Many people have asked why the NMA would be interested in examining the history of a simple beauty competition. Miss Australia was many things – simple was not one of them. During judging in the 1957 Miss Australia competition finalists were asked a series of probing questions.
Competitors were asked for a quick response to questions such as:
When describing Australia to a group of people your own age in England, the Continent or America how would you present this country to them?
They were grilled on current affairs:
1. An election has just been held in the United States. Do you know the result of the election and does it leave the political scene unchanged? And,
2. There is a lot of excitement in the Stock Exchange of Australia at present. Why? How would this affect the Australian economy?
Their knowledge of etiquette was tested with numerous questions which ensured that Miss Australia would never be at a loss during a social situation:
3. Would you take poultry in your fingers to eat?
4. Is it correct to remove an oyster from your mouth if it tastes bad?
5. What is the correct form of address for:
(a) The Queen
(b) A Duke
(c) A baronet or knight
(d) State Governor
(f) Lord Mayor
(g) State Premier
Their general knowledge was also put to the test with questions such as:
6. Since the death of Wagner, who have been the two most successful writers of music drama?
As these questions demonstrate, Miss Australia was expected to be charming, cultured and knowledgeable on a range of fronts. She had to speak confidently about current affairs, arts and culture and be able to represent what was described by organisers as 'the best of Australian womanhood' to the world.