpatrick and Hateson were notable features of the carnival.

In the presenting of the prizes to the successful competitors, Mr PF Douglas (Chief Officer) said that the attendance of swimmers in each week to the baths and the gratifying response of the public generally had amply compensated the Club for its efforts in forming the baths, and he trusted that  the future of the sport in Canberra would be accompanied by the same measure of popularity;


100 yards Club Championship – J Thompson. Time 73 ½ seconds

66 yards Club Handicap – Parl Time 75 4/5 secs

66 yards Club  Handicap – L Brodie – Time 48 4/5 secs

66 yards Ladies’ Handicap – Miss Kirkpatrick time 49 4/5 secs

33 Boys’ Handicap – A Patrick

66 Yards Relay Race – J Thompson and J Gilmore

Underwater Swim – L Brodie 45 yards

Musical lifebuoys (junior) – J Small



The Canberra Times 13 April 1927



The first sportsman in Canberra, Percy F Douglas, President of the Federal Territory Cricket Association, the Australian Rules Football League, Canberra Fire-Brigade Recreation Club, one of the founders of the Canberra Racing Club and also one of the founders of the Canberra Se...Branch of the Returned Soldier League.

Mr Douglas has been closely interested in all branches of sport, especially cricket. The year following his arrival  in Canberra saw the first movement to form a cricket association in Canberra. A meeting of (next section is too light to read )...in existence...Federal  ... Cricket Association being formed with Mr Douglas as the first President. The position he has held continuously ....and under his guidance ....judgement the association has grown(?) rapidly of late years, until ...it boasts nearly 100 members.

The Federal Territory Cricket Association following its first season of activity went into recess until 1919...


In 1922 with a verve(?) to increase interest in cricket Mr Douglas ..the first trophy to the association.  The council decided that the cup should be put up for perpetual competition.  The first club to win the Douglas Trophy was Ainslie who held it for two seasons. (1922-24).  Next Westridge held the cup for the 1924-25 season following which it went to Northbourne. This season Northbourne retained the honor of holding the trophy.

Last season Mr Douglas made another donation to the association in the form of a pennant to accompany the trophy. This also went to Northbourne, and on the introduction of B Grade competition this season Mr Douglas increased the number of pennants, one for each grade.

Apart from cricket, however, Mr Douglas takes a keen interest in other sports. As far back as 1914 he started gymnastic classes. These however, were discontinued during his absence with the AIF, and since he returned three such classes have been held.

Tennis claimed a part of his time and prior to the formation of the Canberra Tennis Association he held the position of the ob....Club.

(Blurred – can’t read)...Mr ? G Fussell and Ricket... Mr Douglas was instrumental in ...(forming?) the Canberra Racing Club, and many and varied ...stories told concerning his first ride around the present track of the Acton racecourse.

Last year the Canberra Fire Brigade Recreational Club came into existence with Mr Douglas at hits head – activities are still increasing.

Football too, claims some of Mr Douglas’s time. In 1925 he was vice-president of the Australian Rule Football Association, and donated the first pennant put up for competition.  Last season he filled the position of President and the second winning pennant was donated. Both pennants were won by the Federal Rovers Football Club.

In ‘Perc’ Douglas Canberra has real sportsman, one whose interest is so many spheres is almost unique.


The Canberra Times 4 February 1952


At a dinner and social event organised by the Canberra Fire Brigade Social club, members of the Fire Brigade and Ambulance said farewell on Saturday night to Mr PF Douglas, who had been chief of the brigade since 1914.

Tributes to the public services rendered by Mr and Mrs Douglas were paid by the Assistant Secretary, Canberra Service s Branch of the Department of the Interior (Mr HR Waterman), the chairman of the Canberra Community Hospital Board (Mr FL Crisp),Mr AT Shakespeare, the Chief Fire Officer (Mr W Maloney) and the president of the social club (Mr J Prendergast).

Speakers recalled that Mr Douglas has started the fire brigade at Acton with a horse-drawn steam pump and has fostered its development to the present stage at which it is the only substantial fire brigade which also conducts the ambulance service.

Mr Douglas came to Canberra from the Melbourne Fire Brigade and has instilled its traditions into the Canberra brigade, which has a reputation of never having failed to put a fire out.

Mr Douglas was responsible for the training of fire brigade officers in first aid and conducted for many years first aid classes in the Canberra Community. He was responsible for the creation of the first swimming pool at Kingston and the formation of the first swimming club. He was a foundation president of the ACT Cricket Association and was prominent in fostering the development of football and tennis clubs in Canberra. He was one of the founders of the Canberra Club and was a director for many years.

Reference was made also to the services of Mrs Douglas in the Canberra Hospital Auxiliary of which she was president; in the social club and in responding to many calls of community service.

On behalf of the fire brigade and ambulance staff a presentation was made of a wallet to Mr Douglas and a china cabinet to Mrs Douglas.

Mr Douglas in responding said that he was proud of the Canberra Fire Brigade and Ambulance, and the standard they rendered to Canberra.