HARVEY, RONALD STUART (1916-88)
A reader described Ronald Harvey as ‘an editorial beacon in [Queensland’s] sea of corruption and mismanagement’. The long-time editor of Bundaberg’s News-Mail (1960–81), Harvey began his journalism career as a cadet on the Bundaberg Daily Times (1934–38), before working in Grafton and Hobart, interspersed with four years of war service.
He returned to Bundaberg in mid-1960, at the helm of the News-Mail, the paper against which his father, William James Harvey, as chairman of the Bundaberg Daily Times (1926–38), had fought so hard. Ronald Harvey became known for the independence and fairness of his editorials, his meticulous research and his careful use of language. He believed only a free and unrestrained press could effectively expose deception in government.
Harvey read extensively on the Vietnam War and opposed US and then Australian involvement. As early as June 1970, he was attacking Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s approach to the unions. Bundaberg Council disliked Harvey, largely because his column whipped up opposition to any council schemes he thought were not in the public interest.
His main encouragement came from unknown readers, who complimented him even when they did not agree with him. It would take Harvey about 90 minutes each day to write one of his leading articles. He wrote them at home, and spent ‘hours in preparation’. He felt his most important leaders were on local issues. In the judgement of the chairman of the local irrigation committee, E.H. Churchward, the News-Mail and its editor played an invaluable role in helping to establish the Bundaberg district irrigation scheme.
Under Harvey’s editorship, the newspaper won the Bowater Award for the best regional daily in Queensland in 1970, 1974 and 1977.
REFs: R. Kirkpatrick, ‘Editorial Beacon Shines in State’s Sea of Corruption’, PANPA Bulletin (March 2001); R. Kirkpatrick, interviews with R.S. Harvey, 16 May 1979, and P.W.J. Harvey 10 March 1992.