Friday, March 11, 2011

1959 New England New State petition

The Museum of Australian Democracy is mounting an exhibition on petitions to parliaments. 

For those who don't know the Museum, it is located in Old Parliament House in Canberra and focuses on the history and workings of Australia's democratic system.

Old Parliament House. Now there's a building I knew well when I worked in Canberra. It wasn't Old Parliament House then, just Parliament. I must write something on my recollections of that place, because it is a world now gone.

As part of the new exhibition, the Museum wanted to include a New England New S1959_new england_d7_07441rtate Movement petition. Lacking information, they found my blog and then contacted me. 

This photo shows a petition being handed to Parliamentary staff, I think it's staff, in 1959.

I have to check the people. To the right of the white haired presenter, the man with the moustache is Peter Wright, brother of poet Judith Wright. Obscured just behind him is (I think) my grandfather, David Drummond, who was then Federal MP for New England.

The Museum curatorial staff had very little idea of the history of the New England or Northern New State Movement and were, I think, a little surprised at its longevity and scope. They need material - written and visual - that tells a story that people can access by touch screen. The initial material I sent them was of sufficient interest for them to put back the design of this exhibit for a month to allow me time to recover from the move.

In providing material, I will be wearing my historian's hat. It really is a chance to tell something of the history of New England and the Movement to people who know nothing about it at all, who cannot even access material about it if they want because history and fashions in historiography have moved away.

It's an added time load when I am not coping well with what I already have to do. However, the potential pay back is so high that I must simply find the time.      

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