Beyond the call of duty

This confidential despatch from Prime Minister Edmond Barton.
This confidential despatch from Prime Minister Edmond Barton. (NAA: A6661, 1196)

'Life is so constructed that an event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation …' Charlotte Bronte

The promise of a cruise (albeit for work) with poolside drinks, lavish seafood dinners and breathtaking sunsets, all while in the employ of a rich and powerful Sultan must have thrilled a young Australian female typist early last century. And her own stateroom too … perhaps!

But soon after embarking on her typist assignment for the Sultan of Johore, innocent public servant Miss Jackson suspected that she had been deceived and enticed for immoral purposes. She sent a message to that effect via the Pilot at Thursday Island.

This confidential despatch from Prime Minister Edmund Barton to the Governor-General was the first in a long sequence of letters, memorandums and telegrams to ensure her safe return to Australian shores.

Note the date of the correspondence from the Prime Minister to the Governor-General (the Australian Federation was just two-and-a-half years old!) and the way in which the Prime Minister addressed the Governor-General.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017