Australian Biography: Ray Whitrod
Ray Whitrod (b. 1915, Adelaide, SA,)came to national prominence in 1976 when he resigned as Queensland's Commissioner of Police as a protest against corruption. His efforts to reform the State's police had met with strong opposition from both within the force and the Bjelke-Petersen Government. It was a very public stand which enhanced his reputation as a cop of unusual integrity, dedicated to improving the world around him. In this interview, Ray looks back over a distinguished career, including his involvement in establishing ASIO and the New Guinea Police Force. He was interviewed for Film Australia's Australian Biography series in 2000.
Interviewer: Robin Hughes
This is a transcript of the complete original interview conducted for the Australian Biography project.
That's, yes ... I'd like to do that. It was the first house in a row of attached houses and a little lane off Gouger in the west end of the city, near the terrace and the Parklands. I think there were six on one side of the street and six on the other, and we were the first of the row on the western side. It had three rooms: the front room, a sort of middle room with a fanlight in it and a kitchen arrangement on the back, and my parents slept in the front room and I had the middle room and we had the kitchen where we cooked meals and stayed on cold nights because there was a wood stove there. There was a ... I don't recall there being a bathroom at all. We used to have to bath in a tub but there was an outside copper which was under a wood fire and then down the end of the little backyard was an outdoor toilet privy. Not many years before my birth they changed over to a sewerage system. Before that there'd been a night cart coming around but luckily for me we had a ... a cistern and you pulled a chain and you didn't have to worry about the smell of the night cart.
A friendly crowd. I ... I was quite young and my earliest recollections I think around about three - three years of age, perhaps two to three ... and we had a number of migrants in the street: English migrants, perhaps an Irish one or two. They seemed to come. But there were ... Our next door neighbours were English from London, the Boushalls, man and wife with three children. The girls were slightly older than me; the boy was perhaps six months younger than me: Freddy, and Freddy and I got on together. I was an only child at that stage because my elder brother had died during the war and Fred and I were mates, and we would play out in the little front verandah and we could watch things going on in the little narrow alley in which we lived.
Well, for a small child ... I guess I would be bored now, but as a small child, a lot of interesting things went by. One of the, for me, one of the more interesting things was the weekly visit from the corporation dray. The council was a corporation in those days, and once a week, the dray with a big, old horse in front would come down our street and there would be in front of him two men with big brooms and they would sweep up the gutters into ... and the rubbish from the gutters into little heaps and also other horse manure from other callers in the street, and they'd put them into little heaps, then the horse ... the old horse coming along would plod along. His driver would walk along side the horse and the horse would stop at each little heap and the driver would shovel the contents into the big dray and then the horse would start plodding again up the street. They did that week after week. The driver took a lot of pride in the horse from memory and a lot of brass giblets hanging down and, and they jingled as they went along, and I was very much attracted to those horses. Then of course the milkman came twice a day. In the mornings I missed him because he came early, but there was an afternoon delivery. The baker called with a horse cart and once a week the rabbito man came. He sold rabbits and he'd come down the street singing out, 'Rabbito', and his cart would be a little cart festooned with rabbits hanging on, on the side, and if you brought a rabbit with three pence he would chop off the head and skin it. It'd be cleaned beforehand, and then we would have perhaps have rabbit stew that night, [with] perhaps a bit more over for the next day.
Yes, there was one light. One. It was a gas lamp outside our house. We were the first in the street but the backyard of the house facing Gouger Street, reached down into our street, so you walked along side a fence 'til you came to our house, and there was one light there and about dusk the lamplighter would come along on his bicycle with a big stick, with some sort of igniter on the end, and he would switch this pole up and light the gas pole, and that would throw light into our front room because we had no electricity and, in fact, we had no kerosene lamps either. We only had candles. And, oh we had one lamp. That's right. We had one lamp and that would be the light by which my mother and father would get undressed and go to bed and I would have a candle to go bed at night, and ... and I would sleep in a fairly sparse sort of middle room. It had a bed and a corner wardrobe, just a corner curtained off and that's where ... where my shirts and things were hung up and that was the sole furniture in the room, because we were very poor at that time.
Oh yes. Everybody around us were poor. Oh there were one or two slightly better off people, which I'll mention in a moment, but my father was a confectioner by trade and I was born during the war and people didn't spend much money on confectionary during the war so that he was on half-time, which meant that he got half wages which I think amounted to thirty shillings a week, from which he had to pay rent and keep food, so my mother would also take in washing or go out and clean houses, and that sort of supplemented our income. But we were very poor. We had a reasonable meal at weekends. We had ... We always had roast lamb at weekends. That was a very common. It must have been cheap I think, and my mother would also bake an apple sponge with a hot oven. But the rest of the week we were on fairly short rations: a little bit of mince and perhaps some sausages, but I remember very much leaving ... always leaving the table feeling hungry.
No, there was only us two and I ... Oh later on, sorry, eight years later my young brother appeared on the scene, young Frank, but for the first eight years I was the only child and got spoilt a bit I think.
Oh, I don't think so, Robin. I ... I ... The only thing I can remember was that ... It must have been ... when he was born in 1923 and my father I think was ... that's right, back working a bit more and I used to wait for him outside Tandy's where he was then working and we would go to the Salvation Army house in Pirie Street where you could get a cheap meal and we had meals there. So that Frank's arrival really gave me some nice food for a week or so while my mother was having ... having the baby, and so there's never been any sort of rivalry between us. He's been eight years younger than me and so that when I was a teenager he was still in primary school and so that we've been good friends but distant friends because of the big gap. But you did ask me earlier about the street whether we were all poor. Bill Boushall, the man next door to me, the Englishman, got a job as a ... a linesman with the Tramway's Trust and he had a regular wage and so he was a slightly higher status and across the road was George Hardy, who was a cleaner down at the railway workshops, about half a mile away in the park, and he also was slightly up in the social class to us.
Well, I don't think my mother ever directly expressed any sort of wish to me. I know she was disappointed I didn't do my homework as much as I should of, because my father had only had three or four years schooling and she had only had two years schooling so their conception of what was required to be an educated person was very limited. But nevertheless she went out of her way to see that I was enrolled at a very early age at a free kindergarten in the next street. And I went to that free kindergarten until I was six and then I should have gone to the state primary school but my mother had other ideas that I could perhaps get a better education at a private school so I went to the Little Sisters', [a] little convent school in the next street, for a couple of years and made friends with some Catholic children there and ... and got on quite well there. And then later on she, at great expense, tried to get me to become a violinist and for seven years I practised the violin and went to classes and reached a fairly high degree but I really hated it. I hated practising the violin because if you ... if you practise the violin you really need a piano to start off with so that you're sure of the tone of your notes otherwise you're travelling with your fingering on the ... on the ... on the violin is a bit uncertain. And so I was ... I got on all right, but it, but I never got sold on the idea and as soon as I was old enough to rebel I said to my mother, 'I'm not going down to the teacher any more'.
Well, we ... we ... we sat around the, around the kitchen fire and ... and there was that one lamp I remembered we ... we used in the kitchen and when my father and mother were sort of washing up and so on I would try and do some homework, but I wasn't very interested in homework, and in fact I don't think I did any at primary school and very little at high school, which was stupid of me but that's the way it was.
Not at all. They, they were not capable of doing that. My father could read and write but not much more. My mother could read and write and ... and she'd taught herself a great deal of reading because of her experience on the Birdsville Track, but there was never any books in our house. There were no dictionaries in our house. There was no ... George Hardy across the road, he would occasionally bring home some women's magazines from his job as being cleaner on the railways, and ... and Mrs. Hardy would sometimes lend them to my mother or would have them there and I ... and I would try get a hold of them and read them but ... but there was nothing, nothing readable in our house.
I tried to, Robin. I was a very keen reader. When we'd moved from Murrays Lane to a certain number of other address, because we really couldn't pay the rent, we finished up in Halifax Street, the other end of the city, and I, aged about ten or twelve, got a little part-time job on Saturday nights selling newspapers on the corner of the a Havelock Hotel. And the ... the newsagent, who employed me, had a lending library and I would pass the lending library to and from with my papers and I managed to smuggle out some of his books, and I read all the Shane Grey's, and Edward S. Ellis's, and the cowboy stories of those times, and really enjoyed reading them.
I don't know. I don't know what other people do in reading. I was a ... I think I read more than my younger brother. I think I read more than my two sons and perhaps I was an above average reader of papers and comics, particularly.
No, no. We ... we ... I don't know that we were any religion at all really. My mother took me to that free kindergarten, which was run by the Baptist Church, and I've sort of grown up in the Baptist tradition but I don't think my ... and by later on, my mother she was quite elderly, she went to Norwood Baptist Church, but they were not serious religious people at all. I ... I remember that my mother telling me about this use of Sundays as being the ... the Sabbath on which you rested. She told me that when she was at Birdsville as a small child, her mother had adopted a ritual for Sundays. There was no school in Birdsville at the time and there were five or six children in my grandmother's household, but on Sunday mornings they all had a bath in a tub - and water would be scarce at Birdsville - and got dressed up in fresh clothes and then the little family of five or six children and my grandmother, would walk out on the Birdsville Track for perhaps a mile or so and just have a little sort of family picnic and then come home, and in that way my grandmother managed to sort of break the time up into weeks. Sunday was a marker. The rest of the time was all the same, because they didn't go to school and so they ... they went and milked the goats and brought them home and sold the milk and so forth, so every day was that, except Sundays, when my grandmother insisted that was a day of rest. It really wasn't because goats still had to be milked and taken out on the common and brought back, but my mother was ... was sort of in that tradition that on Sundays you did something special.
Well, she encouraged me to go to Sunday school and I went to Sunday school at that little kindergarten and I guess I must be one of the longest surviving members of that kindergarten, and when my younger brother was born, she also encouraged him to go and we went to Sunday school until we were old enough to think seriously for ourselves.
Oh, well [laughs] I've had a sort of love-hate relationship. I've been a church member I think all my life, in the Baptist tradition, but I've had lots of doubts about the things we were taught, particularly in Sunday school, about the miracles and various other parts of the Bible and it always seemed to me that anybody who was intelligent and thoughtful would have serious doubts about the accuracy of the Bible stories and I always sort of had this, you know, fifty-fifty: maybe yes or maybe no, and, just more recently of course, it's become a bit ... a bit more difficult to believe in the heaven and so forth.
Oh, my wife's illness she's had for three years.
Well, yes, Robin. Sir Mark Oliphant who I ... whom I've got a great deal of admiration for, a former Governor of this state and an atomic scientist, had a similar problem with his wife and for three years he looked after her, when she had dementia, and he said he couldn't see any reason why, if there was a creator of this world, that he would impose that sort of punishment. There was no point to it and I agree with him very much.
Yes, in a way it's harder to bear the sort of breaking down of the identity of the person you've loved for so long. A sudden death and you can go into a grieving mode, but for the last three years, it's just been a sort of ... long sort of grieving.
Oh I accepted I think. We sang. We all sang. It was great fun to be in Sunday school. Met some lads, who ... each had got up to little pranks, you know, like shanghais and birds in the Parklands and then later on there were girls in your class and ... and there were picnics and the Sunday school outings and ... and little, little competitions which I was fairly good at. It was good social area to be in, and most of the children of my time, most of them I think, were in various Sunday schools around the city. [INTERRUPTION]
Yes. I got a photograph of her somewhere when she was about twenty-one and she was then about, oh, I should think about five foot three, five foot four, darkish hair, slightly olive complexion, I think, but a neat figure and active and pleasant to look at and easy to talk to. And she was very much a ... what's the word I want to use? Very much attached to the family. Family were her first priority so that we ... my brother and I were rather spoilt children, I think, looking back, but my mother was very good in ... in sort of making sure that whatever resources the family had, the children got first go at them.
[Laughs] Well, I suppose it's a comparison, isn't it? I was thinking of Freddy Boushall, the ... the little boy next door to me who was my sort of mate at the time. His father, Bill Boushall, was a fairly stern man and would insist on strict discipline in the family, although I never saw any or heard any signs of smacking or any bruises on their face but he kept the children in line, whereas my father never, never smacked me and my mother never smacked me and if I'd been very, very naughty they would lock me into my room and tell me to stay there and that was fairly bitter punishment because there was nothing to do. There was only a bed in the room and ... and I was a very active little boy and I would like to get out, but, well, for instance I know the Boushalls thought that my mother spoilt me by paying sixpence a week to send me to the convent school. And then each morning, before that, she would walk me around to the kindergarten and then pick me up late in the afternoon and walk back, and I think the Boushalls thought that was a bit excessive, and their children went to Sturt Street School which was a fairly rough school but ... but me, I went to a private school.
Yes. Well, well ... I enjoyed it and flourished on it, but I needed a bit of discipline and I really didn't get that. I think I should have been perhaps more controlled. I ... I should have done my homework and I should have come home early from school, and come home early from outings and so forth, and I wished my children would have done that, but I ... I tended to follow in the same steps as my mother and our children had a fairly loose rein on them.
I'm not sure whether I inherited the tendencies but certainly I grew to be fairly confident about going out in the street on my own, visiting strange places, staying out late at night, talking to strange people, wandering down to the Parklands, patting the horses, and I suppose I acquired a certain degree of independence and a preparedness to do my own thing. If I'd been sort of kept more controlled I would have perhaps needed to go back to get consent from somebody before I did the things I did. I suppose in a way, Robin, now you've mentioned it, it coloured my relationship with my ministers. I tended to have the same relationship with my Police Minister in Queensland, for instance, and in Canberra, that I only wanted a loose rein and, and I was able to use my own initiatives and be responsible for my own consequences and they accepted that sort of relationship. Perhaps if I'd been a more confined youngster I would have been more restricted in what I thought and what I did. I haven't thought about that before but obviously I should have. I'm a sociologist by ... by study and I should have seen this in my own character but, like most academics, we don't think about ourselves as subjects.
Did I raise?
Well, I don't know whether my mother realised that or not, but that was the outcome of it. I always felt able to make my own judgements and trust my own judgements and accept the consequences. I think that perhaps helped me during the war as a navigator. We did some fairly tough trips in the Arctic and I was full of confidence about them, outwardly at least. I wasn't that sure myself, but other members of the crew always thought I ... I was right, I was spot on, I was a sound navigator, but I think it was because I had developed this idea of doing your own thing with a certain degree of success.
Oh yes, oh yes. I think ... I think every sort of normal child does that. I think I told you I'd ... I'd borrowed these library books and I later on felt I should return them and I did that to the stationer, and he was surprised at this and I'd also ... because I was a fairly hungry lad, I'd stolen some sardines from the Adelaide Co-op, I went and repaid for those things.
Oh I must have been eighteen or nineteen years of age, so it would have been ten years ... ten years [laughs] later. But I felt I should do that. I had a fairly guilty conscience about these things then. I'd just joined the police force and it seemed to me that, you know, how could I go around charging people with stealing things if I'd been doing the things that they were.
Well it was childish. I guess, it wasn't systematic at all. But interestingly Robin, you're making me rethink some of my early, early adventures. When I became a young constable in the CIB in Adelaide one of the jobs I was frequently sent upon was to go down to the departmental stores where the security officer had detected a ... a shoplifter and I would go down and question them, arrest them and charge them and so forth, but I always adopted the ... the idea that if you got caught by a security officer it was likely that this was not your first ... first time, so I always adopted the practice of going to the home of the offender before he was put in the cells and searching the ... searching the home, and I think above average the number of people, there were other goods at home that they couldn't explain why they had possession of, and I would charge them with unlawful possession as well. So because of what I thought was a systematic robbery, but these days of course they don't do that and I suspect a number of villains really get off lightly because nobody bothers to check their home, and of course shoplifters these days often steal to order, because of an order they've received. I do remember one little, not little, a middle aged lady, nice housewife, living at Parkside that had been in John Martin's. She'd been stealing towels and I'd gone down there and it was a bit embarrassing. She was a bit like my mother and so forth, but she said she was sorry and she had intended to pay for them later on. So ... so I went to her home and in her home, small home at Parkside, there were a number of cupboards in one of the rooms. We went to these cupboards. There were stacks and stacks of linen sheets and towels, quite a whole series, and I went through these and ... and she said some were hers and we got the receipts out and they were hers and so I carefully put them back where they were because she was obviously a very tidy lady. We charged her with some of the property which she couldn't explain. I think she got a fine or something but then about a week later I got a ... a letter through the office channels from her. She'd written to the Commissioner of Police saying that she'd been very sorry that she'd ... she'd been doing these things but she did really want to compliment my activities in being so kind and thoughtful in restoring her sheets and linen back to their original place. [L-aughs]
Well, Adelaide High School was just around the corner from where I was in Halifax Street, and I went to Adelaide High School. At that time there were two systems of secondary school, high school. One was a technical high school on North Terrace and there was the Adelaide High School, which was the old established one. And I went to Adelaide High School because my aunt had gone there and ... one of my younger ... my mother's younger sister had gone there and she was working at E.S. Wigg and Company at that time. They are still here, a stationer's, and she had helped me get textbooks so I had gone to Adelaide High School and I went there for, oh I guess for five years. I tried to get jobs after my intermediate and then after my leaving, but it was the Depression time: 1927, '28, '29, and jobs were difficult to get. I had wanted to get into the teachers' college but the year I matriculated I was ... I was sixteen when I matriculated so I would have been seventeen when I wanted into teachers' college. They had closed it down, there were no intakes for a couple of years and so there I was. I had a commercial matriculation and no jobs and so ...
Oh well they are the two forms of ... two courses then at the South Australian secondary schools. You could do a general course in chemistry and science and all those sorts of things and there was a commercial course, which taught you accountancy and shorthand, typing, and commercial geography and I ... and my aunty, the kind one, suggested that maybe I could go into a clerical job at E.S. Wigg and Son's later on, but there was no jobs there for me.
Well, at primary school, at Norwood Primary School, I was top of the class but I really didn't score very highly. I think I got 610 marks out of 700 for the qualifying certificate, and at high school I was more interested in playing sport than doing homework, so I was always towards the bottom of the class although each year I passed, with a bare pass but I never failed. I just got by with a bare pass.
Oh that's right. I ... I had a fairly active ... I played football, Australian Rules football for the school and soccer for the school and that, and so I then joined the scouts and they ... they had soccer again, so I played soccer for them and then the little church, the Baptist church across the road, they had gym on Tuesday nights, so I went to gym and so forth, and on Friday nights I went to ..., so there was no time for homework.
Yeah, we moved. We ... we did that. We did a series of moves from Murrays Lane. We did about four or five moves that one year, mainly because we couldn't afford the rent. We never got evicted but we never ... We had to move and we finished up at rather a nice house down the bottom end of Halifax Street, that's the other end of the city and there was a Baptist mission right opposite and I went there when I was about aged ten or something - yes, nine or ten - and they had a very attractive youth leader, a man of about twenty-five, Gooden. He was from the YMCA. A good cricketer, a good tennis player and he ... he got ... There was a number of little lads about my age from poor families, and he got us organised into a cricket team and then took us swimming, taught us how to swim and ... and attend the gymnasium class that he organised and play basketball, and then he also tried to teach me chess, so he was a big influence in my life.
Well, when I was in seventh grade at Norwood School, Jim Monaghan, who was my desk mate, we were [?] in [?] too, said that he'd joined the scouts and why didn't I and I didn't see any real reason, but he told me about going camping and cooking and swimming and so forth, so I still maintained my attempts at Norwood School which had been the most ... my previous school, so he'd walked home from where his home was at Norwood to the city, to Halifax Street, to persuade my mother to let me join the scouts which I did and I joined the ... the YMCA troop when I was eleven and stayed with it for the rest of my life.
Well, most of the time we lived nearby the schools I went to. The convent school, the North Adelaide school, the Cowandilla school, we were close by and we were originally at Norwood because we lived on the plain, but when we moved to Halifax Street, it was quite some distance and I would leave home about twenty-past-eight and travel by tram out to Norwood school and that's how I'd get to school. My mother would give me sixpence for tram fares and for lunch and I would spend a penny going out there in the tram and then unfortunately for me, where I got off the tram at the school, there was a bookshop, stationery shop, which always had boys' comics in it, and I used to go into the shop and spend my five pence on boys' comics and not have any ... go hungry for lunch unless I could persuade some of the boys to swap me a sandwich for the comic that I had read and I did that for a long time. So I was always very hungry by four o'clock, five o'clock, when I came home for tea.
Oh yes, it was about three miles but when you're nine, ten, eleven, you can walk that distance after school and usually there were one or two other lads that were going in that direction. In fact the ... the two lads that came with me were, most of the way, two of the wild boys, the bottom boys in the class and I was the top boy in the class. It was an unusual combination but they taught me a lot. They taught me how to be careful if you were stealing parts of a bicycle: you make sure the numbers are taken off and repainted and so forth. I think one, if not both, had been in the Magill Boys' Reformatory and their mates were in that category, so they ... I knew a little bit about raiding fruit ... fruit orchards and getting saltpetre shot at you by the fruit gardeners and so forth. But ... and maybe if I'd stayed in their company, that's the track I might have gone down.
Yes, it did. I ... I ... I ... I'm not sure it was useful, it was a temptation. I was on line with them. I knew what they were talking about. When a thief walks down a street or a housebreaker walks down a street, he ... his perception is vastly different from a law-abiding person. The thief always looks for opportunities of things to steal: he sees a window open, he sees somebody's parked the car and left the key in the ignition, he knows that there's no dog at this house, he sees the shopping basket and so forth. He doesn't know the architecture or perhaps the painting of the house but he knows what the opportunities are and ... and then a policeman comes along afterwards and if ... if he looks through, through the criminal's eyes, he's got a better chance of working out what happened. You know if ... if ... psychology taught me that if a ... if a gardener walked down a street, the gardener at the end of the street could tell you what was in the front garden, what flowers were growing, what shrubs were in flower. I could never do that. I wasn't interested in gardening. I was interested in open windows and ... and milk cans that had been left out the front with money in them and so forth. That's the ... that's the way I was going.
I left school when I was seventeen, in 1932, about half way through the year.
And your education had consisted of your formal education, which you hadn't paid a huge amount of attention to, the education of the other boys and so on, and you've had this big influence from the Baptist church and from the scouts ...
Well, not much from the Baptists except they sung Sunday school hymns, I suppose.
I mean the Baptist mission and the man there who helped you. Looking back now and just putting that altogether, those adolescent years, years that you went through high school, what would you say were the main influences on you, that were shaping you at that time? Could you sum them up for me?
I think one thing was my poverty. I always felt uncomfortable in the class because my ... my clothes were the cast-offs of an uncle who'd died and they didn't fit me and I was gawky, I was growing and ... and I was in ... in my intermediate and leaving years, in a mixed class with girls and boys and on the whole they wore school blazers and school caps, and the girls dressed in school blazers and so forth, and I was in ill-fitting clothes and didn't have any money for lunch and ... and didn't do my homework, so the only thing from school that I really got was a feeling of an ability as an ... an athlete. I was a good runner. I won the school's half-mile championship, combined high schools' half-mile championship and I was quite a good runner, and I played football and soccer at reasonable levels. But the scholastic side escaped me a little bit. I really should have paid more attention, but I didn't.
Oh yes, I did, a great deal. I used to ... one of the ... One of the girls at the mission school was a recent arrival from England and they had a grocery shop on Hutt Street and she would walk home in the same direction as me. If I wasn't playing football or sports, I would walk home with her and she was always nicely dressed and so forth, and she always did her homework and she was always second or top of the class. And later, we would talk about school and I was not really very advanced sexually at that stage, fourteen or fifteen, not like they are today, but, you know, I liked the girl's company and she was a good, good sport and then later on I met her. Years ... very many years later I met her and she said to me, 'Ray, I'm staggered at your progress. How well you've done'. And I said, 'What do you mean?' She said ... she said, 'I never thought you were that bright', and I thought she was a good friend, but not with that remark. [Laughs]
No, I didn't, no. I ... I was just scraping through on my exams and, and I didn't understand that if you did your homework, that's what gave you the edge over people like me who didn't, and I didn't understand that. If I had of, maybe I would have done more homework, maybe my life would have been different.
Yes. Well, I think, one, she had a system of emergency rationing system that if ... if we were sick and had to have a doctor's attention, she would have to pay a doctor's bill and there were no free doctors or free medicine in those days. I know when I had boils she would take me to the chemist and the chemist would lance them and not charge us, but for ... if you were sick, really sick, get a doctor and with the scouts there was no scout uniform. We ... we were compelled to buy a heavy serge pair of pants, They were the best pants I ever had and they were my mine own new pants and shirt and so forth, and what she did was she had a Singer sewing machine and we always had the latest model Singer sewing machine in our house. It was really the only thing that was in the house apart from a couple of beds and a table and a couple of chairs, and I never worked out why it was that we always had this latest model sewing machine, although my mother was a good machinist, a good sewer, and she would turn up clothes and so forth. And then I worked out that what was happening was that every three or four years, the Singer sewing machine company would bring out a new model and my mother would trade in the old model for a new one on time payment. And when she traded in the old model she got a cash refund, plus the cost of course of the new one, which you paid off at two shillings a week. So whenever my mother really was faced with ..., she would get a new model sewing machine which meant for all our lives we had a man called Mr. Gooch calling for us on Monday morning and collecting two shillings a week. It was a sort of money lending scheme.
Oh, five or six times its ... its worth, but there was no other access to funds anywhere. My ... my mother's mother was ... was poor and my father's father had died. We had no ... nobody to ... to sponsor me at all.
Yes. I got one temporarily as an office boy and I wasn't very good at it. It was seven and six a week which was a big ... a big thing for my mother because she got most of that, but I had to dust the office furniture and do a lot of menial tasks which I ... I [laughs] thought was a cleaner's job and not somebody with a matriculation certificate and I was really only half sold on the ... on the job. I didn't do it very well and I ... I got the sack in the end because I left the firm's bicycle out in the little alleyway alongside the ... the main building and ... and one of the two partners had driven his car along this narrow way and had collided with my bike and caused some damage to his car. This happened twice and he thought that was the limit so I got the boot and ... and my mother was upset and I wasn't very upset, but she was. I thought I'd get another job and I didn't and I tried to go fruit picking in the Murray - apricots and grapes - but they already had big lists of waiting people so there was no money in the ... in the bush for people like me.
Oh that would have been when I was seventeen. I was out of work for almost a year, seventeen to eighteen, something like that and ... although I was entitled to rations because I'd turned sixteen, and you could get rations if you were unemployed. That was the sort of dole that we got. You got a pound of sugar and you got two loaves of bread and some potatoes, some onions and a pound of meat, and that was the week's ration and I could give those to my mother and that helped. But when I went out in the bush looking for work, it was hard to make that meagre ration go round but along the Murray you could always get plenty of grapes to eat and ... and oranges and fruit along the Murray, growing along the side of the road so I ... I had a fairly meagre diet for quite some time.
I carried a swag and slept out under some trees and then eventually finished up at Barmera and at Barmera on the river Murray. That was the centre of an irrigation area, where I thought I might get jobs when the apricot season come on. The local scout master let me ... and a mate ... camp down in a little shed at the bottom of the yard and there was no stretchers, we slept on the floor and ... and that's where I was for some time.
[Laughs] Oh well, in-between times I'd fallen in love with a girl and she was a school teacher and ...
Well, she'd come along to a scout meeting that I'd been running at ... at the church, Flinders Street Church, and her sister was running the cub pack and she herself was running a guide company. We got involved in that way and ... and in my last year at high school we'd ... her brother and I had hiked down to Victor Harbour and spent some days down there and she and her friend had come down there so we got involved down there and ... and I fell in love with her and it was a difficult year for me. And then, they, this family, the Russell family, my in-laws, saw a notice in The Advertiser that the SA Police were advertising for young people with a good education to become police cadets. So I got on my bike and pedalled back to Adelaide and sat ... First of all we had a physical examination and I just scraped through because although I was very physically fit, I was only five foot nine and a half, and five foot ten was the minimum height, but the doctor, the police doctor, who was examining me, he said, 'He's only eighteen. He'll grow the extra half inch'. I never did but ... so I was always one of the shortest police, a shorty in the police force. So I joined the police force as a cadet.
Yes, well, I hadn't had much touch with them at all, except stories my mother had told me when ... when she'd been in Birdsville as a young girl, her mother had left home, fairly often for quite long intervals, because she'd been a midwife and she would go out to a cattle station and help with the birth of a child and that meant that she was away a week or a couple, maybe three weeks at a time. And my mother was then the eldest of a small family of four or five children, aged ... My mother was then aged ten or eleven and she looked after them, and she told me that if they got sick and she didn't know what to do, she would whip across a strip of land between the ... the Haylock house and the Birdsville Police Station and she'd go across there and there was a sergeant-in-charge, an old sergeant there, and a constable and she and the old sergeant would take down a home remedies book. My mother couldn't read at that stage because there'd been no school at the time, and the old sergeant and she would pour over this book to find out what ... what was wrong with the sisters or brothers and what remedies were available in a ... in a very poor little hut in Birdsville. And there would be castor oil and ... and Bates Salve, a few home remedies and they'd use those, and there was no doctor in town, and the flying doctor service hadn't arrived, the inland mission hospital wasn't there, and so my mother had grown up with this very close friendly relationship with the policeman - the police sergeant, and it seemed to me that, that was a sort of, you know, reasonable life helping other people, and that's what policemen were paid to do, to help other people and were paid reasonable salaries and I thought that was what being a policeman meant.
Well, it was a job of course and that would have given me ... made me more acceptable to my in-laws. I had a steady job, a government job and government jobs were status jobs in the Depression, and it was also a job I thought was out of doors and I liked being out of doors and there wasn't much paperwork in those days and so generally it was something that appealed to me.
Oh it's my, my present wife. [Becomes emotional] Sorry, Robin. Yeah, we got ... we got engaged when I was twenty-one, and still in the police force and then ...
Let me ... Let me get you to describe ... take you back. You're eighteen years old, and you go down to Victor Harbour. Could you tell me about meeting her and what it was about her: I'd just like a little picture about how it was then.
Oh right. Well, Victor Harbour ... you won't know this but Victor Harbour was then a fairly attractive holiday weekend spot and we went down there, Brice and I, walked, hiked down there and ... and Mavis and Gert, her friend, came down there and ... and we went out on few joint expeditions. We went out in a fisherman's boat to collect crays and so forth and I remember coming back, being very sick because when you're picking up cray pots you stay still and the boat rocks violently and I came back and we were all very sick and I can remember the three of us being prostrate on the ... on the beach and moaning and groaning, and Mavis was quite ... was sick but quite cheerful about it and made ... made it into a joke and I thought, well, you know, that's an unusual sort of girl. I didn't know many girls but she seemed to me to be a very attractive sort of personality and then we spent a few days riding on the little river there and ... and she became a sort of a ... very much the person I wanted to be with. I talked to her and ... and of course, I was impressed, she was a school teacher. She never talked down to me. First school teacher I'd met that didn't talk down to me, and she listened to some of my stupid ideas and ... and didn't throw cold water on them and so we got on famously, and I don't think she ever saw me as a sort of a suitor at that time because I was seven years younger and so we kept company. When we got back home we would go to a few scout dances and so forth but I was never regarded as a sort of suitor by the in-laws or by Mavis. I was just Brice's friend, and so it was quite some time before they saw that I had serious intentions about marrying her.
Well, when it became clear that I was seriously interested in their fairly successful daughter, in their mind ... They'd been very welcoming and warm and kind to me, that became less so and although they never shunned me and I was always at Sunday tea, at the Russell home and so forth, but they made sure I was always closely chaperoned and supervised and the number of opportunities when Mavis and I would be alone were very strictly limited until, of course, I got the job in the police force and I was a cadet and when I was twenty-one I got attached to the CIB. I was the ... one of the first, I suppose, of the young people to go into the CIB and my ... my shorthand, which I learnt in high school, at which I was fairly good, was a new, new technique in police interrogations and I used to go to all the more serious interrogations and take down the conversations [in] shorthand and then give it as a witness in the Supreme Court later on. This was quite a brand new concept in policing in South Australia and occasionally when I first started doing this, it was also new to the defence lawyers and they would ... they would ask to see my shorthand notebook and they would get their secretaries to check my outlines and make sure that it wasn't a bogus report and so forth, but it proved to be a very solid line of interest ... of evidence, because here were their words as they were spoken. And so I was gradually accepted as one of their more promising young detectives in the ... in the SA Police Force who hadn't had to go through the unusual selection process. Detectives were usually chosen from the smartest guys on the beat or from the country. You usually had five or ten years uniform service before you were recruited into the detective force. That was a sort of elite force. But I went straight in. I never did any beat duty or traffic duty or motorcycle duty. I and another mate were the first two to form this new sort of career structure.
Yes, it may be so. I've never thought, Robin. Maybe, maybe. There were two divisions of the police force in those days. You were a country policeman or a city policeman. A city policeman's routine was very dull. You directed traffic at intersections and you marched up and down your beats in slow time and you ... and you arrested a few drunks and you moved some girls on, who were obviously loitering and so forth, and you reported cellar doors that were left open or street lights that had gone out and should be on. It was a very dull job in the city. In the country you were much more responsible and independent and maybe, maybe I lost something by not being a country policeman but on the other hand I forged this ... this new structure and I was very keen and very happy with the job. I was very good at it. I got more commendations than most other people at that time and I was recognised as one of the brightest sparks. There'd been a programme on one of the local radio stations called Adelaide Speaks about this time and there was a ... a programme on child delinquency and the Police Department had been asked to nominate a speaker, and my inspector, Charles Evatt, had nominated me to the Commissioner. I was then twenty-two or twenty-three, with two years police experience, and I went along to this public debate, which was broadcast, and there was a ... a barrister, leading barrister, a fellow called Hicks. There was the ... the professor, the lecturer in social work from the university and ... and the lecturer in psychology from the university, and we had this discussion about child delinquency, for about an hour, an hour and a half I would think. And the two university academics talked about fairly vague concepts that they'd used, [and] picked up from books and so forth, and Hicks who was a very good orator as a barrister spoke about his sort of contact with, with delinquents. But he ... in those days, he hadn't been in the children's court so he didn't know much about child delinquency and so forth. So I thought it was time to bring ... bring a bit of realism into the discussion and I talked about my life patterns and my friends who'd been delinquents and those I'd been to school with and ... and where we were going and how we thought and this idea that thieves were always looking for opportunities and so forth. And the next day a letter came to the Commissioner of Police from Hicks. I think a copy went to the Adelaide Advertiser ... from Hicks, the barrister, saying that the previous night there'd been this public debate on juvenile delinquency, at which there'd been these two academics and himself and the third one had been Detective Whitrod and he wanted to comment to the Police Commissioner, how ... what's the word he used? ... how 'advanced' the new breed of policemen were. And that sort of ... I got a few like that and that lady who wrote about her clothes. I picked up a few little things from the public, which sort of earmarked me for fairly rapid promotion.
Which I got, yes.
What kind of training did they give you when they recruited you as a cadet? [INTERRUPTION] I'll ask that again. That's okay. What kind of training did they give you when they recruited you as a cadet?
Well, as a cadet, we were ... we were supposed by the Commissioner's vision of a cadet to be sort of cadets who would be superior policemen, and we were supposed to serve time: six months or five months in each of the various branches of the police force. In the detective office, in the fingerprinting, in the photographic section, in the filing section, in the mounted cadre, so that when we were sworn in at twenty-one - you had to be twenty-one then to be sworn in - you would have had a nice background of what the police force was all about. But what happened was when I and a few other mates like me joined the police force we ... we were touch typists and shorthand writers and we got stuck in. As soon as we got to one department they seized us and we stayed there because we were good at typing and they were using one finger typing. So we ... I got very little training. I ... When I went there first I was put in the filing room and for six months all I did was to file dockets away, all day, five days a week, and getting some dockets out. And in the mornings I would be enthusiastic and work hard. By two o'clock I was bored stiff with doing this filing and I would sit down and read them. So some were interesting and some were not. And then when I went to ... later on I was posted to the fingerprints section, and I thought this is going to be interesting, I'll learn how to take fingerprints. And at that time there were three fingerprint experts here in Adelaide. They had been photographers, civilian photographers, who'd learnt fingerprinting from a ... a classic, by a fellow called Dalton. He was the authority. And I thought I'll learn Dalton and I'll become a fingerprint expert, but all I did was to file history cards, record cards, day in and day out, and if I got hold of a copy of Dalton, it was snatched away from me immediately by one of the three fingerprint experts because that was a sort of key and they were the three experts and so they didn't want any challenges. So I learnt nothing about fingerprints. I spent six months just pulling out police histories from cards and putting them back in. It was very boring.
Oh yes, towards the end. There hadn't been enough young men with matriculation who'd applied to join the police force and so they'd adopted a somewhat lower standard called junior constables and these lived in, in the depot, and we went down to the depot for our final twelve months and there you went into a classroom situation and were given a horse, not in the classroom of course, but given a horse you'd look after and ... and you learnt how to ride and how to do mounted drill and how to tent peg and how to use swords on horses. I don't know why. How to jump over hurdles with horses, but young men become very attached to their horses. I had an old chestnut called Ripple and I used to get with the bugle call at six o'clock and go out to Ripple's stall and clean it out and groom him down, take him out and water him, feed him and then I'd come back, have a shower and have breakfast, and then we had ... We had drills of a morning, foot drill or mounted drill and the same thing would be repeated and Ripple would be fed and watered before I had lunch and I used to keep hold of any little apple cores I could find and smuggle these into Ripple and it was ... I enjoyed it very much my association with the horse. But the classes ... the classes were very poor, Robin, and they were in old wool sheds down right on the wharves at Port Adelaide and they were run by the oldest boy in the class and he would read out sections, legal sections of the act, the Criminal Act, and then all of us would write down in longhand very carefully, word for word, which we were supposed to learn that off by heart because these were the acts that we had to enforce: licensing and gaming, lottery, police offences act, criminal law. It was dreadful, really dreadful, but we did it because we were glad to have a job, and we were there thirty days at Port Adelaide. We had one day off ... one day off a fortnight and there also you could get, on the weekend, you could get one night off and that night was also free, but that's all we had. It was dreadful.
Yes. I don't think we ever had any direct sort of training, [or] teaching in this area. We had a very good sergeant in charge, ex-Indian Army man and very smart, very smartly turned out and we were smartly turned out. Inspected our quarters every morning after breakfast and we had to keep the spotless and clean and we had ... We didn't have much contact with real policeman outside. We really weren't given any ... any reinforcement or introduction to an ethical code, a moral code. It was just what we came in with and it was really quite inadequate but I don't think anybody was given any moral training: school teachers or doctors or dentists or anybody at that time. But it was quite inadequate. One thing about it, you'll be interested, we were there weekends, shut up, confined. There were no fences around the place, or a low fence, and just across the road was the Squatter's Arms Hotel. None ... none of the boys ever slipped out to get a bottle of beer or shandy, even on hot weekends.
These were trainee policemen. Never, never got out. But later on, of course, things were different, but we never had any serious initiation ceremonies like Duntroon or the navy had. We were, I suppose, happy to be where we were because most of them, being like me, had come from nowhere.
Oh only I suppose the strength of my love of animals, which in the way was started by those draft horses in the corporation dray that came done, and it was an old horse I had. Ripple was quite old and steady and slow, and not quite ... so he never bucked me off or anything like that, so you grow fond of animals. And I was very fond of him and I learnt the first thing you do is attend to your pet. You attend to your pet first. Later on Robin, I don't know whether I have ever told you this, but I went to the Boys' Town Reformatory outside Brisbane. I had been invited to go to Boys' Town outside Brisbane, about forty miles outside Brisbane, to present the prizes. This was really a boys' reformatory run by Christian Brothers and I went out there and it was about forty miles in farmland, and it was an old building that had been enlarged and there was about forty quite naughty boys in there, no fences around the place and I went in and was introduced to the boys and so forth and later on, after we had supper, I presented the prizes and they had a little band and they played, and I talked to the Brother in charge and I said, 'I've been lots of boys' reformatories and they always have a very high escape rate. What happens here? You've got no fences around'. And he said, 'Oh we don't need fences'. And I said, 'Well that's an interesting idea. Why don't you?' And he said, 'Well come here', and he took me around the back and around the back of the building there was a stable with about forty horses in it. He said, 'When a new boy comes here we attach him to one of the older boys and we say to him, 'Now look, if you are of good behaviour we'll let you have one of these horses the whole time that you are here. You can ride him and train him and feed him and exercise him and he's your horse'. And he said, 'Those first two or three weeks the older boy passes on his knowledge to the younger boy and the younger boy is thrilled to get a ...
Oh very much so. It was a status job and the pay was slightly better in that you got an out-of-pocket allowance, three and six a day, with which you were supposed to buy drinks for information from other criminals or some criminals down the street, and that rarely happened, so you kept the three and six for yourself, and that was a guinea a week extra so ... and when you're only getting three pounds a week, another guinea was a great, a great boost and ... and so we ... we ... we all looked forward, and we wore plain clothes and for some reason, men don't like wearing uniforms. I had big trouble in Queensland, as soon as my uniformed men became inspectors, they discarded their uniform and put plain clothes on, and I had big trouble with them. It was so in the SA police force. A plains clothes man was obviously a much more attractive a sort of a person than being in police uniform, and of course you weren't asked awkward questions and if you were seen going into a pub after hours in plain clothes, that would be normal but if you're going in there in uniform it would have raised a few eyebrows.
Well, that ... when I went there that's what surprised me because they all ... I told you I was one of the short ones, but they were all about six foot, five foot ten, six foot. They all wore two piece suits, sometimes with a waistcoat as well, stiff collar and tie, not soft, and a bowler hat, and that had been a legacy from a few years earlier when bowler hats were the sign of ... of the ... the detective force both in London and in Melbourne and so forth and were sort of a hat of honour that you wore, but when I got there they was changing over to sort of more of an akubra style hat. But we always worked in pairs, sometimes in three, but always in pairs, and so when you were looking for some sort of wanted person and you'd walk into a pub where he might be, the two would walk in, stay at the door and stare around at everybody, with not a belligerent look on your face, but 'who the hell are you', look around. Immediately they'd know that you were a policeman and so forth. There was never any question that you would ... you would adopt some sort of clothing, which would blend into the landscape so you had short hair, back and front and sides, and a suit and ... and mostly the detectives wore very good suits. It impressed me. I, coming from my background with poor suits and so forth ... and I found I really had to ... if I wanted to get on, I would have to dress like them, which meant that Mavis and I had to scrape a little bit in order to ... to get a suit to wear and luckily I'd done a good turn with a ... good police work, at a place called Ingerson's in King William Street, who had a very good cutter there called Sheehan, a nice Irish name, Sheehan, but we got on very well and he used to about every six months, if I was going by, he'd whistle me in and say, 'They've got some cheap material in Ray, would you like a suit?' And he would make me up a very nicely well-cut suit and that's how I sort of fitted into the background of the rest of the staff that ... that I was well dressed and ... and, you know, approved of by the other well dressed men. Now where they got their money from I never knew but later on I ... I ... I'd a fair idea where the detectives in Sydney and Melbourne got theirs from and I wondered if perhaps some of ours might also have got a bit of that here, but I doubt it because there wasn't any large crime in Adelaide. Adelaide was a small city. You need a certain size for a criminal underworld to develop, a violent criminal underworld to develop. Melbourne and Sydney have always had it. Melbourne particularly, Melbourne more than Sydney has had criminal gangs there and so ...
Well, yes and no. The criminal gangs I'm talking of were hold up men, [and those involved in other] violent crimes but in more recent times the money for bribing policemen has come from people who run brothels, who run SP bookmaking, who run the white collar crimes. The drug ... the drug scene has produced so much money available. I mean I'm not sure now that if I'd been offered some of the money that has gone about, [say] a quarter of a million to overlook something, you know, I might well have fallen by the ... by the wayside. The most I was offered was two thousand pounds, and that was just after the war. A warehouse had burnt down on North Terrace and a clothing factory, and we couldn't find out who ... who had burnt it down and I'd stopped a likely young lad in the street who I thought might have some knowledge and talked to him and then he ... he blurted out that he could tell me who it was in exchange for some other favours and so forth. And he told me the name. It was the owner of this factory because he got a lot of wartime contracts. Made a lot of money out of wartime contracts, making airforce uniforms and after the war the contracts had disappeared and so he was in trouble and burnt this house down for ... for insurance money. So I went round and interrogated this bloke and only got sort of half a ... half an admission from him and I didn't have enough to arrest him, and he disappeared, went to Sydney and we got a general search out for him, found him in Sydney. I went over to Sydney to further question him and bring him back and when I was in Sydney he said to me, 'Ray, he said, 'Look this is a very bad blot on my industrial record. I can give you two thousand to look the other way'. Two thousand, at the time when you're getting four pounds a week, is a lot of money and I said, 'You know', I said ... sorry, I won't tell you his name ... 'I'm not in that business', and so I ... I didn't take it. But thinking back, because I know one of ... one of my mates, who I thought was trustworthy, who fell for two hundred thousand dollars and, you know, I ... I ... I ... I've got two minds about that. I probably wouldn't do it but I could see how it would attract somebody who ... who needed the money, two hundred thousand without questions asked.
Oh yes, because we'd ... we'd bought a house.
Oh it cost us about 980 pounds and we started off, in our married life, in this house, Robin, because my very good wife had saved 100 pounds from her school teacher's salary and we used a hundred pounds as a deposit on this house and down there in Pleasant Avenue, South Plympton. A nice house, a brick house, free stone front and three bedrooms and a sleep out, and we were paying this off for, you know, out of my three pounds something a week. A pound a week was going there and the rest was ... By that time we'd had two children born before the war and Ruthie after the war, so we were pretty, pretty thin with money and two thousands pounds would have paid off ... easily paid off the house and bought us a ... more house. We had no furniture in the house at all: a few beds and a table.
You mean Adelaide?
No, I never knew of any, and I don't think there was much on offer. There'd been a ... In South Australia, there had been a ... a Royal Commission into the police force in 1928 and some SP bookmakers had been found to be paying money to police for not arresting them. But about my time they introduced betting shops here in South Australia and that took away a lot of the custom from SP bookmakers, at least in the city, so there was no income from them. There were very few brothels in Adelaide. The only source of possible money was from abortionists and I wondered, once or twice, if one or two of the senior staff might have been receiving a little money from the back room abortionists to avoid inquiries into their activities because, at that time, of course, abortion was quite illegal and, and people were unaware of contraceptions very much. Single girls, if they became pregnant, it was a very social disgrace to have a child and so these back ... back room abortionists, who often were sort of midwifes, who had some elementary knowledge, often used a knitting needle to push up into the vagina and so on. There would be air embolism when the air came in and there'd be bad deaths and young girls would die, and they would be quickly taken away and left somewhere. We would have to try and find which of the abortionists had done the job and so forth. And most of them we managed to sheet home, but there'd been two or three over the years that I ... I thought maybe, maybe we might of pushed it a bit harder but ... but that's all suspicion on my part and I've got no proof. In fact I thought the SA police force was very ... was and still is a very corrupt-free police force. We've had a couple of bad, bad deviants in the force: the head of the drug squad and a few others, but we have been very, very fortunate in South Australia, so that when I went to the Commonwealth first, of course, and then later on when I had liaison with New South Wales, I was amazed at the amount of corruption that was going on. Amazed.
Yes. Well, it was, there was no textbook, there was no training schools. It was a sort of an apprenticeship on the job and if your senior man didn't take a liking to you, or if you didn't run around and do his little odd jobs, you ... you didn't get taught anything. It was purely a question of observation and ... and doing things yourself and ... and working out what was going on. Luckily I ... I ... because I could write good shorthand, I was attached to the, the best homicide team we had in Adelaide so I ... I had good models to follow in regard to interrogations and ... and searches and that sort of thing. And so really I ... I emerged as the most promising of the new crop of young men coming up, which the old Commissioner had seen as possible being the leaders of the force later on. But it was a new movement of younger men, which to some extent was ... was resented by the old group, naturally enough, and so you had to be very, very diplomatic how you went about your business, otherwise you got shut ... shut out. But we battled on and ... and I was appointed a detective when I was overseas, which was nice of the police force.
Robin, you make me think. I think two things: observation and memory. And ... you'll be interested in this because in the scouts we had a ... a game which I used to organise into scout meetings called Kim's Game, and it was based on ... on Kipling's Kim where ... where Kim was taught how to be as a British intelligence officer in ... in India and he had been sent to an old intelligence hand to learn and this ... this old hand would spread out on the table a collection of rubies and pearls and gold and so forth, and let young Kim look at it for two minutes and cover it over. And then he would say to Kim, 'Kim, tell me what was in that', and Kim would initially would sort of say, 'One gold ring, one opal necklace, one ... one, one brooch, one emerald brooch, one ruby'. Then later on he got to say, 'Ah, one gold ring about 16 carat, and man's size and the brooch ...' and he would nominate the pattern and so forth. We used to play this endlessly as one of the observation games. It's a very good game, and we used to play it in the scout troop and one of the things we did there was to ... I used to organise a raid on ... on ... on a German harbour and we would have crackers going off and smoke going up and the lads would be up in the loft and they would ... they'd be navigators in one of my aircraft and they would have to make an observation of what was in the harbour below through all the smoke and so forth. You know it was a bit ... bit of fun and so forth. But then going back to what your question was, we ... observation and memory. You needed both those very much and I was ... I had reasonable memory and ... and reasonable observation and I think that's what helped me. Later on you learnt about deduction and so forth, but initially when you went into a room, you looked around the room, when you got to the door, you looked around the room to see what it felt like, what it looked like, who do you think lived there, and why were these things there, and what had happened? You sort of imagined them all in your mind and then you ... you actually went out and checked: checked how much candle was in the candlestick and so forth and so on. Then you memorised these things and later on when you had to give evidence, you could recall with ... with reasonable accuracy because you would be very ... in heavy cases, you'd be under cross-examination by very skilled barristers and if you weren't particularly accurate they could soon trip you up and your evidence would be reduced to shambles by saying, 'Oh, five minutes ago he said that watch was on the mantlepiece, now he says it's on the chair'. So you had to be consistent and you had to have a good memory. They were the two sort of ... what's the word I want to use? ... sort of inherited genes if you like, developed a bit by training, but they were the two things, plus some general intelligence I guess.
Yes. Well, one I remember after the war. I'd been given a new mate, Ted Calder to work with. He was then a few years younger than me, [and] hadn't been able to go to the war and I was given my own little team to work with because I'd been made a detective while I was overseas in the airforce. And we hadn't been back in Adelaide very, very long when the inspector called me in. That was a senior man in the CIB in those days. He was an inspector. [The position] is now [called] a superintendent, but he was an inspector, Inspector William Owen Ignatius Sheridan, very staunch Catholic and there was a little, I suppose, Irish influence but it never, never affected me. Bill Sheridan never ... He always treated me very, very fairly so I don't know if it was ever true. And he was there with one of Adelaide's leading barristers, a fellow called Jack Alderman and the inspector said to me, 'Ray, I want you and Ted to listen to Mr. Alderman's story and I'd like you to take over the investigation'. And Jack Alderman was a fairly prominent racehorse owner at this time and he had a horse running in the Adelaide Cup at the end of the week called Chief Watchman and Chief Watchman was the favourite, he was top rate. He was the favourite and very short odds on ... on ... on the SP bookmakers or later on at the ... at the betting shop. And Alderman said to us that his trainer ... his head trainer had come to him and said that he'd been approached by a man he called an 'investor', who wanted him to nobble that horse for Saturday's race and he ... he would invest, I think, something like 200 pounds on the next favourite in the trainer's favourite, and the next favourite of course would be at much longer odds, and the investor would win much more money by investing at longer odds if the favourite didn't win. So Jack Alderman said, 'I'd like you to look at this race because I don't want my horse to be involved in any scandal'.
And I ... I was ... I was pleased at this because it was a fairly difficult sort of case and [of] fairly public importance because this was the Adelaide Cup and there'd been a lot of writing in the paper about Chief Watchman's form and so forth, and I'd ... I'd thought that the inspector would have given it to a detective sergeant or a senior detective to me, but he asked Ted and I to come in, and I think it was because he ... he felt that he could rely on us. So we ... we planned a little campaign and we got the head trainer to ring up this investor from the police station at Glenelg. We didn't actually tap the telephone because Glenelg switchboard had ... Glenelg police had a switchboard, so we merely pushed down three keys instead of one and we had the ... the trainer talk to the investor about techniques about nobbling the horse and I took it all down in shorthand. We got enough evidence to charge him, so we rushed around, got a search warrant, went around and searched his house. He was a fairly wealthy influential man at Glenelg and we got some supporting evidence and charged him. He ... he briefed the best barrister he could in ... in Adelaide a fairly aggressive sort of ... and we were in court for the best part of a week and just before the Cup on the Saturday and I think on the Friday, before the Cup, the jury came back and said he was guilty, and that was a fairly famous victory on our part. Partly because we'd done a good job and partly because we'd been asked to do that. Any rate it was, I think, interesting because, later on, I think that helped me, or influenced some people to ask me to do some further work elsewhere.
Oh yes, unsolved murders, true, true. My first one, when I was on night shift, the young ... the young detectives were put on night shift so the old ones could sleep at home at night. You went on at 11 o'clock at night till seven in the morning and I'd been to ... I'd been best man at one of my mate's weddings, Johnny Covoso [?] and we'd been to reception and I'd gone straight from reception, at 11 o'clock, to the detective office. I hadn't been there very long and the phone rang and, and a woman said, 'Please come, my husband's dead'. So we only had one car at the time at the police station, and I went out in the car with the driver and there'd been a row and he'd come late that night and she'd cooked him a meal and ... and ... only eggs and bacon or something and he'd complained very bitterly about this. He'd been drinking and she got upset and ... and quite irritated and in the end she picked up the carving knife and plunged it into his heart. And she said, 'He's dead. I killed him'. And she could have easily given all that evidence to me but because it was homicide and I was young detective, I wasn't sure. I wanted to make sure that I'd covered all my ground. So I rang up my detective sergeant, George Wallace, and he came over and he said, 'You know, good work, Ray, you've covered all the spots', but that was my sort of first introduction. And in the main, Robin, that tended to be the pattern of homicides and such like. They were domestic violence cases, and ... and the offender and the victim were often related in some way: the father, daughter, not father, but father-son, husband-wife and you didn't have to look very far because we didn't have that underworld we talked about before, where murders were done as ... as requested, but I'm not sure about some very violent cases. We had a couple: a young lad had shot his employer on a farm with a rifle. That was a difficult one to prove because the young lad's age was fourteen and we had to prove intent to kill and so forth. You'll be interested: one of the first nursing home murders we got proved here right in ... in Norwood, where we are now, on Rundle Street and I went out with my detective sergeant as the shorthand writer and one of the elderly ladies ... this was 1939, and one of the elderly ladies in a nursing home had died purely from malnutrition. Had never been fed. She was a pure skeleton, and ... and there was an old crone in charge and so forth, so we charged her with murder. Hadn't happened before. Anyway the crown prosecutor broke it down to man slaughter and we got her convicted of manslaughter, and I think that was the first time in South Australia where a nursing home proprietor had been convicted of negligence of one of her patients.
Well, at twenty-one I left the police depot at the port I was telling you about and was posted up to the CIB as a trainee, a plainclothes man, and so my wife had been going fairly steady for a couple of years before that time, and I ...
Oh [laughs], well it's a long time ago, Robin, and you might sneer at this, but 'going steady' meant you didn't have the sort of sexual intimacies that you would these days and 'going steady' meant we went out dancing, mainly the scout dances and came home at night and I would give her a goodnight kiss outside the front door and that was the end of any physical contact [laughs]. And we were going steady for two years like that. At the pictures, [I would] put my arm around her on the back seat but that was ... that was all and I would see her sometimes if I knocked off early from work. I'd walk home from school with her and so forth, and we spent most of the weekends, when I wasn't working, with her at dances or on church on Sundays. So we, I suppose ... we ... we'd be 'an item', what they would call these days 'an item'. We'd been going out for two years and then, so I said to my wife, you know, 'What about getting married? Now that I'm sworn in', and ... and you had to wait three years after ... as a single man, after you turned twenty-one before you could get married as a policeman. They needed single men to live in barracks as a reserve force. If they were caught out from barracks, they were read the riots act, so you had to be there. So she said, 'You'll have to ask my father', and so I went home and asked my prospective father-in law if I could marry his daughter and he was a conservative, friendly, kindly old bloke. By that time they got used to us, I think, being together, although initially there'd been some reluctancy. He said, 'Oh yes, you can marry my daughter', so we became engaged, so we had a twenty-first birthday party and an announcement of our engagement and then I started out to make sure that ... when I was a young trainee at the ... at the detective office, that I was good enough to stay there. So I really worked hard at ... at being a plainclothes man.
Yes, well, we waited two years and about six months, and I was fed up. I'd got permission to live home and Mavis was living home and I got fed up. I wanted to get married, have a home and have children and so forth, and be with my wife all the time instead of a spasmodic thing and I was having a lot of meals at my in-laws' place and so forth. So I applied for permission for early ... for early consent to get married, and they looked at my record and said, 'Well, he's a confirmed member of the CIB. He's never going to be a single man available in barracks, he can get married'. So I started a ... a little wave because a couple of my mates, soon afterwards, did the same thing and so we got married and we bought the house they told you about, and got it built, and a couple of my mates then started doing the same thing. So down at South Plympton there's a little collection of policemen's houses built [in] 1938, '39, because it was easy to on a Glenelg tram and come up to Victoria Square and go into the detective office because we used to have to report at nine o'clock in the morning, at two o'clock in the afternoon, and seven o'clock at night. And we could go home for lunch at 12 o'clock so as long as we were back by two. We could go home at five, we had to be back by seven, and this was a very ... when you're newly married, this was ... You left your wife home night after night and I ... When I came back from the airforce I was a bit of a rebel in a way. I thought we'd fought for better conditions than this and so I became involved in trying to push for better conditions. But the other members of the ... the old members of the detective branch liked the idea of nine, two and seven, because their kids had grown up and left and their wives had their bridge parties and so forth, and when they come to town they could go down and play billiards at the billiard hall, or go to the pictures free of charge, or go and meet their mates, have a few drinks. It was, it was a duty night out for them, whereas us younger blokes wanted to get home to our families. So I met a wee bit of resistance there and, and my inspector, Bill Sheridan, called me in and said, 'Ray, look, you better be careful. You're getting known to be a bit of a troublemaker here. Not as far as I'm concerned but some of the older men are resenting you wanting better conditions'. He said, 'I understand how you feel but go carefully'.
So I thought, well, what do you do, how do you do this? So I got myself elected to the executive of the police union as the CIB representative, and I could speak through the union as a union rep and I would say, 'The union wants this', not Whitrod and his mates, 'The union wants this'. So fairly soon after that we were able to break down some of this fairly long, interminable hours because, Robin, they were legacies of the bad old days. For instance, seven o'clock on wholesale market mornings - that's the East End Market - at seven o'clock the market on Wednesdays ... Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, they had to have a detective down there because it was thought that this was a place where stolen goods were exchanged, and when I checked back apparently ten years earlier some Italian fruit grower had sold a few items of stolen ... and so the Fruit Growers' Association had asked for a detective to be stationed there. So we went down there, we got there at seven o'clock and walked around the aisles in clothes that obviously said you were ... you were a copper because they were all in fruit growers' clothes and I never saw one single bit of illegality on in all the years I went there. So ... and then on other mornings you went down to meet the Melbourne Express because Melbourne criminals were thought to come across and do jobs in Adelaide and go back, and of course they would come by train. And so you went down and met the Melbourne Express. Well, what happened was that we did find a few Victorian, New South Wales criminals here from time to time but they got off at Mount Lofty, the station up the road and come in on the suburban train. It was so stupid, you know. So it was a lot of ... Nobody questioned the procedures that we had. There was no examination of our evidence when we lost a case in court. It was never lost because of bad police work, it was lost because of the juries weren't reliable. There must have been a woman on the jury. No, you couldn't have been one in those days. There was an unreliable man on the jury and so that's why he got off, not because you didn't have a good enough case. There was never feedback. The Crown never gave us any feedback, so there was no sort of systematic training at all.
Well, you knew when you had succeeded because you got a conviction. Now whether that was a satisfactory test or not, I don't know, but ... because sometimes you would know who the criminal was and you couldn't get enough evidence and you ... sometimes you were even able to get the goods back but you couldn't charge him. So in a sense that was a success but you never really tie it up because the offender never got convicted.
Yes. We ... Andrew our ... our eldest son was born about a year later after we got married. We were then at the new house at ...
He was born in 1938. We got married ... no, we got married '38. He was born in 1939, just before the war and he used to toddle around the place and I ... We were very happy and there were a number of little similar families. South Plympton was not ... not a rich suburb by any means. It was a working class suburb and so there were other younger people there and we ... so Andrew had a number of little mates and he went to kindergarten. And then the war broke out and I wasn't very concerned the early part of the war in 1939, and it wasn't until June 1940, when Dunkirk came along, and it seemed that the Brits were going to be left on their own and they'd already were suffering a big loss from Dunkirk and it seemed to me that, you know, all of us who felt we ought to support our ... our British families back home and so forth, ought to go along and enlist. So I joined the RAAF reserve in June '40, Dunkirk, but I wasn't called up until February the next year, and so in the meantime we thought we ought to have another child just in case something happened to me and so Ian was born in 1941, when I was in training at Mount Gambier.
No, I was training at Mount Gambier and wartime, you weren't allowed to go home for things like births and things like that, so I never saw Ian being born. And I didn't see much of him because when I ... when we finished our course we ... we embarked and went overseas immediately to Europe, so I never had much time in Australia. I saw much of ... of the boys.
As a young man there, you know, with, probably with all the stuff that you'd read, all those books you'd read when you were ... when you were walking backwards and forwards to do it, you ... they were very full of God, King and Country, weren't they?
Oh yes, especially the scout movement. The scout movement - BP started in England and it was basically a ... a movement in which you took a promise to do your duty to God, to God and the King, to help other people at times and to obey the scout law. So for all my life I, sort of, had this slogan or something, motto, that's what you did and ... and I think that that's one of the reasons why I enlisted was this ... this scouting reinforcement of loyalty to a king. We ... we ... Robin, in those days, in Murrays Lane we were all Brits. I mean, some were born in Australia and some were born in England - in London and Scotland and Wales and Ireland - but we were all Brits. England was part of us. We were part ... we were obviously part of ... of that ... that part, and so that's how I grew up with that feeling.
Oh clearly, and that's what the scout ... the scout magazine that came out once a fortnight and Boy's Own paper and, and we had these stories by ... of the Kipling mould and so forth and that was all ... that was a sort of a steady theme that you ... We never thought about being patriotic or loyal, it was just an integral part of us.
Yes, it did. It did but [laughs] we were all very optimistic. We thought that with our aid the ... the Brits would soon win this war.
Oh I see. Robin, this requires me to explain it. We joined a thing called the Empire Air Training Scheme and you were then divided into three categories of aircrew: pilots, navigators, or air gunners, and I became a navigator, partly because my eyes were not good enough - a lazy eyelid - and because they tended to pick older men to be navigators. They wanted people who would be fairly stable and ... and mature I suppose is the word, and I became a navigator and I trained in South Australia, here, at Mount Gambier and Port Pirie and then immediately after my training I went to England. And one of the interesting things we did in Mount Gambier, before I left, was to do a month's training in astro-navigation, which was the use of stars and this became very useful to me because I did most of my time in the North Atlantic, where there were no directional finding apparatus in the early parts of the war, and you had to use the stars to steer by.
Oh well, our course was Eleven Course and we were sent to London and then we were split up. Some went into bomber command. I went to coastal command. I think I was the only one at the time into flying boats and we were then of course on coastal surveillance work and we eventually finished up at a place called Reykjavik which is in north Iceland. The Russian convoys were ... the Russian bound convoys were getting something of a battering and so the British Government wanted to reinforce them with some air cover. We went up to Reykjavik in northern Iceland. It's within the ... well within the Arctic Circle and for a navigator this is a fairly difficult area because in those days flying boats were equipped only with magnetic compasses and the closer you get to the north magnetic pole, the more sluggish your needle becomes and also you run into magnetic storms in which the needle swings round, round and round [laughs] and often of course you're in fairly violent storms that toss you around a fair bit, so it was a fairly difficult place for a young navigator to cut his teeth on. In fact my first ... first trip out was from Reykjavik to cover a convoy called P2-16, which was heading for Murmansk, in Russia, and we flew between two ... two cloud layers of fairly heavy rain, out looking for the convoy, mainly of ... of British oil tankers and some tanker parts and I never saw the convoy. We picked it up on radar. We couldn't get low enough to visually identify it, nor ... we couldn't climb above the cloud so for something like, I think, about sixteen hours we flew blind in rain and then had to come back to Iceland, which was a strange place for me. And flying boats need a fair bit of calm water in which to land, and we had quite some difficulty in getting back to Reykjavik which was closed down due to Akureyri, which was closed down by fog and we eventually finished up at Reykjavik, down in the south.
I was in Sunderlands at the time. They were quite big boats and we had a crew of twelve, two pilots and a navigator and we were able to do sixteen hour patrols on a four engine plane, propellor plane. But later on we changed over to Catalinas. These were American PBY's, with a much longer range and we could do ... In fact we did do some twenty-five, twenty-six hour patrols in Catalinas.
The ... the Russians ... the Russian bound convoys had really been badly mauled, partly by ... mainly by German submarines who were operating out of Norway because Norway was then occupied by Germany and so they could get out from Bergen, very, very close to the track of the convoy. But we were also looking for pocket battleships. There were a couple of pocket battleships in the area and so they were our two main worries, but also we were looking for German planes, Fockewolfs, who were long range planes like us who were out looking for convoys. But the Fockewolf pilots and our pilots were very, very, very good I think. They ... because if you were shot down in the Arctic you didn't survive very long. Three minutes survival time in the Arctic. So we all kept a very, very courteous distance from each other. We only saw two Fockewolfs and they dodged into cloud and we did too [laughs] so that was my ... in the North Atlantic, that was my only experience with German aircraft. They were as scared of being shot down as we were, because it was sudden death in the Arctic and we never saw any submarines either in the Arctic, but we had some fairly difficult times with the weather. The weather was really bad.
The theory was that ... that U-boats were scared of ... of air cover and I think they were because the aircraft had scored a considerable number of kills, particularly of U-boats on the surface, and so we were able to keep them submerged, which meant that they were travelling at a slower pace usually than the convoy and they might lose the convoy. So in a sense we were like scarecrows, I suppose. We were hanging around the convoy keeping the U-boats away.
They were very arduous in my first tour of operations. On coastal command flying boats you had to do a thousand hours of ops for a tour, and most of that time was night flying for us but then later on I went on to [the] Wellingtons, out in Africa, and that was a shorter, shorter period of time. But the flying boats were very good, especially the Catalinas, as I've said because they ... we had a twenty-five hour endurance.
No, there wasn't and it was a fairly arduous job because you had to keep awake and know where you were, within a reasonable area of where you might land if you were shot down, or if you saw a U-boat, you had to signal its position at sea. And aircraft have more difficulty than surface vessels in plotting their position because they get tossed around in the air a fair bit. And so we ... we had quite some problems in that area.
Well, the longest trip I did was out of Gibraltar. We went down for the landings in North Africa and the longest trip I did there was twenty-seven hours, and what ... The worst problem there, Robin, was that you needed to be over a convoy at dawn because that's when the U-boats were around, so that meant that you had to fly out to pick up the convoy by dawn. If it was say 600 miles out, that meant something like five hours flying to get there, which meant that you took off five hours before dawn and then you had an hour's briefing and breakfast and so forth, so you'd be woken by an orderly about something like ten, nine or ten o'clock at night when you'd just got off to sleep and he'd say, 'Time to get up, sir', and then you'd get up and then you'd go and get briefed and then you'd fly all day, all night and get back to base at nine o'clock the following night. It was a pretty long time, and I ... towards the end, I got pretty jittery.
Oh well, I did two tours with a brief spell in between when I did a staff ... a staff navigators' course. So that I would have spent, I suppose, a year and half on my first tour and then I had a short break of about five months, while I did the staff course, and then I did another year and a bit on Wellingtons out in Eritrea and in Socotra so that most, most of my time overseas was in fact with operational squadrons.
No, that was one of the problems. I ... I never saw my family from about October '41 until I got here in late '44 and of course the two children had grown - grown considerably by that time and they didn't know me [laughs]. I was a strange man in the house and it was a difficult time. My father and my mother were living with Mavis and so the children had grown up thinking of my father as their sort of father, as it were. I mean, when they were crawling and learning to walk, they'd walk to him and not to me, so I was a strange man, come into the house with a loud voice and ... and a beery breath. My father didn't drink, neither did my wife, and I didn't drink before I went away and I came back and we had a fairly difficult time, maybe six months after I came home.
Yes, it was difficult, Robin, very difficult. I ... I managed to lock them away in one part of my mind, in my memory, and sort of put that aside and concentrate on surviving, but sometimes I'd get a bit depressed, especially in ... in Gibraltar where we had more free time, not flying, and I shared a room with my pilot, Dick, and he was ... he was very careful. He was single but if I got fairly depressed, he would take me down to the mess and we would play shovehapenny, which is an English game, and have a pint of ... of ... half a pint of weak beer. Not in Gibraltar because beer was very scarce, we'd drink sherry in Gibraltar, which wasn't very good for us. Or went and had a game of tennis on the ... on the courts in Gibraltar. Gibraltar's an old British protectorate and there are, it's well equipped with servicemen's needs, in the way of cricket pitches and tennis courts and so ... and we went swimming a fair bit. Dick Oldham was a good swimmer and we swam in the harbour, and it was oily [on] the surface of the harbour at Gibraltar because most of the convoys would put into Gib for refuelling and so we would swim in the harbour there. There was no sharks around. But at night time you were kept awake because there were depth charges being dropped by our patrol boats in the harbour because the ... the Germans had a little camouflaged spot nearby for their frogmen, and their frogmen would come out at night attempt to put limpets on ... on our Sunderlands or on our cargo boats and so all night long you'd hear boom, boom, boom, boom, which would be depth charges going off.
I think when I was not flying I was scared. When I was flying I was so busy and worried about my job that I somehow never thought about personal danger, except perhaps once off ... off Socotra, off Eritrea actually, on the Horn of Africa. We attacked a U-boat on the surface and it was a vrey brave U-boat crew. They stayed on the surface and they had a big bofus gun in the front. They kept firing at us when we approached them to drop our depth charges. When you drop depth charges you have to fly low and level for some time, so you're a very easy target for German gunners and I was really scared then. In fact that gave me another insight into ... into one of my personal animosities, I suppose. I didn't like the ... the English officers very much, the senior officers. And I flew with a wing commander when we were in Africa because I was the squadron navigation officer, and I flew with him as his navigator. And we got out to this submarine on the surface. It had been damaged by an earlier attack by one of our own Wimpy's at dawn, and so they couldn't submerge, so they stayed on the surface and fought it out. And our Wimpy got there and we circled around for, oh, maybe ten minutes without making any attack and then we were joined by two more Wimpys from the squadron, so there were three aircraft circling around. But since I was with the wing commander the other two pilots waited for the wing commander to ... to advise when he was going to attack, and he never did. He swapped seats with the second pilot, who was a Canadian and the Canadian actually made the attack on the submarine. And we dropped our depth charges, fairly accurately and I was ... I'm not sure how much damage we did but the submarine eventually beached itself on the shore and some natives rounded them up and eventually they got back ... the crew back to ... the U-boat crew back to Gib and they were put into hospital because they'd been rather badly wounded by our attacks. But later on the wing commander came to me and said ... asked me to write up the attack on the U-boat. He said ... and made it quite clear that he expected me to ensure that it was written up in a such way that ... the captain of the aircraft would get the ... would get all the kudos. I wrote it up and I don't think it was ever forwarded because I was still bothered by this need to tell the truth, so I gave a truthful account, which meant that his part was a fairly ... a fairly poor show. [INTERRUPTION]
I was scared. I sympathised with him but it was our job to attack and so that's what we did.
Yes, it was his job and clearly he should have set the ... set the pattern for the other two aircraft, who did in fact follow us and ... and dropped depth charges but it was Canadian pilot who made the attack. Mind you, Robin, it was a pretty hairy do. The ... the Germans were very good gunners and they had this very smart bofus gun and the shells were bursting around us and the aircraft picked up a few hits. I could sympathise with the pilot but it was his job. Like it was my job to know where we were all the time, it was his job to attack a U-boat and he ... I think, he just flunked it.
I've thought about that recently, Robin. Well, I ... I got some [laughs], I suppose, naughty feeling that I'd done my job and some of the people back home hadn't done theirs and I was very bitter about the wharfies who wouldn't load the supplies for our men in New Guinea and so on, so, and ... but I'd done my job and so I had a pleasant feeling about that. But the war taught me a lot, Robin. It taught me, one thing was that I used to stay at a country residence in England. There was a hospitality scheme set up in England for overseas airmen who didn't have any friends and relatives in England and we ... I didn't have any there and I got allocated a ... a very nice county lady, aristocratic lady, who was looking after the family estate while her husband was in the services abroad, Lady Lillian Austin, and she was a sister to the Earl of Scarborough and I went to her place and it was a very, very much a upper crust place. I think I was the only young man who was a guest in the household there, who hadn't been to Eton and Oxford, and she knew I was just an Australian policeman, but she was very good. She set up ... She gave me my own little bedroom and it was always Ray's room, and when ... when she knew I was coming she would tell the local doctor I was coming, and I'd made friends with the local doctor, and he would always see somehow scrounge a little half case of beer and that would be in my room and Lady Lillian would also have some ... the new releases of Foyle's books and she'd have that in my room for me and then I'd have to produce all my socks for darning and shirts and they would sit: Lady Lillian, she used to have a nanny for her children, and Nanny Ward and Lady Lillian would sit and mend my socks for me and then write a letter home to Mavis and say, 'We've seen Ray, he's in good form. You needn't worry about him, we're looking after him'. And it was very good and, and I sought to learn some social graces because we used to dine in proper style and, and in a much more elaborate way than we did in Murray's Lane of course [laughs]. And we had a number of visitors there, upper class English visitors, and I was accepted as one of them, you know. I was a pilot officer, and then a flying officer, and then a flight lieutenant, and they accepted me in that rank rather than a policeman, but they were very good.
And I remember when I was ... on my last visit there, Robin, was, [when] we'd come down from Reykjavik in Iceland I'd had with me some surplus gear and I was going out to Socotra, and the gear I thought was surplus was the silk woollen underwear we'd ... we'd been given for the Arctic: long johns and long singlets and I'd never worn them because I thought it wasn't ... it wasn't an Australian thing to wear long underpants and the whole thing, and they were brand new. So I left them behind with Lady Lillian, put them up in the ... in the loft and said, 'Lady Lillian I'll be back for these', thinking that I'd come back from the Middle East and pick them up. I never came back to England. I went home from ... from Aden actually and then later on when I went to Cambridge, Mavis and I called on Lady Lillian and we stayed there overnight for a weekend and I just happened to mention to Lady Lillian, 'Where was my ... where was my very expensive silk woollen underwear?' 'Oh', she said, 'My brother came down soon after the war' ... this is the Earl of Scarborough, 'and because he didn't have enough clothing points, he was short of underwear, so he's being wearing yours ever since'. So I thought that was nice. An Australian policeman's underwear was now up in the upper crust, upper crust, covering up his bottom. [Laughs]
Oh yes, very much so, in a number of ways, Robin, because I'd grown up in Murray's Lane and as I think I told you, if the doctor came it was very rare and he was treated with a great deal of status by my mother and the whole of Murray's Lane. Doctors were a superior class and so were clergymen, but on the squadrons, particularly on the flying boat squadrons where I was at Gibraltar, there was in fact a padre and a doctor and they were the same rank as me and so I had meals with them and talked to them and we drank beer together, played shovehapenny together and so on, and they were in the mess but not really part of it. The mess was dominated by the air crew. They ... that's what the squadron ... that's what the base was about: flying boats and air crew, and so we were the sort of little princes of the place and there were people who looked after us like the ... the fitters and the turners and the signallers and so forth, but also the padre and also the doctor. They were there to look after us, and so they were almost inferior in status to us. Not quite. They were always called padre and doc, never, Ray or Whittie or Dick or whatever it was, and so they tended to be, you know, slightly inferior to me. Any rate I ... I ... I got on well with them, we had lots of happy half pints of beer and talked about the world and ... and I found them both very nice chaps and so, ever since then, I've always looked upon doctors as being one of us, or ordinary men, and clergymen - people that you ... you'd argue with if you thought you had a good point of view. You just didn't kowtow to ... to, and then of course when I was at Lady Lillian's, the local doctor was just a drinking mate and he'd been a Macquarie Street specialist who'd been bombed out of London during the Blitz and so he'd come down to Lady Lillian's village and was there. And so he represented quite a high position in English society, but he and I were just, just companions and we'd go for walks together and drink beer and talk and ... and ever since then I've always thought of clergy and doctors and so on as just, you know, same as us. It's been very helpful to me. I'm not sure it's been helpful to my acquaintances who are clergy and who are doctors because in Australia, those two professions tend to want to be regarded as something special. It's not so in England. It wasn't so during the war at any rate, and perhaps I've developed a little friction at times because I've not been prepared to kowtow to the words of advice from the clergy and the doctors.
Did you learn anything from being in foreign parts? Like Africa's a pretty exotic place for you to have gone to, in North Africa. Did you ... did you see anything about the ordinary civilian society there that you learnt from?
Yes, we had local bearers who looked after us: cleaned our rooms and ... and served meals and in the sort of permanent airforce bases, like Aden, there was a long history of ... of native servants and they were very, very well-trained and so forth, and I learnt a few things. Our ... our ... I shared a, a double room with the squadron signal's officer, a Canadian, Bob Roach, and we were very good mates and we had one bearer looking after us called Abdul. And we would sing out, 'Abdul, Abdul', and usually he'd come but sometimes he wouldn't come and ... and we ... we would get annoyed about this and he'd be praying to Mecca. Five times a day, he would get down on his prayer mat and face Mecca and pray to Mecca and nothing would disturb him and ... and ... nothing at all, so I ... you know, I grew accustomed to, to a few different things in life. Abdul told me about his life in the village in the hinterland and how miserable it was, and I grew to like Abdul very much. We ... we got on well ... very well together and I was sorry to ... to lose him.
Well, I was interested in that area of course being a ... being a copper and we were ... we were stationed for a short time on a little island called Socotra which is right on the Horn of Africa. It's the ... it was a landing strip, refuelling strip there for our Wellingtons because we were then covering the Indian Ocean and in 1943, '44, a number of German U-boats were leaving Europe and going out to help the Japanese and so we had a fairly busy time there. And we had a ... we had a mess on Socotra, fairly crude mess but it was ... It served up food and a little drink, not much and that was staffed by local natives and in order to get the ... the native bearers and the cooks we had to do liaison with the local sheik who was there, and we paid the sheik so much money for ... for the labour that he provided. And I remember once we'd been losing some meat, which was very scarce on Socotra of course, from our mess and I was the senior Australian officer there at the time, and I went to the sheik and said, 'Look, sheik, we're losing meat from our refrigerator. I don't think it's been thrown away because it's bad. I think perhaps that some of your men are eating it'. So he said, 'Oh sahib, leave it with me', and about two days later he came to me and he said, 'Sahib, would you ask your brother officers to come to the front of my little tent', he had there and we went there and he produced a native and he said, 'This is the man who has been stealing your meat'. So I said, 'Well, what are we going to do about it?' He said, 'Well we will punish him Arab-style', so with that he took out his long sword they carried and chopped off his wrist ... the wrist ... the hand dropped off in front of us and plunged the remains of it into a ... a bucket of boiling pitch that they had there and that sort of scarified the end. And I was horrified with this. I mean, as a copper I was very crooked on thieves, but I thought that was a bit rough for stealing meat and I said to him, 'Sheik, that's very harsh punishment by our standards'. He said, 'Do you have things stolen in Australia?' And I said, 'Yes'. He said, 'Do you punish them?' and I said, 'When we catch them we do'. He said, 'Do they sometimes offend again?' And I said, 'Yes, sometimes they do'. He said, 'Have you ever seen an Arab with both hands chopped off?' and I said, 'No', and I suppose that's one way of making sure that thieves don't steal. You chop off both hands, but it was horrible.
Oh a few. Coastal command where, where ... It was a fairly safe job, except those who were on torpedoes, who had to attack with torpedoes and that was pretty disastrous and then mid way during the war they fitted up some Wellingtons with big searchlights on the wings so they could attack at ... at night by switching on the searchlights and drop depth charges. But when the aircraft had to approach from some distance away with two headlights on the ends of its wing and fly in a steady, stable direction ... and this was just sitting ducks for the German gunners. And so the lead light Wellingtons got shot down in big numbers. My ... my little intake from Adelaide that I joined up, the navigators, there were twelve of us. We went away together overseas. Eight of them were killed and two were POWs and only two of us got through the war unscathed. So it was a pretty, you know, heavy loss and sometimes ... sometimes you felt a bit depressed about that, and I guess it comes back to you sometimes.
Of course, of course, I agree, partly because I'd managed to get crewed up with a good pilot, Robin. You've got no idea. If you're part of a crew like a navigator or wireless operator, how much you depend upon your good pilot. He takes you off the ground and he puts you back on the ground and, you know, every time you leave the ground you ... you offer a little prayer and then when you land again you offer another prayer. It's the pilot gets it back to you [sic]. I mean I might give the directions, where to go and where, what we do and so forth. In fact we used to refer to our pilots as taxi drivers because we were the brains, the navigators, but that was just a cordial thing. But we ... we had a wonderful pilot and, Dick Aulder, and he became a wing commander. From joining up with me as an aircraftman grade two, he became a wing commander and I ... we were lucky. Some got lost in training, the air crew. I think, two of my mates got killed just in training, never, never got on operations. Two ... two ... The two POWs I told you about got lost off Malta. They were in torpedo Wellingtons, going in to attack Germans, German surface vessels, off Malta. It was their first trip and they flew in, in formation and Doddie, Keith Doddie, who lives down Victor Harbour, he came back. It was his first trip and his aircraft got hit by a torpedo from his squadron flying above him, and he never even fired a shot. He'd been trained for twelve months in Australia. He'd done six months training unit in England, got out to Malta, then without ... without ... without firing a shot he became a prisoner of war for three years after that.
Robin, you shouldn't ask navigators questions like that. Yes, I did, I'm sorry. Only once, only once and it really wasn't my fault. We always say this of course. We were flying out from Gibraltar to pick up a convoy, which was coming across from America, and we flew out from Spain. Cape St. Vincent was the southern most point of Spain and that was our departure point. And I had to fly out using what we call the ... the met wind because they couldn't work out my own wind because we were flying between two layers of cloud. Upper layer, we couldn't get above it. Flying boats have got a ceiling and ... and Sunderlands were ... about 10,000 feet was their ceiling and we couldn't get down to the drink because the ... the cloud was right down on the drink. So I had to rely upon the ... the forecast wind which had been given to me just when we left Gibraltar.
Well, Robin, I must say I ... I didn't until recently fully understand how ... how difficult life had been for her during the war. She's a lass who never complains, but now that she's elderly and a bit more fragile, she's told me a bit more about the problems she had while I was away. She had to bring up two small children. Ian ... When I left to go overseas, Ian was three months old and Andrew was about eighteen months old and she had to bring them up on, on a fairly low salary, severence salary and there was rations and no transport and ... and she felt lonely, so she really had a fairly difficult time. I think one of her worst experiences, Robin, was that when I was stationed at Port Pirie, it was a new air gunnery school. It was one of the last schools you went through as part of your training course, and so it was being built while we were there and conditions were fairly primitive and the airmen trainees' courses hadn't been finished and so you were given permission to live out in the town if you could, and since I would be going overseas fairly soon, I ... I would have liked to have had my family with me. So I managed to get some board for Mavis and the two children, in Port Pirie, and I was able to join every night and sleep with them that night and then go back to work at the airforce in the morning, but Mavis had great difficulty in getting there. She had no transport. She came up by train with a three month old baby and an eighteen month old baby and two heavy suitcases, and it was all right when she left Adelaide because her sisters put her on the train and so forth, and she was able to get a taxi when she got to Port Pirie, but when we left ... We left Port Pirie, at the end of my course, and we went to Mount Gambier and she had to return back to our home in South Plympton. She had to leave the boarding house on her own with two small children, two suitcases and she got to the Port Pirie Railway Station to join the train which had come from Western Australia, [and it] was already full and there was no reservations. It was wartime. And she had to stand in the queue for half an hour 'til she could get to the ticket box to get tickets and then scramble aboard the train with two heavy suitcases and two small children. Got on the train. Had to stand up in the corridor for quite some time before an airmen, who was coming from Western Australia, stood up and gave her his seat. I thought, you know, it was very hard for a young wife with two small children, nursing one, keeping an eye on two suitcases in the corridor and keeping an eighteen month old wanderer happy for the hour and a half train journey, but she never told me about it until perhaps two months ago. But there were other things. We ... we were short of food and so on. She used to write to me every week. I consistently got letters from her. I would write back, quite ... not so often but sometimes the letters were lost at sea. But just an aside. My father kept working at Tandy's which was a confectionary store and they sort of adopted me as their war representative and so every month Tandy's would pack a little box of chocolate, bar chocolate, and send it off to me, for the whole of the war, every month. I never got one. Never reached me and ... and when I was on leave once I went to ... I was friendly with some mates at Scotland Yard, and I complained to them about this theft of postal articles and they said, 'Where are they sent to?' And I said, 'Tandy's send them to me care of Australia House'. And this man said to me, 'Chocolates fetch a high price on the black market in London', so somebody at Australia House had a nice war at my expense. And it was about that time we got, if I talk in this train about the Australian Comforts Fund.
Robin, we'd been on Socotra this horrible place for some time. It was dry, desolate; there were no comforts and food was out of a well, it was brackish, and I wrote to the Australian Comforts Fund headquarters in Cairo, and I was a senior Australian, and there were twelve ... twelve Australians on the squadron at that time. And I wrote to them and said, 'Look I've been in the, in overseas now, I think, two and a half years. I've never received one item from the Australian Comforts Fund. I'm now with a new squadron. They were twelve of us. None of them have ever received a ... a package from the Australian Comforts Fund. What's wrong?' So I got a reply back through ... through the usual channels saying, 'It's near Christmas, we'll send you a Christmas hamper'. So I told the boys and we were ... we were pleased with that of course. And then about a week before Christmas a large tea chest arrived addressed to Flight Lieutenant Whitrod, Kormacsa, Aden, from the Australian Comforts Fund and so we ... we looked at this and we thought will we open it now, and they said, 'No, no, let's wait till Christmas Day'. And so they gathered in my room. Bob Rates [?] in my room on Christmas Day and we opened this tea chest and there were ... there were comforts for twelve in this: twelve pairs of black woollen socks, which we never wore, twelve black pullovers, some packets of chewing gum, some nice little letters from the people who knitted the cardigans and woollens, [saying], 'We hope this will keep you warm', and we were in Kormacsa in Arabia and it was terribly hot. We got a few teethbrushes out of it and nothing else. It's the total amount I received from the Australian Comforts Fund during the whole of the war: one box of cardigans, of pullovers and black socks in Aden. Now what those fellows were doing on the Australian Comforts Fund I'll never know but I ... I finished the war with a few hatreds and one was the liaison officer at Cairo for the Australian Comforts Fund. He happened to have been a South Australian footballer, but I've ... I've never met him. But if I ever meet him there'll be a row.
Now you said that with all the flying and the problems of the flying and so on you ended the war, towards the end you got, as you put it, a bit jittery. When you came home, what effect did that have on your behaviour? We now know about post-traumatic stress disorder. Do you think you might have been suffering from that and other people? And how did it effect you?
It's an area I don't ... I'm not very proud of, Robin. I got home and ... and I stood outside the front gate and wondered what it was going to be like going inside and ... but I went in and ... and the first twenty-four hours it was euphoric. I was home and, and Mavis made much of me and my parents were there and we had some ... They cooked me some apple sponge which I liked and ... and ... but it soon wore off, Robin, I don't know why. I ... I felt I was not at ease. I hadn't been with ... in women's company for three or four years, and not with small children. I felt I had to account for every minute of my time and be very careful with what I was doing and I'd give an order to the two children, like I did to my bearer, and of course they weren't used to me and who was this strange man? So it wasn't a father-son relationship at all. My parents were very kind and understanding but I ... I used to get actually bored, bored stiff, and think, when will I be flying next? And I was home, and I used to go into the city and walk down Rundle Street and look for somebody in airforce uniform. If I did, I'd invite them into the pub, and stay there drinking beer, and we would talk war stories and ... and cry on each other's shoulder - not actually cry, but sympathise with each other and I think that sort of mood lasted quite some time. I know it affected my parents because they suggested that Mavis and I go off on a second honeymoon and they would look after the children. And so we went up to a little place in the Adelaide hills that we'd liked before the war, at Sterling, and I booked Mavis and I. I could only last I think twelve hours and my hands would shake and I'd be very cross with everybody, very irritable. Couldn't eat my food. And luckily my best man, Max Dawson, had just come from the ... from New Guinea. He'd been in the army in the ... in one of the hospital services in the army. He came back and I rang him up and said, 'Max, come and join us', and he didn't want to of course [laughs], because he ... he was rejoining his wife and I said, 'Max, I'm desperate'. So Max come up to Sterling, and stayed with us for the rest of the week and we went for long walks and talked and I talked to a man. I needed a man's response. I didn't want a woman's response and at the end of a week I was sort of half way back to normal and then I went back for a short time to East Sale as an instructor and ... and really felt very depressed and ... and I over ate and never slept and wasn't very good company at all. And it wasn't really until we ... we had our third child, Ruth, who was born after the war, that I sort of managed to shake off that business and I went back to the detective office and they were good. The inspector gave me a youngish plain clothes man to work with and said, 'Ray, work on your own with Ted', because I couldn't work with anybody else, and Ted was very good. He was ... he'd wanted to join the airforce but he'd been too young and he knew his way around wartime Adelaide, which I didn't know, and they changed a great deal in the four years that I'd been away. A lot of American servicemen in, and a lot of new regulations in: rationing, petrol rationing, clothes rationing, a lot of new crimes, federal crimes, but Ted was very good. He sort of jollied me along and with Ruth's ... Ruth's arrival and I sort of took to her. I somehow got out of that ... that mood and I understand what you're talking about with post-traumatic stress because I've been doing some study on that myself for my research.
I now do. Then I didn't. I thought I was being normal, but it must have been sheer hell for Mavis. But she was very kind: never complained, never grizzled, never, never said, 'Can we go out somewhere?' She would cook a hot meal, and I would come home late drunk, not completely drunk, but pretty merry, and wouldn't want any food and go to sleep. It must have been dreadful for her. She'd been waiting four years to return to normal life and for at least for the fortnight's leave I had, it must have been unbearable.
I don't know, Robin. I've never thought about that, but ... and maybe, maybe it might have other things, but she got sick fairly early and I ... I used to stay up and sing lullabies, and somehow I related more to her than the boys. The boys were sort of my father's children in a way and we've become good mates since then, but there's a different ... slightly different relationship between my daughter and me. I suppose there always is between father-daughter rather than father-sons. I mean I've got three wonderful kids. But see, Andrew was going to primary school when I got back and I'd missed all that.
Yes, yes, and Mavis and I had done some study. We started to do Italian together at university. We ... I thought I might need some extra help to get me a promotion and ... and Italians were coming out and I thought if I could speak Italian it would add a little thing to my CV and so Mavis and I went to Italian classes but she was much better than me. She'd done Latin 1 and ... and French 1 at the university, which I'd never done any languages at all, so ... so she coached me along.
Oh it, it didn't ... it was no problem.
I did later on but not then. It had ... Law ... well, it did in a way because I was offered a rehab scholarship, Robin. All servicemen were offered a rehab course, and I thought about doing law but it was a five year course and ... and I really needed a firm to go to when you left and they ... the firms were eally ... the law firms rarely sponsored law students in a way, and so ... But later on I did ... I did switch my rehab to do ... to do some law subjects part-time and had to get special permission from the university to do that and I'd done two years law part-time and passed reasonably well: second class honours I suppose is reasonable. It's not brilliant but it's ... it's not bad for a middle-aged family man working full-time otherwise. I got no time off from police work and I used to have to go along at night-time to the university library, but I did a couple of years of law at the university part-time before I was offered a job with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. That started up in 1949 and that was a couple of years after I'd come back from the war.
I don't really know, Robin. It's interesting. I've had a number of jobs in my life and none of which have been of my own initiation. My first job of course was with the police force and that came about because a telegram from my prospective in-laws saying, 'Apply as a cadet', which I did and then I'd stayed. I was in the police force and I got a phone call at home. I was sufficiently senior then in the detective office to have a phone put in by the office in case they needed me after hours and the phone rang and a strange voice said, 'My name's Bernard Tuck. I want to speak to Ray Whitrod', and I said, 'I'm speaking'. He said, 'I don't suppose you know what I want to talk to you about'. And I said, 'Yes, I do'. And he said, 'What do you ... do I ... what do you think I want to talk to you about?' I said, 'You'll be looking for some good field investigators', and I said, 'I'm one of the best'. And he said, 'How did you know that I'd be looking for field investigators?' I said, 'Well, Mr. Tuck, you were very prominent lawyer in Adelaide. You suddenly disappeared. You ... you closed down your law firm. Nobody knows where you've gone to'. I said, 'It coincides with the creation of the security service'. I said, 'Blind Freddy ... blind Freddy would have worked out where you were', and I said, 'If you're ringing me I've only got one qualification, I'm a good investigator'. He said, 'Well nobody else has worked that out'. So they offered me a job as their first senior field investigator and that's ... and I joined them. I had to go then to Sydney, which was the headquarters, and we had to leave our house and family and Mavis sold the house and packed the furniture and I got a house in Sydney - a very poor house I bought without much notice. It was full of fleas and near the airport. It was noisy. But we lived in Sydney for about a year or so and I was in charge of a team of investigators and most of them were like me: ex-servicemen, ex-police cadets and I was their sort of supervisor and they were a first class group because we were keen and enthusiastic, and at that time Russia looked like being our next enemy. And we'd beaten the Germans and put them back and we were scared that we might lose to the Russians and so it was a very sort of patriotic little team that I ... There were about eight or ten, that I ... that I was in charge of. But we worked very long hours, Robin. I worked six and seven days a week, ten hours a day and ... and Ruth and my wife had ... was in a new suburb, a new town, no friends, had to get the kids to a new school, and she really had another very bad year and I ... and I was a very busy but a very happy investigator, although we weren't very successful, but we were doing our best.
Well, there's some conjecture still about that, but to the best of my knowledge it was set up because there was strong suspicions, and I think valid suspicions, that there was a little Russian network operating in Australia during the war, and it was either still in existence or it was lying there ready to be used if ... if there was material in Australia that the Russians wanted. And about this time Australia and Britain and America were interested in atomic weapons and in ballistic missiles and the Australian Government had offered the Woomera rocket range, and this was clearly an espionage target. And so the British MI5 came out and looked at the Australian old security service that was here and said, 'That's not good enough, we need something much better', and so they set up the new Austrian Security Intelligence Organisation from scratch. They used some of the old records from the Commonwealth Investigation Service, which had been the ... the security service and they ... and then the poached the best investigators from the state police force and we set up the force that way.
Oh well, that's another coincidence. The ... the first director general was Judge Reid from Adelaide and he'd heard a number of my cases that I'd been giving evidence in at the Supreme Court and I think perhaps he was the one who'd sort of pointed the finger at me as a likely recruit, and so he'd got leave from the Supreme Court in Adelaide to go to Sydney to set up ASIO.
Well, for the first twelve months I was ... my little team ... we were called B2 which was counter espionage. Our job was to try and track down the ... the members of that espionage network that had developed in Australia during the war and the ... the routes had supplied certain clues as to the identities of the twelve or so members, and we had to put together a ... a little patchwork of clues to match those identities and to try and get, I suppose, eventually confessions from those members so that we could, I suppose, prosecute or nullify the Russian network.
Yes, we did in a general way, Robin. We had a liaison officer with us from MI5 in ... in London and he sort of set out the ... the targets and the ... and the general rules of inquiry and so forth, but ours ... we did a lot of shadowing of ... of members of the Communist Party and ... and of their Central Committee. We found out who they were associating with and we kept our eye on a number of suspect members in the Australian Government service, who we suspected might have some Russian sympathies. And one of ... one of our methods was this shadowing and it was something we learnt on the spot. We weren't very good at it. I did a lot of this myself. We had a car. It was my family car as a matter of fact, we bought with ASIO funds. They'd loaned me the money, interest-free and I'd brought a car, a civilian car, and I would drive out mainly at night time, after five o'clock, with a fairly attractive lady in the front seat. She was also a member of ASIO. She had been an Australian WRAN during the war: Moya. Moya was a very good friend of mine and ... and we would go out and ... and keep watch on various houses and offices and so forth, and we made ... we thought we were less obvious if there were a couple in the front seat of the car, rather than two burly men with felt hats on. And so Moya and I spent long hours together, one, two and three and four o'clock in the morning, and I'd go home and ... and Mavis would say, 'Where have you been?' And I'd say, 'I've been out with Moya', and she never, never was ever jealous about that. Moya was very good. We were very good mates and we never sort of developed any ... any relationship of that sort, but we were very good friends and we've remained so ever since.
Did you have any doubts while you were working at ASIO about the validity of what it was doing? Did you ever have any doubts about the validity of ASIO's objectives? Did you ever wonder what you were doing?
No, no, we were ... we ... My little team, which I spent a lot of time with of course, we were ... we'd been in the service. We'd ... we'd been members of an armed service fighting the Germans and we'd done that to the best of our ability. Now here was a new enemy coming on the scene, you know. We were ... we were quite ... I don't think that doubt ever came to our mind that maybe, maybe the Russians were friends. But of course they weren't friends and they were in fact seeking out information from us. There'd been some exposures in Canada. There was a big one, the Gesanko [?], I think from memory, [and] one in Ottawa, where there'd been a Russian spy work exposed and we weren't too far removed from the Fuchs [?] episode where they'd got hold of the atomic recipe and so forth. So it never ... it never occurred to any of our people that ... that we were not doing something which was in the national good.
Well, yes I think we did in a way. We ... Our outdoor investigation team, as I told you, was a top notch team and I suppose it's hard to compare that with some who were doing sort of fairly dull indoor jobs and so I don't know what the ... how the indoor team worked. In a sense I think they grew to become bureaucrats in the normal public service way, and perhaps some of them weren't as imbued with the ... with the idealism of my team. One or two I was worried about. I thought they were fakes, and eventually one was exposed as such and ... and when Spry came along. He got rid of him.
Did you have the assistance of any kind of modern technology to help you with your surveillance? I mean, did you have methods of bugging or ... or phones, or in some way bugging apartments, or anything like that? Did you have the assistance?
No, no. This was very early and our methods were very unsophisticated and I think towards the end, Spry got permission to tap a couple of telephones, but I'm not too sure about that. I think there was approval by the Federal Government to do that. But our main target that we'd worked out in Sydney was the Tass representative. He was a journalist for the Russian newspaper and that required him to go to lots of places legitimately in the purposes of his job and he was allowed a great deal of freedom - more freedom than a member of the Russian Embassy ever had, and so we very ... we very ... we kept a lot of close watch on ... on Nossov. In fact our main effort was in regards to Nossov, and we paid him a lot of attention. But at one stage we ... I know we tried to bug his place without, I'm not sure, that ever I got official permission to do this. I thought what the DG doesn't know, won't worry him, and we put in a very, a very crude bug, Robin, which was the size of a football and this was, I mean, obvious to anybody and I'm sure that Nossov, who'd been trained by ... by the Russians would have picked up that we were ... we were watching him very closely.
Yes, yes, we were right and course there was the ... the Petrov Commission which came about after ... just after I left ASIO. I got another position, and Petrov brought with him a number of documents which ... which gave data and information, which more clearly pinpointed who those people had been in a wartime net, but I'd moved on by then to take charge of the Commonwealth Investigation Service.
Well, I'd ... Nossov was living in a block of flats in Kings Cross and we'd ... I'd manage to secure the rental of the flat above, and we'd got one of our team to live in the flat with his wife, and he lived in the flat above and ... and we'd bored down through the ... through the floorboards into the ceiling. And this was a very stupid job we'd done and some of the flakes of the plaster fell down onto Nossov's carpet one day when he was out, and I had to rush downstairs and talk to the caretaker and persuade the caretaker to let me go into Nossov's flat and clean up the ... the mess on the floor. But it was very stupid, very amateurish and ... and I was very regretful about what I'd done.
Well, Colonel Spry had come from the army and he was a different type of personality to Reid. Reid was the ... a judge of the Supreme Court and thought and acted like a judge: deliberately and with due caution and with due consideration. Spry had been a permanent army officer and he expected things to be done much more rapidly and with ... and perhaps more ... What's the word I wanted? More efficiently perhaps. I got on very well with Spry and it was through him actually that I went across to the Investigation Service. Robin, the Commonwealth Investigation Service had been a long time body in the Commonwealth public service and its job had been to carry out investigations on behalf of government departments, and also to oversee a uniform guard group called the Peace Officer Guard. And they'd been up 'til '49, they'd been the ... the liaison with MI5 in London and with the FBI in America and they ... and they'd kept watch on a number of what were they thought were seditious organisations so they had lots of old files. But they were very poorly staffed and ... and really weren't very skilled in this area at all, and that's why MI5 had asked the Australian Government to set up a brand new body. But there was a lot of information that were in the old CIS files, and there were a few good men in the CIS that ASIO picked the eyes out of, and so CIS was there as a part of the permanent public service. ASIO was an outside, new, foreign, exotic body and there was some friction between the two. And Spry ... The director of the Commonwealth Investigation Service was a very nice old chap called Lloyd and he was about to retire, and Spry thought it would be a good idea if he got one of his men in charge of that ... that body and so he asked me to ... to apply and the Commonwealth Public Service Board looked at my credentials and ... and appointed me as director of the Commonwealth Investigation Service.
No, it didn't, Robin, and I never, never knew why. Spry never made contact with me afterwards. I never got invited back to any of his social functions. I never got invited back to any of his annual conferences to which he used to invite the State police. Never invited me at all, and I was never made welcome at the police headquarters in [Melbourne].
Oh very well. We ... we seemed to be on the same wave length for some reason, although we were both from quite different backgrounds but I got on well with him. I think he liked the fact that I was enthusiastic and worked hard and had come from a service background, at least during the war. But we got on very well together and I thought he'd ... he rather sharpened up the organisation in a way that the judge had been rather loose in his controls.
Well, I went to the Commonwealth Investigation Service to ... at Spry's request to ... to ... to ensure that there was a easy relationship between the two organisations. It was a ... it was a fairly stiff relationship when I went there because CIS had been relegated to a lower ... a lower status because ASIO had come over and taken over its main important function: security function, and so CIS was quite a low grade affair and I was looked upon not as a rescuer but as an undertaker by the mandarins of the Public Service Board, who ... who thought that maybe I was a good choice to see that the CIS had a very quiet death, but I had other ideas and I must have told Spry that I was thinking of forming a national police force and I think that might have put me off side with him, because he was not keen, I don't think, on a national police force. He preferred to work through the state police forces, unlike the Canadian system. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are the premier law enforcement authority in Canada and they also run the security service, so I think that Spry might have seen the writing on the wall, that at some stage a ... a national police force might take over the independent role of ASIO and so, I think, he tended to shut me out from going back and talking to my old mates in ASIO, attending their meetings with the state police and so forth. In fact, I don't think I ever spoke to him again after I left in ... in '53, although we'd been very, very close while ... when he first came in.
Yes, yes. Well, he'd come from being director of military intelligence and they had a fairly, I think, far flung target area, whereas we in ASIO, when I joined it, I think I told you, we were concerned with a possible Russian espionage network, at least my section was. So ... so I suppose Spry's background predisposed him to being more suspicious of socialist bodies.
With a security force like ... a security group like that, an investigative group, it is very open to the possibility of becoming a tool of political ... a political tool of whatever government is in power. Do you think that ASIO strayed into that territory of being a sort of conservative political instrument?
Yes, yes. I really don't know, Robin, because as I say I had very little contact after I left and I suspect that ASIO members had been sort of warned off about talking to me so that I ... I got very little gossip coming ... feeding back to me about what was going on and really all I know was what I've read in the newspapers about it. In a way I was disappointed because I'd been one of the founding members. I felt a sort of feeling of ... of parenthood in a way. I'd been their first field investigator and set up certain programmes and so forth, so I felt ... I felt a bit put out by ... by what I assumed to be Spry's pushing me off the planet.
I ... I don't know. I ... Experience shows that most security services at some stage do respond fairly closely to ministerial directions, and once you get that then of course you ... you get some political activity going on. MI5 in ... in England, as far as I know, has been fairly ... fairly free of that, but on the other hand, I think they develop their own ... their own objectives and their own targets and, and maybe they weren't always approved activities, I don't know, but it's a difficult area. I know there was some trouble with the police special branches, because the special branches grew up like Topsy with no ... no training and no experience, and they tended to over reach themselves, both I think, the ones I know in South Australia and the ones in Queensland. I think we cast a net far too wide and maybe that was one of the dangers.
Well, it's difficult to know. See, one of the things I did in CIS was to develop a ... a black book. How this came about was that Sir William Slim was one time Governor General in Canberra and Slim was a man I admired very much. He ... he ... he felt very strongly the sort of ... that he was the Queen's representative, and in his thinking in the British Empire, the old British Empire, the Queen represented the last court of appeal. You could go through the law courts, or any other form of judgement, but in the end the one who could pardon you and so forth, was the Queen. It's the old English tradition going way back because we talk about the Queen's Courts and so on, and Slim saw himself in Australia as representing the Queen and he used to get lots of letters addressed to the Governor General from all sorts of people who had some idea that it was a court of appeal in that form I talked about. And he had a very efficient official secretary called Murray Tyrell, and Murray Tyrell, I think, over years gone by had got fairly brutal about dealing with all sorts of quibbles and qualms and I don't think Murray would send out a very nice, smoothing sort of letter but really not do much about it. Slim wouldn't have anything to do with that. He ... he insisted, he would read those letters and found some that really appealed to him as worthy of a second look as a representative of the queen. So he called me in and said to me, 'Ray, I want some of the background of some of these letters investigated. It may well be there has been some form of misjustice and I should ... I should, as a matter of duty inquire into it'. So he used to send me over the letters that he felt were marginal ones, ones that maybe there was some justification for. And so I got my field staff to go out and check on who the people were that wrote them, where they were, what their grievance was like. Many of them were in ... in closed units, mental units because they were a bit ... a bit off - crazy and so forth. Others had obsessions they'd had for years and years. Most of them, most of them were what we would call cranks. Some would write in and threaten - threaten the Queen or Slim that if they didn't do anything that Slim or the Queen would die. And so we looked at these fairly carefully and we sorted out those that we thought might be a threat to the safety of ... of Slim and any visiting royalty. And we made a little dossier on them, mainly, just a photograph with a description and put them in a little handbook, which our escorting teams used to carry around. So in a sense I was one of the people who started that collection of non-criminal people. Some of them were political people, being included in our target range, but it was justified. Once when I was in ... oh, some years ago, when I was in Canberra, still as the director, we had a small guard out at Government House. They'd been there for donkeys years, mainly for ceremonial purposes, at Yarralumla. And I know one day a man had driven in in a car, a New South Wales car, into the front gates and there the sentry box was and the ... and the uniformed guard had inquired as to what time his appointment was and the man had said, 'I don't need an appointment, I've come to hold Slim to account. He's responsible for the way the country's going'. So, the, the guard very, I think, very diplomatically said, would he mind stepping in out of the car where it was hot, into the guard room, and he would ring the Governor General personally and fix a time. So he got the man out of the car and went in and rang up ... rang us up, as a matter of fact, and while he was doing that his colleague went around to the boot ... the boot of the car, searched the car and there was a loaded rifle in the car.
And so we ... I got an extra man to go out to Government House and we brought this chap into the Department of Health, where two doctors examined him, and decided that he really posed a real threat because of a mental defect and he went out to Kenmore, the nearest mental institution, for a couple of months and then was released because that was the only thing wrong with him was that he felt that Slim was going ... letting the country go down and he wanted to call him to account. So the man got in the car and drove away and we ... we retained the rifle and so forth. And then nearly a year later, the same man drove up in the car again to ... to the gates of Government House and luckily, lucky the same crew were on duty, and ... and luckily they recognised him because he said, 'I've come to call the Governor General to account'. So they lured him into ... into the guard room and so forth and, and we got the doctors to certify him and he went to Kenmore. He did his two months, and he got released again. But that's really the sort of person we had in the black book. We needed that sort of recognition because in any community there are some people who have got some sort of mental disability in that way, and so Slim of course was pleased that we'd done that and ... and that gave us a sort of approval to develop the little black book further. Later on, when we were ... we had some guests of the Commonwealth, one I remember was the ... was the ... the Vice President of the United States of America. He came out and he was driving from the airport out to Government House, where he was going to reside. No, no, going to the American Embassy, near Government House.
This was Lyndon Johnson. Lyndon Johnson, of all the American presidents I've met, I haven't met many, but he was a sort of astute politician, he really was. And we were going through Yarralumla, there was a big crowd assembled because it'd been advertised that the ... the American President would be going through and we got to the Yarralumla cross-roads leading to the Embassy and the car stopped. It got have got through I think if ... if Johnson wanted but he got out of the car. Stood up in the car, that's right, because it had a roof and he could stand up inside, and he addressed ... addressed the crowd and they cheered and clapped him, and he liked it very much. And I was sitted ... seated in the front seat alongside the driver and I saw in the crowd, coming towards us, one of these men that we had in the black book as one of our possible violent offenders, and he was shoving his body through the crowd towards Johnson and I tried [to say to] Johnson, to sit down, but Johnson was having nothing of that. He was fine. He was having the adulation of this crowd of people, and so I sat there. I tried to get out of the car door but the crowd was so thick I couldn't push the car door open, and I saw this fellow reach up to Johnson and shake Johnson's hand [laughs] and he said, 'Welcome to Australia, Mr. President', and the President gave him a hearty shake and the fellow walked away very happy. And later on I told Johnson the story and he thought it was good fun, and then I happened to say to him that the crowd that had been assembled in Canberra for his arrival was in fact larger than the Queen had had on her last visit - the Queen of England. So he said to me, very abruptly, he said, 'Son, don't tell me, tell the press'. Of course what I should have told the press it was not the Queen's first visit, but her second visit. The first crowd had been far bigger than the second visit, but Johnson was a great, great politician.
Yes it was.
Well, it ... it ... What did it do? It didn't do much. It ... it investigated sort of little petty crimes that occurred in Commonwealth departments: some cashier had borrowed some money out of the till and hadn't repaid it, or some ... there was some missing stock out of the warehouse or ... or there was some postal articles that hadn't arrived. They sort of sat there and waited till a Federal government department called on them for assistance to do something. It was a very moribund sort of state of affairs and they were what we called, fourth ... fourth grade clerical assistants, which was the sort of ... that was the lowest form of public service we had at the time. It meant they had not passed a matriculation certificate to get into the third grade, which the clerical division, and so they had no training. There were a few ex-policemen from overseas, from Hong Kong or one of the British colonial forces that had disbanded, but on the whole they ... they were not very competent and their supervisors were clerical officers who'd had no legal or investigational experience. So, you know, generally speaking it was ... Everybody knew that they weren't very competent at their job, and I tried to do something to improve that.
Well, I thought, it seemed to me Australia was developing as a federation and clearly state boundaries didn't interfere with criminal activities and therefore we needed a Federal force as opposed to state police forces whose jurisdiction stopped at state boundaries and then you had to get an extradition in order to get one man from Melbourne to Sydney. He had to be extradited. It was a long, formal process. Had different training, different standards and different supervision and I thought we could do something like the Canadians. The Canadians had got by much more effectively than we had, so what I had in mind was that we might have a ... a national police force, like the Canadians.
What would you see as its main responsibilities in comparison to the state forces? What did you see as the main responsibilities that you would give to the Federal police that ... that was different from what the state police did?
Well it seemed to me the Federal authorities ought to be responsible for the safety and the law enforcement of all Federal acts: safety of property and safety of people that are covered by Commonwealth laws. For gold ... gold smuggling was one, for instance. Currency counterfeiting was another. There were a number of obviously national crimes which were covered by the Crimes Act or some other national legislation. It seemed to me that we ... a Commonwealth police force could quite easily be charged with that responsibility and follow it through. Gold smuggling from say an old mine in Bendigo might leave this country through ... through a ship leaving Perth to go to India, where gold was always sold at a high price, and that was obviously an interstate activity which required a better arrangement than two or three different police forces. And so that's the area I had in mind - not that we would take over any of the state responsibilities, but take over those responsibilities which were peculiarly Federal matters.
I think eventually and we now have a ... a national police force and it confines itself to Federal matters and it now is well respected and well organised, with a headquarters in Canberra, but it took a lot of, a lot of steps to get there. I was encroaching on the domain of State Commissioners and they looked at me with some horror as a low grade poacher of their territory. My ... my immediate boss was a professor of law who preferred the status quo, like all lawyers, and looked at any innovations with a great deal of suspicion. So I had to convince him each time that there was some genuine, valid reason why we should go into this thing. And the men themselves weren't trained for it and didn't do have the potential to be trained for it. The supervisors weren't trained for it, so what happened was that with the public ... with the Commonwealth Public Service Board's encouragement, each time there was a time vacancy occurring in any senior rank in the Commonwealth Investigation Service, I filled that vacancy by poaching a very good operator from the local state police force. In Melbourne I got a man called Ernie Craig, who was a well known detective inspector of the Victorian police, who was much admired by the Victorian police, which meant that I could not only liaise officially with General Porter, the Chief Commissioner of Police, but Ernie Craig my ... my number one had all his mates still in place and what he couldn't learn through official channels, we could learn through unofficial channels and vice versa. If they wanted some information which was in Commonwealth files, they didn't have to write to the Commissioner of Police, he sent on to me, they'd ring up Ernie. So Ernie would be able to tell them about custom clearances and about immigration details and so on. And in Sydney, the same thing happened there. I had a man from the New South Wales company squad, and in South Australia and in Queensland and so forth. So eventually I was able to replace my senior operating level with experienced, respected people with whom I could share my vision and that's how we gradually ... We started a training school. I got an Australian Police College established down on an unused quarantine station at North Head, [in] Sydney. It's now the ... now the main training staff college for Australian Police, and gradually, [it] took all of my seven years or more, I forget how long it was: seven years before I got the Commonwealth Police Act through and then I was with another seven years as Commissioner of the Commonwealth Police Force. But it took a long, long time because the ... the men themselves, the old COs, didn't see themselves, it was ... they were ... had an inferiority complex about the matter. And their trade union represented all the fourth division officers, which meant customs then had their investigators; post office had their investigators; and supply had their investigators, and I was talking about taking over their responsibilities, so industrially I got opposition.
So I got it from the Police Commissioners, state wise and from, and from, internally from the Commonwealth Public Service Association and it took a lot ... a lot of craftiness, I suppose, to permeate the closed shop of the Police Commissioners. I was lucky because the Police Commissioner in Tasmania was a man named Bill Delderfield from South Australia and he in 19 ... - oh, what would it have been? 1954 or something, was hosting the annual Police Commissioners' Conference and he invited me to come down and give a paper about the federal, federal investigation service. And I went down and ... and gave a paper to the commissioners of police in the form of my reporting to them for their consideration and their consent and their submission and their co-operation, and they asked me back to the next one which was in New Zealand and I gave a similar sort of paper in which I ... I placed myself as their ... as their [laughs] house boy, to do the work that they wanted amongst the Federal departments and ... and after that I became a fully fledged member of the Police Commissioners' Conference and I think overall I attended twenty-one annual Police Commissioners' Conferences. I was ... I was the grey beard of the Police Commissioners' Conferences when I left to go elsewhere.
Yes, it was, it was rather good fun in a way, but worrying, but we didn't have the terrorist threat that there is now. But soon after I took over the investigation service in 1953, '54, there was a royal visit planned. It had been planned for '53 and I think the King had died and Elizabeth was made Queen and then she and Prince Philip came out to Australia, I think, in '54. It was the first royal visit since about 1928 or something, and it was a great hullabaloo, when the whole country had been whipped up by the media about this royal visit. And CIS had been given a very sort of lowly role in this ... in this business. We really didn't function at all, and for the projected earlier visit, which had ... was deferred, the state Police Commissioners held them responsible for security of the Queen and the Duke. I thought we might change that and I talked to the Prime Minister's Department and pointed out that I had a good security background myself and I was a trained police officer, I knew the states and so forth, and after all the Queen and the Duke were coming out as Commonwealth guests, and maybe the Commonwealth ought to carry out its responsibility ... for being responsible for their safety and luckily Brown who was then the head of the Prime Minister's Department, one of the seven gnomes of Canberra with whom I'd been currying favour, thought my argument had some merit and ... and he sent out a little handbook in which he pointed out that the Queen and the Duke were coming as Commonwealth guests and the Commonwealth was providing the transport and the accommodation and ... and all sorts of coverages. The airline was a Commonwealth matter and ... and Mr. Whitrod would be the overall co-ordinator of security, and that gave me a great sort of status. And so I went around with the planning committee to each of the states, and did the best I could to be diplomatic to the state police, and didn't ostensibly take away of their front functions. They wanted to be in the front motorcar and in full uniform, as been their want in the past, and so I agreed to that. They'd be in the Commonwealth car and I would be also there, but they would be in the prime seat. So with ... with the coming of the '54 we ... the Commonwealth gradually took over the responsibility and then we had a number of succeeding visitors. The Duke came out on his own. There was the Queen Mother came out, and a number [of others] and we gradually assumed a much greater role of being responsible for their protection. But it was a long, hard road and I had to bite my tongue many times, because I was much junior. You see, the state police force at that time were under commissionership, who mostly got there by seniority. So they were there aged fifty-five, sixty years of age. I was thirty-eight, thirty-nine: a boy. What would he know? Looked down on me because by their eyes I would be an inspector in their force, and here I was sort of being in a prominent position, so it was a very delicate job. But I managed to get by and now we've the ... we've got a national police force.
By accident, Robin, quite by accident. The prince was an old navy man. He ... he didn't ... I think he found life very irksome being three paces behind his wife but he was very good at that. But whenever there was a possible excuse, a break in the programme, he would sneak away and go on his own somewhere, where there was no crowds and he could look at aspects of Australian society that he liked. And one of the things he was interested in was bird life and of all the bird life aspects he was keen [on], was migratory birds, and this had been one of my hobbies in Canberra. I'd got myself interested in migratory birds and so the Duke and I talked about migratory birds and ... and whenever we had a chance, his equerry would ring me up and say, he'd like to go out for a trip, 'Ray, can you arrange it?' And sometimes because there were formal functions at nine o'clock we would go out at five o'clock in the morning and we'd go to some local bird spot in my old private car which was an ... an old model Holden and he'd sit in the car and we'd go out and bird watch and talk together and ... and he would tell me ... He was much more knowledgeable than I was about migratory birds. He'd been studying them for more than I had, longer than I had, and he would talk to me and in fact teach me about identification of foreign birds and so forth, and we'd have a snack and some coffee. And I took him out mist netting once, from Canberra out to Lake George. Mist netting: you put up an almost invisible net early, before dawn, and the birds would wake up and go searching for food, and they would fly into the mist net and get held there, and then you'd take the bird out and band it with a ... with a national band so you knew what they were doing. He enjoyed that very much. And so I got to know the Duke very much in these moments as man to man, and I ... he ... I always had great admiration for him. I ... He's never stepped out of line. He sometimes passes some wise crack which maybe better not said, but I understand where it's coming from and ... and he's been I think a good husband for the Queen and there's never been any scandal with the Queen and the Duke. You know he used to slip away. We never went to any wild parties. He never asked me to lay on any girls. We always went bird watching or maybe he'd dig up a couple of his old ship mates who'd been during the war, and we'd go and have a few quiet beers with them and come back. He'd drink very little, but he'd meet them again but there was any ... any problems about morality with the Duke. He was spot on.
[Laughs] Yes, Robin, I think I've always been a monarchist, probably because of indoctrination as a ... as a young scout and my wife in the guides. We were ... and living in Murray's Lane we ... we were part of an English enclave as it were, and we'd always thought of the King of England as our King and our Queen. I don't think I've ever shifted off that ground. Being a republic, doesn't attract me at all. I know there is legally there is very, very few threads now connecting us to the British, to the English Government. We've got very few ties now back there and in fact the Governor General is almost the Queen of Australia in that respect. And so I ... I understand why some people might want to feel like a republic. They've come from countries where they haven't had the same beneficial sort of influence of their ... of their sovereign as we've had and ... or they've had dictators and so forth and they ... they may wish to have a republic and there's a large number of those people now in Australia. We've got a big migration population. So I understand, but me personally, I ... and I hope my children and as you notice in my room I've got the Australian flag with the old British ensign in the corner. I'm a monarchist I think, yes.
No, no. I ... I ... Well times change and I've been one of those people who've been bent on change, really, so if ... if ... I'm prepared to listen to other people's proposals for change, and hopefully they'll be an improvement and I'd go along with that.
In the fourteen years that you were in Canberra, you spent seven years creating a new police force and seven years leading it, what were the principles that you put into practise? I mean, this was a wonderful opportunity for a creative police officer to do something absolutely new. What were your guiding principles? What were you up to?
Robin, you ... you're sort of probing me. I don't know that I had any deep set organisational credo, except that I'd always had this ... this belief in the English policing system. The English policing system started on the basis that every able-bodied man in the village did his share as being policeman, and took his turn at being the policeman of the village, and he was responsible to the ... a little watch committee composed of the greengrocer and the clergyman and the schoolteacher and the farm labourer. There was a watch committee, and so the local police officer maintained the sort of conduct that the watch committee approved of and ensured there was a reasonable degree of justice. It's always seemed to me that the English idea of a policing power coming from the people themselves ... They surrendered to their duty policeman the right to arrest them, the right to put them in the cells overnight, the right to charge them. The community surrendered these things as part of their assignment in a community, a community dwelling together. Now this is quite unlike the continental system. France, Germany, Spain, you name it, where ... where it's the power of the sovereign who lays the law down and in order to ... For the sovereign's wishes to be carried out, he maintains an armed gendarmerie, quasi-soldiers, quasi-police, and so the law is imposed from above and enforced from above. Whereas in the English original policing system it was the people's own choice. They decided they would do these things. They set the standards and it seemed to me, being one of the common people, I suppose [laughs], if I'd been the king I might have had a different idea, but being part of the, the community I thought that was good and so I tried to form our police force mainly on the English tradition rather than the ... rather than the continental system. In New Guinea for ... In New Guinea for instance, we'd put in a gendarmerie, the Australian police force. Maybe that was right. In Africa the Brits had put in a gendarmerie and maybe that was right. But for us in Australia, we ... we were citizens in the same as they were in Middlesex or Woking and so we ought to elect our own police officers and ... and make our own laws, and that was the ... that was my aim that we would have this English tradition of being a community policing force.
No, no, we don't.
Yes, yes. Well, we do in a sense because the ... the ... We've set down certain standards for the police. They've got to be citizens of the country in which they live and they're responsible to a Minister and the Minister is responsible to the people. And when I got to Queensland I followed that rule very religiously that I was not responsible to the Premier but to the Minister. He was the Minister of Police and if he didn't do the job which the community wanted, the community could vote him out. So I fell foul of Joh Bjelke-Petersen for that and other reasons.
Back in Canberra, with the Commonwealth police, and thinking about what you did, you wanted it to be representative. You wanted it to serve the community. What kind of officers were you after? What did you need to do to give you the officers you wanted?
Well, it was difficult because I couldn't make my own rules and set my own standards. The only ones I really could choose were those that I encouraged to apply for the senior positions and ... and because I needed badly this bridge between the Commonwealth agencies and the States, I picked State experienced men, who were I knew from my own personal experience or from friends were corruption free, were intelligent, were enthusiastic, were men I could rely upon, and they were the type of person I was recruiting from the State police forces.
Yes, training was a very difficult aspect because I was trying to get middle-aged and elderly public servants, fourth division, to undertake training courses for promotion and for efficiency, doing things they'd never done before, and then I had to set up a ... a programme, which would do this effectively, and this was one of my problems as I really never, I think, succeeded fully in doing it. I did get the staff college going down at Manly and we used that to train our own ... our own Commonwealth police forces, to start with, and I recruited some very good teachers: some civilian teachers, some academic teachers, some practitioners and they ... they ran the ... the college down at Manly. It was inadequate but it was the best I could do because I ... I was fighting against a lot of apathy. My ... my departmental head, Professor Bailey, the a lawyer I've talked about, was all for the status quo: 'Don't rock the boat, Ray, you only cause waves', and he had in fact appointed an assistant secretary of finance who was of the same mould, and so I was kept very short of money by Neil. We called him Negative Neil because every time I put up a proposal to get more funds he would either refuse, or put it in a stack of files in the corner of his room, so months would go by and I'd have this quite important ... important proposal going forward and it would be wasted because it was in Neil's cupboard and I couldn't appeal to ... to Bailey because Bailey wasn't interested. He was not an empire builder. He didn't want to enlarge his own area and he had enough challenges. He was both the head of the Attorney-General's Department and the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor. He had two jobs combined in one, so he wasn't interested in taking on any more responsibilities.
Well, that was, that was a problem I used to wrestle over at night, because I was not well-known in Canberra. I was a new comer from ... from Adelaide. I was ... I was not a member of the ... of the Forrest Bowling Club where most of the upper servants played bowls, or the Royal Canberra Golf Club, where you went and played golf and had drinks with your mate, or with the Commonwealth Club. I later joined it but I was not then a member, and lots of the sort of upper echelon decided policy at lunch at the Commonwealth Club. I was not a member of the Catholic church. I was not a member of St. John's, the leading Anglican church. I was not ... I'd been a Freemason for about three months so I was not ... I had no connections. I was not a member of the Labor Party. I was not a member of the Liberal Party. I was strictly politically neutral which I saw as the police role. So somehow I had to change that situation around from being a caretaker of a dying organisation to being the innovator of a national police force. But what I did actually I ... I worked on the seven gnomes. These were seven dwarfs in Canberra and they held the power of the Commonwealth in their hands. These were seven well-established departmental heads and they were shorties and that's why they were called gnomes. And I had one or two lucky breaks. One of them, who lived near me, his wife and he had a lone daughter, who was physically handicapped, an only child, and they were very, very fond of this child, and she joined Mavis' guide company. So I got to know them socially and ... and I would go out when the guides would go camping, I would help put up tents and this gnome would be there and we became friendly and he was a former professor. He knew I was doing some studies at the university, so he thought ... he thought I wasn't a redneck copper inside, and so he became a friend of mine. And I gradually got to know several others in the same way, and so the gnomes in fact swung over to my side and ... and because of their influence and power with their Ministers, when the bill came up that I'd drafted incidentally ... it went through cabinet, the ministers okayed it. But it was a long hard haul. It took a lot of scheming and diplomacy and ... and hours of work to get these people on side, but I did eventually.
Well looking back I realise now that it was such a big thing, but at the time, Robin, I was so immersed. I was doing studies, part-time studies at the university. I was running a scout troop. My wife was running a guide company. We were looking at bringing up a family and I had the CIS on my hands, so it was a fairly, fairly full life but a happy one, really. I had happy years in Canberra.
And those years in Canberra you were busy developing the force, you were also doing some self-development with the degree. How did your studies go and why did you go to study? I mean, you'd sort of arrived. You were a Commissioner or working your way towards that. Why the study? Where did that fit?
Well, when I went to commissioners' conferences I ... there was nobody round the table with a degree so that .... that didn't affect my standing there but when I went to Commonwealth departmental conferences with my opposite numbers in other departments, they all had degrees ... all had degrees of some sort or other and there would maybe ten or twelve, and I was trying to sell the idea about the national police force. They tended to look down upon me as a typical Australian copper: untrained, uneducated, rough necked. The only way I felt I could improve that relationship was to get some sort of academic qualification so that I could talk both with academic knowledge and practical knowledge. I had the practical knowledge but I didn't have the academic standing and I needed that. And so I went along and I did two subjects every year and eventually after, what, six years, I got my degree in economics and by that time there was a ... a realisation you needed more than one degree, so I started on a Masters degree in sociology part-time, and that led me to go to Cambridge to get a Cambridge postgraduate diploma and ... and then later on of course I tackled a doctorate.
Well, economics was in fact an accident. [Laughs] I started off by doing a diploma of public administration which only required half the time of a full degree and I found I could cope, not easily, but with a bit of perspiration and I passed them with distinction and credits my first ... my diploma of public administration. And then I thought well why not do the full degree? So I incorporated my diploma of public administration into a degree of economics, in which I did political science as my major, plus some psychology which came in useful later on. And then when I got into sociology, I was interested in sociology from the policing aspect. There hadn't been any real depth researching about the social climate in which police operated and it seemed to me we live very much on anecdotes and hand-to-mouth stories and so forth. There could perhaps be some, some value in looking at the foundations on which a community existed. That's how I got into sociology. And then, I went to Cambridge because they were offering a course in criminology. You could do a course, a diploma, in one full year. They later gave ... gave you a masters instead of the diploma but I was there when it was a diploma and I went there because I think ... and I shouldn't say this, because of its snob value, because the crowd of the public servants, senior, that I was ... there were no Cambridge or Oxford men, and in academic world, where you stand it's not so much the degree you got, but where you got it at. And these days, when universities are ten a penny sort of business, it's the name of your institution that counts, and to me, uneducated in the tertiary world, it always seemed to me that Oxford and Cambridge were the two top criterias, so I elected to go to Cambridge.
Yes it did. It ... it helped me move towards the idea of a national police force for one thing, because whenever our Prime Minister went abroad he was escorted by a member of a national security agency, [the] national police force, Scotland Yard. When Dame Pattie Menzies came ... came to me, rung me up of course. I went to see her and she said to me, 'Oh Mr. Whitrod, every time we go to London or my husband goes to London, when he arrives there, there's a Scotland Yard man waiting for him who stays with him during the whole time of his stay in England and we feel much safer, at least I do. My husband's not so scared as I am, but I'm worried about my husband. There's been one or two attacks'. Arthur Caldwell, I think, had an attack. Anyway, she said, 'I'm worried about ...,' and she said, 'I would like you to provide similar security for my husband'. And I said, 'Well, Dame Pattie, I'll need more than your wish. You're the Prime Minister's wife but I've got to get ... get it through the middle of the public service'. So she said, 'Go and see the President of the Legislative Council'. So I went and saw the President, and he said, 'Yes, I'm in total agreement with Dame Pattie. You provide an escort service to the Prime Minister. I'll see that your budget is increased to cover it. I know the Prime Minister will not like it but you persevere with it'. So we ... then I had to find somebody. It's ... it's a very discreet sort of job, being a personal assistant, as you might have gathered from some of the disclosures which are now being made by valets and others about their royal masters and ... and luckily I had amongst the Peace Officer Guard, which had been one of our more lowly institutions, a former detective sergeant from England who'd migrated to Australia, a fellow called Howard Farnsworth, and I'd been impressed by Howard Farnsworth. He'd played hockey for England and was a fine sort of character - very ... a lot of common-sense. So I took him across to the Prime Minister and said, 'Sorry, Prime Minister, Mr. Farnsworth will have to hang around here because that's what your wife wants'. So the Prime Minister put up with it and he didn't like it very much and, and Howard escorted the prime minister to and from, sat in the outer office and luckily used to scrutinise the press that came in and the people who wanted to see the Prime Minister. Did it very nicely. Never got any complaints. The press wrote him up favourably so that part went off very nicely. We also had to look after the Lodge, and the Lodge, the prime minister's Lodge, was at that stage surrounded three-quarters by a hedge, another by a small wall but a wall which could be jumped over, and this was the Lodge where the Prime Minister slept at night, and so I put a ... two or three of my uniformed guards out there and they used to patrol the grounds. But I used to worry because there was ... it was a very bushy park nearby and if somebody wanted to get even with the Prime Minister, and Prime Minister Menzies had a few vocal enemies. They could do so ... despite three men so about this time I became interested in using guard dogs.
The ... the New Zealand police were using them very successfully so I got cabinet to approve that might import a ... a Alsatian dog from the New Zealand police as a gift. There had been an embargo, a nation-wide embargo upon the importation of Alsatian dogs put in by the ... mainly because of the graziers' association who felt that the ... the German shepherds might be a threat to their flocks, and so I had to get cabinet approval and we got ... we got a bitch come over from ... from New Zealand with some pups and we started our own little breeding programme. So one day I went to, to Dame Pattie. I said, 'Dame Pattie, I'm sure I could improve the security of this place if ... if I could have one of our own bred German shepherds, who'll be on a lead going around at night, when the street lights are out and I know you and the Prime Minister will be much safer'. And she said, 'Oh Mr. Whitrod, I don't want a dog here, he'll frighten my cat'. I forget what the cat's name, Katherine or something. 'My cat will be frightened and go away'. I said, 'Look, my dog will be on a lead the whole time and I'll make sure that his handler keeps well away from any cat he spots'. Impossible of course but ... so anyway Dame Pattie agreed and we put a dog in. The dog had only been there three days and I got a ring from the sergeant of my guard at the prime minister's Lodge and he said, 'Sorry, Commissioner, Dame Pattie's cat's disappeared and she's frantic'. I said, 'Well, go around, knock on all the doors'. It was school holidays. 'Go and knock on all the doors nearby. I'll send some more help'. We knocked on all the doors of Forrest and ... and Yarralumla and said, 'Have you seen this cat?' and we put a note up. There was no sign of this cat and Dame Pattie was most upset about this.
Well, I went to her and she said, 'It was your dog, your dog and the dog has frightened it away'. And then on the Saturday I think, the dog [sic] disappeared on the Monday. On the Saturday one of the ... one of my guards, who'd been searching the bush, found ... found Katherine the cat and it was dead, and it had what looked like teeth marks on the stomach of the cat. And he said, 'What will I do with it, Commissioner?' and I said, 'Take it to the nearest vet, the one in ... one in Forrest and see if he'll give you some sort of autopsy and certificate of the cause of the death. It might just be natural causes'. So he took the cat up to the local vet at Forrest and the vet said, 'Oh, yes', he said, 'The cat's died of old age'. He said, 'Her kidneys' given out', and the guard said, 'What about these teeth marks?' He said, 'Oh they're not teeth marks, they're maggot holes'. So with that I felt a bit reassured, so I got this certificate sent to me, and I turned up at the Lodge with the dead cat in a box and the certificate and saw Dame Pattie. And I said, 'I'm awfully sorry, Dame Pattie, we've found your cat and it's dead'. And she said, 'Your dog's eaten it'. I said, 'No he hasn't'. She said, 'Let me see it'. She had a look at it. She said, 'There's his teeth marks'. I said, 'No they're not teeth marks, they're maggot holes. It's been four days in the summertime, it's school holidays'. She said, 'They're not maggot holes'. She said, 'They're teeth marks. I told you it was your dog'. I said, 'Well here's the vet's ...'. 'Oh', she said, 'I know that vet up there. He's a butcher'. She said, 'I never believe a word he said. Don't ever let ... [don't] you ever bring any of your dogs near me again. So we never had any dogs at the Prime Minister. We had them at Government House. But Dame Pattie and I, we didn't speak for a little while.
Another mistake on my part. Purely an accident, Robin. I had ... I've been going to these commissioners' conferences as I told you for a number of years and I'd grown very pally with the Commissioner of Police from Papua New Guinea, a chap called Bob Cole. He wasn't a proper policeman. He'd been what we call a kiap, a government patrol officer in New Guinea, but he was the Commissioner up there, and he used to come down to our conferences and in a sense he was a bit on the outer like I was, in that we weren't regular, standard State police forces, so we got very friendly. And one day he said to me ... he rang me up from Port Moresby and said, 'Ray, my wife says I'm getting too old to stay in the territory. I'm fifty-five. It's the usual retiring age for kiaps. My superannuation is ready. She wants to go south to be with her grandchildren. I need to give up'. But he said, 'The force is coming along slowly and I don't want to leave without making sure it's ... it's in good hands. Can you find me somebody who'll replace me?' And I said, 'Sure, Bob, it's an interesting, challenging job in Papua New Guinea'. I said, 'I know a number of young assistant commissioners, who would jump at the chance to do some years in New Guinea'. So I rang around to all my assistants that I knew, that I'd met at various conferences and so forth. None, none wanted the job, partly because independence was coming in New Guinea and partly because their wives refused to move, [and] partly I think because in the eastern states they had a larger income than they should have had and they didn't want to go. So I rang up Bob and Bob was crestfallen about this and said, 'Look mate, I've gone ahead on your say so and I've made accommodation arrangements down on the Gold Coast. I really can't get out of leaving and ... and I don't want to leave it'. So I said, 'Bob, I've been here fourteen years now. I've got a good assistant. I'll come up and take your place'. It was no promotion for me. In fact, I think I dropped a bit in salary to go there, but then I went and told Mavis, 'We're going to New Guinea'. [laughs] Of course she was a bit staggered by this. I hadn't consulted her and so I had to explain why it was, and it wasn't a regular sort of thing, so she ... she ... and she had a guide company, and we had children, married then. Andrew was married with kids in Canberra. She didn't want to leave her grandchildren, but she came up. We went up to Port Moresby, at an age when Bob Cole was leaving to come south because of age, we went up there at the same age. In fact Mavis was older. Mavis was sixty when she went to New Guinea.
I don't know. Partly because of this obligation to ... to Bob Cole and partly, I think, because I felt that I'd largely achieved what I'd done, set out to do, that is established a Commonwealth police force, and I was working on my Masters thesis which involved native cultures at the time, and partly I suspect because I wanted new ... new fields to conquer. I don't know. I never really examined my motives. I just felt that it was right for me to go and I talked to a couple of friends in Canberra that I ... whose judgement I trusted and they said, 'Well, Ray, it's later than you think. If you feel you should go, go now because in five years time it will be far too late'. So we ... we upped and left Canberra and went to New Guinea.
Well, it's a short story because it was stupid of me to go in the first place. I ... I very soon got malaria although I took all the precautions, and Mavis had to nurse me through malaria. I went out a bit in the bush to get myself familiar with what was going on. I visited the ... the Irian Jaya border and marched along there and I talked to the local tribes, clans that were there. There were a large number and luckily, Robin, you'll be interested, they accepted me because they regarded me as a wise man. I was wise because I was bald and they had a special place in their culture for bald-headed men, so they accepted me which was nice, because I couldn't speak Pidgin. Mavis and I started to learn Pidgin from formal classes, and from our own house boy, but it was hot, in Moresby. Moresby's a bit like ... like Cairns I think, but worse, and it was hot. The ... the ... We didn't find many people of compatible interest in the place. I was out visiting Wewak and other places and Mavis was home a bit on her own, and she had a burglar one night and woke up to find a native in the bedroom with her, and she kept her cool and sung out and our house boy, who lived in a little boy house in the grounds, came and chased him away, and Pepe ... He let Pepe loose - our guard dog - and Pepe chased him away, but it was a bit nerve-wracking for Mavis. And I really found that my health was getting me down. And also, Robin, I wasn't on the same length as the administration in ... in Papua New Guinea. David Hay was the administrator, a very able, capable diplomat from ... from Foreign Affairs. A man that I admired. He'd served in New Guinea during the war and I got on very well with him. But some of the administration I felt were still twenty years behind the times, that they still wanted to be colonial administrators, whereas there was a big move within Australia, a big push by Gough Whitlam, for independence, and there was this move from Australia that the Papuans should be given independence as soon as possible, and the kiaps were saying, look, 'They're not quite ready yet. We've established a university college and we've got other schools going but really they're essentially a village people and not ready to ... to assume a national parliament'. And I think in retrospect the kiaps were probably right but there was world opinion saying that the day of the colonies has gone and Australia should set an example, so that was coming on. We had a ... a interesting group of cadet native officers that were coming on and ... but I ... I wasn't comfortable with the administration. About this time Bougainville came on the public scene, and the big CRA mining venture on Bougainville required some of the native plantations to be cleared of their ... of their little native plots and ... and the native ... natives had been told, had been prepared to sell their plots but they'd never envisaged that the land would be ploughed up and levelled and dug into. They'd always lived on the land. The land belonged to everybody and so they resisted very much the clearance for the Bougainville mine. And there was pressure from the big exploration companies to push ahead and to ... and I know Hay had in mind and some of the administrators that the police would be used to push the natives off these plots...
Well, I was encouraged by the calibre of the local police compared to my friends in the old Commonwealth Investigation Service. Papuans, New Guineas, appeal to me. They're a hard working bunch of people that I think anybody would like and ... and they tried hard and by the time I got there, the results of the missionary and state schools meant that there was a crop of youngish men coming through who could read and write, some up to elementary school, some to secondary school, and these were feeding in to the police force as recruits. We used to select our recruits from men coming out of the Kalabus, which is the local prison, because they tended to be the local leaders of their ... of their groups. The ... the sort of tribal custom in New Guinea was that disagreements were settled by ... between the two people concerned, by slashing each other with a a big cane knife and cut across the shoulder. And when that happened the fight was ceased and both the victim and the assailant and their friends would go then to the police station and report the offence, and the offender would be charged with assault, occasionally grievous bodily harm, and the sort of standard sentence was two years. And he would go into the Kalabus where he would be bathed and got rid of all the pigskin fat that he put on in the highlands to keep warm and he'd be given meals, which were nutritious and ... and had all the necessary vitamins in so he started to flourish. If he couldn't talk Pidgin, he'd be taught Pidgin. If he could talk Pidgin, he'd be taught English, and then he'd be taught either bush carpentry or some elementary mechanics so that he could put up a house or service a truck, and he got a small wage as well. So that after two years, he came out of the Kalabus fit, educated, speaking Pidgin or English, with some money, real money, and he'd go back to the village and the rest of the village would look at him with envy, [laughs] and because he'd been one of the leaders and that's why he'd become potentially involved in the fight, he was the more likely person to be our ... our ... our policeman. So we had quite a ... I would think the majority of the constables in the department were ex-Kalabus boys and they'd learnt discipline and they'd learnt about a clock. One of the big problems in New Guinea with the police service was that the natives got up and went to sleep by the clock [sic] and if it was a cloudy day they got up late. And if you had a meeting scheduled for ten o'clock, if it was cloudy they would drift in about midday, but if they'd been at Kalabus's for two years, they knew about time, so you could organise shift work so they were invaluable as recruits. And then we picked the brighter of those to do sergeants' courses and officers' courses. But then of course when they fed into the main body they were up against the older members, who weren't educated, didn't know Pidgin and ... and didn't know clock systems and couldn't read fresh instructions that came out, so that they would have to defer to the younger boys to tell them what the instructions were, and this was a big blow to their status. But when they went out in the bush, the old boys were far better, much more experienced bushmen than the young ones, so it tended to level off a little bit, but there was a growing difference in the young ones and the old ones. But I liked them. I thought there was a future. I thought they ... they could run their own police force, given a few years and we had some youngish officers who I thought would ... would make good inspectors and later on they did.
Yes. Well, I went over there to Bougainville. One of my problems was I didn't know much about New Guinea. I hadn't served in New Guinea during the war. All I knew was what I'd read and so when this problem of almost an insurrection in Bougainville occurred, and there were complaints coming in from Canberra that the big firms couldn't get on with their exploration, I thought the best thing would be for me to go over there. So I went over to Bougainville, down to the mining spot and, and looked at it and it seemed to me ... And I talked to the local people there and to some sympathetic whites that were there and it seemed to me that when the native people had agreed to surrender their plot of land they hadn't understood what was the new industrial development, that their hill would be flattened and their, and their lovely little bay, which they used to go fishing in - had fished for centuries - would be filled in with gravel from the pit and so forth, and there would be high rise buildings and it would be completely changed. And so the day before I got there I think ... two days before I got there, one of the native women had stood in front of a bulldozer with a small piccaninny, a small child in her arms and refused to move, and this had been captured by a ... international photographers for the press and this had gone around the world, and so there was a lot of international focus on how we were robbing these poor simple natives. And I talked to them, and it seemed to me that really they hadn't understood what was involved in the contract and ... and I didn't see how it could be that the police ought to be involved to throw them off their land. If the police were, in fact, to maintain law and order and to be representatives of the ... of the people and not of foreign powers, then the administration would have to use soldiers and not police. Police could be used to keep the peace but not to ... to forcibly and physically remove the ... the ... the landholders from the land they and their forefathers had farmed for centuries. It was difficult for them to see what was happening and so I went back and told David Hay and he talked to some of his kiaps in the ... the native ... in the native branch and so forth, and they ... and they were keen that there should be force used and ... and so ... This time I was in really in mental trouble about what I should do, and I got a phone call from John McKinna here in Adelaide, asking me to go to Queensland to ... to be appointed ... to apply for commissionership there. He said, 'I've recommended you strongly, Ray'. And I said, 'I can't go, John. I've only half started my ... my responsibilities here'. I said, 'I'm not doing very well but I really can't leave these ... these natives', and so he rang again and I said, 'No, I'm committed'. And then Max Hodges, the Police Minster from Queensland, flew up to see me, and said, 'Look, Ray, you come to Brisbane where ... We've got a corrupt police force there. I know you're doing a lot of good for the ... for the natives here but we've got Aborigines that are having rough treatment in Queensland'. He said, 'You know Australia better than Queensland ... than New Guinea'. He said, 'You'll find me as the Minister, and the Premier, much more supportive than what you're getting here. We don't have a kiap service. You'll never win them over'. He said, 'You might have won over the gnomes of Canberra, but you're not going to win over the kiaps'. So I'd had this attack of malaria. I wasn't very well. Mavis wanted to see more of her grandchildren, and she was ... she was, well, sixty-five about that stage, so I resigned and went down to Brisbane.
I applied and Cabinet accepted me. They interviewed me first which was a new idea. They interviewed me and luckily I seem to have passed. Wally Ray was the Cabinet Minister. He'd been in the airforce with me and he gave Max Hodges a lot of support and so Max won the day, although there was some opposition because there were local people, local interests. The Catholics had their man, the Irish had their man, and the Masons had their man, and they were nominating each of these very strongly. So in a sense I was a sort of ... sort of a half-way choice.
Not a great deal, Robin. I think there's an increased flow of information these days between State police forces but twenty, thirty years ago when I went to Queensland I didn't know a great deal. I'd come across of course a couple of nasty references when I was a Commonwealth police officer about a little bit of corruption in Queensland, but I really didn't know much about it and I suppose, at the back of my mind, there was always that thought of the ... the kind of sergeant at Birdsville who helped my mother, and I think that's what in a way attracted me to go to Queensland. And I had assumed that the Queensland police force would have been like the South Australian police force, but of course it wasn't.
I think the first day I arrived in Brisbane, got off the plane, was driven into police headquarters in an official car, the driver of the car, a senior constable who'd wangled that particular duty said to me, 'Commissioner, do you know this is a very corrupt police force?' or words something like that. And I thought, what an extraordinary introduction into a police force and, you know, what a reckless statement to make to ... to a new person, but he ... This was a fellow called Sergeant Ken Hogget I got to know very well, but he'd ... he'd done some homework before I got there and he knew my background and he felt that he could talk frankly to me about the problems of corruption in Queensland. So he alerted me that at least some members of the Queensland police force thought the force was corrupt.
Oh, Robin, I hadn't ... I've never thought about that. I realise now they had, but there was only a small number who were wishing for better things. Better things morally, I mean, rather than money-wise. It was a small group there and I managed to identify some of them in the first couple of years, and get them to form a little kitchen cabinet that I could talk freely to, but I hadn't realised that they had hoped that I might come along with a clean broom and do some sweeping up of a lot of nasty corners.
Well, the main ... the main ... the main exposure of what was going bad in the Queensland police force came out of course at the time of the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and that in the main was only one ... one variety of corruption. It was brothels who were paying off police to keep quiet; SP bookmakers who were being warned of any impending raids; various illicit activities that were being tolerated. A little bit I think of what the police refer as the worst type of corruption, that is police themselves committing crimes, but we never really got into drugs, and neither did Fitzgerald, and I don't know if that meant there wasn't any drug trafficking in Queensland at the time. I suspect there was, and we never really got in to some very serious violent crimes that had taken place in Queensland that I think now had been inspired by ... by the network of corrupt people in Queensland. But, so the Fitzgerald Inquiry only ... only identified and published perhaps half, if I can use a rough, half of the corruption in Queensland. The rest has never been looked at by anybody.
Tell me about the activities of Commissioner Bischof, who had been there for a very long period just a little before you arrived and had, in fact, presided over a lot of this period of ... of corruption that you inherited. How did he operate and what sort of a man was he?
I'd met Frank Bischof at a number of police annual conferences so I'd known him in a sort of social way. Big, tall, imposing man. Never, never volunteered much at Police Commissioners' Conferences. Never contributed much in the way of new ideas. Seemed happy with the world. Spent most of our weekends at conferences, he would go to the races, and then of course later on, after I'd left the Queensland police force there was a ... the Courier Mail published the ... the Hiley information. Hiley was the State Treasurer at the time Bischof was Police Commissioner and Hiley had been approached by a little trio of unlicensed bookmakers and they'd gone to Hiley and complained to Hiley that the levy that they were paying to the police was too high. And Hiley had asked them what it was and it turned out that the whole of Queensland was paying through SP bookmakers ... was paying a levy to the local police to allow them to operate without any police control. And then Hiley found out that this money, some of this money, was then forwarded to Queensland, to Brisbane and to Frank Bischof. Now what Bischof did with the money, which was enormous because Queensland's got a number of country towns - I forget the figure I worked out - there was a ... a set tariff for ... for towns I think above 2000 in population. I forget what the annual fee was, but it was quite substantial, and then it increased according to the potential target of ... of betters on SP bookmakers. I think at the time it was running around about a million dollars a year, if not more. I think more, from memory. I think it was closer to two million dollars. Now how much of this money went through to Frank Bischof was never disclosed by Hiley, if he knew. Now Hiley, apparently, had no knowledge of Bischof passing this money on but it was said that it was going into a political party's slush fund. I don't know. I imagine some of it went in because the politicians were well aware of the existence of SP bookmakers. They flourished everywhere, even in Kingaroy, which was the ... Joh Bjelke-Petersen's electorate, the Premier. There was a very prominent SP bookmaker [who] operated right under Joh's nose. Now, Hiley chased this up a little bit to find out how the money was being spent and he found out that Bischof would go to the races in Brisbane every Saturday, and I think the midweek races, and have a bet on a ... several horses in each race. And he would invest 500 or a thousand on each of those three horses in a race. They ... they ... the betting would be carried out, what's called, on the nod by the bookmaker, and the bookmaker's clerk would write down three bets 1500 dollars to Mr. B. Now if one of Frank's horses won, that B was converted to Bischof. There was never any reference to the losses, so that Frank Bischof was always able to have a valid reason for having a lot of money. He was a very successful punter.
Well it didn't matter. Bischof paid the money but, say $500 but we was getting four to one, five to one, so he finishing up with a lot of money in his possession which he could explain away. That's how they washed, laundered bad money into good money. This all came out through Hiley, but Hiley's revelations were not published in Queensland until after I left and I knew nothing about this. But Joh Bjelke-Petersen did. Never told me that the whole of Queensland police force was operating on the understanding that SP bookmakers were not to be prosecuted. Now this meant a number of things. It meant that the police control most of the slush money, which was going to politicians, which meant that they ... the police really controlled votes in Parliament and also they were on very good speaking terms with politicians so that if the local sergeant of police of a country town didn't like one of my reforms, he would talk to the local politician, who owed him a lot of favours and so I had great difficulty in getting things through the Queensland Parliament.
Well I made a mistake in going to Queensland and not insisting that I be allowed to take a trusted assistant with me. Now most of overseas forces, where they've been reform Commissioners, they've ... they've arranged for somebody to go with them. You can't do it by yourself. It took me eighteen months in Queensland before I was able to satisfy myself that I had a little team of, perhaps, ten police officers, who I could thoroughly trust, and so it took me a long time to build together a little group which we called the Crime Intelligence Unit, and they were ... they were committed to, as much as I was, if not more, to cleaning up the force, and they fed me background information about what was going on in the Queensland force, police force, but it took me a long ... eighteen months before I really got off the ground.
Bischof was a very astute operator and he had selected three young detectives to be his bagmen, who went around to the brothels and ... and to the gambling joints and to the SP bookmakers and extracted the levy from them. I never knew who'd channelled the country money in to Bischof. Who did that? There must have been somebody else in a fairly senior position who co-ordinated that money trail. I never found out, neither did Hiley and neither did Fitzgerald. But Frank Bischof got this little group of very good operators, smart operators, who were given the ... the ... the nickname of the rat pack, and they were known as the rat pack, and they had ... They were a very powerful group in ... in Brisbane and elsewhere. They were given a great deal of freedom of movement. One of them, often spent time in Sydney. Whenever he felt like it, he would just fly off to Sydney and ... and associate with his opposite numbers of the rat pack in Sydney, and so there was a little closed network, interstate, of ... of corrupt police.
Well, the rat pack have been named. Al Hand, Tony Murphy and Lewis. Now Fitzgerald looked at this so I'm not ... he's got the best evidence on the identification and I ... They would be very happy to sue me for defamation if I named them too much. So it's the Fitzgerald stuff I'm quoting to you now [laughs] and they ... they ... they were the organisers. But when I came along and Bischof had gone, there was a little hiatus in this arrangement. The king ... the king pin had gone, Bischof, and I wasn't filling his shoes and so they needed an outside organiser, who came along, who was a former licensing policeman and ... from England and he really was the one who went around and revived the Bischof network. Tony Fitzgerald got a lot of help from this man because he gave him immunity from prosecution.
I can't think of his name, right at the moment. It's slipped me.
So there were senior policemen, when you arrived to take charge, who would have regarded the arrival of a man with a reputation for honesty with some trepidation because it might affect what they were doing, their lucrative practises. Did they try to discredit you?
Well they ... The sort of officer class of opposition really didn't have to do much because [laughs], see, I had a fair load of ... of what's the word I want to use? Opposition coming through the Police Association executive and they had access to the media. There was a sort of an arrangement with the police roundsman. I think it still exists, that if you want to break a story you need to be on good terms with the detective, and in return for the detective giving you the story, you support his cause. And so I had fairly bitter attacks from the media on me personally, on the family and on my little Crime Intelligence Unit and ... but the senior men weren't senior for very long, Robin. I have to explain to you that seniority was a very ... was the dominating factor in information in the Queensland police force when I went there. John McKinna had been invited up from South Australia by my Minister, Max Hodges, to give a blueprint for reform and one of the first things John McKinna said, 'You must get rid of this promotion by merit'.[sic] Now what this meant was that every police officer went slowly up the ranks because of his service, not because of merit or passing examinations so that when you reached the retiring age of sixty, you almost certainly were an inspector, or a superintendent, or a senior sergeant and you retired on an increased ... increased superannuation for that rate. Now they got to that position of supervision within the last year of their service, so they weren't very concerned about the future of the police force. All they were concerned about was their going away present. And I said to Ken, Ken Hogget one day, 'What do all these inspectors and superintendents do in their final year of service because I can never them in their office when I want to ring them'. And Ken said, 'They've been doing the rounds'. And I said, 'What do you mean doing the rounds?' And he said, 'They've been going around to all the people to whom they've done favours and ... and reminding them that there would be a public farewell and a testimonial dinner at which these people would be expected to contribute'. So I said to Ken, 'Well, look, I can't understand that. I can understand if they did that at the start of an ... of an inspector's service but not when he was leaving'. 'Oh', said Ken. Ken said that the ... the SP bookmakers and the brothel keepers ensure that the incoming inspector knew how much slush money they'd given to the retiring inspector, and made it quite clear that if the new inspector co-operated in the same way, he also would be given a nice going away present. And I said to Ken, 'How much is involved?' and he said, 'Nobody ever knows'. He said, 'But I personally know a number of inspectors who, when they retire, bought houses suddenly in which to retire'. He said, 'Of course, there's nothing illegal about a member of the public giving a farewell present to an outgoing inspector. I mean, it's just a gesture of goodwill'. He said, 'But what happens is', he said, 'The new inspector knows what he's expected to do'.
Well it was difficult because I really had no hard evidence of corruption. In order to do this you need to be part of the criminal conspiracy, you need to be there. If you're not in the swim, you're never told, so you don't know. You might suspect that there's something going on, but unless you're party to the proceedings you've really got no first class evidence. I started a little Criminal Intelligence Unit to do a number of things. One was to concentrate on a few target criminals and also to keep a watch on possible bent policemen in the police force by seeing how much money they had: were spending and accruing it, and also to see if we could recruit some of the prostitutes, who were involved in the brothels, because the prostitutes knew who the policemen that were coming to the brothels to get paid, sometimes in cash, sometimes in kind, and if I could secure enough prostitutes I would be able to charge some policemen. Sometimes we might be able to overhear some conversations if we arranged a meeting between a prostitute and ... and the ... and the rat pack. Well, we did one of those and the encounter was in the ... in the centre of a large racecourse, just the two of them, but we'd wired up the girl too, so we could have a recording of the conversation and when we got ... After the interview she came along and we checked the wiring and the wiring was defective. We ... we had very inadequate technical equipment at the time. I've mentioned this before to you. Our listening devices were very poor, so that didn't come off. But we did eventually persuade one of the well ... well known madams who operated both in Brisbane and in Sydney, Shirley Brifman, and Shirley knew a great deal of what was going on in the rat pack and their associates in Sydney. And Shirley agreed to come to Queensland and give evidence of the corruption of a number of Queensland police sergeants. And we ... one of my assistants, Norm Gulbransen, who I trusted completely assured Shirley that she would be safe in Brisbane. Well, she came up to Brisbane. We got a long detailed statement from her. We charged one of the corrupt police, but three days before Shirley was to give evidence she died suddenly overnight. It was said she'd died from an overdose of drugs. I've always had my doubts about that, but Norm Gulbransen thinks it might have been that she was too scared to go in the witness box. I think ... I think she was murdered. There are a number ... a couple of other girls like that who simply disappeared. And so we never were able to get any evidence from that side of the fence.
Yes. Well, I think for various ... We were able to by close supervision and surveillance, we managed to get evidence sufficient for prosecutions against twenty-three of the Queensland serving police. Now the first five charges that we laid were all dismissed and they were found not guilty. Now I ... I'd studied evidence down here at the Adelaide University. I was well versed in what was needed and I checked each of those five briefs and I made sure we had a watertight case before they went to the prosecutor. They were dismissed five times. So next time I made sure that not only did Gulbransen and I independently check the strength of the cases, but we got the case examined by the Crown Prosecutor. The twenty-three cases were not all those that we had, but they were the strongest and I was convinced they were watertight cases. We lost every case. Twenty-three cases we bought before the courts and lost every one.
I really don't know. I've suspected some skulduggery at different levels of the judiciary. And certainly Tony Fitzgerald was able to put the finger on a couple of very doubtful members of the judiciary. But I think the whole of the Queensland public service was determined ... was ... was ... was working on the promotion by merit system [sic].
Sorry, promotion by seniority so that magistrates who heard my cases had been promoted by seniority.
Well I was given a fairly specific set of recommendations made by John McKinna and ... and Cabinet instructed me to carry these out. I think from memory there was something like fourteen to sixteen and they included these things like promotion by merit, which I obviously agreed, greater distribution, [and] delegation of authority down the ranks, the introduction of an operations centre and so forth. These were all set out very clearly and, and these were handed to me by the Police Minister, who said, 'Ray, Cabinet would like you to bring these into effect'. And so for the seven years that I was there, they were my guiding lines. I ... I agreed with them because I knew John McKinna. We were friends, and I agreed with his recommendations and so that's where I got my ... I thought, my authority from to bring about change. But unfortunately every time I wanted to introduce one of the McKinna recommendations, the Police Union objected to it very strongly, as in the case of promotion by merit, and they would run immediately to the Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, bypassing by both me and the Police Minister, and ... and Joh would listen to them and if he didn't sort of immediately negate my ... my ideas, he would make it difficult for me to implement them.
Well, it's ... it's ... it's a rather wild suggestion that they were so influenced but I suspect they were all part of the promotion by seniority and because the ... the corrupt police were the smart police. They were the more intelligent. They tended to be from the detective office, which was the elite group, and they knew their way around the courts. They were well known to ... to the court officials and were regarded as good fellows, so that there would be ... and I was regarded as a Mexican, somebody who came from south of the border, and Mexicans never had any worthwhile ideas at any rate. So I had this whole Queensland culture opposed to me because I was a Mexican.
Robin, I did a ... a ... a check of the personnel files of the qualifications, education or otherwise, of the members of the force, and I was horrified. I can't now recall the exact percentages but I would think something like sixty per cent if not more of the then serving police - these ... and these were the more elderly ones - had left school at primary school level and never got to a secondary school. Then there were perhaps about twenty per cent or even less that had got to ... and these were the younger ones, that had got some secondary education. I think there were three in the force of over 3000 that matriculated. There was one, one odd character with a university degree, but on the whole the force came with a educational level of primary school, and of course, you know, these days in order to tackle modern legislation and understand modern technology, you need a better education than primary school. So I went to the Director of Education in Queensland, explained my problems to him. And he said, 'Ray, go softly and quietly on this and we'll introduce a scheme which will gradually raise the standard ... the educational standards of your police officers'. He said, 'I'll offer a schooling slightly higher than primary school, the sort of training, teaching English and arithmetic that we give the brick layer apprentices', he said, 'And other apprentices'. He said, 'If you can get your police to attend those, at least we will have started'. So I went back and talked to my Minister and we agreed that we would accept this offer from the Director of Education and I advertised through the police gazette that these courses would be open and what's more I said I would give a week's leave to every police officer to study for each subject that he was going to do, and I said when they'd finished this apprenticeship level they would get accelerated promotion to senior constable. It was a magnificent offer. It never occurred to me when I was a young police officer and the ... the police executive immediately went to Joh, and without Joh bothering to consult me, he made a public statement that Mr. Whitrod's ideas were far-fetched. Queensland did not need its police officers to be Rhodes Scholars. Now the level I was talking about was apprenticeship level for brick layers and Joh ... Joh said, 'We didn't need that'. Of course he didn't have it himself. And of course he proved that you could become a millionaire without having that education. And at the time Joh and the universities were at loggerheads. Zelman Cowan was the vice chancellor of Queensland University, and he and I were friends from long back, way back, and Joh and he didn't get on too well together, but Zelman eventually left and became Governor General and I saw quite recently, Queensland University had offered Joh an honorary doctorate for his assistance in promoting education in Queensland.
Well they were seven troublesome years and the things that you mentioned contributed to that. I think one of the early ones was the Springbok visit of the South African rugby team that came out, and there was a lot of opposition and demonstrations in Adelaide and Melbourne and Sydney, wherever they played. And the Premier was keen, as I was, that people who wanted to watch the Springboks play should be able to do so peacefully. There were some fairly large demonstrations planned against that and we did take some steps to ensure that the playing grounds were well covered, but at night time the players had to return to their hotel. They had an hotel where they were staying and this was picketed by a large number of demonstrators, mainly university students, who would gather outside the hotel and create quite an uproar: large numbers, two or three thousand outside this smallish hotel and threaten to enter the hotel, and not attack, but certainly cause some sort of furore inside the hotel. And the ... the first night this occurred there was a ... I made sure we had sufficient police on hand to prevent any physical encounter. The ... the ... One of the problems was the hotel was next to a hospital and the matron came to me and said, 'Oh Mr. Whitrod, the noise is causing disquiet amongst our patients in the intensive care. Could you do something about it?' So I went to the leader of the demonstrators and said, 'Look there are problems here. The hospital's nearby. They've asked for quiet. Can you tell your people to be quiet'. He said, 'Oh they won't believe me when I tell them I got the information from you'. So I said, 'Go to the matron and check for yourself'. So he did and he came back and he addressed the crowd and said, 'Go away and come back tomorrow night', which they did. And they came back the following night, reinforced with all sorts of missiles to throw and cause trouble. And they did. I was there taking charge and in the room I was in, overlooking the crowd, the window was broken by a large stone being thrown. So I told the police to clear the street and they did. And this upset the demonstrators and caused quite a lot of public concern, [on] both sides. There was a lot of ... Queensland's a conservative place and a very rugby loving place, so there was a fair bit of support for the Springboks and a fair bit of criticism of the fact that the demonstrators had been given too much free rein by me. But I came out of that fairly well. The Courier Mail published a editorial saying that the new Police Commissioner had come through that with flying colours and that was something. I'd received ... I'd been talking to the university students and had promised them that, as far as I was concerned, the police were there really to maintain order and not to carry out any instructions that might interfere with any citizen's liberty. I got a very angry letter from the Postgraduate Society saying that I'd gone back on my promise.
And then it came out, Joh had given a day's extra leave to all the Queensland police for their very strong control of the situation, and it also came out that the Queensland police had voted [a] no confidence in me because I'd urged them to use some degree of common-sense and so the postgraduates wrote to me and said, 'We apologise. We didn't understand', and that was nice.
Well, they welcomed me after I'd sort of made it clear that I was not one of the usual bully boys around the place. Soon after I got there Zelman Cowan was appointed vice chancellor and he ... for some reason, was immediately attacked by the university radicals, who called him Jew Boy and invaded his office and stayed in his office and Zelman asked me for some help. The students also went on strike and occupied a number of the buildings. So I went down to the campus and spoke to the students and said, 'Look, let's work out what your problems are and I can understand because I, until recently, have been a student myself, in an ordinary class, and I think I can be of some help to you'. And there was a very aggressive and competent young lady who was spurring the radicals on, and she wanted to engage in some sort of a off-the-cuff debate with me, and the media were there, of course, because it was a public concern, and so it was agreed that we would have a public debate that night in the great hall on the campus. It would be covered by the ABC and the lass and I would debate about student strikes on the campus and the presence of police on the campus. And, Robin, you might remember about this time there had been similar problems at Melbourne and it had been there agreed by the police and the students that the police would not come on the campus without the consent of the university. It would be a no-go area for police. Now that didn't appeal to me, so we had this public debate and the lass was very good and I explained that my theory that the police represented the people, represented the law, and not any political party, and I said I haven't come there to merely ask them to stop their strike, I'd come there to ask them that we could put a police station on the campus, and they were thunderstruck by this. There were no police stations on any university campus in 1970 in Australia. But I explained that ... that we would be there to help the students. And so they agreed and Zelman Cowan approved. And so we opened a police station on the campus of Queensland University, and I made sure that it was manned by a young man, who himself was a part-time student at the university, and he spent his whole free time, when he was not at lectures, and he would look after renewal of drivers' licences, check on ... on stolen goods from ... from the cases of the students, report accidents and ... and look after visas, all sorts of things to be of service to the Queensland students, and they welcomed the idea. It flourished but of course at the end of seven years when I left, Terry Lewis immediately closed the police station down, but it was in fact a ... a first, that I know of, where there was an active police station on the campus. I went around to a number of the ... of the university colleges and ... and gave my little talk about what I thought was the proper police philosophy. The engineering students elected me as their patron for two years running. I told them my number two son was doing engineering at Adelaide and so they thought it was appropriate that his father should be patron in Queensland, and really I got on well with them.
Well, that was towards the end of my ... my time in Queensland. I was just telling you how we established good rapport with the students. I was welcomed on the campus and when ... whenever I went there, both by Zelman Cowan, who became a friend of mine, and by the students. And I went to the staff club and had beer with some of the people, but towards the end the students wanted to march into the city, and Joh had said there will be no marches, no protest marches in the city by students or anybody. So they'd come to me and I said, 'Look this is a government direction. The roadway will not be occupied by students. If you ... it seems to me though that if you walked on the footpath on either side you're not ... not putting a ... the roadway, and blocking traffic'. So I said, 'As far as I'm concerned that would be a lawful way for you to announce your presence in the city itself'. St Lucia's about four miles out from the city. They marched in and of course they did crowd on the roadway, and just near the police headquarters there's an overhead bridge and when they got there, one of my traffic inspectors, who was not a supporter of my common-sense approach, stopped the procession with a team of his motorcycle police and ordered them to disperse. And they were a bit slow in doing so. One of the leaders of the demonstration was a young first year student, [a] girl [of] seventeen, who was carrying a flag, and he asked her to surrender the flag. She objected so he pulled out his baton and hit her on the head with his baton. She was a slight girl. Now from the overhead bridge, there were all the cameras of all the commercial stations and the ABC trained on this particular spot. Now I don't know how they got there, but I suspect they might have been told by my opposition in the police force that that's where the students would be stopped. And that night on the seven o'clock, six or seven o'clock news, there was a very clear picture of a young girl being hit on the head by a police inspector. And next morning, Zelman Cowan asked to see me with the head of the Student Union, [the] president, and [they] came to me and [he] said to me, 'Ray, the Student Union are very upset at what they think was an unnecessary use of physical violence on one of my students. What are you going to do about it?' And I said, 'Well, vice chancellor, I really need to get all the facts together first. I've seen what you've seen on television but I need a report from my police who were there, so that I could examine all the facts'. So the ... the police, the union president, a nice young man, went downstairs and the media were waiting downstairs, and ... and the ... the ... he said to the media, 'Oh the Commissioner's going to investigate this matter ... officially investigate this matter'. So the ... the afternoon papers came out, [the] two o'clock edition: 'Police Commissioner will investigate the police bashing of a student'. And in between times, I think, the Police Union got onto Joh. Joh rang me up and said, 'There'll be no, no such inquiry. You are not to conduct this without Cabinet approval'. And I explained that all I was doing was seeking ... trying to get the facts. And he said, 'You're not to do that'. He said, 'The people who ... who you ought to be investigating are the students because they were on the roadway'. And I said, 'Well, there's a difference between violence that was used on the students and walking on the roadway'. He said, 'Mr. Commissioner, you're not to do any further investigation'. I thought about that very seriously.
It seemed to me that the Premier was intruding into my operational control of the police force, but then the police witnesses that I needed to get information from were members of the motorcycle team and the inspector, who all were against me, and I thought that it was likely that they would just refuse to carry out my orders, and then if that happened there would be quite a uproar: the Commissioner no longer was in control of the police force. So I bit my lip and I said, 'I accept your direction, Mr. Premier', and we didn't have that inquiry. But subsequently ... subsequently, a bit later on, not very much later on, there was a raid on a hippy colony in north Queensland, north of Cairns. It was said to be a police raid because there was said to be marijuana growing on this hippy colony, which was on crown territory at any rate, and they probably didn't have any authority to build the little shanties that they built there. It was a well-planned operation by the inspector in charge of the area and he arrived by naval patrol boat and there was a large force, perhaps twenty police, and they went through this little hippy colony: tore down all the shelters, burnt a number of home-made furniture items that the hippies had made, couldn't find any marijuana, really created a big problem up there for the hippies because in fact what they wanted to do was to make the hippies move on. And the hippy spokesman got in touch with me and said, 'Mr. Commissioner, your police have really used excessive force on our people up here. We are a peaceful, law-abiding group. There is no marijuana here. Certainly some of the girls sometimes sleep with the men, but they're all over age'. So this was hitting the newspapers so I wanted an inquiry there so I could get the facts. Well, luckily I had in Queensland an assistant commissioner named Gulbransen, who I knew would accept my direction, and an inspector named Becker, a capable ... both capable officers, well-respected and I said to Norm Gulbransen and to Becker, 'Go to this spot, do an inquiry and bring back a report', and I said, 'The ... the Premier has said there will be no police inquiry north of Cairns. This is north of Cairns. I'm instructing you as the Police Commissioner to go. It's up to you to decide whether you go or whether you listen to the Premier', and they said, 'We will go'. So they went to ... to the hippy colony and came back, and largely verified that there'd been unnecessary damage to the hippy colony. There was no marijuana growing there and subsequently the local inspector was charged but as usual he was found not guilty.
Either that or I think the ... the girl batoning charge. I don't think he was ... no, he probably was there for the hippy thing too. Now he ... he stood up a lone voice in Cabinet for me. Now how Queensland produced a man of his calibre, I don't know, but Max was a strong supporter for me and stood up against Joh, and Joh took away his portfolio from him.
Well, initially, Robin, I ... all I knew was that he was a Lutheran Sunday school teacher and I thought that my vision of an honest police force must find echo ... echoes with Joh: an honest and competent police force with Joh. It didn't work out that way. Joh's Christianity is a different mould to mine and he and I didn't see much of each other. When we did talk, it was friendly talk, but he regarded me purely as another one of his public servants to whom he could give direct orders and I would carry them out without question. That was the ... that was the political dogma in Queensland, that the Minister's word was in fact God. When the Minister spoke, you jumped. You never questioned what the Minister said, legal or illegal. I think Joh knew that I would not carry out anything illegal that he might ask me to do, or immoral, not that I ever got that sort of request from Joh, except that every time that I tried to improve the ... the educational standards - the moral standards and the educational standards, Joh stymied me.
Yes, there were certain members of his cabinet who were personally interested in maintaining the level of poor policing that had been there before I came along. One case arose in Fortitude Valley where the ... the local director of Myers, a large emporium in the Valley complained to me there was a lot of lawlessness in the streets of Fortitude Valley, which was upsetting the custom at his store. He said he'd spoken to the local inspector of police at Fortitude Valley and had received no response whatsoever. And so he asked what I could do to improve the ... the orderliness of Fortitude Valley. And I thought about this and it seemed to me that if I couldn't use my inspector in Fortitude Valley I needed a little independent, loyal group to me. So I formed a little team of ten or twelve men. I picked one of the, one of the green Mafia, one of the executive who had always opposed me, a man named Murphy, who I thought was a better calibre than the rest, and I thought if I could put the challenge to him he might change his ways and support my reform efforts, and he did. And Vince Murphy came over and I said to him, 'Vince, we have this problem in Fortitude Valley. You go out and pick your own men, report to me and see what you can do to reduce the problem of lawlessness in the valley'. So he thought about this and he said, 'Commissioner, there's one area we can start on'. He said, 'There are a large number of deaths, road deaths in Fortitude Valley'. He suspected there was a lot of drunken driving. He said, 'We can start on that quite legitimately without anybody accusing us of being reformist'. So he, Murphy and his team, who became known as Murphy's Marauders, started concentrating on the sly grogs and the gambling joints and checking the drivers of cars as they came out at ten, eleven o'clock at night, and made a number of arrests and the number of road accidents and fatal deaths dropped considerably in the Valley.
Well we ... well we were clearly treading on the interests of some entrenched, what I would call businessmen, I suppose, that is those who were running the brothels and who were gambling, had gambling dens, as the Fitzgerald Inquiry showed.
So there was a political connection there that I hadn't ... I'd guessed at it in a way and I thought that there might ... if Murphy had managed to do something along the lines we suggested, I knew that I could expect some sort of attack, but it came through the Police Union of all things, who complained that Murphy's Marauders were getting more overtime than they were. And I told the green Mafia that if their men were as successful as Murphy's Marauders I would be happy to pay overtime. And then later on, which that didn't stop me, I got a direction from Cabinet, that I was not to allow Murphy's men to stop patrons leaving the sly grogs and the gambling dens and the pubs, not to stop them and be breath tested. They had to have at least a hundred yards clearance before Murphy's men did their interrogation. So I told Murphy that this was a Cabinet direction I couldn't alter and I said, 'I hope it won't interfere with your operations'. He said, 'Trust me, Commissioner'. So I watched the monthly crime statistics and they continued to improve and reduce crime, and the number of drunken driving convictions still increased, and the number of road deaths diminished, and this went on. So I called Vince Murphy in one day and said, 'Vince, how are you still maintaining your campaign?' He said, 'Commissioner, what we're doing', he said, 'We're not stopping any of their patrons from these places within 150 yards'. He said, 'It's carefully marked out in each brief'. So I said, 'How do you know which ... which cars to tackle?' He said, 'My men get into place about six o'clock at night and they put a little sticker on the left headlight of each car parked in the back of the brothels and the pubs and sly grogs and when they came out and driving along the road, 200 yards along my men wait for them and they pick them up'. So I said, 'Go to it'. Well, Murphy's Marauders were immediately disbanded by Lewis when he took over.
Oh this was Shady Lane's political area. He had been a Liberal and had switched to become a National to support Joh and had been given a ministerial post. Shady Lane had been one of the special branch people that we had in Queensland, and I was highly suspicious of, about their activities, but I'd never had time to personally check what was going on. I had too many other fights on my hands. But that's where Shady Lane came from and as you know the Fitzgerald Commission pointed the finger and later on he was convicted.
Well, the trigger point ... I was a bit unhappy of course, because I wasn't achieving as much as I thought I should be, but the trigger point was when I'd ... I'd selected a replacement for an assistant commissioner who had retired and this required cabinet approval. And in the past, always in the past, the cabinet had accepted the Commissioner's recommendation, so I had sent to cabinet three names, one of which was my choice and two others in case cabinet wanted to see the comparisons and I sent these three names up. I'd checked as a matter of diplomacy, I suppose, with the Senior Police Officers' Association and with the Police Union as to whether they had any objections to these three names, and the three names I'd selected were all highly respected, competent men, who were next due for promotion in the sense they were the most able. I sent these three names forward to cabinet, just expecting the usual acceptance but instead the three names were rejected and an inspector named Terry Lewis was promoted over, perhaps, sixty men better qualified than him, and he was appointed assistant commissioner. Now Terry Lewis was well-known as one of the rat pack that Bischof had formed with Tony Murphy and Hallahan, and Terry Lewis. They were well-known to be bagmen for ... for Bischof and so I was astonished. And I went to the Police Minister, because Max Hodges had been replaced and there was a new Police Minister, and I went to him and I said, 'Look, this cabinet ... cabinet's solid on this choice', and he said, 'Yes'. I said, 'But you must know that Terry Lewis was a bagman', and the Minister said, 'Yes, but that was when he was a sergeant. He's now been an inspector for a few years and he wouldn't do anything like that', and I said, 'Well I don't agree with you. Can I talk to cabinet or to the Premier because it's important to me. I've been conducting an anti-corruption programme here for seven years, and everybody in the police force knows that Lewis is corrupt. Now if he's appointed assistant commissioner, it will nullify all my efforts', and the new Minister said, 'I will talk to the Premier'. And about an hour or so later the Minister rung me up and said, 'The Premier does not want to see you, nor will he allow you to address cabinet'. So my empire crashed to the ground. I'd been selling the young police officers the idea that the principal quality for a police officer was integrity and here was a known offender being [pushed] for promotion, and it seemed to me that if he was made assistant commissioner I would be retained as a figure head, as a token of honesty, and Joh would deal directly with Lewis, and all sorts of things would happen in the police force of which I would disapprove, but which I couldn't stop. So I wrote out my ... went to my wife, we talked about it all night, and next morning I sent my resignation to cabinet saying that I wished to be relieved from my commission as a Police Commissioner.
Dreadful, not only for myself because I was nearing the end of my police career, but I'd started a ... a police residential college, at which I had recruited a large number of young boys and girls from secondary schools. We'd managed to get the pick of the country schools by offering the students at the police academy $4000 a year free board for three years, two years to complete their matriculation and one year, if they wished, in order to be trained as police officers but they weren't tied to it. So I'd got a large number of the crop of Queensland's best kids and I'd been out there and talking to them, been camping with them, been hiking with them, and impressing upon them that the first thing to do was to be honest and here, here was the Premier sending up a large signal saying, 'Whitrod's talking rubbish'.
Yes, I did.
No, he was not. He was not. I got feedback from the cabinet in which they said that Joh said that Whitrod had ... had turned traitor and had run away from his convictions that they had not expected me to give in so quickly. But it seemed to me ... to me important that I send a signal to the people of Queensland that something very seriously was going wrong with the Queensland police force and with their Premier. It was important that this be got through. Now Queenslanders are a group. They live in a wonderful state. They're apathetic about political matters. I had to stir them up somehow. It seemed to me the only way I could do it was making a personal sacrifice.
Yes I did. I got a ... a stack of letters and telegrams and ... and telephone calls from a number of people, not only in Queensland, but elsewhere, but from Queensland that I hadn't ... hadn't thought were supporters of mine and they said, 'Mr. Whitrod, you were proved right after all. We should have supported you at the time and we didn't and we're sorry'.
Oh all the time, Robin. As I told you the media were very much in the pockets of the police roundsman who were in the pockets of the detectives for information. At home our ... We had a silent number at home, but I had to leave the number at police operational headquarters for them to contact me, and we would get calls at three o'clock in the morning inquiring about our health. We ... In fact we had a heart specialist call, personally, at three o'clock in the morning because he'd been told by police headquarters that I was having a heart attack. We often had taxis coming, knocking at our door, at two o'clock, one o'clock, four o'clock in the morning, to take me to the airport. We had a load of gravel delivered on our front garden that we'd never ordered. My little team that were helping me were attacked through the media as turncoats and traitors to the cause of police. They had a very rough time and so did their families, and Mavis had a very rough time. She ... she really tried to shield me from this attack. Towards the end, Robin, I'm sorry to tell you, I got personally frightened of my own safety and I used to sleep with a revolver under my pillow. The attacks were so serious and ... and I suppose I was getting a bit nervous after seven years. Recently one of the ... The only man that responded to Tony Fitzgerald's response for a Queensland police force officer to come forward to give evidence at the inquiry, the only one, was a fellow called Dylan, a Sergeant Dylan, and he'd been in the licensing squad, so he was able to give Fitzgerald a lot of first hand evidence about corruption, and recently he called upon me, when he was in Adelaide, and he said to me, 'Commissioner, I've always wanted to shake your hand', and I said, 'And me too'. And I asked him how he was getting on, and he said, well his mother had always been very proud of him because they were Aboriginals [voice cracks], sorry, because they were Aboriginals and she was very proud of her son's progress. But since he'd given the evidence for the Fitzgerald, promotion had been shut off and junior NCOs had ... had by-passed him, and he'd gone to the top to inquire why he'd been by-passed because he was a good police officer. He said, 'All I got was a steely stare'. He said, 'And life, life, Commissioner, is very hard'. And I said, 'Well, I'd got frightened and had kept a revolver near me'. He said, 'So have I'. [BREAK IN TAPE]
That worried me a great deal. I'm inclined to be a hoarder of ... of material and keep things in my files, but Basil Hicks, who'd been one of my good supporters, came to me and said, 'Commissioner, I've got a lot of material on file from sources that have given me what they think is the truth, but in confidence, and I'm afraid that when Mr. Lewis becomes Commissioner, all this material will be exposed'. So I said to Basil, 'Basil, go and burn the lot. I'll give you a written instruction to do so if you want one'. So Basil went and burnt all the material which had come from sources hostile to Terry Lewis, of course, and who I think Terry Lewis would have taken out his revenge on.
Yes, I kept ... I kept copies of most of the documents: my letters and instructions I'd received and so forth, and had them at my home and when we left St. Lucia, I packed them up. We were going down to Canberra where I'd been given a teaching post at the National University. We arranged for a well-known firm of carriers to bring them down to Canberra, but they never arrived. So of all my original material I've got very little left. I have to rely upon memory because my originals somehow disappeared.
Well, the carrier firm said they'd been involved in an accident and had been burnt but I always doubted that but I was in Canberra. I would have to ask the Queensland police to investigate a suspicious report, and I knew I'd get no satisfaction, so I've just accepted that somehow, genuinely or otherwise, I lost all my basic documents.
Ray, the Queensland police force isn't the only force in Australia, or in the world, that has been corrupt. From your experience at a practical level of corruption, what do you think are the causes of it?
Oh well I suppose it's over simplistic to say it's greed and ambition, but it seems to apply especially to policemen who've got a discretion as to whether they should take action or not. It gives them opportunities to be corrupt which doesn't occur, perhaps, say to a schoolteacher or to a cameraman or somebody not in that sort of position of ... of power. And also it seems to develop most strongly amongst the detectives. The detectives are the ones who mingle, for good reason, with possible informers who are criminals and you also see a lifestyle which is just beyond their reach, but which they could have merely by looking the other way, or passing on a few tips, and I'm afraid the ... the inducements have greatly increased since I left Queensland. They were bad enough when I was in Queensland, but with the multiplication of drugs, for instance, the ... the amount of money available to corrupt police is staggering.
Do you think it also has anything to do with the existence of what are known as victimless crimes, or as it were, activities which the community actually doesn't frown as strongly on as the legislation suggests?
That depends. Yes, it's true. It depends very much on the culture of the society. I imagine, for instance, the ... the puritans that went from England to the United States would have had a very strict code of personal honour, but when you come to SP bookmaking, what harm is caused? All that happens is perhaps the state loses a little bit of taxation, or in Adelaide, when there was six o'clock closing of the hotels at six o'clock selling grog after six o'clock. Brothels come within that same category. Really what social harm is being caused by them? And policemen can easily rationalise their sort of looking the other way in return for a small reward to do nothing about that sort ... that sort of crime.
What do you think about the legalisation or at least the decriminalisation of things, for example, like cannabis or what's your view about decriminalisation as a way of coping with areas that have been traditional areas of corruption in the police force?
Yes, yes. Well, I suppose, it comes down to a personal credo. I'm more for a ... a state of low intervention by the state. I think the less control we have by the state the better because it takes away from the individual the need to make decisions. If the state is imposing controls I ... I ... I would, as far as marijuana's concerned, I would not oppose ... oppose its use publicly and did so I think back in 1956 or '57, when I was a part of a national committee set up to assess whether marijuana should be legalised or not, and I and the present archbishop of Adelaide, Ian George, we came out strongly in saying ... in favour of saying, 'Look, maybe, maybe prohibiting marijuana is a ... is an offence against society. but it's a small crime compared to what happens when the money goes towards bribing police, and you get a much greater crime because it's being prohibited'.
No, I'm ... yes. I'm in favour of it not being prohibited.
Going back to Queensland, how do you think that Terry Lewis managed so effectively to get Joh on his side against you? We know that there was probably some sort of connection there that was a corrupt one, but he did use other methods, didn't he? Would you like to describe how that worked?
I'm not sure how ... how Terry Lewis developed this relationship initially with the Premier. There was no official reason for him to have that connection. He was a ... a lowly sergeant and a lowly inspector, but Joh welcomed all forms of information being fed to him, particularly from policemen. He always had a police driver provided whenever he went to the country and he would talk to the police driver about affairs of the district. And the policemen, on the whole, would be reasonably well informed and Joh, I think, became accustomed to relying upon policemen as reliable informers. For instance, the special branch acted solely, I think, as an information centre for Joh and they were smart enough as per Shady Lane's activities to ... to offer information which influenced Joh's judgement, and as the Fitzgerald Commission showed, Terry Lewis managed to persuade Joh that a. I was a friend of Gough Whitlam's. I suppose I am in a way. We were in the airforce together. He said that I was ... was a strong ALP supporter. I've never been a member of the ALP or supporter of the ALP. He managed to sell Joh the idea that I represented all of the things that Joh disliked. For instance, I encouraged girls to join the police force and Joh's form of religion was that the place for females was the three Ks: the Kirk, the kitchen and the kindergarten, and outside that there was no role for women. Now, I ... I went out of my way to recruit good quality girls to join the police force and so I suspect deep down my credo was opposed to Joh, and Lewis was smart enough to feed Joh with that information, and Joh was not smart enough, or didn't want to discover what was the truth.
What kind of political views?
Oh, what are ... [laughs] Well, I ... I ... first ... first rule as a Police Commissioner: you have no political views. You must be strictly neutral and I maintained that all my service life. As regards now, I tend to be a ... a John Howard supporter, I suppose, in the sense that I don't like over regulation. I'm not a supporter of socialism and I'm not altogether a supporter of free capitalism. Somewhere in between, it seems to me, there's a useful medium but I don't ... I don't like forcing people to do right by law, rather than by their own personal choice.
I've voted, yes, Liberal. Yes, I don't think I've voted any other way except Liberal.
Yes. Yes, exactly.
Well, it seems to me ... [laughs] Well my little sort of ... get-informed-religious beliefs are that each of us individually has to face the world and work out a credo for him or herself, and that the more challenges we get to do right or wrong, the stronger we become if we choose the right. And so every time that choice is taken away from you by government regulation, the less likely the personality is to develop.
You've been described as the only truly honest Police Commissioner Australia's ever had. Now whether or not that's true, your reputation for honesty and integrity has been very strong. Where did you develop your ethical credo? Where did that begin in your life?
Well, Robin, I think I wasn't always honest in my younger days as I've mentioned to you. I think it came about when I met a man Ivan Menzies, who was a Shakespearean actor. No. He was a Gilbert and Sullivan actor from England and came out to Australia, maybe 1935, something like that. He'd made some mention of a religious movement called the Oxford Group in England publicly, and I'd been rather dissatisfied with the sermons I'd been listening to in ... from Baptist pulpits for all my life, and I felt uneasy about them, but I didn't know what the alternative was, and a good friend, Eddie Lee said to me, 'Why don't you go and see Ivan Menzies?' I went and saw Ivan Menzies. He told me about this Oxford Group which had developed in ... in England, founded by a Baptist clergyman of all, [laughs] an American Baptist clergyman, in which there were four basic absolutes and it was absolute honesty, purity, unselfishness and love, and these were, you know, ideals I'd never really thought I would achieve, but it drove home to me that there were black and white things in this world. You were either honest or dishonest and you were either selfish or unselfish and I ... that was about that time I was ... I had been a year or so in the police force, I felt I should clear my own conscience about things I'd done wrong and went along and made reparations for them. And I ... and I ... and Mavis came with me on the second trip to Ivan Menzies and she also felt that the material which he was presenting was relevant, and in fact inspiring and so we ... we joined the ... we couldn't join, but we helped to establish an Oxford Group in ... in Australia through Ivan Menzies. And we were ... I suppose, two of the very early members of it. It later became known as Moral Rearmament during the war. There had been some sneers about its founder ... [its] founder's comments about Hitler and so forth, and Mavis and I have always remained sort of in touch on the fringes of it. We ... we both admire the members of it very much and we ... we agree very much with their modus operandi, the way they operate. But once or twice because I felt dishonesty, I've spoken up at meetings and been the only anti in the room, and one of the things about Moral Rearmament is that you all [are] supposed to receive the same directions from God and apparently I was not receiving [laughs] the same directions, and I spoke up once or twice and sort of was pushed on the outer a little bit, because I didn't agree with the things they were doing. For one thing, it ... it was formed by a Baptist unmarried American pastor and I always felt that he didn't really understand what married life was all about. He advocated that you slept in separate beds and Mavis and I always slept in a double bed. We've always been a joint family. We've always enjoyed a loving relationship and we felt that was the ... a better way of life than being still single - living and sleeping in the same, same room. So we've kept a little distance from them, but I ... they are a group that I admire very much. They're very unselfish and I like them.
Yes, I don't know where that came from, perhaps from my mother. My mother's influence, I think, was quite strong for a little lass from Birdsville with two years' schooling. But she always wanted to know what it was all about and what ... what was going on and so forth, and encouraged me to think a little bit for myself, and to form my own judgements, and while that's helped me in some ways, it's also meant that I got into hot water on other occasions.
You said that when you began in the police force there was no ethical training at all, that you just were expected to bring, I suppose, what you'd learnt in your church or whatever to the situation. When you were running the police forces that you ran, did you introduce ethics as a ... as a matter for discussion?
At, at the Police Academy we started in Brisbane we had these lively young people with good intelligence. We used to have sessions there: group sessions and to discuss social problems and ethical problems, and besides that, I arranged for them to do some camping trips in the mountains nearby and ... and Mavis and I would go along to those sites and ... and have informal talks and I'd hope that some of my ideas would wash on to the younger people: ideas that a policeman needed to be honest to start with. He needed also other things but if he wasn't honest then he was a danger to society and not an asset.
It's often been pointed out that one of the factors that's there in a corrupt force or indeed any group that goes off the rails, is a concept of loyalty and obedience to authority. What do you think about the idea of loyalty: of loyalty to your mates rather than loyalty to a principle? Did that play a part in what you saw in Queensland and how does it work in police forces?
It played a very large part, Robin, when you, particularly when you're a detective and you work in teams of two, you learn to rely completely on your mate. You go on into a dark building at night and you cover the front door, he covers the back, you meet in the centre. If he's in trouble, you rush immediately to his aid, he comes to your aid. You go in the witness box, you give evidence to support ... support one another. You spend a lot of time together, you get to know each other's families, you become close mates, closer I think than aircrew, really, because there's only one other to whom you're attached, and maybe over time you might acquire several others, but there's this very close bond particularly amongst detectives and amongst the uniformed people, there's a similar bond because sometimes they feel it's us against them. That out there there are drunks and there are assault and robbery types and sometimes you are sent to arrest a man who's bigger than yourself. Sometimes he's got a couple of mates and there's only you and your mate to do the job. And I know there have been times when I've been with Ted Calder and we've faced a large ... not ... a largish group and had to force our way in and make a couple of nasty arrests, and I only did so. I only felt confident doing so because I knew Ted was with me. And if he'd turned tail and gone off ostensibly to ring for reinforcements, I would have been on my own and got very severely beaten up. So you learn to trust and carry on with your mates. So maybe if he does a little peccadillo like sneaking off for lunch a couple of hours early or ... or doing something a bit irregular, you'd cover for him, and he covers for you. It happens in all forms of life but in the police forces, particularly in the detective group where you are largely unsupervised, opportunities for little breaks away occur and then you just cover for each other. If one's made a mistake, the other will cover. So you ... so that you grow up very much as part of a small team in a larger team as you, as your experience extends and you don't dob in your mates, and that was my problem in Queensland. I thought there were a large number of honest policemen in Queensland but none, none of them would come forward and tell me about what their mates were doing on the side. It's a very strong bond between policemen that you don't talk. It's almost like a blue veil of secrecy. It's stronger, I think, than Masonic bonds or even the Mafia, for silence.
I wish I knew, Robin. I've thought about this a lot and I eventually came up with the conclusion that in the end you must ... can only rely upon your own, your own conscience and if that's strong enough, you've got your priorities right, that your mate is there but that if he's doing things which are harming other people, then you must either try and stop him or you report him. It's as bad as ... it's as strong as that, and it means a lot of heartbreak and a lot of, I suppose, disharmony sometimes, because two male detectives will never completely agree on what's completely honest and what's not honest, and so, you know, there are problems about it. But it seems to me in life you've only got yourself to be accountable for. You can't ... can't shield ... shield any activity by saying, 'Well he's my mate, I'll ... I'll cover for him'. You can do it to a certain extent but not ... not when it's important.
I wish I knew. I tried very hard. Queensland was a fairly large force, about three and a half thousand, mainly men with about twenty women, and I looked around for some allies I could find within the police force that would support my ideals and there was a branch of the Police Christian Federation and I went to them and talked to them and they were ... they were decent chaps but only keen on, sort of, personal evangelisation rather than feeling any responsibility for making their workplace honest. They ... they did nothing wrong but they did nothing to stop their mates from doing something wrong. I went to the Police Scouters Association. I was a member of that because I was in scouting and they weren't interested in this area. They ... they were involved in scouting activities, and I went to the International Police Association and that was a good social brotherhood, but they incorporated anybody regardless of their moral code and so forth. So there was nobody really except, perhaps, if I'd known, I think the Mormons in Queensland were one religious group whose members I never suspected, or any had any suggestion were involved in any criminal activity. But, on the other hand, they never helped me with the organisation. And the other group that I never had any problems with was the females. Now that may well be that females had really only come, through me, into the force and therefore were in very lowly situations and unable to exercise much discretion ...
None, none that I ever became aware of, Robin. In fact on the whole I thought the women supported my ideals. It was interesting, about the women, because I had very high ideals with what they might do. We managed to get some very good qualified lasses, better than the standard recruit - male recruit. We did this because in Queensland the ... the female constable rate was the same as the male rate, whereas in the professions the women were still on a lower rate than the males. So we were able to attract teachers from the teaching profession, nurses from nursing, and quite a number of girls, who were already established in a good job and preferred ours, so that we got some very good lasses. They came in and I put them through the training course and in many cases at the end of the ... the ... the six months course, they would top it. In pistol shooting and in all sorts of things, the girls were better, on the whole, than the males. And so I'd said that, I'd promised the girls that, every job in the police force was open to them and until it was shown that they were physically incapable of doing ... doing that particular job, they could apply for it. But when I got to Queensland there were about sixteen women police there. They ... they dressed in mufti, in plain clothes, and their main job was emptying the ashtrays of the sergeants, and looking after lost children at the show, and they were nice types but they ... they weren't police at all. Now I said to the girls, 'You are police officers and I expect the same contributions from ... from you', and I got it too, I think. They were good. Mind you about one third of them, they started to recruit about 1971 or '72 and after about three years I did a check of what had happened to them. About one third that had joined the force, I think looking for husbands; about one third were as good as my best male constables; about one third were better than my male constables but in a different range of jobs. They were very good at fingerprints. They were good in the operations room. They were very good scenes of crime officer. I put them ... I formed a ... a whole female rape squad and they were very good at that. There's a whole stack of things which the girls were better than the police[men] but I met a lot of opposition from the wives of the male police because I'd started a mobile car patrol. We had about four cars on the road, twenty-four hours a day and these were manned by a male police officer, who tended to be forty-five, fifty years, and a young, attractive lass about twenty-three, twenty-four, [or] five, and they were out all hours and the ... and the police wives were ... were a bit concerned about this, and maybe there was a bit of jiggery pokery going on. I ... I never found any but I guess it occurs in all commercial and [other] things these days where there is a joint intake, but the girls were very good. They studied hard. As I say, they topped the course. One of my girls, Jill Bolen, for instance, rose to become chief superintendent in charge of the Gold Coast. Amazing for a girl to get through. When I ... when they started they ... the girl's rank was inferior to any male rank so they ... police woman sergeant was junior to the youngest male recruit and I changed that. I made it a combined force where ranks were the same. And so Jill Bolen rose to be chief superintendent.
Well it didn't help me with Joh, and it didn't help me with the National Party, and didn't help me with lots of nice people, and it didn't help me with the church people, so I really lost a lot of support because of this: my idea that women should have an equal opportunity for all sorts of jobs, and, you know, I ... I really lost ground I think publicly because of the girls. On the other hand the younger people, the students and the younger public, were all for it and so in Queensland the younger groups were on my side. The middle-aged and the country folk and the, and the National Party were, thought I was too, too advanced. In fact that's what Joh said at the end, when I left. He said, 'Oh Mr. Whitrod had done nothing wrong, he'd just done it too early'.
Well, it always seemed to me that a good administrator needed a feedback. What were the consequences of his innovations and the ... the ... the only tool I had was the crime rate. I think there now, I think there are better ways of doing that. I think fear of crime is probably a better tool but in those days I only had clear up rates and this was a difficult matter for all Australian police forces. I tried to introduce a uniform crime statistics nationally and met with a great deal of opposition from my colleagues. But in Queensland ... [in] Queensland when I got there, they were using a scheme known as Paddy's Book and Paddy's Book meant that when a report of a ... an offence was made it would be written in a small notebook and then put on, in an inside pocket. If it so happened that the crime was cleared up or the property was recovered, the details would be extracted from Paddy's Book and then put on an official report. So the official report all covered successful investigations so the crime clear up rate was very high. Now I arranged that all calls of offences would go on to a tape recorder and they would be numbered as they come in, and all reports would have this numbering on them, so that we could check up any discrepancies, and as well I arranged for an outside auditor, Tony Vincent, in New South Wales, who was the Australian authority on crime statistics to come up each year to Brisbane for a week, at government expense and to audit my system of crime reporting. And so when I presented my annual report through my Minister to cabinet I had not only one covering the administration, but I had an audit report covering the outcome. It was the first in Australia but soon after I left, Terry Lewis stopped that and my results had been showing that we were getting round about a fifty-five per cent overall clear up rate which was about standard for British police forces. But after I left, the first year the clear up rate jumped up to something like seventy-five, eighty per cent: the best ... the best in the British Empire, British speaking empire, and that got a lot of attention from the media: how the Queensland police force had improved going by these figures. What really upset me, Robin, about that was that there were a number of academics in Queensland who theoretically were independent thinkers. Not one, not one ever raised that point publicly, that these were no longer being audited and why weren't they, and what was the real reason for this big jump in the clear up rate. Nobody, nobody in Queensland queried that. I think on the whole there were a lot of Queenslanders who were apathetic and got a lot to answer for. I feel very bitter about that.
You were called really as a term of abuse, the academic cop, weren't you? And yet what strikes me when I look at your career, Ray, was that you actually have been very much a man of action. A man who set goals and navigated a course to reach those goals. Looking back at your own life, what do you feel about your achievements? What would you rate as the important things that you've achieved in the time that you've been engaged in public life?
In public life. I was hoping you would ask family life and I would say raising a family, but publicly, I think looking back now from a distance of time, my best years were in Canberra when I finally got a national police force off the ground from a dispirited body of untrained and really incompetent fourth division officers. I think in retrospective that's been the most sustaining one of my ideas that have come through, and now we have a ... a very effective national police force. As to my being called 'academic cop', it really was in comparison. There weren't any other police chiefs with university degrees and I'd been the only one that had gone to Cambridge, and I'd been the only that had given the Sir John Barry Memorial Lecture and so forth and ... but I'd done this in my own time. I'd, I'd been a student who ... who went to school at night-time, not daytime and so I achieved my few academic qualifications at a personal call on my family's time, not ... not on the force's time. Nowadays you can get time off to go to courses. When I went to Cambridge, I went without pay, so it was a bit unfair to call me an academic and I had been in Adelaide a first class investigator. When I went to ASIO I got very quick, speedy promotion from being a ... a field investigator to assistant director. Five major jumps in four years and that was because I'd been good in the field, not because I was an academic but because I was a practical operator. And ... but it was just a sneer term in Queensland because in Queensland people sneer at university qualifications.
[Laughs] If you really want to know the truth I think of myself as a man of indecision. I ... I worry about what I'm doing, the best course or not. I think about that quite a lot and you need, Robin, when you're head of a police force, or head of any organisation, you need a sounding board. You need to say, 'Well, look I'm thinking about this, are there any obvious holes?' and Mavis has provided that for me. I'd go home at night feeling dispirited and say, 'Look I've done this and that', and I'd be down in the dumps and she would say, 'Well, look what did you actually achieve?' And I would tell her, and she'd say, 'That's good concrete evidence of good, good work', and so you need somebody and I've ... I've ... on my own I would be very much a man of indecision but because I've had good back up - Mavis has never been scared to tell me the truth [laughs] either about my ideas - so that I've been lucky in that respect. And I wonder sometimes about other people who go off the rails, whether in fact they've understood what married life can provide in ... for the outside world: that you ... that you have a front, a combined front to the world and so it's not only you that's facing the world, it's a combined ... a combination of you and your wife.
Yes, completely so. I ... I talked to you. I see myself as being a bit of a weakling to be quite honest with you and ... and it's been my wife's encouragement and inspiration in a very matter of fact way. You know, for instance, when I wanted to go to New Guinea. She was quite elderly. She said, 'Yes, let's go to New Guinea', and she hopped in and taught the girls basketball, did her fair share. When I went back to Queensland, it was necessary for me to try and sell my ideas to key people in the community, so she used to organise about every two months a nice dinner, a formal dinner party, at our home and we would have key people there so they could come and meet the Whitrods and see that we were not just academic cops and rough-necked rednecks, but we were ordinary people doing our best, and so she provided a sort of backup socially, which is important for people in public positions, that they meet you off the record and see you in your home, and she'd done that and without her help, I wouldn't have got anywhere.
Ray, men of your generation who went away to the war and then in an organisation like the police force, there's a tremendous requirement for a kind of masculine idea of toughness and emotion isn't really much allowed. Have you spent a lot of your life suppressing a sensitivity that's natural to you?
I think more so in my later years. In ... when I was younger I ... I had too much activity to do. You don't, you don't have time to reflect or reconsider. There's a job in front of you, you go and do it, and I, on the whole, didn't ... didn't have that many occasions to ... to feel emotionally involved. I did once or twice. I ... in Queensland, I felt very much deserted. Val Barlow, who had been one of my strong right hand men, retired. Gulbransen retired and these were chaps that were blood brothers to me - honest cops, and they were rare to replace and ... and I felt, you know, lost without them. I think in New Guinea, I felt a bit at a loss there. I wasn't sure whether I should stay in New Guinea and battle on, but I met Kim Beazley senior up there. I knew Kim Beazley senior and I had a long talk to Kim, who I admired very much, although I don't vote ALP. And Kim and I talked through and Kim said, 'Go to Brisbane'. So I've had some outside help and so suppressing emotion, I suppose has been a task but helped by other people. I've had more problems since I retired from the police force about emotion. When I thought I had cancer, when I met other people with cancer, when I met some old ladies that had been raped, they ... their plight impinged on me more than things that were hurting me personally.
Well there I was: returned back to Adelaide where my mother and father were still alive and living independently and it was my turn to look after them. My younger brother had been keeping his eye on them and I'd come back and I thought I'll do some fishing, I was keen on fishing. I'd never done much fishing and I'd come back here and it wasn't long before I got a telephone call from a strange women who said to me, 'Oh Mr. Whitrod, you don't know me, my name's Ann-Marie Myketa', and it rang a bell because a Juliette Myketa had been one of the first of the serial murders that were carried out and the girls were buried at Truro. And she said, 'I ... I see a little piece in the newspaper by Stewart Coburn, in The Advertiser and he'd written up a comment by you about how victims really needed to get organised if they wanted to get a better deal from the criminal justice system'. And I said to Ann-Marie, 'Look that was just an off-the-cuff remark I made at a Thursday luncheon group when Ray Kidney was talking about all of the good things that were being done for ... for prisoners', and I said, 'I had to speak up on behalf of victims', and she said, 'Well, we need to be organised and you are a very good organiser. Would you come and help us?' And I said, 'Not me, Ann-Marie, not me. I'm going fishing', and hung up. And then the next day I got phone call from Judy Barnes. Her son Alan had been murdered by the group that were here at the time and she said exactly the same thing, and said, 'I read what was in the paper'. Later on I'd learnt they'd rung each up and planned this attack on me. So when Judy Barnes rang up, I gave way and said, 'Look, I really can't help you, but come down and we'll talk about it'. So they came down to our place and Mavis made some of her nice scones and there was Judy Barnes and Ann-Marie Myketa and some of the other mothers of the murdered girls, and one or two men that had been badly assaulted, and we talked to them, and they soon ... soon convinced me that, that I was better qualified to organise a little voluntary group to ... just to give support to victims. So I got involved, and Mavis and I were mixed up with that for the next twelve or fourteen years.
Well, I thought ... I thought one thing we needed to do was to improve the status of victims in the court system. I thought if we get ... could get the victims the right to have a statement read out about the effect of the crime on them, it might inform the judiciary and the jury, and so one of the things I was battling for was a ... a victim impact statement. Hadn't been done anywhere else and so what I needed was ... we had perhaps twelve original members all of whom were victims or parents of homicide victims, so I used to go around, I suppose, address Rotary and Tomka [?] and Lions' Clubs and chambers of commerce and you name it, I went. I would address five or six meetings a week and ask them to become members of our organisation. I think it cost five shillings a year. I wasn't interested in the money, I wanted numbers. So when we ... after twelve months we had 2000 members and I went to the Attorney-General, who was then Chris Sumner, and I said, 'We're interested in ... In our association, we've got some proposals we want to put before the government', and he said, 'Who are you?' and I told him and he looked down his nose a bit at me because I'd come from Joh Bjelke-Petersen. He didn't know much about the background. So I ... and our first encounter was fairly neutral and then he said, 'Well, it's certainly a good idea and ... and I'll support it', and then he planned a public meeting in Adelaide about victims' crime and we had the public meeting, and that went up very well. And about that time I learnt that in Europe there were a couple of similar bodies like ours emerging from ... from the local culture and they were going to have their first meeting in Germany. So Mavis and I had been planning to go for a holiday that we hadn't had and ... in Queensland, so Mavis agreed I could use the money to go to Germany. I went to Germany, to Munster, and there was a big gathering, an international gathering, and we formed the World Society of Victimology to look at the plight of victims. I got on the executive, on the national executive, and every year after that I went and attended their meetings, instead of taking Mavis for a holiday. And then eventually we ... we put up ... the World Society put up a little statement about victims' rights and included this victims' statement thing, and we wrote to each country that was a member of the United Nations and said, 'Look these are the points we think should be made to support victims of crime. Will you ... will you propose this at the United Nations assembly?' And every country came back and said, 'No, we've got other priorities', including Australia.
And so I was very shattered by this. I'd been one of the prime movers of the idea and I went to Chris Sumner and ... and Chris was ... was favourable and he said, 'The South Australian government will support this'. And I said, 'Well you're only a state government'. He said, 'Leave it with me, Ray'. And there was ... then we found out through the World Society that not only could member countries put up proposals at general assemblies but large scale, recognised voluntary groups could do that, so we got a voluntary organisation to put this proposal up to ... to United Nations. So the United Nations decided they should have a preliminary meeting to determine what ought to be United Nations policy, and they invited all the governments to send representatives. And we went. I went at my Whitrod expense and Chris Sumner went and we met in Milan and there were a number of items which came up and the first item was, this victims' declaration of rights. And the chairman said, 'Now who ... who proposes this declaration?' because none of the voluntary organisations could vote, and there was Argentina and they said, 'No', and then Australia, and Chris Sumner happened to be the representative at that particular assembly and he got up, without authority and said, 'Australia'. And so, then soon after that Brazil came along and joined us so we had our proposer and seconder, so then they deferred it for a week while they worked out the details. Now I think there was something like 106 countries represented at the United Nations and at that first meeting there'd only been two. At the end of a week, we'd done a lot ... lot of lobbying and the proposal came forward by Chris Sumner, passed unanimously. And so we now have a world wide recognition of the declaration that victims of crime have certain additional rights.
Yes I do. I think we're born into an imperfect world with our responsibility for making it perfect, so I always think, not always think, it's one of my ... my ... my ideologies, that no matter how good it is, there is something that can be done to improve it. I'll let you into a secret. This institution where we are now, has just passed very happily an assessment, and they got satisfactory on all accounts. A lot of nursing homes didn't, and the nursing home here has been saying very happily, 'We're good'. It seems to me what we ought to say is, 'We're the best, we [want to be] perfect and we've got a long way to go yet'. So some time later on I'll start seeding this place with the idea that maybe we've still got a little way to go.
Robin, you've asked me deep questions at a time when I'm ... I'm in difficulties because of my wife's illness, but it always seemed to me that if ... if there was a creator and my voting is 51:49 that there is one, that the thing he would have done, he or she would have done, was to not make a perfect world because then we would be just like heaven and we'd be a lot of zombies like the angels going around, just a lot of yes men or yes women but we had a task to do, so that if God was all knowing he would have set us forth with a task to do. It seemed to me that he's given us this task of making the world perfect. Now how it's going to be made perfect I don't really know. I only know that in my own little sphere I'll strive to improve it, and that means personally, but also means socially and world wide.
Well I think I told you that I grew up very much within the shadow of a Baptist Sunday school. I sung faithfully all the old Sunday school hymns, and I didn't question what I was singing. But later on some of the words seemed to me to be a bit ridiculous and I couldn't really accept them and I spoke to a number of Baptist ministers about this and said, 'Why do we sing all these old hymns with ... with words which are obviously, have got no real meaning?' And invariably they've said to me, 'Ah Ray, the congregation like singing these old familiar tunes and so we don't want really to rock the boat'. And so I've really sort of moved on a little bit from the ... the theology of Baptist pulpit preaching into some more independent thinking of my own and ... and right now, I ... I'm in a quandary, I'm a bit like Sir Mark Oliphant, who you did interview. Sir Mark had a wife who was ill for three years and he looked after her. And I remember him saying that he could see no point, no point at all, in people having to suffer for three years and if there had been a God, the God had been fairly defective in letting this slip through, and I'm ... I'm in that situation right now.
Yes, here, particularly of course, you don't get to a ... these days to a hostel or a nursing home, more particularly a nursing home, unless you're half dead [laughs] really. It's God's waiting room, no doubt about that. But as for dying, I ... I ... I would hate to go through what Mavis is going through: a mental loss of I'm never sure who I am. She keeps saying to me, 'I'm Mavis. I want to die. I can see no point in me continuing on'. I think from my economics training that I'm more a drag on society than an asset and I ... I could die quite easily tomorrow if Mavis died, if she died first.
I don't know [laughs]. I'm still 51:49. I would hope that there might be some ... some sort of after life but I'm not too sure, Robin. I'm not too sure at all and if there wasn't any after life, well, I really wouldn't care all that much. I think that I've had an interesting life here. I've by and large, done my best, I suppose I could have done more, and I don't mind if ... if ... if ... if I'm cremated and my ashes go to fertilise a tree somewhere. We did that with my sister-in-law, when Brenda died, she ... we ... we buried her ashes and planted a tree over her at the guide camp ... camp site, and I'd be happy with that.
Well we had very limited understanding of the world, my ... my mother and father. I never got any directions from them, any sort of suggestions where I might go. Obviously they thought I might join my father and become a lolly-maker or something round the corner, but I gradually thought I would like to be a teacher. I thought I ... I thought I could be a good teacher and I suppose in a way that was one of the things that attracted me to Mavis. She was what I wanted to be. She was an established teacher, and there was I in my matriculation year, hoping to go to the teachers' college but that year, was during the Depression, the teachers' college didn't take in any new students. For a couple of years they didn't take in any new students, and so that was shut off from me, and yet that was the area that I would have liked to have got in to I think: either primary school or secondary school. I thought I would have been a good shorthand teacher. I could write shorthand pretty, pretty, pretty quickly - 140, 150 words per minute - which was reasonably good shorthand. In those days we didn't have recorders of course and shorthand was important and I thought I could teach ... teach shorthand and ... and be a sportsmaster and ... and I got on well with lads and, younger lads, and so I wanted to be a teacher. It seemed to me that was a nice, steady job with an income and ... and you could wear nice clothes, steady [?] clothes. You'd have your first suit to wear and so I wanted to be ... It was a big disappointment when about, oh I suppose two thirds of the year, one third of the year, we were going into my matriculation year, my teacher said, 'There are some in this class who were carried over from last year who are already accepted as student teachers but for you younger and you new boys in the class there are no vacancies this year at the teachers' college at all'.
Yes, yes. All the ... all the government departments were shutting down on employment. It was a bad year, it would have been 19 ..., what, 1931, Robin, and that was a bad year for South Australia financially and so I didn't know what to do. I'd ... I had a commercial education and I wanted to be a teacher and ... and there I was with no ... I had no real goal in life at that time except in my last year as I told I got attracted to Mavis and I thought she was just an ideal sort of person. She was a good sport. She was good fun to be with and I could talk to her and she could talk to me and didn't seem to notice that I was in old ragged clothes. And that's where I wanted to go, but ... and then when I couldn't get a job, I was really in deep despair. I ... I ... her in-laws [sic] were at that time unaware that I had these ambitions to marry her so, they ... they were very friendly towards me but I knew I had no ... no assets. My people had no money and I had nothing and how was I going to marry a girl who was a teacher, and I had no job and no trade, and I went to ... I remember I went carrying my swag and hoping to just get a menial job picking apricots and picking grapes. I couldn't get a job doing that and I was on the dole. The only money I had was sixpence I left home with some months earlier.
Oh completely so. I ... I really touched rock bottom that year after matriculation. Looking back, matriculating for university at sixteen is quite a ... a good, good effort, but I hadn't regarded it as such, because there were some other lads in my class who were sixteen and I really hadn't studied very hard, so it hadn't come all that difficult to me. So I never saw it as a sort of useful asset and I couldn't see where I was going, where I could get a possible job, and I was going to be on the rations for the rest of my life, and where would I live, and Mavis would marry another school teacher, other than me, and it was very lonely. Very lonely.
I don't really know. I think when you're young ... I was sixteen, seventeen, you ... somehow you have a youthful resilience that you don't have when you're my age of eighty-five and so you're always thinking that somewhere there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You're always thinking that one day, one day things will change and ...
Yes, yes, well it was Mavis' family that sent me a telegram saying, 'Ray, they are advertising for young cadets with a good education. Come home'. So I came home and joined the police force and very largely, very largely found what I wanted. I could be of use to the community and I've stayed with that all my life I think.
Robin, I was thinking the other night about where else I could have gone, and thinking back I think probably this was my best road, the one that actually came along. I probably thought, as a teacher, I probably would have been a bit radical and might not have accepted all the sort of discipline that a stern headmaster might make on his staff. I might be a bit outspoken. I wouldn't have had the opportunities to innovate: for instance, create a national police force. Thinking back, Robin, I think the way I came was probably my best, best course.
Only because I made it. Policemen, because they enforce the law, are great admirers of the law and of lawyers and they admire the law. The law sets out what is and what has been, and so you tend to be very conservative, stuck in the mud. You don't think about what changes you could make to the law to improve society. You really enforce what's there already, so you tend to reinforce the status quo. So policemen, on the whole, are not innovators because of their trade.
I don't know, I don't really know, Robin. I don't know why. I ... these days when we're learning a lot more about the effect of genes and how genes can predispose you towards certain activities, I think I must have got some from my mother because she ... she was a ... a ... a bold spirit for a little girl from Birdsville.
When you became a policeman, you were still quite young. You were out dealing with the sorts of crimes that detectives go out and deal with. Was this a bit hard for a boy from Murrays Lane? How did you, how did you deal with some of the sights and the situations you had to handle?
Well, it was. I found them interesting. I found going to the morgue and watching autopsies would make me sick and I wasn't very good at that. And on a very personal note, I found going to investigate women, who died from abortions, was upsetting to me personally in the sense that I wondered whether all love life ended up in this way. You know, you would have a foetus half out of the vagina and blood and I really got turned off physical sex for a long time because of that particular episode. I hadn't learnt to store things away in part of the brain and forget about them and ... and I ... I was very ignorant about female biology. I didn't have a sister. It was all strange territory to me and ... and ... and this sort of knowledge came with a bit of a rush and a bit horrifying and ... and a bit disturbing. That ... that was probably more so than the straight out murders or where ... where the rats had attacked the bodies and eaten faces away. It was more this, striking home to me that ... that sex had nasty aspects to it that I ... I hadn't thought about.
Yes. I ... I ... I developed a ... a ... a urine stoppage [laughs] and you got no idea why I developed it. I'd taken the grandchildren down to Victor Harbour and we were walking around Granite Island and I found I wanted to urinate and couldn't. The pain was unbearable and it was a Friday afternoon, about two o'clock, three o'clock, and I ... I was starting to perspire and feel very desperate and didn't know what was wrong so we ... we bundled the kids into our old Holden and drove back desperately to Adelaide. Got back to Adelaide at five o'clock on a Friday afternoon. I went around to my local GP, an old airforce mate, and said, 'Look, I'm in big trouble'. And he said, 'Ray, you couldn't come at a worse time on Friday - there'll be no surgeons available. You'll need a surgeon'. So he rang around all the hospitals and eventually found somebody at the Memorial Hospital and I went there, and they ... and they did some fairly painful work on me and got rid of that particular obstruction. And then about ten, oh, ten years later, the obstruction occurred again in the prostrate. It grew again and was encircling your urine passage. But this time I ... I was aware of not to let it go too late. So I went back to the same urologist and ... and told him my problems and he said, 'Yes, you'll need another resection done, Ray'. So I went into the same Memorial Hospital and I knew by then that there maybe, or he'd warned me, that maybe the growth might be malignant. He said, 'There's no way of knowing until I do an extraction of some of the material and have a biopsy and I will let you know as soon as possible'. So I went into the Memorial, into a little ward there and there were four of us in there. We were all waiting for treatment for the same thing and I got to know very much the bloke next to me, a man of about fifty, fifty-five, a very nice chap, and he was worried too that he might have a malignant growth, and we talked to each other and tried to give each other a bit of false support and we went in and had the operation and came back. And then you bleed a fair bit after the operation and then I think it was almost the second day almost before the urologist came in, very briskly into our ward, and walked straight over to me and said, 'Oh Mr. Whitrod, your biopsy is negative', and I thought, God, I've got cancer, cancer in the prostrate. And I was thinking about this: what will I do? I still want to live a few years longer and I had plans to go fishing that I hadn't done before, and while I was being very selfish about myself I heard him talking to the man next to me, my new mate, and he was saying, 'Oh I'm so very, very sorry, Mr. ... I'll say Mr. X'. He said, 'But your result was positive'. And from the tone of his voice I picked up immediately what he meant by positive was that there were traces of cancerous cells and the man had cancer, and the urologist was, oh, very humane I thought, the way he treated and talked to this man. He had been very brusque with me and I was bit upset about this. I thought, I'm having cancer and he just brushed me off. The man next to me, he spent a lot of time comforting. The man cried and his wife come in, and they cried, and then the doctor left and I sort of lent over and ... and tried to comfort him. And it was very difficult when you've escaped the threat to talk to somebody who's got it.
What do you say? You can't say, 'Sorry, chum', you know, and I ... I'd done psychology. I knew how to cope, I knew the ... the academic responses to stress and so forth. I knew them all, and I found that I was not being very helpful to my mate, so I determined that next day when I was allowed to leave the ward, I went straight around to the Barr-Smith Library at the university and looked up prostate cancer to see what the sort of comforting advice I could give. And what I found was a whole shelf on breast cancer. There were two books, two volumes on prostrate cancer, and I think they were both published pre-World War One or something. There was nothing new about it, nothing at all, but there was a whole shelf on breast cancer. So I went to my ... I'd been doing some study at the university, and I went to my supervisor, Professor Tony Winefield, and said, 'Tony, I want to switch my studies. I want to look at the impact of ... of cancer, prostate cancer, and how people respond to it', and he said, 'Look, it's new territory, Ray. It's worthwhile'. He said, 'There are very few research funds available, but I'll get approval for you to do that'. So ... so for the next four, five years, Tony and his wife, who's also a professor of psychology, Helen, they supervised my research into the impact of surgical cancer. I had two groups of subjects that used to come down to our house at Fulham and Mavis would make them a nice afternoon tea and we would lean on each other's shoulders. They accepted me as one of them although I didn't have prostate cancer, but I'd been close to it. I'd had two ... two ... two near misses, so we talked about what it was, who they were facing up. And I learnt a lot, Helen [sic], about how men face up to prostate cancer and we eventually formed a little support group where prostate cancer sufferers could talk to themselves and their wife. It's now an Australia-wide organisation and there's recently been some very rich research money being offered and ... and most of the cancer foundations have now got special sections dealing with prostate cancer.
And this is your retirement? In your retirement you set up a nation-wide organisation for cancer victims. In your retirement you were successful in getting through the UN a victims' rights bill. You've been pretty busy, haven't you, and what I wanted to ask you was that you've had an enormously active public life. All your life you've had a very strong public life. You've talked about the importance to you of your family life. Which has come first for you, when the two are in conflict?
I'm a bit ashamed of this, Robin, at times. At times my sort of public activities have taken precedence over ... over family affairs. For instance, when I retired Mavis and I agreed that once a year we'd go for a trip abroad somewhere, so we put some money aside. Each year I used that money to go to a victims' conference and she never went for a holiday, except once, and we went to Tokyo where there was a conference on victims in Tokyo, and I went up there because I was on the executive and needed to go, and she came with me, and we spent a week at Kyoto, and the family funds have gone that way rather than she being rewarded for some sort of holiday that she was richly entitled to. At other times, more recently I think, family matters have come to the fore and particularly since Mavis has become ill, I've had to give up my research on prostate cancer and spend the whole time looking after her.
Men? Yes. I ... looking back, I think they did. I think ... I think their work priorities assumed a greater importance than their ... than their family. It's only assumptions because I don't know of any research in this area but just, you know, shop talk amongst other professionals, it seems to me that they ... they've set professional goals to attain, not family goals.
No, I think I've neglected them, Robin. We ... we are a strong family group but it's because of Mavis, I think, rather than me. She's been a great family binder: writing letters, ringing them up, sending birthday cards and birthday presents, and offering a shoulder to weep upon. She's been the sort of core, I think, of the Whitrod existence, and we've all leaned on her until now and now of course the role is reversed, and I find it hard. Hard.