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Alan Charles (Allan) Pettigrew (1935–1993)

by Ian Diehm

This article was published:

Alan (Allan) Charles Pettigrew (1935–1993), public servant, journalist, and cricket administrator, was born on 2 December 1935 at Bundaberg, Queensland, fourth child of Queensland-born parents Stewart Campbell Pettigrew, ironmonger and later company managing director, and his wife Muriel Tindel Marks, née Lane. Having attended Bundaberg West State and Bundaberg High schools, Alan spent two years (1952–53) at Brisbane Boys’ College, where he was outstanding at sport, being a member of the college’s first cricket, rugby union, and tennis teams in the Great Public Schools competition.

After completing the senior public examination, Pettigrew returned to Bundaberg in 1953 to commence a cadetship in journalism with the News-Mail; he later became its sports editor and writer. On 29 November 1958 at Christ Church, Bundaberg, he married, with Anglican rites, Dorothy Hintz, a nurse. In 1960 he moved to Brisbane to work as a government roundsman and political writer for the Telegraph. He was well liked by his contemporaries, who observed that he never allowed his own beliefs to influence his reporting of political events. Because of his background, he also covered sport.

On 4 October 1965 Pettigrew joined the Queensland Public Service as a liaison officer, employed as press secretary to John Herbert, the minister for labour and industry (labour and tourism from 1966; tourism, sport, and welfare services from 1972) in the Country and Liberal parties’ coalition government. In this position, Pettigrew gained the respect of all political parties. He moved to the post of director of marketing for the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau in 1974. Appointed as an assistant under-secretary in the Department of Community and Welfare Services and Sport in 1976, he became deputy director-general (family and community programs) in the Department of Welfare Services in 1981.

An able public administrator, on 6 February 1986 Pettigrew was appointed under-secretary (permanent head) of the Department of Welfare (later Family) Services, under Yvonne Chapman, the first woman to be a Queensland cabinet minister. In September 1989 he responded to representations by members of the staff of the John Oxley Youth Centre, Wacol, about the institution’s management. With the approval of the then minister, Beryce Nelson, he initiated an inquiry by Noel Heiner into the staff complaints and other matters touching the security and treatment of detainees. In December 1989 the new Australian Labor Party government transferred him to the position of director-general of tourism, sport, and racing, before cabinet’s controversial decision to close the inquiry and destroy related documents. So thoroughly was he an old-style, publicly neutral public servant that, when the ALP took office (after he had worked for the coalition for twenty-four years), he was the sole serving departmental head to gain one of the fifteen new positions of director-general opened to competitive selection.

Pettigrew had an abiding interest in cricket, having played first grade in Bundaberg at thirteen years of age. On arriving in Brisbane, he had begun a lifelong association with the Northern Suburbs district club, first as a solid right-hand batsman for eight seasons and then in various administrative positions, being awarded life membership in 1973. The club named its oval at Windsor after him in 1993 but later shifted the title to its Kedron oval.

In 1965 Pettigrew had been elected to the Queensland Cricket Association’s executive committee; he represented the country division, of which he was treasurer (1966–69), secretary (1969–70), and president (1970–72). From 1965 to 1970 he organised the annual Country Week Carnival in Brisbane. When the separate Queensland Country Cricket Association was formed in 1972, he was the inaugural president, holding this office until 1977. For his tireless service, he was granted life membership of the QCCA in 1972 and the QCA in 1977. As chairman of the QCA from 1988, he moved to streamline its cumbersome administration, aiming to lift its public profile and promote the game effectively. In 1992 he succeeded in abolishing the unwieldy twenty-one-member executive and replacing it with a board of ten directors, under his chairmanship. He retired in August 1993. The QCA named the second grade of its premier competition the Alan Pettigrew Shield in recognition of his services.

Elected in 1974 to represent Queensland on the Australian Cricket Board, Pettigrew had become, at thirty-eight, the youngest member-director. He joined the board’s executive in 1988 and served on the financial review (1987–89) and the international umpires’ allocation (1987–93) committees. When he stood down in 1993, he was the ACB’s longest-serving member. Known affectionately in cricket circles as ‘Petals,’ he was highly regarded as the game’s ‘gentle voice of reason,’ Cam Battersby saying of him that his ‘trademark was his smile and his style was conciliation, discussion and hard work’ (News-Mail 1993, 40).

On 6 November 1992 Pettigrew had retired from the public service, planning to travel and then settle by the sea at Bargara. Soon taken ill, however, he died of cancer on 16 December 1993 in his home at Aspley, Brisbane, and, following a Catholic funeral, was buried in the Bundaberg lawn cemetery. His wife and their three sons and one daughter survived him.

Research edited by Darryl Bennet

Select Bibliography

  • Callaghan, Allen. Personal communication

  • Diehm, Ian. Green Hills to the Gabba: The Story of Queensland Cricket. Sydney: Playright Publishing Pty Ltd, 2000

  • News-Mail (Bundaberg). ‘Pettigrew Loses Fight.’ 17 December 1993, 40

  • Queensland State Archives. Item ID935514, Personnel file

  • Torrens, Warwick. ‘Life Member: Alan Charles Pettigrew 1972.’ 2008. Accessed 8 March 2011. Copy held on ADB file

Citation details

Ian Diehm, 'Pettigrew, Alan Charles (Allan) (1935–1993)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2017, accessed online 15 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 19, (ANU Press), 2021

View the front pages for Volume 19

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