Guide to the Papers of Frederick Osborne
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- Frederick Osborne
- Papers of Frederick Osborne
- Date Range
- Collection Number
- MS 3662
- 7.28 metres (various)
- Language of Materials
- National Library of Australia
Scope and Contents
The collection comprises personal papers documenting Osborne's career as a parliamentarian, solicitor and businessman. The papers date from Osborne's election as Liberal Member for Evans in 1949, through to his retirement from political and business activities in 1984.
The bulk of the papers relate to Osborne's political career from 1950 to 1961, including papers relating to his terms as Minister for Customs and Excise, Minister for Air, and Minister for Repatriation. The personal and parliamentary correspondence documents Osborne's relationships with other parliamentarians and government officials, business associates and friends. The subject files are diverse, covering foreign affairs, defence, repatriation, communism, industrial arbitration and immigration. The collection also reflects Osborne's personal interests and activities, including his membership of the Round Table Group and the Union Club.
The range of formats in the collection includes correspondence, photographs, publications, speeches, press statements, and subject files. Most of Osborne's letters were typed, and the collection contains often multiple copies of letters by him, some signed or stamped with his signature.
The principal correspondents include Sir Robert Menzies, Sir John Carrick, Lord Casey, Sir Alexander Downer, Sir Allen Fairhall, Sir Philip McBride, Sir Robert Southey, StaniforthRicketson, Morgan Giles, Dr Donald Cameron, Duncan McCallum, James Wolfensohn, Arthur Lowndes, Sir John Cramer, Athol Townley, Sir Shane Paltridge, Harold Holt, William McMahon, Sir Denham Henty, Sir William Spooner, Sir Garfield Barwick, Sir Gordon Freeth, Sir Neil O'Sullivan, Sir Arthur Fadden, Sir John McEwen, Sir Robert Cotton and Sir Daniel McVey.
Conditions Governing Access
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn2243753).
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Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions.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 Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Frederick Osborne, National Library of Australia, MS 3662, [series and/or file number]'.
Frederick Osborne presented the first instalment of his papers to the Library in 1973, and a second instalment was received from him in 1995.
For much of the collection, the Library has retained the way in which Osborne arranged his papers.
Frederick Meares Osborne was born in Sydney on 20 January 1909. He was educated at North Sydney High School, Sydney Church of England Grammar School and St Andrew's College, University of Sydney, where he graduated Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws. In 1934 he was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. In 1944 he married Elizabeth Drake. They had four children, Alick, Michael, Imogen and Penelope.
In September 1939 Osborne was mobilised as a Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RANVR). He served with the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Navy 1939-46, commanding HMS Gentian (1941), Vanquisher (1943), and Peacock (1945). He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, 1940, and bar, 1945. Osborne was demobilised in 1946, appointed Lieutenant-Commander RANVR in 1947, and then Commander in 1955. After the war Osborne returned to his law practice in Sydney, with Dibbs, Crowther and Osborne. He later joined the firm Ebsworth and Ebsworth, before moving to Dudley Westgarth and Co. in 1965.
Osborne began his career in Federal politics in 1949 as the Liberal Member for Evans, an electorate in Sydney, New South Wales. He held this seat until his defeat in the general election of 1961. During this period he was Minister for Customs and Excise 1956, Minister for Air 1956-60, and Minister for Repatriation 1960-61.
Osborne frequently served as an acting minister for various portfolios, including Navy, January-February 1958 and August 1958, Supply, April-May 1958, Immigration, May-July 1959, Interior, November 1959, and Territories, April-June 1960. He also served as the Minister assisting the Acting Minister for External Affairs, August-November 1957. He was active in committee work, serving on numerous committees including the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs. Osborne was a member of the Parliamentary delegation to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, and Government representative at the inauguration of Ghana in March 1957.
After his defeat in 1961 Osborne served on the NSW State Executive of the Liberal Party, becoming State Treasurer in 1964, and then serving as State President 1967-70.
Osborne was appointed Esquire Bedell of the University of Sydney in 1968. He was a member of the Union Club and the Round Table Group, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, and made a Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG) in 1969. He served as President of the Swiss-Australian Society and President of the NSW Division of the Australia-Britain Society. Osborne was General Counsel in Australia for Lloyds, 1963-75. Throughout his career he served as a chairman or director of numerous companies and organisations, including Sandoz Australia, the British Aircraft Corporation, Macdonald Hamilton & Co, the English Electric Company, Meares Bros and the Australian Ballet Foundation. He was also a member of the New South Wales Board of Advice of the National Bank of Australasia.
Osborne died in Sydney on 23 July 1996.
Osborne maintained a fairly extensive series of files of personal correspondence. This series documents the personal and social contact he had with other parliamentarians, business associates, family and friends. Most of Osborne's own letters were typed, and this series contains often multiple copies of his letters, interfiled with those he received.
The correspondents include Lord Casey, Sir Eric Harrison, Sir Allen Fairhall, Sir Percy Spender, Sir Alexander Downer, Sir Philip McBride, Sir Robert Southey, StaniforthRicketson, Harold Holt, Frederick Deer, Morgan Giles, Dr Donald Cameron, Duncan McCallum, James Wolfensohn, A. Stewart Richardson, John McKay Sim, Roger Dean, Mark Johnson, John McMinn, John Bowen, Arthur Lowndes, Alan Ritchie, George Le Couteur, Dr John Osborne, and Nancy Osborne.
The correspondence documents Osborne's interests and contemporary events, including foreign affairs, national and international politics and events, armed forces, defence, South-East Asian affairs, SEATO, the economy, industrial legislation, Britain-Australian relationships and politics, and the Liberal Party organisation. There is also correspondence relating to numerous associations with which Osborne was affiliated, including the London House Committee, the Round Table Group, the Swiss-Australia Society, the Australia-Britain Association, the Australia American Association, the Australian Institute of Management, the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, and the Union Club.
Osborne issued hundreds of press statements relating to his activities or those of his department, and giving commentary on contemporary events. This series contains copies of press statements issued by Osborne during the period of his term as Member for Evans, as well as press statements by others regarding various matters. The series also includes material relating to "My column", a newspaper column written by Osborne as Member for Evans. It was printed in various papers in the Evans electorate, including The Courier, Aeroplane, The Chronicle and The Argus. This materialincludes notes, newspaper clippings and correspondence regarding publication of the column.
This series contains a mixed collection of printed material, published reports, pamphlets, and parliamentary and other official publications. The bulk of these generally relate to the subject files maintained by Osborne, in series 12. There is also a folder of published material relating to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, including one or two issues of The Interpreter and Asian Analyst, as well as departmental bulletins issued by the Department of External Affairs.
Osborne delivered addresses and speeches on a variety of occasions throughout his career, including during election campaigns, at Liberal Party and electorate functions, and at conferences and seminars. Osborne spoke regularly to various organisations and associations, including the Australian Institute of Management, Legacy and Rotary clubs, the Air Force Association, the Australian Legion of Ex-Servicemen, and numerous schools.
This series comprises handwritten and typescript drafts of speeches, notes and research material, and Hansard extracts relating to many of the speeches Osborne made during his term as a Member of Parliament. Arrangement within the series is largely chronological.
Osborne spoke on such topics as his overseas trips, Australia's defence forces, unemployment, South-East Asian affairs, SEATO (South-East Asian Treaty Organisation), the United Nations, the Australian economy, staffing and reorganisation of the public service, reorganisation of the armed services, immigration, repatriation, health, shipping, banking law reform, industrial arbitration, communism, and compulsory unionism. Correspondence relating to these topics is also contained in series 12.
The photographs were in no apparent order, except for a grouping of photographs relating to Osborne's visit to the United States in 1957. They have been arranged chronologically, with sub-groupings according to event or subject within each year. The series includes photographs of Air Force activities and functions, RAAF base visits, Langley Air Force Base and the Palmdale facilities of the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in the United States, and Osborne's visit to the Bathurst Island Mission on 23 June 1957. Papers relating to these activities are also contained in series 17 and 18.
This series comprises hundreds of invitations to formal and informal functions, dinners and other events during Osborne's term as a federal minister. The invitations and responses are filed together and arranged chronologically. Invitations received by Osborne are also contained in series 1.
This small series comprises congratulatory correspondence to and from friends, political colleagues, Liberal Party members, and constituents. The incoming correspondence relates primarily to Osborne's 1958 re-election and 1961 defeat. There are also similar letters of congratulation and best wishes from Osborne to colleagues and friends. Congratulatory correspondence is also contained in series 1.
This series contains a small collection of Christmas cards received by Osborne and his wife during the period when he was Minister for Customs and Excise and then Minister for Air.
This small series of papers comprises correspondence relating to Osborne's business interests in Papua New Guinea, and his association with Meares Bros, the British Aircraft Corporation, and Outward Bound. The papers include meeting papers, reports, annual reports, memoranda, and research material and other documents.
The correspondents include Sir Paul Hasluck, Graham Kingsford Smith and Robert Bunting, regarding investment opportunities in Papua New Guinea. Other correspondence relating to Osborne's business interests and activities is contained in series 1.
This small series comprises papers relating to medical, financial, and investment matters. The papers include bank statements, receipts, related correspondence, cheque butts, medical benefit statements, and insurance papers. Correspondence regarding these matters is also contained in series 1.
This series contains correspondence dealing with general office administration, including security matters and staff appointments. The papers date from Osborne's terms as a federal minister between 1956 and 1961.
Throughout his term as a federal member, Osborne maintained a series of subject files on various topics of interest. Many of these relate to Osborne's membership in numerous parliamentary committees, including Defence Services Committee, United Nations Charter Revision Convention Committee, Tactics Against Communism Committee and Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The diverse range of subjects documented in this series includes communism, foreign affairs, industrial arbitration, trade unions, the stevedoring industry, banking legislation, taxation concessions for church and independent schools, and the 1951 Boyer Television Report. The papers relating to foreign affairs include correspondence regarding Osborne's visits to Papua New Guinea and Malaya during 1950-58, and correspondence regarding South-East Asian - Australian relations. There are also papers relating to Osborne's membership in the Round Table Group, although these are not comprehensive.
Among the correspondents are Lord Casey, W. C. Wentworth, Harold Holt, Dudley Fowler, George McLeay, Donald McKay, Sir Alexander Downer, Sir John Carrick, Sir Frank Packer, Sir Robert Menzies, Arthur Calwell, Sir Arthur Fadden, Sir Eric Harrison, Sir Allen Fairhall, and Sir Paul Hasluck.
The files include such material as correspondence, minutes of meetings, committee reports, research reports, newspaper cuttings and press statements, research material and handwritten notes, including notes for speeches on these topics. The papers within each folder are generally arranged in chronological order. Printed material regarding the Foreign Affairs Committee is contained in series 3.
Osborne was elected to Parliament as the Liberal Member for Evans in 1949. The correspondence in this series dates from his early years as a parliamentarian, through to his defeat in the 1961 election, and his subsequent period of service on the State Executive of the NSW Liberal Party. The papers, arranged chronologically, include correspondence, memoranda, minutes and research bulletins.
The papers dating from Osborne's time as Member for Evans include general Liberal Party correspondence with the General Secretary Sir John Carrick, other Liberal Party members, and Evans electorate branches. The correspondence documents Liberal Party policies and general election arrangements, and such subjects as industrial relations, television, trade unions, immigration, defence, and communism.
As a member of the State Executive, Osborne corresponded with other senior members of the Liberal Party regarding federal and state party funding, Commonwealth/State relations, coalition with the Australian Country Party, policy speeches, invitations, candidates, campaign publicity and costs, electorate divisions, electorate conferences, and the party leadership. The series includes memoranda exchanged with Carrick on the restructuring of the Party and reform of the NSW Legislative Council. During this time Osborne was a member of the Staff Planning Committee, State Finance Committee and Steering Committee.
The major correspondents include Carrick, Sir Frank Packer, Sir William Spooner, Sir Robert Cotton, Harold Holt, Lyle Moore, Sir Robert Menzies, Sir Philip McBride, Sir Daniel McVey, Charles Lloyd Jones, John Pagan, Charles Locke, Sir Robert Southey, Robin Askin, William McMahon, and James Wolfensohn.
This series contains papers relating to Osborne's activities as Member for Evans, primarily correspondence with Liberal Party branches in the electorate regarding organisation of election campaigns. There also letters from constituents regarding local issues and events; however, the bulk of correspondence with constituents regarding representations made by Osborne on their behalf is contained in series 15. The papers that Osborne created or received as Minister are contained in series 16-19.
The correspondence generally relates to Osborne's activities as Member for Evans, including visits to and correspondence with Liberal Party branches, visits to industrial facilities and commercial enterprises, attendance at meetings, social functions and events, and contact with business people, community groups and local councils. There is also correspondence regarding Osborne's trip abroad as part of the Australian delegation to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
The correspondence with Evans Liberal Party branches refers to arrangements for the 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958 and 1961 elections. These papers detail plans for the campaign, membership drives, finance, publicity, polling day arrangements, and analysis of voting figures and election results. The correspondents include Sir John Spicer, Lord Casey, Harold Holt, John Blick and Arthur Lowndes.
Osborne maintained a series of departmental correspondence files, most spanning the period of his terms as a federal minister. The bulk of the correspondence relates to constituency representations. As a federal member and minister, Osborne made extensive representations on behalf of his constituents regarding a variety of matters. These include representations to the Prime Minister's Department regarding letters of introduction, and to Social Services, Health, Immigration, Labour and National Service, Trade, Treasury, War Service Homes, Customs and Excise, Primary Industry, and the Postmaster-General. Other correspondence regarding constituency representations is contained in series 14. As well, there is some overlap on the departmental correspondence files contained in series 19, files maintained by Osborne as Minister for Repatriation. These consist of representations made by Osborne before he became Minister for Repatriation and to him as Minister.
The correspondence and representations relate to a wide range of issues including the Army and Air Force Cadet Corps, reorganisation of the services, National Service Training, the Commonwealth Employment Service, civil appointments of military staff, the Commonwealth Navigation Act, repatriation pensions and benefits, the Federal Crimes Act, the Matrimonial Causes Bill, supply of government contracts, recommendations for honours, the National Capital Development Commission, and Papua New Guinea. Correspondence relating to these subjects is also contained in series 12.
The correspondence with External Affairs documents Osborne's long-term interest in foreign affairs and association with the Department. These files include correspondence, representations, and departmental intelligence reports and dispatches. They cover such subjects as the United Nations, SEATO, Osborne's visits to Papua New Guinea, Malaya, and Ghana, and contact with foreign dignitaries and politicians. There are also arrangements for dinners given by Osborne, as Minister assisting the Minister for External Affairs, to honour visiting dignitaries such as Pote Sarasin, Lakshami Menon, and General Otto Weyland.
The major correspondents include Sir Shane Paltridge, Harold Holt, William McMahon, Sir Walter Cooper, Sir Denham Henty, Sir William Spooner, Sir Garfield Barwick, Sir Gordon Freeth, Sir Allen Fairhall, Harrie Wade, Sir John Cramer, Lord Casey, Sir Philip McBride, Sir Neil O'Sullivan, Sir Arthur Fadden, Sir John McEwen, Athol Townley, Sir Alexander Downer, Dr Donald Cameron, Hugh Robertson and Sir Charles Davidson.
Osborne's first ministerial appointment, in January 1956, was as Minister for Customs and Excise. His term as Minister extended until October 1956 when he was appointed Minister for Air.
As Minister for Customs and Excise, Osborne was responsible for excise and tariffs on imports and exports, provision of customs related services, and surveillance of and inspection of goods arriving into Australia. During the brief time he was Minister, Osborne travelled to a large number of customs facilities throughout Australia. He also implemented "Operation Work Simplification", a program to overhaul departmental methods of operation.
The series comprises correspondence and other papers regarding such issues as visits to customs facilities, the removal of Fremantle Customs House, air traffic, and film and television censorship. The correspondents include Sir Arthur Fadden, Sir Frank Meere and Kim Beazley. The correspondence with Meere, the Comptroller-General, documents such topics as trade negotiations, customs and excise practices and procedures, customs facilities in Australia, the Board of Trade, and "Operation Work Simplification".
Osborne was Minister for Air from October 1956 to December 1960. This small series comprises correspondence relating to Air Force functions and activities, and documents arrangements for Osborne's visits to RAAF bases both in Australia and overseas, representations to the Department, arrangements for mess dinners, pilot training and commissions, the air training corps, and acquisition of new aircraft.
Among the papers is a small amount of correspondence with Sir John Cramer regarding reorganisation of the higher defence machinery, and a report for Menzies on development of the Department of Air and activities of the RAAF. The series also includes a small amount of correspondence regarding Osborne's visit to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and the RAAF base at Butterworth in Malaya, 1960. Included with these papers are notes for the Prime Minister regarding meetings with South-East Asian officials to discuss SEATO and Australian military bases.
Among the correspondents are Sir Philip McBride, Lord Casey, Sir Frederick Scherger, Sir John Cramer, Harrie Wade and Athol Townley.
The papers in this small series relate to Osborne's role as Commonwealth Government representative at the inauguration of Ghana in March 1957. This mission, "Operation Westbound", involved three RAAF Lockheed Neptune aircraft in a round the world flight, at that time the largest peacetime operation attempted by the RAAF, and the first time an Australian air formation had circled the globe. Osborne flew with the Neptunes as a passenger. The primary purpose of the flight was to represent the Australian Services and Government at the inauguration of Ghana, as well as making stops in a number of countries, and touring various naval air bases across the United States.
The series contains correspondence with Lord Casey, the Department of External Affairs and the Prime Minister's Department regarding arrangements for the visit to Ghana. Other papers include invitations to state dinners and other events in Ghana, programs of events and activities, handwritten notes on the trip, receipts, newspaper clippings and press statements, and reference material such as maps and information brochures.
Photographs of the United States leg of the tour are contained in series 5 and related correspondence in series 17.
This small series contains papers relating to Osborne's brief term as Minister for Repatriation, from December 1960 to December 1961. Osborne's responsibilities as Minister for Repatriation included development and implementation of programs to resettle returned services personnel, and provision of social and medical assistance including pensions, benefits, hospitals and clinics.
The papers document matters relating to repatriation, the Returned Sailors' Soldiers' and Airmens League of Australia (RSSAILA), Osborne's attendance at the 1961 RSSAILA annual conference in Papua New Guinea, and Liberal Party policy regarding returned servicemen. There are also representations to Osborne as Minister for Repatriation from constituents and others, primarily regarding war pensions, medical benefits, and other claims. The related papers include notes on the organisation and functions of the Department, and the Repatriation Commission Annual Report 1960-61.