Davidson, Gay (1939-2004)

Also known as
Hillary, Gay (1939-2004)
Yandle, Miringa Gay (1939-2004)
Field of activity
Journalist; Print Journalist; Radio Journalist; Television Journalist
NLA Persistent Identifier
http://nla.gov.au/nla.party-756064

Biographies

Gay Davidson was the first female political correspondent for a major newspaper in Australia, the first woman President of the Australian Commonwealth Parliamentary Press Gallery, and a great mentor and friend to a vast array of journalists, not least women taking advantage of the openings to them in that profession during the 1970s and 80s.

Miringa Gay Davidson was one of two children of Geoff Yandle and his wife, migrants to New Zealand respectively from England and Ireland, born when the family had a small dairy farm on the outskirts of Christchurch. She was educated at the (Anglican) Convent of the Sacred Name School, Christchurch Girls High School (1951-56) and at Canterbury University 1957-58 (degree not completed). She completed a journalism cadetship at .

Following a career in print, radio and television journalism in New Zealand she and her first husband, journalist Naylor Hillary, moved to Australia in 1967 when he was offered a PhD scholarship to study political science at the Australian National University in Canberra. Gay obtained work with the through her contacts with former New Zealand journalism colleague Bob Ferris (then Chief Sub Editor of the ). Initially Gay and Hillary lived with Bob and his (then) journalist wife Jeannie Ferris. Gay pioneered the "Gang Gang" page 3 column in the , did civic rounds, covered education and health, was public administration writer, then political correspondent, ending as leader writer and senior columnist, before leaving the paper and working for public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. As political correspondent and head of bureau in the Parliamentary Press Gallery, she became both the first woman in such a role with a major Australian newspaper, and was elected President of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, again the first woman in such a position.

Along the way, she liberated the lavatories in the Parliament. One objection raised to her being appointed political correspondent had been the absence of a ladies' lavatory within easy distance of the office in the Gallery. (At this time there were no ladies' lavatories in the Senate for female Senators either and precious few for women Members of the House of Representatives). Gay assisted a woman teleprinter operator in the nearby offices of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (who had broken her leg) to use the men's lavatory near by, standing guard. In due course the Parliament's Sergeant-at-arms was informed, and the lavatory was re-designated and appointed as a uni-sex facility-designated 'toilet'.

She was a strong proponent of the establishment of a premise for the National Press Club. When the new building's finances began to founder, she took over as President of the Club and, working closely with a new manager, Mrs. Marjorie Turbayne, she helped to put the Club on a firmer financial footing. She remained a member of the Board in various positions for many years.

As political correspondent she covered the 1974 Federal Election, and the dismissal of the Labor Government by the Governor-general in 1975. One enduring photo-image exists of of her in the press on the steps of Parliament House as David Smith, then Secretary to the Governor General read out the Proclamation. Subsequently, she made her name writing about entrepreneurial corporate raiders in the business world from 1985.

In the community she sat on numerous Boards, including the (former) Canberra Hospital Board, the ACT Land and Planning Appeals Board, the Bruce Stadium Trust, and the Australian Institute of Health (now Health and Welfare). She held various offices with the (former) Australian Journalists Association. She was Deputy Chair of the Australian Institute of Political Science for some years, before being awarded Honorary Life Membership in 1999. During all this time she and second husband Ken Davidson (economics writer for ) ran a virtual salon at their family home for journalists, politicians, their advisers, and senior public servants willing to risk dining in the presence of such company. She resigned (for the third and final time) from the in 1987.

After the tragic death in 1984 of her second daughter, Kiri Davidson, at the age of 13 of sub-acute sclerosing panencephalitis she became a prominent public campaigner for immunization against measles, working with successive Commonwealth Health Ministers in promoting what became the national Bicentennial Measles Campaign.

After Gay resigned from Hill and Knowlton in 1991, with a contract from the Commonwealth Department of Health to write and edit major papers, give political advice and run staff seminars on writing plain English, she worked free-lance and joined Alan Thornhill in their private company By-Line Products, again in the Gallery. She continued with some consultancy work, including speech writing, for Commonwealth Health Ministers until her deteriorating health precluded this.

  • Career in journalism active

View the full record at Australian Women's Register

Resources for Gay Davidson

Selected resources (5)

Australian Women's Register

  1. Davidson, Gay
    Published: National Foundation for Australian Women
    Series: IspartOf The Australian Women's Register
  2. From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra
    Australian Women's Archives Project
    [2013]
    Published: Australian Women's Archives Project
  3. The Women's Pages: Australian Women and Journalism since 1850
    Australian Women's Archives Project
    [2008]
    Published: Australian Women's Archives Project
  4. Breaking Through: Women, Work and Careers
    Scutt, Jocelyne
    [North Melbourne]
    Published: Artemis
  5. Gay Davidson at Old Parliament House
    Series: Photographer unknown. Year unknown. Used with permission.

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  1. Website: Australian Women's Archives Project
    www.womenaustralia.info
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  2. Website: Australian Women in War
    www.womenaustralia.info
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  3. Website: Putting skirts on the sacred benches : women candidates for the New South Wales Parliament
    www.womenaustralia.info
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  1. [Biographical cuttings on Gay Davidson, reporter, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
    [ Published : 1900-1990 ]
    At National Library
    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.269)

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.269)

  2. Papers of Bert Castellari
    Castellari, Bertram, 1923-
    [ Unpublished : 1919-2004 ]
    At National Library
    Papers of Bert Castellari
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  3. Dorothy Green manuscript collection
    Green, Dorothy, 1915-1991
    [ Unpublished : 1918-1990 ]
    Possibly online
    At ADFA Library
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  1. MacFarlane, Pam
    Choreographer
    ... Gay, Don ...
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  1. Gay
    Gay
    Created by jrourke, 406 items.

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  2. Cumming Family
    Cumming Family
    Created by JuddCumming, 519 items.

    Articles about the family members of John and Anne Cumming, originated Aberdeen, migrated to Australia (Van Diemens Land then to Victoria) July 1883. Including the next 6 generations.

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  3. Irwin, Reade
    Irwin, Reade
    Created by jairwin, 9 items.

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  1. Gay Davidson interviewed by Garry Sturgess for the Garry Sturgess collection
    Davidson, Gay, 1947-2004
    [ Sound : 1980 ]
    At National Library
    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.296)

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.296)

  2. Interview with Gay Davidson, journalist / Interviewer: Judy Cannon
    Davidson, Gay, 1947-2004
    [ Sound : 1986 ]
    At National Library
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  3. Undead and uneasy / MaryJanice Davidson
    Davidson, MaryJanice
    [ Book, Audio book : 2007 ]
    Possibly online
    At 34 libraries
    Undead and uneasy / MaryJanice Davidson
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  4. The Swiss family Robinson
    Wyss, Johann David, 1743-1818
    [ Book, Audio book, Map : 1812-2016 ]
    Languages: English;French;German;aen, [7 others]
    Read online at Open Library/Internet Archive
    View online
    At 101 libraries
    The Swiss family Robinson
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  1. Gay Davidson missed Received June 23
    The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) Wednesday 24 June 1987 p 2 Article
    ... Gay Davidson missed Received June 23 Sir, — R. D. Cooper, of Farrer, suspects that Gay Davidson ... 15 Currong Street Reid Editor's note: Mr Burgoyne is correct. Gay Davidson has left The Canberra ... 176 words
    • Text last corrected on 10 August 2014 by JaneM1951
    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.388)

    This resource is likely to be relevant to your query (score: 0.388)

  2. Taking a political gamble GAY DAVIDSON comments
    The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) Friday 18 November 1977 p 1 Article
    ... Taking a political gamble GAY DAVIDSON comments The ALP's strong lead on the unemployment issue, ... 524 words
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  3. DAVIDSON'S WEEK
    Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) Monday 14 February 1927 p 2 Article
    ... DAVIDSON'S WEEK TOCKEY «. DAVIDSON had s '' rathar praflUMa week. He rode four winners at Ocafor ... 55 words
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  1. When your child is gay : what you need to know / Wesley C. Davidson and Jonathon L. Tobkes, MD
    Davidson, Wesley C.
    [ Book : 2016 ]
    At 17 libraries
    When your child is gay : what you need to know / Wesley C. Davidson and Jonathon L. Tobkes, MD
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  2. Occupational and physical therapy for children with rheumatic diseases : a clinical handbook / edited by Gay Kuchta and Iris Davidson ; foreword by Ross E. Petty
    Kuchta, Gay
    [ Book : 2008 ]
    At 17 libraries
    Occupational and physical therapy for children with rheumatic diseases : a clinical handbook / edited by Gay Kuchta and Iris Davidson ; foreword by Ross E. Petty
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  3. Carl Sagan : a life / Keay Davidson
    Davidson, Keay
    [ Book : 1999-2000 ]
    Read online at Open Library/Internet Archive
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    At 44 libraries
    Carl Sagan : a life / Keay Davidson
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  4. Undead and uneasy / MaryJanice Davidson
    Davidson, MaryJanice
    [ Book, Audio book : 2007 ]
    Possibly online
    At 34 libraries
    Undead and uneasy / MaryJanice Davidson
    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.263)

    This resource may be of limited relevance to your query (score: 0.263)

  1. The Swiss family Robinson
    Wyss, Johann David, 1743-1818
    [ Book, Audio book, Map : 1812-2016 ]
    Languages: English;French;German;aen, [7 others]
    Read online at Open Library/Internet Archive
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    At 101 libraries
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  2. Burmese days / George Orwell
    Orwell, George, 1903-1950
    [ Book, Audio book, Map : 1934-2015 ]
    Languages: English;Spanish;Thai;Croatian, [4 others]
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    At 73 libraries
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  3. State of discrimination. (state laws on civil rights of gays)
    Flippen, Alan
    The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
    [ Map, Article : 1997 ]
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  1. DAVIDSON STATE RECREATION AREA
    Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001) Friday 6 February 1976 [Issue No.18] p 524

    Government Gazette Notices

    ... (6486) Sydney, 6th February, 1976. DAVIDSON STATE RECREATION AREA IT is hereby notified pursuant to ... recreation and enjoyment; (b) the area so reserved is assigned the name Davidson State Recreation Area; (c ... 247 words
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  2. ADDITION TO DAVIDSON PARK STATE RECREATION AREA
    Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001) Friday 18 March 1988 [Issue No.56] p 1756

    Government Gazette Notices

    ... ADDITION TO DAVIDSON PARK STATE RECREATION AREA IN pursuance of the provisions of section 47b of ... of Davidson Park State Recreation Area for the purpose of recreation and enjoyment. BOB CARR ... 72 words
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  3. REVOCATION OF DAVIDSON PARK STATE RECREATION AREA
    Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001) Friday 24 April 1992 [Issue No.51] p 2952

    Government Gazette Notices

    ... REVOCATION OF DAVIDSON PARK STATE RECREATION AREA In pursuance of tbe provisions of Section 47L ... , National Paries and Wildlife Act 19/4, the reservation of land as Davidson Park State Recreation Area ... 128 words
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  1. Gay Davidson 1939-2004: Obituary
    Best, Jack
    AQ - Australian Quarterly
    [ Article : 2005 ]
    View online (conditions apply)
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  2. Running free: then confronting the barriers. -Experiences of journalist Gay Davidson-
    Davidson, Gay
    Breaking Through: Women, Work and Careers
    [ Article : 1992 ]
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  3. The merchant of Venice / William Shakespeare
    Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
    The Review of English Studies
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    Languages: English;Japanese;Arabic;Welsh, [15 others]
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