Guide to the Papers of Ralph Owen Slatyer

MS 9476

National Library of Australia

Collection Summary

Papers of Ralph Owen Slatyer
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 9476
2.24 metres (16 boxes)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

Ralph Slatyer had a long association with the CSIRO and the Australian National University and was actively involved in many research and official organisations and committees. Much of the work would be recorded on ANU and official files. The papers that he retained mainly relate to some of his activities toward the end of his career.

Slatyer was appointed Australia's Ambassador to UNESCO in 1978 by the Fraser government and then Chairman of the Australian Science and Technology Council in 1982 by the Fraser government, continuing under Prime Minister Hawke. He was then appointed Australia's first Chief Scientist and adviser to the Hawke and later the Keating Governments. There are many government papers, which are mainly correspondence, in his papers. Other material includes biographical sketches, a list of Slatyer's publications, videocasettes, an audio tape, speeches, reports, discussion papers, photographs and medals. The series also comprises files relating to the establishment of the Cooperative Research Centres Program, and other research initiatives.

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Ralph Owen Slatyer, National Library of Australia, MS 9476, [box number and series and/or folder number]'.


The papers were donated by Professor Ralph Slatyer in 1999.


For the most part, the file titles are those supplied by Slatyer, with additional information in a few instances for clarification.

Biographical Note

Ralph Slatyer was born in Perth, on the 16 April 1929. He was educated at the University of Western Australia where he obtained his Bachelor's (1951) Master's (1955) and Doctoral (1960) degrees in agricultural science.

Career details - Full time positions

Books (authored or edited)

Practical micro-climatology, R. Slatyer and I.C. Mcllroy eds. UNESCO, Paris 1961

Plant-water relationships, Academic Press, London, 1967

Arid lands of Australia, R. Slatyer and R. A. Perrys eds. ANU Press, Canberra,1969

Man and the new biology, ANU Press, Canberra, 1970

Photosynthesis and photorespiration, M.D. Hatch, C.B. Osmond and R.Slatyer eds. Wiley Interscience, New York, 1971

Plant responses to climatic factors, R. Slatyer ed. UNESCO, Paris, 1974

Date Event
1967 Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA)
1975 Fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS)
1976 Foreign member of the United States National Academy of Sciences
1977 Queen's silver jubilee medal
1981 Foreign member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1982 Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)
1983 Honorary degree of Doctor of Science from University of Western Australia
1984 Honorary member of the British Ecological Society
1986 Honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Duke University
1991 Medal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science
1992 Honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Queensland
1992 Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
1993 Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) (Appointed Officer (AO) in 1982)
1993 Foreign member of the Korean Association for Science and Technology
1993 Gold medal of the Ecological Society of Australia
1998 Honorary degree of Doctor of Applied Science from Charles Sturt University
2001 Clunies Ross award for lifetime contribution to science and technology.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Personal documents, 1959-99 Show allonly 1

Ralph Slatyer's personal documents include a large number of biographical sketches, both handwritten and typed. Of particular value is a document headed 'Personal Records' prepared for the Royal Society and the Australian Academy of Science, curricula vitae, a publication list, and newspaper articles about him.

The series also contains the medals that Slatyer received for academic achievement and services to UNESCO and ANZAAS (Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science). It incudes the medal for the Clunies Ross Lifetime Contribution, awarded in 2001. He was also awarded the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal. There are transparencies and photographs, one of Slatyer receiving the UNESCO medal, and a certificate and an honorary doctorate.

The three videocassettes include farewell speeches at Slatyer's retirement, a news report about his A.C., and an Academy interview by Max Blythe (the transcription is included). There are nomination papers, booklets, and letters of congratulations relating to his A.O. and A.C. awards. There is an audio tape relating to Slatyer's speech given at the Belgrade UNESCO Conference and two transcripts of an oral history interview he recorded with Ann Moyal.

File 1-4. Biographical background, 1975-99 - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 5. Newspaper articles and papers, 1967-99 - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 6. Three video cassettes and one audio tape, 1992-93 - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 7. Two transcripts of interview, 1992-93 - Box 1 Show allonly 1

File 8. Photographs and transparencies, 1959-98 - Box 2 Show allonly 1

File 9. Five Medals, 1960-98 - Box 2 Show allonly 1

File 10. Two Awards, 1996-98 - Box 2 Show allonly 1

File 11. Nomination and congratulatory letters, and booklets, 1993 - Box 2 Show allonly 1

File 12-13. Correspondence, 1973-99 - Box 2 Show allonly 1

Series 2. Australian National University, 1967-93 Show allonly 1

At the Australian National University Ralph Slatyer was Professor of Biology between 1967 and 1992 and Director of the Research School of Biological Sciences between 1984 and 1989. In 1992, he became a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Research School of Biological Sciences.

The first folder includes letters relating to offers of positions at the ANU and Slatyer's acceptance of a consultancy in a UN Development Program project in South Korea.

Other correspondence includes invitations and notes about the Cooperative Research Centre for Robust and Adaptive Systems, the John Curtin School of Medical Research, and requests for advice about university issues. There are copies of the ANU Reporter. In one issue there is an article about Slatyer's appointment as Chief Scientist.

The Chubb Report material includes letters and notes about university funding issues and Slatyer's letter to the Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, relating to Professor Chubb's report about ANU restructuring. There is a draft report reviewing the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS), including letters from international university professors lobbying ministers against changes at the ANU.

Series 2 also contains Slatyer's draft speech at the launch of ANU/Fujitsu collaborative R&D (Research and Development) program, and Slatyer's opening speech for the 'Commitment to Discovery'ANU Tech exhibition.

File 1. Correspondence, 1984-93 - Box 2 Show allonly 1

File 2. Report Chubb, 1991 - Box 2 Show allonly 1

File 3-4. IAS Review, 1990-91 - Box 1a Show allonly 1

File 5. Research and development, 1989-93 - Box 1a Show allonly 1

Series 3. Australian Ambassador to UNESCO, 1978-81 Show allonly 1

During 1978-81 Slatyer held the position of Australian Ambassador to UNESCO, based in Paris. The series includes official UNESCO photographs of Slatyer, photocopies of a news release about his new position and notes about his accomplishments as an international scientist.

File 1. News release, photographs, notes, 1978-81 - Box 1a Show allonly 1

Series 4. Chief Scientist 1989-94 (CLOSED) Show allonly 1

Slatyer was appointed Chairman of the Australian Science and Technology Council by Malcolm Fraser in 1982. He was continued in that position by R.J. Hawke when he became Prime Minister, serving until 1987. When the government established the new science policy arrangements in 1989, Slatyer became the first Chief Scientist.

As Chief Scientist Slatyer was an adviser to the Hawke Government and briefly to the Keating Government. The series includes a photocopy of the Chief Scientist job agreement, correspondence between cabinet ministers, heads of business enterprises, government agencies, departmental secretaries, university vice-chancellors, national and international leaders of the science, technology, and environmental communities. Slatyer was chairman of the Australian Science and Technology Council (ASTEC) and there are papers relating to the work of the Council. Also included is Paul Keating's farewell speech to him as Chief Scientist.

During Slatyer's time as Chief Scientist he travelled extensively and there are papers, reports, correspondence, travel arrangements and notes about his impressions of science issues in other countries. The format of the material includes faxes, letters, e-mails, photocopies of official government material, reports, policy papers, awards, overhead transparencies, Slatyer's handwritten drafts and notes and publications.

In this series the folders have been listed according to Slatyer's subject headings, with some elaborations.

File 1-2. Submissions and position papers, 1989-93 - Box 3 Show allonly 1

File 3. Australia and New Zealand Scientific Exploration Society, 1988-89, Australian Institute of Physics, A.G. Klein, 1991 - Box 3 Show allonly 1

File 4. Science and Technology Policy Asian Network (STEPAN), 1989-91 - Box 3 Show allonly 1

Earth Watch, 1990

IBM, 1990-91

EPAC (Economic Planning Advisory Committee), 1991

Australian/US Science and Technology workshop, 1990

File 5. Queensland Metals Corporation Ltd, 1991 - Box 4 Show allonly 1

National Parks Association, 1990

OTC Worldwide Telecommunications Solutions, 1989-91

Letters about Australian Vice-Chancellors meeting arrangements, 1989-93

File 6. PECC (Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference) Science and Technology symposium Korea, 1990 - Box 4 Show allonly 1

Constitutional Centenary conference, 1991

Greenhouse Conference, 1989

File 7. Evans Deakin Ltd, 1991 - Box 4 Show allonly 1

Science Policy Research, John Irvine and Ben Martin, 1990

T.T. Kozlowski,. 1991

Lewis Chadderton, 1991

Lord Shackleton, 1989-90

Professor E.R. Oxburgh, 1989

File 8. CAB International World Services to Agriculture, Don Mentz, 1988-89 - Box 4 Show allonly 1

Vocational and Technical Training (VTTC), Ian Berckelman, 1990-91

Shell UK, Robert Reid and Patrick Coldstream, 1990-92

Sir John Fairclough, Chief Science Adviser (UK) 1989-90

File 9. Sir Arvi Parbo, Western Mining Corporation, 1991-92 - Box 4 Show allonly 1

Rick Gould, High Commission, London, 1989-91

Dr Ian Forrester, NZ CS (New Zealand Chief Scientist), 1990-91

CSIRO Plant Industry Talk (program) 1991

ANZAAS (Australian and New Zealand association for the Advancement of Science Incorporated)-General, 1991

Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd (CRA), 1992

File 10. Science and Technology Policy, 1989-92 - Box 4 Show allonly 1

File 11-12. ASTEC papers, 1986-92 - Box 4 Show allonly 1

ASTEC Search correspondence, 1990

File 13. Draft statement on Science and Technology, 1989-91 - Box 5 Show allonly 1

File 14. Endeavour Fellowship, 1989-94 - Box 5 Show allonly 1

File 15. Environment Initiative; CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting), London, SCOPE, Expenses, 1989-91 - Box 5 Show allonly 1

File 16. Miscellaneous UK/Europe, June-July, 1991 - Box 5 Show allonly 1

File 17. Communication with executive assistant about overseas trip, 1989-91 - Box 5 Show allonly 1

Main impressions Oct/Nov UK and France visit, 1989

File 18. BHP Awards Launch, 1990 - Box 5 Show allonly 1

National Science Forum, 1990

Professor D.W. Pearce seminars, 1990

File 19. Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (AATS) - Box 5 Show allonly 1

Symposium, 1991

Energy Resources of Australia, 1990-92

Tetley Manufacturing, 1991

Business and the Environment, 1991

File 20. Tasmanian ANZAAS Symposium, 1991 - Box 6 Show allonly 1

Garvan Institute of Medical Research talk, Sydney, 1991

International Conference on Coal Research, 1991

File 21-22. Prime Minister's Science Council, 1991-92 - Box 6 Show allonly 1

File 23-24. White House Conference, 1990 - Box 6 Show allonly 1

File 25. Strategic Research Fund (SRF), 1991 - Box 6 Show allonly 1

Aerospace CR (Cooperative Research) Seminar, 1990

File 26. Articles printed in journal Search: IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and EPAC Paper, 1990-92 - Box 6 Show allonly 1

Australian Defence Force Academy, 1990

Search article about PMSC (Prime Minister's Science Council) 1990

File 27. Document about government procedures and CSIRO operations - Box 6 Show allonly 1

File 28. Published draft Part 1 of the third WMO (World Meteorological Organization) Long Term Plan, 1990 - Box 7 Show allonly 1

File 29. Draft of Reports: Policy makers and Scientific Assessment of Climate Change, 1990 - Box 7 Show allonly 1

File 30-31. ASTEC (Australian Science and Technology Council) and Science Council, 1991-92 - Box 7 Show allonly 1

File 32. Advanced Technical Training Institutions, 1990-91 - Box 7 Show allonly 1

Advanced Engineering Centres, 1990-91

File 33. Primary Industries and Energy Research Council and the Bureau of Meteorology, 1989-91 - Box 7 Show allonly 1

File 34. French Australian Industrial Research Program (FAIR), 1990-92 - Box 7 Show allonly 1

New Zealand Ministerial Task Force Visit, 1991-92

File 35. Australian Embassy, Paris, 1989-90 - Box 8 Show allonly 1

Australian Embassy, Washington, 1989-92

File 36. Indonesian visitors, 1991-92 - Box 8 Show allonly 1

Korean visitors, 1992

File 37. Official guests visit to Australia, 1990-91 include: - Box 8 Show allonly 1

Thai Minister for University Affairs, 1991

Sir Mark Richmond, UK, 1991

Representatives from the USA House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, 1990

Representatives from the Science Council of Japan, 1990

File 38-39. Papers on Slatyer's overseas trips to Singapore and England (Merlewood Research Station), 1991 - Box 8 Show allonly 1

Germany, Helsinki, London, 1991

Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, 1991

Papers on the SPRU (Science Policy and Research Unit), 1991 and IUCN (The World Conservation Union) World Heritage matters, 1991

File 40. Finland visit, 1991 - Box 8 Show allonly 1

File 41. Australian Bilateral S T (Science and Technology) activities with Korea, 1990-91 - Box 8 Show allonly 1

Korean matters and a report and publication, 1991-92

File 42. Hong Kong Consulate General, 1991-92 - Box 9 Show allonly 1

Report on South East Asian April Visit, June 1991

Miscellaneous South East Asia, 1991

File 43. Acquittal and travel arrangement Europe, Singapore, June - July 1991 - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 44. Acquittals of overseas travel, CHOGM, Oct 1989, Asia, April 1991 - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 45. Farewell speeches, 1992 - Box 9 Show allonly 1

File 46. Miscellaneous correspondence and other papers, 1990-92 - Box 9 Show allonly 1

Series 5. Cooperative Research Centres, 1989-99 (CLOSED) Show allonly 1

In his capacity as Chief Scientist, Slatyer was the major force behind the implementation of the (CRC) Cooperative Research Centres in 1989-90.

The series comprises research notes, papers and correspondence between ministers and Slatyer about CRC implementation. There is an original and photocopy of a memorandum, press release notes, financial estimates, Slatyer's handwritten notes and a letter to Bob Hawke expressing the need for science and technological development in Australia, faxes, overhead transparencies and publications and e-mails relating to the proposal and the establishment of cooperative research centres throughout Australia. It also includes published booklets, compendiums, pamphlets and magazines relating to the Cooperative Research Centre Program.

File 1. Cabinet memorandum and the CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) proposals, including Slatyer's letter to ministers and CRC first draft, 1989-90 - Box 10 Show allonly 1

File 2. CRC launch media release, 1990, notes about policy and administrative issues notes and list of the members of the Prime Minister's Science Council - Box 10 Show allonly 1

File 3. Meeting notes on CRC Policy, 1990, CRC's applicants, procedures manual, 1991 - Box 10 Show allonly 1

Estimation of CRC's expenditure and correspondence

File 4-5. Draft of the CRC Agreement, CRC Guidelines and discussion papers, 1991 - Box 10 Show allonly 1

Media release 1990-91

File 6. Slatyer's draft notes for CRC talk, proof of article entitled 'CRC: the concept and its implementation, photocopies and other speakers' notes and correspondence, 1993-94 - Box 10 Show allonly 1

File 7. Draft and discussion paper, 1995-96 - Box 10 Show allonly 1

File 8. CRC Conference, Canberra, 1995, Sydney, 1996, e- mails and publications, 1995-99 - Box 10 Show allonly 1

File 9-10. Publications, 1989-98 - Box 11 Show allonly 1

Series 6. Committees and Councils, 1993-97 Show allonly 1

Slatyer held the position of chairman and president in many organisations. For instance, he was chairman of the World Heritage Committee, the Australian Research Council, Co-op Multi Media Centres Program, the Bureau of Meteorology, and Access to Australia's Genetic Resources. This series comprises reports, correspondence, proposals, guidelines, legal documents, publications, discussion papers, research material, and budget papers.

File. World Heritage Committee Show allonly 1

File 1-5. Draft reports, 1994, 1996, letters, research material, and other papers - Box 11, 12 Show allonly 1

Slatyer's letters and notes, research material from IUCN, correspondence between Slatyer and M. Pitman (Chief Scientist) 1995, draft report, 1997

Draft reports 1996, 1997, World Heritage Report Part 1, 1997

Notes and papers for meeting in Canberra, 1997 Related published material, 1995-92

Australian Research Council (ARC)

File 6_8. Report drafts, 1995 and ARC meeting notes, 1996, research material and other general correspondence, 1995-96 - Box 12 Show allonly 1

Slatyer's notes about the ARC advice on the IAS (Institute of Advanced Studies) Review and Netherlands scientific research paper and correspondence, 1995-96

Co-op Multi Media Centres Program

File 9-11. Guidelines, proposals, correspondence, 1995, notes on Slatyer's telephone conversation with Simon Crean, 1995 - Box 12, 13 Show allonly 1

Assessment panel meeting notes, application form, briefing session notes, 1994

Legal document concerning an agreement draft, 1995

Correspondence between Slatyer and Jim Belshaw (Interim CEO, Ndarala Multimedia Centre) 1995, minutes concerning assessment process, and draft media release from Simon Crean about the centres, notes on funding recommendations, 1995

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM)

File 12-13. Legal document, 1995, graph, correspondence from Slatyer to Ministers regards Slatyer's report and review of BOM, 1997 and overhead transparencies and notes - Box 13 Show allonly 1

Publications by Slatyer, Capturing opportunities in the provision of Meteorological Services, 1997 and another publication about a 1996 review of BOM, when Slatyer was chairman

Access to Australia's Genetic Resources

File 14-16. Discussion papers, UNESCO report, meeting notes, 1995-96 - Box 13, 14 Show allonly 1

Minutes 1995 Background information notes, Intergovernmental agreement on the environment 1992, 1994

Slatyer's Commonwealth -State Working Group Meeting notes, 1995

Publication entitled National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity

Series 7. Visits and reports, 1986-92 Show allonly 1

This series includes Slatyer' letters, notes and report to Bob Hawke about his 1986, 1989 and 1991 overseas visits. There are handwritten notes about science initiatives, budgets, and notes relating to Slatyer's impressions about science matters in different countries.

File 1-3. Slatyer's letter and notes to Hawke, 1986, handwritten notes about Science and Technology Initiatives for 1992-93 budget - Box 14 Show allonly 1

Slatyer's letter and report to Hawke about Asian visit 1991

Notes about Slatyer's impressions about his visit to the USA, Asia, Korea, UK, France, telex messages, letters about Korea's Science and Engineering Foundation exchange program in association with the Australian Academy of Science and other correspondence with the Academy, 1990-92

Series 8. Correspondence with other Universities, 1989-94 Show allonly 1

Series 8 consists of correspondence between university department heads, vice- chancellors and Slatyer. There is correspondence relating to the University of Technology's proposed Advanced Engineering Centres, funding and research issues, the Waite Agricultural Research Institute (University of Adelaide) report, a meeting outline concerning Macquarie University Cooperative Research Centre issues, and invitations to Slatyer to give speeches and talks at university graduation ceremonies.

File 1. University of Melbourne, Monash University, Northern Territory University, Bond University, 1989-91 - Box 14 Show allonly 1

File 2. Macquarie University, meeting papers, 1990 - Box 14 Show allonly 1

File 3. Deakin University, University of Adelaide, Waite Institute, 1990-94 - Box 14 Show allonly 1

File 4. University of New England, University of New South Wales, University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney, 1989-92 - Box 14 Show allonly 1

File 5. University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, 1989-92 - Box 15 Show allonly 1

Series 9. Speeches and talks, 1985-99 Show allonly 1

This series includes handwritten notes, drafts, overhead transparencies, graphs and financial figures, a booklet and a university newspaper. Slatyer was guest speaker at many university graduation ceremonies as well as the National Science Forum and the Australian National University. Other speeches include 'Commitment to discovery' exhibition, CSIRO Seminar, Business and Consumer Research Seminar, Ecological Society of Australia, and other speeches and talks.

File 1. Speeches and talks, 1985-90 - Box 15 Show allonly 1

File 2. Speeches and talks, 1990-91 - Box 15 Show allonly 1

File 3. Speeches and talks, 1989-99 and Bob Hawke's 1990 speech to the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) - Box 15 Show allonly 1

Series 10. Publications, 1969-99 Show allonly 1

Slatyer has published many articles and books, but only a few are held with his papers. The series also includes three booklets relating to CSIRO and ASTEC issues.

File 1. 'Man's place in nature', Man and the New Biology, 1969 - Box 15 Show allonly 1

File 2. 'Environmental problems arising from human use of energy', Science and Industry forum, 1972 - Box 15 Show allonly 1

File 3. 'R D industrial competitiveness', Science, Technology and Industrial Development, 1991 - Box 15 Show allonly 1

File 4. 'Innovation through cooperation', Nuturing Creativity in Research, 1997 - Box 15 Show allonly 1

File 5. Ecological Society of Australia, The First 25 Years, 1999 Slatyer and Alison Saunders - Box 15 Show allonly 1

File 6. Ann Moyal, Portraits of Science,1994 (about Slayter) - Box 16 Show allonly 1

File 7. J.J. Basinski, I.M. Wood and J.B. Hacker, A history of CSIRO crop research in northern Australia, CSIRO, 1985 (about Slayter) - Box 16 Show allonly 1

File 8. Review of ASTEC, Canberra, AGPS,October 1992 (other publication) - Box 16 Show allonly 1

File 9. Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle, Canberra, AGPS, May 1984 (other publication) - Box 16 Show allonly 1

File 10. Future directions for CSIRO, Canberra, AGPS, November 1985 (other publication) - Box 16 Show allonly 1