The memoirs of the late Sir Peter Lawler, the architect of the Australian Federal Police and a "colossus" of the public service, have been presented to AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin, revealing much about the man and machinery of government.
Three of his seven children - Geraldine, John and Chris - also spoke lovingly of their father, who died aged 96 in 2017, as they made the presentation of the memoirs, which are intriguingly titled An Unsound Investment.
Chris said his father, born a sickly child with a lifelong lung condition, had been knocked back for teacher's college on medical grounds, the assessor declaring he would be "an unsound investment for the Education Department".
The Education Department's loss was the nation's gain as Sir Peter rose in the ranks of the public service, to serve under 11 prime ministers, from Curtin to Hawke, among his achievements the repeal of the White Australia policy and the creation of the National Library and National Museum.
"He was very nationalistic in his views," Chris Lawler said.
"He just wanted Australia to be a good place for his family, a good place for Australians."
John Lawler said one of his father's most important contributions was the creation of a national police force, the Australian Federal Police, which is this year celebrating its 40th anniversary. The AFP formed in 1979, its creation spurred by the 1978 Hilton hotel bombing during the Commonwealth Heads of Government regional meeting.
John Lawler said his father summed up the creation of the AFP with some poetic words: "We had bent the twig and as the saying goes, 'As the twig is bent, so grows the bough'. The rest is history for others".
AFP Commissioner Colivin said it was an honour to receive the three volumes of Sir Peter's memoirs.
"Sir Peter was a remarkable man," Commissioner Colvin said. "He is variously described as one of the most influential and effective public servants in a golden time for the public service in Australia."
John Colvin said his father would have been "absolutely chuffed" to see the ceremony at the AFP headquarters in Barton on Friday.
He said the memoirs of 1036 pages took his father more than 20 years to complete, even overcoming the loss of the first draft when Sir Peter's home in Duffy was destroyed in the 2003 bushfires. His daughter Geraldine collated and edited her father's more than 500,000 words.
John Lawler said Sir Peter had led a "wonderfully full life"" marked by so many achievements but also "incredible ironies and deep sadness" including the death of his father when Peter was seven and the death of Peter's first wife in childbirth. John suggested his father's memoirs were a handbook to a good life.
"There is a lesson or a story in the memoirs that's relevant to every woman and man in the Australian Federal Police. It's a masterclass study of resilience and strategic thinking," he said.
Sir Peter ultimately earned an economics degree from the University of Sydney which led to him accept a position with the newly-created Department of Post-War Reconstruction in Canberra in 1944, the start of a stellar career in the public service which took him all the way to the position of secretary of the Department of Administrative Services before his retirement in 1987. He was also, during that time, an ambassador to Ireland and the Holy See.
Chris Lawler said his father was "a man of very strong moral values and Christian beliefs", dedicated to his Catholic faith.
"I was proud to call him 'Dad'," he said.