He was ‘self-confident, temperamental and quick to take offence, but his artistic abilities were great and he had a full command of the techniques of his profession’ (Australian Dictionary of Biography). Francis Greenway was the first one, way back in 1816 when Governor Lachlan Macquarie appointed him as a civil architect and assistant engineer at a salary of 3 shillings a day, quarters for himself and family, a horse and forage.
Greenway, originally sentenced to death for the crime of forgery, was instead transported to Botany Bay where he received a ’ticket of leave’, designed many colonial buildings which still exist – and was honoured on the first $10 decimal currency note! Classic Australian ironic humour?
Now, without the requirement of such a colourful background, governments across Australia have appointed ‘State Architects’. The intentions, roles and mandates vary across the jurisdictions. In most cases, they operate with very limited resources but, without exception, their appointing governments tout how important they are, and have high expectations for them.