A 15-year-old Rachel Hogan should have been celebrating her victory in the ACT Plain English award on this day in 1983. Instead she and her father were on the front page "devastated" by an age qualification rule that had stopped her from taking on the nation's best.
For reasons that had perplexed her family, Rachel was locked out of the national championships not for being too old, but for being too young. Born in May, she was fine in the the ACT division, which said entrants had to turn 15 by July 31 to qualify. But in nationals that rule was brought forward to January, making her five months too young to compete.
"If age at the lower end of the scale takes precedence over ability, where is the relevance of merit in the award?," Rachel's mother Helen Hogan asked, not unreasonably.
Seemingly siding with Rachel and her family, the ACT Schools Authority said members of the national committee had refused to back down but were open to changing rules the next year.
Meanwhile, sitting above this story on page 1 was news of a backdown by the Australian War Memorial, which scrapped plans to alter its front entrance. The designed changes had been condemned as "inappropriate" by bodies including the Australian Heritage Commission and the RSL.
As contemporary readers know, mooted changes to the war memorial are always contentious.