Percy Rollo Brett (1964-1975)
Percy Brett Mr Rollo Brett succeeded Mr Len Harris as head of the Laboratories in 1964. He was no stranger to the Laboratories, having been a member of the staff for the whole of his professional career.


He joined the Post Office as a Clerk in 1940 at the age of 16, and during the next 5 years, he spent varying periods in the Department, as a civilian in the Department of the Army, in the Armed Services and at Melbourne University, where he graduated Bachelor of Science in 1944 after majoring in Physics and Radio Physics. After graduation, he joined the Laboratories as a Physicist, Grade 1, where he became part of the team of physical scientists being built up under D. O'Donnell.

Over the next few years, this team grew to include chemists, physicists and metallurgists. In the early 1950s, Mr Brett was active in Professional Officers Association affairs, preparing and presenting cases to Central classification Committees of the Public Service Board, which resulted in substantial organisational and classification improvements for the Physical Sciences Sub-Section, as it became known.

Mr. Brett's main technical contributions were in the field of materials and components and their environmental behaviour, and he was involved in establishing the understanding and standards required for the adoption of modern polymer materials in Departmental equipment.

He was promoted to Senior Physicist in 1952 and to Sectional Engineer, Physical Sciences, in 1958, following the retirement of Mr. O'Donnell.

Following the reorganisation of the Laboratories in 1963, he was promoted to the position of Assistant Director-General, Apparatus and Services, and in 1964, to the position of Senior Assistant Director-General, Research.

During his period in charge of the Laboratories, he has concentrated attention on the management of the research programme to obtain the maximum relevance of the programme to the immediate and the long term needs of the Department, and on developing and maintaining an awareness elsewhere in the Department of the necessity for long term research and development, and of the value the large resource of advanced knowledge and skill that is available in the Research Laboratories.

In order to expand the extent of advanced knowledge of telecommunications in Australia, he fostered relationships with Universities. In particular, post graduate work of direct interest to the Department.

Mr Brett has also pursued the problem of the poor accommodation and facilities available in the present laboratory buildings and his actions reached the stage where plans to consolidate the Research Laboratories at a single location in specially designed laboratory buildings was near completion. It was intended that the occupation of the first of these buildings would commence in 1975.

Mr Brett's earlier career involved him closely with the relevant activities of the Standards Association of Australia and he was a member of the S.A.A. Council and Chairman of the Telecommunications and Electronics Industry Standards Committee. In later years, he has become involved in tertiary education and was a member of the Faculty of Engineering at Melbourne University and of the Academic Policy and the College Staffs Committees of the Victoria Institute of Colleges. He was a graduate of the Australian Administrative Staff College, 1963; a Fellow of the Institution of Radio and Electronics Engineers; and a member of the Radio Research Board and of the Australian National Committee for Radio Science.

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Last updated: 6 July 2001