The story of John Anderson Gilruth demonstrates an extraordinary example …

Comment on When NT was officially ‘a country for the White Man’ by Alex Nelson.

The story of John Anderson Gilruth demonstrates an extraordinary example of the phenomenon of “six degrees of separation” in the Northern Territory.
After Gilruth left the NT he worked as a consultant until, in 1929, he was appointed as the foundation chief of the Division of Animal Health in the newly constituted Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which later became the CSIRO. It was the CSIR’s most important division in which Gilruth led research into livestock diseases of national importance.
Gilruth’s strong personality and leadership skills enabled productive co-operation with state research institutions and universities, and with pastoralists whose enterprises were the intended beneficiaries of the research effort.
In 1935 Gilruth retired, having created a highly successful research team across Australia and doing much to reduce mistrust and misunderstanding between scientists and graziers.
Gilruth was elected as the president of the Australian Veterinary Association in 1933, which later named its top award, the Gilruth Prize, in his honour.
This was mirrored to a remarkable degree when in 1946 the Federal Government appointed Colonel Lionel Rose as Chief Veterinary Officer of the Northern Territory and the foundation director of the Animal Industry Branch, headquartered in Alice Springs.
Rose proceeded to build up the AIB as an efficient and highly regarded research organisation throughout the NT; one of its first major projects was to initiate in Alice Springs the pleuropneumonia campaign which became the world’s first successful national animal disease eradication scheme (the original stockyards for disease testing still exist at AZRI).
Just like Gilruth, Colonel Rose also was possessed of a dominant personality and leadership skills, and with these abilities facilitated strong relationships with other research bodies – and one such body was the CSIRO for which he provided resources and assistance to enable its permanent establishment in Alice Springs in 1953 (I reside at the original CSIRO property in Alice Springs, the former home address of Dr Robert Winkworth who was the first CSIRO scientist permanently appointed to the Centre).
Also like Gilruth, Colonel Rose built up a highly successful and well regarded team of staff and researchers, of whom many came to be known throughout the NT as “Rosey’s men” – I believe my father is now the last surviving member of that exclusive group.
To top it off, it was in 1961 that Colonel Lionel Rose was honoured with the top award of the Australian Veterinary Association – the Gilruth Prize.
I was sorry to miss the official launch of Ted Egan’s book about Gilruth but am very much looking forward to obtaining a copy and reading it with interest.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Student boarding funding restored – for now
Isn’t that something? A minister of the NT Government has listened to concerns about a government decision, and reversed it in a day.
Little aggravation, and great relief for many, I should think.
Minister Selena Uibo has set a fine example – now, if only certain others of her colleagues would take notice of public concern about the NT Government’s poor decision-making over the location of the proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery…


Remains of missing man found near Yambah
@ John Bell (Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:21 pm): The skeleton was identified, a young man only recently arrived in Alice Springs in 1965. It’s believed he was a victim of an accidental discharge of his rifle, not a suicide.


Ring a bell?
Is it just me, or is it the case that the “Boundless Possible” embarrassment has suffered a swift death, consigned quietly to the wheelie bin of history?
Ah yes, a government elected into office that promised us all greater standards of honesty and accountability; but no, it’s just business as usual, that we’ve long endured for decades in the Northern Territory.
It really makes no difference who’s in charge.


Four dogs suspected poisoned with 1080
@ Ruth Weston (Posted September 7, 2018 at 1:08 pm): Sodium fluoroacetate is the commercially produced 1080 poison, and is closely related to potassium fluoroacetate, the poisonous chemical found in a wide variety of plant species.
Both chemicals have the same effect, disrupting the Krebs Cycle (or Citric Acid Cycle) which disrupts the ability of cells to metabolise carbohydrates, fats and proteins for energy production.
It was biochemist Ray Murray, based in Alice Springs with the Animal Industry Branch from 1954 to 1966, who first identified the naturally occurring 1080-based compound that occurs sporadically in poison Gidgee (Acacia georginae) which plagued the beef cattle industry in the east of Central Australia and across the Queensland border.


Stagnant CBD; industrial land, rental shortage; houses hold
The photo caption “The ANZ Bank has relocated from this prime Todd Street North site, opposite the Visitor Centre, to Gregory Terrace” serves – perhaps inadvertently – to emphasise the “moving of deckchairs” in the CBD, as the Visitor Centre itself was relocated to its present site a few years ago from its former Gregory Terrace location adjacent to the Civic Centre … and that particular building, the former Queen Elizabeth II Infant Welfare Clinic, that was heavily modified and opened to great fanfare in 1997 as the new Visitor Centre, remains steadfastly vacant.
Aside from the shift of the ANZ Bank (which, incidentally, opened its doors on its former Parsons Street site in August 1962, exactly 56 years ago) and the recent Wicked Kneads shop on the opposite corner now up for sale, there has also been the closure recently of two nearby hairdresser businesses, too – one of which was for sale for a long time but obviously attracted no serious interest.
Just yesterday, walking along Gregory Terrace, I was shocked to see “For lease” notices plastering the windows of La Casalinga restaurant, a long-standing business in this town and even something of an institution.
This town has weathered significant economic downturns on previous occasions – the mid 1970s, the late 1980s and early 1990s – but I’ve never seen the relocation of so many businesses (the “shifting of deckchairs”) on such a scale as has been occurring in recent years. It’s quite a phenomenon.
This situation is concurrent with the only significant new developments – the Green Well Building in Bath Street and the multi-storey Supreme Court building in Parsons Street – being occupied by government departments and instrumentalities, to the detriment of existing commercial lease stock in town. These developments, along with the re-opening of Todd Street North to traffic again, have done nothing to arrest the decline of the CBD, notwithstanding all the hype and propaganda of government and the private sector arguing in support of them.
Recent history quite clearly shows that the proposed National Indigenous Art Gallery will prove NOT to be the economic nirvana for this town. Exactly the same rationale was given for the developments of the casino almost four decades ago, the major hotel developments in the 1980s and the Alice Springs Desert Park in the 1990s – clearly none of these institutions, either on their own or altogether, have assisted in averting the current decline of our town, and there is no reason or evidence to show that the gallery will prove to be any different.
On the contrary, it will be yet another expensive long-term burden for the taxpayer to bear.


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