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SITUATIONS VACANT: Jobs for 124 wamen who mast be ca pa h
of being housekeeper, private secretary, busy hostess, telephone switchgiri, speechmaker, diplomat, part-time widow, and social gadabout all rolled int» one. Must be prepared to work round the clock seven days a week. Salary nil, three years' guaranteed employment. Successful applicants will be
notified on or soon after December 9.
"VT EARLY 400
out Australia have
been working their
hearts out in recent
weeks, each trying to land a job which, even
in a work-fiend's lan- guage, is no sweet
The women are the wives of Federal election candidates who are des-
perately struggling for the
124 seats in the House of Representatives.
A great many of them the wives of sitting members -already have experience of the demanding job ahead if the votes on Saturday go their husbands' way.
But it's a rare one who isn't determined to win the
battle, despite the great sac- rifice of personal life it in-
For mest of them don't
take long to be bitten by the same political bug which first inspired their husbands to stand for Parliament.
Once that happens, they generally work and campaign as hard as the candidates themselves, and often harder.
To a large extent, they're the answer to the frequent
criticism that too few Aus- tralian women take an active
interest in politics.
An excellent example of the staunch political wife is the Prime Minister's "right hand," Dame Pattie Menzies, of whom her husband has said:
"My wife has worked far harder than I have myself
and I've done a fair bit . . .
"Since I entered politics (32 years ago) Dame Pattie
has done much active cam-
paigning for me.
"She has been to every corner of Australia, including many places which I haven't had a chance to visit."
Off the record Another political veteran carried the importance of
these unofficial women in
politics even further, saying:
"Behind every successful man in politics is a woman: his wife, or in a few cases his
"The electors mightn't have much to do with putting her 'in office,' and she mightn't go down in any record of women's achievements in public life in Australia, but don't ever un- derestimate the role she
And just what is her role? When I asked this question of Mrs. Bill Aston, wife of the M.P. for Phillip-Aus-
tralia's shakiest seat in this
week's election-she smiled and said: "You name it, and it probably comes under the list of the duties of a local member's wife!"
In her six years "in office,"'
she's remained an efficient housekeeper, looking after her home in the Sydney suburb of Waverley, and seeing that her children-Raymond, an 18-year-old medical student, Anne, 15, and Margaret, 10 haven't suffered by being political orphans.
She has dealt with her hus- band's mail, sifted invitations, handled many of his constitu- ents' problems, and taken telephone messages galore.
"When Bill's in Canberra or out in his electorate I'm never off the phone. Sometimes I wish it would stop ringing, but then I think that if it did stop it would mean the people
didn't have much faith in Bill. And that makes me wait hap- pily for the next call," said
Who said women don't
go into politics?
Like all politicians' wives, she must be a diplomat, too. She must always appear inter- ested in and talk to and listen to everybody - on the phone, in the street, at the
local bazaar. And she must
look happy about it (even if those new shoes are killing her or she's too exhausted to think straight).
And she must become a
speechmaker, prepared to open new buildings, address meetings, and stand in for her husband.
Being a busy hostess goes without question.
"There are always plenty of demands in that direction," said Mrs. Aston. "But it's at election time that I really de- velop into the best sandwich maker in Sydney.
"All the people helping.Bill in his campaign keep arriving to gather leaflets, discuss pro- gress, etc., and thev're always ready for food. I'd be well qualified to put up a 'snacks at-all-hours' sign."'
Again, like all politicians' wives, Mrs. Aston must be pre- pared to be a social gadabout -but this doesn't mean she's
free to flit from party to party
ONE OF THE BUSIEST is Mrs. BiU Aston, I
wife of the sitting member for Phillip, I
given by her personal friends.
She must spend hours studying a calendar, working
out how she can fit in the
alarming number of official invitations which arrive each week-for everything from a surf-club barbecue to a pen- sioners' afternoon tea, from a formal ball to a nurses' gradu- ation ceremony.
She has learnt the poli- tician's golden rule that no
one in the electorate is too small to be unimportant.
For a large part of the year Mrs. Aston has to fill all these engagements alone.
When parliament is in ses- sion, her husband spends w eek- days in Canberra, weekends at home in his electorate.
"I'm one of the lucky ones,"' said Mrs. Aston. "Because
we live in Sydney, I at least see my husband every week-
"I don't get down to Can- berra often, because I'm too busy here."
The wives she feels really sorry for are those married to Western Australian members, or some of those in far-flung
Election time is the great- est endurance test the poli- tician's wife faces in her term of office.
Intense canvassing weighs in on top of all the other chores, particularly ,.in tountry elec- torates, where wives accom- pany their husbands on whistle-stop tours, travelling hundreds of miles a day.
But even in metropolitan seals, such as the one Mr. As- ton holds, wives find 'there
just aren't enough I »ursintb day to accompany their tn bands round the eli torate.i listen to their si eet-cora speeches, to send o elect» cering letters to all ; heir tc* stituents, and so on.
"And the wives ji ^t mtwk there," said Mi Asm "People notice if y< 're -
Attractive Mrs. \ston lt faced more than the usn
problems this time for, ja five weeks before tl - électif her husband was ashed « hospital for an opt ition.
The 45-year-old millina] manufacturer, win ».
Deputy-Whip for t retint
covered in time to ejoin i campaigning, with .vo w«l
But his wife had o rem on the alert to see he dn overtax his strength in tr}1 to retain the seat ^ hich I won from Labor six \ ears > and which he re
margin of only 1.8' per« of votes-making it me od toughest seats in A strafe
"There's no need to tell'
the strain is terrific,' said M
Aston. "But I'm a born i
timist, and I won't think anything but victon "
When the votes at ? com* and the 124 membei are» ted, what rewards i n a1 expect?
The only "payment" sbt entitled to is free tra nsf*» Canberra, by rail or air,' times a year. (If sh p* Canberra only twice shel lowed one interstate rip her husband.)
Apart from this, she has satisfaction of helping pf the interest of meetin ; p« and a husband's gratitud