Transcript - Two Decades and Beyond

Part 1 – Introduction to John Radcliffe

It’s my pleasure and privilege now to call upon Dr Radcliffe to address us. But before he does, I would like to just give you a few details. Dr Radcliffe graduated with an Honours degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Adelaide in 1960 and worked during the following year as a Dairy Husbandry Officer within the Department of Agriculture.

In 1962 he accepted a fellowship at Oregon State University to undertake research on inoculation of subterranean clover, leading to a Doctor of Philosophy degree which was awarded in 1964. In that year he received a study grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to visit agricultural research institutions in the United States and in Canada.

Dr Radcliffe rejoined the Department of Agriculture as a Dairy Research Officer in 1965. He was appointed Senior Dairy Research Officer in 1968 and was given the additional responsibility of officer-in-charge of the Northfield Research Centre in 1972. From 1974 until 1978 he acted as Principal Dairy Research Officer.

Dr Radcliffe’s research interests were primarily in the fields of dairy cattle husbandry and nutrition and in fodder conservation. He has over 50 published scientific and technical papers from his research.

In 1977 Dr Radcliffe was nominated by the Public Service Board to attend the first development program for managers run by the Australian Graduate School of Management within the University of New South Wales. In 1978 he was appointed Principal Officer (Research Management). In 1980 he was appointed Principal Policy Research Officer to assume the role of leader of the Policy and Planning Unit. From October 1982 Dr Radcliffe became Acting Chief in Veterinary Science Division following its transfer from the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science. From April 1984 he was appointed Director Policy and Planning, responsible for the Economics Division, the Policy and Planning Unit and the Mathematics and Computing Services Unit.

Dr Radcliffe was appointed Director-General of Agriculture on 3rd October 1985. Ladies and gentlemen, please extend a hearty welcome to our new Director, Dr Radcliffe.

Northfield Pictures

Presenter: John Radcliffe, Director-General of Agriculture
Function: ‘Agricultural Research at Northfield: Two Decades and Beyond’ Centre symposium, Enfield Civic Centre
Date: 6 November 1985

After the war [World War II], the officers of the Department of Agriculture were in Simpson Building in Gawler Place. This was a four-storey building which Simpson’s had previously used for the construction of cast-iron wood stoves, and officers working there had to be careful not to fall over the bolts in the floor which had been used to tie down the machinery of the previous occupants.

The building itself had only two laboratories: one was for use by the dairy research people and the other was for use by the soils people. If we look at the first slide we will be able to see the sort of standard of accommodation which was provided.

This is a view of the entire Dairy Research Laboratory as seen from the door. You’ll see the facility is not particularly substantial, but those of us that used it were thankful for small mercies that we had something.

Fieldwork was carried out with fairly simplistic equipment. When I joined the Department I had the opportunity of buying two Pope lawnmowers. They were a great new thing in domestic maintenance in those days. We bought two because when the plug of the first one oiled up you could crank up the second one.

Many of us as officers also had to supply the vehicles with which we worked, and indeed I still have one of the vehicles in that picture.

So, all this changed within a very short space of time when the Department took up its own laboratories. On October 1, 1964, the first group of staff moved to Northfield and on 26th January 1965 this august group assembled outside the laboratory buildings to see Sir Thomas Playford opening the laboratories of the Department of Agriculture. These laboratories were made possible by funds from the Wheat Industry Research Committee of South Australia, a small amount also from the Wheat Research Council and top-up funds from the South Australian Government.

It attracted a certain amount of interest, and you’ll see the mechanical television of the day in the foreground.

A small booth was provided outside the back door for the usual purposes on such occasions. There was a good deal of open space off into the middle distance.

If we look at that scene today, we’ll see that there’s a good deal of other architectural excrescence been added to it (laughter) since the original opening took place.

Soon after the opening, the staff went out and picked up all the rocks. They were aided by mental patients from the hospital that we got over, (laughter) but the patients were a bit inclined to pick up a rock and walk up and down with it without actually picking up a second one, so it was easier for us to do the job ourselves and we had a grand planting of the lawn.

Subsequently, arrangements were made with the Womens Agricultural Bureau to plant the trees. This was an organisation of military precision which truly amazed the staff, because the representatives of all the Womens Agricultural Bureaus assembled on a particular morning and at a given signal they all whipped their garden trowels out of their handbags and dug little holes and planted their ceremonial trees. And today we see the fruits of their labour.