Jack Dealy (1917-2012)
Jack Dealy discusses his work as a policeman in Canberra in the 1950s and 1960s. He recalls street and court duties, escorting prisoners to Goulburn Gaol, and dealing with protests outside and inside Parliament House. He also talks about the Police Association and his commitment to the Police Citizens and Youth Club in Canberra. A highlight relates to his experiences with Raymond Fitzpatrick and Frank Browne, newspaper editors who were imprisoned for three months by the Parliament in 1955 for breach of privilege.
Warning: This interview and its transcript contain strong content and explicit language.
Interview with Jack Dealy
B York: This is an interview with John Dealy, better known as Jack Dealy. I’m speaking with Jack at his home in O’Connor, Canberra. I’m Barry York and I’m recording this for the Old Parliament House Oral History Program.
Jack, thank you very much for co-operating.
Today I’d just like to ask you about that period from 1949 when you came to Canberra as a policeman, joined the police force, up until the late 50s when you left the police force. We’re particularly interested in your involvement with Old Parliament House.
Now you know that copyright in this recording is owned by the Commonwealth and I’ll get you to fill out that form that allows you to set the conditions of access to this.
On behalf of the Director of Old Parliament House, I do want to thank you again for co-operating.
You were born in 1917 on a farm outside Shepparton.
J Dealy: That is so.
B York: We talked about your life at the National Library, but as I said today we’ll be more focused on Parliament House and the politicians.
Can I begin by asking what are your memories of Canberra when you came up here in 1949?
J Dealy: I can remember it very well.
B York: What was Canberra like as a city back then?
J Dealy: When I came here to Canberra I got the surprise of my life. I thought I was going to see something and all I saw were the two main buildings and the theatre and the Duntroon and the railway station. I was very disappointed in it.
B York: You came up from Melbourne.
J Dealy: That’s right. I came up from Melbourne, thinking I was coming to another nice city, but it was a back step to me.
B York: Had you joined the police force before you came up or did you wait till you got here and then joined?
J Dealy: I applied for the vacancy and I came up and they accepted me straight away, as I had all the experience in Melbourne and that sort of thing. I went straight in to the police force.
B York: You joined the Victorian police around 1939, didn’t you?
J Dealy: I did.
B York: And you were in the force for five years down there.
J Dealy: Yes, I was in the Melbourne police for five years and then I was away for four years and then I helped my brother out. Then I came back to Melbourne and I spent another year there and then things got too hot down there for me so I saw the opportunity and I got away, I think, just in time, too.
B York: We talked about that on the National Library one, and it’s quite a hair-raising story as to why you came to Canberra. So you applied, you got the job here in Canberra. What was the police force operating here? Was it in ACT or NSW?
J Dealy: It was the ACT. It was very—in the end, it turned out very similar to what I was doing in Melbourne but on a very minor comparison to what it was down there.
B York: What were your duties?
J Dealy: My duties here—well, on the street we’d have to do that and we had court work, we would have to that, you’d swear and all this sort of thing. I did the Supreme Court for nearly 15 years. We had that to do and then we had all the hostels, the people from overseas were coming here, and there was always a lot of trouble there. You’d be going there all the time. Then you’d have Parliament House and I’d do duty at the Parliament House itself in the Senate, both the Lower and Upper House.
I was involved in everything—when the Queen came out and when the Duke came out here. I did their escorts and I was lead cars in most of them. I attended all the functions they had out at the Prime Minister’s Lodge and the Government House. I did all the functions there.
I ran the Supreme Court off and on for about 15 years. I was involved in many a case there, in the two murder cases in Canberra, I was in on all those. I did the court work for those two.
At Parliament House you’d have a stint there, you might be there for a couple of years and then you’d be put off there and somebody else would take over. It was just off and on.
Then you had the embassies here, Petrov and all those. I was involved in all those sorts of things, which I can tell you if you wish.
B York: What was your rank?
J Dealy: At that time I was just an ordinary constable. I was a constable when I came here.
B York: What were the street duties?
J Dealy: The street duties that you’d come on in the morning, there’d be duty at Manuka or Kingston, the two were linked together; or Civic, you would have to do that. We didn’t have that many men, so you were always doing something. Then if the court came up, you’d have to be there for the swearing in, give the oaths and swear in the people. You’d have that, and then if you had a bad one you’d have to escort him to Goulburn Jail and that sort of thing, we ran all the time.
B York: What did the Supreme Court involve?
J Dealy: That was all the top—the two murders were there and I was involved in all that. As a matter of fact, I attended the murders myself and Alec Urquhart who did the Kerridge murder, I was there then. Do you want me to explain that?
Well, we arrived, we were supposed to be there so we arrived and we had an interview with Mrs Kerridge. She said, ‘He’s a terrible man and he’s abused me and knocked me around, and he’s interfered with my daughter, too, and I knew he was coming home and I wasn’t going to sit there and wait, so I put a tommy axe underneath my side of the bed and when he came home he turned around, he said you’ve had it your way, I have it my way, and he was going to attack me again, so I took the tommyhawk out from underneath the bed and I hit him and I kept hitting him till it slipped out of me hand.’
So she said that’s what happened.
When it came to the court, on inspection the wall was covered in blood where she had belted him, but I looked at him and he was lying naturally in bed, with the blankets up around his neck.
Anyway, it went to court and she won the case; but I had in my mind what I thought, but that’s beside the point.
So I did that one and then we had the Mulwala one where the cook over there, the girl was a waitress at one of the hotels and she liked a bit of a drink. This day and night she got on the grog and was under the influence. This bloke was there and he spotted her. He followed her home and he saw where she went. She got into a caravan in the backyard of their home in Braddon, her home. He gave here about an hour’s time to go to sleep and he went into the van and as she was sleeping he rolled her clothes up and exposed her breasts, and he sucked her till his satisfaction. That was his favour, that’s what he was.
Later he told me that he did that with his mother until he was 18. I can tell you some very good stories on that one.
Anyway, he satisfied himself and went home, back to the Mulwala. He got thinking about it and he thought he’d go back again to give her try. So he went back and she was lying there with her breast still exposed. He started again and she woke up. He took a bottle of whiskey out of his pocket and he hit her over the head two or three times and killed her. He hit her and he left her there.
I got a report in the morning about eight or nine o’clock to say that she was badly assaulted and badly hurt. I went over there and she was ready to go. The bubbles were coming out of her mouth. So I got her into the ambulance and got her to hospital and then I came back and I said to the detectives, ‘When did you have your last murder?’ and they said, ‘We haven’t had one.’ Well, I said, ‘You’ll have one in about a half a hour, I’d say’, and sure enough she died.
The top detective from Sydney, I can’t think of his name at the moment, they got him down here. It was June. I had to take him back by plane to Sydney to the jail in Sydney, and on our way there he told me what happened. He admitted it to me. So when I came back I told the detective. He said, ‘Did you write it down?’ and I said, ‘No.’ Then he said, ‘It’s no use, we can’t do much about it.’ I said, ‘Well, listen, he’s been here a week in the cell before I took him down. Russ Kennedy has been feeding him. He’s fairly friendly with Russ Kennedy. Get Russ Kennedy to get really matey with him and see if he’ll tell him.’ Russ Kennedy was a policeman.
He told him and it was through Russ Kennedy, he admitted it to him, and then he was arrested. Then he was locked up for it. He was charged with murder and then the case went on from that.
B York: Maybe now we could talk more about your Parliament House duties. When you mentioned the Senate and the House of Representatives before, what would be your role there? Why would you be on duty?
J Dealy: The role was really nothing. You were there to keep the peace if anything happened. Obviously, when I was there, all the time I was there, nothing happened and to me it was a dead end job but the nice part was you got a nice meal at dinner time, sat up and had a nice free meal.
Then you’d do your turn in the House of Representatives, then you’d go to the Senate and you’d do the same thing there.
To me it was no excitement, but the only real bit of excitement did happen was I wasn’t in Parliament this day but there was a person who was a bit insane and he was up in the Gallery. They came in with the Mace and put it on the rack to say Parliament was in session, when this mad bloke jumped down from the Gallery on to the floor, from the top of the Gallery, and ran up. I wasn’t there at this stage but this is what happened. He then grabbed the Mace and was off with it.
It took about four or five attendants to get him. Then he was brought up to the police station. Roger was there. They couldn’t get anything out of him. He was very aggressive and they didn’t know whether to attack him or not. So when I came on I was always there for the troublemakers, any bad man the sergeant called me, he said, ‘Listen, Satan, see what you can do with this man.’ As soon as he said ‘there’s Satan’ that bloke said, ‘You’re Satan!’ and I said, ‘Yes, mate, now listen, do what I want you to do, you’ve got to be searched and locked up,’ and he said, ‘How am I going to get out?’ I said, ‘I’ll give you the power, when we get there, to get out.’
Anyway, he stood up, he got searched, and everything. This is definitely God’s truth as I’m telling it. And then I took him to the cell and we put him in the padded cell. He said, ‘Now how do I get out?’ I said, ‘Through my strength I’m giving you that, let me get away and you can tear yourself out.’
You know what, when they went back, he had done $1,250 worth of damage, he’d ripped all the padding out of the cell and he was sitting amongst the padding.
B York: When would that have been?
J Dealy: I’d been here, I suppose, about two years or three years. It was funny.
B York: Where would you be in the Senate or the House of Reps?
J Dealy: You’d just sit up in the box wherever you liked. You walked around, but you always had to be there. Up in the Gallery.
B York: What was the relationship with the attendants? Were you briefed?
J Dealy: No, you did what you wanted to do. If there was any trouble you were there. There was never any trouble. The only trouble was when the marches were on, I was always stuck at Parliament House and I tell you what, it happened nearly every two months, there was a big march there.
B York: Tell me about that.
J Dealy: I’ll tell you who was there. This was just a thing that happened. The marchers were marching on Parliament House to draw attention to whatever they were there for. Everything was going all right and then they’d start. They brought one big bloke up there, he was going to fix all the coppers. He was a power weightlifter. I was sitting out at the front and there were three detectives had their eye on him. They were in plain clothes; you could see them standing out like watchdogs.
I had a bad leg from wrestling; I had a bad leg that day, and I said I’ll look after Parliament House. Nobody could get into Parliament House, and me and another chap, when the thing started and it looked bad, Harry Luton, he was the inspector, he panicked, and he said, ‘You’re it, get out there!’ so I had to get out with the sore leg and they had placards with great tin slabs on them. If they hit you they would drive you through the ground.
So I got out and things were looking bad. There were a lot of kids there, too. I said, ‘Listen, to take their kids away, if anything starts, I don’t want to see the kids getting hurt,’ so they did that.
Next minute it seemed like a wildfire, it started there, and down it came down the line. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the three detectives, two of them grabbed hold of this bloke, he’s a weightlifter, a big powerful bloke, and he just went forward and he went back and he sent them flying. I dodged away from things crashing around me till I got over to him, because I knew what I had to do. I raced in and I grabbed him by the arm, it was like grabbing a leg, it was that big, but I put my head against him and I twisted his arm, I put a hammerlock on him, and him being muscle-bound he must have been going through hell. He was screaming, and so I ran him 70 yards to where the van was and he didn’t resist me and he was pleased to get away.
That sort of thing went on all the bloody time. It was really bad.
B York: What sort of issues were they complaining about?
J Dealy: I can’t say. At different times, workers and all this crowd came down. They weren’t getting a proper go in their jobs, whatever, that sort of thing, they were complaining about that sort of thing.
B York: Was that in the 1950s?
J Dealy: Around then. It was one after another, nearly every two months. I just can’t think. There were a lot of blues at Fairbairn. There was a lot of trouble out there. That’s a big dark on my side, what took place, but that’s where a lot of things started.
B York: With Parliament House, if there were demonstrations, what would happen at the police level? Would you be briefed in the morning and told there’s a demo?
J Dealy: Each one would be picked for whatever it was. You’d have three or four at the Parliament House doors so nobody could get into Parliament House, and then you’d have the others scattered along, you’d have your police van not so far away in case, and that’s the way it would go.
When they lost control, that’s when the fights would be on, and it was on, every one. One day, again I had a crook leg, there was a march on Parliament House, so Harry Luton, he didn’t care much for me because I seemed to be in the line stealing his light. Anyhow, I said, ‘Look, Harry, I’ll look after the main entrance,’ and he said, ‘No, you won’t, you can look after the police station.’ I said, ‘I’m not going, that’s all right.’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘I think they’re going to march on the police station.’
I said, ‘How many men am I going to get?’ He said, ‘You won’t have too many, you might have six or seven,’ and I said, ‘How the hell, if they come down here, with 1,300 or 1,400 of them, what am I going to do?’ He said, ‘Well, that’s up to you.’
So when he went, I got my six or seven boys, they came, and they said, ‘What are you going to do?’ I said, ‘The only thing, we can’t stop them getting in this place, they can come in and take over. So the only way I can see is to take all the cars out from the garage underneath the police station, then lock the two big iron doors at the back there, and when they break I’ll open the door and I’ll spear them down the steps.’
Anyway, about three o’clock in the afternoon we could hear yells and screams coming over the Commonwealth Bridge and about 1,300 or 1,400 of them were coming down, they arrived at the police station, I went out and I said, ‘Now, take it easy, what do you want to know? I’ll answer,’ and all I got was a big sweep, they charged up to the door, I let them open the door and then I speared them down the stairs, and one bloke said, ‘I’m a senator’ and I said, ‘Go down and tell them all about it!’
Down they went into the car park. I ended up getting 140 and that was a real catch, that was. Then others broke loose and I think the boys in the van got another bus load. It took till about four o’clock in the morning to fingerprint them and have them ready for court.
B York: So they were arrested, all of them?
J Dealy: They were arrested, of course they were. So that broke his heart to think I won that one.
B York: When would that have been?
J Dealy: They were all happening in the years I arrived here, they happened then, those years. Truthfully, it was on nearly every two or three months.
B York: Were they local Canberra people?
J Dealy: No, they’d be from Sydney, from NSW, lodging a complaint, protesting.
B York: Were you trained to know how to deal with protesters in that situation?
J Dealy: No. You just had to depend on yourself. I had the experience in Melbourne. I had no end of experience in Melbourne, and far worse than here. Look, a story I can give you on Melbourne, it’s terrific.
B York: In Canberra, did you find your wrestling skills and boxing skills come into use?
J Dealy: With me, yes, that’s what saved me all right through my service. I could handle myself. I trained the police here for about 12 or 13 years, when I went to the Boys Club, and before I went to the Boys Club. I trained them and when they’d bring the police in and they’d send them over to get unarmed combat, etc., really truthfully they put the wrong people in. The Department apparently seemed to want education. Education was everything. Education is very far behind. The main thing, I reckon the man out in the street is the main man that does the work. The only way he can be is that he can handle himself. He doesn’t have to worry. I never worried. I took on all comers. If they cleared the whole flaming joint, before we’ve finished here I’ll show you the book, they’re all written out, every one of them. You’ll be surprised. I surprised myself how I handled them.
Where they make a mistake, they should put men out on the beat that can fight. You’ve got to be able to fight. If you can’t, you’re only a waste of money. Putting girls on the street is not right. I’d say put them on the administration, because they’d be better than the men anyway, I’d think. In brawls, what can they do?
B York: With Parliament House, did you ever have demonstrators actually break through the lines and get into the building?
J Dealy: No bloody fear they didn’t. No way. No, we never let them get in.
Then when the different celebrities came out to Parliament House, they’d often put one on then, while that was on. It was sort of instantaneous. It happened all of a sudden. It would blow up to something. Then you would have to be able to get in there and they’d look at you, and there’s no good saying what am I going to do. I’d attack. That got me through everything.
B York: Tell me about some of the celebrities who came to Parliament House.
J Dealy: There was the Queen and Charles and his bride, Diana. They came here. Then there was President Johnson was here. I did all the escorts for those, in the lead cars. I took Johnson out to Lanyon Station to see them, and we came back and there were the big do’s at Government House, we were the escorts for that, and then the big turnouts out at the Lodge.
They were all there, and I went to all them, too. I think we had a better time than they did.
B York: When Johnson came out here you were still in the force?
J Dealy: Yes, yes.
B York: I said you’d been in the force from 1949 till the late 50s; it must have been late 60s.
J Dealy: It would have to be.
B York: Yes, because Johnson came out in 1966 or 67.
J Dealy: Dates I can’t remember. I was with him all the time.
B York: Diana would have come out in the 70s or 80s.
J Dealy: It was. Then when the Queen came out all the soldiers were here, there were about 3,000 or 4,000 soldiers here and it was a big thing.
B York: Tell me about the Queen’s visit. That was 1954.
J Dealy: Yes, I was just the lead car in that and it was just taken from one place to another place, to the Prime Minister’s Lodge, and to Parliament House, they all went there.
B York: So you were in the lead car?
J Dealy: In the lead car in most of them, yes.
B York: Offering security?
J Dealy: Yes, supposed to be, yes.
B York: What was your role? What situations did you have to be ready for?
J Dealy: Well, any situation that was there. All the way along they had police posted, foot police, nearly all the way to Parliament House. It was well guarded. They couldn’t do it any more.
B York: Did they have to bring in NSW police?
J Dealy: At one stage we did. Now offhand I just can’t imagine what that was for. We had about 80 NSW police here.
B York: It could be for the Queen?
J Dealy: It could have been.
B York: Did you get to meet the Queen?
J Dealy: No, not really. I suppose we could have, but I was very close, I could have touched her. But no, it was good, I suppose.
B York: What about politicians? Did you get to meet any?
J Dealy: I can’t tell you names. Now I’ve got older I can’t remember names. Yes, I met nearly every one of them, and I had conversations with most of them, and I saved a few, too.
B York: Without mentioning names, what situations did you save them from?
J Dealy: Well, for several reasons: they’d get drunk, they’d get under the influence, and you’d get a complaint that they were—I’ll give you one incident, this was a senator, he got out of hand, and he got on the bus and he was telling the bus it couldn’t go because he said it was overcrowded. He was a full as a boot. So we were called, I think Thurbon was with me. We were called and he said, ‘This bus is not going.’ I said, ‘Just a moment. That doesn’t concern you. I’ll say whether it can go or not. In my opinion you’re under the influence of drink and should be locked up, I should say, but this bus goes,’ so I let the bus go.
I got him in the car, and I said, ‘What do you want to do? Go and be bloody locked up, or I take you back to the hotel.’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘take me to the Wellington. I said, ‘Listen, now look, I’ll take you to the Wellington but if I’ve got to come to get you again you’re going to jail. That’s it.’
So I took him to the Wellington and he met the—what’s his name? He was the top boss in Duntroon—and he was there and he was half stonkered, too. They had a blue and I was called back again, so I just told him, ‘You go home’ and I took the other to the pub and put him in and left him, where he was staying, the hotel, one of those big places there. Of course they were always in strife.
B York: You were very active in the Police Boys Club. From 1949 you helped to raise money for them. Were politicians very supportive or interested in that?
J Dealy: They wouldn’t have cared—when I was down there, and I was sent there—and I can give you a good story about that, too, it’s in the book here—I was sent down there to the Boys Club, I didn’t want to go but apparently the Commissioner and I had a blue and he said to me (can I put this in? it’s a bit rough).
I’ll tell you why he did it.
He was the treasurer of the football club down in Kingston. They were going very well and he thought, to get boys to come here from out at Young and all those places, he’d bring in education and that way it would give them an incentive. So he’d say, in three years you can be over the sciences, you can be anything. Greg Lomax and Arthur Allman were in positions like that, they could do that, you could bring education in and in three years they’d be over the top of it.
So I was on leave in Melbourne, when I came back and Allman said to me—they called him ‘The Pink’, his face was all red—‘We’re going to bring education in, and it’ll eventually affect you and I and Lomax.’ So I said, what do you want to do. Lomax said, ‘Do you want to have a go at it?’ Well, I said, righto, so I called an extraordinary meeting and of course the time arrived, The Pink, the commissioner was sitting up there with his mob, his followers, and of course I had all the followers, I had all the uniform blokes, and I had them all tied up -
B York: This was the police association?
J Dealy: Yes, a proper association meeting. When I went there, I opened up and I said, ‘Brother, tonight in Parliament you get parliamentary privileges, let’s hope to Christ tonight I get associated privileges because I’m going to say what I think and if it offends, bad luck.’
We got going and McConaghaghy and Max Robinson were up with the boss, but they were still mates of mine but they were sticking with him. They started talking and got up, and I thought, no, I’ll stop this. I said, ‘Just a moment, I can talk to Bill any time at all, I can talk to blokes, I know exactly what they think. I came here to oppose this legislation be brought in to overcome us.’
So we got going and it got bloody, it got really bad, it was nearly going to be a fight in the end. But we had them trapped, so I said, ‘Look, I think we’d better call this to a halt, we’ll be fighting next, so we’ll call for a show of hands.’ Well, we called a show of hands and we beat them.
Powley came over to me and this is what he said to me. He said, ‘You’re nothing but a fuckin’ bastard. If there was a Siberia I’d send you there. There’s no Siberia. I’ll send you down to the bloody Boys Club,’ knowing the Boys Club was stuffed, it was broke, and I’d be out of a job and they’d sack me.
So I didn’t want to go; I said I’m not going. Well, he said, you’ll get the sack. So I went down there. Do you want to hear all about that or not?
B York: The police club? I’m interested in how the politicians reacted.
J Dealy: The politicians were right in it. There was no money. I had to get money to run the thing. I got them back all on side and I said, ‘If I can get you to come back,’ and they came back, I said, ‘I think I could work out a scheme where we can make money. So what I did first of all, I put punchboards in all the pubs, which was illegal, of course. And I made a lot of money, too. In the end I got called over to Parliament House, Doug Anthony: ‘Be in my office forthwith.’ I arrived over there and I said, what can I do. He said, ‘Listen here, you’re running an illegal game,’ and I said, ‘Well, yes, I suppose,’ and he said, ‘We’re starting a –‘—they were bringing something in for gambling [totalisator], so I said, ‘Yes, I’m running illegally, I’m just trying to get some money to get the Boys Club going.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘you’ve got to stop forthwith,’ and I said, ‘Just a moment, what is the Government giving to the Boys Club? Absolutely nothing. What is the police doing about the Boys Club? Absolutely nothing. They wouldn’t know I was there, whether I was there or whether I wasn’t. The Canberra Times wants me to write up a story about the Boys Club. Now I’ve refused because I didn’t want to put the Government down nor the police down, but if you’re going to take that attitude I’m going to give them the story that you won’t like. You’ll be well mentioned.’
‘Oh,’ he said, ‘what do you want me to do?’ I said, ‘If you’re going to bring the totalisator in, you give me a cut out of that to the Boys Club.’ He thought over it and I ended up getting about 1,400 quid a year out of that and then, of course, I ran two dances a week, I did the wresting and boxing, it went all over the place, they had the sail and tug, it was good. I was there for five years and I didn’t want to leave it, but then they said to me, the Department of Interior, the head of the Dept of Interior called me over to his office, when I got over there, there was the commissioner of police sitting there with his secretary, and he said, ‘Tell me, why we shouldn’t close the Boys Club down?’ I said, ‘What? I came here, I thought you were going to give me praise. If that’s the case, if I’m going to be treated like a prisoner, or a criminal, I want their privileges. I want a month to prepare my brief.’ So I just picked my things up and I didn’t say anything, I just walked out on the commissioner.
Then I wrote it all out about the Boys Club, how it was run, then I took it over and got one of the girls to type it out nicely on a Boys Club letterhead, then I sent it to every commissioner in Australia and Tasmania, and I got beautiful reports back, what a marvellous thing it was. I brought it back and he read it and he said, ‘We’ll give it another six months trial and we’ll see what happens then.’
Now I’d been over there a month when I got a call from the police station asking me to come over to the commissioner and when I got over there he said, ‘You’ve got to come back.” I said, ‘Why have I got to come back?’ He said, ‘I think you know.’ I had a bit of an idea because I was running the enquiries at that time, too, on the quiet, and I said, ‘All right, fair enough, what are you going to do?’ He said, ‘You’ve got to train the police in unarmed combat,’ and I said, ‘That’s not going to make me too long, what am I going to do otherwise?’ He said, ‘We’ll start at that.’
So we started but it became very boring and so I said to him, ‘For God sake give me another job’ so I went in there and took a shift and then I helped him out with any trouble in the mall, I’d go out and I’d clean that up.
B York: Jack, can I ask a bit more about the Parliament House side of things? With the Prime Ministers, I’m often told that back in those days, Canberra is so small and you would actually meet or see Ben Chifley or Bob Menzies.
J Dealy: Yes, yes.
B York: Is that true? Did that happen to you? Did you ever meet Chifley?
J Dealy: I met nearly the lot. I can remember Chifley, when he was preparing, he had a shovel, he dug a bit, he said, ‘That stone is well and truly laid.’ Holt, I knew him, I even went down and saw where it was happening. I became involved in that somehow and I just forget now how it happened.
B York: You went down to Portsea?
J Dealy: Yes, I went down there, too. I could tell you a terrific story but I don’t think I’ll say it.
B York: Can you tell me with, say, Chifley or Menzies, if you met him, or McEwen -
J Dealy: My father and Jimmy Thompson got McEwen in Parliament House—parliament. Joel McEwen, Jimmy Thompson was a councillor in our district and Dad was very keen on politics, too. I don’t know how they met, I was only a kid at the time. They met McEwen and he was keen to run for parliament and they did all the things to get him there, and he got there, and he got into Parliament House.
Now years later he retired and bought a farm just out of Rushworth, the other side of the Waranga Basin, and that’s where Dick bought a house and that’s where I ended up. We had a property next to him. About 30 of our sheep were missing this day, so thought they could be in McEwen’s over there, so I went over there, and I said, ‘Listen, I’ve just come over to see whether our sheep are in here.’ He said, ‘What do you think, I bloody stole them?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t think so, you’re neighbours.’ It ended up, he and I had a real blue, and they were there, too. I got the sheep back.
B York: What about Chifley?
J Dealy: I saw Chifley, I saw them all. A lot of times I met a good few of them. After the Parliament late sitting, they would go down to the Canberra pub and have a cup of tea or a beer, and we used to call in there for a cup of tea ourselves, and I met nearly every one of them.
B York: Any memories of Menzies?
J Dealy: Not really. When I say I met them, we spoke to them there and I saw them in parliament, but that’s about it.
B York: What about Holt?
J Dealy: I saw Holt, too.
B York: Were there any politicians you did actually get to know?
J Dealy: Well, I was friendly with most of them but I can’t bring anything to bear. We had nothing in common, really. They’d say, How’re you going, Jack? or How’s things? There’d be nothing more in common. They were pretty friendly, I’ve got to say that. I didn’t resent any of them; they seemed to be all pretty good blokes, really. They’re doing their job.
B York: After you left the police force, did you ever go back to Old Parliament House? Have you been back to see it?
J Dealy: Yes, I went through the whole of Parliament House, right through everything. I just had a good look through the whole lot. It brought back good memories to me, too.
I enjoyed everything that I did. I went through Parliament House and saw everything there was to be seen in it, where they sat, where they didn’t sit. It was pretty good.
B York: Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about Canberra back then from a policing point of view, and again Parliament House?
J Dealy: Parliament House figured in a lot of things in our day’s work. There was always something happening there that you had to go to. I was sort of spread everywhere. I did all the court works and all those sorts of things. You’d be away from that sort of thing, but I was involved in nearly everything that happened here, all the Petrov case and the Fitzpatrick and Brown deal with the Parliament House. They were the parliamentary—they put them in jail and I did their exercises, let them out at night, and I used to go on a three-mile run with them and keep them in order, which I shouldn’t have done but we did it.
B York: You weren’t in parliament when they got into trouble?
J Dealy: No, I was at the station, but I ended up looking after them for nearly three weeks.
B York: How did you find them as people?
J Dealy: Quite good, quite good. No trouble.
B York: Did you have an opinion at the time about whether they should have been in the cell?
J Dealy: I didn’t have much to do—I didn’t know really, I suppose I did but my memory won’t just grasp that. I can remember well what we did and what they did, and I couldn’t fault it, but they finished their sentence at Goulburn, they were taken to Goulburn.
B York: You had them in the cells?
J Dealy: I had them in the cells, yes. I went running with them. They could have got away. I told them I’d belt them if they did. No, they were good. I’ve got good memories of everything.
B York: What about the Petrov affair? What was your role in that?
J Dealy: The Petrov affair, they were going to take the wife back, they grabbed her, she went on the plane, but they got her off the plain. I wasn’t involved in that, but when all the trouble was at the embassy I was there, I did the bail when the marchers came up there and they’d be belting about, 1,300 of them and they were going to tear the embassy down. I’d meet them at the hotel there, the Kingston hotel, and I’d say, ‘You can’t go over there, otherwise we’ve got to arrest you and have you put away. But the thing is, if you’ve got any complaints you can write them down and I’ll let you go and pass it through the gate, but the rest of you can stand in the centre here and then you can perform whatever you want to do.’ I did that on two or three occasions.
I didn’t have anything to do with her, or him really. But I was there while that was on.
B York: What was the chain of command for those demonstrations?
J Dealy: I don’t know. I was always picked out for the rough end of the stick every time. Luton was a person who wanted to be in the limelight all the bloody time. He knew he could depend on me, although he didn’t like me, but he could depend on me and that’s more or less how I got the job.
B York: You were known as being someone who could handle himself?
J Dealy: That’s right, yes, and I was put into all the dangerous jobs. In Melbourne, too, in Melbourne right through.
B York: Jack, you once told me about finding a body in the lake here. Is that right?
J Dealy: Yes, do you want to hear about that? Actually, I pulled two men out of the lake here at that time. It wasn’t a lake then but it was a river, it was under flood. I pulled one out at Dairy Flat Road and then this other bloke, they was a big golf tournament that was coming, and they put a pontoon bridge right across the river, which was flooding. I’m talking about three chains or four chains wide, and it was running like hell. Anyway, there was a bloke washed away. So Powley said to us, that’s the commissioner, he said, ‘You and Jock Turner - Jock, you used to be a good rower in the Manly rowers—and you go with him.’
So they put us in the river down where the hospital was, we got in the boat there, the river was running like a torrent, and we got in, and without warning we had no time to spread the oars, the water took us and we were underneath the willow trees going for our lives. We were heading straight for the pontoon and we were lucky, we could have hit it and gone flying. I said, ‘Jock, for Chrissake lay down,’ and we lay down and the boat touched the top, went under, and spun out about three times, and then it headed down towards McKays Dairy and then it took a left hand turn straight back.
When we got down, as we were getting near the turn I could see a hand out of the water waving like this, so I said, there he is, he’s caught on that stick there. As we turned around the water just took us and we went in underneath, it was nice and clear, that was the farm paddock coming down there, and there’s all the willow trees, we were under the willow trees again.
So we had a big long rope in there and I put the oar out and I thought it would be about up to here and I had about 35 feet or 40 feet to get to the hand. I tied the rope around my guts and I got out and I walked in. By the time I got up to where he was, it was up to here.
B York: Up to your chest.
J Dealy: Yes, up to my chest. So I grabbed the hand and he wasn’t hooked hard, he was ready to go. Well, it went and the force of water, I could hardly stand up, and I don’t know how I did it, I gritted my teeth and I held on, held on, till I got a bit of balance and edged my way back for about 45 feet to the side, and pulled him out. Then Jock got out and we pulled the boat out, and that was him.
Then the other one was down at the Dairy Flat Road.
I risked my life, I could have been killed that day by the pontoon and I could have been taken away in the flood if I hadn’t have done it. But I never even got a—everything
I did, I never got anything. I didn’t give a stuff.
B York: That’s good, you’re here to tell the story at the age of -
J Dealy: 92. I’m still going.
B York: Thanks so much for today. I appreciate it on behalf of Old Parliament House, I want to thank you again.
J Dealy: That’s very good. My memory, I lose track.
B York: You did very well and I’ll send you a CD, of course. OK mate, thanks again.
J Dealy: Now do you want a cuppa tea?
B York: Yes, sure.
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