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Neville Wran interviewed by Diana Giese [sound recording]
Bib ID 577728
Format AudioAudio [sound recording]
Wran, Neville, 1926-2014, interviewee
Access Conditions Access open for research, personal copies and public use. 
Description 2000 
4 digital audio tapes (ca. 260 min.) 

Wran speaks of the shame his labourer father felt in trying to provide for his family during the Depression years and his mother's determination that he should get a good education; how he excelled at debating while at Fort Street High matriculating at the early age of 15; his many extracurricular activities while doing law at Sydney University such as the Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS); performing radio soap opera and writing a column in the university newspaper; joining the prestigious and conservative legal firm of Bartler, Perry and Purcell where he quickly became a partner and how some of his legal mentors such as Morgan Ryan, Lionel Murphy, Jack Sweeney and Jim McClelland became close friends: his relations with the ALP: his belief in the Labor philosophy of a fair go to the majority of people; Labor factions and the need for power-broking with his own tendency to vote with the Labour right wing; his views on Reg Downing and John Ducker; the challenges he had to face as Premier including highest levels of unemployment and inflation but reduced to the lowest by 1981, public transport, parliamentary reforms.

Wran talks about his relations with NSW powerbrokers; securing the support of big business; relations as the major Labor leader of the time with a predominantly Liberal Federal government; the impact on his government when corruption allegations were made; the resignation of Corrective Services Minister Rex Jackson for misleading the Parliament; the April 1983 revelation on ABC's TV program Four Corners that implied that he might have tried to subvert the justice system by influencing the outcome of a court case; how he had successfully sued the ABC for defamation and won; how Murray Farquahar, NSW Chief Magistrate, had in a deposition made the original implication and was later jailed for four years as a result; in 1984 the Age published transcripts of secret and illegal police taps on public figures like Robert Trimbole, George Freeman and solicitor Morgan Ryan and Wran responded by setting by the Stewart Royal Commission to investigate.


Neville Wran was born and raised in Balmain to a working class family, educated at Fort Street Boys High School and graduated in law at the University of Sydney in 1948. After practising as a solicitor he was admitted to the Bar in 1957 and distinguished himself as a leading trade union barrister. He was made QC in 1968 and later in 1995 received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater. He had however one of the most rapid and spectacular rises in the history of Australian politics. After entering the NSW Legislative Council in 1970 at the age of 43 he became its leader. Then in 1973 he ran for the lower House seat of Bass Hill in order to challenge Pat Hills for the state leadership of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and won by just one vote. He began taking a high media profile particularly with TV journalists and in May 1976 just six months after the dismissal of the Whitlam Federal Government, he became NSW Premier with a one-seat majority. He is noted as the longest serving Premier in the state's history, not losing an election or a by-election in his 10 years of office. From 1980-86 he was also National President of the ALP.

From 1986-91 he was Chairman of the CSIRO. From the mid-1980's he built up his business interests principally with Malcolm Turnball in the firm Turnball and Partners. Later with Turnball he would become a founder of the Australian Republican Movement. He is now Executive Chairman of his own company, Wran Partners, and a company director in companies like Powerlan Ltd., Sydney SuperDome and Pharmanet Online. He also chairs the Lionel Murphy Foundation established in 1986 as well as the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. He is a Life Governor of the Art Gallery of NSW and a life member of the Powerhouse Museum. In 1988 he was made Companion of the Order of Australia.


Recorded on 25 August 2000 in Sydney, N.S.W.

Digital master available National Library of Australia

Index/Finding Aid Note Uncorrected transcript (typescript, 117 leaves) available. 
Subjects Wran, Neville, 1926-2014 -- Interviews.  |  Australian Labor Party. New South Wales Branch -- History.  |  Australian Labor Party -- Employees.  |  Politicians -- New South Wales -- Interviews.  |  Mass media -- Political aspects -- New South Wales.  |  Government and the press -- New South Wales.  |  Premiers -- New South Wales -- Interviews.  |  Lawyers -- New South Wales -- Interviews.  |  Political corruption -- New South Wales.  |  New South Wales -- Politics and government -- 1976-1990.
Other authors/contributors Giese, Diana, 1947- interviewer


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    ORAL TRC 4628 (transcript)
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