The elections of 8 October 1927 saw the defeat of the Lang Government. The Country Party had gained four seats, bringing its numbers to thirteen; one of the new members was Page's long-serving aide, Alf Pollack, now elected to the new seat of Clarence. The Nationalists held thirty-three seats, Labor forty, while there were four independents. The Country Party clearly held the balance of power. Since the events preceding the election had made it plain that, in these circumstances, there would be a Nationalist-Country coalition, the only question remaining was the terms of that coalition.
On the face of it, the Country Party's increased strength placed it in a handy bargaining position. However, the easy-going Buttenshaw had little taste for aggressive negotiations and was therefore ill-equipped to deal with the hard-headed Bavin. The complex negotiations that followed therefore took place on two levels: while Buttenshaw talked to Bavin, Drummond and the other hard-liners concentrated on stiffening Buttenshaw's negotiating position.
Bavin made the first move. Even before Lang had resigned his commission, he approached Buttenshaw offering the Party two portfolios, subsequently increasing this to three, including the Deputy-Premiership. On the morning of 13 October Buttenshaw reported on these discussions to Central Council. The Council decided to recommend to the Parliamentary Party 'the formation of a Composite Government on liberal lines, the party to maintain its separate identity', leaving further negotiations in Buttenshaw's hands. The parliamentarians then took a strong stand. Drummond declared that the Party should seek five portfolios: Lands, Local Government, Agriculture, Public Works and Railways, and Education, while Trethowan suggested that the Party should reject the Nationalist proposal if only three portfolios were offered. Bruxner shared this view; he told Buttenshaw privately that he would not join any composite government if the Country Party were to receive only three portfolios. The tenor of the meeting was clear: Buttenshaw was sent off to press for five portfolios. Bavin rejected this out-of-hand, suggesting further that Buttenshaw had no authority from his Central Council to demand any specific number of portfolios, but had simply been directed to join the ministry.
In view of this deadlock, the Parliamentary Party met Central Council again. The Council supported Buttenshaw with a general resolution moved by Ernest Sommerlad and seconded by Drummond, and also adopted a section motion moved by Drummond which declared that:
as the Country Party would be compelled to accept equal responsibility, this Council considers that the Country Party should have substantial representation in the Cabinet compatible with its responsibility.
There were also moves within Council to nominate the required number of portfolios, but Buttenshaw was clearly unhappy about this, and the Chairman refused to allow a motion on the subject. Nevertheless, Buttenshaw went back to his negotiations with a clear indication as to the general party view. Events now moved quickly to a conclusion. Following private discussions between Bavin and Bruxner, Bavin offered the Party four portfolios and the Deputy-Premiership, an offer that was quickly accepted. He then chose Buttenshaw, allocating the portfolios along the lines suggested by Buttenshaw: Buttenshaw took Public Works and Railways, Thorby Agriculture, Drummond Public Instruction (still the official name for the Education portfolio), and Bruxner Local Government. Of Drummond's original suggestions, only Lands was missing.
Drummond had known all along that if a ministry could be formed, then he would be part of it. Buttenshaw had suggested at one stage that he might take the speakership, a move that might have eased Buttenshaw's problems by giving the Party another appointment in place of a portfolio, but Drummond rejected this. 'I told my leader', he later recalled, 'that ... I was much too young to confine my energies to sitting on a seat watching others work.' Although the Labor Daily suggested that he was 'somewhat of a surprise in education', the choice was a logical one. None of the other members were particularly anxious to take it, while Drummond himself had largely written the Country Party's education platform.
Drummond's appointment seems to have been greeted with real approval. In a short pen-picture, the Sunday News suggested that his appointment would bring ability and energy to Cabinet, concluding: 'An outdoor man, he is a great lover of tennis. Music also claims him.' The Sunday Times took a similar view. According to the Times, Drummond was 'one of the most brilliant members of the Country Party, and his elevation to Ministerial rank was expected by every member of the Assembly.' Nor surprisingly, the most lyrical comments came from Ernest Sommerlad's Glen Innes Examiner. In an article headed 'Drummond the Student', the paper suggested that 'Drummond's thirst for knowledge has made him the student of his party and one of the best informed men in the Assembly.' Seven years previously he had been little known outside Oakwood, but upon his election had begun 'a strenuous public career... Employing every moment in self-improvement he soon began to command respect by reason of his knowledge of constitutional and other questions.' The article concluded:
Well on the sunny side of forty, the new minister brings to his big task a well-stored mind, a balanced judgement, a lofty ideal of life, and a tremendous capacity for hard work. He has all the elements of an excellent administrator of the Education Department, and the hosts of friends who have watched his rapid rise will expect to see him make a big success of his important job.
The new Ministry was sworn in on 18 October. Although Drummond became used to formal clothing, this ceremony stood out in his mind: 'we belonged to an era when ministers were supposed to turn out like ministers - dressed according to the importance of their office', he told an interviewer in 1964. 'Mr (after Sir Thomas) Bavin was a great stickler for the correct thing, so we all had to turn out in tophats and morning coats and striped trousers.' Spats, however, were not compulsory! Following the ceremony, the Ministers gathered in the Premier's office and drank their own healths before going to their ministerial offices for the first time.
The new Ministry settled in well. Although Drummond always liked and respected Bavin, he could be a difficult man. Naturally formal, he suffered from recurrent stomach problems which exhausted him and made it still more difficult for him to deal easily with others. Despite this, he still retained his old understanding of the Country Party. He and Buttenshaw got on well, while within Cabinet the Nationalist and Country Party ministers understood each other well enough to avoid divisions on party lines or even the necessity of formal votes.
The new Country Party ministers came to office with seven years' accumulated dreams and hopes to fulfil, and with an electorate that expected them to do just that. Neither they nor the electorate were to know that Depression would shortly bring a sudden and bitter end to their hopes. The result was a brief Indian Summer of intense activity, some of the most productive months the Country Party has ever know. Buttenshaw immediately accelerated public works expenditure: his Department provided country towns with water supply and sewerage schemes, while a number of new railway lines were commenced. To the North, the most important of these was the long-dreamed of Guyra-Dorrigo railway. On 20 October 1928, before a crowd of between 3000 to 4000 people, Buttenshaw turned the first sod of the new line at Guyra. After praising the new state and Country Party workers who had campaigned for the line - Bruxner, Drummond, Thompson, Colonel H.F. White and others - Buttenshaw declared: 'The Government had decided that no work would be authorized, no sod turned, until they were absolutely safe in saying the work would be finished.' Despite the freezing weather, it was a day of hope and speeches. To Drummond, the railway was a sign that 'the people of the North were combined, each party realising that if it could not get what it particularly wanted, it must help other parts in their efforts.' For Victor Thompson, the day was a step towards something bigger:
The job, however, was not finished, and they could not sit down but must go on with the great Northern works. Most of them would live to see the turning of the first sod of something much bigger than was now being celebrated. - the first sod of the new Northern state, which once established would have a powerful influence on not only the North, but on New South Wales, and on Australia. (Applause).
Two days later a similar ceremony was carried out at Dorrigo. The Armidale Express remarked happily that the new line marked 'a new era for rural New South Wales and the north, in particular.'
Victor Thorby displayed similar energy to Buttenshaw. Using the Agriculture portfolio almost, in Aitkin's words, 'as a junior public works department', he enlarged Hawkesbury Agricultural College, finished Burrinjuck Dam and began the construction of the Wyangala Dam. Bruxner followed in the same pattern. Apart from the establishment of public bus services in Sydney and Newcastle, an act which nearly brought the Government down and earned him both the undying hatred of sections of the Nationalist Party and the sobriquet 'Red Mick', Bruxner concentrated on roads. Not surprisingly, given what we have already seen of such roads, Bruxner was almost obsessed by the importance of good country roads which he saw as a way of off-setting the centralisation vice built into the Sydney-centred rail system. He therefore increased government spending on roads, developing a hierarchy of roads ranked in priority from state highways to local roads which remained the responsibility of local councils. His ideas were not new, but Bruxner developed and implemented them with striking enthusiasm. Bruxner also introduced another personally satisfying innovation. Sharing the deep-seated Northern belief in the virtues of decentralised administration, he ordered the establishment of regional offices under the charge of resident engineers with full power to control the activities of the Main Roads in their areas.
Drummond shared fully in the Party's Indian Summer. Indeed, the scope and speed of his initial success arguably outpaced them all. He came to his new job very aware of his limited professional knowledge, and therefore decided to concentrate on administrative matters during that first term. This decision was a sensible one, for his new portfolio had a number of very distinctive features. It was very large, with 3,142 schools, 11,105 teachers (including 1,261 trainee teachers) and 328,966 pupils. It was also extremely centralised. The need to provide education to a sparse and widely scattered population, to train teachers and to ensure a basic minimum standard across the State, had resulted in a uniform system in which head office set policy, headmasters implemented it, while inspectors ensured that the head office view was enforced.
In addition to being large and centralised, the education system was also very complex, for the Department administered more than fourteen different types of school. In addition to the ordinary primary or public school, primary education was also provided by means of provisional, subsidised and half-time schools and by correspondence. Secondary education of an academic type was provided by high, intermediate high and district schools, whose courses were ultimately geared towards the matriculation requirements set by Sydney University. However, secondary education was also being provided by the primary branch through junior technical, commercial, domestic and rural schools, essentially secondary tops on existing primary schools. These secondary courses were intended to be vocational and lead on to further technical, commercial or domestic training. In fact, with an effective enrolment of 19,161 in 1927, the primary branch was providing as much secondary education as the secondary branch. Technical education was provided by the technical branch through trades schools and technical colleges which taught the higher technical courses.
Beyond its three main branches - primary, secondary and technical with their myriad of institutions - the Department had a medical branch, ran Sydney Teachers' College, and exercised varying degrees of responsibility for a variety of institutions including the Public Library, the National Art Gallery, the Australian Museum and the denominational school system.
If all this were not enough, the Department also included the Child Welfare Branch, which was a very major operation in its own right. Whether or not the Branch knew that their new Minister had been one of their wards was unclear, for Drummond's previous status never became public. What is clear, and understandable, is that Drummond took a very direct and personal interest in the work of the Branch. 'Notwithstanding the many difficult and varied problems that have confronted me, I feel that no responsibilities I have shouldered have given me more pleasure and personal interest', he wrote in his first report. Nevertheless, child welfare was to provide Drummond with more than his fair share of problems.
Despite the passage of the Child Welfare Act in 1923 which consolidated previous acts, and the subsequent replacement of the State Children's Relief Board by the Child Welfare Branch, the child welfare system still bore many resemblances to that which Drummond had known. In essence, the Branch had three main areas of responsibility. Firstly, it was responsible for the administration of laws connected with child protection including adoption, affiliation proceedings, street-trading and truancy. Secondly, it controlled a number of welfare and reformatory institutions such as homes for unmarried mothers, the Mittagong and Gosford Farm Homes for boys, and La Perouse and Parramatta Industrial Schools for girls. Thirdly, it administered the old boarding-out program under which children could be placed with foster-parents or, in certain circumstances, with their own mothers. Collectively, these three areas created something approaching an integrated child welfare system. Young children could be boarded out, while older ones coming to the Branch's notice could be brought before the children's courts (administered by the Minister for Justice), committed to the Branch's care and then, after classification, sent to the appropriate institution. Unfortunately, this system was far from perfect. Apart from administrative problems associated with the steady growth in the Branch's areas of responsibility, the system also faced a complex set of very difficult social, political, moral and legal problems. The main outlines of these are worth noting now because of their continuing importance for David Drummond.
Child welfare creates a three-way relationship between the state, the child and its parents. This relationship involves specific, and potentially conflicting, rights and responsibilities. By creating a child welfare system, the state assumes rights over and responsibilities for its children, including the right to intervene between parent and child in defined circumstances. This assumption inevitably conflicts with the right of parents to bring up their children as they see fit, and may also conflict with the rights of the children. The methods used to reconcile these conflicts depend upon individual and community attitudes towards children, the family, the rights of the individual, and the role of the state, and will therefore change as those attitudes change. For example, by introducing compulsory education the state assumed responsibility for a new area of child life. However, in doing so it was forced to intervene further in family life: the refusal of some parents and their children to observe the new law led to the creation of a new group of offenders, the truants. Such children, if persistent offenders, could be brought before the children's courts and committed to Departmental institution. The state had thus, by legislation, modified both the rights of the parent over the child and the rights of the child itself.
The problems flowing from the state/parent/child relationship were not the only ones facing the child welfare system. Perhaps most importantly, the system was an admixture of penal and welfare elements. Just as the Branch's children ranged from orphans, waifs and strays to relatively hardened criminals, so its institutions ranged from boarding-out to semi-penal reformatories such as Gosford. This affected the Branch in a number of ways. Community attitudes towards the penal system, penal reform and the causes of crime or deviance influenced the methods adopted by the Branch in handling children under its care. This meant, for example, that Branch institutions such as Gosford were run on semi-military lines, a system of training and control that affected the attitudes of the staff as well as the inmates. This was particularly significant because of an associated problem: the variety of children under control meant that proper systems of classification and care were essential if children were not to be maltreated. As Drummond would find, such proper systems did not exist.
Drummond may have been conscious of his limited professional knowledge, but this did not mean that he came to his new portfolio without ideas. He had been interested in education from early in his parliamentary career, hardly surprising, given that country children had long faced problems in gaining adequate schooling. Reflecting this, from its formation in 1893 the FSA had pushed for improved country educational facilities. At Conference after Conference delegates had spoken of children without adequate education, of the need for more schools, for increased subsidies for small schools, for better equipment and for greater consideration for country teachers. The approach adopted was essentially practical, directed at the provision of better primary education and of technical and agricultural education. There was little support for secondary education as such: farm communities could not be expected to support greater expenditure on secondary education at a time when they were still striving to obtain decent primary education.
There is no doubt that Drummond shared many of the basic views put forward by the FSA, including its support for improved vocational and rural education. In his 1924 evidence to the Cohen Commission, Drummond had attacked the Education Department's 'Half-hearted attempts to teach rural science' as 'farcical in the extreme.' After complaining about the lack of any proper equipment, he had pointed out that the whole orientation of the district secondary school was towards the academic courses:
.. if you expect good rural results from schools primarily devoted to professional courses then you are asking too much of human nature, for a headmaster educated on professional lines will, unconsciously perhaps, influence his pupils in that direction.
The FSA was not the only influence in the formation of Drummond's views on education. His own lack of formal education, and his opposition to privilege, made him a strong supporter of public education: he believed that the state had a duty to provide an opportunity for education for all. These same views influenced his approach to child welfare. He believed then and later that
.. no one section of a community can suffer, be neglected, uncared for, ill-housed, unemployed or in ill-health, and lacking the material necessities of life or deprived of the mental and spiritual enlightenment which go to make up the human personality, without in the long run the whole community suffering by reason of these things.
Consequently he strongly supported improved child welfare facilities, but always with one important qualification. Believing as he did in individual responsibility and self-reliance, he would oppose measures that might allow parents to shift their responsibilities for their children onto the state.
Drummond's views on education were also affected by his involvement with the Northern Separation Movement. The lack of educational facilities int he North had been one element in the Movement's campaign. 'The provision of another facility, that of education, is also referable to the small size of the area controlled', declared Australia Subdivided in 1920. The booklet went on: 'In Northern New South Wales, a few high schools, no technical schools, no universities exist to retain the intelligence and culture of the area.' This campaign helped focus local attention on education and provided a platform for local views. Thus at Armidale, the leaders of the movement trying to establish a local university were also new staters and presented educational evidence to the Cohen Commission on behalf of the Separation Movement. The Cohen Commission itself, while recommending against new states, did at least recommend the creation of a country teachers' college, an external teaching university and greater local influence in education. Finally, by creating links among Northern leaders and a sense of regional identity, the new state campaigns helped overcome the narrow town loyalties that had previously prevented regional cooperation.
As we have seen, David Drummond fully shared the Separation Movement's basic ideology. To Drummond, who saw Sydney as the minotaur that devoured the annual sacrifice of country youth, improved country education facilities were one way of breaking the drift to the city. Not surprisingly, given his FSA background, he thought first of improved rural and agricultural education as a means of retaining children on the land. However, in 1924 he became involved in the campaign to get a university for Armidale and then, when this did not achieve immediate success, switched his attention to country teachers' colleges. He probably coined the slogan 'A Country College for Country Kids', and certainly used it effectively. By 1927 he had been able to get the concept of country teachers' colleges, which were intended to act as the nuclei of rural universities, written into the Country Party's platform and into the Party's policy speech of that year.
In addition to his other ideas, Drummond also came to his new portfolio determined to be boss. Some years previously he had intervened with the Department on behalf of a teacher whom he considered had been unfairly treated. Failing to get satisfaction, he had threatened to take the matter up with the Minister, only to be told by the then Under-Secretary, S.H. Smith, that the Minister could in effect do nothing. Drummond was outraged: he vowed that should he become Minister no one would ever be able to say that about him.
Drummond's first move on taking up office was to organise his private staff. When Tom Mutch became minister in 1925, he had replaced his predecessor's private secretary, Hutchens, with a man of his own choice. Although Mutch was within his rights, Drummond felt that Hutchens had been unfairly treater and therefore offered him the post. Hutchens was reluctant to take the job: he told Drummond that his career within the Department had not suffered and suggested instead that Drummond should retain J.H. Osborne, private secretary to both William Davis and Mutch. Drummond's acceptance of this advice proved to be a key decision. It is one thing to wish to be a strong minister, but quite another to be so in practice, for the demands on a minister in a major and complex portfolio are considerable. In these circumstances, the minister's ability to turn wish into practice depends to a considerable extent on the ability of his private secretary. In this regard, the advice of Hutchens was sound, for Osborne proved to be extremely capable.
Having selected Osborne, Drummond turned his attention to the Department. His immediate problem was financial, for his new portfolio was run down. The Child Welfare Branch, as one of the State's major welfare agencies, depended for its level of funding partly upon community attitudes towards welfare. These had been relatively niggardly, so that the Branch's administrators had been forced to develop an approach of minimum (if usually kindly) care at a minimum cost. For the education system itself, the large increase in student numbers after the war had badly stretched its capacity to provide necessary accommodation and teachers. The problems of both had been compounded by the internal problems of the previous Labor administration. To Lang, who believed that expenditure on education was not politically rewarding, child welfare and education were handy pawns in his fight with Tom Mutch, the then Minister. Land squeezed the Department, and this helped to force Mutch, who was genuinely committed to his portfolio, into public opposition to the Premier. In January 1927 Mutch complained that there was practically no money for school maintenance, let along the construction of new ones, following this up in March with a biting attack in which he accused Lang, among other things, of denying training to 250 apprentices. By the time Drummond took office in October, he estimated that there were 40,000 children who had no classrooms and who were accommodated in unsuitable rented buildings, in weather sheds, on verandahs and under trees. In addition, a further 40,000 children were expected to come into the system in the following three years.
In the face of this problem, Drummond mounted what he later described as a 'deliberate raid on the Treasury.' He crisscrossed the State trying to generate popular support for education. Drummond was lucky in this first campaign, for not only was the problem widely recognised, but he had strong backing from his Country Party colleagues. Cabinet quickly agreed to accept a triennial program of an additional 700,000 pounds per annum for new schools plus a further one million pounds over three years for repairs and maintenance. Some indication of the size of the program can be gauged from the fact that total education expenditure in 1927, Labor's last year in office, was about 4.7 million pounds.
Drummond's second coup in those first months was the establishment of the Armidale Teachers' College. Staffing country schools had been a problem for a long time. Despite a number of stop-gap measures Professor Mackie, Head of Sydney Teachers' College, had complained as late as 1923 that not only were 70 per cent of teachers inadequately trained but that 'the less competent teachers... [were] placed in charge of the most difficult schools, viz the rural school under the single teacher.' The possibility of founding a rural teachers' college as a part solution to this problem had been under discussion for many years, and by 1927 there was general acceptance of the idea. Further, there was also general agreement that Sydney Teachers' College was overcrowded. However, while there was general agreement on the desirability, even the need for, a country college, lack of political will had always prevented its creation.
Drummond's appointment provided the necessary will, but he also received extremely enthusiastic support from his Under-Secretary S.H. Smith. This photo from the James Vickers family collection is simply inscribed the member and secretary discuss policies.
Smith was then in his early sixties. Handsome and intelligent, with a commanding presence and a beautiful speaking-voice, he was also fussy and sensitive, and vulnerable to personal attack. A man of limited formal education, Smith had entered the teaching service in 1879 as a pupil teacher, and had worked his way up through the ranks, becoming Under-Secretary in 1922 upon the retirement of the famous Peter Board. There were those who affected to despise Smith because of his lack of formal education; Smith knew this and, sensitive on this point himself, was deeply wounded by it. Drummond's awareness of his own limited education probably helped him to manage his new Permanent Head. Certainly he understood Smith, and the two men became close.
Smith would have supported Drummond's plans for country colleges in any case, since many years before he had prepared a similar plan himself. However, added force was now given to Smith's support as a result of his feud with that stormy petrel of New South Wales education, Professor Alexander Mackie. Mackie, a brilliant Scottish-born academic who had come to Sydney in 1906 to head the newly established Sydney Teachers' College, was a man of strong views. He believed that the main emphasis in teacher-training should be academic, that the independence of Sydney Teachers' College must be preserved, and he had little time for financial or other constraints on his activities. By contrast Smith, bound up in the day-to-day problems of State education, regarded the College's job as training those teachers the Department required in the way the Department required. In this regard Smith disagreed with Mackie as to the most desirable form of teacher training: while not opposed to academic training, Smith thought that Mackie's academic bias meant ill-trained teachers, and supported instead a more vocationally-oriented training. Mackie was as sensitive as Smith, so these professional and policy differences became intensely personal. After Smith made a surprise inspection of Sydney Teachers' College in 1927, Mackie wrote to Smith that such inspections could 'only be done competently by a person with the necessary qualifications.' He went on: 'The inspection of highly qualified specialists on the college staff should be entrusted to men and women with similarly high academic qualifications and with extensive experience of College work.' Not surprisingly, Smith found this letter 'offensive'. For Smith's part, he commented sarcastically to Drummond that Mackie had 'that type of mind which is usually associated with the Scottish metaphysician.'
The combination of committed Minister and Under-Secretary proved irresistible. Just nine days after being sworn in, Drummond asked for an urgent report on the possible establishment of country teachers' colleges, suggesting Wagga and Armidale as possible sites. Smith immediately recommended Armidale, a move that obviously appealed to Drummond but which was not without logic. Not only was Armidale already an educational centre, but the city had an immediately available site in the form of a disused gaol on forty hectares of land. Drummond now moved with speed and secrecy; within the Department only Smith and A.W. Hicks, the school inspector at Armidale and later an important Drummond aide, were aware of his plans. By 17 November Hicks had quotations on the purchase of certain buildings and the lease of another. By 9 December Smith had prepared a Cabinet submission seeking approval for the establishment of the College. By 12 December, Cabinet had duly approved the proposal, and on that day C.B. Newling was summoned to Sydney by telegram, sworn to secrecy, and offered the post of Principal. Also on 12 December, the first rumour of the moved reached the press, when the Tenterfield Star recorded that the Armidale gaol was to be demolished and noted that:
Rumour haith it that on the site is likely to be erected a Technical College or a Teachers' Training College either of which would serve the northern districts and not Armidale alone.
On 14 December Smith was notified that the Armidale site was to be handed over to the Department following demolition of the gaol. Finally, on 23 December the proposal officially appeared in the press. From then until lectures began in March 1928 there was a hectic whirl: Newling took responsibility for organising on the ground, Smith was arranging staff, while Drummond kept the political wheels turning.
The idea of a country college may have been long accepted in theory, but it was not without its opponents. According to Newling, the Armidale proposal met active hostility within the Sydney press, among city interests and within the Department. Perhaps most importantly, potential students, fearful of the likely standards of the new college, were reluctant to leave Sydney for the bush.
The College's protagonists were aware of these reservations, and jealously guarded the interests of their new creation. Smith, to whom the College was the testing ground for this theories, carefully selected the best possible staff from inside the teaching service with scant regard to the normal promotion procedures. His basic aim was widely known within his Department: when Arch Gray, a former Sydney Teachers' College staff member and a known protege of Mackie's, applied for a job at Armidale he was called to see Smith. 'I had decided', Smith told him, 'not to appoint any past or present Sydney staff to Armidale, but in your case I am going to make an exception'. In addition to selecting the best possible staff, Smith pushed students towards Armidale, if necessary on the promise that they could later transfer to Sydney if they wished. Indeed, as an experiment Smith gave that first intake their choice of school: in his, Newling's and Drummond's view, the results were in themselves sufficient to justify the College's creation, for fifty-two of the fifty-four students chose the country. In another move, Smith persuaded the art patron Howard Hinton to give paintings to the College. For many of the Northern students, these were the first original works of art they had seen.
Newling, too, devoted himself to the College. Sharing Smith's ideas on teacher-training, he developed and introduced the necessary new teaching programs. However, he had also to build and protect the College's public reputation. The result was a firm paternal system, unacceptable by today's standards, but which did achieve its object. It was also not unwelcome to the generally young and unsophisticated students; to them Newling became 'Pop', a nickname he retained to the end of his College career.
Drummond backed Smith's and Newling's efforts fully, promising Newling, for example, that he would support all decisions Newling took regardless of the political consequences. Characteristically, it was a promise he kept, in so doing adding Newling to his growing list of friends and admirers. Drummond also took a direct interest in the College's building program to ensure that the buildings and surrounds would be at least as good as those of Sydney Teachers' College. He pushed construction forward as fast as possible, with almost obsessive attention to the most minor details, from the type of tap to be used in the washrooms to the way in which pines should be planted in the playing fields. The photo is of the dedication of the Armidale Teacher's College in 1929.
In addition to his direct involvement with the College, Drummond tried to ensure that the new institution had significant political backing. The Northern press had welcomed the move, attacking any suggestion that the choice of site was made for personal political reasons, and looking forward to the establishment of a Northern university. Drummond matched this press comment with a carefully marshalled public relations exercise. The Mayor of Armidale, Morgan Stephens (another new state supporter) was asked to organize a dinner to mark the opening of the College: the dinner should be attended not only by people from Armidale but from the North in general, to mark the fact that this was a Northern occasion.
Drummond's move was both ideological and political. It was ideological in that it reflected his deep belief in the North and of the role of the people of the North in deciding their own affairs. The same belief is shown in his request to the Department to obtain pictures for the proposed College gallery from the New South Wales Gallery, pictures that would illustrate among other things the history of the north. A similar request was to be made to the National Museum for specimens for the College museum. These should include 'specimens definitely granted to the College to hold in trust for the people of the Northern Districts for all time' and also 'specimens which are intimately connected with the natural development and pursuits of the district.' The wording of the two minutes suggests that Drummond was looking towards the establishment of a State Gallery and Museum for a new Northern State. The political overtones in Drummond's action lay in his attempt to stress the identity of the College as a Northern institution, thus ensuring that it had wide political support if required.
Although the new building program and the establishment of the Armidale Teacher's College were Drummond's major educational initiatives during the first three months of his term, he made a number of other moves as well. In November 1927 the fees charged for correspondence instruction in technical courses were reduced to the level charged for oral tuition, thus putting the country student on the same cost basis as the town student. Then, in the new year, a new system of agricultural education was introduced, an area in which Drummond was particularly interested.
The extension of agricultural education within the school system had been a problem for many years. In 1920, for example, the total number of students attending third-year agriculture courses, the highest level then available, was only sixty-seven. Even by 1928 the situation was not much better. There were a number of reasons for this. Schools were usually located in the larger urban centres and had inadequate land for plots. There was also a distrust of theoretical subjects within the rural community. Associated with this was a justified fear that by studying agriculture other career avenues might be blocked out.
In 1928 a scheme was introduced to try to overcome these problems. It had three parts: the special courses included in the rural school syllabus were reorganised and amplified; the nature study syllabus in primary schools was carefully reviewed and augmented; and Junior Farmers' Clubs were established throughout the State. An organiser of school agriculture was appointed, together with two assistants, to develop the scheme. The Junior Farmers' Clubs were intended to be an important part of the overall scheme. Members were expected, under supervision, to undertake enterprises on their parents' farms. Officers of the Department of Agriculture were to provide expert advice as necessary. The Clubs were thus intended to be essentially practical and, as such, were designed to commend themselves to the rural communities.
During the first three months of his term, the education section of his portfolio seems to have absorbed most of Drummond's energy. It was not until the end of January 1928 that he made his first move on the child welfare side. On the 25th, Drummond made his first visit to the Gosford Farm Home at Mount Penang. Although Gosford was in theory a farm home, in practice the poor land at Mount Penang prevented any but the most rudimentary farming operations. Drummond concluded that the energy expended on training the older lads might be put to better use if those 'of better character and with inclination to take on agricultural work were drafted onto a training farm, which would give them a wider scope for the acquisition of agricultural knowledge'. Having thus defined the problem, he moved with speed. By 2 February he had discussed the matter with the Country Party Minister for Agriculture, Victor Thorby, who not only offered to give the Child Welfare Department the Yanco Experimental Farm but also offered to make available experienced instructors in agricultural science. On 31 March Drummond visited Yanco with Bethal, the secretary of the Department. He liked what he saw. Yanco comprised 823 hectares of land, including 202 hectares of irrigable land and 112 hectares used for fruit, dairy, vegetables and wheat. It was an ideal site, and Drummond directed that it should be acquired. The first boys moved in early in June 1928 and from 1 July, less than six months after Drummond's visit to Gosford, the Home was established as an Industrial School under the Child Welfare Act 1923.
Yanco occupied a special place in Drummond's heart. Loving the country as he did, and believing in the virtues of farm life, Yanco was his chance to put into practice the lessons he had drawn from his own life. Despite the pressures of his portfolio, he tried to supervise the farm in some detail. He instructed his Department that the boys should be kept at the farm for at least 12 months; the asked that they investigate the possibility of introducing wool classing and manual training; in September 1929 he asked what provision, if any, existed for placing Yanco boys in employment, following this up in March 1930 with a direction that the Department should consult farm organisations to try to find employment; he directed that statistical data should be collected to allow a proper assessment to be made of the project; and he tried to speed up the drawing of plans for the necessary permanent accommodation on the farm.
The attention to detail shown in the Yanco and Armidale Teachers' College cases was to be a marked feature of Drummond's ministerial style and one of the methods he used to control his Department. Whatever his views may have been about his professional qualifications, Drummond soon formed the view that, at business matters at least, he was better than his administrators. He also felt that, as head of an extremely centralised system, one of his jobs was to make his Department sensitive to public opinion and needs. To solve these problems, Drummond developed two main techniques during his first term. The first was personal inspection or discussion; not only did he visit all parts of his Department, but he also made a point of talking to his staff and to the various interest groups associated with the Department's operations. His interests covered the small as well as the prominent: in August 1928, for example, he made a personal (and almost certainly surprise) inspection of dressing-room accommodation provided for children at Sydney theatres. 'I was particularly struck', he later told the Department, 'with the very unsatisfactory arrangements at Clay's Vaudeville at Newton.' After describing the conditions, he went on to instruct the Department as to the modifications that must be made. If Drummond's visit to Clay's was an example of his first technique, his subsequent minute to the Department was an example of his second. Throughout his ministerial career Drummond continually sent his Department minutes, ranging in length from a few lines to more than ten pages, and covering a wide variety of topics. Copies of these minutes were kept in the Minister's office, thus allowing him to follow-up topics over very long periods.
Attention to detail on this scale can reduce a Minister's effectiveness. Drummond soon discovered that his job involved a huge volume of paper work, much of it relatively trivial. He responded in characteristic fashion. After working till midnight for three months to familiarise himself with the material, Drummond delegated routine work back to the Department and also introduced - literally - a ministerial rubber stamp to be wielded by his private secretary. Thereafter he was free to concentrate on those details which he, but not necessarily always the Department, considered important.
Drummond thoroughly enjoyed his new ministerial responsibilities. However, they also brought change and some disruption to his life. One change was minor but welcome: for the first time he began to use a hearing-aid. It was clumsy, a large box on the end of a cord, but it gave him much greater freedom. He also learned to use it to his advantage, for there were times when it was wise not to hear things, and his hearing-aid gave him a ready-made excuse not available to others. Other changes were less welcome.
Inevitably, the appointment brought to an end the family's settled Glen Innes life. With the town no longer in his electorate, and with new ministerial demands requiring longer periods in Sydney, David and Pearl decided to move to the city. On Sunday morning 11 December 1927, he preached for the last time as a local to a crowded Glen Innes Methodist Church; the Examiner noted that his sermon 'was of that sane and robust type for which he is notable.' The following Saturday the family caught the night train to Sydney. They had no immediate place to stay, so Drummond sent his wife and children to the seaside at Manly while he looked for a house.
The photo shows daughters Kathleen, Margaret and Helen in front of the house at Vaucluse where the family finally settled.
The move to Sydney allowed Drummond to see more of his family, but it also had its disadvantages. For Pearl her husband's translation to the ministry meant significant personal adjustment. Still painfully shy, she had to adopt a public role as the Minister's wife, forcing her into a prominence she could well have done without. She handled the task well, but there is no evidence to suggest that it ever became easy for her. Apart from her public duties, Pearl did as she had done before: centring her life on her family, she provided Drummond with that stable family base that the former ward of the state needed and which allowed him to pursue his public career with such concentrated energy.
For Drummond himself, these ministerial years were to be rewarding in ways quite apart from politics. He had always had an insatiable appetite for new people and ideas. Now with his new portfolio he was to be fully exposed to the growing, if still limited, intellectual life of the metropolis, a life that offered a new world to David Drummond.
Drummond had purchased his first piece of art, an etching by Hardy Wilson, while living at Glen Innes. Now, within the limits of his still small budget, he slowly began to build up a collection. His selections were cautious but shrewd, for they included works by Norman Lindsay, James Jackson, Robert Johnson and Sydney Long. He also began to make friends in the art world. He subscribed to the quarterly Art in Australia, with its lavish colour plates, and became good friends with its publisher, Sydney Ure Smith, a long-term president of the Society of Artists. Other friends included the art patrons Howard Hinton and Sir James McGregor. Perhaps the closest of all, however, was Doug Pratt. Pratt was a professional surveyor who drew as a hobby. The Depression forced Pratt to turn a hobby into a profession when, in 1930, he was suddenly fired. Now Drummond was able to act as Pratt's patron, buying some works himself and arranging for Pratt to receive commissions, particularly in the North. The resulting paintings, etchings and drawings make up the largest collection of work depicting the North by any recognised artist.
Drummond's activities were not limited just to art. He became friends with writers such as Mary Gilmore and Ion Idriess, writers whose works he supported and enjoyed. He extended his contacts among those in the business and professional communities who shared his interests and established solid links with the University of Sydney.
Despite Drummond's new interests, his basic framework of beliefs remained the same. God made the country, man made the city, and the Devil made the suburbs - and built flats, he told the Institute of Architects in 1928. There is no evidence to suggest that, with the possible exception of the art world, Drummond had any significant contact with either the small cultural avant-garde or the political and intellectual radicals who between them were challenging existing standards. Nevertheless, his new experience broadened his outlook and probably, with the notable exception of his deeply-held hatred of communism, made him more tolerant. He learnt to like scotch and wine and began to smoke a pipe, if always in strict moderation. But the traffic in new ideas and influences was far from one way. A striking feature of the thirties would be the extent to which Northerners were able to use key city people to advance or publicise their various causes. David Drummond would be a significant figure here, playing a role similar to that which Page had played during the twenties with people such as Windeyer and Latham.
The simple truth was that Drummond's heart remained in the North. Despite the growing demands of his ministry, and his move to Sydney, he maintained not only his electoral activities but also his other Northern interests. In particular, he now began to assume the important role he was to play in the organisation and control of the local media, first newspapers and then later radio and television.
In those pre-radio and television days, the local press was the main source of community information. Originally even the smallest towns had their own independent newspaper to press the interests of town and district. However, from the first decade of this century rising wages, the development of new and costlier technology, and growing competition from the metropolitan dailies began to threaten the financial survival of the country press. Papers started to close or merge, while a number became daily publications. These new country dailies were aggressive. In the North the Grafton Daily Examiner and Northern Daily Leader combined with the Lismore Northern Star and the Murwillumbah Tweed Daily to form the Associated Northern Dailies. An office was opened in Sydney to sell advertising space and a joint rate was offered to advertisers willing to advertise in all four papers. In 1931 the Maitland Daily Mercury joined the group.
Competition from the Northern Dailies combined with that from the Sydney press to increase the pressure on the other newspapers still being published on a tri-, bi- or weekly basis. This competition was not all one-sided. In September 1926, for example, Sommerlad wrote to Drummond with glee that the Glen Innes Examiner had
.. got a good one on Tamworth yesterday, in connection with the rail smash. Armidale passed the word on that Tamworth were sending a special edition up, to arrive about 7pm. I got busy & made a fine display of stuff in the short time available. Then hired a motor-bike and sent 350 copies to Inverell, having rung Knapton to get a dodger out in the meantime. The street was blocked with people waiting for copies & we made a great sale - & a great scoop.
Despite such successes, the pressure on the smaller papers grew. Again the response was merger, associated with the closure of the smaller papers. In 1923 Sommerlad merged the Glen Innes Guardian into the Glen Innes Examiner, following this in 1926 with the merger of the Inverell Times and Inverell Argus. A new company, Northern Newspapers Limited, was formed to take over both the Inverell papers and the Glen Innes Examiner. Sommerlad became Chairman and Managing Director, while the other directors included Harold Knapton (former proprietor of the Inverell Times) and Drummond.
Drummond had probably not been actively involved in Sommerlad's business activities before accepting the appointment to the Northern Newspapers' Board. However, he played an active role in the next stage of the consolidation process, the merger of the two rival Armidale papers, the Armidale Express and the Armidale Chronicle.
In 1928, a financial adventurer, William John Beckett, formed a new company to launch a chain of newspapers around Australia. Armidale was apparently mentioned as one of the key centres in the Beckett proposals. Beckett's notoriety created immediate concern: realising 'that at all costs Beckett must be prevented from getting a foothold in the North', Sommerlad and Albert Joseph (the founder of the Northern Daily Leader) agreed that the Tamworth Newspaper Company and Northern Newspapers should jointly sponsor the merger of the two papers. In Sommerlad's view, this outside intervention was necessary 'since the two Armidale proprietors were so mutually jealous there was no possibility of the amalgamation being brought about except by an outsider.' Drummond's newspaper experience had already suggested to him that merger would be desirable, and he fully supported Sommerlad's plan.
In February 1929 the Tamworth Newspaper Company Board refused to participate in the agreement, probably because of tensions between Tamworth and the other parties involved. With Tamworth's withdrawal, Harold Knapton wrote to Sommerlad saying Northern should now pull out unless they owned the 'whole show' since he doubted the capacity of the Armidale promoters to succeed in a larger newspaper. Drummond disagreed, and the parties decided to proceed. On 10 April 1929, The Armidale Newspaper Company Limited was formed with Dr. R.B. Austin (Chairman), E.C. Sommerlad (Managing Director) and Colonel H.F. White as initial directors. W.S. Forsyth, the main Armidale promoter, wrote happily to Sommerlad that he was 'pleased with the entire outlook.' Drummond and three others were appointed to the Board at the first directors' meeting, and then, on 2 September 1929, the first edition of the merged paper appeared.
In addition to his growing newspaper interests, Drummond maintained his support for the new state cause. Here the outlook seemed bleak. Although individual new staters such as Drummond and Thompson had maintained some pressure, the Movement itself was largely inactive. In May 1927, after a two year break, Thompson convened a meeting of the Northern Executive at Tenterfield. In a sombre report, Thompson outlined the Movement's problems. The new state issue, he told delegates, was confined almost wholly to the North. Even there, the people were not too divided in their political allegiances to become solid on the issue. Neither the Labor nor National Parties had nay policies towards the establishment of a larger measure of self-government in any part of New South Wales, while the Country Party could not stake its existence upon a new state for the North. In all, there was no chance of action at a State level.
Accepting Thompson's analysis, the Executive decided to concentrate on seeking amendment of the Federal Constitution while also convening another convention at Armidale to examine proposals for the extension of local government within the existing state in accordance with the recommendations of the Cohen Commission. Given the Movement's previous opposition to such councils, this was an act of despair. However, before such a convention could be convened, the Movement achieved one of its long-sought breakthroughs with the appointment by the Bruce-Page Government in August 1927 of the Royal Commission (the Peden Commission) to inquire into the constitution.
Drummond gave his evidence on 5 and 6 March 1928. He began in a novel way, apparently intended to ease the fears aroused by the previous Lang administration, which had strengthened support for the status quo. The rise of the Labor Movement, he suggested, had been a political development peculiar to Australia, one not experienced with the same directness in other dominions such as Canada or South Africa. It was a matter for speculation whether Labor, as organised today, was not just a passing phase, like so many other political and economic developments. It was therefore open to question whether the immediate effects of the Labor Movement should be allowed to influence attitudes towards constitutional change. In any event, change was steadily working, and would continue to work, on the Constitution, modifying government institutions whether there was constitutional assent and referendum or not. Drummond went on to suggest that the existing system, with some modifications, was still the best for the development of the country. The modifications he proposed followed his now traditional line: they were intended to make subdivision easier and strengthen central power while protecting the position of the states.
In addition to his general constitutional evidence, Drummond made a number of important comments on education. Noting that educational costs were growing, he suggested that if the State was to successfully discharge its responsibilities in education then it must have access to adequate taxation revenue. In turn, this meant that the Commonwealth must be prepared to reduce its pressure upon the fields of state taxation. The alternative was to transfer education to Commonwealth control, but this, in his view, would be a blunder of the first magnitude. A full transfer must immerse the Commonwealth Parliament in a morass of detail, while a partial transfer would give rise to significant problems associated with shared control.
Drummond's arguments on this last point, while drawing heavily from previous South African experience, have distinctly modern ring. It was difficult, he said, to distinguish between primary and higher education, since the education system graduated from one stage to another by a series of imperceptible steps. Consequently, any move to give the Commonwealth control over higher education, leaving primary education to the states, would inevitably complicate educational administration. Teacher-training, for example, was clearly higher education, but yet was directly related to the needs of the primary school system. Should the states retain primary education while allowing the Commonwealth to take over teacher training, then it was safe to say that the work of education would be considerably hampered and much friction and overlapping must arise. Drummond also attacked the idea of Commonwealth subsidies for education. Such subsidies, he said, would encourage lavish expenditure in good times and wholesale retrenchment in bad.
While Drummond opposed direct Commonwealth involvement in education, he did make two suggestions regarding national coordination in the area. The first was that the Commonwealth might establish a Bureau of Education whose function would be limited to the collection and dissemination of educational information to the State educations departments. Secondly, he suggested that the States should form a national Education Council to provide a forum for the discussion of educational problems affecting the general interests of the States.
Interestingly, given Drummond's normal commitment to local control, he rejected the idea that cities or localities should control their own education systems. In his view, this proposal must lead to inequities in a state whose development and population distribution were far from uniform, whereas the existing system made provision for every child irrespective of where it was located. As always, his solution to the centralisation problem lay in the creation of new states which would allow smaller, if still centralised, education systems to be created.
There is no reason to believe that Drummond's evidence was particularly influential at the time. He was cited only three times in the Peden Commission's Report, and then only in glancing fashion. Nevertheless, the Report gave him and the other Northerners cause for satisfaction, for while it was marked by the general political divisions that had been so apparent in previous parliamentary debates on constitutional issues, it also generally supported amendment of the constitution to facilitate the creation of new states.
The Commission's Report was not handed down until September 1929. In the meantime, the Northern Movement went ahead with its plans for the third Armidale Convention, although at first there was little popular enthusiasm. In September 1928, for example, the Armidale Branch itself met for the first time in almost five years. 'The [Cohen] Commission Report knocked the bottom out of the New States Movement', Branch secretary R.N. Hickson told the meeting, 'and only for Mr V.C. Thompson it would be as dead as the Armidale Branch.' Despite such problems, the Movement planned the Convention carefully. A detailed plan for regional councils was prepared and widely circulated; interestingly, the name 'New England' was used for the first time in discussing the proposed Northern council. Press publicity was also used to publicise the issues involved. The end result was that the Convention, held on April 22, 23 and 24, 1929, was well attended: there were thirteen parliamentarians present, while delegates came from sixty-eight towns.
In putting forward the regional council proposal, Thompson was probably reflecting widespread local opinion. However, Page would have none of this: in a fiery speech he appealed to delegates not 'to touch this unclean thing', and won the day. The Convention decided to press towards self-government. Although the 'clamorous enthusiasm of previous years' was absent, the Convention strengthened the Movement's position. Whether, in the absence of a change in the political climate, this would have generated a further sustained campaign is uncertain. In any event, the onset of the Depression would shortly bring the necessary change in the political climate.
While the Movement itself was relatively inactive during this period, individual supporters turned towards what Moore has called the functional approach to new statism. The campaigns of the twenties had generated new development ideas, regional loyalties and personal links between the key individuals involved. Page had already used these in his continuing campaign for hydro-development along the eastern escarpment. Now other activists, thwarted in their immediate attempts to gain separation, were to use them to try and create new institutions within the existing structure of Government.
Drummond's establishment of the Armidale Teachers' College was one such example. The official opening of the College on 9 March 1928 provided an opportunity to push forward another Northern dream. A deputation, led by A. Horner Fletcher who had replaced Morgan Stephens as Mayor of Armidale early in 1928, saw Drummond to press the case for a university at Armidale. Victor Thompson, acting as principal spokesman, suggested that the foundation of the College provided a good opportunity to establish such a university as a further step in the educational advancement of Northern New South Wales. Drummond was extremely sympathetic. However, in the age-old cry of Ministers everywhere, he pointed out that the State was short of funds. In these circumstances, the people of the North must demonstrate that they were themselves prepared to raise money to help endow the university; do this, and he was sure that the Government would support the proposal. As he later put it, faith without works (and money) was dead. In this case the faith was there, but the money was slow to come.
Other moves during this period involved Phillip Arundell Wright. Wright was then in his late thirties. A member of the Tableland's grazing elite, he fully shared the Northern ethos. Drawn together by their common causes, and by their shared interest in agricultural and pastoral techniques, Drummond and Wright became life-long friends, with Drummond acting as god-father to Wright's youngest son, David, born in 1933.
About 1927 a group decided to recommence wool sales at Newcastle, and approached Wright for support. Newcastle had been a primary production export port in the 1880's, but the opening of the railway line to Sydney had destroyed this trade, centralising activity in the metropolis. Wright took the idea up with enthusiasm, for congestion in the Sydney brokers' stores meant that wool shorn in October and November could not be brought forward for sale until the following March at the earliest.
The new venture, The New England North and Northwest Producers' Co. Ltd., more normally known as NENCO, faced great difficulties. The existing Sydney-based woolbrokers launched a campaign against the idea, the woolbuyers were officially antagonistic, while many Northern growers, no matter how sympathetic, were deeply in debt to the woolbrokers and therefore unable to participate in the face of broker hostility. Despite these problems, NENCO slowly established itself. Selling wheat as well as wool, it played a major part in re-establishing Newcastle as a general export port. It also provided the Northerners with a base in their southern steel city, a base that Drummond would later make use of.
Drummond had not been involved in NENCO's formation. However, he did play an important part in the second project Wright launched during this period. As with so many of the Northerners, Wright's love of the land and particularly of his own Tablelands, was central to his life. Not only did this influence his general political attitudes, but it also made him a committed conservationist. Wright reserved particular love for Point Lookout, a 1600 metres peak in the mountainous escarpment east of Armidale. Although often clouded in thick mist and rain, on clear days the Lookout provides magnificent views over the headwaters of the MacLeay, Nambucca and Bellinger Rivers to the distant coast. To protect the Lookout, Wright decided to establish a National Park around it.
By 1930 Wright had a general picture of the area that might be included in his Park and had enlisted the support of a number of his friends including Drummond, Page, R.N. Hickson, Colonel White and Roy Vincent, another Northern new stater and then Minister for Forests. The campaign won a quick response. On 12 September 1930, R.T. Ball, the Minister for Lands, advised Drummond that he had approved the reservation of 'about 43,600 acres at the head of the Bellinger Valley, including Point Lookout, for a National Park.'
The Park's protagonists were pleased with the outcome, but were still not satisfied. They felt that the area granted was too small, and therefore launched an unsuccessful campaign to have it extended. Equally importantly, Drummond and Vincent felt that a simple dedication of crown lands for the Park was insufficient protection, for such dedications could be revoked by a simple resolution passed by both Houses of the State Parliament. As Drummond told Peter Wright in 1965, very few members, 'except those interested in the wrong direction', knew or cared enough to watch for such revocations. Vincent and Drummond therefore tried to get a special Act to protect the Park in perpetuity and ensure a reasonable flow of funds for development. When this move failed, Drummond recalled,
Vincent then did a very clever thing, he had a section inserted in the Crown Lands Consolidation Act, the effect of which meant that Land could be added by resolution, but it could not be revoked without the passing of a special Act. As Vincent remarked, it is much more difficult to enact by Special Legislation than it is to pass a routine resolution.
However, this remained a stop-gap solution. Permanent legislative protection would not be given to National Parks until 1967.
In the midst of these various moves, Drummond turned his attention to a more fundamental reorganisation of his portfolio. The educational changes introduced by Peter Board, and inherited by Drummond, had led to the complicated secondary structure outlined previously. High schools provided academic education tied to the University, while the super-primary schools were meant to provide pre-vocational or vocational education whether it be technical, commercial or domestic. The arrangement was cumbersome and by 1928 had failed. It required one of each type of school to be provided for each area, which simply was not possible. In addition, the vocational training itself had proved unsuccessful. In 1926, for example, the Institute of Inspectors had commented:
When their course is complete the boys from the technical school system often go into business houses, and the commercially trained boys become mechanics. Such misfits are inevitable so long as we segregate pupils at 12 into special schools according to the occupation they are to follow.
From Drummond's viewpoint the arrangements posed a number of problems. They had led to waste of money, particularly in country areas. They forced into high schools and academic courses - with their emphasis on languages and particularly Latin - children who were not suited to those courses; conversely, they stopped academically-able children from following such courses. In this regard Drummond, although he had favoured vocational education, was not opposed either to the academic courses or Latin as such. Indeed, he had taught himself at least some Latin during the hearings of the Public Works Committee. His objections were primarily based on the need to match education to the abilities and interests of the pupil. This last was particularly a problem in country areas, where dispersed populations limited the range of school types that could be economically offered.
In January 1930 Drummond announced that alternative courses, generally along rural science lines with emphasis on the particular occupation of the district, would be offered in country secondary schools, while the existing rural schools would offer the full academic course. By 1932 country secondary education had been consolidated: secondary schools offered a common core of subjects plus professional and vocational options, whiles courses in selected plus professional and vocational options, while courses in selected junior technical and domestic arts schools had been extended to five years to allow students to sit the Leaving Certificate.
In addition to the reorganisation of secondary education, from early in 1928 Drummond was actively involved in a complete review of the State's welfare services. Although the welfare state as such was still some years away, New South Wales' welfare activities were already very complex, involving a variety of provisions administered by at least four government departments. In addition to the services provided by the Child Welfare Department, the Treasury was responsible for the payment of child endowment and widows' pensions, the Department of Labor and Industry supervised the operations of the Workmen's Compensation Commission, while the Chief Secretary's Department provided baby outfits and also emergency cash assistance.
These provisions did provide a rudimentary social security net for many groups within the community, but their primary emphasis was on the protection first of children and then of wives or widows. The spread of these generally child-related provisions across so many departments could be questioned on efficiency grounds and was also open to abuse in that it was possible to try and claim benefits under several headings at once. The new Nationalist-Country Party Government therefore decided to carry out a review of the coordination of State welfare activities, including the possible separation of the Child Welfare Department from the Education Department.
In his report on the review, presented in July 1928, Drummond argued very strongly that the Education and Child Welfare Departments must continue to report to the same minister. The Child Welfare Department, he suggested, had two broad functions, eleemosynary - as charitable relief was then called - and reformatory. it was in this second area that the relationships between the two Departments were, and had to be, close. The Education Department was concerned with the education of all State children (including those in institutions), and it could only carry out this function if the activities of the Child Welfare and Education Departments were coordinated through a common ministerial head. At the same time, Drummond believed that the links between the two Departments should be eased: while the Director of Education should have referred to him all matters affecting the education of children under the control of the Child Welfare Department, on all other matters the Child Welfare Department should be autonomous, with the Director of Education relieved from any responsibility arising therefrom.
On the coordination of welfare services, Drummond recommended that the issue of baby outfits and of emergency monetary assistance should be transferred from the Chief Secretary's Department to the Child Welfare Department. He also considered that widows' pensions logically belong to the Child Welfare Department, but recommended against this transfer for the present since it would involve amendment of an Act. So far as child endowment was concerned, he was opposed to any transfer of this function from the Treasury to the Child Welfare Department; in his view, this activity would grow with the growth of the State, so that its transfer would unduly inflate the size of the Child Welfare Department and could make it necessary for the Department to be transferred to another, less busy, minister. Finally, he recommended certain administrative measures designed to make it more difficult to claim multiple benefits.
In general, Drummond's recommendations appear to have been accepted by Cabinet: emergency assistance and baby outfits were transferred from the Chief Secretary's Department, the Minister for Public Instruction continued as the responsible Minister for child welfare matters, while child endowment was left with the Treasury. Widows' pensions were also transferred to the Department. These moves did improve coordination, but even so with the benefit of hindsight Drummond might have recommended against them. Whatever the arguments for the transfers, they overloaded the Child Welfare Department, creating serious administrative problems, problems which would later create major difficulties for Drummond.
In April 1929, Dave and Pearl travelled to New Zealand on an private visit; it was their first visit overseas. The trip was a busy one, for Drummond took the opportunity to travel widely throughout the Dominion inspecting schools and welfare institutions, farms and civic facilities. He was impressed by what he saw. He told the Northern Daily Leader that New Zealand, unlike New South Wales, had big provincial cities which could and did act as centres of culture. New Zealand farming techniques were also excellent, although as in the North the gradual disappearance of horse traction had created real problems for farmers as a result of the destruction of the oats market. He was less impressed with the New Zealand school system which, he thought, had little to teach New South Wales. However, even here he brought back school plans which he thought could be modified for use in the hotter parts of the State: 'I have long been impressed by the fact that the small type of schools... is entirely unsuitable during the warmer months of the year', he wrote to the Department.
Whatever Drummond's views may have been on New Zealand education, he was definitely impressed with the methods adopted in that country for dealing with juvenile offenders. In his subsequent report to the Child Welfare Department he suggested extensive changes based on New Zealand practice, suggestions made particularly interesting because of the light they throw upon Drummond's personal attitudes towards his portfolio.
Under the New Zealand system, delinquents up to sixteen years of age were, as in New South Wales, committed to institutions controlled by the Minister of Education. However, those from sixteen to twenty-five were committed to a borstal system, under the control of the Minister of Justice, for periods ranging from twelve months to three years. All decisions as to release were made by a Probation Board, which could also decide not to send offenders to a Borstal but instead to give them immediate probationary release. To Drummond it was significant that this last provision, whose nearest equivalent in New South Wales was release under the First Offenders Act, could be applied to all, not just to first offenders. The Board's activities were supported by full time probation officers, assisted by voluntary committees which found work for the probationers, tried to draw them into social activities, 'and generally, to make it harder for them to slip back into a life of law breaking.'
Drummond liked the New Zealand system: the Dominion's Comptroller of Prisons, he told the Department, strongly asserted that it had saved many thousands of pounds per annum and had also 'saved many of the younger generation from a prison stamp'. Accordingly, he decided that it should be adopted in New South Wales, subject to one important modification. Considering that the methods already adopted within his Department might be used to good effect to control younger offenders, he proposed that the new institutions should come under the control of the Minister for Education. This move, which Drummond regarded as 'experimental legislation', would have removed the proposed borstals from the penal system, substituting instructors for warders, and reducing the stigma attached to incarceration. Having decided that the New Zealand system, as modified, should be introduced, he instructed that the necessary draft legislation should be drawn up to allow Cabinet to consider the issue.
The proposed borstal system was not the only idea Drummond brought back from New Zealand. He had noted approvingly the almost complete absence of physical culture work at the New Zealand institutions as compared with the Gosford Farm Home: at Gosford, with its limited soil and large numbers (up to four hundred boys ranging in age from fourteen to eighteen), a great deal of formal physical exercise was used as a way of keeping the boys out of mischief. He had also noted the success of the agricultural work carried out on the Boys' Industrial Home at Levin and at the Boys' Borstal at Invercargill. These things convinced him that the decision to establish Yanco had been sound and led him to look for further ways to extend agricultural and vocational training within the New South Wales system.
Overall, then, Drummond's New Zealand trip had convinced him that the child welfare system should be developed in new ways. However, he faced significant difficulties in doing this. To take one example, whatever the arguments for improved vocational training, there were shortages of land, instructors and equipment. He took the first steps; he directed that wool classing should be introduced at Yanco, manual instruction at Gosford, and also canvassed the possibility of establishing a dairy at Yanco. But before he could advance further, his plans were brought to an abrupt end by the onset of the Depression.
This post continues my story of the life of the New England Leader David Henry Drummond. You will find a full list of posts here.
Material on this and subsequent paragraphs on the formation of the Bavin-Buttenshaw Government is drawn from: U.R. Ellis, The Country Party. A Political and Social History of the Party in New South Wales, F.W. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1958, pp.104-5; D.A. Aitkin, The Colonel: A Political Biography of Sir Michael Bruxner, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1969, pp.101-4; and the Interview Transcript.
Cited Ellis, The New South Wales Country Party, p.104.
Cited Aitkin, The Colonel, p.102.
This paragraph is drawn from the Interview Transcript.
19 October 1927. Cited in G. Cooke, 'Public Opinion, Political Activity And Ministerial Influence In Education, N.S.W. 1873-1941.', MEd (Hons) thesis, The University of Sydney, 1967, p.353.
4 December 1927.
25 December 1927.
20 October 1927.
This paragraph draws heavily from Aitkin, The Colonel, pp.103-104.
Unless otherwise cited, material in the next paragraphs is drawn from Ellis, The New South Wales Country Party, pp.106-114.
Reports in the Armidale Express, 23 October 1928, and Armidale Chronicle, 24 October 1928. Cited in: G.S. Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level - A Study in Armidale and New England, 1899-1929', MA thesis, University of New England, 1964, pp.164-166. The opening is also reported in detail in the Northern Daily Leader, 22 October 1928.
Armidale Chronicle, 24 October 1928.
Northern Daily Leader, 22 October 1928.
19 October 1928.
Aitkin, The Colonel, p.125.
The material on Bruxner's ministerial activities is drawn from ibid, pp.104-124.
Unless otherwise cited, the material on Drummond and his Department are drawn from the Interview Transcript and DM, pp.166-175.
Details on the size and structure of the Education Department are taken from the Report of the Minister of Public Instruction for 1927. For a detailed description of the Department at the time Drummond took over see: G.S. Browne (ed.), Education in Australia, Macmillan, London, 1927.
The description of the Child Welfare Branch is largely drawn from Browne, Education in Australia, p.52ff. A very detailed description of the Department can be found in Child Welfare Department. Report on the General Organisation, Control and Administration of, with special reference to State Welfare Institutions (McCulloch Report), Government Printer, Sydney, 1934. As can be seen in McCulloch's title, although Child Welfare was a branch of the Education Department it was often called the Child Welfare Department.
Report of the Minister of Public Instruction upon the Working of the Child Welfare Act, 1923, for the Years 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1929, New South Wales Parliamentary papers, Volume 4, 1930-1932, p.757.
There is not room here to list all references in this area: the list that follows is intended to provide a guide only. A good picture of the complexities involved can be found in: Department of Youth and Community Services, Child Welfare Legislation Review, Report of the Juvenile Offenders Project Team (1974), Report of the Children in Care Project Team (1974), Report of the Children's Courts Project Team (1974), Report of the Protection of Children Project Team (1974), Report of Community Services Project Team (1974), Report of the Child Welfare Legislative Review Committee (1975), Report by the Minister For Youth and Community Services on Proposed Child and Community Welfare Legislation (1978). Copies of these reports can be found in the Green Paper Secretariat files in the Mitchell Library. The journals, Australian Child and Family Welfare and Australian Social Work, contain a number of articles surveying child welfare problems. These are generally written by practitioners rather than historians, and historical details should be treated with care. However, they do provide a clear and simple introduction to child welfare problems and attitudes. Other general references include: L.J. Tierney, Children Who Need Help: A Study of Child Welfare Policy and Administration in Victoria, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1963; L.J. Tierney, 'Child Welfare in Retrospect', in R.J. Lawrence (ed.), Australian Children 1972: The Welfare Spectrum. Proceedings of the Australian Child Care Conference, Monash University, Melbourne February 20-25 1972, Children's Welfare Association, 1972, pp.11-16; C. Picton and P. Boss, Child Welfare in Australia: An Introduction, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Group (Australia), Sydney, 1971. For material on Drummond's period see Report, and particularly the transcripts for the McCulloch Inquiry, Supreme Court - Government Reporting Branch, New South Wales State Archives, 6/1780-1.
See W.A. Bayley, A History of the Farmers and Settlers' Association of N.S.W., Farmers and Settlers' Association, Sydney, 1957. Details of the FSA Conferences are set out in the annual Conference reports. Copies of these can be found in the United Farmers and Woolgrowers' Association papers, University of New England Archives, A252/1028.
Cited in: B.K. Hyams and B. Bessant, Schools for the People? An Introduction to the History of State Education in Australia, Longman Australia, Camberwell, 1972, p.122.
From Drummond's foreword to: W.G.K. Duncan (ed.), Social Services In Australia, Angus & Robertson in conjunction with Australian Institute of Political Science, Sydney, 1939, pvi. Drummond expressed similar views in 1920. See NSWPD, Vol.80, 14 October, pp.1592-1593.
E. Page and others (eds.), Australia Subdivided. The First New State, Examiner Printing Works, Glen Innes, 1920, p.10.
Armidale Express, 20 May, 3 June and 6 June 1924.
Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Proposals for the Establishment of a New State or New States, formed wholly or in part out of the present territory of the State of New South Wales, Government Printer, Sydney, 1925, pp.102-107, 131-136, 145-146.
Newling's description. C.P. Newling, The Long Day Wanes, L.F. Keller, Hunters Hill, 1973, p.66.
The early days of the University Movement are covered in: D.H. Drummond, A University is Born. The Story of the Founding of the University College of New England, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1959, pp.1-8; G. Harman, 'Politics at the Electoral Level', pp.167-179; B. Mitchell, 'Origins of the New England University College', Armidale and District Historical Society Journal and Proceedings, No.25, March 1982, pp.115-132.
Newling, The Long Day Wanes, p.66.
In his policy speech, delivered at West Wyalong on 13 September 1927, Country Party Leader A.E. Buttenshaw said in part: 'We favour the decentralisation of education by the establishment of teachers' training colleges at country centres... These colleges may eventually form the nucleus of a university. Towns like Wagga in the South and Armidale in the North, for instance, would be admirably suited for such a purpose.' The speech was printed and issued by the Country Party: a copy is in the Mitchell Library.
Interview with Lang by G. Cooke, 2 July 1965. Cited Cook, 'Ministerial Influence in Education', footnote 2, p.372. For details on the clash between Mutch and Lang see: G.E. Lewis, 'A Biography of the Honourable Thomas Davies Mutch, M.L.A., F.R.A.H., G.R.A.S.G.', MA thesis, University of New England, 1977, p.229ff; and Cooke, 'Ministerial Influence in Education', pp.343-347.
For details of the problem, and the Government's response, see: Glen Innes Examiner, 13 December 1927; Sydney Morning Herald, 19 and 26 January 1928; Daily Guardian, 17 January 1928; Labor Daily, 17 January 1928.
Unless otherwise cited, material on the foundation of the Armidale Teachers' College is drawn from: E.S. Elphick, 'Armidale Teachers' College: Its Background, Foundation and Early Years.' Litt B thesis, University of New England, 1972. Some of this material in incorporated in: E.S. Elphick, 'The Early Years of Armidale Teachers' College', Armidale and District Historical Society Journal and Proceedings, No.22, March 1979, pp.1-17. Newling, The Long Day Wanes, also provides an account of the College's foundation.
Cited Elphick, 'Thesis', p.27.
The description of Smith is largely drawn from a letter Drummond wrote to Elizabeth Campbell on 1 March 1965. Copy in Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/1087/6.
Material in this paragraph is largely drawn from Elphick, 'Thesis', pp.70-94. Smith's view of the clash between himself and Mackie are set out in his minutes to Drummond of 17 November 1927 and 18 September 1928. These minutes (contained in Drummond's Ministerial Letter Book, Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/Vol.2133, p.6 and pp.44-47) give a clear picture of Smith's attitudes and personality.
Mackie to Smith, 4 November 1927. Cited Elphick, 'Thesis', p.82.
Smith to Drummond, 17 November 1927. Ministerial Letter Book.
Smith to Drummond, 18 September 1928. Ministerial Letter Book.
Material on the reaction of the college's establishment is drawn from Newling, The Long Day Wanes, p.66ff.
From interview with Mr and Mrs Gray; a summary of the interview is in possession of the author.
See E.S. Elphick, 'Howard Hinton - The Man and His Collection', Armidale and District Historical Society Journal and Proceedings, No.23, March 1980, pp.51-72.
Interview with Mr and Mrs Gray.
See, for example, Northern Daily Leader, 29 December 1927.
Drummond to Morgan Stephens, 27 January 1928. Copy in FP.
Drummond to Department, 21 February 1930. Ministerial Letter Book, p.105.
Drummond to Department, 21 February 1930. ibid, pp.106-107.
Sydney Morning Herald, 10 November 1927.
See A.R. Crane and W.G. Walker, Peter Board. His Construction to the Development of Education in New South Wales, Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne, 1957, pp.234-250.
Report of the Minister for Public Instruction, 1928.
This account is taken from McCulloch Report, pp.49-56.
Cited ibid, p.50.
See Drummond's minutes to his Department of 2 October 1928, 17 June 1929, 16 September 1929, 1 November 1929, and 4 March 1930. Ministerial Letter Book, pp.50, 73, 84, 95 and 111.
Drummond's view on the role of the Minister are set out in: D.H. Drummond, 'Some Economic Aspects of Education', Lecture delivered to Blennerhassett's Commercial Educational Society of Australia, 17 February 1937. Published by Blennerhassett's Institute of Accountancy Ltd, Sydney, 1937.
Ministerial Letter Book, p.40.
Unless otherwise cited, personal details in this and the next paragraphs are based on interviews with Drummond's daughters.
13 December 1927.
For a description of Pratt and his work see: Sir William Dargie and D. Pratt, The Australian Artist. Douglas Pratt, O.B.E. (1900-1972), Australian Artist Editions, Artarmon, 1975.
Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 June 1928.
General material in this next section is drawn from: E.C. Sommerlad, Mightier Than The Sword: A Handbook on Journalism, Broadcasting Propaganda, Public Relations and Advertising, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1950; R.B. Walker, Old New England, Sydney University Press, Sydney, 1966; R.B. Walker, The Newspaper Press in New South Wales, 1803-1920, Sydney University Press, Sydney, 1976; R.B. Walker, Yesterday's News. A History of the Newspaper Press in New South Wales from 1920 to 1945, Sydney University Press, Sydney, 1980; and D.J.R. Sommerlad, 'D.H. Drummond: Parliamentarian and Pressman,' Armidale and District Historical Journal and Proceedings, No.22, March 1979, pp.43-52. Letters dealing with newspaper matters can be found in the Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3020/2.
18 September. Copy in FP.
Sommerlad to Musgrave, 1 May 1929, Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3020/2.
D.J.R. Sommerlad, 'Parliamentarian and Pressman', p.47.
W.S. Forsyth to Sommerlad, 20 February 1929. Extract from letter in Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3020/2.
20 February, Drummond Papers, ibid.
Sommerlad's letter to Forsyth of 19 February refers to a 'short conversation with Drummond regarding the proposed merger. He thinks that if Tamworth stands out Northern Newspapers should still go ahead.'
D.J.R. Sommerlad, 'Parliamentarian and Pressman', p.47.
17 April 1929. Extract in Drummond Papers, University of New England Archives, A248/3020/2.
D.J.R. Sommerlad, 'Parliamentarian and Pressman', p.47.
H.W. Oxford (ed.), Armidale 1863-1938: 75th Anniversary of the Municipality, Armidale, 1938, p.23.
Minutes of the Northern New States Executive, 2 May 1927. Cited Ellis, The Country Party in New South Wales, p.121; E. Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation after 1901, for the Establishment of a New State in Northern New South Wales', MA thesis, Sydney University (New England University College), 1953, pp.112-113.
Report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, Government Printer, Canberra, 1929, p.1.
Drummond's evidence is taken from the Glen Innes Examiner, Sydney Morning Herald and Labor Daily of 6 March 1928, and from the Northern Daily Leader of 9 March 1928.
Report, pp.186, 213, 237.
Armidale Express, September 22 1928.
As an example, after the initial meeting in May, the Executive met again in June (Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', p.11) and then in October 1928. (Armidale Express, October 6 1928). Cited Birch, 'The New State Movement', p.42.
A copy of the Thompson letter, and the plan, is contained in: W.T. Seaward Papers, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Archives, Scone.
See Northern Daily Leader, 5, 12 and 14 March 1929.
Birch, 'The New State Movement', p.43.
In 1927 a meeting at Kyogle had in fact recommended unification to the Executive (Minutes of the Northern New State Executive, 28 June 1927. Cited Moore, 'The Causes of the Agitation', p.114); a preliminary regional meeting held at Ballina early in 1929 had recommended acceptance of the Cohen recommendations (Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January 1929; while Alderman McPherson, a delegate to the Convention from the Grafton City Council, reported to his Council that the early atmosphere at the Convention was distinctly pro district councils. (Armidale Express, 11 May 1929. Cited Birch, 'The New State Movement', p.47).
Ellis, The New South Wales Country Party, p.122.
Ellis's phrase, ibid, p.121. Ellis was present at the Convention.
Moore, 'The Causes of Agitation', p.114.
This paragraph is drawn from Drummond's A University is Born. The Story of the Founding of the University College of New England, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1959, pp.6-8.
Unless otherwise cited, material on Wright and his activities is drawn from P.A. Wright, Memories of a Bushwhacker, University of New England, Armidale, 1971. Bruce Mitchell's afterword to the second edition of Memories (University of New England, 1982) presents a good overview of Wright. Details on the relationship between Wright and Drummond were also drawn from interviews with Drummond's daughters.
Unless otherwise cited, material in the next section is drawn from: Peter Wright, 'A History of the New England National Park', Armidale and District Historical Society Journal and Proceedings. No.25, March 1982, pp.1-16. An earlier version of the article was published as 'History of the New England National Park' in National Parks. Report of the Proceedings of the National Parks School held at The University of New England, Feb. 14-16 1964, Department of University Extension, University of New England, Armidale, 1964, pp.49-62.
Cited Peter Wright, 'The New England National Park', p.2.
W. Goldstein (ed.), Australia's 100 years of National Parks, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney, 1979, p.95.
Unless otherwise cited, material on the reorganisation of secondary education is drawn from: Interview Transcript; Hyams and Bessant, Schools for the People? p.128; and from Drummond's Ministerial Letter Book. See, particularly, his minute to the Department of 23 November 1928 (p.54).
Cited Hyams and Bessant, Schools for the People?, p.128.
Wright, Memories, p.89.
Material on the review of State welfare provisions is drawn from Drummond's Ministerial Letter Books, and from McCulloch Report. Despite the importance of State Welfare services, I am not aware of any historical study of them.
McCulloch Report, p.756.
His reactions are reported in: Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Guardian, Labor Daily, and Daily Telegraph of 1 May 1929, in the Armidale Chronicle of 11 May, and in the Northern Daily Leader of 14 May.
13 May 1929. A copy is in his Ministerial Letter Book, p.67.
The report, dated 22 August 1929, is in his Ministerial Letter Book, p.75. Immediately after his return, he set out some of his ideas in a minute to his Department concerning the Parramatta Industrial School for girls. 2 May 1929. Copy in Letter Book, p.64. The quotations in subsequent paragraphs are drawn from the minute plus his report.