Robert Menzies was prime minister of Australia from 1949 to 1966, and was Australia’s longest-serving prime minister. Gough Whitlam led the Labour Party to power for the first time in 23 years at the 1972 election. He went on to win the 1974 election before being controversially dismissed by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, at the climax of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis.
Lionel Murphy Australian politician and jurist, was Attorney-General in the government of Gough Whitlam and a Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1975 until his death. He drafted all legislation passed by the Whitlam Government which included:
- improving the position of women and our indigenous population;
- introducing Medibank, the precursor to Medicare;
- needs-based funding for schools and free university education;
- introducing the Trade Practices Act;
- ending conscription;
- diplomatic and trade relations with the People’s Republic of China.
Narrabundah had cheap fibrolite houses built for the workmen who initially built Canberra and the ACT administration placed single mothers and divorcees with children in them. Roz Kelly was the Member for the ACT and she lobbied for a Health Centre to be established and it operated initially from an empty Doctor’s surgery, the baby health clinic, and one of the fibro houses. Plans for a health Centre were drawn by the National Capital Development Commission, funds were allocated and the Centre was built containing four doctor’s surgeries, a treatment room, an office for a Social Worker, a community nurses annex, and an administration centre where a Secretary-Administrator, Denise Seddon, controlled the overall operations of the Centre.
When the local Doctor left, my wife Melodie told me to go to the community meeting and get on the Committee to lobby for a Health Centre. After a while members of the Committee drifted away and I became Chairman of the Narrabundah Health and Community Council.
The Staff told us that Child Care was required and we lobbied the Minister with the help of Roz Kelly and a Cottage was made available in Yamba Place. The Cottage was run by two retired schoolteachers and is still serving the community today.
There was some opposition in the community to providing these services and the opposition stacked the next AGM and voted in a new Committee. A year later at the AGM, they said that there were only two children at the Cottage and closed it down. My old Committee members got together and lobbied Margaret Guilfoyle, the minister, and she turned the Cottage over to us. Within a fortnight it was running at full capacity with 22 children. Occasionally I would visit the local priest, Father Collins, and we would swap notes over a Scotch. We agreed that fundamentalists who ignore the needs of the community were a blot on society, and he commiserated with me. He said “I won’t have a bar of them in my Church, and they try to undercut my authority all the time, but without success”.
The Health Centre is now the Aboriginal Health Centre and is providing a much needed service to the people of Narrabundah.