On 19 December Suzanne and I (with James Fletcher from the Development Office) were taken to a modern office block where the Australian Prime Minister has his Sydney office (he divides his time between here and Canberra). It comes as a surprise to those of us from countries where terrorism is a major threat to find that there was very little overt security there in the office building and much informality (which is characteristically Australian).
Malcolm Turnbull was very charming and delighted to talk about Brasenose. He remembered his teachers on the BCL in particular John Davies, Mary Stokes and one he described as the “young” Hugh Collins (now the Vinerian Professor). We also reminisced about his Spycatcher Trial where he took on the British Government at a very tender age.
We had a general discussion about higher education in the UK and the difference between university reform in our two countries.
I had not realised what he told us of the close connection between Malcolm’s old school, Sydney Grammar School and Brasenose. The long serving Headmaster (from 1867) Albert Bythesea Weigall (yes the name is correct) had been to Brsenose (after Macclesfield Grammar School) and indeed the ties of the School and College are the same colours. As he said they are not usual colours to put together. Despite the historic connections, however, Malcolm told us that he chose Brasenose as it was one of the only co-educational Colleges during his day.
We really enjoyed our thirty minutes with Brasenose’s one remaining Prime Minister (and Australia’s 29th Prime Minister).