Today, 25 March, marks the 100th birthday of former
Australian diplomat, World War II veteran and prolific author Sir
Sir Walter, who now lives in Adelaide, is an Australian who over
the course of his life has rendered distinguished service in a variety
of fields, both at home and abroad.
Born in Broken Hill, NSW, Sir Walter graduated from the University
of Adelaide in 1925 and then studied at Oxford and Stanford universities.
Sir Walter gained his early experience during the 1930s in the Nigerian
Colonial Service (1930-1934). He worked for the League of Nations
in the International Labour Organisation in Geneva from 1934-1940.
A lieutenant colonel in the British army, Sir Walter was awarded
the Croix de Guerre, France and Ordre du Lion, Belgium for distinguished
service during World War II where he served mainly in West Africa.
In 1946 he was invited to be the first chief of the Africa Section
in the United Nations Secretariat in New York where he served until
1949. In 1949 he became founding Professor of International Relations
at the Australian National University in Canberra.
From 1952 to 1970 Sir Walter served Australia with distinction
for 18 consecutive years at ambassadorial level in a variety of
countries including India (1952-1955 & 1958-1962), Indonesia
(1955-1956), Canada (1957-1958), Nepal (1960-1962), Belgium and
The Netherlands (1962-1965), Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda (1965-1967)
and Italy (1967-1970). This period saw Australia expand its diplomatic
service and give increasing weight in its foreign policy to the
establishment of close relations with countries of Asia.
Following his retirement from the diplomatic service in 1970, Sir
Walter returned home to Adelaide where he served as a member of
the Council of Adelaide University from 1971-1978. In 1973 he was
appointed Lieutenant-governor of South Australia, a position he
held until 1982. He was appointed K.B.E in 1978.
Sir Walter was a prolific writer publishing numerous magazine articles,
lectures and books during his illustrious career. His books include
Japanese population problem (1931), Nigeria: a critique
of British colonial administration (1936), On governing colonies
(1947), Self-government for the colonies (1949), Nehru:
a contemporary estimate (1966), Australian Ambassador
(1971), Travelling Back: memoirs (1981),and Sir Thomas
Playford: a portrait (1983).
I join with many others in passing on my best wishes to Sir Walter
on this very special occasion.
Media inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500