LOVE YA WORK!
Today I offer another anecdote from a period in a past life.
I once worked as a senior public servant in four federal government departments in another life. One of our Minister’s was a Liberal named Billie Mackie Snedden ( Sir Billie Mackie Snedden KCMG, QC, 31st December 1926 – 27th June 1987) a man who went on to become the leader of the Liberal Party, became knighted by the Queen and was eventually found dead in a hotel room. Whenever a Minister visited our office, all sorts of directives were made to make his visit as pleasant as possible – trying to impress El Supremo. That included a fresh sheet of blotting paper to go into our desk pad.
Billie Snedden arrived in my department, and it just so happened that I sat outside the Assistant Director’s office on the ground floor of the Commonwealth Centre. Back in the 70’s we had steam heaters that were bloody useless so I decided to make a stand. Just before the Minister arrived I put my scarf and overcoat on and tried to look busy. I also refused to change my blotting paper.
The Minister spent half an hour with the Assistant Director. When he walked out with his entourage he fortuitously stopped at my desk and asked me how I was. I politely stood up, shook his hand, introduced myself and told him how bitterly cold it was. He lived in Canberra so he knew what ‘cold’ meant. He agreed with me and asked if we had any heating at all. I mentioned the steam heaters and described how archaic they were. Boldly, I informed him that I was president of the social club and, that our committee had considered running a raffle to raise funds to provide a better heating system. Shocked by that suggestion, he looked around the office and promised to look into the matter. In fact, he looked at his Chief of Staff and asked him to make a note of it. By the way, his Chief of Staff later became the permanent head of the department.
Being fairly upfront at a young age, I grabbed the opportunity and asked the Minister if he would attend our annual ball to be held in two months time. One of his underlings checked his diary and replied, ‘Yes, he will be here.’ That made me grin. Having the Minister turn up at the annual ball was a great draw card for all the wimps in the department. It meant we would sell heaps of tickets because the wimps loved to be seen and photographed with the Minister. I personally didn’t give a rat’s. I mean, he had his job, so did I. We are all working for a common cause, right?
As the Minister was about to walk off I pointed to my scruffy blotting pad. ‘Sir, you’ve probably noticed that my blotting pad is not fresh like the others … But I’m sure you’re concerned about more important issues like adequate heating for your staff.’ He glanced at my blotting pad, covered in notes and coffee stains and grinned. ‘See you at the annual ball, Sir,’ I added. Mr Snedden shook my hand, winked and left.
Weeks later, maintenance guys appeared on the ground floor. Within a week we had a suitable heating system installed. Several months later the Minister attended our annual ball. Surprise, surprise, he recalled my name. On behalf of my fellow colleagues I thanked him for the magnificent heating system on the ground floor of the Commonwealth Centre and presented him with a rolled up, brand new piece of blotting paper. On the back of it I signed my name and wrote three words that I've become famous for - ‘Love ya work!’ He laughed loudly.
Clancy's comment: Billie Mackie Snedden was a good bloke. He was one of the better politicians to deal with. Tomorrow I offer a full post on this interesting character. By the way, he has often been referred to as 'Billy' and 'Billie'.
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SIR BILLIE MACKIE SNEDDEN