Monday, November 07, 2011

A PhD student, 1983

Once again, Denis Wright managed to bring a smile to my face with his two post story. The Melbourne Cup and Mr Gudekunst 1, The Melbourne Cup and Mr Gudekunst 2. It was just so Australian.

I needed a smile.

In an earlier post I mentioned shifting boxes associated with a move to a smaller storage shed. Further sorting, including photos, continues. It is all part of my attempt to clear out elements of my past life, to consolidate, to try to move forward.

The process gave me a bad back. As I said, I simply can't lift heavy book boxes with the gay abandon I once could. Gay abandon is the wrong phrase, of course. There is nothing gay about shifting more than one hundred boxes! Still, at least those who do it for a living don't have to worry about the subsequent sorting!

Sorting in this way brings back elements of my past. I guess that you can expect to get a bit of that past as the process continues. 

This photo is from mid 1983. Comments follow the photo.Queanbeyan 1983 completing the thesis

I spent 1981 and 1982 in Armidale on leave working on my PhD thesis. I met Denis there; we saw each other daily in the staff room that History shared with English and Drama.

At the start of 1983 I resumed work in Canberra as an SES (Senior Executive Service) officer in the Department of Industry and Commerce.

Initially I worked with Noel Benjamin on a special project for the Bureau of Industry Economics on the economic feasibility of a Pacific Free Trade area, an idea being pushed by Doug Anthony, then Minister for Trade and Deputy PM. Somewhat to my surprise, we concluded that the idea would benefit Australia, although the barriers to implementation were enormous.

After a brief period back as head of my old Economic Analysis Branch, I took over the Electrical and Metal Products Branch. This was my first full exposure too the crazy patchwork quilt of assistance measures protecting Australian industry and I did not like it.

I had already developed ideas as to what I thought was wrong with industry policy. Now I firmed them up through exposure to the minutiae of industry assistance. My new role was to be short lived, for I had been appointed to create a new branch focused on Australia's high technology industries, the Electronics, Aerospace and Information Industries Branch.  This reflected the Department's view that too many resources were tied up in smokestack industries.  

I spun off the main branch, and started building a new branch focused on one section concerned with computer hardware. In doing this all this, I essentially had to build from scratch.    

While working, I still had to complete the PhD. To do this, I worked from the back room at home (Ross Road) supported by Sue Rosly, my housemate, and her friend David.They were great. They proof read, vetted my arguments and focused on consistency, a major task in a large document.

This photo taken by Jim Somerville, someone who has appeared in various posts, shows me at work on the thesis. The books behind are some of those I used.


Anonymous said...

Discarding books really is like discarding old friends, I always think.

Jim, I am not fixated on cowboys and indians, but whenever I see that phrase 'gay abandon' it makes me remember a favourite comic strip called Rick O'Shay, with the gunslinger called Hipshot Percussion. Must have been young because it took me ages to 'get' the significance of the town madam's name - Gay Abandon.


Jim Belshaw said...

There is an age thing, here. By the time Rick O'Shay began publication (1958), I had stopped reading cowboy comics.