Rob Chalmers died in July during my time in the Press Gallery he was a reassuring presence. He provided a sense of continuity, the same face in all the historic photos on the walls still stalking the corridors muttering that young journos didn’t know who Menzies was (or, if they did, they hadn’t met Menzies and that was just as bad).
Yesterday his memoir was finally launched. It’s called: INSIDE the CANBERRA PRESS GALLERY – Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House.
This historical memoir of a career reporting from The Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House offers a rare insider’s perspective on both how the gallery once operated and its place in the Australian body politic.
Using some of the biggest political developments of the past fifty years as a backdrop, Inside the Canberra Press Gallery – Life in the Wedding Cake of Old Parliament House sheds light on the inner workings of an institution critical to the health of our parliamentary democracy.
Rob Chalmers (1929-2011) entered the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery in 1951 as a twenty-one-year-old reporter for the now-defunct Sydney Daily Mirror and would retire from political commentary 60 years later – an unprecedented career span in Australian political history. No parliamentary figure – politician, bureaucrat or journalist – can match Chalmers’ experience, from his first Question Time on 7 March 1951 until, desperately ill, he reluctantly retired from editing the iconic newsletter Inside Canberra sixty years, four months and eighteen days later.
As well as being considered a shrewd political analyst, Chalmers was a much-loved member of the gallery and a past president of the National Press Club. Rob Chalmers used to boast that he had outlasted 11 prime ministers; and a 12th, Julia Gillard described him as ‘one of the greats’ of Australian political journalism upon his passing. Rob Chalmers is survived by his wife Gloria and two children from a previous marriage, Susan and Rob jnr.
[Photo by Old Canberran.]