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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Bill Robertson

2008
Paul Gosney

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 40.5 cm x 30.2 cm, image: 38.5 cm x 28.2 cm)
Image not available (NC)

Bill Robertson CBE MC (1917-2011), public servant, was educated at Melbourne Grammar and Oxford, where he graduated from the school of Natural Philosophy in 1939. In the AIF he served in the Western Desert, Crete and Greece, where he won the Military Cross in 1941. Having served in New Guinea from 1942 to 1944, he was appointed one of thirteen officers to assist the British Army in the liberation of Europe; fighting with the 50th Division he was awarded the OBE for his good conduct. Returning to Australia in 1947, he joined the Department of Defence three years later. From its formation in 1952, he played a senior role in the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIS). In 1962 he attended the Imperial Defence College in London. In 1968 he was appointed director-general of ASIS, charged with sustaining relations with the British Secret Intelligence and building relations with the CIA and regional intelligence services. On October 21 1975, for complex reasons that the key players long disputed, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam dismissed Robertson. (A few days later, Whitlam himself was ousted from office.) Robertson later made a personal deposition at the National Archives of Australia giving his own account of the business. In 1976 he was made CBE; he later headed the Protective Services Coordination Centre. In 2004, when Robertson joined an official party representing Australia to commemorate the D Day landings, he was awarded the Legion of Honour; he reflected that it was a 'nice way to round off his military career'.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Paul Gosney

Bill Robertson CBE MC (age 91 in 2008)

Subject professions

Military

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency