‘Taking to the Streets against the Vietnam War’: A Timeline History of Australian Protest 1962-1972 –– 1967


January 4 – John Lindsay Anderson is first conscientious objector to apply for exemption solely on objection to the Vietnam war. His application fails

January – Monash Labor Club members (soon dubbed the ‘Caulfield Cong’) establish household at 7 Jasmine Street South Caulfield. ‘Jasmine Street’ spawns off-campus ‘Anti-Ky Action Committee’ (AKAC) to lead Melbourne protests against impending visit of South Vietnam dictator Air Vice-Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky

January 10 – 21-year-old Queensland University student radical Brian Laver is gaoled for five days in Boggo Road for refusing to pay two $6 fines imposed for his part in October 5 (1966) anti-conscription/civil rights march from St Lucia to city

January 13 – Sydney Sun journalist Simon Townsend is arrested after his refusal to attend Army medical examination (and his refusal to pay $20 fine imposed for non-attendance)

January 18 – Simon Townsend gaoled in Long Bay for refusing to attend Army medical examination

January 18-19 – 1000 demonstrators gather at Canberra Hotel to protest presence of Nguyen Cao Ky and then march to Parliament House lawns for address by Arthur Calwell

January 20 – Brisbane ‘Anti-Ky Protest Committee’ holds demonstration against Ky opposite Lennon’s Hotel in George Street to protest the official reception inside. The demonstrators are attacked brutally by police and seventeen are arrested

January 21 – Anti-Ky rally in Sydney attended by 5000 who gather at North Shore pylon of Sydney Harbour Bridge and march short distance to Kirribilli Avenue where Ky is staying

January 22 – Demonstrators attending ‘Anti-Ky Action Committee’ protest in Melbourne assemble at Trades Hall and march to Government House for rally. 7000 at Domain are addressed by Arthur Calwell. 100 protestors maintain all-night vigil outside Government House for duration of Ky’s stay

January – An estimated 20,000 protest nationally against the visit of Ky

January 27-28-29 – Anti-war Activists Conference in Sydney organised by Vietnam Action Committee, AICD, YCAC

January 28 – North Vietnam Foreign Minister Nguyen Duy Trinh tells Wilfred Burchett that talks could start between North Vietnam and U.S if U.S bombing of North Vietnam comes to an end

January 29 – 2000 protest outside Pentridge Gaol against hanging of Ronald Ryan

January 30 – 3000 protest outside Pentridge Gaol against hanging of Ronald Ryan

February 1 – Brisbane SDA members Mitch Thompson, Barbara Jane Gaines and Gail Salmon gaoled in Boggo Road for refusing to pay fines arising from October 5 (1966) anti-conscription/civil rights march

February 2 – 97 arrests among the 7000 anti-hanging protestors keeping vigil outside Pentridge overnight

February 3 – ‘Hangman Henry’ gets his way. Ronald Ryan is hung just before 8 am (Friday morning). 3000 protestors are outside the gaol at this time. 100,000 Victorian workers stop work for two minutes in protest

February – U.S casualties in Vietnam pass 50,000 mark (8673 killed)

February 14 – U.S resumes bombing of North Vietnam

February 19 – Simon Townsend completes 32 days in Long Bay Gaol

February – Gough Whitlam takes over from Arthur Calwell as Federal Opposition (ALP) leader

February 26 – Gough Whitlam on ABC Four Corners program declares himself against the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam – ‘until an overall settlement’

February – Seamen’s Union members of Boonaroo crew refuse to transport cargo of bombs and detonators to be used by RAAF squadron in attacks on Vietnam towns and villages

February – Seamen’s Union members refuse to carry bombs and ammunition to Vietnam on Jeparit
March – The Administration at Monash University astonishes the student body and staff members by announcing decision to award an honorary degree to Premier Henry Bolte. The Monash Labor Club rises to the occasion by bringing a piglet (‘Sir Henry Pig’) onto campus and into Administration Building

April – First issue of Vietnam Action (Vietnam Action Campaign) appears

April 15-16 – Sixty young people set out on 50-mile ‘Walk for Peace’ from Queensland University to Ipswich and back

April 23 – RAAF in Vietnam for first time used to bomb NLF forces in South Vietnam

June – David Monaghan becomes the first conscientious objector to gain exemption from National Service on non-pacifist grounds
– Lyndon Johnson’s emissaries Clark Clifford and General Maxwell Taylor visit Australia

July 3 – 24-hour vigil begins U.S Consulate in Commercial Road Melbourne. Secretary of Vietnam Day Committee Humphrey McQueen presents protest statement to Consul demanding withdrawal of U.S troops and end to bombing of North Vietnam

July 4 – Rally outside U.S Consulate in Commercial Road Melbourne followed by march to meeting at Assembly Hall Collins Street. Highlight is debate ‘LBJ’ v ‘Thomas Jefferson’ – ‘U.S independence 1776-Vietnam independence when?’

 July – Monash Labor Club executive appoints steering committee to make recommendations on question of aid to the NLF

July 14 – Monash Labor Club steering committee reports to Labor Club general meeting on NLF aid issue. The committee recommends the establishment of two funds: I. ‘Unspecified fund’ (expression of support and solidarity); 2. Fund for medical aid to civilians in NLF areas. (The steering committee emphasis is on the former fund). The committee further recommends Labor Club set up ‘autonomous committee’ for aid to the NLF. The Labor Club executive recommends the three motions to the club meeting on July 21

July 21 – Monash Labor Club meeting passes three NLF aid motions recommended by club executive. The Labor Club’s ‘unspecified fund’ is widely interpreted as military support for the ‘Viet Cong’ and ‘treason.’ Monash Vice-Chancellor Mathieson threatens dire consequences if funds are collected for other than medical aid

July 27 – Meeting of 800 Monash students considers DLP Club motion to dissociate student body from Labor Club. A substantial majority at meeting recognises Labor Club’s right to collect NLF aid as they see fit

July 28 – Committee to Aid the NLF (CANLF) starts at Monash. The decision lets loose a storm of lies and vitriol from Government, press, RSL, Liberal Party and DLP

July 31 – Monash Labor Club issues the first of many statements insisting ‘money sent through the “unspecified fund” will not be used for military purposes’

July – State political police (Special Branch) visit homes of Monash Labor Club members

August – U.S planes bombard Hanoi causing death and casualties. The Americans are using napalm and cluster bombs in South Vietnam

August – 133 Australian servicemen so far killed in Vietnam and 521 wounded. The figures include 44 National Service conscripts killed and 139 wounded

August 6 – 2000 march in Melbourne on Hiroshima Day from Alexandra Avenue to Princess Theatre Spring Street and are addressed by Jim Cairns and Alan Ashbolt: ‘No More Hiroshimas – Stop Bombing Vietnam’

August 10 – DLP Senator McManus calls for the laying of treason charges under the Crimes Act against students supporting the NLF aid proposal

August 13 – March of 5000 from Hyde Park to Rushcutters Bay Stadium for public rally of 7500. It is the largest march and rally of protest against Vietnam war yet in Sydney

August 18 – Twenty demonstrators hold sit-down protest inside U.S Consulate in Wynyard Street Sydney to protest U.S bombing of Vietnam

August – Labor clubs at Monash, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra (ANU) universities have all now opened fund campaigns for medical supplies to NLF. They are backed by Australian Student Labor Federation

August – Francis James in The Nation claims to have sent to Vietnam $33,877 since August 8 debate on aid to NLF at Melbourne University

August – Monash Labor Club’s ‘Committee for Aid to the NLF’ publishes brochure Which Way Treason?

August – U.S publication Ramparts publishes pamphlet Children of Vietnam with horrific illustrations of children burned by napalm

August 30 – ‘Campaign for Peace in Vietnam’ (CPV) established in Adelaide

August 31– Federal Attorney-General Bowen introduces Defence Forces Protection Bill in Federal Parliament. The Bill makes it illegal for students or church aid bodies to send medical or civil aid to North Vietnam or the NLF and carries a penalty of up to $2000 fine or two years imprisonment. Red Cross or other prescribed organisations are excepted. The ALP in Parliament moves some amendments but supports the Bill

August 31 – Monash University Vice-Chancellor Louis Mathieson declares any collecting of monies on campus for the NLF is illegal

September 5 – Monash Labor Club defies Vice-Chancellor Mathieson’s NLF collection ban and establishes a stand in the Union foyer to collect medical aid

September 8 – Friday afternoon civil liberties march in Brisbane protesting against unjust and restrictive Queensland Traffic Act. SDA defies ‘obligation’ to obtain permit and leads 4000 students/staff demonstrators from University campus into central Brisbane. They encounter wanton brutality in police response to mass sit-down. 120 are arrested

September – Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia writes to Melbourne University Labour Club (in reply to a letter from the club) informing them how aid can be transmitted to the NLF through Cambodia

September 20 – Monash University student meeting votes overwhelmingly to condemn Vice-Chancellor Louis Mathieson for banning collection of funds on campus for NLF of South Vietnam when this is not illegal in the general community.

September – Fourteenth National Congress of EYL held in Sydney changes name of organisation to Young Socialist League (YSL)
October 2 – Monash University holds ‘National Vietnam Teach-in’ attended by 4000 and lasting nine hours with thirteen main speakers

October – Commonwealth Police in Melbourne visit the homes of Monash University students associated with the sending of a sum of $100 for medical aid to the NLF of South Vietnam. The money has been sent to the ‘British Medical Aid for Vietnam Committee’ headed by Lord Boyd Orr and will be used to buy medical supplies in Britain which will be sent direct to the Liberation Red Cross of South Vietnam

October 8 – 1200 attend CICD Sunday afternoon meeting at Princess Theatre in Melbourne addressed by Brigadier-General Hugh B. Hester. Monash Labor Club spokesperson Peter Price is strongly applauded when he appeals for support for the eight Monash students who last week announced they had sent $100 for medical aid to the NLF

October – Holt Government sends another Australian battalion (1700 troops) to South Vietnam. Australia now has 8000 in Vietnam

October 21-22 – 150,000-200,000 march in Washington for peace in Vietnam. It is Washington’s biggest-ever peace demonstration. A significantly large number of demonstrators confront the Pentagon with civil disobedience and sit-ins and are faced with thousands of armed troops. Demonstrations are held in other U.S cities. Folksinger Joan Baez is arrested at Oakland Draft Depot

October 22 – Sydney’s ‘October Mobilisation to end the war in Vietnam’ culminates in the city’s biggest peace demonstration yet. An estimated 9000 people brave threatening weather to ‘stop the war in Vietnam’ and ‘bring the troops home’

October 24 – Former Federal Liberal Senator from South Australia Douglas Clive Hannaford dies after collapsing in Senate. Hannaford resigned from Liberal Party in February 1967 over conscription and was the only member of Parliament to oppose the Defence Forces Protection Act

October 24 – MedicAid – a newly-formed committee for sending medical aid through the Red Cross to the NLF areas of South Vietnam – holds Tuesday evening public meeting at Assembly Hall in Melbourne

October – Cuban revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara killed in Bolivia

November – Queensland University lecturers Dan O’Neill (English) and Peter Wertheim (Philosophy) spend three days in Brisbane’s Boggo Road jail rather than pay $10 fines arising from September 8 civil liberties demonstration

November – Glen Tomasetti appears in Melbourne District Court charged with refusing to pay one-sixth of her income tax (a proportion roughly equal to that part of the Commonwealth Budget spent on war and its preparation)

November 16 – Fifty Form Four boys at Kingswood College (Methodist school) Box Hill South stage 55-minute sit-down strike against conscription and the Vietnam war after marching to school sports oval and sitting down
November 22
– ‘Women for Independent Action Committee’ holds public meeting Lower Melbourne Town Hall. Glen Tomasetti urges opponents of the war to move from ‘dissent to resistance’

November – Twenty-one-year-old Dennis O’Donnell of Oak Park testifies in County Court on his reasons for appealing for exemption from National Service. The young Roman Catholic conscript has seen the pictures in Ramparts magazine and believes war crimes are being committed in Vietnam

November – Orbost farmer Brian Ross writes letter to Registrar of National Service defying efforts to conscript him. Ross has twice refused to attend medical examinations and twice returned his unsigned certificate of registration to the Registrar

December 17 – Prime Minister Harold Holt drowns at Cheviot Beach. Senator John Grey Gorton takes over as new leader of parliamentary Liberal Party and Australian Prime Minister

December – Glen Tomasetti appears again in Court and defies order to pay. She believes Australia’s participation in Vietnam war breaches U.N Charter and therefore law of the Commonwealth

December – Dr Benjamin Spock is one of 200 people arrested for picketing a draft induction centre during anti-Vietnam war demonstration in New York


1. ANZ Congress for International Cooperation and Disarmament (front page of four pages)


Monash Labor Club Picnic. Photo by Darce Cassidy.


Student meeting at Monash University. Photo by Darce Cassidy.


Download the full timeline here, or click through below for a year-by-year timeline (with pictures) of this momentous period.


‘Taking to the Streets against the Vietnam War’: A Timeline History of Australian Protest 1962-1972
















Citation: Ken Mansell, ‘Taking to the Streets against the Vietnam War’: A Timeline History of Australian Protest 1962-1972, Labour History Melbourne (8 May 2020).

©Ken Mansell