Kate Moore was born in England and migrated to Canberra in 1968. From 1970 to 1977 she worked for World University Service and for the Australian Council for Overseas Aid. From 1977 to 1983 she was Executive Assistant to the National Secretary of the Australian Labor Party and from 1983 to 1987 National Organizer, the first elected female national official of the of the ALP. She was also International Secretary of the ALP from 1984 to 1987. From 1987 to 1990 she was Advisor and then Senior Private Secretary to the Minister for Health and Community Services, Neal Blewett.
Interview with Kate Moore part 1
E Helgeby: This is an interview with Kate Moore who worked as an advisor to Neal Blewett at the provisional Parliament House from 1987 to 1988 and later at the Australian Parliament House. Kate will be speaking with me Edward Helgeby for the Oral History Program conducted by the Museum of Australia Democracy at Old Parliament House. On behalf of the Director of the Museum I would like to thank you for agreeing to participate in this program. Do you understand that the Commonwealth owns copyright in the interview material but disclose will be subject to any disclose restrictions you impose in completing the rights agreement?
K Moore: Yes I do.
E Helgeby: This being so do we have your permission to make a transcript or a summary of this recording should we decide to make one?
K Moore: Yes, you may.
E Helgeby: This interview is taking place today, 7th October 2011. Can we begin with, when and where were you born?
K Moore: I was born in Maidstone Kent in England in July 1944.
E Helgeby: What was your family background? What did your parents do?
K Moore: My father before the war — he wasn’t a wool classer but he worked with wool classers in London. After the war he had trouble settling down, or settling in to a job. He did various jobs, shop work, office work mainly, but ended up doing office work in South London.
E Helgeby: And your mother?
K Moore: My mother also did clerical work before she was married and had children.
E Helgeby: What was their religion?
K Moore: Nominally Church of England, but religion didn’t play a big part in our life. But we did occasionally go to church and we were sent to Sunday School.
E Helgeby: When and where did you attend school?
K Moore: I attended school in Maidstone, to the local primary school first of all. I left primary school when I was ten having, quote, failed my Eleven Plus and went off to the secondary, modern school, unlike my two sisters who both went to grammar school. I learnt later that I hadn’t actually failed the Eleven Plus but there had just been too many children had passed that year.
E Helgeby: So you mean there was a quota of the number of people who could pass?
K Moore: Yes there were only a certain number who could go on to grammar school.
E Helgeby: So the modern school was the basic education and grammar was for the more advanced?
K Moore: That’s right, yes, you were generally considered a bit second class if you went to secondary modern.
E Helgeby: When did you actually leave school? K Moore: I left school on about my sixteenth birthday, having trained as a shorthand typist.
E Helgeby: As part of your school education?
K Moore: Yes, as part of my secondary education, yes.
E Helgeby: So did you then go straight into a job?
K Moore: Yes, I went straight into work for Pitmans in London, Pitmans the publishing house as a very junior stenographer. I worked there for probably eighteen months to two years and then had various jobs at the same sort of level.
E Helgeby: This was starting from 1960 onwards was it?
K Moore: Yes, from 1960 to 1964 when I got married and became pregnant quite quickly.
E Helgeby: I suppose an interesting question is, how did you come about ending up in Australia?
K Moore: Well, I was married. We had two young children. We were living in the south of London in a very small apartment. We realized we needed to get out because of the children growing up and so my husband applied for three jobs. One in Dorset in England, one in Canada and one in Australia with the Commonwealth Public Service. He was offered the one in Australia and so we shrugged our shoulders and said, oh well let’s do that then.
E Helgeby: So the decision to migrate came about basically through you needing more space for your growing children?
K Moore: Yes, that was basically it. It was very simple really. We needed the space. We realized we couldn’t afford to live in London. We were young and fairly carefree. I had always been interested in coming to Australia. We’d learnt a bit about it at school. It always seemed to me to be a nice sunny place, with lots of open space and places for people to grow and do things.
E Helgeby: So, you mentioned that your husband applied for three different jobs.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: How did you come to select Canada and Australia?
K Moore: Because they were jobs that were available, for which he was qualified. He was an industrial chemist.
E Helgeby: Were there any other destinations or possible countries that you thought about at the time?
K Moore: No, I don’t remember thinking about it a great deal at all. It was just an economic necessity that we had to get out of London and so we started looking around. Without a great deal of thought we decided to come to Australia. Because Australian migration or migration to Australia was quite common as we grew up. My parents, I think, had considered migrating to Australia at one stage. So it was always in our consciousness. My mother had a sister and her family were out here so there’d been contact with Australia. We used to get food parcels from Australia after the war. That was a big part of our childhood, waiting for the food parcel so we could make the Christmas pudding and the Christmas cake. So the contact was already there.
E Helgeby: Did you know much about the country other than from this contact with the family that was already here?
K Moore: Well, we were taught about it at school. We were taught that there were a lot of sheep, there were a lot of wheat and there were a lot of beaches and it was the beaches that appealed to me, and there were no rivers, by the way [laughs].
E Helgeby: So what would you say were your main sources of information about Australia?
K Moore: Well, it was school and it was relatives and it was just the general environment we were growing up in where migration to Australia was welcomed and talked about among our circle.
E Helgeby: You mentioned that was actually taught at school, as part of your school curriculum.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: Was Australia the only country they talked about or were they providing information about, maybe the other Commonwealth countries?
K Moore: I think probably the other Commonwealth countries, particularly the white ones, such as Canada. So we didn’t learn too much about Africa, except that it was there. I think Australia stuck in my mind because it was such a vast place and the beaches and the sunshine.
E Helgeby: Did you have any — you mentioned family connections, when did they come to Australia?
K Moore: My aunt married an Australian pilot during the war. There was an airbase near where we lived at Beacon Hill and she married one of the pilots and came to Australia shortly after the end of the war and had a child. She had one child who was born in England but now lives in Australia.
E Helgeby: Where did they actually live?
K Moore: They lived in Melbourne. He came from Deniliquin he was a country boy but set up business in Melbourne.
E Helgeby: When you made this move did you regard it as a permanent one?
K Moore: Well no, we came on a three year contract. So we said, let’s see what it’s like for three years and then we’ll have another think about it. So, no we didn’t particularly regard it as a permanent one.
E Helgeby: How did your family, those who remained behind, how did they react to your decision to immigrate?
K Moore: I think my mother was very sad because I had a child. I had two children by that time and she had been very supportive, was very, very fond of the children. I didn’t even think about the impact it would have on me, on her and my father. Having children of my own and grandchildren of my own now I can look back and see how hard it must have been for her to let go of then, the only grandchildren, but they were in the main supportive, caring.
E Helgeby: Were you assisted under the Assisted Passage Scheme at all?
K Moore: No, we weren’t. My husband was recruited from London to work in the Commonwealth Public Service in Canberra. When they told him that he’d been given a job they then asked us how we would like to come out to Australia. They told us that they would pay our salary from the day we left London. They would pay the first class fare and they then said, well, would you like to fly out or would you like to come go by ship and us being rather young and poor and thought, three weeks paid leave on a boat would be rather nice. So we opted for the ship.
E Helgeby: Did you have any work yourself, work lined up in Australia?
K Moore: No, I had stopped working because I had — on the birth of my first child and then we had another child, a young boy who was eleven months old when we left. So I had no capacity to work in Australia at that time.
E Helgeby: What about accommodation was that provided by the Commonwealth Public Service?
K Moore: No, we came and were put up at what was then known as the Hotel Acton which was a Commonwealth Hostel for public servants coming to and from Canberra. We arrived in February 1968 in the middle of a drought. It was very hot, very dry. I thought it was rather ironic because in coming to Australia I had been interested in the beaches. I wanted to live near a beach and we ended up in the only city that didn’t have any beach. So coming to a hot, dry, dusty, what was then I guess a large country town in 1968 was probably not the best experience.
E Helgeby: Before you actually left London and before I suppose your husband and you were able to get a visa to come to Australia, were you subject to medical and/or other tests or clearances as prospective migrants?
K Moore: Yes, we had to pass the medical test. We both had to go up to Australia House and be checked over.
E Helgeby: Were there any other tests applied?
K Moore: I can’t remember any other tests, no.
E Helgeby: I’d like to ask you a bit about the voyage. It was by sea you mentioned.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: What was the name of the ship you sailed on?
K Moore: It was the S.S. Canberra.
E Helgeby: Can you recall the day of departure?
K Moore: Oh yes, yes. It had been cold and snowy. It was February in England it was cold. There had been snow during the previous week but my parents and my husband’s parents drove down to Southhampton with us and saw us onto the ship. I can remember standing on the ship as we pulled out of the port and saw England disappearing in the background. That was a very hard moment. I think that — I saw my grandmother on the key and I wondered if I would ever see her again, which I didn’t. So that was very hard but at the same time there was that great excitement of going to a new place and having three weeks first class in a big ship which we had never been in our wildest dreams thought we’d experience. So it was very mixed emotions.
E Helgeby: What were the conditions like on the P&O Canberra?
K Moore: Well we had a cabin that was a fairly ordinary cabin. It had two lots of bunk beds in it and a big cot in the middle because of my son was only eleven months old. So he was too young to sleep in a bed. So we didn’t have a great deal of room but we did have a little bathroom and we had some hanging space. We didn’t have a window which I was very disappointed about. I wanted to look out at the sea.
E Helgeby: What did you think about the food they served on board?
K Moore: Oh it was wonderful. It was very good. It was very hard actually to eat because the children were served at a different sitting. So they had their own sitting which is okay for breakfast and for lunch but dinner. The children were expected to be in bed but no babysitters were available. So we actually had to go down — we chose, I think, to go to the later sitting and we’d keep coming back to check on the children, who mostly were asleep at that time, but unfortunately on one or two occasions my daughter woke up. On one occasion she let herself out of the cabin and was fortunately found by a steward who saw us coming back to the room and said, is this your child? So that was very worrying.
E Helgeby: So there was no way that families could get any help to look after children?
K Moore: Not on the evening. During the day there was a crèche which was very handy to have and the children did enjoy going there but my son was a little disruptive in the crèche. He was only eleven months old. He was crawling and was fairly active. I walked in there one day and found him in a playpen where he’d been banished to the playpen because he kept pulling other children’s games around and was generally in disgrace.
E Helgeby: What did you think about the recreation facilities on board?
K Moore: They were very good. We had a lovely time really. There was a lot of entertainment organised. There were games. There was a swimming pool and generally it was just nice to be on the boat and watch the waves. When we pulled into port there was always a tour that we could go on. Now, we didn’t pull into port a great deal because it was not long after the Suez Canal had been closed and so the ships were trying to keep up their schedule but they had to go round the Cape instead of going through the Canal.
E Helgeby: Were there any religious services on board?
K Moore: I think so but they’re not in my consciousness.
E Helgeby: What about — were there other nationalities on board or was it primarily English?
K Moore: I think it was English and Australian, yes, very much so.
E Helgeby: How would you describe a day on board? How did you spend it?
K Moore: I find that quite difficult to answer because I can remember bits. I can’t remember a whole day. I can remember being up on the foredeck which people didn’t use, that was right at the front of the ship, and it wasn’t very well used but I use to take the children up there because they could run around quite freely. I loved watching the waves as the ship ploughed through the sea. Other days I remember entering my daughter into a fancy dress competition which we won, much to my surprise. A little costume that I had stitched together. Another day — I think the first day I remember waking up and it was fairly rough but I thought it was alright and I went down to breakfast. I think my husband was looking after the children and I looked and I said to the steward, ‘Where is everybody? Have I come too early’. He said, ‘No madam, we are crossing the Bay of Biscay and everybody is sea sick’. I worked out at that stage I was probably quite a good sailor unlike my fellow travellers.
E Helgeby: I was going to ask you about that. So none of you were bothered by sea sickness?
K Moore: No, not at all. My daughter is now, but she wasn’t on the voyage.
E Helgeby: So the day — did you spend your time during the day walking round the deck, reading books, playing with the kids?
K Moore: I think all of those things. We often had the children in the childcare centre and I think we met other people and we would talk, we would read, walk around the decks, perhaps play some games on the deck. There was the usual ceremony of when we crossed the equator, of people being dunked in the pool etcetera, etcetera.
E Helgeby: Would you regard the trip as smooth sailing?
K Moore: Yes, yes very much so. It passed uneventfully. We had a nice time. We saw a little bit of the Canary Islands, we saw a bit of Cape Town, which I found disturbing because of apartheid. I didn’t like it, physically very beautiful but the social conditions were appalling. So we saw a little bit of the world and we eventually arrived in Fremantle on a nice sunny day.
E Helgeby: So that was not your final destination, you didn’t disembark there, that was the first landfall in Australia.
K Moore: That was the first landfall in Australia. That is where the Commonwealth Public Service Officers came on and gave us a pay packet which we thought was pretty good.
E Helgeby: So you arrived with, landed money in hand.
K Moore: Absolutely, we’d just been paid for having two weeks rather nice leave on a boat.
E Helgeby: Can you describe the scene as the boat approached land and then berthed, from your perspective?
K Moore: Okay, I think the memory I have is of having to stand off shore while the quarantine inspectors came on and looked at our vaccination marks and our papers and made sure we passed all the tests. I don’t actually remember the ship coming in, or there being much fuss about the ship coming in. I do remember getting off and having a tour of Fremantle and thinking, oh yeah, okay, we’re here, it’s nice and sunny. I don’t remember a great deal about that now.
E Helgeby: Then from Fremantle you sailed to …
K Moore: We sailed to Melbourne where we were met by my aunt and her husband. We were only there for a day but they took us off the ship. They took us out to their home, introduced us to their home, and I said hello to my cousin who I hadn’t seen since she was about nine months old. We generally had a rather nice day just sitting and chatting with them.
E Helgeby: So your final destination was Sydney was it?
K Moore: Yes, we got off the ship in Sydney. Again, where my husband’s aunt and her husband met us and took us to their home in St Ives for the day which I thought was absolutely beautiful. I was so impressed with the North Shore of Sydney and then that night we flew up to Canberra to the Hotel Acton.
E Helgeby: So what was your impression of Sydney?
K Moore: Oh, Sydney was stunning. I can remember getting up early and as we were coming through the Heads in Sydney and just being overwhelmed by the beauty of it. The sun shining on the water and the vegetation and the houses coming down the cliffs, just stunning.
E Helgeby: So, and then from there you went straight up to, straight up to Canberra?
K Moore: Yes, we flew up to Canberra that night.
E Helgeby: I suppose I could ask you for your first impressions of Canberra, coming from, having seen Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle, what did Canberra look like to you?
K Moore: Well I looked out of the plane window and I remember looking down and thinking, it’s quite brown down there. You couldn’t actually see a lot of houses because of the trees. So we could see trees. We arrived and I think we were met at the airport and taken straight to the Hotel Acton so I didn’t see much of Canberra. I was aware of the lake. We arrived really about five or six o’clock at the Hotel Acton and that wasn’t a very good experience, that wasn’t a very good welcome to our future home. It was very much a hostel run by a bureaucracy. So we were shown to our rooms. They’d given us a room with a double bed and a single bed and another room with a single bed and given that we had two children, one of whom needed a cot, this was not satisfactory. So I asked if we could have a cot and they told me that, no the store room was closed at four o’clock and we don’t open it until the morning. So I immediately had a problem about how I was going to get the children to sleep safely. We ended up with my son in bed with me and my daughter in a single bed and my husband in the other room, which wasn’t very nice for our first night in the country.
E Helgeby: Setting aside the accommodation, which obviously was a matter of concern to you, what were you initial impressions of Australia? Did they tally with what you had expected?
K Moore: No, I expected a beach [laughs]. So I hadn’t expected it to be so hot. I think the first few days we were there the temperature was close to one hundred degrees. But the first day, when we woke up, I realized I needed to get some provisions because, while the hotel was giving us our basic meals I needed some biscuits and things that I could have a cup of tea in the room. So I set out to walk across to Civic. Well, I found myself walking across a dusty paddock with no proper footpath and it was so hot. I had one child in the stroller and one two year old trying to keep up. It was fortunate I had gone out fairly early in the morning. We found our way into Civic and it didn’t seem to be much in the way of shops there but I did find a little milk bar and I managed to buy some fruit cake and biscuits and milk and then we trundled back to the hotel.
E Helgeby: Just out of interest, how long did you actually stay at Hotel Acton?
K Moore: We stayed there for about six weeks until we found a house to rent.
E Helgeby: I suppose your initial impressions, what were the differences between Australia and England that stand out in your mind, as you were coming in as a new …
K Moore: They were greater than I had thought. I mean the countryside was totally different. I’d come from a very green, very virgin land I hadn’t really prepared for an arid country, or semi-arid country. One that was in the middle of a very bad drought. So that difference in climate and country was quite stark for me. I was quite interested in gardening so again, lack of familiarity with plants was a big drawback. Surprisingly, I found, which I hadn’t anticipated because I hadn’t thought about it, the language and the culture was different.
E Helgeby: In what way?
K Moore: The language, it was just small things like, lollies, now in England an ice lolly is an ice block on a stick, whereas lollies in Australia cover all sorts of what I was calling sweets. So, it was just small things like that, that made life unexpectedly a little difficult and puzzling, not seriously, but. I guess it added to a general sense of aloneness and alienation, a consciousness that I was in a different country. It wasn’t like moving from one town to another, it was very much coming home to me that I was in a very different country. Also, the fact that I didn’t have my family nearby, apart from my husband and two children, of course, but my mother and my sisters and my mother-in-law and her family were nowhere near us. So I didn’t have that support close to me, which is quite important when you’ve got two young children.
E Helgeby: Were you home sick at all?
K Moore: I was very home sick. I was home sick for about the first two years I think. I think that was because I was so lonely, because I wasn’t working. I wasn’t in the workforce and so my husband would go out to work every day and I would be left at home in a rented house with two little children and without those normal supports that I was used to.
E Helgeby: Would you say that you felt welcome or not welcome in Australia?
K Moore: I would not say either of those things. I’d just say it was indifferent. My husband’s workplace was — well the people in my husband’s workplace were fairly supportive. We had met a couple on the ship who were coming to the same employment. They were a little older than us but we did keep in touch with them. We met a couple of people at the Hotel Acton so we weren’t entirely alone but you didn’t have those long established friendship and relationships that you have in the country where you were born.
E Helgeby: You found it difficult to adjust to the Australian way of socializing, making contact?
K Moore: It wasn’t so difficult adjusting, it was more that we didn’t have those contacts. We didn’t have the established, long term contacts. It was a different way, I guess, because we’d relied a lot on our family for social contact. While we both had friends we also had a very good family life and so it was difficult to not have that. We’d never had to rely so much on friends before.
E Helgeby: Where in Canberra did you actually rent a house?
K Moore: We rented in Campbell which was quite nice. Canberra, of course, was quite a small place at that time. The house in Campbell was a nice four bedroom house, very sparsely furnished, with a huge garden. We did make some friends with neighbours eventually. One of the neighbours very kindly took me under her wing. She was a home person but she used to play tennis every week so she introduced me to playing tennis. She took me down to the local tennis club and I could take the children down there too and they could play around while we mucked around on the tennis court.
E Helgeby: How long did you actually stay in the rental house? Did you ever buy your own?
K Moore: Well, no we didn’t buy our own. At that time the deal for people working in the Commonwealth Public Service was that if you transferred to Canberra your rent was subsidised and then you would be offered a government built house and so we decided to wait and see what the government offered us. We were very fortunate, they offered us a house in Weston. It was a nice house. It was probably in a good location. We were probably one of the first people out in Weston Creek but we decided to take that house and I’m still there.
E Helgeby: So, this was in 1968.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: You couldn’t work because of the young children at that point in time.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: When did you start looking around to see if you could find work?
K Moore: In about 1970 I — I had struck up a friendship. A young couple had moved in next door to us. They had children the same age and the woman, Jill was — had decided she needed to go back to work for financial reasons. And so it occurred to me that I could probably do the same and so I was fortunate. I managed to organise some babysitting, a child-minder, and I got a job as a stenographer in the Commonwealth Public Service in the 4th Division as it was then.
E Helgeby: How old were your children at that point?
K Moore: My son was probably two and my daughter would have been four. So she was in part-time preschool, yes, and my son was two and needed fulltime care.
E Helgeby: If you look back at those years before you went into the public service, would you say they were good, happy years or were they …
K Moore: They were hard years, I think they were hard years. It was hard either being, both being at home alone at home and being lonely, and while going back to work was a good thing in terms of feeling being part of the community, it was also very, very hard physically having two children and balancing, having to do lots of balancing of home and work life.
E Helgeby: Did you work part-time or full-time?
K Moore: I had to work full-time to start with. The deal was that, I think, if you worked full-time for a while you could then look around for a part-time job in the public service. Eventually I got a job with the Department of Defence who were quite close to home in Campbell but I didn’t last very long there. I hated it. One had to clock in with this ancient clocking machine and a card. Of course it was a very male dominated establishment and I was in the typing pool which was very poorly regarded. You were just there to help men basically to do their jobs. I spent my days — I can remember sitting there typing something about mines and being totally revolted by it. I think it was the very early days of political consciousness that I just thought, I don’t want to be writing about this stuff.
E Helgeby: So you actually — I see from your notes here that you really found another job even in the same year that you started working in 1970?
K Moore: Yes, possibly …
E Helgeby: ’70 to ’72 it says, you noted World University Service.
K Moore: I think it was towards the end of that year — maybe I’ve got the dates wrong but it was certainly around that time. I was working in the Department of Defence and knew I had to get out and so I started looking for another part-time job. I saw the job with this organisation called World University Service wanting a part-time secretary. I knew nothing about the organisation and of course there was no internet then to look it up. I went for the interview and I was interviewed by a charming man called Brendan O’Dwyer who kindly offered me the job. I found myself in an entirely different world. It was a student based organisation, basically a Christian organisation, but set up to look at issues around third world development.
E Helgeby: Can you tell me a bit more about that organisation. Where was it based?
K Moore: It was based in the Australian — well it was based in the old Nissen huts in Childers Street. So it was right on the edge of the ANU and, of course, we had students coming in and out all the time. The organisation took a fairly active role on the campus although it was a national organisation, it did actually become involved, I guess, in some of the student politics around South Africa, the anti-apartheid movement the anti-Vietnam movement as well as broader issues about third world development.
E Helgeby: What was your job?
K Moore: I was the secretary-typist, so I did everything basically. Brendan O’Dwyer was the director, he was the only other employee and I was the part-time secretary. So my job was to help Brendan and that was a wonderful relationship. We had a — we formed a really good team. He taught me a lot. He used to talk to me about social justice and politics and so did the people who came into the office. I remember Priests coming in, other students coming in, people who have now gone into, perhaps making full-time careers in academia or in social justice organisations. Gradually my eyes and my ears opened and I could understand what they were saying, why they were saying it, and feel that stirring of a passion for social justice in me as well.
E Helgeby: So that was the beginning of a real working life for you?
K Moore: That was the beginning of a real working life and a very real commitment to making things better for other people I guess.
E Helgeby: Are you talking about students who were here in Canberra, international students for example who were here, or are you talking about action that students would take in other countries?
K Moore: I’m talking about actions that the students here would take to support political movements in other countries. I don’t mean party political movements but there was a lot of support for the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. There was a lot of support for the anti-Vietnam war protests that were going on around the world and here of course.
E Helgeby: So was — you said your job covered everything, the support.
K Moore: Well I did everything from making the tea to typing the letters to distributing leaflets and Brendan would occasionally drag me in to meetings. There was a big sit-in to protest against South Africa at the ANU and I went along to some of that with Brendan and heard some of the speeches and the issues that were discussed at that.
E Helgeby: The organisation was not purely ANU, it was a national organisation?
K Moore: It was a national organisation but very much based in the ANU.
E Helgeby: Did you travel interstate for work, for any of this?
K Moore: No, not at that stage not then. In fact I don’t remember Brendan travelling a great deal. I think he did but I think because most of the key personnel were …
Interview with Kate Moore part 2
K Moore: … that were in Canberra, he stayed here.
E Helgeby: You said with that job, according to this from up until 1972.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: And then you made another change?
K Moore: Yes, well Brendan had been recruited by that time, at the end of that period, he had been recruited to work for the Australian Council for Overseas Aid. They had been given a grant of money, by the government, to set up an education unit, to do some public education around development issues. So he asked me to follow him and be his secretary there. So that is how that happened.
E Helgeby: Is this the organisation we now know as AusAID?
K Moore: No it’s the organisation that is now known as the Australian Council for International Development. It’s a non-government peak organisation. It’s a peak for a lot of organisations, including big ones like World Vision, Freedom from Hunger, Community Aid Abroad, that is now Oxfam I think. So it’s the coordinating group for them.
E Helgeby: What was your job?
K Moore: Again I was the secretary but again got dragged into doing a little more than secretarial work. It was a very exciting time. The unit was new. We basically had green fields. Brendan really could set the tone for what was to follow. We had our own education committee, it was a sub-committee of the board of the organisation. They were mostly the people who were on the more radical side of the organisation, so again, I came into contact with a much broader group of people. Who were again opening my eyes to some of the bigger issues in the world.
E Helgeby: Sounds like a fairly intense work.
K Moore: Yes, it was, but it was stimulating, it was exciting. We were, I guess, pushing the boundaries rather a lot actually, in that we were challenging a lot of the notions that some of the more conservative agencies had about development. In those days were taking a rather paternalistic approach to aid and the education unit was challenging that so it was quite exciting.
E Helgeby: Where were you actually based? Where was the head …
K Moore: We were in Churchill House at that stage in Northbourne Avenue, quite a nice place to work from.
E Helgeby: And that you spent two years, according to your CV working in the initial job as secretary and then you switched job in 1975.
K Moore: Yes, my recollection is that the education unit had an increase in its grant. They were taking on more staff and I was persuaded that I could do the job of one of the education officers. I think I was a big surprised at that but took the opportunity anyway to upgrade my work.
E Helgeby: What did your job consist of at this point?
K Moore: A number of things, obviously we were putting out a number of publications at that stage, one of which was a regular monthly magazine called Development News Digest. I edited that, or co-edited that with one of my other colleagues. Editing consisted of doing a lot of the writing, it consisted of getting other people to write articles, and it also consisted of us actually doing all the layout of the magazine as well. My job was also to prepare articles for other people, to go out and speak to other groups. One of the things that was happening, of course, in 1975 was the first International Women’s Year.
Interview with Kate Moore part 3
E Helgeby: In 1975 I understand while you were still working for the Australian Council for Overseas Aid you attended a conference?
K Moore: Yes, it was obviously International Women’s Year. There was the first International Women’s Conference was held in Mexico and this was going to be a really big deal. Side by side with the official government forum there was a big forum on for non-government organisations. The Council for Overseas Aid decided that they would like to be represented there and they asked me to represent them which was a great honour, a great challenge for me. I’d never travelled overseas officially on any business or represented anybody but nevertheless I went off with a lot of other women. We had a very good — we travelled together through San Francisco and then down into Mexico and spent a week at this huge non-government forum where there was a lot of fire and a lot of passion. I came across women who — from many, many different countries. I heard about the stories of what was going on in their homelands. We shared stories, we laughed together, we drank together. It was a great experience.
E Helgeby: Did you speak at the conference?
K Moore: No, I didn’t speak at the conference. I had to write a fairly substantial report on it when I came back. Obviously I had learnt a lot so it was a very good exercise for me to do that. It was a great coming together of thousands of women, thousands and thousands of women. Every evening, or quite regularly during the conference we would meet up with the official delegation so we would know what was going on at the government conference. I remember Susan Ryan who was leading our government. I think, no Susan Ryan was part of the delegation, as was Germaine Greer and so I remember those very strong women meeting with us and inspiring us and telling us what was going on. That was a great learning curve for me.
E Helgeby: How did you see your role in attending the conference?
K Moore: I saw my — I think I saw my role very much as being there to learn that is what ACFOA had told me to do, to go and listen, to hear what other people were saying, particularly women from developing countries. That is what I did. I tried to absorb as much as I possibly could. I took a lot of notes so that I could write a substantial report when I got back and share that knowledge around.
E Helgeby: What were the main topics that came up?
K Moore: It’s hard to remember. It was about the gender divide. It was about the sorts of struggles that women were having but at the same time I think I became very much aware that women liberation movements, such as in South Africa, were also going to be very loyal to their men. So they weren’t there to talk about the gender divide as much as the problems that their people had in becoming free enough to sort out those issues. So, very much for me the message from many of the third world women was development first, equality, not second but then we will get equality because we need to have enough food. We need to have enough money to be able to pay attention to these issues.
E Helgeby: Was this consistent with the kind of views that had come out of the discussions earlier on in working for the Council. I mean you mentioned that there was a strong interest in equality and in development, was this consistent with that?
K Moore: It wasn’t inconsistent, I think, I mean because if, at the same time women were saying, but you have to understand our cultures if you’re going to provide aid. It has to be culturally appropriate so there is not a conflict but it’s a different way of looking at it and being aware that in giving aid you must also look at what is happening in the country itself. So within the culture, what is the place of women, what is the place of men. There is a big theme about educating women you educate the family so there was a lot of emphasis on education of course for both partners, but particularly for women, because women will teach their children to read and to write and to become educated.
E Helgeby: Did the council as a result of your attendance at the conference, and what happened at the conference, change its approach do you think in any way?
K Moore: I think some of the members of the council were changing their approach because they realized that they needed to because of the discussions that had taken place through international women’s year. I think they were setting the tone for others to follow. So it wasn’t so much the council itself, because that was a peak body that was set up to represent interest to government. But they did start to take up, I think, the issue of gender to government so that could be dealt with within the official aid program.
E Helgeby: This was in what the early part of ’75?
K Moore: This was, I think it was probably mid-’75 that the conference was on, mid to late. So there was a lot of action that flowed on from that in terms looking at what the agencies were doing.
E Helgeby: And you stayed on with council until 1977?
K Moore: Yes, I stayed on till 1977.
E Helgeby: Did your work change at all after, in a sense, you approach change when you came back from the conference?
K Moore: I think I came back with renewed energy and a greater sense of self confidence than I’d had before. I was certainly stronger in my feminism and at the same time the education unit was changing as well because Brendan O’Dwyer who was the first director and who’d been very influential with me had come into conflict with the governing board and had left. So there was a change in the management of the unit and the unit was coming under increasing scrutiny because we were generally seen to be rather radical and left wing. This was not altogether a good thing particularly as governments was changing. So the job was changing, there was more pressure there, but also I’d been there for — by 1977 I’d been there for five years. So I wasn’t consciously looking for a job but, looking back I can see that I was possibly in a bit of a rut and was open to new opportunities. So when they came knocking I took them.
E Helgeby: When you say knocking can you tell me how it came about that you joined the National Secretariat of ALP as I understand it in 1977.
K Moore: Yes, in 1975 I had joined the Labor Party and that was partly because I recognised the need to give expression to my increasing commitment to a party that stood for the sort of social justice ideals that were firming up in my mind. Also because it seemed to me that they were far more sympathetic to feminism. I mean obviously the Labor Party is a very male dominated organisation but there were a lot of very strong women in the Labor Party at that time. So I joined and had become fairly active in my local branch but while working for ACFOA one of the other staff there was a lady called Jill Whan who was married to Bob Whan. Bob from 1972 to ’75 was the Member, the Labor Member for Eden-Monaro and a great campaigner on some women’s issues, particularly abortion law reform. Jill and I had become quite great friends and through Jill I had become friends with her family, with Bob and the family as well. Bob, after he lost his seat in 1975, went to work for the national secretariat for the Labor Party. The National Secretary at that stage was David Combe in 1977 Bob realized that David needed a good executive assistant, somebody who would organise him and perhaps enable him to harness the considerable talents he had. He suggested to me that I come and talk to — that I would be a good person to do this and that I should come and talk to David Combe which I did.
David, almost immediately offered me a job. While in some ways it was a little bit going downhill in terms of status for me, it seemed to me to be a good opportunity to, well to be part of the Labor Party team at the national level, and to see politics as I wanted to see it. So I took that job. Now that was fairly tough at the start because I started in the middle of the 1977 election campaign, which was a fairly disastrous campaign. But, looking back on it was actually a really good time to start because I was thrown into the hurly burly. I had to support David Combe who was a brilliant man. I still say he was a brilliant man, a great man. I learnt a lot from him. I stayed with — I worked with the Labor Party for ten years and during that time it grew from, I guess being down in a tough in 1977 to being one of the most successful political machines there was, from 1983 onwards we were in government. So I saw the whole organisation change.
E Helgeby: So going back to, perhaps one step back for a minute, you joined the Labor Party you say before 1975?
K Moore: I think it was in 1975, I think. It was either late ’74 or ’75. I’d have to confess that part of the motivation was, my marriage had just broken up and my husband had been very uncomfortable and made life difficult about me being politically active. So this was, in one sense an act of defiance, so as well as a real statement of this is where my political commitment is going to be.
E Helgeby: At the same time you also mentioned that the — where you had been with the overseas aid council, that policies, or work at the level there had become perhaps a bit, you mentioned left, veered a bit to left.
K Moore: We were seen to be going too far to the left, yes.
E Helgeby: So was that influencing your decision to ….
K Moore: No, not at all.
E Helgeby: … to leave?
K Moore: Not at all. I saw myself as a bit of a radical at that stage. So no it didn’t.
E Helgeby: Going back to your, to the beginning with the National Secretariat of the ALP where was that based?
K Moore: That was in John Curtin House in Barton. That was a house that had been put up under David’s guidance. David had seen that the party needed to have its own property and not to be paying rent and had got a grant of land from the government, and had found finance to put the building up. So the secretariat was on the top floor of that building and the rest of it was leased out mainly to the public service.
E Helgeby: Can you describe what was the structure of the secretariat when you joined?
K Moore: Okay, it was a fairly small staff. There was David who was the National Secretary and there was Ken Bennett who was the Assistant National Secretary. There was also a fundraiser who was a sort of contractor. Then there were several administrative staff. I think that was it when I first joined. Now, obviously I joined in the middle of the campaign and all sorts of other people were there playing roles both as volunteers or people who’d been paid to come in on a temporary basis.
E Helgeby: So, what was exactly your role as — you were Executive Assistant, can you describe your role?
K Moore: It was very much as I carved it out. It started, I think, David really basically needed a secretary, somebody who would organise him and I did that but I managed to — he actually encouraged me to expand that role out. After the ’77 election campaign, which came up with a very disastrous result the party executive decided to establish a committee of inquiry into why we had lost so badly and what we needed to do in order to rebuild. That committee was chaired, notionally by Bob Hawke and Bill Hayden who was then leader of the party and Bob Hawke was obviously the leader of the trade union movement. But the people they delegated most of the work to do were Neal Blewett and John Button. David asked me if I would provide the committee with all the administrative support they needed. So I went off and I worked quite closely with Neal Blewett and John Button and their staff to get this thing established and to call for submissions. I provided all the secretariat support for that committee of inquiry which was a great experience because I worked with two very great men in Neal Blewett and John Button. A lot of help from John Button’s staff, Geoff Evans. I got to know a lot about the Labor Party through that process.
E Helgeby: How long did this work take? Did you travel around the country to take evidence?
K Moore: No, I didn’t, Neal Blewett and John Button and the committee travelled around but I stayed put. I summarised each one of the submissions, and I think there were about three hundred of them. I summarised each one. I gave a copy to each of the members of the committee. I worked with the committee and there were two very good women on that committee, Fran, gosh I’ve forgotten her name and Ann Foreman. They took up the women’s issues on that committee. We wrote a report, I think, in 1978 or ’79 that Neal mostly wrote and presented that to the party. The reception to that was mixed as I remember, I’m having trouble remember it in detail, but some of the recommendations were taken up.
E Helgeby: What, out of interest, can you remember what conclusions they drew, why did Labor lose so disastrously?
K Moore: I’m having trouble remembering, I’d need to go back to the report which I don’t think I’ve got. But, I think, the recommendations were about keeping the base of the party broad, about needing to go out and talk to the experts in the field, to develop policy, to develop the membership, and to have a truly national machine. As a result of that inquiry, I think, David was able to find funds to expand the staff at the national secretariat so he bought on a Communications Director. He established a small research unit and we put a lot more, we were able to put a lot more effort into developing policy.
E Helgeby: To what extent were you involved in that kind of work?
K Moore: Well, in that I was actually, in that role I actually sat in David’s office so I could talk to him all the time and sit in on the meetings he had and generally I would talk to David about the ideas and the things he wanted to talk to me about. We had lots of good discussions and worked very, very closely together, it was a great relationship.
E Helgeby: So you were a kind of sounding board for him, do you think?
K Moore: I guess in a way, but I wasn’t the only sounding board. He was probably more comfortable with some of the men around him than me but he did seem to trust my judgement and sound things out with me, yes.
E Helgeby: You said that the size of the secretariat expanded quite dramatically as a consequence of this report.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: From being what, a hand full of members when you joined …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: … to what?
K Moore: I guess there were about ten to fifteen staff at any one time. Yes, it was mostly in the communications area that we expanded and in the research area, research-policy area that we expanded.
E Helgeby: And your role was still being an executive assistant to David Combe?
K Moore: It was but I was — I’m trying to remember now, sorry, in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s there was talk of an affirmative action program for women in the party. Obviously I became a bit involved in discussions about that. People like Susan Ryan encouraged me to be part of that debate. Eventually, when we were expanding the secretariat there was also — sorry I should have mentioned this earlier, there were positions of national organisers created. Now that was actually a result of David’s leaving and Bob McMullan taking over. Bob did a bit of a restructure in the secretariat and created three positions for national organisers. These were people who would actually be able to organise election campaigns, conferences, whatever needed to be organised. The party decided that it should reserve one of those places for a female and I was encouraged to apply for that job and was given it in 1983.
E Helgeby: Why do you think they — was this part of an affirmative action type program?
K Moore: This was part of an affirmative action program, yes.
E Helgeby: But still only one of three.
K Moore: Only one of three, but that was a big achievements, all the rest of the senior people in the secretariat were blokes, so yes, it was quite an achievement to get that. We had one other female official at state level at that stage so I was the first female national official.
E Helgeby: According to the notes, you were elected?
K Moore: Yes, the position was appointed by the national executive so a vote had to be taken and there was one other candidate and so a vote was taken.
E Helgeby: That was the first time that had happened?
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: And was there an election for the men?
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: But not by the national executive, not by the conference?
K Moore: Not by the conference, no, this was a national executive matter.
E Helgeby: So this was in 1983, so you had been six years working in the secretariat already.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: You said the roles, coming to the national organisers, can you talk, describe what exactly was expected of the people on those roles, because if I’ve understood it, they were new positions?
K Moore: They were new positions, obviously we had to do some of jobs — some of the tasks we had to do were new but a lot of them were jobs that were previously being done elsewhere in the secretariat. So the three of us had to take a far more active role in the marginal seat campaigns than we had previously. Previously, margin seat campaigns — or the campaigns in the marginal seats had been very much the province of the State secretaries. Now, when the national organisers were appointed I had suggested to Bob that we needed to take far more active role in knowing what was going on in the marginal seats far before an election campaign. We needed to be making sure that those seats were having good candidates and that the candidates were resourced to do the job that they needed to do, and they had the resources to do the job. So we put it to a State secretaries forum that we should take on this role and obviously we would work very closely with the States etcetera, etcetera, and they agreed with some humming and aahing. So we — the three organisers divided up the country between us and took on different States. I think I took on the Northern Territory, South Australia, I had Tasmania at one stage and I think I might have had Victoria. So we each took a slab of the country to oversee the marginal seat campaigns from. That was the start of the serious work that the parties are doing in marginal seats today.
E Helgeby: A bit of Labor Party history, in terms of that, I mean, it is a federal party and the states have always had their own organisations.
K Moore: Yes, it very much was a federation, certainly when I joined. David’s role — the national secretaries role was a somewhat tenuous one, in that the states were very, very territorial. They saw their job basically as running state, and getting state government’s organised and they hadn’t paid too much attention to the national parliament. When David came in he started to change that balance. There was a lot of resistance to that but he did make a lot of progress. I think the party that built up in the 1970s and the 1980s is the result of the work he did.
E Helgeby: How did the changes come about, that the state parties did to a degree at least, handed over some of their powers?
K Moore: I think once the Whitlam government lost office the states realized that they did need to do something about the federal parliament. That the — I guess they started to take a broader view that they needed to have a national party. I think that the review that Blewett and Button did was very important in opening people’s eyes to the importance of a federal government. The ways that the party needed to adjust in order to win government and to be able to keep government.
E Helgeby: That’s an interesting comment, that in a sense, one could then infer that the Labor Party, pre-mid-1970s at least really did have little interest in federal government? Is that the way you saw it?
K Moore: I think their priority was not federal government, is perhaps the way I should frame it. So that their priority was state government and the rewards that they saw going with state government, but their priorities changed during the mid-to-late ‘70s and the ‘80s. They saw that national government was a prize that they needed to attend to and that in order to get, and to keep, federal government they needed to change the way they were doing business somewhat.
E Helgeby: How did that change come about? Were there resolutions passed at national conferences or was this a …
K Moore: It was a long process. It was a long process. There were things that happened like, the Queensland party was a dreadful mess. It was, I hate to say the word, but probably a bit corrupt. It was inefficient. So the National Executive decided to intervene in the Queensland branch and that was very contentious, that was very unpleasant. It resulted in a court case but the court case came down with the finding that the federal party had the power to do this and so that, again, changed the way that the state parties were looking at the federal party. It actually clarified who had power and in what circumstances. So that was a very significant move. Can you repeat the question Edward?
E Helgeby: I’ve forgotten it almost myself now. Come back then, in a sense, the national organisers, as when your role was one of those. You mentioned that one of the marginal seats and the need to have strong candidates in marginal seats.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: How were you as a national organiser able to influence the selection of candidates in — by state parties before — for particular seats?
K Moore: We couldn’t directly influence, but we could keep an eye on things and we could talk to the state secretaries. We could talk to the local party officials but we had no direct influence on the pre-selection because a lot of that is done by rank and file, and quite rightly so. But we could perhaps keep an eye out for the good candidates and encourage them. I certainly encouraged women to stand for pre-selection. So it was really about being in there and keeping the parties consciousness of the importance of the good candidates. But our role was really about supporting and reinforcing the candidate once they were there.
E Helgeby: So once the party had selected the candidate …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: … that where your role as national organiser came in, to ensure they had adequate resources …
K Moore: Yes, and that they had the skills so that we could step in and say if they were not comfortable with their communication skills, perhaps we could provide them with some media training or etcetera, etcetera.
E Helgeby: Did you do that a lot?
K Moore: Well, we went around and visited each of the marginal seats, talked to the campaigns, talked to the campaign managers, said what are you doing, what is your campaign plan. So we did almost an audit of how they were going. And introduced ourselves so that they knew that they could ring us in the national office in the event that they needed some help.
E Helgeby: So, you had no — you weren’t directly involved with the campaigns as such were you?
K Moore: From time to time, yes, particularly in a bi-election. I think one of my very first jobs after being elected as an organiser was to go and jointly be campaign manager for the seat of Wannon when Malcolm Fraser resigned. I mean a thankless task but not a bad one to cut your teeth on when you are a very junior, new national organiser. So I spent three weeks out in the electorate there, working with the local party machine and running, helping to run the election campaign out there. Then that was followed very quickly by another bi-election in one of the Melbourne seats where, I think, Heather O’Connor was a candidate. I’d have to check this but I think she was running against Michael Wooldridge and that was when Michael Wooldridge was elected to parliament, but that was a very marginal seat. Then shortly after that I had to go up to the Northern Territory where they were about to have a state election. It was the first time I’d ever been to the Northern Territory. I knew nothing about it but I had to plunge straight in.
E Helgeby: It sounds like an enormous list of tasks for only three people, for three organisers, to cover the nation and all the possibilities.
K Moore: Yes, it was but we were working very closely with our state counterparts. So we didn’t have sole responsibility. I think the states — it’s fair to say the states still had the responsibility and we were there in a support role, and a role to make sure that there was no gaping holes in the campaigns.
E Helgeby: So, did that help include — being able to provide funding, extra funding?
K Moore: There was a formula worked out nationally for election campaign funding. So where each of the states put in and then each of the states got a certain amount out and I can’t remember how that was worked out but it was quite equitable, so yes. We didn’t directly deal with the campaign financing that was done through the national executive.
E Helgeby: Was this role as national organiser, that you’ve now described, was that all that the national organisers did. I mean the focus on the electorates and focus on marginal …
K Moore: Oh no, we would do, one of my jobs was to organise the big national conferences. So I organised the national conference in 1984 and 1986; 1984 being in Canberra and ’86 being in Hobart. That’s a huge job because we had every state — Labor was in government in every state in 1984 and ’86 I think. We had every State Premier at the conference, we’d have many of the State Ministers. We’d have the Prime Minister there. At any one stage several members of the federal ministry would be at the conference, as well as, of course the party delegates, and of course, we had every political journalist in the country at the conference. So it was a huge task. It took me six months to organise it.
E Helgeby: Did you, I mean, the secretariat, the last number I heard you mention about ten, twelve people.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: And all were involved in planning for the conference?
K Moore: No, no it was my job. I had an assistant. I had a half an assistant and we did it. Obviously as the time got closer I involved the other two national organisers. They had specific jobs to do at the conference but in terms of organising the whole thing, it was me and my assistant Glenda Johnson.
E Helgeby: Dare I say it, how did you do it?
K Moore: Without the use of computers [laughs] or iPhones, or iPads or any of that, we just did it. We just did it.
E Helgeby: Stepping back again, you still had the two, still young children, how did you manage to combine role of being a parent and what sounds like an incredibly intense job?
K Moore: Yes, it was not easy. My daughter — in 1983 when I took on the job of national organiser, just before that my daughter had left school and was going to university in Melbourne. In fact one of the things that happened to me just before I was elected as national organiser, when Bob Hawke suddenly took over from Bill Hayden as leader of the Labor Party in ’83 just before the campaign. I was seconded onto Bob Hawke’s staff to help with the campaign because everything was such a rush and because of the change in leadership he didn’t have the staff. So I was seconded onto his staff and I did what is called the advance work, together with Kerry Sibraa from New South Wales. That involved basically travelling around the country ahead of Bob Hawke and his campaign party, just making sure that everything was in order, and that the itinerary for his visit was worked out and all the details were attended to. Checking things like microphones and venues and distance between hotel airport and the campaign functions, so doing all that sort of thing. Tremendously exciting because there was a great sense in the community, again about having Bob Hawke for Prime Minister and a change of government. So during the middle of all that my daughter left home. A friend had come to stay with the children and to look after them. My daughter was coming down to university and I was actually able to meet her off the plane in Melbourne because I was due to be in Melbourne on that day. So I could take her to her accommodation in Melbourne and give her a big hug because she was quite emotional at that stage. So, yes, it took a lot of help from friends as well as the children being very self-reliant as well.
E Helgeby: Could I ask you, when you were working these sort of hours, in the job did the job pay overtime, for example?
K Moore: No …
Interview with Kate Moore part 4
K Moore: No.
E Helgeby: So you had a fixed salary?
K Moore: We had a fixed salary. There was an understanding that we could take time off in lieu of — but of course you didn’t do that very much but there was a flexibility with working hours and things like that. Really it was such an exciting job we didn’t even think about being paid overtime.
E Helgeby: You had been a member of the ALP for a number of years by that time but did you ever — did you get a stronger political commitment through this high intensity work at this level or did it lessen perhaps over time?
K Moore: No, no it remained very strong. I think one of the things that happens is that, when you are working so intensely you almost become part of a tribe or a family of people. You become very close to people and obviously tensions arise but there are great bonds that build up when you are working as intensely as that and in such a committed way. It was a very supportive atmosphere basically.
E Helgeby: I was going to go back to the Labor Party and its structure. The Labor Party has fairly strong factional groups.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: I suppose and had back in those days as well.
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: Can you talk a bit about, in a sense, the way in which factions and factional politics may at all had impacted on the work of the National Secretariat and the aspects of it that you dealt with?
K Moore: Well, there was a left faction and a right faction in those days, there was no centre faction. And they, perhaps, weren’t as rigid, there was very much a New South Wales right faction, and a Victorian right faction, and a West Australian right faction, and a Victorian left faction, and a New South Wales left faction. So there were fiefdoms within fiefdoms and we had to navigate very carefully through those fiefdoms. The centre started to get organised, I think, in the early ‘80s but never really — for a while they had the centre-left faction in the federal which was basically centred around people like Neal Blewett and John Button in the federal parliament, but it was never as tight. I think because they were all free thinkers and very intelligent people they weren’t going to be bound by the sorts of rules and constraints that the two major factions had. When I ran for national organiser — I was never a member of a faction, I didn’t want to be a member of a faction. When I decided I would run I remember ringing Graham Richardson and seeing if there was any chance if the right would support me and he said they would. I was a bit amazed about that. Then I thought well I’d better — no in fact Graham had come to me and said, “If you want to run for that position we’ll support you”. I thought, well that’s interesting, but I wasn’t sure what that said about me. Then, I thought, well I’d better ring the left faction and see what they say. So I rang Bob Hawke and said, “Well, is there any chance the left would support me” and he went away and he came back and said “Yes”, and so I had the support of the right and the left. I rang the centre-left , now the emerging centre-left had always claimed me as one of their own. So I said to them, “Well, are you going to support me” and they said “No, there is another candidate” [laughs]. But I ran anyway, and I did get the support from the left and the right. But it always amused me that the centre-left continued to claim me as one of their own although I never joined the faction and I never said I was one of theirs, but they continued to claim me. I would always say to them, “Well, why, you didn’t support me. I’m not a member. What’s the basis of this?”. It was really that I thought along similar lines.
E Helgeby: You’ve mentioned earlier that you were fairly radical, as I understood, on the left side.
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: You never joined one of the factions but was that for practical reasons or because you didn’t want to be associated with them?
K Moore: I think it was because I was on the federal office and you had to be above the factions really. You had to be separate from the factions, certainly at that stage and so I never seriously thought about joining a faction. I actually didn’t want to join a faction. I didn’t like the way they operated. I didn’t like what I saw a lot of the time and I wanted to be free to think what I thought and to be able to say what I thought. So I didn’t want to join a faction, no.
E Helgeby: What about the other members of the secretariat during the time you were there, were they factionally aligned in any way?
K Moore: No, Bob McMullan had come out of the left in Western Australia but, very much seen as part of the centre and would move across factions quite easily, and the other two organisers certainly were not members of factions either. So, later on in the late ‘80s then people in the secretariat did start to become factionalized but not while I was there.
E Helgeby: Did you have to negotiate in your daily work with factional leaders or factions? You said you had to tread carefully between the factions.
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: How, give an example of how this worked?
K Moore: Well, if you wanted information, for example, you would have to negotiate with the state secretaries. I can remember ringing one state secretary. I was doing an evaluation of an affirmative action campaign in the party and I wanted some information about the number of unions and the number of women in unions. They had always been very secretive about the union affiliations and so I had some trouble persuading them that they should give me this but in the end I persuaded that there was no real reason why they shouldn’t give it to me. So, it was always about negotiating and unpacking that piece of turf. You know, the territorial nature of the states so that they felt safe, they didn’t feel the need to be quite so territorial. It was about building up trust really.
E Helgeby: Overall, how did you see — did you see the factions as a positive or a negative in terms of the way the ALP worked and has worked and its successes or otherwise?
K Moore: I think the faction system has some strengths in that it makes it easier sometimes to organise people, but I think, in terms of the intellectual life of the party I think it’s a great handicap. It really should be a party where people are free to express ideas in all forums of the party, but they tend to come to a position within a faction or a group and to stick with that. So that, for example, I always found it one of the great ironies with the women in the party, the feminists would always be talking about the need to preselect female candidates and yet, if it came to a choice between — say for the women in the right faction, if there was a left-wing woman putting herself up for preselection they wouldn’t vote for her. So I always found that to be a bit of an irony and I tried to point it out to them on a few occasions. It was very welcome but I felt it was important to do that, to point out that contradiction.
E Helgeby: You could do that because you were not factionally aligned.
K Moore: Yes, and because we sat above it.
E Helgeby: And you mentioned the difficulties even in getting information from state parties.
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: Did the national secretariat have no power to require this information?
K Moore: No, the national secretariat, prior to the Queensland intervention was not seen to have much power at all. I think that changed after the Queensland legal decision, saying that the national party has certain rights and obligations. So gradually that culture started to shift as well. I think both David Combe and Bob McMullan built up more of a culture of trust within the Labor Party and one has to give them a lot of credit for that. Where we were working together as one organisation rather than six or seven state based organisations.
E Helgeby: Hmm, but the states themselves were not directly represented in the national secretariat?
K Moore: No, but they were on the national executive, yes, so that was a very important body for them.
E Helgeby: What was the relationship between the national executive and the national secretariat?
K Moore: Well, basically, I guess our governing committee. So they established campaign committees, they decided on what we could spend and what we couldn’t spend, where we could raise money and where we couldn’t raise money. So they basically governed what we could and couldn’t do.
E Helgeby: So they were, in a sense, your boss?
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: And they were the ones that approved your appointment, for example.
K Moore: Yes, very much so.
E Helgeby: And the factions are very noticeable at that level?
K Moore: They are very noticeable at that level, yes. You would always get one delegate from the left and one from the right. Each state, as I recall, had two delegates to the national executive, one would come from the left and one would come from the right.
E Helgeby: This was irrespective of the strength of the sides, the right might be much stronger in one state and then the left, or the other way about.
K Moore: I’m trying to remember whether some of the larger states like New South Wales might have had more than two delegates, I really can’t remember, but I think the right always had control of the national executive.
E Helgeby: Going back a bit to your national organiser role again, did I understand you correctly saying you had no direct involvement in things like preselections of candidates or anything like that?
K Moore: We had no direct involvement but we could say to the state secretary or to whoever, I think that potential candidate looks a bit unpromising. So we could informally feed stuff in.
E Helgeby: And did you?
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: What about the concept which now, I suppose, is known as parachuting new members into seats?
K Moore: I don’t ever remember doing that. I don’t think we did that in those days. I think we put great emphasis on having people who were good members of the local community. But then again, you know, people — after 1977 the party did go out and recruit people like Neal Blewett to stand in the seat of Bonython. So I think there was a bit of tapping on shoulders going on but not parachuting people into seats in that sense.
E Helgeby: Another issue which has come up from time to time. I don’t know about the particular time when you were there but — was the fierce — where the preselections led to accusations of branch stacking for example, did you come across?
K Moore: There was a bit of that around. I really can’t recall a lot of it but I think there was a bit of it around. Certainly there was some jokes around about loading up the branches but no, I can’t recall much about that at all, really.
E Helgeby: You didn’t have to actively involve yourself in any such matters to draw attention to or query?
K Moore: No, no. The operation of the local branches was very much to the state offices , we didn’t have membership records or anything like that, that was all held in the state offices. The membership of the party records were held by the state offices not by the federal.
E Helgeby: So you couldn’t have provided a list or a register, or members of the party at any time?
K Moore: No, no that would have been going a bit far I think [laughs].
E Helgeby: Too radical, to another direction.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: Is anything else you would like to say, or comment about your time as national organiser, or working for the national secretariat.
K Moore: I guess the other interesting thing, and nice memory for me, for a while I was the international secretary for the Labor Party so I had to liaise with the Socialist International. One of the things we tried to do, I think not very well, was to build up the parties presence in the Asia-Pacific region. So I attended a meeting of the Socialist Party of Malaysia would you believe, which was very interesting. Also went to, and this is probably a gig to be envious of, I had to attend a conference in Tahiti of the Tahitian Socialist Party, which was then, of course, very active in opposing French nuclear testing in the Pacific. So it was a very contentious conference that I went to there. I was there with Margaret Wilson who was then President of the New Zealand Labor Party and we got followed around the whole way by the French Secret Police, which was very amusing because we were also introduced to him and in fact shook his hand and had a chat to him and let him follow us [laughs]. It was all very bazar but it was actually good to be able to give some support to a small socialist organisation that was both struggling for independence from the French and resisting the nuclear testing in the Pacific at the time. So that was pretty good.
E Helgeby: So you said the role was of helping socialist organisations or parties, groupings, in Asian countries to, I suppose, structure, to get themselves properly organised and functioning.
K Moore: Well, we didn’t actually give them anything other than moral support really, and to bring them together with other parties in the region, because the Socialist International, which we are a member is very much a European based organisation and we took our membership of that very seriously. In fact took the fight about French nuclear testing in the Pacific up to the forums of the Socialist International which was not welcomed. It was received with a great deal of hostility at the time but we took it up. One of my first jobs as International Secretary was to accompany the Australian delegation which consisted then of Gough Whitlam as the leader and Senator Don Giles, Don Grimes as a member of the delegation and I was the third member. I was there very much as the junior to learn. The brief we were given was to take the issue of French nuclear testing into the forums of the Socialist International. So we had it placed onto the agenda of what was then called the Security Committee which was the key committee of the Socialists International. The conference was held in Denmark. Gough Whitlam was due to fly in the day that this item was to come up on the Security Committee and Don Grimes had been whipped away by Willy Brandt to do something else and so I was entirely relying on Gough Whitlam to give the presentation. I got a call from him at nine o’clock in the morning saying “Comrade, all the airport’s fogged in, I can’t get there yet. You’ll have to do it”. I thought, oh dear, I thought something else a bit more rude than that. Nevertheless I re-read the submission that we had written for us and in a trembling and shaky voice I took it in to the security committee and stated our case. I thought not too badly, quite strongly. Once I had finished the French delegate rose to speak and was starting to hoe right into me and the door swung open and there stood Gough [laughs] who swept over to me, took my hand and kissed the back of it, and turned around and in impeccable French addressed the French delegate and I could relax [laughs]. It was a wonderful moment.
E Helgeby: So this was — how long were you actually — was this a separate role, besides the national organiser you were …
K Moore: That was an add on.
E Helgeby: … that was an additional role?
K Moore: Yes, that was an additional role.
E Helgeby: What period of time did this cover?
K Moore: I think probably for the four years I was there, mostly.
E Helgeby: Okay, and so you did obviously travel overseas quite a bit?
K Moore: I travelled overseas three or four times, but we did a lot of receiving delegations from visiting parties. It wasn’t a large part of my role, I’d have to say. The main part of the role was organising election campaigns, bi-election campaigns and in the meantime just making sure things were ticking over. Obviously the national conferences were a big part of my role.
E Helgeby: As the international secretary the role, would you call your role educational, educating other countries, places, delegations about Australia, the way it was done here, and when you travelled overseas telling them about how it was done here?
K Moore: I guess you can call it educational, perhaps, yes raising awareness. I mean certainly the stuff about the French nuclear testing in the Pacific was completely new to the European parties and they were quite amazed when we laid this evidence in front of them, and that generated a lot of support. It was also just telling other parties how we operated and what our experiences were and they would, other parties would sometimes send delegations to see us. So I remember, for example, the British Labor Party we had a fairly strong relationship. Patricia Hewitt who is a native of Canberra but went on to become a Minister in the British Labor would come in and see us quite regularly when she came back to Canberra and so the links were quite strong.
E Helgeby: Shall we call it quits for today?
K Moore: Yes, I think I’m talked out today.
E Helgeby: Resume another day, thank you.
Interview with Kate Moore part 5
E Helgeby: It is now the 1st November 2011 and I am continuing the interview with Kate Moore. Kate, can I go back a little bit and just ask you to comment a bit more about how ALP factions and the factional politics might have affected your work while you worked in the ALP central head office.
K Moore: Well, one always had to be very conscious of the factions and the power plays within the factions and between the factions and how they were going to effect the business that you were working on at the time. One of the key ways for me was — because I was a national organiser, brackets female. I had charge of overseeing the parties affirmative action program which was basically aimed at encouraging more women into the parliament and within the various politics within the party. We aimed to get, I think it was about thirty per cent of women into parliament. Thirty per cent of the positions in parliament held by women, eventually. This, of course, was affected by the operation of the state branches and the factions within those state branches. So that many, many of the women activists, the women who actually wanted to go somewhere and were very passionate about their politics were very involved also in the factions. So that inhibited them supporting women in other factions. So if a woman was standing for pre-selection, and she was from the left, then the women from the right would not vote for her. They would vote for a man from the right in preference to the women from the left. Yet, at the same time they would all be talking about the importance of getting women into the parliament and of women supporting other women. At times it was my job to remind them that there was a little bit of — not hypocrisy but a bit of double speak in all this. They really needed to put their votes where their passions were, or where their mouth was. But, of course, the reality of politics is that you will support the person who stands for what you think you stand for. So that’s the key way in which the factions effected the work I was trying to do.
E Helgeby: Was one of the factions, or either of the factions more likely to support women getting into parliament and supporting women’s causes than another, or where they both fairly the much the same?
K Moore: My memory is they were both fairly much the same. I think probably the left faction was perhaps in words more committed to affirmative action but I don’t think that intent went into practice, a great deal more than it did in the right. I guess the centre-left was always seen as the middle way and perhaps they were more likely to support women. But again, I don’t have the numbers in my head, about the number of women seeking pre-selection where those votes came from.
E Helgeby: Did you see your job in any way as involving twisting of arms to try to make sure that women were supported more than they had been?
K Moore: It was very hard to twist arms because in the national office you actually had very little power. So the arms with which to twist other peoples arms were fairly weak but we relied more on the power of persuasion, logical argument etcetera, etcetera.
E Helgeby: And were you supported in this by any members in the national office? Any people there who were very much pro …
K Moore: Oh yes, Bob McMullan, the National Secretary was very, very supportive of encouraging women into politics, very supportive. He gave me a lot of backing. In fact prompted me to give people a bit of a poke if they were saying one thing and doing another. So he was wonderful, wonderful to work for.
E Helgeby: You mentioned in notes you have written before the interview, that you were a frequent visitor to Old Parliament House during your time as national organizers from 1983 to ’87, what was the purpose of those visits to the building?
K Moore: It was usually, often to do with the policy work that we were doing at the national office, because — the party has always had a broad policy agenda serviced by national policy committee, so it might be to go and talk to a relevant minister or backbenchers about that policy. For me there was a fair bit of liaising with some of the women members of parliament because of my particular duty as a female organiser. I would talk to Susan Ryan a fair bit about the work that I was doing and she was very encouraging, very supportive. There was a lot of dealing obviously with Ministerial staff over policies and politics. What the ministers were doing, how we needed them to campaign, whether we thought — where we thought the government needed to position itself in relation to any particular issue. Because, of course, parties do polling. We didn’t do as much as they do nowadays but we would get feedback from our party members and from the electorate. We would make sure that the ministers and the backbenchers knew what was coming through for us.
E Helgeby: So it was for briefing purposes mainly?
K Moore: It was briefing yes, and at times they would brief us on difficult issues that were coming up. I remember, for example, Neal Blewett’s office, when Medicare was being introduced, would tell us what was going on and they asked us — they would give us a briefing around the big publicity campaign that was being planned and asked for our input into that. When the AIDs virus first surfaced and there was a lot of public concern they ran some of the advertising material past us in the secretariat to make sure that — well A that we knew about it and B that we couldn’t see any adverse impact for the party, or if there were that we could prepare ourselves for it. So there was a close working relationship with the Hawke Government overall.
E Helgeby: So you would have visited many parts of the building at the time?
K Moore: Yes, it was a real rabbit warren and we got to know our way round and became quite familiar with the place.
E Helgeby: Out of curiosity, what was access to the building like, was it controlled security that you had to go through?
K Moore: I don’t remember, I really don’t remember having any security checks but I think if they were they were quite cursory I think. It might just have been that we had a card and showed it when we came in but I don’t remember any really tight security at that time, not as tight as it is now.
E Helgeby: What was your first impression of Old Parliament House as a building, when you came in?
K Moore: When I came here. It was probably in the early 1970s when I first came into the Old Parliament House. I was quite intimidated because I had never been into a parliament house before. I had never met a politician and so the whole thing was a little overwhelming. Over time as I became more familiar I really enjoyed coming into the building it has a lovely atmosphere. There was always a bit of a buzz around it, there were people busy, interesting people to talk to, people doing things. It was a sense of occasion when you were here.
E Helgeby: We’ll now come to 1987. Tell me how did it come about that you joined the staff of the then Minister for Community Services and Health, Neal Blewett?
K Moore: Well, I had been working for the Labor Party for ten years. I thought that was probably long enough. I’d been a national organiser for four years. I had become more and more interested in policy and I thought it was time to move on but the problem for me was that there were very few places that were interested in employing an x-Labor Party apparatchik. So I didn’t see many career options arising for me. I decided that the only way out was to go and work in a Minister’s office and see where that took me. It wasn’t something I particularly wanted to do. I’d seen a lot of, obviously a lot of Ministerial staff. I’d seen the way they had to work. It wasn’t particularly attractive to me. I didn’t particularly want to work under those pressured conditions and the long working hours. But nevertheless, I thought it’ll be interesting, so I rang a few Ministers, ones that I thought I’d be happy working for. They were mainly the ones that I thought would challenge me slightly and who I respected because I’d known them, most of them for some time. So I rang probably three or four of them and Neal Blewett said, “Well, come and see me now”. So I went to see him and he offered me a position as an advisor on his staff. Obviously I knew Neal. I’d worked with him before, he knew me, and that’s simply how it happened.
E Helgeby: And so no interview, or any formalities?
K Moore: I came over and had an informal chat to him, but no.
E Helgeby: When you started what was or how did he describe the kind of job that he expected you to do for him?
K Moore: Well, he didn’t [laughs]. I knew I was going in as an advisor and it was shortly after the 1987 election. He had had an expanded portfolio. In the first Hawke Ministry he was purely and simply the Minister for Health. In 1987 Hawke created the system of super ministries. So what Blewett got was health plus a whole lot of community services portfolio. So he was looking for advisors in the community services side of things and I was asked to advise him on aged care and child care in particular. So they were the two aspects of the portfolio that I took on. I knew a little bit about child care, obviously having been a women’s organiser and been involved in some policy development around that. It being one of the issues that was close to the hearts of the women’s movement, but I didn’t know a lot about aged care. So I went on a very, very steep learning curve.
E Helgeby: What was the — within the office how did you fit in?
K Moore: Well I knew some of the staff already. I knew his press secretary and I knew a couple of the advisors vaguely. I knew his senior private secretary. So there wasn’t a big hassle about fitting in that was the problem. The offices in those days were very, very small. Neal still had the office he’d had since becoming a minister and yet he’d got his portfolio size had doubled and his staff had increased by three or four people. So we sat — his advisors and the press secretary sat in one office, a fairly small office, we probably had about two or three feet of desk space each, facing a wall. Behind us was a bit of a corridor with a very large photocopier in it. It was the area where people waiting to see the minister would stand, because there was nowhere for them to sit. So I would normally be trying to do my work with the phone ringing, with phones ringing throughout the office, and with the photocopier going behind me and a queue of bureaucrats waiting to see the minister. It was not the best way to work I thought.
E Helgeby: How many people were there on his staff at the time you started?
K Moore: There must have been about ten I think, ten.
E Helgeby: Do you remember what their roles where?
K Moore: Well there were people advising on various aspects of the portfolio. There was the Senior Private Secretary as they were in those days, who ran the office basically, made sure that everything went through to the Minister on time and in good form. There was the Press Secretary and then there was his personal secretary who controlled his diary and a couple of stenographers and support people. And then, of course, there was the driver who was not normally in the office but would often be there waiting for the minister to come out.
E Helgeby: There was — by the time you, again just while we’re talking on the size of staff, you actually remained a member of his staff and you were Senior Private Secretary in the last two years, you were the from ‘88 to ’90.
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: Can you remember what increases in staff there might have been over the time when you moved up to the new building, or did the staff remain the same?
K Moore: The staff remained virtually the same because — we were moving up to the new Parliament House, or the new Parliament House was built because the current one really wouldn’t hold the number of people working there. So the staff, the size of the staff remained the same, we just had more space to work in.
E Helgeby: The structure of the office, was that such that when the matters that you were supposed to advise the minister on, did you advise him directly, or did you advise him through his senior private secretary?
K Moore: No, we normally advised him directly. I mean there was just a lot of routine paperwork that we did so we would process the paperwork and it would go onto his desk. If there was anything we thought was a little controversial or a little odd then we would talk about it amongst ourselves. I mean particularly with the senior private secretary. So it was really about using our, I guess, our nose to determine what was for greater consideration and what was just a routine briefing from the department.
E Helgeby: So, you had a direct relationship with the minister?
K Moore: Oh yes.
E Helgeby: On the matters that you were …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: Would you ever step outside the realm of those two, aged care and child care, portfolios, or part of the portfolio?
K Moore: Only in discussions within the office. If there was any paper coming through it would — on those topics it would not normally come to me, it would be raised by one of the other advisors and then we might have a general discussion around it.
E Helgeby: Did you have a regular staff meeting within the office at all?
K Moore: No, not for the — no because I thing we were all so crammed in together we were almost meeting all the time anyway. Life in those offices was somewhat chaotic anyway because of the nature of the political process. So you were very much responding to issues of the minute. So every day when the parliament was sitting your first job is to go through the Question Time brief and make sure that all the possible issues that the Minister might be questioned on that day are covered, and are covered in a way that obviously puts the government in a favourable light. So, there was very little time set aside for things like staff meetings, you just couldn’t do it.
E Helgeby: When you were an advisor, how did you see the senior private secretaries role? The senior person, how did you — did you see that person as someone running the office or simply a facilitator, the senior advisor on everything?
K Moore: I saw her, I guess, I saw what she was doing was being the senior advisor, and keeping an eye on the politics and the policy, and to some extent the office. She was a journalist by training and I think the journalist training is not about administration and management, it’s about the policy and the politics. That is what she did.
E Helgeby: It’s an interesting comment, because an interview I had with a Chief of Staff, Senior Private Secretary of a Prime Minister, he said that he saw the role as making it happen.
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: That was as the head person’s role. How would you react to that description?
K Moore: Well, I think that’s how I saw myself in that role. When I assumed the role I saw it as making sure that everything that needed to happen, happened, and that the infrastructure was in place to do it. So that the staff were alerted to issues that were coming up that the Minister’s diary was logical and doable, so that there were spaces between appointments, there were spaces for reflection, for the advisors to talk to him. There were spaces for him to catch up with the paperwork. So I saw, when I took the role on, I guess I’d learnt from working with another senior advisor and had time to think about what needed to be done and so I think I took a more managerial role as well as a political and policy advisor too, about making sure that everything happened and happened on time.
E Helgeby: How did it come about that you took on the role of the Senior Advisor or Senior Private Secretary?
K Moore: Well, Deborah was leaving, she announced that she was leaving, she gave some notice that she was leaving and Neal asked if I’d be interested in doing it and I said yes. I mean one doesn’t say no to that sort of offer, does one [laughs]. I was a little surprised by flattered and ready to step in I thought. I’m very intimidated by it. I didn’t have a background in health policy and I had managed to ease my way into the community services side of things but I still felt uninformed about health policy.
E Helgeby: How did you go about getting to be knowledgeable and expert in that area?
K Moore: I’ve always been a great believer in learning by doing so it was about plunging in, it was about listening to the advisors, it was about listening to the minister, and then drawing some conclusions for myself about what was the appropriate way to go. I think one of the things I had to do early on was to establish my authority with the department who I suspected were, what’s the word, not always — or trying to co-opt me perhaps. Yet I knew that the job of an advisor was not to be the minister’s, was not to be the department’s voice, but to be the — to be another source of advice to the minister, at times when that was necessary. There was one occasion when I thought the department was trying to heavy me and it was when the minister was overseas and there was a particular proposal that was supposed — that was on the cabinet agenda and would come up, I was told, while he was away. Therefore I was asked to clear the cabinet submissions, and of course that was in the days before we had email and mobile phones and so the minister was in Europe and so it was quite difficult to contact him. I knew that this cabinet document would be highly contentious and in my view it shouldn’t have been there. The particular person in the department kept ringing me and saying it had to be cleared and it had to be — I needed to clear it. If I didn’t clear it then the whole of the cabinet would come down on my head. I looked again, and I thought about this, I thought about it and I thought, this is dangerous and so I made a couple of phone calls to people I knew and the next thing we knew the thing was off the cabinet agenda and never reappeared. I think that helped to establish my credibility with the department.
E Helgeby: I was going to ask …
K Moore: There was a different relationship after that.
E Helgeby: I was going to ask about the general relationship between the private office and the department, and of course, other government agencies also.
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: How did it work …
K Moore: It was very good, most of the time it was very good. I was very impressed by the majority of the bureaucracy. I thought they produced good papers, good advice, equally they worked closely with the office and we had good relationships with many of the senior bureaucrats. So it was a good constructive relationship. I learnt a lot from it.
E Helgeby: Was contact between the department and the private office always through the — yourself as the senior person?
K Moore: No, many of the public servants would ring the advisor in their area directly because relationships had been established. So when I was working as an advisor on child care I had — and aged care, I knew the senior bureaucrats directly and there would be a lot of contact between us. So, it was a good relationship I thought. It was a good way for the office to operate.
E Helgeby: I’m intrigued, you mentioned the case about the — you felt that in one case they might have tried to monster you in a sense …
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: … with this submission. How did it come about that you as a staffer was asked to endorse a document that was going to go to cabinet rather than the acting minister or whoever might have …
K Moore: I think that’s a very good point. I don’t know why they — I don’t think we actually — well we had junior ministers at that stage and so they were junior, they weren’t familiar with the topic in question. It was essentially a political decision I felt, that had come about through the economic rationalist push, and while I had some understanding and sympathy for the economic rationalists I thought this particular proposal was politically very dangerous. So I wasn’t prepared to let it go anywhere else. When I did manage to speak to the minister I told him what I was doing, or what the push was, and he basically said, well he couldn’t do anything about it from where he was because there was no way he could get hold of the document. So I handled it the way I felt it should be handled.
E Helgeby: It’s an interesting angle you mention too, you said this was almost fully political decision.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: Was that part of the brief of staff to deal with political things?
K Moore: Yes, we’re there as political advisors and our eye — is to run our eye over things with a political antenna so that we would pick up any problems that might arise or be facing the government if a particular policy or action were decided upon.
E Helgeby: In a case like this it raises a question about how did you manage to coordinate the efforts of the other advisors in the office? In a situation where staff from the department could easily contact the advisors direct and maybe between them agree on a certain approach which — did they clear things with you before they …
K Moore: Yes, if there was anything contentious. I think we operated on a basis of a lot of trust between the advisors. Obviously there was some rivalries because people in those positions are ambitions, but no I think there was trust. You know that once there is an issue that might be political then it’s best talked through with other people with similar experience or similar views. We would sit around and talk through an issue and usually come to an agreed position.
E Helgeby: The coordination of efforts was really by this more informal consultation and talk within the office …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: … and not on a hierarchal structure at all …
K Moore: No.
E Helgeby: … that the decision was made by you as the head of the — the chief of staff so to speak.
K Moore: Well, I think I was more coordinating the making of a decision because usually it would come down to what advice, we as the advisors were going to offer the minister.
E Helgeby: Yes. Back to the minister, how would you describe your relationship with him?
K Moore: It was a good relationship. I enjoyed working with Neal because he was so bright. He was so intelligent that he was always one step ahead of his advisors and so it constantly kept us on our toes. So that was one aspect of it. The other because inevitably when you’re working very close with people you get to know them pretty well. We could tease him and have a laugh, share a joke amongst ourselves. So go back to your original question Edward, sorry.
E Helgeby: That was, how you saw your relationship with the minister?
K Moore: I had a lot of respect for him, a lot of respect. He came from an academic background. He listened to his advisors but in the end he always made up his own mind but he listened to his advisors with a great deal of respect and would talk through an issue with us. He was mostly very, very good like that.
E Helgeby: Were there any times when you strongly disagreed with the minister or he strongly disagreed with the advice you gave him?
K Moore: Once or twice that I don’t particularly want to go into but there was one occasion where he and I had come to an agreed position involvement appointing somebody to a committee. I think I took an evening off from work and when I came in the next day he’d been persuaded to overturn that decision and I expressed my displeasure. The later decision was reversed but that was really the only time I can remember any conflict.
E Helgeby: Talking about the office again, when you were the senior staffer, the coordination of the work of the office as a whole, from you were saying you focused quite a bit on that and making it happen?
K Moore: Yes, I was making sure that the work was able to be done, that it flowed through, that the paperwork came in from the department, was processed within the office, that we knew where that piece of paperwork was, or we could track it down if we needed it quickly, that it went through to the minister in a timely way, and that it went back to the department, that was the circular flow of paper. But there was also the coordination of his diary, making sure that his commitments were reasonable. One of the things I always felt very strongly about was that his work commitments were such that we — he was enabled to get home for most weekends. So that he kept some touch with reality. I had seen ministers who didn’t get home for weeks on end and I knew that that spelt problems for their family life. It was also those ministers who perhaps had lost touch with their electorates, with real people. I felt there was a danger keeping ministers in Canberra all surrounded by their advisors for too long. So I always tried to make sure that he had his weekends off, and that we didn’t take on too much on his behalf.
E Helgeby: Doing that coordination, did you every morning go through the day’s work …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: … or what was on, and talk to all the advisors and all the staff to make sure, and then, in a sense, coordinate that way?
K Moore: I would keep an eye on his diary so I would know what was coming up. I think I had a fair idea of what was on the policy agenda so that we knew what was coming, we would know what was coming up in parliament. We would all see the Question Time briefs, so there were a lot of ways in which you coordinate, keep an eye on what’s going on.
E Helgeby: So no formal meetings, no formal staff meetings or anything like that, from what you were saying?
K Moore: I can’t remember having any formal staff meetings. I think we had morning teas and things when minister was away. Those of us who were left would have morning teas together or coffees together.
E Helgeby: Yes that brings me to another issue, in a sense, I suppose it might be an impossibility but can you describe a typical day as working in the minister’s office, from your perspective?
K Moore: I don’t think there is a typical day, because they differ. When the parliament is sitting it is much busier. When the parliament was sitting we would come in probably somewhere between eight and nine in the morning, the press secretaries would have been in much earlier. We would each have a copy of the media clippings on our desk and we would go through those, pick out any issues that looked to be difficult. We’d go through the Question Time briefs to make sure that they were covering those issues, that we had responses to any questions we might be asked in the parliament. Then the day would begin with a series of interest groups, bureaucrats coming to meet with the minister, interrupted frequently by the ringing of the bells and the minister having to dash down the hallway into the chamber for a vote. So it was both routine and chaotic because one never knew what was going to come up, of course. In the parliament one could never completely control what was coming up in Question Time etcetera, etcetera.
When the parliament wasn’t sitting, I think things were a little more relaxed. The minister would normally not be in Canberra, maybe in Adelaide with one or two of his advisors, or he’d be on the road somewhere speaking at a conference, or visiting a nursing home, or opening something here, or opening something there. So the Canberra office would be much more relaxed, still very busy but perhaps without the minute by minute pressures that we experienced when the parliament was sitting. And, maybe one or two of us would be travelling with the minister at any one time.
E Helgeby: So one or two of you, was that something you did in rotation or just to have a …
K Moore: It would depend on what he was doing. If he was visiting a nursing home his aged care advisor would be with him, if he was visiting a health facility then maybe one of his health advisors would be there. If he was speaking at a conference it would depend what the conference was about, one of the advisors would be there, and often the press secretary would be with him as well.
E Helgeby: So, your day, I mean all of the questions I like to ask, in a sense, how did you manage to have a break? Where did you go to have lunch or dinner or breaks or whatever, did you have that in the office always?
K Moore: I tried not to. One of the things I tried to do with the office was to say that we all have to say sane here and that we must all have breaks. One of the things I did institute was a roster system so that when the parliament was sitting we weren’t all there every evening until eleven or twelve o’clock at night. So that a couple of advisors would be rostered on for each evening and the rest of us would go home maybe about seven or eight o’clock. That was purely in order to reduce the fatigue levels. Now, that wasn’t entirely uncontentious, I think, many …
Interview with Kate Moore part 6
K Moore: … of the people who work in those offices are ones who like to be very busy and important all the time. I wasn’t of that mind. I liked to pace myself and keep a clear head and not be too exhausted. I thought it was important that the other advisors didn’t suffer from exhaustion because that’s a time when your judgement goes.
E Helgeby: So in terms of things like, for example, a meal break did you have that or was it a matter of grabbing something on the run?
K Moore: Particularly when the parliament was sitting you didn’t have a meal break basically because Question Time would be at two o’clock and you needed to be prepared. Other times I would try and get out and have a short walk, have a sandwich outside somewhere, sit in a courtyard, just get out of the office for a little while and just have that break.
E Helgeby: And your normal day would finish, you said ten-eleven at night or, unless you were rostered off.
K Moore: If the parliament was sitting it could be ten-eleven it could go on longer than that because the parliament often sat longer than that. If it’s a normal day and the minister was — if it’s a non-sitting day and the minister was away then we may get home at six-seven o’clock at night.
E Helgeby: How would you describe the working conditions here, both working, I suppose in the office but also in the building itself?
K Moore: In the Old Parliament House the working conditions were crowded [laughs] to put it politely. We had, I think in the little room where I was, which was a long narrow room, we had, I think, four or five advisors plus the press secretary in the one room with a photocopier. Then in the next room and equally small room was the senior advisor and all the senior private secretary, another advisor and the administrative staff. So, we were very much on top of one another, it was very, very difficult to hear, very difficult to concentrate. Neal had put in a request for some extra space which was, of course, not really available in the Old Parliament House, but eventually we were given what had been an old cupboard under the stairs next to the canteen. There was a little bit of space in there. I think it would sit three people and so another advisor and I just decided that we were off. This was our space [laughs] and so we moved, which did mean being out of the main office which had both its advantages and disadvantages in that you didn’t know what was going on for a lot of the time but it also meant that you could concentrate on your area of policy to advise.
E Helgeby: Could you do that while you were a senior member of staff?
K Moore: No, once I became a senior private secretary I had to move into the main office.
E Helgeby: And that office was right on the lower ground floor on the Rep’s wing?
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: Can you remember what the office number was?
K Moore: I can’t remember what the office number was, but I can take you there [laughs].
E Helgeby: On the lower ground floor just next to the …
K Moore: Yes, it was almost under where we’re sitting now, I think.
E Helgeby: … yes, and we’re sitting in the Killen Room of the APM&C.
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: I suppose a question on the working conditions, did you get paid for the excess hours you worked, over and beyond the normal working day?
K Moore: No, you got paid an amount, you got an annual salary that was supposed to compensate you for those hours. I think it notionally included overtime but the reality was that the job involved long hours anyway. You probably got paid, I think, the salary was okay.
E Helgeby: I suppose the — I probably know the answer but I’ll ask — did the work impact on your social and family life?
K Moore: Yes, it very much did. I didn’t start to work in parliament house until my children had left home. My son went off to university, my daughter had left to go to university in 1983, my son went to university, I think in 1985. I had undertaken some study. I’d never been to university and I’d been given special admission into a master’s degree in 1980 I think starting in 1985. I worked part-time on that degree in ’85 and ’86, but I had to suspend when in 1987 I decided I needed to go to work in the minister’s office. So, once you work in a minister’s office, I think the rest of your life goes on hold because there was just no energy to do much else at all. So my home life suffered, my social life suffered. I did manage to do a bit of bush walking on weekends which was a great release for me, but I was basically exhausted. If I wasn’t in the office I was exhausted somewhere.
E Helgeby: When you were working here, the years that you were in this building, did you access all parts of the building and use its facilities, or were there also simply no time, for example, using things like the tennis court or the parliamentary dining room or anything like that.
K Moore: No, I never had time to use those. I would go to the canteen, we’d get coffees from the canteen, and sometimes we’d get a meal from the canteen. I was never a visitor to the non-members bar, that wasn’t something I had the time or the inclination for, although a lot of the staff would go to the non-members bar. So, no I can’t say that I used the facilities. We would sit in the courtyard and drink coffee and that was a very, very nice thing to do, or we would have, perhaps meetings with other staff when we needed to out in the courtyard. It was very nice.
E Helgeby: So you talk about meetings, meetings even when you were on a break, in a sense?
K Moore: Yes, well you would say, well let’s — it’s time to have a coffee, let’s go and sit in the courtyard and talk about that.
E Helgeby: So, what sort of interaction did you have with staff in other sections, and other parts of this building? I mean that includes other ministerial staff, and/or others?
K Moore: It was on an as necessary basis, I suppose. So, you might have a meeting about a particular cabinet submission you were putting in. If it involved another portfolio, or you know, in the case of — maybe you would talk to the Finance Ministers staff, about what you were proposing to do and they would always inevitably say, no you can’t do that [laughs]. We would, of course, liaise with staff in the junior minister’s office and then really it was just informal contact with those staff, but there weren’t too many opportunities for that. You might see them at the canteen, you might see them in the courtyard, those are the ones you knew.
I remember when I joined Neal’s office the Senior Private Secretary, Deborah Snow saying to me that she had found that working in a minister’s office was a bit like being in one of a series of armed camps, or bunkers. Every so often one of the staff would go over the top and meet with another member — perhaps to discuss a treaty or to lob a grenade into another minister’s office, but it was a series of armed camps, she described it as. That always resonated with me, I thought it probably describes it quite well.
E Helgeby: You mentioned the junior ministers and their staff, what was the relationship between you and them?
K Moore: On a staff to staff meet basis, it was okay, there were sometimes tensions when a junior minister wanted to do something and the senior minister disagreed, or there were some discussions going on between the staff and we would say, well, don’t really think that’s a good idea. So they might get a bit tetchy. But basically it was okay.
E Helgeby: But the staff was completely separate from your area of responsibility?
K Moore: Yes, each of the junior ministers …
E Helgeby: Each junior minister also had their own staff
K Moore: … had their own staff …
E Helgeby: … responsible, directly only to that …
K Moore: yes.
E Helgeby: So how is the coordination of that work done? The junior minister presumably can’t operate independent of the senior minister?
K Moore: No, they can’t, there would be meetings between the senior and the junior ministers, but they would have their own areas of operation, so for example — I think we had veterans’ health in our portfolio at one stage and that was a sort of discrete area of work. When Peter Staples was the junior minister he had responsibility for pharmaceutical policy and that was a big area of work going on at that time, which he did very, very well. So he would talk to our minister, to the senior minister about that area of work. So it was about the junior ministers having discrete parts of the portfolio to work on and obviously they needed to liaise with the senior ministers.
E Helgeby: But that liaison did not go through you, for example, in terms of you said, making sure that the senior minister …
K Moore: I didn’t get in the way of the junior minister seeing the senior minister.
E Helgeby: … and documents and reports and proposals, would not come to you to make sure they were on Blewett’s desk?
K Moore: They would come to me as a matter of courtesy and they would be passed through but I think there was a lot of liaison between the junior ministers and Neal. So it was often not necessary for that to happen.
E Helgeby: Yes. Did you ever attend sessions in the chambers?
K Moore: No. I think I might have sat in there once when there was a bit of a stoush going on over some aspect of Neal’s work, but I by enlarge, no, we listened to it all, watched it on the television. We would watch the Question Time from the office or be partly doing our work and have one eye on the television. But no, we tended not to sit in the chamber, not necessary, and Neal was such a competent minister that he really didn’t need — once he’d got something, once he had decided on a position, once he had thought it through, he was more than capable of holding his own. I remember once he went into a cabinet meeting with the proposal that he had to argue for, I think I sent a note in saying, did he want a couple of the senior bureaucrats there and he just sent a note out saying, no I can handle this, or something like, no, I have no need of the praetorian guard [laughs]. Just a nice note, I thought said a lot about him.
E Helgeby: A bit of technology, you mentioned television, when — had that been introduced and you had the screens in the office before you started?
K Moore: I think there was a television in Neal’s office not in the advisor’s offices. When we moved up to the new Parliament House all the offices had televisions. So we could watch what was going on at any time.
E Helgeby: In terms of your own work, what sort of equipment would you have used in your daily work? Were you using some form of word processing equipment yourself?
K Moore: I think it was the very early days of computers, but not in the Old Parliament House, I don’t think. They were in the new Parliament House, we had computers and we had to have some training on those. But the main thing I can remember from my early days as an advisor was the little yellow sticky notes [laughs] which we would put on the documents sent over from the department and say, I have some concerns about this, or this — we think this okay, suggest you sign. So there were lots of those little yellow sticky notes that went on to documents.
E Helgeby: A low technology solution.
K Moore: A lot technology solution, yes indeed.
E Helgeby: So did you prefer to stick with the kind of equipment you had used, say in this building in the early years, working for the minister when you moved up to the Australian Parliament House?
K Moore: When we moved up to the new Parliament House well there were computers and we all needed to be trained in the use of computers. They were the ones with black screens with orange writing on, so that was an innovation. We obviously had better technology in terms of photocopiers and nice telephones. So the technology was introduced gradually. I don’t have any real memories of any particular hassles with it. Though there was one, at one point the staff decided that I needed to be on call twenty-four hours a day and they found, they acquired one of those alerts, the alarms, which I duly put in my briefcase and took home and threw my briefcase in the middle of the hall as I was wan to do when I was very tired. When to bed, got up the next morning, and I thought there’s a bird singing somewhere and I potted around, got myself a cup of tea and woke myself up. Where is that persistent noise coming from and eventually I realized it came from my briefcase, it was the beeper, and saying the office wanted me. I think they stopped trying after that and the world didn’t fall apart. I can’t remember what the crisis was, but it probably wasn’t a proper one.
E Helgeby: While we’re talking about the new technology, how much extra space, or how much space did you actually get when you moved up to the Australian Parliament House?
K Moore: Masses, we had, I think, Neal’s office was probably twice the size. I shared an office with one of his — with his senior consultant and that was more than big enough for two of us, plus the television, plus some decent furniture. We had one, two, three other officers for advisors. We had a kitchen. We had a large space where the administrative staff sat and where the paperwork went through and we had a proper reception area. It was a complete change.
E Helgeby: You mentioned that the number of staff who actually went up to the Australian Parliament House was about, stayed the same …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: … because we noted that in 1992, which was after you had left, Blewett’s staff, as Minister for Social Security had increased to thirteen, so that was a good thirty per cent larger than, you mentioned ten approximately.
K Moore: Yes, I have in my mind that we had a total staff of sixteen, which included the electoral staff. The staff in the electorate office, there were three or four of those, plus the driver, plus the staff in the Canberra office.
E Helgeby: That must have been — the number here is for people actually working in his personal office in Australian Parliament House.
K Moore: Yes, okay.
E Helgeby: So there was not a significant increase?
K Moore: Not a significant increase, no.
E Helgeby: Again, come briefly back to, I suppose, the working conditions. Did you have any contact with your colleagues outside of work? In any, I suppose, friendship type contact with staff, or people you worked with here?
K Moore: There was one woman, Margaret Connelly who was there when I first went into the office. She and I became good friends. We both disappeared into the broom cupboard office together and we became very good friends and we’re still very good friends.
E Helgeby: Did you ever, was there ever a social club of any kind in this building, Old Parliament House, or in the Australian Parliament House, where staff would get together?
K Moore: Look if there was I didn’t know about it and I probably wouldn’t have joined it anyway, as I said earlier, we had no time for much social life. Normally just, by the time you got home at night you were more than ready to turn right off.
E Helgeby: While you were working, certainly in the two parliament buildings, were you ever a member of a union?
K Moore: I was a member, and I can’t remember how I got to be a member, I was a member of the Australian Journalists Association [laughs]. I think that might have been when — I think I might have joined that when I was in the Development Education Unit with ACFOA because I was doing so much writing. I kept that membership up for years. Obviously working in the Labor Party it helped if you were a member of a union.
E Helgeby: Were you ever required, or requested to take part in any industrial action?
K Moore: No.
E Helgeby: How did workloads change in, I suppose, by quantum during sitting weeks or when the minister was away. You have mentioned that it was dramatically more intense when parliament was sitting.
K Moore: Yes, the pressure was more intense because, obviously ministers are accountable to parliament. When he’s in Canberra the bureaucrats would want — there was inevitably stuff that the department needed to see him about. The interest groups would come into Canberra to lobby so we would have to see a certain number of them. So it was just, the pressure was much greater when the parliament was sitting, there was more going on.
E Helgeby: When the minister was away, did any of you travel with him?
K Moore: Oh yes, he always had one or two advisors, perhaps a secretary and perhaps a press secretary, depending on what the — what engagements he had.
E Helgeby: What about you, did you accompany the minister at all on his travels?
K Moore: Oh yes, I accompanied him quite a lot. I went on one overseas trip with him to Europe, to Stockholm, and to Russia, Hungary, Malta, back to London and then onto the States.
E Helgeby: What was the purpose of that visit?
K Moore: Well, we were meeting — we were looking at health systems overseas and community service systems overseas. In Malta we were representing the government at their Independence Day celebrations which was great fun. In Russia we were looking at health systems, we were looking at — we’d been asked particularly to look at some particular forms of eye surgery that they were doing, laser eye. It was the early days of laser eye surgery, they were pioneering that in Russia and were anxious to show us what they were doing. In Sweden, similarly, we were discussing their health system, which has some similarities to ours.
E Helgeby: What year was this?
K Moore: It was, I think, 1989.
E Helgeby: So, just the last days of the Soviet Union …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: … when you went.
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: Have you got any memories of the stories or anything about what happened on that travel and what impression it made on you?
K Moore: Well, we were in Moscow. We went to, I think we had a little bit of time in Leningrad and then went on to Moscow and at my suggestion we travelled by train from Leningrad to Moscow, which I think, the Foreign Affairs people, or people at the Embassy in Russia weren’t keen on us doing, but it was quite an interesting trip, in that we actually managed to see some of the country rather than just flying over it. I thought Moscow was very grey and depressing but the people were very hospitable, in fact, they were so hospitable I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in my life, and none of it was vegetables or fruit. So we spent a lot of time eating there, but saw some very interesting stuff, had some discussions with the health ministry and looked at some of the services they were providing.
E Helgeby: Did you get any impressions of the end of empire soon being around the corner, or was — I mean certainly the signs of things changing?
K Moore: Well no, we were only there for a day or two so, but it was a very run down shabby country, you know. The hotel didn’t have the fixtures and fittings that modern hotels had, even in those days. Everything looked grey and just shabby.
E Helgeby: How did you — what was your workload like, what actually did you do when travelling with the minister?
K Moore: Well, you were there really to carry the bags, advise him, make sure the itinerary, you were keeping to time, keeping in touch with the office as far as you could without the modern technology that we have nowadays. So it was really very much a supporting role, in supporting the minister to carry out his ministerial duties.
E Helgeby: What about travelling within Australia, was that a more regular occurrence?
K Moore: Yes, I mean there would be quite frequent trips to Adelaide and all around the place, just depending on where he needed to go. You didn’t get to see much of the country, you were really, sort of traipsing from one appointment to another.
E Helgeby: And that, I suppose, in terms of travel, election times — there were a number of elections during the years you were involved with both the ALP and in parliament, the minister …
K Moore: Yes, I joined in 1987 just after the ’87 election and then I left just about the time of the 1990 election. So I wasn’t very much involved in the election campaigns.
E Helgeby: But you mentioned earlier, last time, that you also — you were heavily involved with the Hawke ’83 election.
K Moore: Yes, because I was a party apparatchik, during election times the party really has to swing into action and run things. It doesn’t run government but it runs the campaign to — for election, so your very, very much involved at that stage, far more than people in ministers offices are. Because — the ministers have to be out there promoting what they’ve done and what they intend to do, but basically, I guess, the ring master is the party at that stage. Whereas in government the person whose at the head of it all is the Prime Minister. In an election campaign the ministers are out on the campaign trail but they are very much the secondary players to the Prime Minister, because all the cameras are on the Prime Minister.
E Helgeby: The staff involved, I mean, in the Hawke ’83 election you were working, you were then working for the ALP election …
K Moore: But, no I was seconded onto Hawke’s staff to work directly for him during the ’83 campaign.
E Helgeby: What was that like, that campaign?
K Moore: It was very exciting, that was a terribly exciting campaign. It was, I mean, it was one of those election campaigns where everybody knew it was time for a change. The party had just switched leaders to Hawke which was a cause of some grief to a lot of us, but you know, we picked ourselves up and said, okay Hawke is leader, we’re going to go on with this and we’re going to win. There was a real sense that we were going to win. Hawke was very good, he adapted very quickly to the role of leader. My job was to be one of two people who went on ahead of the main party around Hawke to make sure that things were in place in the electorates he was going to visit. So my job was to make sure that there were microphones that worked, that the itinerary had been planned out well, that the timings were correct, and that everything would go smoothly for the main party when they arrived. That was a good role because it allowed me a certain amount of freedom but every so often the main party would catch up with me and so I’d be part of the larger group again.
E Helgeby: That brings me to — when you, perhaps then also, you supervised staff and both — you had staff to supervise when you were in the office when you worked for the minister as well.
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: How would you describe your style of management?
K Moore: That’s a hard one. I’d had no formal management training and I can look back and see how — I both allowed — I think I had a lot of trust in the staff to make good decisions but at the same time I think I could be quite autocratic at times and that probably was not the best way of handling things. I think I probably could have had a more consultative style of management, but I’d had no formal management training. I did what I felt was the right thing at the time. I think I’d always wanted to be bossy and so I think I was bossy [laughs].
E Helgeby: On the other hand you also mentioned, you agreed with the statement that, in a sense, your role was to make that happen …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: … how, reconcile that with consultation and — as against an autocratic approach?
K Moore: [laughs] I think it’s just about a style of leadership. I think probably the latest management thinking would be that — having that more consultative, collaborative approach is probably more effective, but I did it the only way I knew how at the time. It was really learning it be doing it. The office did work, I think. I got a lot of feedback from the department saying that they’d never seen such a well organised minister’s office. I remember the minister saying something to that effect, but perhaps not quite so politely at one stage [laughs] that his office was organised down to the last teaspoon or something like that.
E Helgeby: Did you initiate any changes in office procedures, or practices, while you were working in the minister’s office?
K Moore: I think the main change I instituted was making sure that people got time off. I thought that was a very important reform because I saw people working themselves to death, being exhausted, not making good decisions, perhaps being a bit ratty, a bit bad tempered, a bit — not as effective as I knew they could be. So my main reform was to make sure everybody, including the minister got time off. I think that was an important thing to do. I still see ministers offices that work twenty-four hours a day and that’s when governments get into trouble in my view.
E Helgeby: Shall we take a break here.
K Moore: Let’s take a break.
Interview with Kate Moore part 7
E Helgeby: Did you have much contact with parliamentarians working here, not the minister but other parliamentarians?
K Moore: Only if there was an issue of relevance to both portfolios. Obviously sometimes you’d see them in the corridors but people were normally in a hurry and so you didn’t stop and talk. Yes, we saw them, but we didn’t have a great deal to do with them because they were all very busy with their own portfolios. I think Neal Blewett probably had more to do with them because of his membership of Cabinet and the way that Cabinet worked in those days.
E Helgeby: So you did have much in the way of professional contact or relationship with any other members of parliament really?
K Moore: With the Backbenches, we would liaise with the Backbenchers, yes because a lot of them took a very active interest in health policy. Obviously shortly after the implementation of Medicare they were very keen to promote that to their electorates. There was an active caucus committee and a parliamentary committee on health and so we would see them, yes, we would certainly see the Backbenchers.
E Helgeby: Were there any parliamentarians that you did have dealings with that you particularly admired and/or respected as individuals or as parliamentary operators?
K Moore: Yes, there was a lot of parliamentarians I respected. In fact I respect most parliamentarians, unlike the majority of the population. I think they don’t see how hard the parliamentarians work, how dedicated they are, how much work they do for their constituencies. Most of them most of the time are not out there ‘boofing’ each other they are actually working collaboratively and getting things done, so I have a lot of respect for parliamentarians.
E Helgeby: There’s not much that stand out particularly?
K Moore: The ones that stand out for me, because of my areas of interest I guess, were obviously Neal, John Button, who I worked with on the ALP committee of inquiry. Hawke and Haydon obviously both very good, well very good leaders, very good members of parliament, very dedicated to the public interest. Susan Ryan was very influential for me, she was very, very encouraging with things that I was doing. I thought the work that she did was stunning. In terms of advancing women’s causes it was extraordinary. John Dawkins was somebody I admired. I thought he perhaps became too much of an economic rationalist as years went by. Peter Walsh I admired, didn’t always agree with him, but I admired him, Paul Keating, Graham Richardson. I know it’s not fashionable to say that, but he was a good minister. He worked hard. I worked with him in the party and I always knew what he would do. He would tell you if he disagreed with you and he would tell you if he would support you. There were a lot of Backbenchers, Senator Pat Giles, Senator Rosemary Crowley who worked enormously hard in their own states. Certainly some of the people in the marginal seats that I worked with were very good, there were just too many to name.
E Helgeby: Also, were there any parliamentarians that you came not to admire or respect?
K Moore: There were a few, I’m not going to name them [laughs] there were a few, yes, there were a few who were perhaps womanisers, and who paid me a little much attention at times. But they were very much in the minority of the ones I knew. Obviously I knew the Labor Party people I didn’t know many of the Liberal Party people, but mostly they were very good, very hard working, good to work with.
E Helgeby: What was your relationship with members of the press, if any?
K Moore: Oh yes, we had — the journalists would come into the office, particularly in the Old Parliament House where we were so close to them, and you would see them around the place. I knew a lot of them from my days working with the Labor Party when I would organise the national conferences and the national campaign launches. I would then have had to of worked very closely with most members of the Press Gallery and so I knew many of them when I worked up here. They would come into the office, if there was an issue in health policy that they wanted to cover. Just another person you knew in parliament house really.
E Helgeby: Did you think the Press Gallery was generally fair and unbiased?
K Moore: Yes, generally speaking, I think back in those days they were fair and unbiased and they probably had more resources at their disposal to help them with their job, so they were actually more thorough in their reporting. Yes, they were pretty good, they were pretty good.
E Helgeby: I detect that you have a slightly different view of the press these days?
K Moore: I have a different view of some of the press. I think there are still some very, very good people in the Press Gallery. In fact I was watching a part of Laurie Oakes’ Andrew Olle lecture the other night and taking note of what he’d said and really things haven’t changed that much. The press today is not that much different. I think obviously there is more immediacy for coverage which leads to shallower reporting but there were some very good new, younger journalists coming through the ranks.
E Helgeby: Were there any journalists that stand out as ones you really admire?
K Moore: Laurie Oakes undoubtedly. I’d know Laurie for quite a long time because he was a good friend of David Combe, Michelle Grattan, I mean she’s a great, she’s just been a great survivor of the gallery, and a great leader of the gallery. Nowadays, Annabel Crabb I’m a great fan of, George Megalogenis I admire, there is any number of them. Again, probably too many to talk about, to name, and they don’t immediately come to mind, but yes there have been some great, great reporters in the gallery.
E Helgeby: In your days working within the parliament were there any that you, I suppose, didn’t admire and didn’t respect?
K Moore: There were a few, again I’m not going to name them [laughs] because they are still there. I think some of them were either biased or lazy, but mostly I found journalists quite good to work with or to liaise with and would usually give you a fair hearing.
E Helgeby: You felt from working within — the minister got a fair hearing for what he wanted to say …
K Moore: Hmm.
E Helgeby: … in terms of the views were correctly expressed …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: … and taken on board by journalists.
K Moore: Yes, by and large, and obviously we had very good press secretaries in our office who would make sure that the journalists were well briefed and would liaise with them, so my job wasn’t to liaise with the journalists but I just happen to know a lot of them.
E Helgeby: Brings me to the point, in which way did work practices, and I suppose the atmosphere change, when you moved from Old Parliament House to the Australian Parliament House. You had much more space …
K Moore: We had much more space, it was perhaps communication was a bit more — one had to make more effort at communicating because you couldn’t just — shout down the end of the room, you had to physically get up and walk into another office to talk to people. I think the minister’s offices became even more isolated from one another because they now had a lot of space, so we tended not to be drinking our coffee in the courtyard or visiting, on those occasions when we visited another minister’s office. The ministerial wing in parliament house is quite huge so I think there was more isolation both from each other and obviously isolation from the Press Gallery. So it really did change the whole feeling, the way we communicated, the way we related to each other. I mean in many ways it was a big relief because, you know, working under those conditions was extremely stressful. So it was nice to have the extra space but the distance, the physical distance between offices and between the coffee shop and your own office was quite significant, and between the chambers was quite significant.
E Helgeby: Did you ever — in the same way, did you ever have any contact, any formal, professional relationship or otherwise with members of the Opposition while you worked in Old Parliament House and in the Australian Parliament House, was that physical separation, in a sense, a reality even when you worked here?
K Moore: Well, there is a separation because, you normally wouldn’t have a great deal to do with the Opposition, however, the emergence of the AIDs virus in the mid-‘80s did mean the way that the government ran, or developed AIDs policy, meant that we tried to make it a non-party political issue. Set up the joint parliament committee on AIDs. Now that was done before I joined the staff, but it was a very, very important vehicle for maintaining the harmonious relationship around the management of the HIV-AIDs virus. Certainly when I became Neal’s Senior Private Secretary I did some liaison with members of that committee. I remember when Michael Wooldridge was elected to the parliament. I think it was sometime in the late ‘80s. I had to go and talk to him about whether he’d be prepared to join the joint parliamentary committee. We wanted him there because he obviously knew a lot about health and health policy and his views with be critical to maintaining that policy, agreement that we had developed. So I, and other members of the office, would sometimes be talking to members of the joint parliament committee.
E Helgeby: Did that change, at all, that established relationship that had happened there, did it change at all …
K Moore: No, no.
E Helgeby: … the dynamics didn’t change?
K Moore: No, it didn’t change. I think it’s a credit to both sides of politics that we managed the emergence of the virus in the way that we did, because we are seen as a country that leads the world in the management of the virus.
E Helgeby: How would you describe your view on politics in general terms, in the sense, did you ever feel uncomfortable about what you were doing in a philosophical sense?
K Moore: No I don’t think I did. I think I’d made — by the time I’d joined the Labor Party I’d made up my mind where my political views were. I knew that one had to make compromises. I quickly realized that in order to achieve things you needed to compromise and so I think I was fairly comfortable in working for the Labor Party, the Labor Government. I think that’s where my natural home was, and I didn’t feel — I just knew that you had to make compromises and I think I’m a fairly pragmatic sort of person, so I usually accepted what needed to be done.
E Helgeby: You say usually, were there times when you, in a sense, struck that problem where in a — philosophically mightn’t feel quite right, what was actually happening or what was going to happen?
K Moore: I can’t remember anything to be honest. I know that there would be times when I worked with the Labor Party when I’d be impatient that we weren’t making more progress on things like increasing the number of women in the parliament. I’d want to have a little rant and rave about that but I’d do that in private [laughs] and I knew that the barriers to achieving things were sometimes very real and needed to be worked through slowly. And always taken the view that you’ve got to take a long view of things, if you want things to change and improve, then it takes time. When you look back over time you can see that those changes did happen. When I look back to the early ‘70s when I first became involved in the women’s movement, the way that society has changed, and women’s role in society has changed, it has been enormous. But you can’t see it when it’s happening, tiny steps at a time, so you’ve always got to take that long view of change and improvement.
E Helgeby: I suppose the answer to this one is clearly fairly obvious I would imagine, but were you ever required, in a specific sense, to keep information secret and people tried to obtain such information from you?
K Moore: Oh yes, I mean you work for a cabinet minister, you’re privy to cabinet submissions and you are putting in cabinet submissions from the minister, and yes, obviously that happens all the time. It happens all the time when you’re working for the Labor Party. Journalists might want to know what your campaign tactics are or what the election date will be and you don’t tell them. You don’t them. I think I had a reputation for being able to keep secrets. I think somebody told me once, I had the tightest mouth in the ALP [laughs] so I thought I’ve borne that in mind, that’s a reputation I want to keep. I don’t gossip and I don’t leak.
E Helgeby: You mentioned a number of individuals, people that you actually worked — they stand out as special people that you worked with. I wonder if you could talk a bit about them as individuals and your experience of them. If I can work my way through them.
K Moore: Okay.
E Helgeby: The first one is obvious, I think, Neal Blewett. Tell me about, when did you meet him first and what struck you about him that was actually, I suppose, stood out?
K Moore: Okay, I first met Neal when he was appointed to be co-Chair of the ALP’s Committee of Inquiry. He was there for Bill Hayden and Bob Hawke. His intelligence was the first thing I noticed. He had been a professor at the university and he was still very much a professor to me. So I was impressed by the sharpness of his mind and the directness of his questioning and his ability to analyse information. I thought he was a shy man in that he was not easy socially but a man of ideals, of intellect, and capacity to do things. So that is how he struck me. Not an easy man to know.
E Helgeby: Did you have, I suppose, events, episodes, anything, memories, special moments about him that stand out?
K Moore: This is very difficult and I don’t want to go into it a great deal but when his wife died he was in the Canberra office and we were with him, that was a terribly difficult time. A time when we got to see him at a very vulnerable stage. I mean for me it’s a very difficult, a very special memory, something that I could — it was, for me I was pleased that I could do some little thing to help him at that time. That is all very much the humanity of the man. I don’t want to go into that too much.
E Helgeby: So, he was as a boss, someone to work for, I think you have said already that he was very good, a good listener?
K Moore: He was a good listener. He could take a brief as I would say. He would think about the brief and then fire some questions and he would always think about it and not until he was entirely comfortable would he accept that brief. So you always had to be up to the mark as an advisor. You always had to work things through and that was very good for me.
E Helgeby: Susan Ryan, you mentioned her already briefly?
K Moore: Susan was a great champion for women, she still is. She’s recently taken on being the Commissioner, against aged discrimination and I think that’s a great role for her. She really did champion the women’s agenda within the Labor Party and the Labor government and achieved a great deal of things like the Sex Discrimination Act, the Affirmative Action Agency, better education opportunities for women. She was a great fighter, she was a very loyal member of the Labor Party, she was a very loyal member of the cabinet. I think she often had a very hard time but couldn’t tell us about it because of cabinet solidarity.
E Helgeby: Did you have a personal relationship with her?
K Moore: To some extent in that I would see her socially, you know, at large social gatherings, so we knew each other through the women’s movement as well as through the Labor Party. I was very fond of her. I still am fond of her and I’m very pleased that she is still active in politics. We had friends in common, yes, and a passion about women and politics.
E Helgeby: Was this, when you mention, through the women’s movement, was this the WEL?
K Moore: Yes, through WEL, the early feminist movement, yes.
E Helgeby: She was involved in that as well?
K Moore: She was involved in that, yes.
E Helgeby: What year did you join that?
K Moore: That was 1972 when WEL formed I think.
E Helgeby: Yes.
K Moore: I joined towards the end of the year.
E Helgeby: So in that sense you also had dealings, you knew her from that time?
K Moore: Yes, I knew her before politics, yes, or before party politics.
E Helgeby: Because you had already at that stage, I think, you had joined the Labor Party?
K Moore: No, I joined the Labor Party in ’74 or ’75.
E Helgeby: What about Mick Young?
K Moore: Now there’s a difficult one. Mick was difficult. Mick was — when I first went to work for the Labor Party for David Combe, Mick Young and David Combe did not have a good relationship and I had got into the middle of that in my early and naive days working for David. When I went over to the parliament house and I think I had to see Mick Young about setting up this national committee of inquiry and I think what I got back from Mick was a whole lot of stuff about David and he obviously saw me as David’s lackey, fired a whole lot of stuff off for me, which was very disconcerting for me because I was very new to this game and I’d never quite come across anything like this before. So didn’t quite know what to do. I went down to see John Button who was co-Chair of the committee and who I’d seen earlier in the day. I told him what had happened and he basically said, never mind dear I’ll fix — never you mind I’ll have a quite word to Mick. The start of that relationship was not good. I think it improved over the years as we saw each other at various party functions. I mean he was a man with a great sense of humour. Probably not a friend of the women’s movement in the early days but I think he accepted the arguments later on and he used to refer to us as the ‘boilerhood’ [laughs] which made us all laugh. I think as time went on my relationship with Mick was much better. He was a man with a great sense of humour and a great wit, we miss him.
E Helgeby: Bob Hawke?
K Moore: Bob I knew from the time I started working for the Labor Party I think he was — I think he was on the National Executive at that stage and then later became Chair. Again a man with great capacity for work, for an understanding of the issues, highly intelligent, obviously a larrikin as we all know, loved a bet, loved to have a bet, would talk to the horses about me [talk to me about the horses] and I knew nothing about the horses, but very good, very good to deal with, very direct, very considered all the time. When I worked for him there was a lot of pressure on him but he was always, or most of the time quite calm, polite, doing his job. When he was the Prime Minister I had some dealings. I have a memory of him. I had to go to — we were planning the next election campaign in the party office. He had suggested that we hold — we consider holding the campaign launch in Melbourne. I had been sent off to Melbourne to look at a possible venue. I came back to Canberra that night, having had quite a long day, looking around Melbourne. I had to go into the Cabinet Room to brief him and the campaign committee and what I’d found. I was very, very tired I can remember being very tired and very hungry. I went into the Cabinet Room in the Old Parliament House and Bob was sitting at the table with his feet up and John Singleton was there and there were other various men [laughs] and they were smoking cigars. The air was full of this revolting cigar smoke. They were not being, I think they’d also been — no Bob wasn’t drinking but I think some of the others had a few wines. So it wasn’t a very good meeting [laughs]. I just never forgot the cigar smoke and the very masculine feeling of that meeting.
E Helgeby: Did you feel I got a hearing for what you were saying?
K Moore: Oh yes I got a hearing. I probably didn’t present as well as I could have done but I had basically thought, well, we could hold it in Melbourne but, you know, it would be physically okay to hold it in Melbourne but the politics, that were neither here nor there. So it was a decision for people in that room who were essentially the campaign committee. But Bob I thought was a wonderful Chair, a wonderful Prime Minister, a great Chair of the Cabinet. He was very consultative with his ministers. He delegated well. He did all the things a good Prime Minister should do.
E Helgeby: Did you speak as if you were present…
K Moore: I wasn’t present in the Cabinet but I did get a feeling for how it was running. I knew that it was a very collaborative Cabinet in that all Cabinet submissions would not just get a tick, they’d get a discussion. Bob Hawke’s Chairing skills enabled that to happen. Working for a minister who was accountable, or who worked for Hawke, one got a sense of the government being under control, and government being cohesive.
E Helgeby: You mentioned both Bob and Jill Whan …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: … had special significance, what stories do you have about them?
K Moore: Well, I knew them before I joined the Labor Party. I think Bob was probably one of the first members of parliament I knew. I knew Jill through working at ACFOA, she was working in the office at that time and we became good friends. We would — I live in Weston, they lived in Duffy, which is only one suburb away. On the weekends our families would get together, together with John Kerin and his family and other people, other friends of Jill and Bob’s and Sunday afternoons became a regular event at their place, either around the swimming pool in the summer or around the fire in the winter. There would be a lot of political discussion. A lot of discussion around issues. It was a very formative period for me. I mean I’ve retained a friendship with them both over the years.
E Helgeby: Did they, in any way — you had a fairly close social relationship with them as well, did they influence your political thinking at all do you think, have any influence on your politics?
K Moore: Certainly, I mean, Bob, in that he was very instrumental in getting me a job in the Labor Party, working for David Combe. He would often, he loved to tell stories about his time in parliament house. I think from him I learnt of the need to compromise, to debate. He’s a great man for thinking through issues, expressing a view, debating, so from them I learnt a lot. I got a lot of support from them both as well and still do, even though Bob is now eighty and getting a little frail. Jill is as strong as ever.
E Helgeby: You’ve mentioned David Combe …
K Moore: Yes.
E Helgeby: … I think from what you’ve said previously, he must have had a special place in your life, your career?
K Moore: Oh he did. I went to work for him in 1977, never having met him until he interviewed me. It was in the middle of the 1977 election campaign. He was very busy and he basically threw some work at me and disappeared off to Sydney or somewhere. So I learnt very quickly that I needed to work the job out my way. He started off by treating as a bit of a secretary and I didn’t mind that but I wanted other things to do. I’d been working at a higher level than that and so I would have to remind him of that, that I wasn’t there as a secretary, from time to time. But eventually he put me into working with this national committee of inquiry which was a very strategically important committee for him. So he exposed me to a lot of political debate and because I sat in the office with him I would be privy to all his conversations and to many of his meetings. He learnt to trust me and to trust my judgement and I learnt a hell of a lot from David. I’m always immensely grateful for what David taught me about politics. It really helped me carve out a career for myself.
E Helgeby: Did you have — remain in contact with him throughout your years working for the Labor Party and beyond?
K Moore: It was very difficult because, as you know, David had a big, not a falling out, but yes, there were some tensions between him and the Labor government. As I was carving out a career within the party at that time it made it very difficult to maintain contact, so we didn’t basically but in later years we’ve seen each other once or twice. I think we’re both, I’d have to say I think I’m still very fond of David and I think he still respects me and the choices that I made at that time. I feel very badly about what happened to David. I think …
E Helgeby: You are referring to the Combes-Ivanov Affair?
K Moore: The Ivanov Affair. I think he did overstep the mark. I think the punishment that was metered out to him was too much.
E Helgeby: Was that the point in time when you, in a sense, drifted away from regular contact with him?
K Moore: Yes. Well, because the contact between the party and David was basically severed.
E Helgeby: Yes.
K Moore: That was very sad, very tough, very tough time.
E Helgeby: Bob McMullan?
K Moore: Bob McMullan was a very important figure for me again. He was the National Secretary who took over from David. He was a quiet man, fairly inscrutable at first, came from Western Australia. I had known him as the West Australian State Secretary but I didn’t know him well. I was working for him as his Executive Assistant for a couple of years before I became the National Organiser. That worked okay I think, probably I wasn’t as close to him as I was to David. He was more secretive in a way, he was more his own man. But eventually I became the National Organiser and so the relationship changed. It was one where I learnt to trust Bob. I learnt to trust his instincts. He gave me a great deal of freedom. He was very, very good to work for. He was always there if you needed him. If you had a problem you could go and sit in his office and talk it through with him. In the end he would always say, what do you think we should do, or what do you think you should do. And so I’d say what I had worked out in my mind and he’d say — we’d discuss that a bit and he’d always say, well if that’s the way your happy to go I’ll back you. You come and get me if you need me. And that was a tremendous reassurance. It was a style of management that I thought was superb.
E Helgeby: What about John Button?
K Moore: A great man, a great man John Button. A lovely sense of humour, a wonderful sense of humour. He was very supportive of me when I was very new and worked for the committee of inquiry. Supportive in the sense of just saying, it’ll be alright, that’s okay you’ve done well, and just getting on with the job, and very, very intelligent, very, very good to work with. A great intellect, combined with a great sense of humour, which is a lovely combination. I love that combination.
E Helgeby: During your years working in either Old Parliament House or in the Australian Parliament House, were there any events, special, let’s say crisis, political events that stand out as impacting on your work or life, the way you thought about things?
K Moore: In the parliament house?
E Helgeby: Either here or …
K Moore: When I first took over — I was in the process of taking over as the Senior Private Secretary there was a row in the parliament over Neal’s portfolio in that somebody, or some data had been let out, or been released, some Medicare data had been released that shouldn’t have been released. I can’t remember the details of it at the moment. So it was not a good way to start as the Senior Advisor because there was a sense of crisis around the release of this data. The issues I didn’t fully understand at that stage …
Interview with Kate Moore part 8
K Moore: … but I think it was at that stage that I really started to respect the bureaucracy and the way they handled the situation from their point of view and liaised with me and with the minister. I developed a great deal of respect for the federal bureaucracy and I retain that respect today. Even though, times have been tensions between us, I think it’s a very underestimated institution, very undervalued institution.
E Helgeby: Any other special events that stand out?
K Moore: There are probably lots of them if I had time to reflect on them. I think the one that in my mind keeps coming into my mind, when I think of Neal’s office, is the death of his wife and the impact that had on us all. Because that was followed shortly after, about two or three weeks after by the death of his personal secretary, so we had two deaths in a very, very short space of time. It was a very sad, very, very sad time for us all. I think it was hard for Neal. It was hard on us all. So that sort of colours my thinking about that period.
E Helgeby: Towards, just a few more questions now, I think I’d like to ask you about, can you recall any, I suppose, call them humorous, funny episodes or incidents that happened during your years working in the parliament buildings?
K Moore: To be honest Edward there are none that immediately come to mind but probably when I walk out of this room they will because we did have a lot of fun. I mean there was a lot of laughs happening at that time but at the moment I just recall them.
E Helgeby: What would be your fondest memory of the time you spent working in the two parliament buildings?
K Moore: The fondest memory — again I find that very hard to pin point. I think overall it’s about the value of being able to work in a minister’s office. I look back on it and I think what a privilege that was, to be working at the centre of government, to have seen the sorts of things that I saw, to be involved in the sorts of debates I was involved in, and to work so closely with the government, with such a good government. It was such an honour, such a privilege, I think that’s my overall fond memory.
E Helgeby: Well that also covers your thoughts and feelings about your years working here, I think.
K Moore: Yes [laughs] it was very rich, very valuable, and I feel very privileged to have been able to do it.
E Helgeby: Do you have a worst memory, something that really stands out, something you’d rather not have happened during your years?
K Moore: No, I don’t, I can’t think of anything, I mean obviously there are some things I think I could have done better. I mean, I mentioned my management skills were probably a bit rough and ready at that time but I don’t really have any bad memories or things that went horribly wrong. It was mostly just political life.
E Helgeby: Why did you decide to leave the job in 1990?
K Moore: Because I was burnt out. I wouldn’t describe myself as a person as having a great deal of physical stamina. I’m pretty good, but that sort of life style is not one that I particularly enjoy. I thought it was time to move on and I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I didn’t want — I really had an aversion to doing what a lot of people do, which is to seek a way out through the bureaucracy or ministerial contacts. I wanted to stand on my own two feet and at that time I had not finished the master’s degree that I started back in 1985 and the university had contacted me and suggested that I really needed to finish this because there was a finite time for me to complete. The unit that was running the master’s degree found me a scholarship, offered me a scholarship to do it, to finish it, because I was a guinea pig, not having had an undergraduate degree, or even finish schooling. So they offered me a scholarship to go to university fulltime for a year which I thought was a wonderful opportunity. I had a little bit of money saved so I knew I could not be too poverty stricken on a scholarship. And so I decided that’s what I would do. I’d go off and finish my master’s degree and then see where life took me.
E Helgeby: One final question, talking here or referring here to Old Parliament House. What role do you think, or believe that this building continues to have today?
K Moore: I think it’s got a very special place in our hearts. I think probably in the heart of the nation, it’s about our democracy, it symbolises our growth as a nation. I think preserving it and making it accessible to the public as a museum is a great idea and one that should be encouraged. It’s a great old building. It needs to be preserved and it needs to be loved.
E Helgeby: Are there any last points you’d like to make before we finish this interview?
K Moore: No, I think we’ve done it [laughs] I think you’ve extracted as much as you possibly can from my mind.
E Helgeby: Well, then all I can say is on behalf of the Director of the Museum I’d like to thank you for your willingness to participate in this interview and for your cooperation in making it. I think it was a very interesting job to interview you as well. If you should remember anything after we finish today that you would have liked added to your story, just get in touch with Barry or myself …
K Moore: Okay.
E Helgeby: … and we can set up an extra session.
K Moore: Okay. And thank you for the interview, Edward, it’s actually been a pleasure, it’s been fun and it’s really made me reflect on my time here, it’s been great. Thank you.
E Helgeby: Thank you.
This history has multiple parts.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
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