Roger Martindale, born 1943 in England, was a police constable in the UK until 1973 when he migrated to Australia. He joined the Commonwealth Police (now AFP) VIP protection service in 1973 which included being part of Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s security team in 1978 and thereafter that of the Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowen from 1979 to 1982. On Bob Hawke’s election as PM he joined his security detail and became Director of PM’s Protection 1983-1990, working later in other security and personal protection areas of the AFP until his retirement in 1998.
Interview with Roger Martindale 1
E Helgeby: This is an interview with Roger Martindale. Roger will be speaking with me Edward Helgeby for the Oral History Program conducted by Old Parliament House. On behalf of the director of Old Parliament House 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 disclosure will be subject to any disclosure restrictions you impose in the form of consent?
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: This being so may we have permission your make a transcript of this recording should Old Parliament House decide to make one?
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: We hope you will speak as frankly as possible knowing that neither the tapes nor any transcript produced by them will be released without your authority. This interview is taking place today on 1 September 2009 at 2pm. Can we begin with your background. When and where were you born?
R Martindale: I was born in Portsmouth in the UK in 1943 on the 10th March.
E Helgeby: Your parents, can you tell me a little bit about them?
R Martindale: Yes, I was born in Portsmouth because my father was a Royal Marine and my mother was a local girl. Royal Marines had a headquarters down in Portsmouth and that is where they met. My dad was born in 1901. I was born in ’43 and so he was into his forties when I was born. My mum was born in 1907, of course they have both passed away since then.
E Helgeby: Your education, where did you go to school?
R Martindale: I went to a local primary school and then went to the Northern Grammar School in Portsmouth. I left school when I was sixteen years old. A short while after joined what was then called the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary as a police cadet, as a seventeen year old police cadet. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary was eventually was amalgamated with other forces and is now known as the Hampshire Police Force. I was a policeman, a county policeman, a country policeman in Hampshire for twelve years, mainly in Winchester, though I did spend a few years, certainly as a country ‘Bobby’ in the country town of Alresford in Hampshire. I was in the police force then until 1972.
E Helgeby: Why did you choose this particular career?
R Martindale: I don’t know. As a young lad leaving school I looked at various career. There were only two alternatives. One was to join the Services like my father had. I was interested in music and I had a chance to become a Royal Marine musician, a boy musician in the Royal Marines and my other thought was becoming a policeman. We had a policeman lived in the same street as me when I was growing up. My parents were friendly with and I think it was his influence that steered me towards the police force. I am the one and only policeman in the family.
E Helgeby: After twelve years, was this the time when you decided to emigrate to Australia?
R Martindale: Yes, my wife had lived in Australia when she was in her teens and some of her family still lived, certainly her parents still lived in Australia, in Melbourne. She had always wanted to come back and so we decided, in a very short time that we’d like to emigrate. I was keen on doing it. So we left the UK. I think it was in May 1972, came out, had two young children, seven and five year olds. Came out on the Fairstar and arrived in Melbourne, I think in June 1972. I lived in Melbourne then for the next six years.
E Helgeby: Did you have a job to come to when you came out?
R Martindale: No, I certainly didn’t have a job to come to. I wasn’t certain of what I was going to do. I didn’t come out to join the police force but at the time employment wasn’t great. I managed to find myself a job as a Security Officer at a factory in Broadmeadows in Melbourne which was a bit of an eye opener.
I wasn’t keen on going back and joining the Victoria police and doing what I’d been doing for the last twelve years, starting all over again. However, people had been talking to me about this organisation called the Commonwealth Police and I had a look at the Commonwealth Police and started. A strange sort of an organisation in those days. It had a guarding part of it. I guess much like the Australian Protective Services now and a detective area that did Commonwealth investigations. So, I thought, this could be different I might give it a go. I applied and got accepted, joined the then, Commonwealth Police in March 1973, did all my various courses. Because it was a police force that was growing rapidly at that time they needed people with experience so I did pretty well. I got promoted fairly quickly within the organisation.
E Helgeby: Was your experience in general policing or did you also do detective work?
R Martindale: No, most of my experience in the UK was general policing but I did a detective course when I joined the Commonwealth Police. In fact became — and did a lot of financial fraud investigations in those early days. But, you’re a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’ and during that time in the ‘70s which was in the Whitlam era, of course. When the people that protected the Prime Minister or the Governor General, who of course then, was Sir John Kerr came to Melbourne, they picked up local people and I was one of those people that used to drive the security car and assist generally with the boys from Melbourne, and the boys from Canberra when they came down with the VIPs. So I got known by them. I guess I did a reasonable job and then when an opportunity arose in Canberra, which was a promotion, to work with the Governor General I accepted it. However, they brought me up, they brought me to Canberra a bit early, a bit earlier than — because of promotion, they’d been delayed and they brought me to Canberra anyway and I started working with the then Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.
E Helgeby: So that was — so your first visit to Canberra was in 1978?
R Martindale: ’78, I came to Canberra in March of ’78.
E Helgeby: Did you move your family up here as well?
R Martindale: I spent the first three months living in a Commonwealth Hostel here, whilst my family organised themselves and sold the house. Then they moved up about three months later.
E Helgeby: What was your first impression of Canberra?
R Martindale: I liked it. I wasn’t a big city boy at all. Melbourne, I guess, was the biggest city I’d lived in and so Canberra, I found it very pleasant, a very pleasant place to live in.
E Helgeby: Did you — the first time you came to Old Parliament House what did you think?
R Martindale: The first time I came to Old Parliament House, I was a bit overawed I guess. Not only by the new job that I was in, which had happened fairly quickly. I can tell you, as an English ‘Bobby’, the last thing you would ever expect to be doing is looking after the Prime Minister of your country because that is not done by rural policeman. It’s done by people with Scotland Yard. So I found it extremely interesting. I found working so closely with politicians a bit overwhelming. I certainly found the Prime Minister, who was a very big man, and I’m not. I was quite overawed by him. I got to know him reasonably well but in the initial days, yes, it was quite a change from whatever I’d done before.
E Helgeby: What sort of — did you have any formal, special training before you got this security?
R Martindale: Oh yes indeed, yes. We had special — it’s called VIP Protection Training. It was done at the Singleton Army Base.
E Helgeby: Can you tell me a bit about that?
R Martindale: Yes, the organisation trained people, so not only to work full-time with these VIPs but also to work in the States for when people turned up. It was interesting training. There was a lot of physical side, there was a lot of firearm training. There was a lot of tactical training as to how you work crowds and that sort of thing. So that was all pretty interesting. But, I think, it was only about three or four weeks training at Singleton. A lot of it was done by Army instructors so they gave us policemen a bit of run around but it was quite enjoyable. Interestingly, soon after that happened and I’d passed that course, and just before I came — was posted to Canberra in March. My very first VIP protection job, I was given, was to look after the Foreign Minister of Tonga at the CHOGRM meeting at the Hilton Hotel. My first job in February of 1978 where the bomb went off and three people were killed. So that was an interesting introduction to the job. My wife wasn’t sure whether I’d picked the right branch of the service to join at that stage, but that was one of those things. I guess that incident started a whole range of different areas opening up in National Security generally, within the government and within the Attorney General’s Department to make sure that sort of thing never happened again.
E Helgeby: You’d had no weapons training in the UK as a policeman?
R Martindale: None at all, no, the first time I ever saw a firearm was when I came to Australia. The British policeman, certainly in those days were not armed at all. So, yes, it was very new for me.
E Helgeby: Can you describe your role as a member of Prime Minister Fraser’s security team, you were one of the…
R Martindale: yes, I was one of the team of seven people and the junior one of course. The boss was a very dour Scotsman, called George Davidson who was the Inspector in Charge, who really was the only person on the team, I guess, who got on with Malcolm Fraser really well. They had a very, very close association which was really quite necessary to get the job done properly. The rest of us did what George told us to do. I can remember, I only worked there for three months, with Fraser, but I can remember one weekend early in the piece. He was going down to his farm in Victoria, to Nareen and we — George Davidson was going down with him and decided that I, as the new boy, should come down with him and see what it was all about.
Fraser could run the country from Nareen. There was a cottage down there where they had all sorts of equipment, communications equipment, and where the secretaries and staff went and the police lived there, next door. But, you had to get in there by light plane. The place was permanently guarded by police. One of their jobs was, before the light plane came in to land on the property and they had to go and shoo the sheep off the runway. If it was getting dark, light a couple of lanterns so the pilot knew where to land. It was very different to what goes on nowadays, I can tell you.
E Helgeby: So you’re job as a member of a team, can you describe maybe a typical day during that period of time?
R Martindale: A typical day was — a typical day at Parliament House is really quite boring because the Prime Minister is in Parliament House and he just moves around. You take him from the Lodge to Parliament House and back again and go with him to functions. But obviously a Prime Minister would do an enormous amount of public functions during the week. Somebody on the team would be assigned to go wherever that was and check out the function and do what we would call an advance survey. Do that often interstate with the local police as well, because you needed them, they worked with you interstate. Then we’d all jump in the car at the last minute and rush out to Fairbairn Airbase and jump on the plane and fly in, maybe in the evening, into Melbourne to do a dinner, where the Prime Minister was speaking. You’d go there. If it was a black tie function, Mr Fraser used to go to his mother’s place in South Yarra and change, and we used to have to change into black tie in the shed, in the car park below the block of flats. That was fairly typical. If he was moving around Parliament House then one of the team would walk around with him, just so he knew where he was. Apart from his own physical safety you were always concerned about their well-being in terms of if they tripped or had a heart attack or whatever, you need to be there so you can respond to that.
E Helgeby: That is an interesting angle. If he fell down, suddenly fell, had you got special first aid training?
R Martindale: Yes, we all had first aid training.
E Helgeby: And carry with you any equipment for…
R Martindale: Yes, we had basic first aid kits with him, in those days carry any defibrillator, I mean we didn’t carry any sophisticated equipment, to put it like that, but, of course, we were all in touch by radio and we always had a car and a driver ready. So if he needed to go to hospital in an emergency or go anywhere, get out of the place, you always had somebody there on standby to move you out.
E Helgeby: You mentioned that if Fraser was going to a formal dinner and he went home and changed, and you also dressed up, during a dinner where would you be? During the actual function itself.
R Martindale: During the actual function we normally would sit one person at the dinner. Somewhere they could see the Prime Minister and be in easy reach of him. They weren’t there to eat dinner but often you did because you planted in with the crowd much better. Then the others — and then others, depending on what sort of function it was, you might have one State policeman come in and the others would wait outside. You would always have cars on standby. The thing was always covered. I mean — I guess with the Prime Minister, Prime Minister protection it’s the same today. The only time that the Prime Minister of Australia doesn’t have policeman physically with him is when he’s in the Lodge or in Kirribilli House which are guarded by the Australian Protective Service. At the time, wherever they are, whether they are on holiday or whatever they are, then they’ve got their security people with them and quite often State police as well.
E Helgeby: Did the protective service have that responsibility, even in those days, in the ‘70s?
R Martindale: The Commonwealth police, in those days, it was the uniform side of the Commonwealth police that guarded.
E Helgeby: So your job — there wasn’t a delineation between your responsibilities and theirs as far as those locations at least?
R Martindale: Yes, but we’re all in the same organisation. So, I mean, we were either sergeants and Inspectors, normally, on the thing. We ran the show but they would have a shift Sergeant on. So, yes, I mean, the Prime Minister was protected twenty-four hours a day. That’s a whole story in itself as to how individuals react to that.
E Helgeby: How did Fraser react to his cover, from your perspective?
R Martindale: From our perspective, Fraser normally only dealt with his senior people, particularly George Davidson or whoever was in George’s place, when George wasn’t there. He didn’t have a lot to say to the rest of us but he knew that they — that it was a necessity and so you just get on and do your job. It’s entirely different with other people but Fraser intrinsically was a shy person. I got the impression he didn’t like policeman very much and that used to cause us problems from time to time. He certainly didn’t like some of the State police that were with us, then that caused a bit of a problem between the two organisations when you were working together. But subsequently with other people we haven’t had those problems.
E Helgeby: Were there any episodes, events, or any incidents that happened during those three months when you were with him?
R Martindale: No, it was — Malcolm Fraser used to get a lot of demonstrations post ’75, of course, so wherever you went publically you were likely to get a demonstration. He didn’t mind that. In fact, I’m sure at times he used to encourage it because it was a law and order type publicity for him. So, yes, I’ve seen him walk across a road to face a crowd of demonstrators.
E Helgeby: How would you deal with that, if you were in the tail?
R Martindale: You’d try and stop him from going, suggesting it wasn’t a good idea, but he’d go anyway. He’d go anyway and so and then you went with him and then, you’d get, policeman would appear from everywhere. Hopefully the State policemen would appear from everywhere to make sure you didn’t get into trouble. He knew that there were enough policemen around so he wouldn’t get into trouble. It was an interesting time.
E Helgeby: Then after three months of that then you went to…
R Martindale: Then I got my promotion formalized and went off to work with Sir Zelman Cowen the Governor General at Government House, now that was an entirely different life. It was interesting. I mean it was post-Kerr and the problems then. I guess, in retrospect, the Zelman Cowmen choice was a great choice, of somebody to settle the whole Governor General thing down, as he did. So he set about really doing everything he was asked to do by the public. For several years, just used to go from one end of the country to the next, doing all sorts of community functions, whether it was opening a new Bowling Club or visiting an Aboriginal Mission, a whole range of things. Because he was an academic a former Vice-Chancellor he used to do a lot of academic functions as well. He loved opera and so we used to go to the opera a lot. So, my four years, or nearly five years with Sir Zelman Cowen he improved — certainly improved my education no end, about Australia, about the Arts, about music. It was a fascinating time.
Interesting, you see, he was the only Jewish Head of State outside the President of Israel in the world. Now, in those terms, that made him some sort of a threat anyway, without what had happened in the Kerr era. So we were fairly careful. There weren’t a lot of us with him. We got to know him and his family very well. Once again we went everywhere with him. He had a holiday home up in Queensland. He used to go to often and we would go there. If he went swimming we went swimming, whatever.
E Helgeby: Was the work otherwise very similar to the work you had already been doing for Malcolm Fraser?
R Martindale: No, working with the Governor General is entirely different to working with a politician.
E Helgeby: In which way?
R Martindale: A politician, current affairs going on all the time which is effecting the politician’s life. There is world affairs going on which puts him in the spotlight. There is media after him every minute of the day, every time you walk into Parliament House there was a scrum on the doorsteps of media asking questions. That doesn’t happen with the Governor General, it is far more refined, far more organised. You had Military Aide-de-Camp organising his whole life for him from Government House. So every detail of what he was going to do was planned, planned down to the minute. That doesn’t happen with a politician.
E Helgeby: Was the level of security that he got, at the same level as that provided for the Prime Minister?
R Martindale: No, not at all, he wasn’t perceived to be the same risk. There were really four of us and we worked in a team of two. Although, once again, we picked up people from police interstate or our own people wherever we were going, to work with us.
E Helgeby: You would still be with the Governor General wherever he went?
R Martindale: Wherever he went publically.
E Helgeby: Was anywhere when you were armed in the same way?
R Martindale: Yes, absolutely, yes, I mean our operation was the same. The operation of the incumbent was quite different.
E Helgeby: Where you in charge of that team?
R Martindale: No, I wasn’t in charge. I was Senior Sergeant. I had been promoted to Senior Sergeant. We had two Inspectors and two Senior Sergeants with the Governor General.
E Helgeby: When you travelled around, when you provided security for the Governor General were you in police uniform or were you in civies?
R Martindale: Yes, all of the security is done in plain clothes.
E Helgeby: Sir Ninian Stephen became Governor General in 1982 were you still?
R Martindale: No, I left Sir Zelman Cowen when he ceased being the Governor General. A new team went on with Sir Ninian Stephen and I then, until the election campaign of 1993 I then worked in the general VIP area which was dealing with the Diplomats in Australia that get protection and visitors to Australia, visiting Head of Government - Heads of State.
E Helgeby: Based in Canberra?
R Martindale: Based, absolutely, it’s all based in Canberra.
E Helgeby: You mentioned you also did security for, was it the Leader of the National Party?
R Martindale: Yes, when the election campaign was called in 1993, it’s traditional that the Prime Minister gets, obviously the normal protection that he gets all the time, slightly beefed up for an election campaign. The Leader of the Opposition then gets security that he doesn’t normally have. Then the Leader of the political parties, in this case the Leader of the National Party which was Doug Anthony and the other parties if they want it. If they are accept it, they don’t always. In those days, I think, the Democrats probably had somebody with the Leader of the Democrats, but that wasn’t such a big deal.
I was given the job of forming a team to look after the Leader of the National Party, Deputy Prime Minister, Doug Anthony. That would have been, I don’t know what date the election campaign started, it would have been early February I guess, of 1983. He, of course, was the member for Richmond, which is the northern part of New South Wales. His home was in Mullumbimby a beautiful part of the world and — but although he had to get around the country, obviously. He had at his disposal an RAAF aeroplane for the election campaign. Off we went on what is well known by the press, and called by the press, as the ‘wombat trail’. It’s what is known, the Leader of the National Party’s campaign is always known as on ‘wombat trail’. Used to get a lot of junior journalists on that one.
It was fun, it was interesting. There was a tragedy in the middle of it, of course, we had the 1983 ‘Ash Wednesday’ bush fires when the election campaign was suspended for a couple of days, during those events. In fact after the events, in fact went down to visit there and it was really quite awful. With Anthony, particularly, in his own electorate, where he’s got everything from Byron Bay to little country places like Kyogle and a lot of alternative life-stylers up there, a lot of very interesting candidates, working for all of interesting parties that would turn up for every function to heckle him and to harass him and he used to handle that extremely well. That was the sort of electioneering where he jumped up on the back of a tray truck with a portable microphone and address the crowds in main street of Kyogle or whatever. The sort of electioneering that doesn’t happen, back in those days, today.
E Helgeby: From a purely lay point of view, it would sound like providing security for someone in an election campaign would be rather more difficult than in most other circumstances.
R Martindale: Absolutely, election campaigns are where you earn your money, absolutely. It is where you are put into — you use every skill that you’ve ever been taught and some more that you’ve never been taught, that you’ve picked up on your way during an election campaign. It attracts everybody. Probably the most dangerous part is the amount of people who are psychologically disturbed to tracks. They’re very much the unknowns. It is really quite remarkable. It’s happened in all the campaigns I’ve been involved with, which is several now, you can pick somebody in the crowd who is really agitated. Invariably it turns out that you can sense somebody is trying to get close to you. It might be for no other reason, not to do you person any harm, but it’s just their whole demeanour you can pick up. Invariably, you try to be very gentle. When that happens you just try to put people, your own staff, you pick them out, you try to put people in between them and the person you are looking after and gently easy them away and maybe hand them over to the State police and say, can you have a look at this person. Invariably they know. Just during an election campaign, it just happens every time. Honestly, you get demonstrators, and demonstrators are demonstrators, that’s fine. You’re not normally worried about those although. We don’t get terribly violent demonstrations in Australia compared to other places. Invariably you know you’re going to have a demonstration and therefore you have enough police to deal with it. You see as a personal protection officer you have to intervene to stop somebody attacking your protectee than the job hasn’t been done properly. If the job’s been done properly and all the planning has been done properly that person can’t get close to — but in an election campaign, of course, the politician wants to press the flesh and shake hands with people and so you have to stay really close.
E Helgeby: So that means your own physical proximity, but about — it sounds as if, other police resources you have at your disposal would be significantly larger.
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: Do they come under your command, or control?
R Martindale: No, State police don’t but we used to having a working arrangement, and it wasn’t perfect.
E Helgeby: How did you work it, for example, in a campaign, let’s say Doug Anthony suddenly he is talking and he wants to ‘press flesh’. How do you bring — because you sense this is a situation at hand?
R Martindale: You’d have a plain clothes State police officer working closely with you as well, so he would know what is going on. You would almost bring them into your team. You’d introduce them to the Prime Minister, or whoever you were looking after, so they would know that that was there and who was part of the team. So they would be controlling their own people at the same time. It used to work very well. It’s all a case of having the right personalities working there, that got on with each other. I’m not saying it was one hundred per cent perfect because jurisdictional issues are a problem from time to time but in a federal system I don’t think that is ever going to change.
E Helgeby: Then after the election you joined Prime Minister Hawke’s security team?
R Martindale: Yes, it became quite obvious during the election that Malcolm Fraser wasn’t going to be re-elected so the planning started, but it had already been considered. There was a team already working with Hawke as the Leader of the Opposition and so there was a team in there. But they were only for the election campaign. It wasn’t necessary that all of those were going to stay had he became Prime Minister. So, I’d already been approached during the election campaign to see, when it was over, assuming Hawke won, did I want to go and join his team, and I did. I went there as the 2-I-C [second in command] and started — I mean I’d left Sunday morning after the election. On Sunday morning, it must have been 7th March 1983 I left Mullumbimby and headed back to Canberra and turned up to the Lodge on the Monday morning to join up with some of the boys who that had been working with him and got to know him during the election campaign. Just added to the team.
E Helgeby: An angle I’m very interested in hearing your views. How did you actually work with the Prime Minister in terms of — to discuss what should be done, decide what could and should be done if there was — who had the final say as to what kind of level, or what kind of protection that you were to provide? What happened if there was disagreement between you, as in charge of the security and the person you are there to protect?
R Martindale: Looking after?
E Helgeby: Yes.
R Martindale: Fortunately, it didn’t occur. I mean Hawke was the person I spent the longest with, nearly eight years, seven years I spent with Hawke. He was a very — in one way, a very easy person to look after because he liked… He accepted that you were professional, you were apolitical, because some of the team who worked with him, worked for Fraser and that didn’t worry Hawke in the slightest.
[End of part 1]
Interview with Roger Martindale 2
R Martindale: …and he was always, he was happy to listen to you. He was difficult to look after in the early days because he was so popular and really out on the street, I mean, the greatest danger was, we knew he was going to be swamped with women trying to kiss him and blokes trying to pat him on the back and getting crushed to death. It was really hard work in those days, the first couple of elections he was — I mean we really worked hard for our money, I can tell you. And election campaigns and those sorts of things, of course, they are just enormous hours.
E Helgeby: He was such a populist too and wanted to touch the flesh.
R Martindale: Absolutely, he just got this huge buzz out of meeting people, talking to them. Amazing memory. Some people come out of the crowd and say, ‘You wouldn’t remember me Bob’ and he’d say ‘Oh yes I do’ and he’d know exactly who they were and where he’d met them. He had this great rapport with them which made life quite difficult, because as I said before, all of sudden you get somebody who is quite psychologically disturbed. Maybe not wanting to do any harm but may be embarrassed or whatever, you had to be on your guard all the time. As I say, you had to be right alongside of him. Some of those crowds, in fact, you used to walk along and I used to have my hand up inside his jacket, holding onto his belt at the back so we didn’t get separated or pulled over.
E Helgeby: That is something, an impression from watching the television news footage from that time. It would appear that there was just a mass of people around him, no visible security.
R Martindale: That is right, and we used to take that — the fact that people didn’t know there was security around him we used to take that as a compliment because it meant you were doing your job and you weren’t standing out obviously as a security person. You were in there doing your job. I was the same size as Hawke, the same height, the same sort of build, people used to think I was one of his staff, one of his Chief-of-Staff or something. People really didn’t know, unless they saw the sticking in your ear with a radio in it, they didn’t really know, pick you as a policeman. That was fine, that was an easy way for us to work.
E Helgeby: So you didn’t have any disagreements or disputes about how and what?
R Martindale: No we had an agreement that if something happened while he was at a function and one of us, one of his personal team came up and started, Prime Minister, we need to leave now. He would do it without question. He wouldn’t say why, he would do it without question. He would want to know why afterwards and all the ins and outs of it, and fortunately we didn’t have to do that very often. I can remember once, the opening of Cats the musical in Sydney we had a bomb scare right in the middle and because he was there we had to evacuate the cinema, we’ve got to go, and you go.
E Helgeby: Did you have problems with that, did problems arise because you suddenly have to move? Were you placed in such a way and he placed in such a way that you could put into effect any kind of evacuation almost at the drop of a…
R Martindale: Yes, but not at the expense of other people. So if you were evacuating, I think that was the only time I can remember where we had to evacuate. A Prime Minister can’t be seen to be having precedent over the voters, to get him out quicker than anybody else. But, yes we went out, but because all your pre-planning had been done, you planned for that event that if something happened you’d have somewhere to take them. So you’d know where you were going to go. So we’d already, the advance people had already picked an area, that if you had to move out, if there was a bomb scare then we knew somewhere safe that we could take him out of the way. It’s all in the planning.
E Helgeby: Yes.
R Martindale: People call you bodyguards. That wasn’t the job, bodyguarding, apart from those odd occasions during election campaigns where you really had to physically guard him. Only ten per cent of your job was, in fact, that physical side of it the rest was in planning and in tactics and making sure that you know where you are going, all the routes are worked out. You’ve got somewhere safe to take him if anything goes wrong. You know where the hospitals are all that sort of stuff.
E Helgeby: How many members were there in your team when — during those Hawke years?
R Martindale: I wouldn’t have talked about how many were in the team at the time but I can now because things have change, of course, incredibly since ’9-11. I have no idea how many the current Prime Minister has with him but we used to have a team of seven. A permanent team of seven. There was — in the end there was me as a boss and I had three Sergeants who each had a Senior Constable, so there were three teams of two and myself. We used to work, as many people as you need, given the sort of function you were attending. Sometimes we might have to send — during an election campaign, of course, you’re whole team was on the road for the whole time of the election campaign and you never got a break. Of course they were moving ahead all the time to the next town to go to.
E Helgeby: Once you mentioned in your CV, I wanted to see if you could comment a bit on, what’s called, analysis and generation of security intelligence in liaison with all Federal agents involved in national security. Now was that general or was it only related to specifically to the Prime Minister’s security type issues?
R Martindale: Sorry, can you just repeat what I’ve said then?
E Helgeby: Well, the statement there was, analysis and generation of security intelligence in liaison with all Federal agents involved in national security.
R Martindale: Yes, that was a subsequent job of mine, that wasn’t when I was with the Prime Minister, but there was somebody doing that job. The whole thing relies on — every function you went to, the Prime Minister’s itinerary would be sent to all the agents who needed to know, so whether it was the State police but the responsibility was on ASIO to do threat assessment for every function for the Prime Minister. So they would be the coordination point for issuing an assessment on the risk to the Prime Minister at any given function. And so we used to work closely with his Appointments Secretary, well obviously in the same office here with the Appointments Secretary so we would know in advance what was going on. That was also passed to the coordination area that used to get it round to any other organisation that might be involved. That included — it could be defence if you were going on to a defence facility, it could be, something would be the State police force, wherever you were going to. It may be aviation security when you were going to airports, that sort of stuff, everybody would know, everybody would then feed in to the system what they knew. If they knew any problems coming up, any demonstrations, it would all be fed into ASIO who would then produce the threat assessment that was given to us before the event.
E Helgeby: So did you have any intelligence gathering type of role?
R Martindale: No, I didn’t have any intelligence gathering, not while I was doing that, later in my career I did, but no, no time to gather intelligence other than to pass on, of course, what subsequent to an event what might be happening out there. During the election campaign, if you were getting any particular sort of demonstration.
E Helgeby: Post event?
R Martindale: More post event, but which may affect future visits.
E Helgeby: There is another heading here which also I was interested in, amalgamation of AFP’s national and ACT security intelligence functions international body.
R Martindale: Yes that is right.
E Helgeby: Was that part of your job as well?
R Martindale: No that wasn’t part of my job, that was again my subsequent job as Director of Security Intelligence and Diplomatic Liaison in the AFP. That was a job that I went to after I hung up my travelling bag.
E Helgeby: Now, let’s focus on your time, in a bit more details, specific aspects of the time that you were director of Prime Minister’s protection. Now, one of the duties there was to direct all security arrangements for the personal security of the Prime Minister.
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: Now, that applies, not just inside of the building or outside the building, anywhere he travelled, overseas and anywhere in Australia?
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: So, then what was the relationship between yourself as the PM’s protection and other security intelligence agencies, in carrying out that role?
R Martindale: Yes, quite close.
E Helgeby: Where was the demarcation between your role and roles of the agencies?
R Martindale: My role was the physical protection of the Prime Minister and making sure that everything was in place and liaison with other organisations on the ground where you were going to. But that was a direct operational linkage rather than the other linkages that were going on which were the threat assessment type linkages that were happening in the background anyway. I was interested in, my people were interested in the actual operational procedures between us and other people in the other agencies who we might be dealing with.
E Helgeby: Were there any limits to your power or authority, vis-a-vis other agencies in carrying out the physical protection of the Prime Minister.
R Martindale: I guess, there weren’t any — I mean I didn’t have any authority for instance over a State police force, however, no formal authority, however because of the fact that you were close to the Prime Minister he would deal through me, or one of my people, in fact the power — that is where the power lies. You would be doing things that the Prime Minister wanted to do, that would be done, it would never, never a problem. I don’t ever recall having a problem with State police forces. I mean there were only two police to be involved with the Prime Minister anyway.
E Helgeby: What about the relation between the AFP and ASIO for example in relation to these matters. I’m raising this because we’ve — we have interviewed a former ASIO officer…
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: …who made it quite clear that he thought there was major lack of communication between the agencies at the time, of the ‘70s and ‘80s, right up to the early ‘90s, especially in relation to between ASIO and police forces where, as he said, ASIO officers were unable to pass on what he considered to be crucial information to police force, that would include yourself.
R Martindale: Well, no it wasn’t because we had no problem getting information from ASIO because of our security clearances. There would, probably talking about a problem where State police forces are not cleared to Commonwealth standards for secret information and therefore, if something is classified, with that very high classification, you just can’t let it go. You can only give it to people who are cleared. I understand what he is talking about there. It didn’t affect us operationally.
E Helgeby: Because you had the higher security clearance, the highest possible?
R Martindale: I got to know all the information I needed to know because I had the top secret clearance and all my people had top secret clearances.
E Helgeby: So could you request from ASIO any information you wished and they would always provide?
R Martindale: Oh yes, they used to pump it to us, we didn’t have to ask for it but it came automatically, that was their job, that information came to us.
E Helgeby: So from that relationship, you worked very well from your point of view?
R Martindale: That worked very well because, once again, I mean it’s almost about the authority of office. If you were part of the Prime Minister’s team then you go things done.
E Helgeby: It’s referred authority.
R Martindale: Absolutely, it’s referred authority, I mean that’s the way it worked.
E Helgeby: Do you think that helped you do a good job, better?
R Martindale: It was absolutely essential. But you didn’t abuse the power. I mean, I didn’t go around saying the Prime Minister wants this and if you don’t do it I’m going to tell the Prime Minister that’s not the way it worked. There is a lot of mutual respect. I’d been doing this job for years. You got to know all these various people in the States. You built up a real rapport. I went out of my way to — Hawke liked policemen, Hawke really liked policemen. So whoever I was working with interstate, if there was time, and it was somebody that the Prime Minister didn’t know I would introduce them to him. Now, for a bloke in the State police force who, from day to day, very rarely sees the Prime Minister, to have an introduction to the Prime Minister of Australia, who pats him on the set and says, oh mate, and takes an interest in him and asks him about his job and all the rest of the stuff. It’s a big deal, they would do anything for you. Hawke was like that, at the end of the day, if we’d had a big day — we might be in a country area where the local cops very rarely see the Prime Minister I used to say to the Prime Minister, if he wasn’t too tired, what about getting the boys in for a drink. He used to buy them a beer, anytime. That really made the job for us because anytime you went they couldn’t do enough for you, or for him. That was the whole idea of the job was to get things done, the way the Prime Minister, the way we wanted them done and the way the Prime Minister wanted them done.
E Helgeby: That has raised an interesting thought in my head. Were other police forces jealous of you?
R Martindale: Yes, some would be, yes.
E Helgeby: Did that affect you operationally?
R Martindale: Not just in the other police forces, a lot of people in your own organisation were very jealous of you.
E Helgeby: Did this have any overall impact on your operation?
R Martindale: No, no not really, we were all fairly thick skinned I think.
E Helgeby: So, were the AFP welcomed by staff, parliamentarians in this building or where they felt as somewhat…
R Martindale: It was interesting, when Hawke came into, became Prime Minister, as I’ve said before, he liked policemen, we had no problem with Hawke, however, he was surrounded by staff who had come through the Vietnam era, all sorts of demonstrations, who were very, very suspicious of a team of policemen who were with their Prime Minister, their man, that they’ve been working with, some of them for years and years and years in the ACTU and whatever. So we had to go out and build a trust with the staff because it’s through the staff you get all your information. That probably only took about three months and there was some fairly hard-nosed, Labor Party people on the staff there that, police generally weren’t their favourite people. But we — I mean the fact that the Prime Minister liked us helped, of course, if he didn’t want to know us that would have made life difficult. We won them over within three months, I think. We had very, very strong bond between the police team and all the staff in the office there, very strong bond, it was a great team.
E Helgeby: What about other parliamentarians, did they — did you physically prevent them, a barrier from them approaching the Prime Minister in some sense?
R Martindale: No, not at all, we got to know the other parliamentarians pretty well. I mean, Hawke was a one out. Everybody — if you worked with Hawke you had to be a mate. Now that caused its own problems for me from time to time. It didn’t matter whether you were a cleaner at the Lodge, or his Commonwealth driver, or his Chief-of-Staff, or his policeman, you had to be a mate, because that was the way that Hawke dealt with people and so did Hazel, the whole family. They’re a really interesting family and so — but then from my point of view, what you had to do, was make sure that you didn’t — take some policeman on who thought that he was the Prime Ministers friend and forget why he was there. That happened to me a couple of times. I had to move people out because once you start, you forget what you’re there for. You still have to keep that division between you and them so you can do your job properly.
E Helgeby: A professional distance.
R Martindale: Absolutely, Hawke would have loved everybody, including me and all my team to call him Bob, now I wouldn’t allow that to happen. Once I caught one of my fellas saying, come this way Bob, now the Prime Minister is the Prime Minister, you owe him that respect, particularly in public. The fact that he was so friendly made it difficult at times but it made our job very easy to do because he would do whatever we wanted to do in a lot of ways.
E Helgeby: In which way do you think it would have affected, if you had allowed someone to call the Prime Minister ‘Bob’, in that sense, how would that have affected the work? Do you think the whole operation would be at risk because of that very small connection?
R Martindale: Potentially, it would certainly show us as not being professional and I think we were regarded as real professional outfit.
E Helgeby: And you did say there were a couple of cases where you had to…
R Martindale: There was one case, in particular, where one of the team started calling him Bob. I just pulled him up and said, you do not call the Prime Minister of Australia — if you’re in a hurray call him PM but that would be as informal as I would let anybody get.
E Helgeby: In terms of the selection of the team. You had a team of about seven you said.
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: What special training did they have to become members of that team?
R Martindale: They had all gone through the same course and then when they start, when they then came into the whole division, which is called the Protection Division within the AFP that look after Diplomats and visiting Heads of State and the Governor General. There is a whole team of people, then you would invariably select from that, the ones you thought would be best with the Prime Minister, because you really have to pick somebody who would suit his personality as well. If you want to do the — if you were in the secret service for instance looking after the President, that doesn’t matter, because there are so many of them that, it’s totally impersonal. You have a hundred people where we had seven, you had two hundred people where we had seven. So you had to be careful in your selection but you had seen and received reports from your fellow officers about how people perform. If they were working with the Israeli Ambassador or the American Ambassador, so that was our training ground. We had our own training ground in fact, so from that you would select.
E Helgeby: What special skills, like handling of weapons, and other say bombs, and whatever, any specific training provided to deal with the sort of issues that maybe a Prime Minister might face that would not be something you would come across with other VIPs.
R Martindale: The thing was general, it was say, handling demonstrations and VIPs and demonstrations, it was firearms training, it was the whole gamut of things that everybody went through the same training and then you picked, normally picked the best ones, the most suitable ones to work with the Prime Minister. Because the Prime Minister was probably the biggest risk that we had to look after, apart from some of the visitors that came to Australia but that was only short term. They would be there for a few days, or whatever, and gone again.
E Helgeby: What refresher training during those sort of things, firearms — remembering that the weapons were fired many times in the presence of Bob Hawke, how did people keep your skills up?
R Martindale: You had to qualify.
E Helgeby: And you keep your skills?
R Martindale: Yes, the AFP has its own firearms range at Weston, everybody had to do it. In fact the VIP team, the protection team could go to the firearms range any time they wanted to, that it was vacant, they could go, but there was mandatory — you had to requalify on the weapon you were carrying every few months or whatever, and that was certified.
E Helgeby: Where there any situations where the Prime Minister was threatened in a way, I’m reminded of the episode with John Howard and that public meeting, somewhere in Victoria, I think it was, where he actually wore a bullet proof vest.
R Martindale: Yes, that was — no, we didn’t have any — I don’t recall any specific threats other than crank type stuff, against Hawke, not in the same way as Howard with the firearm thing. If somebody had put a decent Kevlar vest on him instead of the one they put him in nobody would have known, but that was another story. Yes, I don’t — none really stand out. We used to get a lot of — actually Hawke said to me once that during an election campaign, I don’t remember which one, we were down in Victoria and we had a Right to Life demonstration. There was one particular lady who, I won’t name, but was a leading light had been for years in the Right to Life thing, very vocal. We turned up at this function during the day and the police — there was a big demonstration, Victoria police had lines either side and we were walking in through the middle. I saw this, I recognised this woman, I saw her. She burst through the lines and aimed a kick at the Prime Ministerial nether regions and fortunately, I got in-between him and her and took the kick and he said, it was the bravest thing anyone had ever done for him. It was to protect his most sacred parts, but that was…
E Helgeby: You said you recognised the face, that must be a large part of your job, looking at mug shots?
R Martindale: Yes, while we had lists of — but this particular person was that well known during those days that she was spoke woman for the organisation. But anyway she got quickly taken away by the Victoria police but, of course, it was an election campaign so the Prime Minister didn’t want her charged. It is one of those things you put up with, I guess, when you are in public life. She was taken away for the duration of the thing so he could get on with it.
E Helgeby: You mentioned that your responsibility was physical protection, did that extend to physical security in this building?
R Martindale: No it didn’t, no, it was purely personal protection.
E Helgeby: So you might do with whatever there was, in terms of, for example, the way where Bob Hawke worked in this office.
R Martindale: Yes, those places were cleared regularly as was the Cabinet Room by ASIO. There is a Security Officer at Parliament House which used to be an AFP Officer, that was Senior AFP Officer that was attached to the Joint House Department that was in-charge of all those things. We would lay our eyes on those sorts of things, yes, of course, but the decisions weren’t ours on physical security.
E Helgeby: So then, the office and spaces where the Prime Minister would work would have been in your…
[End of part 2]
Interview with Roger Martindale 3
R Martindale: …background, we couldn’t afford to have it pushed into the background, doing my job. It wasn’t — I guess the fact that that we were so close to the Prime Minister that people made sure that what you wanted happened. So, it gave you some power, as I said before, it’s a power that you try not to abuse but it does give you some power. Even with very senior public servants, and that particularly was evident when I would go to do an advance survey overseas and visit, our missions overseas, who were making the arrangements for the Prime Minister’s visits. The word would already be known that when the security team come in, or when I came in. I probably knew more about — I probably helped them more than anybody else in the group in terms of the Prime Minister’s habits and his likes and dislikes. So it wasn’t only about security it was about personal things that would make the trip run smoother for him. They used to welcome you with open arms and say come and talk to us about. They were used to Malcolm of course, used to give our overseas missions a bit of a hard time. So in the early days everybody would be quivering about a Prime Ministerial visit but once they got to know Hawke it was fine.
E Helgeby: An interesting angle, did the role of the security team extend, at any time, beyond Prime Ministerial protection, to more general security, for example, the sort of visits that you were doing interstate or overseas?
R Martindale: I don’t quite understand.
E Helgeby: I suppose you have a certain role, which is that of personal protection of the Prime Minister, did your role ever go beyond that in terms of security say for a mission, rather than just for the Prime Minister? Say if the Prime Minister brings a delegation of Ministers with him, would you have responsibility for protecting the other Ministers as well?
R Martindale: No, but other people might. So, if the Foreign Minister was going with him to somewhere, where there might be a problem, or to a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, or whatever, then we may have other people from the whole — not from my team but maybe that worked with the general VIP area, travelled overseas and particularly looked after that person. Before I started with the Prime Minister my first overseas trip was to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Lusaka in Zambia, in 1978, I think, ’79. Fraser’s team went with him. Fraser had his team but because of the situation there, particularly the South African situation, the ANC were in Lusaka, their Headquarters in Lusaka, there had been some bombings going on and all sorts of stuff. I was sent over with a couple of others to work with the whole group, with the whole party generally, including the Head, Sir Geoffrey Yeend who was Head of Prime Minister and Cabinet and people like that. So there was two or three of us went to look after the other people that were on the trip.
E Helgeby: But that was not the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s personal team?
R Martindale: No, they were there with the Prime Minister.
E Helgeby: No, quite separate.
R Martindale: Although you work together, because often these people were there all together so you’ve got to.
E Helgeby: To protect the Prime Minister I’m wondering, where, to make sure he was in the safety possible situation, was your team ever involved with the vetting of staff?
R Martindale: No.
E Helgeby: What about visitors?
R Martindale: Visitors to?
E Helgeby: Visitors, let’s say a visiting group from somewhere, coming to meet the Prime Minister.
R Martindale: No, that would all be done by, some branch of the public service. People coming to visit the Prime Minister, I mean, you knew in advance who was coming, if they were foreign, from overseas then that would be all part of a foreign delegation being organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and visas. They would know the background of everybody there.
E Helgeby: Generally speaking during the period that you worked with Bob Hawke as Prime Minister, how much of an issue was security, overall and during that period, were there any actual, real scares?
R Martindale: No, I don’t — apart from the stuff we’ve talked about demonstrations and people who were psychologically disturbed, election campaigns, we had no particular threats to the Prime Minister. No particular incidents. The only time he really nearly got injured was when he was playing cricket and got his glasses smashed by a fast ball, playing cricket, but apart from that, no, we were — I guess, I like to think we were lucky. I like to think that we had done the job properly but that era wasn’t during a time of high threat. We weren’t in Iraq, we weren’t in Afghanistan, all those things that would make my — the people that are doing my job now, give them far more sleepless nights than I had in those days I think. I was there at a very lucky time.
E Helgeby: Yes, you could say it must have been difficult to conceive of protecting the Prime Minister playing cricket, in the middle of a wide open field.
R Martindale: Yes, well, it’s a game that you take — you can’t restrict people from doing everything. You don’t have to in this country. We always try to operate as openly as possible to give the Prime Minister as natural a time as you could have. In a way that certainly the President of the United States can’t do and hasn’t done for years and years and years. So, I wasn’t at that cricket match where his glasses were smashed. Some of my team were, they were there with their radios and the car, and took him straight into hospital. So, that is what you’re always there for. He played a lot of golf, he played golf early in the morning. The easiest way for me, or one of my team to look after the Prime Minister was to caddy for him. If you caddied for him you couldn’t get any closer than that. You were armed, you had your radio, we always had a car and a driver back at the golf club so if anything happened on the course you could get some response immediately. And you didn’t stand out. The Prime Minister could play golf without obviously being surrounded by security people. It was all about blending in and to make him feel more comfortable.
E Helgeby: 1988 you moved back to the permanent parliament, the permanent building, what impact did that have on you?
R Martindale: Well, it made it a lot more boring than it had been to then. One of the delights of every morning at Old Parliament House was the normal doorstop. The Prime Minister always used to come to the front door, up the steps where there would be the whole press contingent waiting for him. Occasionally when he didn’t want to, he had some reason not wanting to talk to the press we used to come in the side door straight into his suite. But invariably he would come in and answer questions. It used to be a real media scrum in the mornings. So that was always an interesting start to the day.
The start to the day at the new House, of course was you drive through the gates into the Prime Ministerial Courtyard, there might be a cameraman but there was no chance that you were ever going to get the doorstop interview. Any press stuff was always organised and prearranged by the press staff so from our point of view it was a lot safer but a lot less interesting.
E Helgeby: When you say a lot safer, you mean physical security?
R Martindale: I mean from a physical point of view, when you had a lot of press around you and cameras there would always be other people there. You’ve got to try and keep an eye on them. We had a very good rapport with the Press Gallery. Police generally don’t welcome the press very much, however, I found them extremely useful and got on with them very well. We used to travel overseas with them and so got to know them pretty well. I can remember one morning that we were at the Lodge waiting to come to the House here. I had a phone call at the Lodge, it was Peter Harvey from Channel 9, he said ‘Oh mate, when you come in, before you come in you might want to get a uniform bloke down here to look at a fellow that is hanging around on the edge of the press crowd’. So I did, went down and sure enough there was this fellow there and he was known to be psychologically disturbed and so when we went in through the press we had a couple of people there just keeping him to one side. That fellow — I can’t remember whether it was that day or that week, but eventually he went into the public gallery and jumped over into the floor of parliament and broke his ankle. You just never knew who was there but that was an occasion where a senior member of the press went out of his way to give me a call just in case there was a problem.
Because we got on so well with the Press Gallery and the camera men, in particular, were very useful, particularly in a demonstration. They used to like to get photographs of the demonstration, of course the best ones they could, but if there was really quite a crowd, they were the best battering ram you ever had. If they were in front of you, they get in between you and the crowd. They used to love doing it as well. They used to really enjoy that stuff. We had a really, really good rapport with the press.
In some of the countries — that was because of the two way thing, in some of the countries, when we went overseas there might be more restrictions on the press than you have here. The Prime Minister’s Press Team might want him to do something and the foreign security wouldn’t understand and wouldn’t allow it. On several occasions I managed to sort that out so that the Australian press could get the shots that the Prime Minister’s office wanted and they wanted. So that worked two ways. I still have some really good friends in the Press Gallery now that I see quite often.
E Helgeby: This would have changed, the relationship changed when you moved…
R Martindale: Well, it changed with everybody because here in the old House, it was so small, and everybody was so compact that everybody at some stage during the day would pass the entrance to the Prime Minister’s suite. Whether it was journalists, other politicians or Ministers or whatever would come through so you got to know everybody. Once you got to the new House it was really quite sterile and enormous. I think that this place being so small and that place — that exaggerated how big it was. Whereas here if the Prime Minister was going to a Party meeting, three feet up the corridor to go to the Party Room. In the new House you had to go up lifts and upstairs and get lost. So it was a lot different. I think a lot of people have said that it wasn’t the friendly place.
E Helgeby: But you’re role would still be the same. You would still follow the Prime Minister around?
R Martindale: Absolutely, oh yes, we spent a lot more time following him around because it was that much bigger. You were always with the parliamentary attendants in the Chamber when he was there for Question Time or whenever he was in the House.
E Helgeby: I was going to ask you about that, so there was a presence from your team in the House of Reps at all times the Prime Minister was there?
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: Where were they placed?
R Martindale: As you enter the Reps there is a — here we just used to stand by one of the curtained doors where you could be very close to the Chamber but in the new House as you enter there is recording rooms and where the attendants are, the staff stood in there. Just have somebody in there while the Prime Minister was on the floor of parliament. You never knew what was going to happen with the Gallery.
E Helgeby: That would certainly apply more, perhaps here than in the new building, because of that lack of any security barriers to protect.
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: So what happened when this gentleman jumped over?
R Martindale: Oh well actually, he just broke his ankle and got jumped upon. I wasn’t there at the time I don’t think.
E Helgeby: There was someone from the security detail?
R Martindale: Yes, I’m pretty sure the Prime Minister was on the floor when that happened, I’m not sure if I was even on duty that day. Yes, so, it’s just one of those things. It’s a one off in five years but that is what you’re there for. You just never know when the unexpected might happen.
E Helgeby: If you were present in the House of Representatives, would someone ever be present at say, committee meetings, or public hearings, committee, or for that matter in the Cabinet?
R Martindale: No, used to be privy to quite a lot of stuff that went on. That was why we had the clearances we did, particularly conversations in the car with the Prime Minister. We used to travel in the same car as the Prime Minister. It was be making telephone calls or have other people in the car. There were Cabinet papers that he carried around. You were always aware of that sort of stuff. But, no I never went, honestly never went into the Cabinet Room and neither did anybody else, apart for the attendant. Public meetings, Party Room meetings, no, but we would know where he was, just hang around outside. Get very used to waiting in corridors. All over the world. I’ve waited in the best corridors in the world. I’ve waited in corridors in the Kremlin in the Great Hall of the People, but yes, sure public meetings, Labor Party Conferences, we would always have somebody not too far away.
E Helgeby: When you’re driving, when the Prime Minister is driving around in the car, one of your team would be with him in the car…
R Martindale: Yep.
E Helgeby: …or in a following car?
R Martindale: We used to have a security car behind but always one person in the car with him. The person in the car with him with a radio which would normally be me and then the driver and how many other people you needed in the security car behind. Interstate the car may be a Federal police car or may have been a State police car, or there may have been both. It depended on what you organised for that particular function on that particular day.
E Helgeby: So when a car comes, arrives at a function then the team will go, some of the team.
R Martindale: Yes, but there will already be somebody on the ground who knows exactly which direction he is going to go so that — because he doesn’t know. Quite often when he jumps out of the car he doesn’t know where he is going to go but he has always got one of the team that he knows who will lead the way.
E Helgeby: What happened if the Prime Minister stayed in a hotel when travelling around?
R Martindale: We would have a security room next door to him, manned twenty-four hours a day. When we travelled overseas I would invariably have the suite next door to his, or the room next door to his, so I had direct access to him. My fellows would normally be on the same floor, but there would always be twenty-four hour security on that floor of the hotel, which was normally manned by the host government. That was just par for the course, wherever you went.
E Helgeby: The relationship, on overseas visits, between yourself as the PMs personal protection and the overseas countries security, what was the demarcation between?
R Martindale: Well, you’re a visitor in their country. It’s their responsibility, the protection of the Prime Minister is their responsibility. You don’t have any legal powers in their country at all but you would go ahead and assess how good the security was. And, of course, if you went to the States the Prime Minister of Australia would get the same protection as the Vice President of the United States, the same level of protection. They would spend more money on a five day visit to the United States, on our Prime Minister’s security than we would spend in a year, its extraordinary.
If you went to some third world country you might decide to take more people yourself, because, although you would have the foreign security there you would think that their equipment, their cars, might not be up to — there is more than one occasion when I’ve been overseas, when the security cars supplied by the host government were worse than useless. Get our Ambassador, pinch our Ambassador’s car or hire one, or whatever, and use that as a security car.
E Helgeby: Would you in those sort of circumstances carry your own arms?
R Martindale: It would depend on the country we were going to and whether we had permission to take it, always ask for permission to take it. But again, that would depend, you didn’t need really to take it to the States but they insisted that you did. But with the UK, never armed in the UK, they don’t expect to be armed when they are in Australia, from the UK. You have to be worried about the reciprocal thing as well. That you would go to a country, we don’t normally, the policy in Australia is that we don’t let foreign policemen come in armed, but it makes it difficult if you go to their country and you carry a firearm. They say, well, we let your fellow in with a firearm, why can’t we do it in your country. Part of my job was to assess the standard of security and how confident I was that they could do a good job.
E Helgeby: Any examples of countries, or places, or times when you really struck problems while visiting overseas?
R Martindale: Yes, a lot of the countries have improved their security but obviously some of the South Pacific Islands, although there wasn’t a great deal of risk there. I mean there was this great — you always asked in advance for permission to carry a firearm and one year in the ‘80s sometime, the South Pacific Forum was in the Cook Islands. We contacted the Cook Islands to see if we could bring a firearm in and the reply from the Cook Islands was, yes please, because we only have one. So, other countries, I mean, they just don’t have the equipment or the training. I don’t know what PNG is like now, but PNG in the early days. We had a security car that couldn’t keep up with the Prime Minister’s car, it wouldn’t go, so we hired our own car.
The first time I went in 1983 in Hawke’s first year in 1983, the Commonwealth Heads of Government was on in New Delhi which was an interesting trip all around. But the security car there was, I don’t know if you know, but in those days they used to turn out all the Morris Minors from the old things. So you could have a brand new Morris Minor but the dye was from 1947 when British Motors, or whoever it was gave them to the Indian Government.
Security officers, I think, were chosen, I know it sounds elitist but it’s not meant to be, I don’t know how they chose the security officers for each of the Heads of State. But we had one fellow sitting in the back of the car, this old Morris, in the back of the car with a 303 rifle. But he used to sit in the back with the rifle in between his knees with the muzzle up underneath his chin as we were bouncing along, so we didn’t use that for very long. We contacted our High Commissioner over there and said, we need a car please. But then you go to the States and you get, you know, forty, fifty secret service agents a day working with you. It was great fun, very interesting.
E Helgeby: Can we take a short break now.
R Martindale: Yes, love to. So now we’ll talk about the first trip to India?
E Helgeby: Yes. Okay, we have resumed again. You were talking about the overseas visits and security that you had to provide in those circumstances. You had an interesting story to tell about the funeral of Indira Gandhi?
R Martindale: Yes, Indira Gandhi of course was assassinated in 1984 and, as usual, when a Head of State is assassinated then the funeral arrangements are made at very short notice. Hawke couldn’t go to the funeral so they decided that Australia would be represented by Lionel Bowen who was Deputy Prime Minister and Sir Ninian Stephen who was Governor General. I was lucky enough to travel with them at very, very short notice into New Delhi. I mean it was a nightmare from a security point of view that there were assassins who had been Sikh bodyguards. Millions of people can gather in a very short time in a place like India and did.
So we flew in, we were only going to be in the country for one night. We were going to be in and out in less than twenty-four hours. We flew in and I met with High Commission people who told me that the next morning that we would be taken by our Ambassador, in the High Commissioner’s car to a sports stadium. Where every visitor to the funeral, every Head of State, Head of a Government, coming to the funeral coming from all over the world, would gather. There would be then buses to bus those people, or the visitors to the funeral site, which was in the middle of the park some distance away. So the first bit went very well in the High Commissioner’s car we got to the sports stadium where there were — where we joined the bus queue. There was me and a colleague and Deputy Prime Minister Bowen and the Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen and we joined the queue. Immediately in front of us was Mr Nakasone the Prime Minister of Japan and his security officers. Immediately in front of him was Yasser Arafat and his security officers. As we shuffled forward a bus came along, of course these Indian buses have very, very narrow doorways, for some reason, I don’t know why they always seem to have very narrow doorways. As we moved forward both Nakasone and Arafat went to get on at the same time to the dismay to both of their lots of security officers who then started pulling the other one out of the way so their man could get on first. I turned to the Governor General and I said, ‘Governor General I think we might just wait for the next bus to come along’. He said ‘That’s a good idea, superintendent’. So we had this amazing scene of these two lots of security officers not knowing, I don’t think, who the other VIP was, having a scuffle trying to get their person on the bus first.
Anyway, off we went, off to the funeral site and there in this park there were all these chairs laid out for the VIPs and they had done it in alphabetical order, being A for Australia we had front row seat at the funeral pyre which was a huge pile of sandalwood logs and all the seats. The seats in the centre were reserved for Princess Anne who was representing the Queen and Margaret Thatcher. They were the only ones with designated seats apart from the alphabet so we were two seats away from the British Prime Minister and Princess Anne and their security people who I know, knew very well from having worked with them from various parts of the world, over the years. So we got together. But just prior to Princess Anne arriving we heard this voice, a little ladies voice saying, ‘Make way for the First Lady, make way for the First Lady’ and there was this Filipino lady escorting Imelda Marcos who intended to sit in Princess Anne’s seat in the front. So there was a diplomatic incident there where they managed to shuffle up to one of the back rows where the Ps were the Philippines. Eventually Margaret Thatcher and Princess Anne came.
There was this extraordinary, I will never forget it, this extraordinary funeral where Indira Gandhi was brought in with literally tens of thousands of people following the funeral cortege. They were covered in marigolds and laid on top of this huge sandalwood funeral pyre and the family in Rajiv Gandhi and the rest of the family, then walked around and then actually tipped accelerant on the fire to get it going which was quite extraordinary. Because what the Indian’s do extremely well is make all these beautiful brass pots and all that sort of thing. The accelerants were in four litre cans, it was just incongruous seeing Rajiv Gandhi with a can of accelerant in his hand, splashing it on his mother’s funeral pyre so that it will catch alight.
As soon as that was over we just headed straight to the airport and got out of it because there was great potential for problems there, for riots in New Delhi of millions of people. The only thing to do was get out as soon as we could. I think we went straight from the funeral, straight to the airport and flew back to Australia. But it was…
E Helgeby: Nightmare for security.
R Martindale: An absolute nightmare, and nothing you could do, I mean there was absolutely nothing you could do if something had gone wrong apart from — we had one person stay back and in contact with us so that if things had gone wrong we had somebody to contact and hopefully the High Commission could have got us out of there. But I doubt even that could have happened with, literally tens of thousands of people, and the potential for a riot was huge. It all went off alright but there was no chance of planning that one.
E Helgeby: Is that, begs the question in terms of personal protection, what was it like in the years we’re talking about, was it modelled on anything done in other countries, like the US or the UK?
R Martindale: No, I mean, the Brits and us and the Canadians and us seemed to work in a very similar fashion. The Americans, of course, probably had more reason than anybody else to have enormous amounts of security. I mean, most other countries just could not afford — the United States secret service would probably, certainly the most efficient at what they do, but they just pour numbers into it literally. I’ve worked with them in the States and I’ve worked with them in Australia several times and they just pour people and equipment into looking after the thing and leaving absolutely nothing to chance. But they are very good at what they do. If you’re talking about security, then they are the best. It just wouldn’t be acceptable in our society, I guess they get used to it in the States but the infringement on public freedom around — and their operations is quite extraordinary, whether they are in their own country or not. But, of course, if you don’t do it their way then they have the power to say, well the Presidents not coming, and that’s never politically acceptable for any country, where the President is going I would assume.
The Russians tried — went to Moscow in the late ‘80s with the Prime Minister. They seemed to be trying to emulate their American counterparts, they weren’t as professional, but they were very good. It’s the KGB that do the job over there. Their protection people, I got on extremely well with, they were very interesting and very helpful. Worked under some extreme conditions because they didn’t have the money to splash around on security, but we were made very welcome and made to feel very safe.
Some of the third world countries we went to, obviously weren’t so good, and so the whole idea of going in advance and assessing the security in various countries is a very important part of the trip. So you can assess whether you need to take more people or whether you can rely on the security forces. But most countries are pretty good, I found, and always very helpful and there’s certainly a camaraderie amongst, I mean, cops worldwide. I guess it’s a great club. You’re always made to feel welcome in most places you went.
E Helgeby: So would you say the Prime Minister’s personal protection an Australia model or is it more akin to the British model perhaps?
R Martindale: Oh no I think we’ve got our own Australian model. We aren’t as formal as a nation as the Brits so that tends to — that doesn’t mean that effects the efficiency of the thing but formality wise we get on pretty well. I can remember the Commonwealth Heads of Government in the Bahamas the weekend retreat. The weekend retreat was in one of the…
[End of part 3]
Interview with Roger Martindale 4
R Martindale: …is gated, very wealthy areas gated, community where they had kicked out all the residents and given the houses over to all the Heads of Government. Margaret Thatcher and Hawke wanted to get together for a chat so I had a call from Margaret Thatcher’s policeman, who I knew extremely well. He said, ‘My boss and your boss want to get together. They don’t want to do it formerly or they don’t want the press to know. So, what I’m going to do is come around with Margaret in the car and if you’d like to jump in the front with me and get your Prime Minister in the back, we’ll drive around for a while’ so they can have a chat. And we did. It was a really interesting conversation that I won’t repeat. So those were the sorts of informal things, but it was two security services, ours and the Brits getting the job done in the safest way possible. In a way that both Prime Ministers wanted it to happen. You couldn’t do that with a US President.
E Helgeby: Providing that personal protection for the Prime Minister in that sense, was the role in principle something more like that of a body guard or were there limits to the risks that you were supposed to take to carry out that duty?
R Martindale: No, the body guarding function was ten per cent of the work, and that’s why we preferred to be referred to as protection officers. The job is all about planning and advancing places, knowing where you are going, making your plans. Having contingencies in place if anything goes wrong. If you need to use — if you need to become physical, it means, generally it would mean that you haven’t done your job properly in the first place. Your advance stuff hasn’t been done properly. Inevitably during an election campaign when a politician wants to press the flesh then, obviously, from time to time there is a bit of push and shove goes on, especially if your Prime Minister is as popular as Bob Hawke was when he first became Prime Minister. The risk being more that, people are going to love him to death, rather than they just liked him. Although there did come a time when he wasn’t as popular as he was when he first started and probably, although he was in — didn’t appear to be in any physical danger, one of the most confronting things I have ever had was, walking out at the MCG at the end of an AFL Grand Final, with 100,000 people and he was going to present the cup to the winning team. As we walked out on the MCG, which is a pretty intimidating place when there was 100,000 people in there, it seemed all 100,000 people were booing us. It was the last time he ever did one of those. It quite shook him up, I think, it was just amazing. This huge, 100,000 people all around you booing. It seemed as though they were all booing, obviously they all weren’t but it sounded like it. So, there was a huge difference between what happened then and the adulation he had in the earlier days, pretty hard for him to take, I think, at that time.
E Helgeby: In terms of your role as the Prime Minister’s protection, to put it in a fairly plain speak, was it the role of your staff, and all the detachment, to in a sense, throw themselves in front of the Prime Minister, to take the bullet, so to speak?
R Martindale: Yes, that’s dramatizing it in a way, but yes, that’s the whole point of being there, is that if you have to protect the person then you have to be prepared to do it with your life if necessary. As I say, that sounds dramatic, but at the end of the day that’s what it means. Any one of the people that worked for me would have done so, without thinking. It’s something you don’t think about, by the way. If there looks like being a problem, you will automatically put your body in between the person you are looking after and where the threat is coming from, and that is what you automatically do. But you’re not expecting to get shot, or punched, you might expect to get punched and that would happen from time to time as well.
E Helgeby: And take a kick.
R Martindale: Take a kick, yes.
E Helgeby: Strategically placed.
R Martindale: Well fortunately mine was on the leg, but if it reached him it wasn’t on the leg.
E Helgeby: So when you think about the role, what thoughts do you have on the risk involved, and the personal risks involved, in being part of this?
R Martindale: I don’t think we ever really thought about a personal risk. I think other people thought about it on your behalf. I think that probably would affect your family more than it did you but, I mean, I just don’t think the personal risk really occurred to people who were doing it, nor should it. But, it’s hard on the families, not only that side is hard on the families, but the amount of time you’re away from home. It’s really difficult and, in fact, from a personal point of view it’s part of the reason that my first marriage ended after twenty-three years. I can remember — I missed my kids growing up. I can remember ringing my son on his twenty-first birthday and I was in Moscow and he was at home having his twenty-first birthday party. Those sorts of things. Because it’s a job that your family can’t share in, apart from once a year at Christmas they might get invited to the Christmas party at the Lodge, or they would get invited. There is no role for your family to play, although they would see you on television most nights, wherever you might be. So, it’s very hard. It’s not just the police job, any job working with the Prime Minister, his staff, it takes a big toll, a big toll on the families.
E Helgeby: Did any of your team, I suppose, crack up under the strain, or decide that they really weren’t cut out for this kind of work?
R Martindale: No, none of the people I had working for me but they were pretty carefully selected in the first place, they were all well known to me. But, yes there would be people that came in to the whole area, they might find that they weren’t — in fact, it was my decision to stop, having mentioned a bit of my personal life. I remarried in 1989 and I had two, I inherited two young step-daughters, and at that time I decided — well shortly after I got married, I decided — although my wife had worked with visiting VIPs, not in a police role, but in a protocol role, and knew what the job was about, actually what it was about. I decided that there was no way I was going to put the family through what I had put my first family through, and so I did the 1990 election campaign and then decided that I’d done enough travelling around the world. I’d spent enough time away from home, and so I decided that somebody else should inherit my job and I left. So that was my decision rather than anybody else’s which was the way I wanted it.
E Helgeby: It was more that the stress it put on your family life, than perhaps the personal risks you took in carrying out the job?
R Martindale: Yes, yes. It was a much bigger sacrifice for the family than it was for you. You were always there. You always got the adrenalin running and anybody said there is always a buzz working with somebody like a Prime Minister. The power that they govern, and being there when so many important things are happening. When history is changing, all that sort of thing, there is a real buzz about that, that only the people that are there can really enjoy it.
E Helgeby: How did you managed to unwind, and in a sense recharge the batteries in these circumstances?
R Martindale: Well, I’d go home and put my feet up, which in itself was, again probably wasn’t fair on the family, but the last thing you wanted to do, having been running around the countryside on an election campaign living in five star hotels and eating hotel food, was to go out to dinner when you got home. Probably just want to go home, have a plate of beans on toast and go to bed. So, yes, you unwind. You’ve got your own interests and that sort of thing when you find time.
E Helgeby: From your perspective how important do you think protection was in the life of the Prime Ministers’ of that era that you served. How important was the protection and the security?
R Martindale: Yes, I think, all the people that I worked with, really it was only from Malcolm Fraser onwards, would — saw it as really quite important. They were aware of the risks. There is no doubt about that. They were aware of the risk to themselves because of their policies. They appreciated, and I think they did, all of them. I certainly know John Howard did as well, subsequently. They appreciated what the police did for them. If, for instance, I mean not just my team but police generally, can always get things done. If you want to change your plans or if you want to do something personal, or you want to know something, or you want to see somebody, who you go to, to get you there quickly, or to organise it, it’s a policeman because that is what they are good in doing. They will know. Prime Minister will say, I really want to go — we were in Ireland and he wanted to go and visit an Irish pub. He didn’t drink and he didn’t drink while he was Prime Minister and I can vouch for that fact. A lot of people don’t believe it but he didn’t. If anybody ever saw him drinking a beer it was a non-alcoholic one imported from Germany. But he wanted to go and visit an Irish pub. Who would you go to, to organise a visit to an Irish pub? You go to the Garda [Guards] in Dublin and say, which is the best one, the safest one for us to go to, and so we went. That happened all over the world. If you want something done, if he wanted to do, or was interested in something, you say, go and ask your mates, or go and ask the cops if you can do this. They would get it done and they would love it. But from their own safety point of view, yes, they all understood, without a doubt the importance of it.
E Helgeby: Even someone like Hawke who was such a presser of the flesh …
R Martindale: Even more so, Bob Hawke.
E Helgeby: …and he wanted to be, as you say in the pub.
R Martindale: Even more so, Bob Hawke.
E Helgeby: Was he, was he more conscious?
R Martindale: I’d say so, he was extremely, because he was so popular he understood that there was a risk with being so popular. He would not do anything without us. And trusted us totally, that was the other thing, there was this huge trust between us, that whatever he wanted to do. I mean it’s personal things that the Prime Minister won’t want to do. He doesn’t want anybody else to know about. Just ordinary personal, quite legitimate things that he doesn’t want the press to knowing about or doesn’t necessarily want staff knowing about. So he would just call you to one side and he’d say ‘Can I do this. I want to go here. I want to do this, but I don’t particularly want the world to know about it’. And you’d say ‘Yes, we’ll take you in our car’ wouldn’t even bother to use your official car. Just jump in the plain clothes police car and we’ll go and do it, and you did, that’s the way it is. That is the way it would be for all of them. I don’t want this to be misconstrued that he would want to do things that he wasn’t allowed to do, or shouldn’t have done, that’s not what I’m saying. It’s like wanting to go to a Casino for instance, which is a quite legitimate thing to do and things that he did quite often but he didn’t want the whole world to know that he was going to play Black Jack in a Casino, and so he would just go with us. We might go in the police car.
E Helgeby: From a lay point of view, that would be a fairly heavy, high risk type activity for a Prime Minister?
R Martindale: In what way?
E Helgeby: …no one knows who is going to be there and what you are doing.
R Martindale: Yes, well the fact that nobody knows he is going to be there, makes him safer. If you do things impromptu then nobody can plan anything and at a Casino we would always use the private rooms so that you weren’t out in the public areas with the drunks or whatever. We used to spend a lot of time there, horse racing. His great passion was the races. But they were hard work. I’m not a great horse racing fan but you’d go to the race course. You’d go up into the committee area because they were hosting, because he was the Prime Minister and then all of a sudden he’d say, common we’re off, and you’d rush down and you’d go and talk to the jockeys and go and look at the horses and then go back upstairs. Then you’d go back down again and go to the bookies. It was really interesting times but that was his great relaxation. His two great relaxations were horse racing and going to the Casino if he could for a few hours.
E Helgeby: And through it all, he and Malcolm Fraser, both took security and personal protection, they took it very seriously?
R Martindale: Absolutely.
E Helgeby: In your view.
R Martindale: And I know John Howard did, and I knew John Howard quite well. I assume the current Prime Minister does as well. He’d be mad if he didn’t. It’s a very important part of his entourage I could tell you.
E Helgeby: Roger, I don’t think we are going to finish today. I think we are going to have another session.
R Martindale: Absolutely, that is fine with me.
E Helgeby: So we might call it quits at this point.
R Martindale: Alright, thank you.
[End of part 4]
Interview with Roger Martindale 5
E Helgeby: It is now the 15th September and I am continuing the interview with Roger Martindale. Roger we finished the last session on personal protection what it entailed etcetera and we covered some of the overseas visits you’d done with the Prime Minister including the visit to Gandhi’s funeral, also your visit to the United States which involved playing of golf among other things.
R Martindale: Yes, that is right. In fact I did, I think, twenty-three overseas visits with Hawke and because, of course, we are so far removed from the rest of the world, that when you did go overseas, often you did, three, four, maybe five different countries in the one trip. It made it a pretty long tour for me. Although his itinerary might be only two days in each place I always went beforehand to do advance stuff. Travelling commercially to do that obviously took a long time. So quite often I would leave at least two weeks before the official party left. Then I would end up in the place when they started to visit and then do it all again with them, having got to know everybody and all that. It was incredibly interesting. I think I did twenty-three overseas tours. He did more than that. I didn’t do every one with him but I did the majority.
Yes, we were talking about, I think, a trip to the US. We would always go to Washington, of course, and meet with the President and then to other places as well. One occasion we, which included a golfing trip. Hawke was a great friend with George Shultz who was the Secretary of State in the first Bush administration, I think. He lived at Stanford University on the campus he had his house at Stanford University. They had been friends for many, many ears. Shultz invited Hawke to play golf at one of the very famous golf courses on the Monterey Peninsula. I can’t remember which one it was, but it was one of those famous ones. There are about three or four there I think.
It, sort of, caused an internal incident in the United States. In the US the United States Secret Service at that stage were responsible for visiting Heads of State, so they were responsible for the security of the Australian Prime Minister. The US State Department were responsible for the security of the Secretary but they were also responsible for the security of the spouses of visiting Heads of State, which meant a division of responsibilities. Now practically, in practical terms when the Prime Minister and his wife were together the secret service used to do it and include both under the umbrella but if the Prime Minister’s wife did something separately, then it wasn’t the responsibility of the secret service, the State Department have to do it.
Anyway, we had played golf at the Shultz home golf course in San Francisco and the following morning Shultz’s plane was leaving with him and he invited Hawke and his entourage to fly down to Monterey on his plane to play golf, down on the Peninsular. That evening Hawke had dinner at Shultz’s residence, the Hawkes had dinner, and the secret service were there with us and the State Department security were there because of Shultz being there. I could sense all evening a tension between the two. I don’t think that was unusual at that stage, but there was this growing tension which resulted, late in the evening, before we left — the secret service agent coming to me and said, ‘When we arrive at the Monterey airport I want you to make sure that your Prime Minister comes in our car, the secret service car’. I said, ‘Where is Mr Shultz travelling?’ He said ‘He’ll be travelling in his own motorcade’. So I said, ‘Well, I’m quite sure that my Prime Minister and Mr Shultz, having been friends for a long time, will travel in the same car together’. He said, ‘No we can’t have that’. It became apparent that this tension between — in the evening had been between who was going to win, over who travelled in which motorcade.
In fact, I found out subsequently, it had been referred back to Washington, during the night and the whole thing. It hadn’t been resolved in the morning, so we went out to the airport, drove in Shultz’s plane. I told the secret service agent that the Prime Minister would travel with Shultz, that was it, I had already briefed the Prime Minister on that. As we were circling Monterey airport, which is a fairly small airport, I could see two secret service type motorcades lined up beside the tarmac; one secret service one State Department. I told the Prime Minister when he got off the plane the secret service man would ask him to get in his car. He said, ‘No, I am not going to do that’. I said ‘Yes, I’ve told him that, he will still ask’. Anyway, he got off the plane and the secret service bloke said ‘Prime Minister will you come this way’ and he said ‘No, I’m going with Mr Shultz’. There were signals between the two and it was just amazing the Prime Minister and George Shultz got in one car, the two ladies, Mrs Hawke and Mrs Shultz got in the car behind, the next car back behind the security car and there was obviously some glee among the winners and various hand signs made. Anyway, what happened was the two motorcades merged into one as we left the airport, down through these winding roads, down through to the Monterey, down to these golf courses. It might have been a half an hour drive. To take two VIPs to play golf. I think I counted thirty-two vehicles in the motorcade. It was just extraordinary. However, since then may have overcome this and changed the legislation and I like to think it was because of our incident down there, but it was certainly very tense between the two organisations at the time and we were stuck right in the middle of it.
E Helgeby: There was, of course, President Bush came and visited here while Bob Hawke was Prime Minister. I’m wondering, were you involved in security at the time? What was the comparison between the government security that was provided?
R Martindale: Bush Senior came at Hawke’s invitation, but a few weeks after Hawke had been deposed by Keating, which made life again, very interesting. So Keating, in fact, hosted Bush and Hawke was one of the guests. In fact for that visit, because I had already left Hawke by then, for that visit I was the Australian Head of Security for Bush’s visit. So, I had a big involvement with his visit to Australia. But, yes — Hawke and Bush got on very well. It was quite sad for Hawke not to be able to host, having done all the ground work. It was literally only weeks after Keating had taken over as Prime Minister. Yes, it was lots of diplomatic incidents, or potential diplomatic incidents out there that you have to cope with.
E Helgeby: When, you said, when you go overseas, travelled overseas with the Prime Minister, was it just you?
R Martindale: No, I would — in advance it would be me and one person from the Attorney General’s Department who was more of a policy person, but nobody from the Prime Minister’s office went in those days. Apart from doing the security advance which was my main objective I used to do a lot of the protocol type stuff as well. On behalf of the office I used to do things on behalf of the office whilst I was away. Certainly I was the lead person in terms of organising the visit together with our local missions overseas.
R Martindale: Any other visits that stand out in your time, travelling overseas, places or people or events?
R Martindale: Yes, including the Gandhi thing I think I did three or four visits to India. The first one — I think it was Hawke’s first overseas trip in 1983 was the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in New Delhi late in 1983. That was also interesting in terms of the accommodation. I think that a point was being made to everybody that we were in then a reasonably poor country. I know a lot has changed since then. There was a government hotel called the Ashok Hotel, and I can tell you it was a shock. It’s where all the — they insisted all the Heads of government stay in this one hotel. We got there and the suites that had been prepared for the Heads of government had all been repainted and were terrific. However, the rest of the place was in a fairly dilapidated state. I can remember arriving and going into my room and Mrs Hawke’s secretary was in the room next to me. She went in and not long after she’d gone in I heard this shriek and went running around. They had just got off the plane. I’d been there to meet them. They got off the plane, she had gone into the bathroom and went flush the toilet and the cistern had fallen in two and the whole place was covered in water. So that was a good start.
It rained heavily at one stage there and the water was coming through the ceiling where the ceiling lights were. It was just unbelievable. It was — a fellow called John Bowen was Hawke’s international advisor at that stage. He was a very funny man and he went to his room which was on the third floor. We were all on the third floor apart for the Prime Minister who was on another floor with security on that floor and everything. Bowen went to his room on the third floor and refused to stay there, and went up to the Prime Minister’s suite, who had a fancy room, and said to the Prime Minister and Mrs Hawke, there is no way in the world I am going to stay in my room. Is it alright if I sleep on your couch. They said, yes it’s fine sir.
Anyway, working in this hotel it was quite difficult. There were only two lifts and when you were going out in the morning everybody was going out at the same time. There would be Heads of government in the lifts and staff. Anyway in the morning — John Bowen was a fairly well known diplomat before he became the Prime Minister’s international advisor. He had been around the world and was well known. Anyway, one morning while I was going down early to make sure the cars were all there and Bowen was with me, also wanting to get in the lift. The lift was going up and down about seven times before we could force our way into it.
We forced our way in and there was an African leader there in his robes, looking magnificent. I had no idea who he was but Bowen obviously did, but Bowen had noticed him because he was sounding off about this hotel and his room on the third floor where this African leader in the middle of the second floor trip in the lift announced in a very deep voice ‘Mr Bowen you seem to be having trouble coming to terms with the third world’. And Bowen immediately replied, that the third world, I have no trouble with the third world, it’s the third floor of this hotel I have trouble with, which cracked up the whole lift. We had some funny moments I must say.
I think, really it was because of Hawke, he surrounded himself with characters. To be quite honest with you, I’d been thinking about it, I think that is one of the differences between working in the Old Parliament House and the new Parliament House. It seemed to me the Old Parliament House was full of characters. I don’t know if it’s because you saw these people more often but moving into the new house people were detached from each other. There doesn’t seem to be the characters there that there used to be in the old days. I guess that’s the same with a lot, certainly the same in the public service I think, certainly the same in the police force. The loss of characters in the police force. When I was a young policeman you couldn’t get away with what they used to get away with now. Makes for a very much poorer world I think.
E Helgeby: Do you have any, from your work point of view, did you have any security scares from any of the visits?
R Martindale: No, none that really stand out. We were in places that things could have gone nasty. I can remember a trip to Islamabad in Pakistan where — times weren’t — times and problems weren’t that very far removed. It was a place where you could turn into violent demonstrations at very short notice, but we were pretty lucky, and of course host governments go out of their way to make sure that their visitors aren’t embarrassed by things. So security was generally pretty tight.
E Helgeby: So from your perspective these overseas visits were relatively easy to manage from a work point of view.
R Martindale: Yes, from a work point of view, they were long days and — you couldn’t get sick, there was only a few of you there. It was very much a liaison role we played, apart from the personal security of the Prime Minister. It was very much a liaison role you played with the host government and the host security agencies. I’ve talked about — it’s your personality that gets you through on those things. And understanding the culture you are visiting, you don’t offend anybody, so they all went pretty smoothly. We just had some funny incidents from time to time.
I mean we visited China in the ‘80s and China in the ‘80s was honestly a completely different place to what China is now. I can remember we went to Qingdao which is the capital of the Shandong Province which is where the pandas are and we went to visit the two pandas that were being sent over for the Bicentenary. We stayed in a Guest House there in Qingdao a government Guest House, which was heavily fortified and bugged, I recall. Because I went to take a walk one night and went the wrong way and was quickly hustled away from all the recording equipment that the Chinese people had going but that was just a fascinating trip.
One of Hawke’s daughters was with us on that trip and we didn’t have anything on during the evening or later in the evening and she came to me and said, ‘I want to go out for a walk’. I said, well, I think we were in Nanjing at the time, and she said, ‘I want to go out for a walk’. I said, ‘You can’t go out on your own’, and she said, ‘Will you come with me?’. So I said, ‘Yes, by all means’. So we walked into town, into Nanjing. What had happened is that the people had seen an aeroplane land and knew there was a VIP in town and we walked into the main street and we were approached by a young student who could speak English, and said. I suppose we weren’t hard to pick out, he said ‘Did you come in with the plane’ and we said ‘Yes’. Hawke’s daughter started a conversation and literally, I think, within two or three minutes we were surrounded by at least two hundred people who were there because they were interested. This one young student would could speak English was interpreting for the whole crowd. In fact, they thought that the Prime Minister’s daughter must be a princess so they called her a princess. It was just one of those spur of the moment things, but it just shows you what can happen in countries with huge populations. A bit like the Gandhi funeral where hundreds of thousands of people can gather in minutes. I mean we had a crowd of two hundred totally surrounding us, all friendly, all just wanting, all just really interested, but you just never know in those situations. Yes, we’ve had some interesting times.
E Helgeby: You mentioned about the place you were staying was heavily bugged, what kind of protection did your team, or you people that came with Hawke, to protect him against that kind of eaves dropping?
R Martindale: We used to travel with a, somebody from Foreign Affairs used to travel on those overseas visits with us, who was an expert…
E Helgeby: Electronics?
R Martindale: …an electronics expert, yes, to make sure that when there was meetings going on his room that they weren’t being…
E Helgeby: So this is something that would not come under your…
R Martindale: No, that wasn’t a police role at all, it was a Foreign Affairs role.
E Helgeby: When you were walking like that, obviously, you left the Prime Minister?
R Martindale: No, he wouldn’t have been by himself, there were another two people with him. There would have been the three of us, plus he wasn’t going anywhere, plus they were in a protective government house. It was either me or one of the others would have gone with her. It just happened to be me that she asked. I felt like a walk as well. You often do at these. But yes, just very interesting, very interesting.
E Helgeby: All twenty-three of them, they kept you away from Canberra and from home for weeks on end?
R Martindale: Absolutely, yes, yes. Yes, they did and, not only me, the price to all the staff. If you work with a Prime Minister, I mean, a lot of the Prime Minister’s staff don’t live in Canberra. A lot of politicians staff come from wherever there home State, home electorate is. So people, when they work with politicians, it’s a big pressure on the family life, absolutely. Yes, when you’ve got your young family growing up you miss big chunks of it. But, that’s the nature of the job, there are lots and lots of people who have to do that I’m afraid.
E Helgeby: Back to something else, you mentioned that the, earlier in the first session, that the Prime Minister protection staff, you actually have no office, or anything, kind of home base in this Old Parliament House at all during your time here?
R Martindale: That’s right, when you see what everybody had to cope with, it wasn’t surprising really. No, the area just inside the entrance to the suite where there is a bench often used to have to — and there was a telephone, a couple of telephones there. It used to have to accommodate the attendants and the police, and that is where you — that is where you made all your arrangements from. It wasn’t ideal, but it was one of those things.
E Helgeby: Where did the rest of your team wait?
R Martindale: If we were all in the House, we were all there.
E Helgeby: Sitting, cramming in that one small bench?
R Martindale: It was either that, people used to get up and walk around. It was like a moving feast. The Anteroom to the Cabinet Room, if the Cabinet Room wasn’t being used, there is an Anteroom down there with the Cabinet Attendant, who was a real character in those days, a fellow called Osvaldo Meneghello a very funny man. Often one of us used to wander down there, and sit down there in the comfortable seats and talk to Osvaldo while you were waiting. There were also phones down there so you could get to places but it obviously wasn’t ideal. There was no, even when we moved to the new House there had been an area designated for, as a police officer, which was immediately taken over by one of the staff. There was slightly better accommodation there and then they managed to get an office opposite the PMs suite. Often in these things, in terms of accommodation, the security team often come last. Often because they are not there when the decisions are made.
E Helgeby: How did you communicate with one another, in days before mobile phones this was.
R Martindale: It’s hard to remember, isn’t it. We had radios. We all carried radios and we had our own specific channel on those radios so that we could talk to each other. But, invariably we were together but if somebody had to leave, that is how you would contact them, by radio or if you were interstate used to ring the local AFP office who would also get in touch with your people. We had pagers as well, that’s right, we used to carry pagers. There were pagers in those days, we used to carry a pager. I think the first time I was given a mobile phone for en election campaign and I’m not sure which one it was but probably the ’87 campaign I would think. But it was then that mobile phones were about the size and weight of two house bricks and I was given one of these for the duration of the, for the duration, and Hawke. The Prime Minister didn’t have one. He was quite interested in this phone I had.
I can recall, I think I mentioned before, one of Hawke’s passions and his great relaxations was horse racing. I can recall on the election campaign we were in Perth and we were going to do a function in Fremantle, which meant driving down in the morning. I think it was doing a function before lunch and then driving back to the hotel at lunch time for lunch. So I got both the Prime Minister and Mrs Hawke were going down so they were sitting in the back of the car and I was sitting in the front. I had this house brick of a thing on the floor in front of me. We were travelling down there and the Prime Minister said to me ‘Oh Roger, you got that phone mate’. I said, ‘Yes Prime Minister, you want to use it?’ he said ‘Yes, yes I want to use it’. So I put it over the back seat and told him how to use it. So he got on the phone and I didn’t take any notice of what he was doing but some time later the phone came back over and I just took it from him and put it on the floor of the car and did the function. We drove all the way back into Perth to the hotel. It was lunch time so he was having lunch in his room. I was going down to the restaurant with my colleagues. Went to the security room left a firearms, radios and this mobile phone in the security room. Went down for lunch, had lunch, came back up and got ready to go out again for another function in the afternoon. I picked up the mobile phone and I could hear something. I held it to my ear and it was the racing results — Moonee Valley Race 1 no. 2 paid $3 — so for the last three hours this phone, because he hadn’t remembered how to switch it off. That was my first dabble with mobile phones.
E Helgeby: Your work space again, still not your name on one of the…
R Martindale: Yes
E Helgeby: …and that attendants with Martindale.
R Martindale: That’s right.
E Helgeby: What was that used for?
R Martindale: That was used for any sort of correspondence that came to you, either it was delivered from the police or from anywhere, it was just a correspondence locker. So we all had our names on there. As I understand when we left the office for the last time then the place was left exactly as it was. It’s a credit, the Dyna tape, it’s lasted that long I think, though I notice there is Perspex there now, so I guess it will be there forever.
E Helgeby: Your name is next to two famous chauffeurs as well.
R Martindale: That’s right, you know who those two are.
E Helgeby: Indeed.
R Martindale: Gorgeous and what was it?
E Helgeby: Precious.
R Martindale: Precious and Gorgeous, yes, yes, there were Handsome and…
E Helgeby: Who invented those names for them?
R Martindale: I think those two did between them. They had been Commonwealth drivers for many, many years both of them, and good friends. We may have named them Precious and Gorgeous, I don’t know, but certainly that is what they got on their Correspondent Boxes, Precious and Gorgeous, two good blokes, two good fellers.
E Helgeby: Okay, well, the next thing I wanted to raise with you, you’ve mentioned a lot of stories about Bob Hawke, any recollections about Malcolm Fraser. I know you only worked with him for a short bit of time, what were you’re impressions of him?
R Martindale: As I said, I think, initially I found him a fairly intimidating person. Not only his physical size but he was a fairly blunt sort of man. I recall that first weekend I did. I talked about he had his farm at Nareen that was the — it was the start of the duck shooting season, the first day of the duck shooting season and I was down there with George Davidson. George said, ‘Do you want to go duck shooting on his property, the first thing in the morning?’. So I said ‘What does that mean’, he said, ‘Well we get into this battered old ute and he’ll be driving it and you and I will have white knuckles from clenching the seats and off we’ll go with some guns’. I said, ‘Okay’, he said ‘Are you alright with a shotgun’ and I said ‘Yes, I’m fine with a shotgun’. So we had to go over to Fraser’s residence, we were in the cottage next door, at five o’clock in the morning. I got this impression of Fraser and his wife Tamie, standing in the kitchen eating marmalade and toast and Fraser talking to George but ignoring me because I was the new boy, totally ignoring me. But anything he wanted to know he would do it through George. I can remember him saying to George ‘Can he shoot’ and George said ‘Yes, of course he can’ he said ‘Will we give him a gun’ and George said ‘Yes, we’ll give him a gun’, so we did.
So we went off and George had said to me beforehand ‘When we get to where the ducks are, when we get to the lake where the ducks are’ he said ‘Find the biggest tree you can find and make sure you stand behind it, because he gets a bit excited’. So we did, I’m not a great sporting shooter, I’m not a sporting shooter, I don’t particularly like shooting anything that is alive. But anyway I did the right thing and had a couple of blasts, guns were going off. I’m not sure that everything that was shot was a duck. I’m not quite sure a think a few hens came down that nobody could see. But when we got back to the ute — virtually, George’s advice was right, stand behind a tree, because there were pellets flying everywhere. Got back to the ute and the windscreen was just peppered and Fraser immediately said to George ‘He did that’ pointing at me, which, of course I hadn’t, but anyway.
He was a very intimidating sort of fellow. Especially, now it wouldn’t worry me. I’ve met Fraser on a few occasions since. In fact George died a couple of years ago, much too young in life and here in Canberra and Fraser came over for his funeral, to attend his funeral which was very nice of him to do that. So I assume they might have kept in touch for several years. Of course, as you get more experienced, but when you are reasonably new to the country and in a scenario you’ve never worked in before. The leaders of the country, I think, can be quite intimidating and he was. He was pretty harsh on people. He could get angry very quickly. Tamie was marvellous, his wife. When he used to brush people up the wrong way, whoever they were, she used to go down and calm things afterwards and make it all well again.
I met him a couple of time since I think he’s mellowed quite a lot in his old age but huge pressure on the Prime Minister, of course. I don’t think he used to — he wasn’t — I don’t think he was terribly well. He didn’t sleep well. Often he used to ring people at four o’clock in the morning when he used to think of things because he couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t unusual for his Chief of Staff to get a call at four o’clock in the morning from Fraser who would be at Nareen. The Chief of Staff thought he was having a weekend off at home and fast asleep in bed when the phone would go in the middle of the night. Fraser would have thought of something and he wouldn’t think twice about getting somebody out of bed. I think in the seven years he was Prime Minister he had seven Chief of Staff, Principle Private Secretaries as they were called then, so they used to burn out pretty quickly.
E Helgeby: What about, other Fraser’s or Hawke’s Ministers, anyone that stand out in your memory? Did you have any direct dealings with them, I suppose that is the first question?
R Martindale: Yes, I did, Phil Lynch, when I first joined the Commonwealth Police in Melbourne. It probably was the ’75 campaign I think that Phil Lynch the Treasurer who was the Member for Frankston and I happened to live at Frankston was having a fairly hard time in his own electorate so most of his stuff was being done in his own electorate. Also, he took quite ill during that campaign and then ended up in hospital. I was assigned to him, that would have been the ’75 campaign, which was fairly volatile of course being the Dismissal election campaign. So that was, he was the first politician I got to know, he was really nice. His family were very nice.
Who else? Was Ian Sinclair the leader of the National Party? Talk about real characters there was Sinclair and Doug Anthony and there was another, a triumvirate of National Party, who were really tough all fashioned politicians that were about then.
Hawke’s Ministers I got to know them a lot better. Keating, of course, and of course towards the end he was Deputy Prime Minister and so he became Acting Prime Minister as well. Had to look after Keating, he didn’t like that at all, he was not very happy with security until he became Prime Minister then he accepted it pretty well.
E Helgeby: When you say he wasn’t very happy, did that actually interfere with your ability to do your job?
R Martindale: Yes, apparently it did. You’d go to his house. I didn’t because when he was Acting Prime Minister I was normally overseas for the Prime Minister but the boys who were left…
[End of part 5]
Interview with Roger Martindale 6
R Martindale: …to come back, he would say, I don’t want security, I don’t want you following me to work from my house, but they did anyway. I know one occasion he stopped the car and he went back to the security car and told them to disappear, he didn’t want them.
E Helgeby: Did they?
R Martindale: No, but they kept a very discrete distance, but really quite awkward for them. When he became Prime Minister, well I had already gone by then, but I know that the boys thought that they might have a few problems with him. In fact it ended up just the reverse. He got very, very close to his team. My successor had enormously good rapport with Keating and that seems to be have been the way. The success of the thing was the rapport between the Prime Minister and — certainly in Fraser’s case it was the head of his team, George Davidson. In Whitlam’s case it was the whole team he got on well with, but particularly the boss of his team which is a fellow called Barry Brown, who ended up working with Kerr, funnily enough as well. When Kerr was Governor General, it was an interesting shift, but it didn’t worry Whitlam in the slightest. He was a great Barry Brown fan. I had this amazing rapport with Hawke and the family, as did most of my people. I know Howard has been the same. So there certainly is a pattern there, but once they get into the position of Prime Minister they do understand that it’s a necessary evil. They were all treated in different ways, their personalities were all different, so the way they approach it is usually different which means that the team has to be flexible about how they deal with the Prime Minister.
E Helgeby: Would seem from an outside perspective it might be an advantage in the fact that the security teams, they were all very small, certainly in the years that you were working with them.
R Martindale: Yes, that is right.
E Helgeby: Therefore there was much more ability, perhaps, to get to know every member.
R Martindale: Yes, that is right, and that’s the difference between the way we operate and the secret service operate. I mean the secret service would have, certainly three, well they would have one overall boss, who is very, very senior, probably in our terms a deputy commissioner level, who is the Head of the Presidential security. But then his team leaders would all be fairly senior people and he would see a lot of those. They would have a personal rapport with the President but the other hundred work with him every day and they just do eight hour shifts. They’d just stand in corridors and terribly boring. I’d much rather, I had a far more interesting career in VIP protection than most secret service agents would working with the President of the United States.
E Helgeby: Did I understand you correctly, at one point, you mentioned Doug Anthony and his Acting Prime Ministership at the coast, were you involved with that?
R Martindale: Only on one occasion, I think, it was over Christmas and, so it would be Christmas 1978, I guess. I think the Prime Minister had stood down for a couple of weeks and gone on holiday. Because it was holiday time Anthony had a holiday home on New Brighton Beach up near Mullumbimby, up near Byron Bay, a beautiful spot. He used to run the country from a caravan parked outside his house. As Acting Prime Minister he had a team of police used to go up there and they used to operate out of the caravan and then we used to get local police to look after the place twenty-four hours a day. The team, in fact, would stay at a nearby hotel which was just down the road. But that was all pretty pleasant. You dress for the occasion so you were looking after the Prime Minister in your thongs and shorts and T-shirt on the beach.
E Helgeby: So that bulge in your shorts?
R Martindale: Fortunately, in those days, bum bags were the thing, that was where you kept your stuff.
E Helgeby: Any of the parliamentary staff that you came, dealing with during your time here that stood out, you can remember special things about?
R Martindale: What the staffers themselves?
E Helgeby: Yes, the staffers themselves.
R Martindale: Yes, staffers, yes, Graham Freudenberg is a character who immediately comes to mind, probably the Labor Party’s most famous speech writer, without a doubt the Labor Party’s most famous speech writer for New South Wales Premiers and Prime Ministers. He wrote many, many major speeches. He was quite eccentric, Graham, a lovely man, but quite eccentric. I recall one occasion when we were in the States and Graham used to write all his speeches in the middle of the night, assisted by normally a few cans of Fosters and copious amounts of cigarettes. He had a secretary who, I don’t think she ever got to finish a drink or finish a meal with him, because he would go to dinner and want to write a speech and she would go down with him. She would never have a chance to eat, she would be taking notes all the time. But also in the middle of the night, he would have his inspiration in the middle of the night.
I can remember one night, I think we were in the Madison Hotel in Washington when I had a knock on the door at two o’clock in the morning and it was a secret service agent, terribly apologetic and saying ‘Could I step out in the corridor and tell him if this member of our staff was alright’. I went out and there was Graham in the corridor with his hotel dressing gown flapping in the breeze and a pair of undies on, with a can of Fosters in each hand. Also a lit cigarette in each hand, because he was a chain smoker, wandering up and down the corridor talking to himself. The secret service thought this was quite strange until I explained to them that all Australian speech writers operated in that way and everything was okay. But that was fairly typical of Graham and then the next day he used to come out with the most magnificent speech for the Prime Minister. It’s quite amazing, a great, great character.
I must say that I’ve met some of Hawke’s personal staff, most of them, his personal staff and his public service staff were just very, very good people. One of his, he had several, of course Chief of Staff during his period of Prime Minister, one of them Sandy Hollway who subsequently became involved with the Olympics but was a Senior Public Servant. Sandy would probably be the best manager of people I have ever come across. There could be all sorts of political things happening in the office that he would have to deal with and if somebody on the staff had a personal problem, Sandy would just deal with it, amongst everything else he was dealing with. He was a very, very clever — subsequently became, he had a major role in organising the Olympics Games. Now I think he is our Ambassador for Wales or something isn’t he? W.H.A. [inaudible]. He’s got some government function now but he was…
Denis Richardson was another one. Denis Richardson was another Chief of Staff who subsequently became Head of Immigration and then Director General of ASIO and our Ambassador and he’s just been appointed, of course, Head of Foreign Affairs. People, just really, really class people. Hawke used to seem to attract the best and they all loved working for him. They were just really good people, because we also had to travel together, as I said once before it was a team thing. It didn’t matter what role you played you were part of an overall team.
Some of the Ministers, John Button who died last year, his Industry Minister was a great character, Mick Young, who also died very early, one of the real old time shearers, union people, but he’s a really genuine person. Kim Beazley, Rhodes Scholar, very, very clever man. I know the Americans thought that when he was the Defence Minister, he was the best Defence Minister in the world. One they had much respect for was Kim Beazley.
E Helgeby: We’re talking junior, not senior here?
R Martindale: Yes, Gareth Evans was just incredibly bright, pretty difficult man to get on with at times but pretty short fuse Gareth but amazingly clever. So, he had a really good team there. Some interesting people like Graham Richardson, Robert Ray and a few others. It was — I just felt that as a policeman, as a career policeman, it was an enormously privileged position to be in. To be exposed to, any of those people, but to all sorts of people at all sorts of functions you went to, to all sorts of business leader, many of whom were Hawke’s friends. People like Frank Lowy who was a great person friend and — when Hawke really needed a break and get away from it all, there were times when he did, even if it was only three of four days. Frank Lowy used to make his beautiful cruiser available. Frank Lowy would treat me no differently than he treated the Prime Minister in terms, as a host, it was just amazing. That was typical of Hawke and the people that he surrounded himself with. If you worked for Hawke he expected you to be treated in the same way as he was, but he had friends that did that anyway. So you weren’t left, sort of, like a shag on a rock. If you were with Hawke you were part of the team and that was it.
So, yes, he had some interesting Press Secretaries as well. Barrie Cassidy from the ‘Insiders’ program on the ABC now was — we had a really — as I say Hawke loved his horse racing, it was one of his great relaxations. Barrie’s first trip as Press Secretary was on a Friday night going over to Perth, we were travelling over to Perth in the evening, we got there quite late. Hawke’s Friday nights were usually with the racing guide, organising what he was going to put his money on for the next day. It was sort of a sacrosanct time for him. So we were flying over on the VIP plane so he had plenty of time to work out the horses for the next day. He was a really good judge of good horse flesh. He knew everything about the racing game. So he’d marked up the racing guide and had all his other newspapers there and his normal thing was, when he would get off the plane he would gather all his papers and give them to his Press Secretary to carry off the plane and look after them, and this was Cassidy’s first trip as Press Secretary. So that happened, we arrived in Perth, landed, Hawke gathered up his papers and gave them to Barrie. Went on into the hotel, he was going out that night, so went to the hotel, had a shower and called me — I was in the room next door and called me. It might have been half past ten at night and he said ‘Oh mate, do you know where my racing guide is’. I said ‘No, I haven’t seen it’. He said ‘Could you go and find Barrie Cassidy, I gave him all the papers he’s have it somewhere. He probably didn’t know he had to bring them up to my room’. So I said ‘I’ll go and find him’. I found Cassidy in the bar having a drink with some of the journalists, I said ‘Butch, where’s the — the boss wants his racing guide’. He said ‘What do you mean, his racing guide?’. I said ‘You know his racing guide that he was working on. He gave it to you with all his paper’. He said ‘I put them in the garbage bin. I thought he wanted them chucked out’. So I said ‘Ah, this was at the airport?’. So, he said, ‘Oh’ so I said ‘Well, he’s not going to be very happy’. He said ‘Mate, this is my first trip, could be my last one. Could you go and tell him’. So I said ‘I can tell him but he’s not going to be very pleased’. So I told him and he just exploded, he couldn’t believe it. He just exploded. The hotel manager came running up and offered — you couldn’t get these racing guides, you couldn’t even get a new one in Perth they didn’t have them there. The hotel manager said that he would fly one over during the night, anyway we got through that, Cassidy got through his, he still owes me a beer that he’s never bought me. I remind him every time I see him for saving his job on that occasion. Yes, he was another interesting staffer and a real professional.
E Helgeby: What members of the press, did you have any dealings, contacts?
R Martindale: Yes, very much so, because we used to — particularly here, because I think I’ve said earlier that, used to meet them every morning on the way in, up the front steps of Parliament House. But also we used to travel with them. They used to travel on the same plane. When the VIP plane was the 707 the whole back section was reserved for the press to travel with the Prime Minister. That doesn’t happen now because the plane is not big enough. I don’t think they can get all the press on the plane and so they have to travel separately quite often. But, certainly then to the more important trips you used to get the more senior members of the Press Gallery travelling, the Michelle Grattan, Laurie Oakes, Peter Harvey all the doyens of the Press Gallery, used to get to know them very well. I had a really good rapport with them. They were very professional.
They would know, I can’t ever remember an occasion when a journalist from the Press Gallery tried to get information from me. Never remember one occasion when that happened. If something happened, and it had something to do with security, which rarely did, they would ask me about and I’d tell them, or tell them what I could tell them. But they knew I would know, I would be privy to conversations and all that sort of stuff, in cars and in rooms, but never once did anybody try and get information from me that I shouldn’t have given. I wasn’t entitled to give out. Yes, we had a very, very good working relationship. I used to look after them as well when we were overseas to make sure that they could get the shots that they wanted to get.
I can remember, the trip to Beijing in the mid-‘80s, Barrie Cassidy was then on the trip but as a journalist with the ABC. He wanted to do a promo in Tiananmen Square and the security forces wouldn’t, kept on stopping, they wouldn’t let him do it, the television camera do it. But we managed to intervene and explain to the security people that it was with the Australian Prime Minister and all the rest and he got his stuff done. So it worked two ways. They used to help us and we used to help them out when we could. I still run into the journalists from time to time. In fact when I retired from the police in ’98 and there was an election, I think late in ’98 and Laurie Oakes, who lives fairly close to where I do, and so I run into him quite often. He knew that I had left the police and suggested to ‘A Current Affair’ that it might be good to get me to do an ‘A Current Affair’ show during the ’98 campaign. Just to make general comments about security and that sort of thing without giving secrets away. So I did, I did it with one of their journalists and went out for two days and did a day with Howard and a day with Beazley. A day with Beazley in Brisbane and a day with Howard in Melbourne, demonstrations and all that sort of stuff, so that was pretty interesting. That had come about as a result of my friendship with Laurie. So it was a good relationship and still is because I’m still around Canberra and live nearby. I run into these fellows quite often.
E Helgeby: So in 1990 did you resign from the job that’s…
R Martindale: I did, I decided to call it a day. I went to the Prime Minister and said, I think it’s time. I’d got remarried then. I had two very young step-daughters and I went to the Prime Minister and said, look. I mean staff change over anyway, not too many people last seven years like I did in the Prime Minister’s office, they move on. So I just went to the Hawkes and said I think it’s time for me to move on. He said ‘That’s fine if that’s what you want to do. Who’s going to take your place?’. I knew it was going to between one of the senior sergeants I had working for me and he said ‘Who do you think should have it?’ and I told him, he agreed with me. But in fact they still — the police have to advertise, but the person he wanted and the person I suggested would be the best one, in fact, then became my successor and then took over with Keating as Head of Keating’s thing, and built up this fabulous rapport with Keating. Which probably I wouldn’t have been able to do, not necessarily. Having had the close relationship with Hawke that I had. The fellow that took over from me was much better read than I was and Keating was quite intellectual in that way. They got on like a house on fire, so it really is horses for courses. I certainly wouldn’t have got on with Malcolm Fraser in the way that George Davidson had done, whoever is the right person at the right time. We happened to have been lucky to have the right person there all the time. Although if it’s going to be the wrong person the Prime Minister would only have to say.
E Helgeby: So you went on to become Director of VIP Protection in the AFP?
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: I noticed the events include personal protection for Australian holders of high office.
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: Not the Prime Minister obviously.
R Martindale: No, he had his own team. We are talking about other holders of high office, which means anybody that needed protection for some particular reason. Nobody else got it, apart from the Governor General, nobody else got it as a matter of course, but they did from time to time. Gareth Evans going to South Africa when he was going to meet some problems, we sent people over with him to South Africa. It included the Diplomats that we look after.
E Helgeby: Diplomats who are stationed here in Australia?
R Martindale: Yes, so the Israeli Ambassador. Depending on the times — and in those days the Turkish Ambassador as well always got full time protection.
E Helgeby: There was also a man, a booth outside the South African Embassy for many, many years.
R Martindale: Yes, still there, the booth.
E Helgeby: Yes, was that run by that service? Was that serviced, or occupied by people from that VIP protection service?
R Martindale: No, that again was the uniform branch, that now would be on the Lodge, the Australian Protection Service, that are at the gate of the Lodge. But, the threats against those, I mean, South Africa during the Apartheid era, of course, the threats against the Turks now isn’t what it used to be so they don’t get protection full time. I think it’s only the Israeli and the British High Commissioner or the US Ambassador get it from time to time, if there is a particular threat. And there is from time to time, particularly with the Middle East and Iraq and Afghanistan. So if there is a particular threat they will tend to move onto those.
E Helgeby: So the service provided by the VIP Protection Unit was as and when required?
R Martindale: Yes, and apart from the permanent, and in those days it was the Turks and the Israelis and then anybody else and then the visiting Heads of government, Heads of State, that come under internationally protected persons. Which is a legal term under the UN Convention as to who. So visiting Heads of government, visiting Heads of State get protections while they are in the country. So you would have a team doing those sorts, and then supplementing other areas from time to time, and then everybody during election campaigns were on the road, used to bring other people in from interstate to help you out.
E Helgeby: During your lively career you were in charge of security at the Constitutional Convention here in 1998.
R Martindale: That’s right that was part of my last role in the AFP, when I’d finished with VIP protection all together I became Director of Security Intelligence and Diplomatic Liaison, which is a great title. In the old days, used to call it special branch. In Britain they still call it the special branch, but special branch got some unfortunate connotations here in Australia with a few inquiries, so we called it security intelligence, which what it was in diplomatic liaison. Diplomatic liaison particularly applied here in Canberra. Any incident that involved a diplomatic and involved policing, could be uniform policing, could be speeding, could be a break-in, could be anything, had to come through my branch, for us to deal with. We were the liaison then between the Diplomatic Missions and the Department of Foreign Affairs Protocol Department and worked very closely with them. The security intelligence was the normal political intelligence gathering type operation, on minority groups, and whatever you have. Any risk, and that used to be done closely in liaison with the other security service, with ASIO and what have you.
E Helgeby: So was it in that capacity that your role in providing protection here in this building in 1998 came up as well?
R Martindale: No, no my role there was because I was Head of Security Intelligence, was that I Headed the — I became part of the team that was organising the convention, advising on security issues with the event organisers, which was a civilian organising and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and so I was the security expert that was attached to the whole thing. And then I was responsible for monitoring any demonstrations that took place and the liaison between the uniform police in the ACT and the Constitutional Convention in terms of having enough uniform police to manage demonstrations and all that sort of stuff.
E Helgeby: What special issues do you think, protecting this building, an event like that had. It was rather different to the role you had as Prime Minister’s protection?
R Martindale: Yes, again it was all about planning, like the Prime Ministers it was all about planning and liaison. It is about planning. If anything happens then you know, and you’ve got fall-back plans, you’ve got contingencies to do. And it was about making sure that everybody knew what the threat was, who needed to know, what the likely threat was from demonstrators. So, the Constitutional Convention was probably the last big operational matter I dealt with in my career, which nice for me to finish up my whole time in Canberra, from 1978 to 1998. With starting at Parliament House with Malcolm Fraser and finishing up at Old Parliament House with the Constitutional Convention because I retired within a few months of that.
E Helgeby: Did the actual event, have any special happenings?
R Martindale: Yes, nothing that wasn’t controlled. We had the Aboriginal Embassy, of course, opposite which gave obviously a great platform for demonstrations and also, I mean the whole thing was about, was Australia going to become a Republic. So the various arms of the Republican or Anti-Republican Movement had an opportunity to demonstrate but nothing really got out of hand. There was one nasty demonstration I think involving the Aboriginal Embassy at one stage, one evening. I think that happened, not sure if that happened during the thing, it could have happened before or just after. But, it was something we knew was going to happen and could turn nasty, it just goes with having enough people there to cope with it, trained for it.
During my watch in that job we had the loggers’ blockade at the new Parliament House and also the demonstration that broke down the doors of the new Parliament House. So I was there for both of those. I think everybody was pleased when I retired. I think trouble used to follow me around.
E Helgeby: We did have, of course, even in this building, even in your working period, when the front doors were broken down in this building.
R Martindale: Yes, that’s right. I wonder where we were then. We must have been interstate or somewhere. I don’t think the Prime Minister was here then, was he? I’m getting old, a lot of these things — there’ve been so many of them, they all tend to roll themselves, I have to do some research to find out what years I was doing what.
E Helgeby: Perhaps we move on to some other side of the bits and pieces, if I can call it that.
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: Because of the nature of your working, did you actually have any social contact with anyone in the building here, while you were working, during your period as in charge of the PMs security?
R Martindale: Certainly, no social contact while I was on duty, of course. Social contact, yes, I guess so. I mean there was — because you put in so many hours you’re pretty pleased to go home. I must say at the end of the day rather than socialize too much. But there were events organised, social events from time to time, with the Prime Minister’s office that everybody went to. But, as I say, the hours were long for everybody so people were probably only too pleased to get home to their families to be quite honest with you.
E Helgeby: You’ve already mentioned that the work life had a very heavy impact on your family life.
R Martindale: Yes.
E Helgeby: You mentioned hours, can you give an idea of, maybe, how many hours a week you might put in regularly?
R Martindale: If parliament was sitting, not that many, we used to work in two shifts, you’d have a day shift and an afternoon shift and those hours were fairly regular. It was when you were on the road that — the extreme was in election campaigns. The extremes of everything you did was, everything happened during an election campaign, but during an election campaign you could be on the road for four or five weeks, depending on how long the campaign was. It would be eighteen hours a day.
E Helgeby: And you would be gone — for four or five weeks you would be the person travelling with…
R Martindale: Yes, used to travel and then the others used to pick up. If I could get — because you were never back in Canberra you see, or very rarely. The only time you knew you were going to be back in Canberra was for the National Press Club address. You might get one or two nights in Canberra in the five weeks so you just might get home then to see the family. But probably it was at ten o’clock at night and you left at six o’clock the next morning anyway. Often you would do three States in one day. So you start in Melbourne do a function, go to Sydney do one at lunchtime, end up in Brisbane that night and then you do the rural areas, of course, as well. Where you went was where the marginal seats were, of course.
It was a very inefficient way to work, of course, because there were so few of you and so much to do that you were on the go, you were all on the go, or in the air travelling all the time. My advance teams used to have to get to all these places by civil aircraft, they weren’t travelling in the VIP aircraft like I was with the Prime Minister. I would want two people on the ground in Melbourne in the morning to work with me, and I’d want another two in Sydney for the afternoon function and another two in Brisbane. By the time we’d left Melbourne the two in Melbourne would then fly to wherever we were going the next day to do the advance for that. Particularly now days election campaigns are held very tightly. Functions — a new function can come in at a days’ notice, or less than a day’s notice. The blokes used to work, the fellows used to work with the staff, of course, the staff would do the same. There would be stenos’ and office people, so they used to team up with the police advance team and they used to travel as a team, in the main, to each place. Although they had different roles. So they used to work very well but, as I say, huge hours. Many a time, three weeks into a campaign you’d wake up in the morning in a motel room or hotel room somewhere and have absolutely no idea where you were until opened the window or looked at your program, and say, look I’m in Brisbane.
E Helgeby: And there were still only seven of you?
R Martindale: Yes, yes.
E Helgeby: And you were mentioning two here, two there, two there, so that leaves you with one in reserve somewhere.
R Martindale: That was me the one in reserve was me on the plane. So I would be travelling anywhere and my role was not just to travel with the Prime Minister but was also to liaise with the staff on the plane because that is when a lot of your arrangements would be made. And the fellows and then there would be…
[End of part 6]
Interview with Roger Martindale 7
R Martindale: They set in Melbourne and set up in Sydney permanently in one of the hotels which would be staffed full time by the Prime Minister’s office staff. The fellas would also work out of there, so between us, or you would know what was going on. But then you had to make sure that went back to a central command post which then had to let the State police know in advance of what was going on. It’s quite a logistical problem in terms but it was what you were trained to do. It was tiring but it was great fun. A great challenge, great fun, and you had a good time as well. It would be a terrible job if you didn’t have a good time doing it.
E Helgeby: I think the amount of hours you spent and the intensity of the work was a significant factor in you deciding to effectively telling the Prime Minister that it was time for a change?
R Martindale: Yes, absolutely. Yes, I’d been married. I had another young family and it sounds trite but I was sick of going to foreign countries, and that sounds awful but you get to the stage where you think, oh God not another overseas trip. Once you get to that stage it’s time to call it a day. There was still plenty for me to do in the police force. Also you get to the stage of life where you probably need a younger man in there anyway.
E Helgeby: Was your health affected at all by the endless hours you worked?
R Martindale: No, I picked up a few funny bugs overseas from time to time but that wasn’t too bad because we always had the doctor travel with us. I managed to go down with glandular fever in China which was very handy. Used to get the usual problems, inevitably get problems, gastro problems in some countries. Although when we used to travel to some of these places the plane used to be stocked with our own food and water so you weren’t caught but even so you still. I picked up a few funny sorts of things along the way but everybody did I think.
E Helgeby: When you were in this building. I think you mentioned that you didn’t usually use all the spaces that the Prime Minister would use, but you didn’t go into the Cabinet Room?
R Martindale: No, I mean the Cabinet Room was really sacrosanct, it wasn’t used for anything other than Cabinet Meetings and it was secure. So it wasn’t used otherwise, when I say it was electronically secure, so if people used it, it would have to be swept every time. So generally it was kept as the Cabinet Room but the Cabinet Anteroom just outside where there was a kitchen and all the rest of the staff, a cabinet attendant, that was a place where you could. When there were no cabinet meetings on you could have a room to chat or use the telephone or whatever. But everybody was working in really, in appalling conditions. His Appointment Secretary, the Prime Minister’s Private Secretary, virtually had a bench in a tiny little space, one of those important people in his staff, it was just terrible. A lady called Jill Saunders, Jill coped with it, for the staff going to the new House there was more room in the Chief of Staff’s office I think than there was in the whole place in the Old Parliament House.
E Helgeby: You have mentioned this partly already but some comments here, just checking again, were there any parliamentarians you came to admire, as parliamentary operators, or as individuals, or any that you did not have very positive thoughts about, during your time here?
R Martindale: There were different sorts of operators, of course, there were political operators, Graham Richardsons and Robert Rays and people like that, who were the number crunchers, the real political heavyweights. There were the people with the Labor Party backgrounds but weren’t necessarily the number crunchers, union people, the Mick Youngs, people like that, John Button. I got to know in one way or another all of them I think. They all had their own — I mean they were all there because they were pretty smart operators. Hawke had a pretty good team there, particularly in the early days. Lionel Bowen was probably the perfect Deputy Prime Minister. He was no threat to the Prime Minister but very, very competent and a really nice man. I got on with Lionel extremely well. Really enjoyed the few times I worked with him when he was Acting Prime Minister. He was a really easy person to work with. Gareth Evans was obviously extremely intellectual, very, very clever man but extremely shorted fused.
It was really interesting because where we used to sit just inside the door at this place, there was a bank of switches which were for the Cabinet members to directly contact their office. You’d be sitting there when they did it. Gareth often used to burst out of the Cabinet room, storming down the hallway because somebody hadn’t put the right note in his brief or something and abuse whoever was at the other end of the phone in his office. I think his staff used to turn over a fair bit, fairly frequently but his cleverness made up for all that I think the fact that he was a really good Foreign Minister and has done some amazing things since. And Beazley was another one who was very intellectual very, very clever. I got on well with Gareth as well because we — he accompanied us on a few overseas trips or turned up for parts of overseas trips as Foreign Minister from time to time, as did Bill Hayden when Hayden was Foreign Minister. I got on with Hayden well because Hayden was an ex-policeman, an ex-Queensland copper.
I can remember when Hawke was meeting with Gorbachev in the Kremlin and I was sitting with Bill Hayden, Hayden was waiting to go in for Gorbachev and Hawke was supposed to have fifteen minutes together and then the two Foreign Ministers went in, well, an hour later Hawke and Gorbachev were still going. So Bill Hayden was still — and Bill and I were having this great conversation about the Fitzgerald Royal Commission into the Queensland police. It was an interesting thing to do in the Kremlin, I can tell you. Not quite sure that the Russians knew all about our conversation as well but that’s fine.
Yes, I mean I got to know them all. They knew who I was and I got to deal with them all from time to time. I can’t think of anybody that I didn’t have the utmost respect for. Politicians are often misjudged in lot of ways by the public when they don’t see. The workload of Ministers, particularly Cabinet Ministers is just enormous and the workload of the Prime Minister is even more so. Hawke when he left here on a Friday night to go back to the Lodge, if he was spending the weekend in Canberra, it didn’t matter where he was spending the weekend, the paperwork he had to take with him to get through over the weekend was just enormous. They don’t do it for the money I can tell you that. It’s just an enormous workload, all of them. It was the same with both parties, that’s not — the fact that I spent the majority of my time with the Labor Party Prime Minister is just an accident of time. Working with John Hewson during the election campaign and Fraser, of course, Doug Anthony, they all carried a huge workload. I’ve always had the utmost respect and when people talk about politicians, they only turn up for two weeks in Canberra and then they go back to their electorates and they don’t have to work again for another three weeks. People don’t know how hard these people do work.
E Helgeby: During your time here can you think of any funny, happy souls that happened, that you had a good laugh about?
R Martindale: Here at the House.
E Helgeby: Here or during your travels.
R Martindale: During my travels, oh there were plenty of those. I mentioned earlier on John Bowen who was the International Advisor, subsequently became our Ambassador in Bern, Switzerland and then he went to work with Sandy Hollway on the Olympics. I don’t know what John is doing now but he was a career Foreign Affairs person and had been a Diplomat. When we were in Russia we stayed at the Guest House in, the Government Guest House in Moscow. The cold war had finished so they weren’t — the surveillance operations weren’t as detailed as they used to be because, in fact, you could see the little microphones hanging out of the walls, where the plaster was starting to part. We all, in the Guest House there was one dining room where we all went for breakfast. So that was everybody in the party went for breakfast and all sitting round this big table. We had these very stern faced young Russian waiters in white coats serving us, quite a few, three or four I suppose around. You could have what you wanted while there was food laid out but if you wanted something else. I think it was Chris Conybeare who was then the PMs Chief of Staff wanted to know if he could get some marmalade and Bowen said, who had been a junior Diplomat in Moscow. I can remember some Russian I know what the word for marmalade is, called on these waiters over and asked him in Russian for what he thought was marmalade. This Russian waiter looked at him with absolutely no expression on his face, just nodded, and with his silver tray and went out. Ten minutes went past and Conybeare said I think I’ve forgotten about my marmalade and Bowen said, I could have got it wrong. I think I might have ordered a piece of coal. Sure enough about ten minutes, it had been twenty minutes went passed, and this waiter walked in on his silver tray with a piece of chalk. Obviously the look on his face, these are very funny people these Australians. They were there sorts of things that cracked everybody up, really made the trip.
I can’t remember what else. I remember coming in to land in the VIP plane in Islamabad and nobody had any forewarning but all of a sudden these two Mig-15 fighter jets appeared on either wing, literally on either wing. You could see the face of the pilots, they were escorting us in but the vision. So that gave everybody — it excited the press a bit and the cameramen, they managed to get some great shots.
We made the most of our trips I must say. I had one embarrassing incident which we did a bit afterwards. We were in Israel and, as is normal I think, protocol-wize. The Prime Minister goes to have an official meeting with the Mayor of Jerusalem. I can’t remember his name but he was very famous at the time. I don’t remember his name, anyway, he was quite a cranky old thing. I had Israeli security, which is pretty tight, working with me. We were going up to the fourth floor of the city chambers, or whatever it is in Jerusalem Town Hall. The Mayor had come down outside to meet us and to talk with and took him into the lift with Hazel and the Israeli security bloke got in and I was going to get in and he said ‘I don’t want anybody else in the lift’. I didn’t know where, they were heading up stairs somewhere, and ‘I don’t need anybody in the lift’. Hawke is good at that, ‘Roger is my bloke, you come with me’ and this Mayor said ‘If he is coming in, I am getting out’ and so Hawke didn’t say anything. So we all went up in the lift and the Mayor went up on the stairs, on four flights, which I found rather embarrassing but Hawke said ‘Don’t worry about it mate’. That was embarrassing for me but — it was just the way that Hawke worked. He expected — there was no reason why I shouldn’t be in the lift either, it wasn’t as if I couldn’t get in there. It was reasonably crowded but. These things just pop out like that, you deal with them.
We had a lovely trip to Ireland, to Dublin. I was doing the advance over there. I worked with a — I’m working with the guard and the Head of this special branch over there was a very — this is in the ‘80s again when the IRA trouble were at their height. This was in the south. There was a Superintendent there in charge of special branch, a fellow called Thomas Kelly and he was a real old autocrat, older policeman, but famous. Only one thing he hated more than Protestants was the IRA. He hated the IRA and hounded them and was very well known for that. We were going, apart from doing a trip to Dublin there was the football game on there, the AFL football game on at Croke Park, so we were going to that. We arrived and went straight to that. But then we were also going down to Tipperary the Prime Minister had been invited, their Prime Minister invited our Prime Minister down to Tipperary to Sangster’s Horse Stud down there, to look at some horse flesh, knowing that Hawke loved horses and all that.
So we decided we were going to Tipperary to do an advance and the Superintendent was in the car, the Superintendent wanted to come. I was dealing with his Inspector and his Inspector was like his tea boy. He had the Inspector to make his tea for him and run around for him like a batman, it was unbelievable, but lovely people, they couldn’t do enough. But the Superintendent decided that we would go to Tipperary in his personal car, not a police car. I said to the Inspector, ‘Why are we going in the boss’s car’. He said ‘Ah sir, because he gets a mileage allowance’. So anyway, we had to go to his house first to meet his wife. We all got into his personal car and drove down to Tipperary where we stayed at a hotel and then we were to meet the local Sergeant who was going to work with me the next morning.
We met the Superintendent and we met the public servant that was with me, we met them for breakfast downstairs and I could see this bloke walking around, outside the dining room door shuffling up and down. I said to the Superintendent, I said, ‘Mr Kelly, is that the fellow we will be working with?’. He said ‘Yes’. I said ‘I’d really like to meet him, can we get him in for a cup of coffee?’. He said ‘No, he can stay out there until we’re ready’. Eventually I got to meet this Sergeant, who was a lovely fellow and I said ‘Look, I will go with him in his car’. I’ve got to work with this fellow, I really needed to work with him so I needed to get him on side. I introduced myself and I said ‘Do you know why we’re coming here?’. He said, ‘No, Mr Kelly keeps his cards very close to his chest’. I said ‘Oh, okay’. He said ‘Are you coming to buy police horses?’. So I explained what we were doing and then he was okay. He said, I will take us around. He was an extremely devout Catholic. The only problem I had with him was, every time we passed a church in Tipperary which was about every fifty metres or so, he would take his hand of the steering wheel and cross himself. I thought, this is going to be fun when he driving the security car, anyway we got around it.
It was a fantastic trip. The Irish are so hospitable. We went to an Irish pub in Dublin. Hawke wanted to go to an Irish pub. It was just amazing, and it happened several times when we were travelling when we were travelling overseas. He walked into an Irish pub and everybody knew who he was. Everybody knew he was Bob Hawke the Prime Minister of Australia, it was just incredible. I can remember walking around in Seoul with him in Korea and people shouting out, ‘good on ya Hawkie!’, everywhere you went in the world, everybody knew Hawke. He was very popular, very well known. So there were all interesting trips, all interesting days.
E Helgeby: That reminds me, you brought in some very interesting photos from your collection of times, including travels with Hawke and others. I am wondering — we haven’t been able to identify all the occasions and the people in them. I am wondering if you could have a look at them and — they are numbered here. This is number one, if you could tell us where that was taken?
R Martindale: That was taken in the early days, I think, of Hawke’s Prime Ministership. He is at the ANU he was giving a — he was opening something. You can see the plaque covered up with a curtain behind him. He was opening something and the students, I haven’t no recollection of what it was they were demonstrating about. Normally if you went on any campus anywhere you would get a student demonstration. It’s what students do. So he stood up there, addressing some people with students throwing eggs at him and the splashes on the path in front of him are broken eggs. That is me standing alongside him and just behind him is one of my people, a fellow called Bob Hunter he has just retired from the police.
E Helgeby: Is this fellow from the same…
R Martindale: Yes that is from the same thing. The fellow on the right there is another one of my staff, a fellow called Graham Seidel who spent, he was with Hawke for the whole time and one of my very close friends, who is also retired now. I think I’m holding my arm up there trying to deflect an egg that was coming my way.
During the Hewson campaign in ’93, actually, there was a very famous shot of — we were in a big demonstration in Brisbane where somebody threw an egg at Hewson. He was up on the stage and I was standing alongside him and so I know this is true, threw an egg at him and he caught it. He was an extremely good sportsman, he caught it and took it in his and brought his hand back, all in time, and handed me the egg, which I then chucked down on the front of the stage and it smashed on the floor. I can guarantee it was a fresh egg. There was a lot of conjecture by the press that it was either a hardboiled egg or — it was all put on, a lot of it was wrong. So I’ve dodged a few eggs and a fair range of fruit and vegetables in my time over the years at various demonstrations.
E Helgeby: Photo number three is clearly from overseas, what is that all about?
R Martindale: That is in Dubrovnik we did a trip to Yugoslavia that was before the war. I think a lot of those buildings have got a lot of bullet holes in them now. We started off in Belgrade with the Yugoslavian police. They said, we’re in charge, when we get to Croatia we will be in charge, but as soon as we got to Dubrovnik they disappeared into the background and left it to the Croatians because they just hated each other, the two organisations. So we’re walking through the main square in Dubrovnik there.
E Helgeby: Who are the people?
R Martindale: The fellows in the suits at the front, the three, the two on the left and the one on the right are Croatian police, security police. The person just to my left shoulder is in fact Craig Emerson who is the Minister for Small Business now in the Rudd Government but he was then an economic advisor to the Prime Minister. Immediately behind him is Barrie Cassidy, who I think was there as a journalist rather than the Press Secretary. Then there is Hazel and then the fellow on Hazel’s shoulder is also one of my staff, Larry Ringering, that is how we used to operate. One in front, just in front, leading the way, knowing where you were going, which was usually me became I had done the advance, and then one behind. There is another one over here, which is another fellow, Graham Sindell again, which is mine. So we’ve got one to the left and one to the right of the Prime Minister and Mrs Hawke behind them and me just a little bit in front, leading the way, and the Croatian blokes spread out. It’s just a crowded square. Probably, I would expect not too many people that were there would know who would know there was some VIP coming through.
E Helgeby: The photographers on most of these were official photographers?
R Martindale: That would have been taken by one of the official photographers travelling with us, who in those days were part of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I think now down the official photographers, it goes out to contract to private organisations.
E Helgeby: Photo number four is clearly from Russia.
R Martindale: Yes, Red Square.
E Helgeby: What year was that?
R Martindale: I believe it was 1986, I think it was 1986-87, sometime like that. I can’t quite — it would have been mid-‘80s, but it was in Gorbachev’s reign. We went there and then we went on to — which was then Leningrad, now St Petersburg, of course. That was a group photo taken by the official photographer which comprised mainly of personal staff. The fellow on the right was the Prime Minister’s personal doctor, Dr Joe Feldman who used to travel with us everywhere overseas, so we had our own doctor with us. The federal policeman, myself, and the girls, one of the stenos from the office, Bob and Hazel, Stephen, can’t think of his name, a speechwriter, Craig Emerson again. This fellow here is Bob Heggie who was my successor. He also worked with Whitlam, in the Whitlam days, Bob. He was on the steps here during the Dismissal, Barrie Cassidy, the fellow here on the left Frank Leverett is now Head of Protocol at Prime Minister and Cabinet. One of the Prime Minister and Cabinet people with us. As I say, it was a team, there was a whole team thing, those visits. It didn’t matter who you were, what part you played, you were part of a whole team.
E Helgeby: Photo number five is clearly taken at a wreath laying ceremony somewhere?
R Martindale: Yes, that is Moscow as well, that is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, where you must go — it is quite intimidating these — the Russian troops are all six foot and over and when you inspect a guard of honour they don’t look straight ahead. They look at the VIP, every one of them looks at the VIP, that is what they are taught to do. As they come past their heads turn and they are looking at them all the way around. It is really quite intimidating, because they have very stern looks on their face. But it’s just — I think it’s a respect thing from their point of view. You don’t stare ahead you look at the visitor but it looks as though they are looking right through you.
E Helgeby: This is the same visit?
R Martindale: That was the same, the visit to Moscow, yes, that was the same visit.
E Helgeby: Photo number six it’s clearly taken somewhere else, what event?
R Martindale: Ah, that at Government House, and that was in ’92 with the visit of the Queen and, of course, the Queen is in the front there, with Prince Phillip and the team there. The people around them are the people who were involved, the officials that were involved with the visit, including myself, one of colleagues. The fellow that organised the cars, the ADC that was appointed, people from Ceremony and Hospitality. Again, when there is a Royal — I was Senior Escort Officer to the Queen on that visit. In fact, I had flown over to — because the government had chartered a Qantas 747 for the Royal party to come over to Australia because the 707 were not fit for a Queen I guess. I had flown over and, in fact, travelled back and met up with the Queen and her people, her security people.
E Helgeby: In London?
R Martindale: Well, I went to the Palace to meet with some people and then she left from Windsor, so I went down to Windsor with the Royalty Protection group, with the commander of the police, commander of the Queen’s security, who I knew extremely well. And then travelled from Windsor to the airport and then travelled with the Royal party to Australia and then did the visit in ’92 with her.
E Helgeby: That was interesting, what was your relationship to the Queen’s protection service?
R Martindale: He performed the same role as I would, if I was in his country. Security of the Queen was the responsibility of Australia. He was there in a liaison role but used to — but obviously, if the Queen wanted to know something then she would ask him, not me, as the Prime Minister would if I was anywhere overseas with him. He would ask me. He wouldn’t know the local people well enough to ask them. So that was his role. It was purely liaison. When the Queen comes, only one person comes with her. She doesn’t bring a group.
E Helgeby: So you would travel with the Queen in the same way as you would travel with the Prime Minister and be present at all functions?
R Martindale: Yes, and having done a very, very detailed advance, some months before. In fact, it was interesting, I have — when you are a senior person on the trip you have an Audience with the Queen at the end of the thing and she gives you a gift. The Audience was at Admiralty House when we finished the trip. But, I think the Advance, people had come over from the Palace, one of the private secretaries had come over from the Palace the October or November before and we planned out the whole trip, because a Queen’s trip, obviously is down to the second, everything you do. So we’d been around and the trip took her to Dubbo and all sorts of places and we’d done all that. At that time I was a smoker and when I got home from that trip, and my wife was a smoker as well. When I got home from that advance trip. I got home on a Saturday morning. We only smoked outside because we had the two little girls, we only smoked outside the house. I said, ‘I’m going out for a cigarette’, so I said ‘…are you coming?’, and she said ‘No, I haven’t smoked since you’ve been away’ and I said ‘are you giving up’ and she said ‘yes’ and I said ‘I’d better do the same’ and I’ve literally never smoked since. However, obviously the visiting party picked up that there was a smoker and my gift from the Queen was a E2R Dunhill cigarette lighter in the red leather case with the Et2R on it, which I can honestly say, has only lit a BBQ which is a nice little story that one.
E Helgeby: You’ve also brought along what looks like a cartoon.
R Martindale: It is a cartoon.
E Helgeby: …from John Hewson, can you tell us about that?
R Martindale: In 1993 John Hewson was the Leader of the Opposition and when Paul Keating called the election and because of my experience I was asked to Head a team with the Leader of the Opposition, Dr John Hewson. The Leader of the Opposition is afforded exactly the same level of security as the alternative security — exactly the same level of security as the Prime Minister is, so I had a team of six. I got on very well with him. I went over and briefed him and all his staff before the election campaign and told them what exactly they could expect from the police. He knew that I had spent seven years with the other side of politics and that didn’t faze him in the slightest. He knew I was a professional and politics didn’t play a part in it and was more than happy to have me there. So I picked my team but he — it was quite a violent campaign that one in ’93. We had demonstrations against him everywhere we went and some really quite violent ones. But he was a very fit man and a runner and so I had to pick a couple of people on my staff that could keep up with him because he was — he’d run marathons and all the lot. I thought I was far too old to be able to necessarily keep with the aspiring Prime Minister. We had a very, very interesting campaign. Lots of problems, got him out of lots of trouble, and at the end they had a function for everybody who was part of the campaign, including the police. Unbeknown to us he commissioned Ian Sharp who is the illustrator from the Canberra Times, who also was a neighbour of mine and a very good friend of mine, to commission a cartoon which was framed for each of the police. Which he says ‘To Roger, Thanks for all your help and protection during the campaign, we were…
[End of part 7]
Interview with Roger Martindale 8
R Martindale: …a great team, best wishes, John Hewson’. So what we have in the cartoon is Hewson running through a park with four of the team and they are pretty good likenesses of the team I must say, up in their trees, with their radios, hiding in trees. One picking up litter in the park, on his radio, or two of them picking up and me, as the boss hiding in my own bush, with my radio as he runs past. So that was a very nice gesture on his part.
E Helgeby: If you’re looking back on your time while you were in and around this building what would be your fondest memory of your time?
R Martindale: Well, I just think the camaraderie of the whole place, without a doubt. It didn’t matter who it was, you got to know everybody, as I said before, whoever it was. Whether it be Parliamentary Attendants, the parliamentarians themselves, the staffers, you ran into everybody during the course of the day. It was just a fun place to work. You never got bored, although the job could be quite, on the surface quite boring, if the Prime Minister was in the House all day, and often he did come first thing in the morning and he didn’t leave until ten or eleven at night, and he didn’t go anyway, didn’t go out of the building at all, then you would be sitting in the — but there would always something, be somebody to talk to, something interesting going on, which made the whole place quite a lot of fun to work at. I loved it here. It was very nice. The new House, as efficient as I’m sure it is, it is much more sterile than then, purely because of its size, it’s just enormous.
E Helgeby: What corresponding, if I asked you, what would be your worst memory of your time here in the parliament, any difficulty in naming?
R Martindale: Well, it would, apart from there was one very nasty demonstration at the front and that was, I think, during — I can’t remember if it was during the Constitutional Convention, about that time, when I wasn’t — when I was Head of the Security Intelligence here. We had a big line of uniform police, which I was standing behind, right across the front to protect the place. It was an Aboriginal demonstration and it was late in the day and they had a fair bit of alcohol. We had women, policewomen in the line and one particular fellow had picked out a policewoman and quite severely assaulted her which was probably the worst moment I had here. But there weren’t, as you say, there were very, very few. Apart from my initial intimidation when I walked in the place and working with Malcolm Fraser.
E Helgeby: I see that you have won three awards, national medal and clasp, Australian police medal and the Royal Humane Society’s Testimonial and Vellum for bravery, the latter, what did that relate to?
R Martindale: The latter, that related to my time as a British policeman. It was one of those things that you do, not knowing what the risk was because you’re a policeman and you’re there and then somebody finds out subsequently, it was a really dangerous thing to do and somebody decides to give you an award for it. I worked for a long time in the city of Winchester which was the ancient capital before London. They had a very, very — and it’s just a case of — I hope in a hundred years, when somebody is listening to this that they understand when I say that, from time to time you get in the poo. In this case it was literally. There were two council workmen working in the sewers, very old sewers underneath the streets of Winchester who both collapsed whilst they were working underground. Nobody knew why and I happened to be in the car with the sergeant and we were just called to the scene where two men had collapsed in the sewer and we were there, first on the scene, fire service turned up. This was in the ‘70s and it was just a case of somebody. I’m not a terribly big bloke and the manhole wasn’t terribly big either, but somebody throwing a rope around me, and me climbing down into the sewer, holding my breath because I knew they had been overcome by fumes of some sort, holding my breath, getting one of the men out and my colleague got the other one out. It was found subsequently that the nearby petrol station was leaking fuel into the sewer and that combined with the gases in the sewer made apparently a really lethal combination. They would have died if we hadn’t have got them out, but as I say, bravery awards are usually about being in the wrong place at the right time. You go into something, that is your job, you go and do it. Subsequently, somebody thought that was really dangerous and so we will give them an award. It was interesting that award came through after I’d left England and was living in Australia. It caught up with me over here eventually.
And then the other, the national medal is just for longevity, everybody gets one of those who has served enough time, working for the Commonwealth in a uniform capacity. And the other one, the Australian Police Medal is an Order of Australia, one of the orders’ of Australia for just doing his police service, which I was very honoured to get and was presented to me by Bill Hayden when he was Governor General. He whispered some interesting things in my ear as he was pinning it on my chest about the previous Prime Minister I’d worked for which I’m not going to repeat.
E Helgeby: That’s a pity. And last points you’d like to make before we finish?
R Martindale: No, apart to say that having decided on a career in policing, and I was a policeman for thirty-eight years, when I started out as a very young policeman in England I never dreamt in my wildest dreams that I would end up doing what I have done. I just think, I’ve just been extremely lucky, I’ve been in the right place at the right time, but enormously privileged to have been able to do what I have done. To have a career that was so interesting and the fact that you could learn so much from it and meet so many good people, interesting people, and so — and to have the opportunity to take part in this oral history has allowed me to remember a lot of things that I’d forgotten, or I don’t think about every day. As you get older, of course, your memory goes and so, it’s been a bit of time when I knew I was going to do this, jogging my memory, going back through, doing some research on the internet and going back through trips that I had done that are all there recorded. Some of the stories I’ve related are stuff, really that I’d probably had forgotten about, this has enabled me to really enjoy reliving all that stuff and I’ve just had a great career, just had a great career. I am very grateful for being asked to take part in this project.
E Helgeby: Well, on behalf of the Director of Old Parliament House I must thank you, very much for your willingness to take part in this interview. I’ll say for myself it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with you and I’m hoping that if you have any more things that you’d like to add to what you’ve said, things you would have liked to say, whatever, just get in touch and we can arrange for another session with you.
R Martindale: Okay, thank you very much, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
E Helgeby: Thank you.
[End of part 8]
This history has multiple parts.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
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