ACT Heritage Library Manuscript Collection

HMSS 0327 "Fares, Please!", Retired ACT Transport Employees Club Oral History Project

Scope and Content Notes

Call Number

HMSS 0327

Collection 

"Fares, Please!", Retired ACT Transport Employees Club Oral History Project

Date Range

1920-2011 

Quantity

0.18m  (1 manuscript box)

Access Conditions

open

Copying Conditions

with consent of interviewee during their lifetime

Related Collections

 

 

Fares, Please! is an oral history recording project of the Retired ACT Transport Employees Club. The project was funded by an ACT Heritage Grant.  It was completed in two stages, employing professional historians to conduct the interviews documenting the working and personal lives of transport workers in Canberra.

Stage One was conducted in 2009/2010 with historian Barry York.

Stage Two Was conducted in 2010/2011 with historian Mary Hutchison.

The collection contains archival master cds of all interviews and reference copies of cds in Stage Two, as well as biographical information of some interviewees and summaries of the interview topics and release forms for all interviews.

Click the linked surname to go to biographical notes and a summary of the content of the interview on this page. For a printable pdf of the notes and summary, click on the link on the right.


RECORDING DESCRIPTION 

INTERVIEWEE

FILE FORMAT

QTY OF CDS

RUNNING TIME

ASSOCIATED DOCUMENTATION

INTERVIEWER

Carnall, Ed

 

3
CD 1
CD 2 (2 tracks)

CD 3


52:28
36:34
36:36
35:32

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf); portrait photography by Barry York

Barry York

de Smet, Jules

 

2
CD 1 (2 tracks)

CD 2


36:36
36:36
11:50

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf); portrait photography by Barry York

Barry York

Baker, Dorothy (Jene)

 

1 (2 tracks)

36:32
32:14

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf); portrait photography by Barry York

Barry York

 

Coppin, Ray

 

1 (2 tracks)

36:36
18:49

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf); portrait photography by Barry York

Barry York

 

Convine, Dion

 

2
CD1 (2 tracks)

CD 2 (2 tracks)


36:36
33:13
36:38
23:24

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf); portrait photography by Barry York

Barry York

 

Redman, Walter (Dick)

 

2
CD1 (2 tracks)

CD 2 (3 tracks)


36:37
24:09
20:52
07:24
24:54

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf); portrait photography by Barry York

Barry York

 

Bradley, John R. (Jack) 

CD audio

2
CD 1 (3 tracks)


CD 2 (3 tracks)


24:34
7:27
16:14
8:11
26:24
34:10

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf)

Mary Hutchison

Morrisey, Leo

CD audio

2
CD 1 (3 tracks)


CD 2 (2 tracks)


9:09
14:33
25:19
18:16
8:53

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf)

Mary Hutchison

Peckham, Darryl

CD audio

2
CD 1 (2 tracks)

CD 2


32:48
31:49
31:19

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf)

Mary Hutchison

Kroopin, Margaret

CD audio

1 (4 tracks)

26:18
8:11
21:42
10:34

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf)

Mary Hutchison

Ford, Tom

CD audio

1 (3 tracks)

15:28
23:00
25:33

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf)

Mary Hutchison

Gilchrist, Spencer

CD audio

1 (3 tracks)

20:33
12:48
25:13

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf)

Mary Hutchison

Kite, Ross

CD audio

2
CD 1 (3 tracks)


CD 2


23:14
28:10
13:17
38:26

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf)

Mary Hutchison

Vestjens, Eddie

CD audio

1 (2 tracks)

36:04
28:16

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf)

Mary Hutchison

Hawke, Robert

CD audio

2
CD 1 (2 tracks)

 CD 2


22:41
26:42
27:17

Release form;
biographical notes;
timed summary
(printable pdf)

Mary Hutchison

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES AND TIMED SUMMARIES

 

EDWIN (EDDIE) CARNALL, OAM

Interviewee: Ed Carnall

Occupation: Bus driver (commenced 1955), recipient of Order of Australia for public service, particularly with the Commonwealth passenger transport service.

Year of birth: 1924

Name of Interviewer:… Barry York

Date: 18 December 2009

Restrictions on Use: None

Biographical summary: Edwin (Eddie) Carnall was born at Queanbeyan, New South Wales, on 10 February 1924. The family moved to Canberra the following year. After schooling at Ainslie Primary and Public schools and Telopea Park and Canberra high schools, he worked at Manuka Pool, then did a carpentry course at Canberra Technical college, and was called up into the Army in 1942. His father, Keith, was a prominent local sportsman who worked at the Kingston Depot. After the War, Ed Carnall drove buses in Sydney before returning to Canberra where he worked as a security guard for the Commonwealth Police and then drove buses for Quadling Brothers, a Queanbeyan bus company connecting Canberra and Queanbeyan. In 1955, he joined the Transport Section of the Department of Interior in Canberra. He retired from the Department of Administrative Services in 1984. In 1985 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for public service, particularly with the Commonwealth passenger transport service.

Counter (time)

Subject matter

00:00

Introduction by interviewer; personal/family background; sporting achievements of his father Keith in the ACT; father’s employment (storeman in Transport Section, 1939); father’s role in the Retired ACT Transport Sick and Benefit Fund (1939), fund-raising at Kingston Depot for Royal Blind Society.  

08:20

Ed’s entrance into transport industry in Canberra; family move from Queanbeyan to Canberra; memory of first bus terminal on North Side (Corroboree Park); fascination with buses and desire to be a bus driver from a young age; father’s work in Queanbeyan (Hayes and Russell’s); other Transport Section employees came over from Queanbeyan from Hayes and Russell’s; more about family and other connections to Kingston Depot.

14:59

Ainslie Primary and Public schools; catching bus to Telopea Park; Canberra High School (walked or cycled to school); memory of first using buses; Barton’s (Queanbeyan) buses terminus at Patterson Street, Ainslie; father worked in workshop at Kingston Depot; dress code (uniform and cap) for bus conductors; changes to dress code standards later on; anecdote about dress code; drivers became known to the community in early years.

20:57

More about dress code/uniform; interest in buses while at school; first job on leaving school (cashier at Manuka Swimming Pool); bus stops at Manuka and Kingston. 

27:00

Recruitment into Australian Army (1942) during World War Two; course in carpentry and joinery at Canberra Technical College (c1939-42); service in Pacific during war; secondment to Royal Military College, Duntroon, on return from Pacific.   

31:12

Obtained driver’s licence in 1946 (aged 21, legal age); marriage; moves to Sydney with wife after War (work as carpenter); worked on buses as driver in Sydney; work on time-tabling in Sydney; hoped to make a career of driving buses in Sydney; return to Canberra; anecdote about removal.

37:10

Work as security guard for Commonwealth Police in Canberra; says many drivers and conductors came via Commonwealth Police; circumstances surrounding departure from security work; works for Quadling Brothers (Queanbeyan buses) c1949/50; how he obtained the job with Quadling Bros.; “great company to work for, everybody was friendly”; mechanical servicing of buses at Queanbeyan depot; Quadling’s linked Queanbeyan and Canberra; Quadling’s time-table and route in Canberra; reference to former service run by Dawson’s.

46:05

Recalls how buses were “packed out, people didn’t have cars in those days”; more about Quadling’s (time-tabling, school runs, washing of bus, repair work, the “public service run”); popularity of Queanbeyan as a shopping centre for Canberrans; type of buses run by Quadling’s.

52:28

End of session of 18 December 2009

(Interview continued on 8 January 2010)

 

00:00

Session of 8 January 2010 (TRACK ONE)

Identification; Mr Carnall talks about obtaining job with Department of Interior’s Transport Section in 1955; working three years on buses as a conductor; recalls initial training; recalls job interview; work in office as Transport Officer; promoted to position of Senior Transport Officer.

06:15

Talks more about being a conductor; first day on the job; describes conductor’s pouch and ticket machine; role of the bus conductor; relationship with passengers.

11:50

Work shifts and drivers; joining the Transport Workers Union; reflections on the TWU; parliamentary sessions and the ‘Car Section’; anecdote about driving politicians.

19:32

Dealing with difficult people on the buses; school children; cost of fares (“penny-halfpenny tickets”); longest bus route back then; working hours and breaks.

24:30

“Cashing time” at the Kingston depot; the Regal buses.

27:35

The old Ainslie depot; memories of Ted and Robin Tormley; more about old Ainslie depot.

34:09

Kingston bus depot.

36:36

End of track one (session of 8/1/10)

 

00:00

Session of 8 January 2010 (TRACK TWO)

Continues talking about Kingston depot; training; Cowper Street shelter and facilities; absence of other staff facilities along routes back then; post-war migration.

06:30

Women in the industry; camaraderie among the workers at the Kingston depot; in 1960 Ed and his father honoured with Life Membership for raising funds for Royal Deaf and Blind Society at Kingston bus depot; Transport Section ‘Sick Fund’; father’s retirement from Transport Section in 1966; father’s role in the ‘Sick Fund’ and Ed’s role. 

10:55

Rates of pay for drivers and conductors; qualities needed to be a driver/conductor; discipline and punishments within the Transport Section; examples of misdemeanours. 

17:22

Responds to question ‘How did the buses change (over time)?’; one-man buses; time-tabling; “very little turnaround time today”.

22:29

Worked in office from 1958 until retirement in 1984 (responsible for Commonwealth cars and buses); Commonwealth cars move to Fyshwick in 1977; recalls various jobs in the office; organisation of drivers (use of “spares” to ensure no bus ever without a driver). 

28:00

Continues talking about his work in the office; “camaraderie not the same today”; became Senior Supervisor (buses and cars) in 1962; problems of catering for growing population, especially school runs. 

32:37

Problems with the TWU; more about the system catering for population growth. 

36:34

End of track two (session of 8/1/10) (continues on TRACK THREE) 

 

00:00

Session of 8 January 2010 (TRACK THREE)

Reflections on how Canberra changed as a city; description of the old Canberra. 

09:00

(Old) Parliament House and early Canberra; recalls his parents’ attendance at opening of the provisional parliament house in 1927 (his father was an usher there – Ed attended as a three year old but no detailed recollection of it); more description of the old Canberra. 

14:52

Flooding and problems for bus runs; “Bundy keys” (Bundy time clock); anecdote about keys being thrown into Molonglo River; punctuality of buses back then. 

19:01

Stopping for passengers who nearly missed the bus (‘different today’); diverting from official route (catering for individual needs of passengers); accidents; other modes of transport in old Canberra (horse and cart); some bus drivers began as ice, bread and milk carters; horses’ knowledge of routes; recalls names of drivers who started off as carters. 

26:42

Recalls drivers/conductors who started as Commonwealth Police; talks about retirement in 1984 (aged 60); awarded Medal of Order of Australia in 1986; recalls origins of the Retired ACT Transport Employees Club; inaugural committee members; the Club has gone “from strength to strength”; Clubhouse in Campbell (had to move from Kingston depot); acknowledges role of his wife in the Club’s formation and development.

35:32

End of track three (session of 8/1/10)

END OF INTERVIEW 

 

JULES ALBERT de SMET

Interviewee: Mr. Jules Albert de Smet

Occupation: bus conductor, bus driver, truck driver, school bus driver (Cotter), ministerial car driver  (1939-1987)

Year of birth: 1922

Name of Interviewer:… Barry York

Number of Minutes: Track 1 is 36:34; track 2 is 36:36; track 3 is 11:50 (Total duration: 85:00)

Date: 9 January 2010

Restrictions on Use: None

Biographical summary: Jules De Smet was born at Molonglo (settlement) in the Federal Capital Territory in 1922. He joined the Transport Section, Department of Interior, in 1939, as a bus conductor. He served in the Australian Army for four years and four months during World War Two, and returned to the Transport Section after the War. He retired, as a Commonwealth car driver, in 1987.

Counter (time)

Subject matter

00:00

Track 1

Introduction by interviewer; Mr. de Smet talks about family background; great grandfather emigrated from France in 1846; continuous connection with the region by the De Smet family; started work as a bus conductor in 1939; talks about other family members in the Transport Section, including his uncle Eugene who was a supervisor in 1926; talks about his retirement in 1987.       

06:00

Reflects on Canberra’s small population back then; recalls the bus routes and fares; describes typical day as a bus conductor; different shifts and runs; social life in Canberra back then (Causeway Hall and Albert Hall, etc.).  

11:06

Describes bus conductor’s ticketing system; conductor’s leather bag and tickets; ‘cashing in’; rates of pay and hours; recalls how he obtained the job in Transport Section (examination); influence of being Eugene’s nephew; police check. 

17:00

Recalls the old Ainslie facility in Campbell Street (he started work from there); resided near Kingston depot; recalls Mr. Tormley; recalls the Cowper Street “shed”; no other facilities along the routes back then; describes sections at Kingston depot and numbers of workers in 1939; more about his uncle Eugene; training as a conductor; obtaining licence as a bus driver in 1946; being given a bus run. 

23:38

Recalls first “car job” (Commonwealth cars); took Curtin’s staffer to the War Memorial when it was opened; drove Robert Menzies to Parliament House; attended opening of Parliament House in 1927 with parents; attended St. Christopher’s school (1928-37); wanted to be a bus driver while at school; types of buses back then; colour of the buses; had to clean out the bus and clean the windows; joined the Transport Workers Union; “twenty-three years without a dispute”. 

30:32

Describes Canberra back then; would know individual passengers and drive them closer to home under certain circumstances; anecdote about driving Commonwealth car; ministerial interstate driving; married in 1949; Cotter-Tidbinbilla school bus run (“camped at the Cotter”); resided at Molonglo until 1928 then parents moved to the Causeway, then moved to Kingston in 1939.    

36:34

End of Track 1

 End of Track 1

00:00

Track 2

 Track 2: .

Responds to question about morning tea and lunch breaks; dress code; behaviour code; discipline for misconduct (recalls someone being “sent home for a week”); relationship among workers in the Kingston Depot (talks about difference before and after the War; conductors’ and drivers’ attitude to uniforms). 

06:04

Dealing with disruptive passengers; relationship with passengers; nicknamed “Smoky” by passengers (due to bus being a bit smoky); more about disruptive passengers (recalls hotels); “never had much trouble”; school pupils on the bus; responds to question about how well used the buses were back then; responds to question about changes to buses over time. 

11:01

Drove Commonwealth cars more than buses; overlap between bus and car drivers (ministerial drivers known as “The Untouchables”); admiration for Al Grassby (whom he drove – “about 140,000 miles” in all with him); “He was a worker”; changes to planning and routing system after the War (recalls new suburbs). 

16:06

Women in the industry; comments on the Kingston Depot (“used to be there when I went to school”, “the show-piece of Canberra”); recalls the Canberra of his youth; supports preservation of the Depot; recalls growing up in Molonglo settlement; opening of Woolworths; buses very crowded. 

21:02

Routes that were favoured and unfavoured by drivers (recalls stops along the routes); recalls schools in Canberra; talks about his mother; father’s employment.  

26:40

Buses between Canberra and Queanbeyan; train to Goulburn; Quadling Brothers’ buses; early forms of transport in Canberra (“There were more bikes than cars”); horses and drays; trucks; horses and drays played vital role in building the roads in Canberra; people would ride horses in early days; deliveries by horse and cart.    

31:30

War service (with Engineers in the Army); loaded supply ships on wharves; talks about what he liked most about his career in the transport Section; talks about his wife (“an angel”); responds to question about the qualities needed to be a conductor or driver; thoughts on transport system in the ACT today compared to his day. 

36:36

End of Track 2

End of track 2

 

00:00

Track 3

Track 3:

Has hardly been on a bus in Canberra since the 1970s; retirement (1987); involvement in Retired ACT Transport Employees Club; reflects on how sparse Canberra was in the early days; “people were coming in all the time” (refers to Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme and migrants); closing comments (“would like to see Transport stay there (at the Kingston Depot)”); comments on advent of Self Government in Canberra; thinks Canberra “has gone backwards” (refers to roads and parks, privatisation, “too many governments”, bus service, “red tape”).  

11:50

End of Track 3

End of Track 3

END OF INTERVIEW

 

DOROTHY JENE BAKER

Interviewee: Mrs. Dorothy Jene Baker

Occupation: bus conductor (1941-1943)

Year of birth: 1916

Name of Interviewer:… Barry York

Number of Minutes: Track 1 is 36:36; track 2 is 32:14

Date: 15 January 2010

Restrictions on Use: None

Biographical summary: Dorothy Jene (known as Jene) Baker was born at Marrickville, New South Wales, on 10 April, 1916. She worked as a bus conductor in Canberra from 1941 to 1943.

Counter (time)

Subject matter

00:00

Track 1

Introduction by interviewer; Mrs. Baker responds to question about family background; parents were English; father first came to Canberra around 1914; father (John Harold Saunders) worked as groomsman for General William Throsby Bridges at Duntroon; father then worked as fireman in Sydney; mother was “in service” with Lady and Sir William Cooper (and came to Australia with them from England); Jene recalls her schooling in Canberra at Telopea Park; recalls Canberra “back then”; father employed as a driver by Sir John Butters of the Federal Capital Commission; recalls initial accommodation in 1925 (Hotel Ainslie); first house (workmen’s cottage in Acton); row of 15 cottages since demolished because of ‘the lake’.      

06:30

Describes Canberra in late 1920s; recalls Prime Minister Stanley Bruce opening the Commonwealth Bank in Canberra; recalls attendance at opening of provisional Parliament House in 1927; further description of old Canberra; more about Telopea Park school; then went to Ainslie school (as she lived north of Lennox Crossing); wanted to be a typist; father worked with Transport Section (Department of Interior) during the Depression; Jene left school aged 15 during the Depression; looked after baby sister while mother was in Sydney for surgery; father only worked one week in three during Depression.  

14:15

Had to leave school (five children in family); went to work at the Hotel Canberra (now the Hyatt); unable to become typist; moved house from Acton to Kingston; memories of the Depression in Canberra; recalls Assyrian hawker in Canberra during Depression; mother made bread during Depression; recalls swagmen from Sydney, Queanbeyan and Yass; occasionally saw Aboriginal people in Canberra back then (Aboriginal settlement at Yass).

18:55

Father’s work for Transport Section (as Leading Hand); recalls others at Kingston Depot; resided near Kingston Powerhouse; father also drove Members of Parliament; father retired around 1953 (was in full employment with Transport Section from 1933).

 

22:04

Jene talks about her own employment in Canberra (first worked for the Commissariat in hotels); joined the Transport Section during World War Two in February or March 1941; among the first three women so employed; married in 1938; husband (Jack), a fireman, enlisted in Army; father suggested employment in Transport Section; husband from Musselbrook, New South Wales; recalls her rate of pay as a conductor; attitude of the men to the introduction of women on the buses.  

 

28:14

Other women on the buses during the War; Mrs. Baker retired from Transport Section after three years as she was pregnant; husband returned from War and rejoined Fire Brigade; husband in ill-health and Jene obtained work as a teacher’s assistant at Telopea Park school.

33:40

Responds to question about first day as a bus conductor; recalls bus route, hours of work and tasks; money bag and tickets; the women made their own uniforms (due to war-time rations).

36:36

End of Track 1

 End of Track 1

 

00:00

Track 2

 

Track 2: .

Continues talking about uniforms for female conductors; work breaks at Kingston Depot; cost of tickets; extent of use of buses; school runs.

05:40

Bus routes back then; shifts; relationship with passengers; recalls trouble with American servicemen on the buses.

10:03

Canberra was “dry” back then; memories of Cowper Street shelter; Campbell Street depot; would have tea-break in the bus.

14:03

Joined the Transport Workers Union; recollects attitude of the then president of the union toward women in the union; walked out of meeting; union leader later became a reconciliation commissioner; recollection of buses in Canberra prior to her years working on them; Barton buses.

19:02

Residences in Canberra and bus stops; memories of going to school by bus from Acton; in 1925 bus would drive through the Molonglo River (prior to Lennox Crossing bridge being built); couldn’t go to school when river flooded; Kaye’s dairy; popularity of Queanbeyan as a shopping centre back then.

23:41

Relationship among the workers in the transport industry (“a good group to work with”); growth of Canberra during War years; grew in “leaps and bounds” and “became very social” after the War.

27:44

Opinion about the future of the Kingston Depot.

32:14

End of track 2

END OF INTERVIEW 

 

RAY COPPIN 

Interviewee: Ray Coppin, BEM

Occupation: former bus conductor, bus driver and Prime Ministerial car driver.

Year of birth: 1923

Name of Interviewer:… Barry York

Number of Minutes: Track 1 is 36:36; track 2 is 19:49

(Total time: 56:25)

Date: 22 February 2010

Restrictions on Use: None

Biographical summary: Ray Coppin was born at Bungendore, New South Wales, in 1923 but his family moved to Canberra the following year. His father worked at Duntroon. Ray Coppin worked as a bus conductor, bus driver and Commonwealth car driver from around 1939. After the War, he became Prime Ministerial driver for Menzies, Holt and Gorton. In 1966, Mr. Coppin was awarded the British Empire Medal for services as a Prime Ministerial driver. He retired in 1970.

Counter (time)

Subject matter

00:00

Track 1

Introduction by interviewer; Mr. Coppin recalls childhood and early work, including employment as conductor in the Transport Section, Department of Interior (1938); recalls Inspectors; money collected at depot for food parcels for Transport workers in the armed forces; “a lot of new people” after the War, those who served in armed forces did not get former jobs back; Prime Minister Menzies’ drivers; Mr. Coppin’s role as Menzies’ and Holt’s driver; recalls Holt’s funeral; period as Gorton’s driver; other work, retirement in 1970.      

06:54

Married Iris Croker on Anzac Day 1949; describes bus routes 1, 2 and 3 (before and after the War); petrol buses, recalls opening of provisional Parliament House (1927); recalls horses being tied up in Civic; development of Civic; Sir John Overall; rapid development during Menzies years; changes under Gorton.   

10:55

More about old bus routes; “punching your Bundy”; types of passengers; school pupil passengers; Army service; awarded British Empire Medal (for services as Prime Ministerial driver); Holt’s disappearance and security. 

15:00

Cowper Street shelter; Tyson Street (Ted Tormey’s house); recalls drivers and conductors back then; recalls driving the Queen on her second tour; drove Princess Alexandria on Queensland tour; Duke of Edinburgh “a larrikin”.   

19:17

Bus driving prior to the War; obtaining a bus driver license; training with bus drivers at Kingston depot; drove Sir Garfield Barwick; started driving Commonwealth cars after the War; “none of our jobs were available” after the War; recalls mechanics and officers at the depot; Sir Roland Wilson; bus drivers generally wanted to be car drivers; bus Inspectors; “a canary”.   

24:26

Resided at Booroondara Street (Reid) with parents and then moved to Giraween Gardens and then Bonney Street, Ainslie; moving into own home with wife; travelling to work by “push-bike”; rates of pay in early jobs; dress code and uniforms. 

28:38

Working over-time on the buses; Albert Hall, Worth’s Circus, picture theatres; behaviour code on the buses and cars; Menzies would enter from the side of Parliament House; more about behaviour code on buses; rates of pay; working as car driver after bus shifts; ‘Larry’ Anthony. 

31:54

Forms of penalty for misbehaviour; attitude to advent of Self-Government in Canberra; more about rates of pay (after the War); meal breaks (at Kingston depot); responds to question about how buses changed over time; anecdote about Billy Kinnane; relations among workers at the depot (difference between those who previously worked there and returned from War and the rest – “We didn’t want to be used as broom sweepers”), the Transport Workers Union; more about uniforms. 

36:36

End of Track 1

 End of Track 1

00:00

Track 2

Track 2: .

Continues talking about uniforms (including special uniform as driver for Prime Minister Menzies); more about changes to buses; describes role of Bundy clock and key; talks about old schools and the hospital in Canberra back then; outlines his children’s current situations in employment; talks about his brother (who also worked on the buses). 

05:46

Women in the industry in Canberra; talks about joining Menzies staff as a driver; talks about Menzies; reflects on the old Canberra; more about Menzies; talks about Harold Holt; bed in the Prime Minister’s suite; dealing with the Press. 

10:20

More about Menzies and Holt; memories of Gorton.

15:03

Medical and security assessments for ministerial drivers; security arrangement for Prime Ministers when driving anywhere; more about being a Prime Ministerial driver; receiving the British Empire Medal for services as a driver; recalls pressure from ‘Sixty Minutes’ television program for him to talk about Holt’s death (which he declined). 

19:49

End of track 2

END OF INTERVIEW 

 

DION CONVINE

Interviewee: Dion Convine

Occupation: Bus Driver, Bus Inspector, Supervisor (Shift Supervisor and Depot Master)

Year of birth: 1938

Name of Interviewer:… Barry York

Number of Minutes: Track 1 is 36:36; track 2 is 33:13; track 3 is 36:36; track 4 is 23:24 (Total duration: 129:49)

Date: 12 and 19 March 2010

Restrictions on Use: None

Biographical summary: Dion Convine was born at Queanbeyan, New South Wales, in 1938, to English parents who had migrated to the Canberra area in 1923. During the war years, when Dion was an infant, the family moved to Canberra from Queanbeyan as his older brother was doing an apprenticeship with the Transport Section, Department of the Interior. Dion applied for a job with Transport as a bus driver in 1965. He progressed over the years from a Bus Driver to Bus Inspector and then Supervisor which covered both Shift Supervisor and Depot Master. He continued up the ranks to Regional Manager Kingston, Belconnen, Tuggeranong. He opened up the Tuggeranong Depot and then proceeded to close down Kingston in 1990. He retired from ACTION in 1991.

Counter (time)

Subject matter

00:00

Track 1

Session of 12 March 2010

Introduction by interviewer; family background; father a fettler on the NSW railways; parents migrated from England around 1923; mother ran the kitchen at Molonglo workers’ camp; parents moved to Queanbeyan. 

06:47

Father employed at Parliament House as a cleaner after the War; Dion’s brother Bill worked at Transport Section; mother applied for a house in Canberra; mother “the backbone of the family”; applied for block of land and built house in Ainslie; moved there around 1948; talks about other family members at this time. 

10:42

Father-in-law worked in Transport (started in 1938); bus drivers and Commonwealth car drivers; role of inspectors; schools attended by Dion; ambitions at school. 

15:57

First paid job (telegram boy); work as postman 1954-55; work at West Block as messenger for Department of External Affairs; married (Val) in 1961; wife had to leave her public service job because of marriage.  

21:20

Father-in-law suggested he work for Transport Section as pay was better (including overtime); main forms of transport for people in Canberra in the 1950s; deliveries in West Lake by horse and cart. 

25:29

Recalls first job with Transport as bus driver in 1965; “clippies” (bus conductors); one-man operation in 1965; Stan Rowe; Eddie Carnall; interview for job; Dennis Murphy; Jack Bradley (instructor); recalls training and testing. 

31:05

Transfer of offices from Melbourne to Canberra in 1965; shifts and seniority; day and night shifts; over-time work; availability of “car work”; cars handled by Administrative Services around 1978; recalls first day on the job in 1954.   

36:36

End of Track 1 

 End of Track 1  (Session 12 March 2010)

00:00

Track 2

Session of 12 March 2010

More about first day; recollections of characters who worked at Kingston depot; practical jokes; taking buses when he was a child and teenager.    

05:14

Changes to the buses over time; old depots and bus routes on north side and south side. 

12:58

Cowper Street shelter; humorous anecdote; Parliament House. 

17:40

Transport Workers’ Union; good wages; industrial disputes; upgrades of positions and continuity; dispute within the union in 1975.

23:45

More about union dispute; personal commitment to trade unionism; the role of being an inspector; supervisors in the field and at the depot.

28:24

Recalls being depot master for Kingston; title changed in 1978 to district manager; regional manager for north-south Canberra (Old Canberra); formation of the Transport Employees ACT Institute in 1978.

33:13

End of Track 2

End of track 2 (Session of 12 March 2010)

 

00:00

Track 1

Track 1 (Session 19 March 2010)

Begins by commenting on previous session which he had listened to on CD; recalls in detail the lay-out and atmosphere of the old Kingston depot.   

06:38

Changes to the depot (Depot Stage 2); more detail.  

11:19

Bundy clocks; technological change; cashing in; fare boxes.   

18:12

More about technological change; recreational facilities in the Kingston depot; ‘special’ runs; more about ‘cashing in’; changes to planning and routing systems; “frequency running” from 1969. 

25:02

Women in the industry; early female bus drivers (c1979/80); “all good drivers”; anecdote about one of the early women drivers; union response to the women; other roles of women in the depot and at Head Office in Civic. 

30:29

The authority of the driver on the bus; disruptive passengers; anecdote about a White Russian nicknamed ‘Flower Power’; drunks on the bus; disciplinary action against drivers. 

36:36

End of Track 1

End of Track 1 (Session 19 March 2010)

 

00:00

Track 2

Session 19 March 2010

Transgressions that led to disciplinary action; examples of punishments. 

06:06

Humorous anecdote about complaint from ‘parrot’ passenger; change in regulations relating to prams; drivers not to leave vehicle unattended; qualities needed to be a good driver.   

11:35

Recalls excellent drivers; responds to question about what he liked best about the job; recalls his feelings on the closure of the Kingston Depot in 1990; takes a ‘retirement package’; sent to Kingston to close the depot; process for closing the depot. 

16:45

Retirement in 1991; ‘farewell’; given a plaque of appreciation; recalls planning of buses for Papal visit in 1986; a closing word. 

23:24

End of Track 2 (Session 19 March 2010)

END OF INTERVIEW 

 

WALTER (DICK) REDMAN

Interviewee: Walter (“Dick”) Redman

Occupation: bus conductor, driver and senior driving instructor

Year of birth: 1928

Name of Interviewer:… Barry York

Number of Minutes: Session of 26 March 2010: Track 1 is 36:37 and track 2 is 24:09. Session of 2 April 2010: Track 1 is 20:50; track 2 is 07:22 and track 3 is 24:54 (Total duration of both sessions: 113:52)

Date: 26 March and 2 April 2010

Restrictions on Use: None

Biographical summary: Dick Redman was born at Orbost, Victoria, in 1928. The family moved to the South Coast and in 1947 Dick came to Canberra and started on the buses in 1950. He was a conductor for five years, then became a driver, and a senior driving instructor. He was an instructor for 19 years. He retired in 1989.  

Counter (time)

Subject matter

00:00

Track 1

Session of 26 March 2010

Introduction by interviewer; family background; father a sleeper cutter, worked on the roads during the Depression; mother reared the six boys; during the War Dick worked with his father cutting sleepers; talks about his early education; left school at 14; his brothers were in the Forces during the War.    

04:59

Jobs he did after he left school; essential industries during the War; moved to Canberra with a friend in 1947 after hearing that work was available in the national capital; did bakers’ apprenticeship in Queanbeyan; met wife-to-be; had a friend (Vic Keeley) in Canberra who worked on the buses who convinced him to apply for a job on the buses (Department of Interior); didn’t have a car back then, mostly travelled by bus; more about applying for job with the buses.   

09:52

Recalls recruitment process and first day at work (1950); two days of training as a conductor; early morning shift; Arthur Atkins (driver); cold in Winter (wife knitted him a pair of knee-socks); no heating on the old Regal buses back then; recalls phasing in of one-man buses; describes in detail his role as conductor.   

14:46

Recalls rates of pay back then; discusses adequacy of income; his wife worked as a secretary/stenographer for prime ministers Chifley and Menzies; four children in family; talks in detail about bus routes back then.

19:35

Extent of business of the buses; describes daily routine of work as a conductor; recalls fares in 1950; describes ‘cashing in’ process; more detail about the bus routes.  

25:48

Recalls the old depots and facilities; Ainslie bus sheds off Tyson Street; he resided at Ainslie and was given a shift starting at Ainslie; Cowper Street shelter; approves of preservation of heritage buildings; talks about buses and Canberra’s extremes of climate; windscreen could be opened on old buses for fresh air in Summer. 

30:18

Talks about moving on to become a driver after five years as a conductor; recalls training and testing to be a driver; Harry Knight; seniority in allocating shifts; police clearance needed; dress code, code of behaviour.   

36:37

End of Track 1 

 End of Track 1  (Session 26 March 2010)

00:00

Track 2

Session of 26 March 2010

More about behaviour code; union membership, Transport Workers Union; Life Membership of TWU; “quite a few” industrial disputes; recalls a strike over Christmas (“a very sad Christmas for all of us with no money coming in”); “fought for our rights”; good conditions; full uniforms (including shoes and socks).    

05:17

Discipline of drivers who did the wrong thing; camaraderie and cooperation among the workers in the Kingston depot; relationship between drivers/conductors and the passengers; inspectors. 

10:39

School runs; good relationship with children on the bus; recalls the most popular (busiest) runs. 

15:28

Women in the industry; recalls training the first woman driver in February 1977; needed separate facilities at terminuses; Beryl Gill was the first woman driver he trained; recalls other women drivers; response of men to women drivers. 

19:15

Responds to question as to what he liked best about his job; talks about becoming an instructor, a position he held for 19 years; trained by police to be an instructor; humorous anecdote about a regular passenger. 

24:09

End of Track 2

End of track 2 (Session of 26 March 2010)

 

00:00

Track 1

Track 1 (Session 2 April 2010)

Mr. Redman comments on previous session, having listened to the CD of it, and makes a correction; responds to question about how many drivers he would have trained (more than a hundred); more about the training and testing of drivers; defensive driving course; safety record of buses in Canberra.  

06:06

Recalls accident near Cotter River involving another driver; reflects on Canberra in the 1950s (“It was like a country town in those days”), physical lay-out, shops, suburbs, bus runs. 

12:41

Talks more about bus runs and shops, Goulburn, Queanbeyan; condition of roads in 1950s; rear-engine motors used to ‘suck up’ the dust on gravel roads; inner area of city had sealed roads.  

16:40

Driving in hot Summer in Canberra; dust a problem back then; no air-conditioning on buses back then; recalls floods in Canberra, low-lying bridges under water; bus drivers would not attempt to cross in floods. 

20:50

End of Track 1

End of Track 1 (Session 2 April 2010)

 

00:00

Track 2

Session 2 April 2010

Recalls social and recreational life in Canberra in the 1950s; picture theatres; Albert Hall dances, bus runs from Albert Hall; dances at the Causeway, bus runs from Causeway Hall; two runs needed when ‘Gone with the Wind’ was screened at the Capitol Theatre. 

02:59

Sporting activities in Canberra back then; no special bus runs; Acton oval the main venue (flooded for the lake); boxing (boxers mostly trained in Queanbeyan).  

04:47

Talks about helping to establish the Police Boys Club at Turner; bingo at Manuka Services Club; boxing and wrestling tournaments at Duntroon. 

07:22

End of Track 2 (Session 2 April 2010) 

00:00

Track 3

Track 3 (Session 2 April 2010)

Held a garage sale in Civic to raise funds for the Police Boys Club; Johnny Famechon; Jack Dealy; Col Hillier; reasons for being involved with Police Boys Club; Harry Luton; George Groves; Martin Stockman; stone from Queanbeyan quarry donated to the building of the Police Boys Club. 

04:28

Forms of transport in Canberra back then, other than buses; feelings about how Canberra has changed over the decades; opinion as to what should happen to Kingston Depot; describes the Depot in his time there “everything was under the one roof”). 

08:42

Recalls the routines of work in the old depot; approximately 40 buses and 27 shifts in 1950; more about routines and responsibilities in the depot; time-tabling. 

13:32

Memorable characters with whom he worked in the depot; “We all got on well together”; cards, billiards; started a social club in 1951, darts, raffles, Christmas party for drivers’ children; estimates number of workers in the depot. 

17:58

Changes to facilities to cater for advent of women drivers; a closing word by Mr. Redman (recalls bus runs for migrant workmen from Fairbairn hostel – the contractors paid their fares); explains how he ended up with the nickname ‘Dick’.

24:54

 End of Track 3 (Session 2 April 2010)

 END OF INTERVIEW 

 

JOHN RUSSELL (JACK) BRADLEY

Background

Jack was born in 1920 at Tumut. He was the second youngest child of a family of six. His grandfather, Henry Bradley, was the caretaker of the Yarrangobilly Caves (a job he had taken over from his father-in-law, James Merry). One of Jack’s uncles had a dairy at Bombala. His father, Jim Bradley, was a skilled horseman. By the time Jack was born, Jim was earning a living as a miner. He was concerned about the health risks of mining and saw the opening up of construction work in Canberra as a good alternative. Jim arrived in Canberra in 1925, ‘just after the big flood’ and the family followed in 1926.

Jim Bradley’s first work in Canberra was on the Prime Minister’s Lodge – ‘he dug the foundations with a pick and shovel’. He later got work with the Forestry Department and the family moved from Riverbourne workers camp to the Uriarra Forestry settlement in 1927. They were one of the first families at Uriarra and lived in the Schoolhouse until a house was available. Jim Bradley Avenue at Uriarra honours the family’s early settlement there. [see Ann Gugler’s research for details of Riverbourne]

Jack’s early schooling was affected by the move to Canberra and the difficulty of getting to school from the workers’ settlements. He stayed with his older sister in Sydney for a while and went to a ‘brother’s’ school in Waverley.  After the move to Uriarra, when he was old enough, he rode his pony to the Cotter and caught the bus to Telopea Park School from there. His later years of schooling at Canberra High School were affected by the Depression of the 1930s and he decided to leave before completing his studies.

During the Second World War Jack worked at a munitions factory in Sydney - Purcells Engineering. He returned to Canberra after the War (1945) and worked for Forestry. He carried out jobs such as pruning pines and survey work. He enjoyed working with the surveyor, Mr Goodwin, and remembers him saying ‘If Mr Sheaffe is correct in his calculations, that peg will go here’ [Percy Sheaffe was one of the original surveyors of the ACT and Chief Surveyor during the 1940s] In 1949 Jack transferred from Forestry to the Transport Department. He started on 5 September 1949 as a conductor. He also drove government cars during this period. He became a bus driver in about 1960. In 1965 he became a driving instructor and initiated classroom instruction. He was later appointed a supervisor. He retired in March 1985.

One of the highlights of Jack’s career in Transport was driving Members of Parliament and their wives to the opening of Tumut Tunnel no. 2 in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme in 1962. Another event was a strike by the Transport Workers Union in 1971 when Jack was Branch Secretary. This involved a dispute with a journalist who accused the Union of stacking the membership for the vote.

Jack married Irene Beaschel in early 1941 at St Mary’s Church Bondi. They had two children, Judith Irene and David John. After the War Jack returned to Canberra and the family lived at Uriarra. When he transferred to Transport in 1949 they moved to a government house in Ainslie, 12 Chaffey Crescent. Irene worked in the public service until 1956 when the marriage dissolved and she returned to Sydney. Jack married Audrey Mills, a teacher who came to Australia as a ‘ten pound pom’ in 1960. They had four children. Audrey was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early 1960s and Jack gradually became a full time carer for her and the children while congtinuing to work full time for Transport. Jack bought the house in Chaffey Crescent in 1971 and he and Audrey lived there until Audrey’s death on 18 June 2009. Poultry breeding was a long term interest for Jack and he won a number of prizes for his birds.

Interview summary

Note that Roger Bradely, Jack’s son, sat in on all the interviews. The first tracks include some asides between Jack and Roger.  In the later ones Roger asks questions based on his own experience of working for ACTION.

28/10/10

0:48:14

Track # 1

24:34

0:00:22

Transfer from to Transport from Forestry. Work as conductor. Bus Driver’s Licence. Left school before schooling completed. Purcell Engineering in Sydney during the Second World War.

0:05:00

War work at Purcells. Work for Forestry. Memories of coming to Canberra as a child in 1926. [Lea Collins visits to check recording equipment]. Horses and horse riding. Family matters.

0:11:13

Members of family – siblings and children. Early Canberra and reasons for coming – father wanted to stop mining.

0:15:04

Father’s work in Canberra on Prime Minister’s Lodge as labourer and for Forestry as an axeman. Early life in Canberra and living at Uriarra in the old schoolhouse. Getting to school at Telopea Park. Riverbourne workers’ camp. Closure of Hotel Canberra [where older brother worked] during the Depression. Living in Sydney at various times with sister, Jean – school and War work.

0:21:03

Memories of going to opening of Parliament House in 1927. Memories of driving Miss Bell to Chifley’s funeral [1951]. Changes in Transport Department over time.  Events as car driver.  Decision to remain as conductor rather than become bus driver during 1950s because it required more varied shift work.

End:     

24:34

Track #2

7:27

0:0:00  

First day at Transport. Reasons for leaving forestry. First work as conductor on Kingston bus route. Experience of his first driver. Importance of day shift with two children. Move to Chaffey Crescent. Stephens Street Transport Depot at Ainslie. Daily routine. The bullying Inspector. [telephone]

End:     

7:27

Track #3

16:13

0:0:00  

Managing difficult work situations. Decision to stay at Transport despite first experiences. Memories of the surveyor he worked with in Forestry. Jobs asa conductor. Length of shifts. Double shifts. Bus drivers’ shifts. Learning to drive on the job – Bill Beadman.

0:04:48

Meeting Audrey. Audrey’s work as a teacher. Bus driving. Opening of Snowy Mountains Tunnel [08:51]– backing down the tunnel and practise for this. People on the bus. [note date is 1962]

0:11:07

Menzies inauguration ceremony [attended as car driver]. Friends – Bill Hall best man at Jack’s wedding.  Medical checks. Rules and regulations. Dismissals for drunkenness. Incidents with passengers. Characters [talking with Roger]

End:     

16:13

29/10/10

1:08:45

Track #1

8:11

0:00:00

Union membership. Involvement in Transport Union; accusation of stacking and three week strike that resulted in loss of conditions for higher wages

0:05:31

Driving a bus to Parliament House on the occasion of Gough Whitlam’s sacking. Attendance at Parliament House when Menzies became Prime Minister. First days of bus driving

End:     

8:11 [interruption]

Track #2

26:24 Roger Bradley, Jack’s son, also asks questions

0:00:00

One man buses [1969]. Characters. Driving on the university run. Other routes. Bus make and number. ‘Set-right’ ticket machine on one man buses.

0:04:16

First bus driving lesson at Kingston shops. Ainslie Depot. Chaffey Crescent. Story about Mr Simpson?

0:08:20

Work as driving instructor and issues. Classroom teaching. Instructor’s rates. Characters.

0:13:13

Ticket machines and fares. Story of instructor in early days of conducting. Workforce at Kingston depot. ‘Sickies’ and issue of drunk workers. Story about Morrie Martin’s family.

0:18:26

‘Spares’ [check buses or drivers] Issues for employees. Work as supervisor. Visit from chief of Transport – Mr Turner. Different nationalities in workforce

0:22:24

First female bus driver. Work issues. Smoking restrictions – lack of. Family story.

0:26:24

End

Track #3

34:10 Roger Bradley, Jack’s son, also asks questions

0:00:00

People – Morrie Martin, Bill Hall, Denis Murphy, Lou Pene. George Sykes – driver who picked up bricks that fell from the backs of trucks (later a brick carter). Friends at the pub.

0:04:53

Work culture – meeting at the ‘new’ hotel on Northbourne Avenue [Canberra Rex]. Family. Driver training. Fights at work.

0:09:20

Work during the war [at Purcells]; dangers of machinery, injury, secrecy about the work, death of another worker, clocking on and clocking off. Bundy clock used to register workers at Transport.

0:13:31

Retirement party – driven there in the Prime Minister’s car. Prime Ministers Holt and McMahon – drivers and car requirements.

0:17:24

Changes in Transport Department over time including changes in buses. Injury from mechanical hand indicator. Issue of complex forms for reporting injuries. Never took sick leave – ‘there wasn’t one day that I didn’t want to go to work’.

0:20:07

Changes in Canberra – new suburbs. Bill Beadman – the Cotter bus driver who took Jack to school in the early days. Changes in Ainslie. Bus depots in Ainslie. The old building maintenance depot in Ainslie. Chaffey Crescent rent and wage as conductor.Vegetable garden.

0:24:56

Canberra’s growth with transfer of people from Melbourne. Involvement in rugby union at Canberra High School. Staying with various people while going to Canberra High [distance from Uriarra].

0:28:22

Poultry breeding and prizes. Issue of roosters in neighbourhood and manaing large number of chooks in backyard.

0:32:16

Summary of experience of working for Transport

0:34:10

End

 

LEO MORRISEY

Background

Leo was born 1/2/1934 at Harden.  He grew up in Yass and went to school at St Patrick’s in Goulburn. He left school after finishing his Intermediate year (year 10). After leaving school he found work in the office at Burrinjuck Dam where he worked in payroll. 

Football was a major part of Leo’s life in his early years.  He started a football team at Burrinjuck Dam and played First Grade for Yass. When changes in his job at Burrinjuck in 1956 meant moving to Deniliquin he looked for a job that would enable him to continue playing League in the region.  An uncle helped him get a job working for War Service Homes in Canberra.  After some months he transferred to the Department of Interior where he worked as Assistant Paymaster from 1956-1960.

In 1960 Leo transferred to the Department of Transport where he worked as Paymaster at Kingston until 1973. At this time changes in payroll management as a result of the introduction of computers had a serious impact on Leo’s position, particularly because of his lack of school qualifications. As he said, ‘the bloke I taught became my boss’. He was moved into other positions – costing and timetabling – and had to physically move to the Transport, now ACTION office in Civic. He also studied for and obtained his Leaving Certificate but  was disappointed to find that by the time he had it, the qualification rules for public service positions had changed again, and it was no longer necessary to have it for the work that he preferred. In 1983 he left ACTION and took up a position in the ACT Education Department. He was the Administrator at Melrose High School and later at Erindale College. He retired in 1998 after 50 years in the workforce.

When he first came to Canberra, Leo lived in hostels and guesthouses.  After he married in 1963 he and Jeanette moved into a house in the new suburb of Lyons. They have two children.

Leo’s work as paymaster in the Transport Department began at a time when much of the work of payroll was manual. Departments such as Treasury had more sophisticated technical equipment but Transport had only the Burroughs adding machines. Leo didn’t have a calculator until 1963. In addition workers were paid in cash. This meant counting out the money for each pay envelope. Pays were collected at the pay office or delivered to work sections by the Paymaster.  All the paper work for the end of the financial year was done by hand.  The move to decimal currency in 1966 made the work of payroll easier but computers revolutionised it.  Leo’s memories of working as Paymaster for Transport and the Department of Interior provide the detail of skilled work that is no longer part working life. Leo also played a part in significant initiatives at Transport including the Transport Workers Sick Fund and the Transport Credit Union.

Leo has written his memoirs, including his early years of living in hostels in Canberra.

Interview Summary

05/01/2011

1:15:30

Track 1 (CD 1)

0:09:09

0:00:00

Introduction to interview. Early background and work before Canberra. Schooling. Reasons for coming to Canberra.

0:04:27

Getting the job in War Service Homes in Canberra. Location of work. Move to payroll in Department of Interior at Acton. Living in Canberra – hostels and leisure time.

0:09:09

END

Track 2 (CD 1)

0:14:33

0:00:00

Transfer to payroll in Transport 1960.  Characteristics of Transport Department at the time. Story of dummy pay envelopes. Issue of qualifications for different public service classifications and Leo’s lack of qualifications meant that he was classified as Acting Paymaster. The Union’s support of his position.

0:04:31

How the pay office worked and the various positions in the office. How pays were calculated. Use of Burroughs machine. Number of pays. Shift lengths. Different components of Transport. Importance of office staff.

0:08:02

Other office jobs. Office layout Distributing pays. Pay envelopes and written pay slips. Burroughs machine operators and functions.

0:10:10

Manual preparation and presentation of group certificates. Automation of other offices. Memorable people at Transport. Alma de Smet (the ‘matriarch’ of Transport) who worked in accounts. John Sullivan’s job as checker of driver’s takings and later career. [move away from microphone]

0:14:33

END

Track 3 (CD1)

0:25:19

0:00:00

John Sullivan

0:00:14

Daily routine. Building conditions – possums in the roof. Work as bookmaker at Acton racecourse. ‘Coining’ the pays. Story of clash of payweek and Melbourne Cup Day.

 

 

0:08:37

Own union membership. Working with Transport Workers Union on pay issues.  Jack Wilkinson’s role in Union and work as ministerial car driver. Other payroll issues; pay rates, increments, overtime. Shifts always incurred overtime.

0:13:16

1970s flood. Story of car driver who was caught in it. Own memories. Years at Kingston. Issues of moving the office. Story of the rusty safe. Changes from manual to more technical over time; calculator 1963, decimal currency 1966; computer in early 1970s.  Leo’s exclusion from working with computers because not qualified for public service ‘third division’. Managing change to computers. Move to Civic.

0:17:55

Impact of change on Leo’s working life. Return to school. Work in costing and timetabling 1973-83. Disappointment with new position. End of old pay section. End of cash pay. Description of packing pay envelopes.

0: 21:14          

Story of managing complaint by public servant outside Transport. The camaraderie. Missing that in new position. Women in the office. Story of the snake in the typing pool at Department of Interior

0:25:19

END

Track 4 (CD 2 Track 1)

0:18:16

0:00:00

1970s strike. Impact on drivers. Initiation of Transport Sick Fund.  Leo’s work with Union (Jack Wilkinson) on this. Involved in starting Transport Credit Union with Bill [need surname]. Story of Bill Beadman rescuing man from lake.  Relationship between office workers and drivers.

0:03:33

Impact of changes in Canberra on Transport Department; reorganisation in response to expansion including loss of cars [to Commonwealth Cars] and trucks. Different nationalities of employees. Relationship with workmates.

0:07:58

Highlights of career in Transport; end of financial year when manual management. Invention of a system for tax calculation during manual period which was sanctioned by Leo’s boss and acknowledged as brilliant by Commonwealth audit. Used the system for 15 years until audited and as it was  strictly illegal had to stop using.

0:12:52

Changes in Canberra from 1956. New suburb of Lyons. Changes in work culture over years of service. Issue of not getting High School Certificate.

0:18:16

END

Track 5 (CD 2 Track 2)

0:08:53

0:00:00

Reflections on Canberra and 50 years in the workforce. People at Transport and work culture. Stories of working at Transport

0:05:40

Football coaching from 1959. Retirement years. Nicknames for fellow workers at Transport.

0:08:53

END

 

DARRYL PECKHAM

Background

Darryl was born at the Canberra Hospital 15 December 1950 when his parents were living in Campbell Street Queanbeyan. The family moved into a government house in O’Connor in Canberra in 1953. Darryl lived in this house on the corner of Miller Street and Boronia Drive until he married and went to live in Giralang in 1976. He went to school at Turner and Lyneham primaries and Lyneham High School where he completed his Higher School Certificate.

Darryl’s career in Transport started with his acceptance as an apprentice mechanic at the Kingston depot in 1968. In 1971 he qualified as a motor mechanic and in 1976 became a leading hand mechanic.  In 1980 he was promoted to senior motor mechanic at the Woden depot.  During the 1980s he acted on higher duties in various positions including traffic officer, outside trade officer and workshop foreman. In 1990 he was appointed as workshop foreman at the Belconnen depot.  Over these years, while Darryl’s substantive positions were attached to one depot or another, he worked for blocks of time at all Transport’s depots and workshops. He retired from his position at Belconnen in 1998 and since then has worked as a driving instructor. 

Training has played a large part in Darryl’s career from the time he was given an apprentice six months out from the completion of his own apprenticeship.

Darryl’s work history at what is now ACTION coincides with the consolidation of the expansion of Canberra around the Woden and Belconnen Town Centres, the completion of the transfer of the federal public service to Canberra and changes in the management of Canberra including self-government in 1989. When Darryl joined Transport in 1968, it was part of the Commonwealth Department of the Interior.  During the 1970s under the Department of Territories (and its various forms), Transport became ACTION and a number of its earlier functions such as cars and trucks became separate entities. At the same time new depots were opened in response to Canberra’s growth. Darryl’s story reflects these developments. It also reflects the impact of changing technology and government management styles over the period.

The interview was conducted at the Retired ACT Transport Employees club rooms in Campbell.

Summary of positions

19/2/1968   Apprentice mechanic Kingston

14/10/1971 Motor Mechanic Kingston/Fyshwick

8/1976       Leading Hand Mechanic Kingston

8/1980       Senior Motor Mechanic Woden

1980s        Acted on higher duties as Traffic Officer, Outside Trade Officer, Workshop Foreman

12/1990     Workshop Foreman Belconnen

 

Interview Summary

Track 1 (CD 1)

 

0:32:48

 

0:0:03

Introduction. Early years; Queanbeyan and move to O’Connor. Parents’ background in Sydney and country New South Wales. Schooling. Decision to apply for apprenticeship with Department of Interior and selection as one of two mechanical apprentices for the year. Interest in mechanics.

0:05:08

Process of getting apprenticeship. Description of environment at Kingston depot at the time. Memories of interview and interviewers. Letter of acceptance.

0:10:05

Apprenticeship requirements and progress through these. First pay packet. Extra jobs to save money. First day at work. Memories of the work culture and strict regime, memories of particular individuals- Bert Robinson and Bill Burton.

0:15:05

Meeting first mechanic as apprentice – Mick Praznak. Difference between ‘the floor’ and ‘the hierarchy’. Respect and discipline. Different sections of the mechanics workshop – moving through these as an apprentice.

0:20:05

Memories of apprenticeship in the machine shop with fitter Bob Hutchison. Jack Mitchell. Excellent tradesmen of the old school. Old skills including diagnostics – without the help of electronics. The learning environment of the workshop. Approximate number of tradesmen and apprentices at the time.

0:25:35

The culture of a big workforce. Growing confidence in the work environment. Own apprentice after qualified for six months.

0:28:38

Daily routine while apprentice. Delivery of the pays; pay envelopes, manual calculations, Leo Morrisey. Union membership; not allowed to join as apprentice, compulsory when qualified, first union Australian Society of Engineers.

0:32:48

END

Track 2 (CD 1)

0:31:49

0:00:00

Work culture and enjoyment of apprenticeship and early years as a qualified mechanic. Experience of Boys Brigade at school as good background for the work culture at Transport. Completion of apprenticeship October 1971.

0:04: 45          

Range of mechanics’ work when qualified included cars – and the police unit motorbikes. Depots at Woden and Belconnen and Kingston’s satellite depot at Fyshwick. Loss of Commonwealth cars, the police unit and eventually trucks and fleet cars. Work at Fyshwick on trucks and on police motorbikes in Civic and Lonsdale Street. Return to Kingston as leading hand. Promotional steps for mechanic from industrial to public service stream.

0:10:21

Moves around depots on higher duties while appointed to Woden as senior motor mechanic. Preparation for Foreman position. Belconnen appointment. (For clarification of this discussion see summary of positions.)

0:15:04

System of permanent positions and higher duty vacancies providing experience. Work culture at each depot.  Settling at Belconnen after moving around depots – a means of acquiring all-round trade skills.

0:20:08

Value of moving around workplaces. Opening of Tuggeranong depot. 1980s a settling period for ACTION

0:24:23

Management changes of 1990s; cutting people to cut costs. Impact of budget reductions on workforce. Impact of these changes on decision to leave

0:31:49

END

Track 3 (CD2)

0:31:19

0:00:00

(Discussion of time available for interview) Changing work practices; introduction of additional shift and issues for individual work.  Changes in brand of bus. Technical changes.

0:04:50

Keeping up with changing technology – eg Anti-locking Braking Systems. Increased safety and issues of more sophisticated systems.

0:09:38

Resolution of disputes. Union issues. Workplace agreements replacing union negotiated wages. Union membership. Women in the workshop.

0:15:01

Male dominated nature of the Workshop. First female bus drivers. Issues for women in heavy mechanical work. Issues when women bus drivers started. Impact of women on work culture.

0:20:00

‘league of nations’ composition of the workforce. Management in this context. Management skills.

0:24:34

Reflection on working for Transport – 30 years of fun. Highlights for a sceptic – story of testing ABS brakes.

0:30:10

New career as driving instructor continues interest in training.

0:31:19

END

 

MARGARET KROOPIN

Background

Margaret Kroopin (nee Pearson) was born in Canberra in 1930 at the old Canberra Hospital in the grounds of the Australian National University. She was the oldest of five children. Her parents emigrated from England and met in Australia. They came to Canberra in 1927, the year that Parliament opened, to join relatives.

Margaret’s father first worked as a farm labourer for the Southwell’s at Spring Range – a property near Hall.  He later worked at Duntroon and then for Parks and Gardens.  After going to night school he got a clerical job in the Department of the Interior. In the early years the family lived on the property at Spring Range but moved into Hall when the children reached school age. In about 1945-46 they bought a house in Canberra, in Ijong Street Braddon.

Margaret went to Hall Primary School and then Telopea Park High School.  She left school when she was 15 and a half and got a job at the Department of Interior as a messenger.  She then trained on accounting machines and accepted a transfer to Transport in the costing section in 1947. She had her 21st birthday at Transport and the manager, ‘Cocky’ Roach, made her a key in the Transport workshop.  She still has the key.

Margaret went back to the Department of Interior in about 1955.  She met her husband there and they married in 1958.  In accord with the regulations of the time she lost her status as a permanent public service employee when she married.  She left work not long after her marriage and her two children were born in 1959 and 1961. 

Margaret’s husband, Dimitri (known as James or Jim) Kroopin, was the son of a Russian tea merchant who had a business in Manchuria.  He was born in 1915 and when he was eight or nine his parents sent him to join an uncle’s family on a farm in Queensland.  His mother and later a sister came to Canberra in the 1950s with the help of the Red Cross. James worked as a clerk in various positions in the public service in Canberra, including at Transport. He completed accounting qualifications at night school.

In the late 1960s Margaret went back to work at what was by then the Department of the Capital Territory. She returned to Transport in 1970 and worked there until 1972 when she did a Nurse’s Aid course. At this time her husband was also working at Transport. After qualifying as a Nurse’s Aid, Margaret returned to the public service as the shift work did not suit her.  At this time she went to the Department of Defence as there was no job in Transport.  She left work again in about 1980 when her husband retired but returned to a job in Defence in the 1980s, after her husband’s death in 1981. She retired in 1994.

Margaret lived in Ijong Street until she married and went to live in Sherbrooke Street Ainslie. She lived in Sherbrooke Street until she retired. She then went to live at Umina on the central New South Wales Coast where one of her sons was living at the time.  When he returned to Canberra, she also returned and bought a house in Gowrie as her son was living in this area.

Margaret’s interview provides a snapshot of women’s office work in Transport before the expansion of Canberra and changes in technology had made a significant impact on the organisation, work and workforce of Transport.

The interview was conducted at Margaret’s home in Gowrie.

Interview Summary

Track 1

0:26:18

0:00:00

Introduction. Parents emigration to Australia from UK; circumstances of their families and work; father’s relatives in Hall. Father’s work at Spring Range. Move into Hall. Hall in the 1930s and 40s; story of living opposite the showground.

0:05:32

Going to the one-room school in Hall. Impact of Depression in the 1930s. Father’s work at Duntroon and Parks and Gardens. Transport to school at Telopea Park – the school bus. Going to and from work on the workmen’s bus.

0:10:00

Father’s work for Department of Interior. Own work for Department of Interior as a Messenger. Training on accounting machines. Learning to type at night school with sister.

0:15:09

Sister’s work at Public Service Board at Barton. Operation of accounting machines. Work in machine room and typing pool at Department of Interior. Move to Transport; enjoyment of work there. Getting to work at Transport on the bus – bus route through Barton.

0:21:22

Office set-up at Transport. Machine room; different machines; operation of comptometers and use to calculate hours of work. Overtime for end of financial year work; balancing ledgers, making group certificates. Workers in machine room.

0:26:18

END

Track 2

0:08:11

0:00:00

Position at Transport; looking after ledger for buses, Stromlo and Forestry. Details of accounting work – from docket to journal to ledger. Work on Remington machine in 1950s.  Work on another machine that was able to do a wider variety of operations when returned in 1970. First boss Wally Pearson, later Keith Gladwin.

0:05:14

Boss’s job – head of costing section. Other women in Transport office. Jobs in paymaster’s office.  Husband’s work in pay office in later period. Other positions in Transport held by women. Other Transport office positions.

0:08:11

END (Telephone call)

Track 3

0:21:42

0:00:00

People at Transport 1947-1955; office workers, bus and car drivers. Union membership. Work environment

0:04:39

Work routine; sign-on book;morning and afternoon teas. Alma’s sponges. Turn 21 at Transport – cocky Roach’s presentation of key. Return to Department of Interior.

0:10:05

Return to Department of Interior 1955 and marriage 1958. Return to work about 1969-1970. Operated sensamatic machine at Department of Capital Territory and then worked for Transport again until 1972. Work at Department of Defence from 1973-1980 when husband retired. Return to work at Defence after husband’s death. Retirement 1994.

0:15:49

Living at Umina until 1999 and latest move to Gowrie. Meeting husband at Department of Interior 1950s. Husband’s work for Transport. Status of married women as public service employees in 1950s – lost permanency.

0:19:42

Details of work at Transport in 1970s

0:21:42

END (telephone call)

Track 4

0:10:34

0:00:00

Work after 1972 dependent on where sent by Public Service Board. Memories of Kingston in early 1970s. Women employed in Trasnport at this time. Move to Braddon from Hall for schooling for younger siblings. Getting to work from Braddon 1947-1955 – local bus stops

0:05:09

Memories of Ijong Street Braddon. Living in Ainslie after marriage. Children schools and convenience of Ainslie. Move to Umina. Sense of changes in Canberra over time. Reflections on employment in Transport.

0:10:34

END

 

TOM FORD

Background

Tom Ford was born in Queanbeyan in 1927. Of the family of five children, he and his sister were the only ones to be born after the family’s move from Goulburn to Queanbeyan. Tom’s father was a plasterer and came to the Canberra region for work. He worked on several Canberra building projects of the time and later set up business as a fruiterer and then grocer in Queanbeyan.

Tom went to Queanbeyan Public School and left when he was thirteen. He worked in the family business and then went to Queensland where he worked until the end of the Second World War. Back in Queanbeyan he worked as a brickies labourer on Narrabundah housing construction. He married and moved to O’Connor in Canberra, where he still lives, in 1948-49. He joined Transport in 1949.

Tom first worked in Transport as a conductor and then bus driver. He later became a truck driver.  As a truck driver he carted various sorts of material but much of his work involved driving a pole raising truck for the ACT Electricity Authority (now ACTEW). When the Transport Department stopped managing trucks in the 1970s, Tom had the choice of working directly for the Authority or driving cars.  He moved over to the Authority and continued doing the same sort of work. Later an injury resulted in a change to stores work and other office based duties.  Tom retired in 1992.

Tom’s work as a pole raiser started on a Bedford truck when much of the work was done manually. After moving to the ACT Electricity Authority he drove a Volvo which had more automated equipment. His interview details much of the manual work of the earlier days – the ‘bullocking’ work – as well as the gradual move to automation. It also reflects changes in Transport – from the days when it managed all vehicles in Canberra to the time when the growth of the city required a more decentralised approach. Tom commented that the latest development for ACTEW trucks has been the management of the various work they are used for by contract.

Note that Tom makes no distinction between his work on the pole raising truck whether employed by Transport or the ACT Electricity Authority as there was little change in his work as a result of the move from one employer to the other.

The interview was conducted at Tom’s home in O’Connor.

Interview Summary

Track 1

0:15:28

0:00:00

Introduction to interview. Coming to Canberra from Queanbeyan. Family in Queanbeyan. Father’s work as a plasterer. Schooling and work in family grocery business. Early work in Queensland and return to Canberra. Marriage, move to government house in Canberra.

0:05:11

Joining Transport after work in Narrabundah. Work on buses, cars and trucks. Red Hill to Ainslie bus route. Ainslie Depot. Shifts and last run of night shift. Migrant hostel near airport. Workmen’s buses. Driving pole raising truck for ACT Electricity Authority.

0:10:01

Work as truck driver for roadworks. Types of trucks: Fords, bull-nosed Bedfords, ACC trucks for quarry work. Overtime.  Other work on trucks: laying asphalt at aerodrome, carting road base from Mugga Lane and Southwell quarries. Move from carting to pole raising truck – tok over Frank Smith’s 4-wheel drive Bedford. Work on pole raising truck.

0:15:28

END - phone call

Track 2

0:23:00

0:00:00

Pole raising with Bedford truck including pulling poles out, straightening poles, rolling out wire. Mountains and country work.

0:05:04

Thin steel country wire. Removing poles where land resumed for Canberra. Use of Ronnie Zebel’s crane in this work. Move from Transport to ACT Electricity Authority. Choice to move or stay with Transport. Volvo truck after move. Raising poles with Volvo – more automated equipment. Putting in transformers [refers to one nearby]. Development of machinery and equipment.

0:10:05

Current organisation of ACTEW work through contractors. ACTEW depots – work at Kingston, Tuggeranong and Mitchell. Changes to Kingston industrial area. Storage area near Causeway for material brought in by rail in the days when the government used to handle everything. [Discussion of location of stores, printing office and bus section]

0:15:04

Bush work with the Bedford in Michelago area – changing transformers to properties.  Last years of work with ACTEW after injury working at ACTEW depot in Kingston. Work injury and medical support.

0:19:32

Memories of people at Transport: Bobby Griffiths, Laurie Reece, Frank Smith. Trucks of the day. ACTEW responsibility for trucks included maintenance when they took them over. The truck driver’s mate – the dogman. Dogman’s work. Various work on trucks: carrying wire and poles.

0:23:00

END – doorbell

Track 3

0:25:33

0:00:00

Carrying and unloading poles on Bedford. Handling creosote poles and injury to dogman as result. Various carting jobs for Transport including moving government offices.

0:05:16

Relationship between Transport and Electricity Authority. Overtime and on-call work. Transporting transformers. Carting padmounts for underground cable. Locations of underground cable from Ainslie substation.

0:09:42

Transport as working environment. Union membership and work issues. The need to cart sewage from new suburb of Weston Creek to an area near Coppins Crossing when Canberra was growing so fast that sewage works weren’t able to manage.

0:15:00

reflections on working on trucks. Various work. Decision to go to Electricity Authority rather than stay with Transport. Relationship between Transport and Authority.

0:18:35

Changes in Canberra. Driving before suburbs built up. Family connections with Queanbeyan. ‘Bullocking’ work in the old days. Issues of power lines and trees. Ainslie substation.

0:25:33

END

 

SPENCER GILCHRIST

Background

Spencer was born in Campbelltown New South Wales in 1931 and grew up around Manly and the northern beach suburbs of Sydney. He left school when he was about 14, around the end of the Second World War, and after working in various local jobs joined the Royal Australian Air Force. He served as a Steward and reached the rank of Sergeant before he left the Force.

One of Spencer’s many postings in the Air Force was to Canberra for about 12 months in 1949. At this time he met his future first wife and after two years in Darwin, he left the Air Force and returned to Canberra to get married. During the 1950s and 60s he worked for the Canberra Steam Laundry, Dunlops, the Canberra Workers Club and BP. Several of these jobs involved driving. Spencer joined the Transport Department, starting in the Trucks section on 22 September 1970, and retiring from his position as bus driver at the age of 79, 23 December 2010 – 40 years and one day since he started. His move to Transport took place after the death of his first wife. He married again in the early 1970s.

Spencer’s first work at Transport was driving a Bedford tipping truck mainly doing work for Parks and Gardens but he soon took up the opportunity to train as a bus driver. He started on the Ainslie route working from Kingston Depot and then worked from Belconnen Depot. For many he years had a permanent shift on one of the three buses featuring images of dinosaurs. His bus was no. 967 and he was fondly referred to as ‘the dinosaur driving the dinosaur’.

Over the time of his employment, Spencer received commendations for his courtesy as a bus driver and was awarded a Customer Service Award. On his retirement a fellow driver put together an album which includes his certificates and commendations.

Spencer’s work for Transport, starting before the ACTION period and continuing until the end of 2010, spans a period of expansion and changes in management in ACT Transport as well as changes in the workforce more generally. His interview provides a glimpse of changing attitudes to work, including the employment of women in this area of the workforce, but he sees the work of driving as remaining the same, whatever organisational changes might take place. His interview also highlights issues of retiring after a lifetime of work and, through his long experience of working in Canberra, reflects changes in Canberra itself.

The interview was conducted at Spencer’s home in Downer and includes looking through the album made for Spencer on his retirement by a fellow driver.

Note that details of Spencer’s Customer Service Award were not found in his album and not recorded. A photocopy of this would be a good addition to the interview.

Interview Summary

Track one

0:20:33

0:00:00

Introduction. Birth and family background. Joining the Air Force. First experience of Canberra. Return to Canberra and jobs in Canberra: Canberra Steam Laundry, Dunlops, Canberra Workers Club, BP.

0:05:05

Joining Transport. Previous driving experience. Circumstances of getting job in Transport. Starting in trucks – driving Bedford for Parks and Gardens.

0:10:29

Trucks to bus driving. Training details. Ainslie routes. Various arrangements of shifts and runs between Kingston Depot and Ainslie from set shifts to varied runs. Work as a ‘spare’.

0:15:21

Retirement at 79. Changes over time: truck management; Department of Interior to ACTION; depots. First work at Kingston and then Belconnen. Reputation as a bus driver. Permanent shift and bus 967. Impact of organisational change from permanent shift and bus. Relationship with mechanics.

0:20:33

END

Track 2

0:12:48

0:00:00

People at Transport and early supervisors. Women drivers. Union membership and issues. Strikes and stop work meetings. Fortnight’s strike in early 1970s.

0:05:00

Management of arguments between workers. Changes in management. Nicknames. Memories of mechanics. Physical separation between different sections and jobs.

0:12:48

END

Track 3

0:25:13

0:00:00

Looking through album made on retirement. Shifts and timetables. Depot managers. Belconnen Depot. Canteen provision

0:05:00

Bus cleaning. Staff profile of Spender in ACTION Newsletter 2005. ACT Customer Service Award. Earlier and later practices of cashing in process and practical jokes this involved. Spencer’s retirement barbecue. Workmates. Other areas of depot. Bus washing. Certificates and commendations. Driving for ‘specials’ and school runs.

0:14:47

Certificates and commendations. Canberra Times article ‘An ACTION dinosaur who still can’t see the end of the road’. [looking for customer service award details – not found]

0:20:37

Reflections on and experience of retirement. Lack of contact with former workmates. Different attitudes to work of more recent employees. Changes in Canberra – especially growth of suburbs. Work on 1950s building projects.

0:25:13

END

 

ROSS KITE

Background

Ross was born in Young, New South Wales, in 1939 where his family were dairy farmers. While he was growing up he had ongoing contact with Canberra through his uncle who was a shearing contractor in the Canberra area.  From the age of 11 Ross visited Canberra frequently and helped his uncle out in the sheds.  In 1959, when the dairy farming business was not doing well, Ross’s father got a job in Canberra with Parks and Gardens and the family moved to Canberra.

Ross attended a small bush school and then Christian Brothers College in Young.  He left school at 14 and started a plumbing apprenticeship.  After six months he went shearing and continued to do this until 1959-60 when he got a job driving a front end loader with Jennings builders in Canberra. Ross married in 1961 and as he was working for private enterprise it was some time before he could get a government house. By the late 1960s when he and Gwen had a young family, there was less work in the building industry in Canberra and Ross put his name down at Transport to work as a bus driver.

Ross’s name came up for an interview with Transport in 1970. From that year he worked as a bus driver from Kingston, Woden, Ainslie and Belconnen depots. His shift mate for many years was Dick Walters.  He worked on school runs and, for a number of years, as a ‘spare’. A severe injury as a result of a driver failing to give way at a give-way sign, forced Ross’s early retirement in 1985.

The interview with Ross provides clear details of the work of a bus driver during the 1970s and 80s. It records the expansion of transport services through the opening of new depots and additions to the bus fleet, as well as the provision of amenities for a growing workforce. It also provides a lively picture of the work culture of ACT Transport/ACTION over the period, including the relationship between fellow workers and management practices. In addition, Ross’s account of his experience of injury gives insight into the issues of this experience for workers in industries such as Transport.

The interview was conducted at Ross’s home in McKellar.

There are some minor changes in sound level in the recording.

Interview Summary

Track 1 (CD 1)

0:23:14

0:00:00

Introduction. Early years in Young district. Shearing around Canberra early 1950s; properties and property owners; David Campbell.

0:05:01

Rouseabouting and shearing after leaving school in 1954; historic property of Dunlop. Family decision to move to Canberra in 1959; father’s work for Parks and Gardens. Opportunities for work in Canberra in 1950s for people from surrounding region. Work with Jennings in Canberra and ongoing contact with Young.

0:09:19

Access to housing in Canberra 1950s and ‘60s; family’s accommodation in Hoddle Gardens Ainslie and then government house in Bonney Street Ainslie next door to Jack Wilkinson (Transport employee). First date with future wife. Marriage November 1961. Accommodation while waiting for government house. Jack Wilkinson’s support in getting government house and encouragement to join Transport. Son’s illness late 1960s.

0:15:12

Name selected from Transport waiting list 1970. Previous work as front end loader driver for Jennings; construction of government houses; irony of workers who built these houses for private enterprise not having access to government housing; work conditions and wages.

0:19:52

Memories of paymaster at Jennings and other German workers. Slow-down of building boom at end of 1960s. Advantages of work for Transport.

0:23:14

END

Track 2 (CD1)

0:28:10

0:00:00

How employment at Transport came about; role of Jack Wilkinson. Jack’s wife, Jean (nee Tagnello) and her work as a bus conductor in Canberra during the Second World War. Employment interview with Gwynn Williams. Reasons for joining Transport.

0:04:50

First day at Transport. Training for bus driver’s licence with Ron Butler and test for licence with Bill Winkle. First work on bus wash and fuelling.

0:09:57

Work on Parks and Gardens trucks at Hackett depot. Training course on bus routes and coping with passengers. First work after passing course on holiday relief and Saturday morning detail. First shift Civic to airport; passengers.

0:15:29

Relationship with passengers. Shift system. Becoming shift mates with Dick Walters and picking shifts from new Woden Depot. Shift details. Involvement in driving additional buses (known as green buses) from Sydney.

0:19:57

Driving green bus in Canberra. Shift allowances and rates of pay. Issue of pay rates during early 1970s. Benefits gained through union activity at this time now lost. Conditions today; seniority as single remaining important condition. Woden depot opening.

0:24:52

Stories of collecting green buses from Sydney. Establishment of hot mess at Kingston depot as result of seeing one in Sydney when collecting buses. Further development of canteen facilities at Belconnen.

0:28:10

END

Track 3 (CD1)

0:13:17

0:00:00

Stories of driving school buses; the Labor bus; dealing with pranks.

0:05:00

Story of break-in at depot and toe print. Re-opening of Ainslie Depot and getting shift there; work environment and atmosphere at Ainslie. Card playing at depots. Opening Belconnen depot. Decision to work as Spare; what sparing involved including breakdowns.

0:10:37

Sparing. Discussion of what a shift involves.

0:13:17

END

Track 4 (CD2)

0:38:26

0:00:00

Working at Belconnen as spare; story of breakdown. Stories of playing practical jokes on fellow workers.

0:05:29

Work environment and relationship between workers. Accident while driving bus resulting in spinal injury.

0:10:00

Attempts to return to work. further investigation of injury. Retired 1985. Compensation issues. Ongoing impact of injury.

0:15:00

Missing work and adjustment to not working. Work relationships. Story of role as witness to accident at bus stop. Changes in work atmosphere with 38-hour week in mid 1980s.

0:20:00

Changing management practices including long term to short term shifts, lack of spares leading to missed runs when breakdowns occur. Recent poor press blaming drivers for poor management. Changes in bus driving conditions and regulations; heating; power steering, issues of playing radio. Changes in uniform and provision of clothing.

0:25:30

Different nationalities in Transport workforce. Age limits on employment in Transport. Women as bus drivers – first entry in 1970s. What makes a good bus driver and recent emphasis on qualifications.

0:29:45

Managing school children; smoking and other aspects of ‘working in with the kids’. Reflection on changes in Transport generally. Issue of ACTION’s attempt to make a profit.

0:33:48

Overall reflections on working for Transport – best work in life. Supervisors including John Anderson and Depot Master George Newport. Kingston depot stories of work conditions and the ‘old shed’. What remains at Kingston depot.

0:38:26

END

 

EDDIE VESTJENS

Background

Eddie Vestjens was a bus driver for ACTION from 1987 until 2010. He was born in a small town near Amsterdam in Holland in 1954.  His family migrated to Australia in 1956 and came directly to Canberra where Eddie’s Auntie was already living. Eddie’s father got a job with the CSIRO working with wildlife and although he was not trained as a scientist his knowledge and experience were respected within and beyond the CSIRO during his long employment there.

Eddie had one sister, born in Australia in 1957. He went to school at St Mary’s in Civic and then to St Bridget’s in Davenport Street Ainslie when it opened in 1959.  In 1963 he went to High School at Daramalan College in Dickson and left after completing year 12 in 1972.

Eddie’s first work after school was as a labourer for a Sydney company putting in traffic lights in Canberra.  After the company went broke he got a job at David Mackay’s hardware store in Mort Street. After working there for about 18 months he began work at the Canberra Airport with TAA. He started as a baggage handler and then became a clerical worker in the cargo section.  He left TAA after 13 years when he got a job as a bus driver for ACTION in 1987. After he was diagnosed with Depression in 2005/6, he worked part-time. He took a redundancy in 2009 at the age of 55.

Eddie married in 1977. He has two daughters and now lives with his second partner.

Eddie has had little sustained contact with his home country.  He and his mother and sister lived there for a year in 1962 while his father worked for the CSIRO at Macquarie Island, and he decided at that time that he didn’t like it.  His father considered returning there in 1975 but largely due to Eddie’s mother, he decided against it.  Eddie’s father died of lung cancer a few years later in 1979.  A further tragedy for Eddie was his sister’s suicide not longer after their mother’s death in 2004.

After his mother’s death Eddie discovered that her experience of migration was referred to in The Dutch down Under 1606-2006.

Eddie has had a passionate interest in flying since discovering the airport as a teenager riding his bike around Canberra.  He learned to fly after leaving school and for some years had his own plane.

Eddie’s interview records working for ACTION from just before ACT self government in 1989 through to the present. It covers changes in the management of ACT Transport and industrial changes including the move to Enterprise Bargaining and the diminishing role of the Transport Union in the workplace.

The interview took place at Eddie’s home in Kaleen. 

Track 1

0:36:04

 

0:00:00

Introduction. Birth and family background in Holland including father'sWorld War 2 experience. Decision to migrate to Australia and process of migration. First accommodation in Canberra when arrived

in 1956, including sharing a house with a Polish family in a Riley

Newsum house in Fairbridge Crescent Ainslie. Story of how father got his job at CSIRO.

0:05:20

Details of father'swork with wildlife and promotion to Experimental Officer. Schooling in Canberra at St Mary's,  St Brigid's and Daramalan. Mother'sexperience of migration. Return to Holland for a year in 1962.

0:10:06

1962 experience in Holland. Return to Australia. Father'sinterest in returning to Holland. Father's death in 1979. Work after leaving school. Interest in work at airport from teenage years. Work forTAA.

0:15:12

Decline of work in cargo for TAA with loss of domestic air freight as a result of the Hume Highway upgrade in mid 1980s. Process of getting job at ACTION. Early work and training. Receipt of bus driving

license February 1988. Training details including interruption by Instructors’ strike

0:20:15

Driving training including learning the runs. License test and paperwork. First shifts. Move to Network 88 shift system with weekly alternation of night and day shifts. Working permanently from Belconnen Depot. Various runs on shifts around Belconnen. Closure and reopening of Woden depot.

0:24:59

Typical daily routine. System of having your own bus and methods of keeping this for weekend work. Loss of cleaning time for drivers results in losing own bus system in 1990s. Issues of bus cleanliness since then and contrast between new approach and old days of taking pride in your own bus.

0:29:15

Changes in ACTION in 1990s because of the need to save money: longer runs, less time between runs and resulting stress for drivers. Advent of Enterprise Bargaining and change from compulsory to non­ compulsory union membership. Lack of support through EBA when ill. Decision to leave. Difficulty in getting Depression diagnosed and issues contributing to Depresssion. Recent diagnosis of Diabetes and driving regulations concerning Diabetes.

0:36:04

END

Track 2

0:28:16

 

0:00:00

Changes in industrial relations. Enterprise Bargaining Agreements and beginning of part-time shifts. Own move to part-time work in 1997. Enjoyment of morning shift. Lack of light duty options. Earlier strikes and management of disputes since Enterprise Bargaining.

0:04:01

Changes in work environment during 1990s. New training system involving recruitment of drivers through agency and initial part-time employment. Wages. From friendly work environment to not knowing each other. End of work barbecues and get togethers at work. Change in driver attitudes to work. Different depots. Changes in system for collecting fares and tickets and management of money collected.

0:09:18

Aspects of job enjoyed most. Relationship with passengers including school children. Difficult aspects of job. Women'semployment as bus drivers.

0:15:07

Issues concerning women drivers. Memories of supervisors and drivers. Practical jokes and stories. Different nationalities in the workforce. Retirement after 22 years. Acknowledgmentsof service. Last day at work.

0:20:50

Occupational health and safety issues for drivers. Reflection on work. Enjoyment of first 15 years. Changes in work environment. Nicknames

0:24:44

Changes in Canberra. Teenage years as member of youth group. Rural quality of 1950s. Growth of suburbs. Long term residence of Kaleen. Retirement  plans.

0:28:16

END

 

ROBERT HAWKE

Background

Robert Hawke joined ACT Transport in 1967/1968 as a fourth year apprentice panel beater. He completed the fifth year of his apprenticeship in January 1969. He then spent two years on National Service but almost immediately after returning to work at Transport he took up the opportunity of work in Indonesia on a Colombo Plan project which involved assisting in the refurbishment of the Jakarta bus fleet and training local staff. He returned to Canberra and his job in Transport in 1972 and over the next years completed his Higher Education Certificate and further education qualifications in administration and management. In 1978 he became the first panel beater Foreman of Maintenance at ACTION – he held this position at Belconnen once that depot opened.  He retired in 1995 as he felt he needed a change in his working life. The offer of employment as a security guard at Old Parliament House (OPH) led to a new career. In his Security position he became increasingly interested and involved in the interpretation of OPH and was then offered a job in Public Programs. He retired from this position in 2010 but continues to work as a volunteer.

Robert was born in 1948 when his parents were living in Novar Street Yarralumla. He was one of three children. His maternal grandfather and his father both worked for the Government Printing Office in Kingston. Robert’s father’s career in Rugby League took the family to Sydney for some years of his childhood but most of his school years were in Canberra. He started school at Yarralumla Primary and finished at Telopea Park High. He started a panel beating apprenticeship with a private company in Fyshwick in 1963.

Robert married in 1970. His wife and young son went with him to Jakarta when he began his two years of work there. In 1972 were offered a government house in the then new suburb of Melba where they still live.

Robert’s interview highlights aspects of Australian history – National Service, The Colombo Plan – as well as changes in Australian working life and developments in ACT Transport. His work at the ACTION workshop covers a similar period to that of Darryl Peckham who began work as an apprentice and became foreman of the mechanics’ workshop. When Robert joined Transport in 1968 it was part of the Commonwealth Department of the Interior. During the 1970s under the Department of Territories (and its various forms), Transport became ACTION and a number of its earlier functions such as cars and trucks became separate entities. At the same time new depots were opened in response to Canberra’s growth. Changes in approach to management, in technology and in awareness of occupation health and safety issues also mark this period and are reflected in Robert’s interview as in Darryl’s. In addition, both reflect, in quite distinct ways, the contemporary more flexible approach to working life that developed as a general trend over the period of their work for ACTION. 

The interview took place at Robert’s home in Melba.

Interview Summary

Track 1

0:22:41

0:00:00

Introduction. Family background in Canberra: printing industry; Kingston shops. Early childhood in Yarralumla. Father’s career in Rugby League 1940s-50s. Parents’ later life.  Yarralumla Primary School.

0:05:05

Completion of schooling at Telopea Park High School. Panel beating apprenticeship. Yarralumla in the 1950s and 60s: Canberra Brickyards; Westbourne Woods; Molonglo River; Corkhill’s farm; makeshift canoes. Yarralumla identities. Yarralumla shops.

0:09:39

Father’s early football activities in AFL and Rugby League: captaincy of Eastlake; achievement of position in Australian Rugby League side. Football memorabilia. Father’s role in professional football. Mother’s role as backbone of family. School years, recreation and friendships.

0:14:46

Apprenticeship. Role of father in move to Transport. Interview for Transport with Garth Fisher. First day as apprentice. Experience of Technical College. Work as apprentice in Transport workshop: tradesmen at the time; physical environment of Kingston workshop.

0:20:02

Other trades in the workshop. Formality of work culture. Bundy clock and time regulations.

0:22:41

END

Track 2

0:26:42

0:00:00

Transport hierarchy in early years. Completion of apprenticeship. National Service and reflection on this experience. Decision to take work in Indonesia on Colombo Plan. Details of work refurbishing Jakarta bus fleet and training local staff.

0:05:15

Arrangements of work for Colombo Plan – ‘seconded’ to Department of Foreign Affairs. Value of experience in Indonesia. Return to Transport workshop. Father’s advice on career and value of further education. Allocation of government house in Melba. Further studies. Successful application for position of Foreman Panel Beater. New emphasis on qualifications in industry.

0:09:45

Value of studying and management course. Changes in Transport during time as Foreman: expansion; new depots; increase in panel beating staff. Success of panel beating apprentices. Number of staff and types of trades managed in his role as Foreman. Recruitment process.

0:15:00

Demands of recruitment process and skills required. Impact of technological changes. Environmental and health and safety issues in panel beating. Improvements in equipment. Summary of main elements of job as Foreman. Issue of moving into management from position in ranks. Approach to management. Managers above Foreman. General managers of ACTION from Nelson Simpson’s time.

0:19:58

Management career paths. Special projects undertaken during time in head office in 1988 – particularly issues of how to address corrosion on buses. Maintenance department’s venture into private work during 1990s. Industrial relations over time. Union membership. Reflections on union concerns with pay rather than industrial conditions. Impact of introduction of Rostered Day Off.

0:26:42

END

Track 3

0:27:17

0:00:00

Discussion about the interview. Enterprise Bargaining. Workplace response to dismissal of Gough Whitlam and impact of this experience. Changes in composition of Transport workforce: variety of nationalities; first employment of women and introduction of girl apprentices.

0:05:06

When women first employed. Reactions to women in the workshop. Decision to retire. Invitation to work at Old Parliament House as security guard for MSS Security 1995; increasing interest in history of OPH and invitation to work in Public Programs section.

0:10:01

Work for Public Programs. Retirement January 2010. Move to Lennox Head and return to Canberra. Reflections on move to OPH. Details of work as Public Programs presenter. Further discussion of change in career.

0:14:29

Reflections on work with Transport: friendships, support of people; diversity of work; grounding that Transport provided.    Atmosphere of Transport in 1990s. Desire to have retirement life that father never had.

0:19:15

Influence of father and father’s experience. Father’s character. Reflections on changes in Canberra: development of suburbs; allocation of house in Melba 1972. Influence and friendship of long term neighbour.

0:24:04

Additional comments about Transport: growth; spread into new depots; closing of Ainslie Depot; refurbishment of Kingston depot (the heating that never worked); growth and changes in composition of bus fleet. Refurbishment of the old Regal bus. The quality of Canberra’s bus fleet – vehicles, service and maintenance

0:27:17

END