enunciating Canberra – one hundred years ago

This article was published 100 years ago on the occasion of the foundation ceremony for the city of Canberra, Australia’s capital city.  It was to be another 14 years before the Parliament of Australia moved from Melbourne (where it had sat since 1901) to Canberra.

It was so from the beginning of Federation.  States against states. States against the Commonwealth. The writer seems resigned to the fact that the Constitution allowed for such a place and urges the powers that be to get on with it.

The States are making big sacrifices anyhow to equip the Commonwealth with its new toy.

The place should not be allowed to “eat its head off ” as it will do if the expenditure heats up without there being any return.

The commentary about the prospective names for the capital comes out in favour of Canberra.

It has at least a wholesome, manly burr about its enunciation.

The Brisbane Courier – 13 March 1913


whispered unthinking vulgarities in Parliament

In a week when behaviours in the Australian Parliament have been particularly unattractive, here’s a piece from 60 years ago.  In 1952, Robert Menzies was Prime Minister and Herbert Evatt was Leader of the Opposition.  Note the discretion shown by the author of this item. Whispered, unthinking and unrecorded details in the press.

Townsville Bulletin – 30 August 1952

SPEAKER REBUKES HOUSE  Listeners Disgusted

CANBERRA, Aug. 29. — Foul language being broadcast from Parliament House is disgusting listeners.   Letters of complaint are deluging the Speaker whenever a whispered interjection is picked up by the microphones. He told the House today that he had received “most alarming reports” of parliamentary broadcasts. During question time he reprimanded Ministers and leading members of the Opposition for talking across the table of the House. He warned that if cross the table conversations did not cease, he would have them recorded: and said he had already consulted radio engineers on the possibilityof doing so. The only microphones per manently ‘alive’ during parliamentary broadcasts are those before the Speaker, and the one between the Minister at the table and the Opposition Leader.

Other microphones in the Chamber are switched on by a technician when the member nearest them rises to speak. Many Ministers and prominent Opposition members have mastered the technique of whispering interjections to the table microphone. These interjections pass unheard by the member speaking, but devastate his broadcast speech. Complaints to the Speaker have not been directed at these interjections, but at whispered, unthinking vulgarities uttered by those who forget the microphone is open.