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'Order of the Blowtorch', awarded to Senator Bronwyn Bishop in 1992


'Order of the Blowtorch', awarded to Senator Bronwyn Bishop in 1992

Object information

Physical description

Used hand-held metal blowtorch, with a cylindrical 500ml brass reservoir. The side is engraved "Senator Bronwyn Bishop / ORDER OF THE BLOWTORCH / 1992".

Statement of significance

The Bronwyn Bishop collection comprises a hand held metal 500 ml blow-torch, awarded to Senator Bishop by her parliamentary colleagues after the 1992 Senate estimate and joint public account hearings. It was manufactured by Goodwill Productions, Original Wisdom, Regd TM500ML and is engraved with the following words: Senator Bronwyn Bishop Order of the Blow Torch 1992.

Bronwyn Bishop was elected to Federal parliament as a member of the Liberal party in 1987. She studied Law at the University of Sydney and practiced as a solicitor before entering politics. She was elected first female President of the NSW Liberal Party in 1985. During a Senate Estimates hearing in October 1992, she interrogated the Commissioner for Taxation, Trevor Boucher with particular vigour. The blow-torch was awarded to Senator Bishop by her parliamentary colleagues in a mock award ceremony.
Women with Attitude collection and exhibition:
This object is part of the Women with Attitude collections. In 1995 twenty-four Australian women were asked by the Museum to identify one object that was symbolic of their life in the political arena for inclusion in the travelling exhibition Women with Attitude: 100 years of political action. The objects made up a section entitled "Individuals with Attitude" which linked the historical sections of the exhibition with the future. Together the objects provide a significant if quirky record on Australian women in 1995 and their priorities and mementoes. The intention of the curator, Marion Stell, was to have this group of women link the historical sections of the exhibition with the future without imposing didactic text. The intention was to achieve a range of perspectives - political persuasions, ages, races, styles, familiarity, occupations and backgrounds.
Because many of the women were well-known, they had experience in being portrayed by the medial. Part of the politics of the exhibition was to allow each woman to choose one object, to write up to 250 words and provide her own image. This was thought to give them some kind of 'control' over their own image. An exhibition, just like the media, can distort the image that we as individuals wish to portray.
The women were presented in alphabetical order and photographs and text were delivered in a purple wash of standard size. As a result coloured photographs had no advantage over black and white or large over small. The objective was to afford each woman equality.
The exhibition opened in Canberra on 8 March 1995 and toured to Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart closing on 8 May 1997. At the end of the two-year exhibition and tour, each woman was contacted and asked if she would be prepared to donate the object to the Museum.

The following text accompanied Bronwyn's object and photograph in Women with Attitude:

Bronwyn Bishop - The essence of collectivism endows a selected group with rights superior to those of the individual. On the other hand, individualism is about freedom - freedom to achieve.

The philosophy of individualism and the principles of free enterprise offer us a way back to prosperity. The principles of free enterprise are as immutable as the laws of gravity:
- that nothing can come from nowhere, nor can it be provided free;
- that everything produced is produced by the people and that everything that government gives to the people it first must take from the people;
- that the only valuable money that government has to spend is that taxed or borrowed out of people's earnings and savings and
- that the duty of government is two-fold, to provide those things which the private sector cannot or will not provide and to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves. When a government oversteps these limited duties it does so at the expense of individual freedom."

Object information

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