‘Taking to the Streets against the Vietnam War’: A Timeline History of Australian Protest 1962-1972 –– 1970


January 8 – Plain clothes police pull guns and threaten to shoot Ted Poulton and Phillip Twomey near SDS headquarters in Carlton. The two are interrogated for seven hours at Russell Street

January 11 – Activists at ‘The Bakery’ in Prahran disband Revolutionary Socialist Alliance (‘Rev Socs’) and establish ‘The Worker-Student Alliance’ (WSA)

January 13 – U.S Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew arrives in Canberra to press for vastly stepped-up Australian military role in South-East Asia

January 14 – Protest demonstration against Agnew at Parliament House in Canberra

January 14 – Sydney newspapers refuse to publish Vietnam atrocity photo submitted by ‘Committee in Defiance of the National Service Act’

January – Maritime unions in Sydney demand the return of war-supply ship Jeparit to its peaceful trade role

January – New Draft Counselling Centre opens in Sydney

January – Activity is underway in support of proposed nation-wide Vietnam Moratorium

January – Anti-conscription demonstrator Julie Ingleby is jailed for contempt of court after displaying ‘obscene’ placard at trial of husband Earl Ingleby for similar offence. Her point: what is the real obscenity? – the ‘Word’ or the Vietnam war?

January 24 – Anti-draft protestors in Adelaide fill out false registration papers for ‘National Service’ call-up

January 28 – Leaflet ‘Why Register?’ is distributed in Sydney’s Martin Place

January 28 – CPA National Executive statement declares Communists will seek to initiate debates on why the NLF should be supported

January – Julie Ingleby is sacked by Victorian Education Department

February 1 – Moratorium sponsors’ meeting in Richmond Town Hall passes motion for three-hour occupation of Melbourne CBD streets

February 2 – Sydney SDS leader Mike Jones summonsed to report for ‘National Service’ on February 9

February 3 – Mike Jones is sacked by his employer

February 4 Tribune publishes Wilfred Burchett article denying NLF responsibility for mass graves of Hue

February – Death of Bertrand Russell, 97

February 9 – Vietnam Moratorium sponsors’ meeting in Sydney

February 14 – 383 Australians have been killed on active service in Vietnam. 2387 have been wounded

February 15 – Wilfred Burchett wishes to attend his brother’s funeral but is again barred from entering Australia

February 16 – First meeting of Victorian Vietnam Moratorium organisational representatives (executive) in Melbourne

February – The week ending May 9 is chosen as (national) Moratorium week

February 25 – 700 students at Altona North Technical School sign petition calling for reinstatement of Julie Ingleby

February – Three thousand people demonstrate in Chicago against sentences imposed on ‘Chicago Seven’

February 28 – Wilfred Burchett arrives home at last – after an exile of nineteen years

February 28 – Fifty carloads of protestors arrive in Gippsland town Sale to support Brian Ross

February – ACTU executive gives guarded approval for affiliated unions to take part in Vietnam Moratorium campaign

February – Biology tutor David Mowbray imprisoned in Sydney for refusal to attend ‘National Service’ medical examination

March 2 – Second meeting of Victorian Vietnam Moratorium executive in Melbourne

March 2 – Wilfred Burchett addresses National Press Club in Canberra

March 6 – CICD sponsors ‘welcome home’ to Burchett at Melbourne Town Hall

March – Monash staff members protest against exclusion of Albert Langer

March – Massive U.S intervention in Laos

March – Gorton Government refuses passport to Wilfred Burchett

March – Sit-in at Department of Labour and National Service in Newcastle to support draft resister Geoff Wilson

March – Six people fined in Melbourne City Court on charges arising out of September 19 (1969) Williamstown Court demonstration

March – Right-wing organisation ‘Citizens for Freedom’ publishes leaflet Unmasking the Moratorium

March – Sydney University SRC sponsors three-member delegation to North Vietnam (David McKenzie, Doug Miles, David Hill)

March 14 – 400 Australians have been killed on active service in Vietnam. 2473 have been wounded

March 15 – Wilfred Burchett departs from Sydney and flies to Noumea

March – Right-wing forces have stymied the ACTU executive’s resolution on the Vietnam Moratorium

March 17 – Mass meeting at Monash to consider exclusion of Langer ends in confusion after 50-50 division and is adjourned

March 18 – Washington-backed right-wing coup in Cambodia installs General Lon Nol as Premier of post-Sihanouk Cambodia

March 24 – 100 Sydney University students occupy Administration Building for twenty-four hours. The students’ action is a serious attempt to demonstrate the failure of attempts by SRC to obtain the entry of Miss Victoria Lee into the University through the formal channels of communication

March – Fighting has been reported between Cambodian armed forces and Vietnamese liberation forces

April – Hal Alexander and Keith Darwin jailed in Adelaide on ‘contempt of court’ charges arising from December 23 (1969) demonstration against My Lai massacre

April – Victorian executive of Tramways Union withdraws from Moratorium – ‘not militant enough’

April 8 –Seamen’s Union stop-work meeting reaffirms the stand of not carrying cargoes for Vietnam

April 13 – Meeting of Vietnam Moratorium (executive) in Melbourne. It is held at the Victorian Railway Institute (Room 56) 7.30 pm. Dr Cairns motion limiting the occupation of the city to fifteen minutes. The ‘moderates’ win control of the Moratorium

April 15 – Front-page lead article in Tribune detailing the weaponry manufactured by Honeywell Inc. of Minnesota (U.S). The article is accompanied by horrendous atrocity photograph

April 15 – Communist Party organiser Hal Alexander is released from jail in Adelaide after 14-day hunger strike

April 16 – Members of House of Representatives in Canberra devote seventy minutes of their time in debating whether or not it is appropriate for the House to sit on Friday May 8

April 20 – Meeting of Victorian Vietnam Moratorium executive

April – U.S President Nixon announces the withdrawal of 150,000 U.S troops within next twelve months

April 22 – Support for Vietnam Moratorium movement is snowballing

April 22 – Nineteen students at Telopea Park High School in Canberra walk out of school assembly rather than take off their Moratorium badges as demanded by the Principal

April 27 – High school students in Sydney defy NSW Education Department attempts to stop them wearing Moratorium badges

April 27 – Meeting of Victorian Vietnam Moratorium executive

April 30 – Seventy girls at Fort Street Girls’ High in Sydney hold lunch-time playground vigil for Vietnam

April – Over one and a half million copies of broadsheet produced by National Moratorium Coordinating Committee

April – Federal Government trots out twin bogeys of ‘violence’ and ‘communist conspiracy’ to discredit Moratorium

April – Victorian Trades Hall Council plans leaflet instructing unionists not to take part in Moratorium

May 1 – U.S forces invade Cambodia and resume bombing in North Vietnam

May – Jack Egerton (THC) threatens to use police to force young radicals out of Brisbane May Day march

May 3 – May Day rally in Melbourne. 400 students march on U.S Consulate to protest invasion of Cambodia and smash windows of U.S company Honeywell

May 3 – Angry demonstration at U.S Consulate in Sydney

May 4 – Four students protesting invasion of Cambodia are murdered by National Guardsmen at Kent State University Ohio

May 5 – Sit-in protest at U.S Consulate in Sydney

May – Victorian THC produces anti-Moratorium leaflet – printed in three languages

May – Principal of Melbourne High School bans badges of Vietnam Moratorium Campaign

May – Victorian THC Secretary Ken Stone berates Dr Jim Cairns for his calls to unionists to stop work

May – Minister of Labour and National Service Bill Snedden warns public about ‘bikies pack-raping democracy’ at the Moratorium

May – Students at University of Queensland establish ‘Tent City’ on campus to organise for Moratorium

May – VMC secretariat in Melbourne appoints 400 marshals to control the march

May 8 – The (Melbourne) Age headline is ‘Helmeted police get ready for sit-down’

May 8 – The Victorian Bolte government has 1000 police in Melbourne for the march

May 8 – Stores in Bourke Street (Melbourne) lock their doors

May 8 – Thousands march in nation-wide Moratorium to stop ‘business as usual’. In Melbourne 70,000-100,000 people peacefully take over the city for two hours. 25,000 assemble in Sydney and block the city’s main traffic intersection. 2000 attend Adelaide’s ‘anti-imperialist’ march. 10,000 march in Brisbane, 3000 in Perth, 3500 in Hobart

May 9 – 10,000 march in Adelaide’s Saturday morning demonstration

May 9-10 – Massive student turn-out in U.S against Indo-China war

May – Hall Greenland and Haydn Thompson expelled from Sydney University

May 18 – Sydney University student Meredith Burgmann attacked by fascists at Australia-Rhodesia Association meeting (Sydney)

May – Education Department in Sydney confirms earlier suspension of Robert Colley for wearing Moratorium badge at Ibrox Park Boys High School

May 21 – Meredith Burgmann released from Long Bay jail after serving part of ten-day sentence for failure to pay fine (January 14 anti-Agnew demonstration)

May – Australian Army quashes sentences on soldiers charged with violence against peaceful May 8 Adelaide Moratorium demonstration

May – Minister for Labour and National Service Snedden proposes ‘civilian’ service for conscientious objectors to National Service

May – Vietnam Moratorium executive bodies from six states hold National Consultation in Melbourne and recommend Second Moratorium September 18-20

June 5 – South Coast (NSW) painter and docker Louie Christofides sentenced to 52 days in Long Bay jail for defiance of conscription law.

June 5 – Meeting in Melbourne to discuss July 4 demonstration. The meeting divides: Friday July 3 or Saturday July 4?

June – Francis James goes missing while touring in the Peoples’ Republic of China

June – Monash students occupy Careers and Appointments Office during Honeywell interview session

June – 118 members of ‘Committee in Defiance of the National Service Act’ have been convicted under the Commonwealth Crimes Act of urging young men not to register

June 11 – Six NSW South Coast women chain themselves in House of Representatives (Canberra) to protest imprisonment of Louie Christofides

June 17Tribune article by Harry Van Moorst urging support for ‘Wreck the Draft Campaign’

June 17 – Sydney University students call for reinstatement of Greenland and Thompson

June – ‘The U.S Government is going crazy. People have to stand up against it’ (Dr Benjamin Spock)

June 18 – Prime Minister Gorton states the law will be enforced against all young men who defy the National Service Act but dodges implementation of Crimes Act against thousands of adults who have urged non-compliance with the Act

June 18 – Large mass meeting in Melbourne endorses Saturday July 4 demonstration

June 21 – Demonstration outside Long Bay jail for release of Louie Christofides

June – Queensland BWIU recommends establishment of a ‘draft resistance centre’ in Trades Hall

June – Latrobe University Vice-Chancellor Myers ‘suspends’ six students for year after Defence Department recruiting agents are ‘escorted’ off campus

June 22 – Publication of broadsheet The Communist Party is Behind the Moratorium – Way Behind. The broadsheet offers an analysis of the ‘Laver Incident’ at Brisbane’s May 8 Moratorium rally

June – Adelaide anti-war activist Alexandra Fricker (who is expecting a baby in August) is arrested and forced to spend night in jail for non-appearance in legal case about leaflets

July 2 – Occupation of central trading chamber of Sydney Stock Exchange by anti-war activists

July 3 – ‘Independence from America’ rally in Sydney organised by ‘Independence from America Day’ Committee

July 3 – 500 demonstrators march through Melbourne CBD and stage sit-down at Flinders Street intersection

July 4 – 2000 demonstrators march in Melbourne and occupy road in front of Pan-American Airways building (Collins Street)

July 4 – 600 march in Adelaide in militant demonstration against U.S imperialism

July 6 – Draft resister Karl Armstrong sentenced in Melbourne to eight days jail for defying fine imposed for refusing to register

July – Armed guerrilla forces (‘Red Khmers’) confront Lon Nol regime as Civil War flares in Cambodia

July 8 – Twelve people appear in City Court in Melbourne charged by private citizen Rev. Stanley Moore with inciting breaches of the National Service Act

July 8 – Deputation led by Dr Jim Cairns to (Victorian) Chief Secretary’s office is refused permission to deliver protest against treatment of Brian Ross

July 10 – Demonstration outside Oakleigh Court to support Bob Bissett who is facing charge of not paying fine for refusal to register. Speakers announce formation of Draft Resisters’ Union (Melbourne)

July 11 – Nineteen-year-old black ex-GI Andrew Pulley speaks at public meeting in Sydney organised by ‘Resistance’

July 11-12 – Over 100 draft resisters and supporters from four states attend draft counsellors’ school in Sydney organised by ‘Committee in Defiance of the National Service Act’

July 12 – Draft resisters Tony Dalton and Michael Hamel-Green return to Melbourne from trip to Saigon as part of international delegation to investigate repression by Thieu regime of peace forces

July – Sixteen students occupy office of NSW Premier Askin to protest proposed anti-demonstration law (‘Summary Offences Act’)

July – 1000 members of Monash Association of Students vote overwhelmingly to support non-compliance with the National Service Act

July – National Coordinating Committee of Vietnam Moratorium campaign meets in Melbourne and endorses September 18-19 for next Moratorium

July 19 – Richmond Town Hall meeting decides September Moratorium should be based on concept of bringing ‘the life of the nation to a standstill’

July 22 – Demonstration in Sydney to protest against NSW Government plan to increase penalties and restrictions on demonstrators and sit-in protestors

July 22 – Several hundred students in Melbourne protest against Vietnam war and conscription by occupying GPO and then raiding filing cabinets at Department of Labour and National Service

July – Publication of Silence Kills – The Vietnam Moratorium May 8, 1970 by Dr J.F. Cairns

July – Queensland TLC establishes Draft Resistance Centre in Brisbane Trades Hall

July – Labor MHR Gordon Bryant visits Cambodia as member of Australian parliamentary delegation and accuses North Vietnam of ‘aggression’ against Lon Nol regime

August 1 – Saturday morning peaceful demonstration outside Melbourne GPO to urge people to fill in false registration forms for ‘National Service’. Commonwealth police launch vicious unprovoked attack

August – Federal executive of ALP convenes in Broken Hill (NSW) and adopts special resolution in full support of the Moratorium. NSW Labour Council and NSW ALP State executive still deny full support

August 7 – Sydney conference for young workers in the transport industry on subject of conscription

August 7 – Friday night public meeting ‘Focus on Conscription and Vietnam’ arranged by St. Kilda Committee in Defiance of the National Service Act

August 7 – Twenty-four students and workers chain themselves together inside Department of Labour and Industry in Perth in demonstration against Vietnam war and conscription

August 8 – Railway track sit-down demonstration by thirty people at Caulfield Station blocks the Gippslander Express for twenty minutes. The train passes the Sale jail where draft resister Brian Ross is imprisoned

August 14 – Bio-chemist and anti-war activist Robert Muntz is sacked from his Victorian Public Service job in the Agriculture Department

August – The Bolte Government in Victoria is about to follow its NSW counterpart and introduce new get-tough legislation (penalty of two years jail) for ‘resisting or obstructing’ a policeman

August – Gough Whitlam ‘repudiates’ invitation extended by National Moratorium Coordinating Committee to representatives of Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam and Government of Democratic Republic of Vietnam

August 16 – Anti-conscription demonstrators visit Bellevue Hill home of Federal Attorney-General Tom Hughes to present him with list of 182 names of people who have publicly refused to register for ‘National Service’. Hughes emerges with cricket bat and throws punch. Six of those arrested (including Mike Jones and Michael Hamel-Green) are sentenced the following day to fourteen days hard labour for contempt of court

August 23 – Demonstrators play cricket match on road outside home of Federal Attorney-General Hughes

August 24 – Over 200 unionists attend ‘Combined Unions Shop Stewards and Delegates’ Moratorium Conference to End the Vietnam War’ in Sydney

August 25 – A worker is hospitalised due to police brutality in Brisbane against a militant worker-student demonstration during national stoppage against the Federal Budget

August – Over 8000 people from many walks of life have signed the ‘Statement of Defiance of the National Service Act’

September 2 – ‘Vietnam Solidarity Fund’ launched in Sydney to commemorate 25th anniversary of Vietnamese independence declaration by Ho Chi Minh

September 2 – ‘Sacking’ of University of Queensland Regiment (CMF) building by RSSA members

September 4 – Diplomat of Saigon Thieu regime is ‘kidnapped’ after making an appearance at Queensland University campus. Six students are later charged by University of Queensland administration

September – Gorton Government refuses to grant entrance visa to U.S comedian Dick Gregory who is listed to address Moratorium meetings

September – Monash mass meeting condemns heavy sentences for seven activists following ‘occupation’ of Careers and Appointments Office in July

September – David Keane of Randwick is serving 31-days’ jail term in Long Bay for failing to attend medical examination

September 7 – Commonwealth police in Brisbane seeking students involved in the sacking of Queensland University Regiment headquarters take RSSA member Jim Prentice to isolated cemetery and terrorise him at gunpoint

September 7 – Sydney SDS leaders Mike Jones and John Landau refuse to pick up their summonses to appear in court for failure to obey call-up notices. Janice Jones is dragged out of court in the middle of reading statement of resistance written by her husband

September – NSW Askin Government refuses Moratorium use of (Sydney) Domain

September – South Australian ALP executive withdraws from September 18 Moratorium demonstration and acting Premier Corcoran hopes no ALP members will participate

September – Sculptor Earl Ingleby sentenced to month in jail for breaching National Service Act. It is alleged Ingleby urged the filling in of false registration forms at Melbourne street meeting

September 16 – Queensland police hunt four student leaders involved in occupation of CMF headquarters (and clash with Saigon diplomat)

September 16 – Police ambush Latrobe University students marching peacefully in Waterdale Road. Nineteen students are arrested and many others are injured. Two students are clubbed unconscious and one woman has suspected broken arm. Inspector K. Plattfuss says ‘They got some baton today and they’ll get a lot more in the future’

September – Liberal politician Peter Coleman (NSW MLA Fuller) publishes booklet Caution! School Power in Australia – Is your child being manipulated by Political Operators?

September 18 – Moratorium marches encounter determined effort by police to reassert their dictatorship of the streets. In Sydney police use flying wedges against 20,000 people marching from Wynyard Park. There are over 200 arrests. In Adelaide police horses break up occupation by 4000 of North Terrace-King William Street intersection. There are 141 arrests. In Melbourne police block off march route after 70,000 occupy Bourke Street for half an hour. 4000 march in Brisbane, 3500 in Perth, 2000 in Hobart

September – The South Australian (Dunstan) Government decides to hold Royal Commission into the events of September 18

September 21 – Draft resister Brian Ross is released from Sale prison after serving eleven months of two-year sentence

September – Federal Opposition leader Gough Whitlam advises young men to refuse to comply with the draft and is accused of ‘treachery’ by Gorton Government

September 23 – Warrants for the arrest of non-compliers Ian Turner and Paul Fox are issued in Melbourne City Magistrates’ Court when the two men fail to appear on summonses charging them with failure to obey call-up notices

September 26 – Hastily-convened rally of 3000 people in Sydney’s Hyde Park calls for public inquiry into police violence against Sydney Moratorium demonstrators and the dropping of all charges against the 200 people arrested

September – Demands are coming from many quarters for an open inquiry into the September 16 police attack on Latrobe University students

October 1 – Draft resister Charles Martin is serving two-year prison sentence in Adelaide for refusing to obey call-up notice

October – National Moratorium Coordinating Committee proposes national anti-war conference (February 18-21 in Sydney) and third national Moratorium (April 1971)

October – The Federal ALP has ‘intervened’ into the Victorian ALP and dissolved the branch

October – Saigon Students’ Union calls for world protests against the brutal repression and jailing of South Vietnamese students by Thieu-Ky regime on August 30. 117 students were beaten, dragged, thrown into trucks and jailed

October 8 – U.S President Nixon broadcasts ‘peace offer’ to North Vietnam and the PRG of South Vietnam. Nixon’s speech is welcomed by Prime Minister Gorton and Opposition leader Whitlam

October 9 – Draft Resisters Union holds anti-conscription meeting in Melbourne at National Mutual Centre theatrette

October – The Council of Monash University ignores results of referendum of all University members and reaffirms harsh penalties on students involved in occupation action on campus

October 10 – Denis Freney appears in Central Court (Sydney) after receipt of summons for publishing ‘obscene’ Vietnam atrocity photo

October 15 – Westgate Bridge disaster in Melbourne shocks the nation. A span of the Westgate Bridge over the lower Yarra River collapses. 35 workers are killed. Boilermakers and Blacksmiths’ Society organiser Jim O’Neill declares the accident is a ‘classical example of the need for workers’ control’

October 21 – The figures for Australian Army casualties in Vietnam war are 550 dead, 2000 wounded

October – Lynn Arnold, Tony Dalton, Michael Hamel-Green and Graham Jensen produce booklet – HOA BINH (Vietnamese for ‘peace’) – on the subject of the ‘third force’ in South Vietnamese politics

November 1 – Victorian ALP members hold special rank-and-file (Sunday) meeting at Melbourne Town Hall attended by 800 people

November – Newcastle CPA official Darrell Dawson appears in court (charged with putting up Moratorium posters on telegraph poles) and refuses to plead or cooperate with the court

November – The U.S Airforce is still using prohibited defoliant ‘Agent Orange’ (made by Dow Chemical Company) in Vietnam

November – Queensland DLP Senator Vince Gair calls for the resumption of the bombing of North Vietnam (including the bombing of Hanoi)

November 9-10 – National Vietnam Moratorium Committee adopts plans for national anti-war conference in Sydney (Wednesday February 17-Sunday February 21)

November 21 – The United States resumes the bombing of centres in North Vietnam and claims this is in retaliation for the shooting down of a U.S plane over DRV territory on November 13

November 22 – ALP membership (Sunday) meeting in St. Kilda Town Hall called by intervening Federal ALP authorities as reaction to rank-and-file anti-intervention meeting at Melbourne Town Hall on November 1

November – Robert Colley, Sixth Form student at Ibrox Park Boys’ High School, has his application for a Teachers’ College scholarship rejected on political grounds

November – Police in Melbourne are harassing students at Carlton headquarters of SDS. They are pursuing anti-war activist Bruce Cornwell who has failed to pay $150 fine arising from Caulfield station sit-down protest (for Brian Ross) in August

November 27 – Draft resisters Barry Johnstone and Peter Clark are convicted in Oakleigh Court and taken into custody by police

December – The Draft Resisters’ Union in Melbourne is meeting every Thursday night at Unitarian Church (Grey Street East Melbourne)

December – Unionists and students demonstrate on steps of Parliament in Melbourne against proposed new amendments to Summary Offences Act. Mounted police charge at the demonstrators

December – 22-year-old Spencer Turner of Albury (conscripted October 1968) has deserted from the Army and is on the run

December 11 – Protestors in Sydney denounce resumption of U.S bombing of North Vietnam

December 12 – Demonstrators outside Melbourne GPO demand the release of 24-year-old South Australian draft resister Charles Martin who was jailed on September 25 for two years for refusing to obey call-up notice

December – Dr Jim Cairns confirms the U.S is still committed to seeking a military victory in Vietnam

December – National Vietnam Moratorium Coordinating Committee decides on two-month campaign to begin April 30 (1971) and end June 30. The culmination on Wednesday June 30 will include call to ‘Stop Work to Stop the War’

December – Meeting in Sydney to launch an anti-Apartheid movement decides to focus attention on Rugby Union Springboks tour in June 1971. The movement will model itself on the Vietnam Moratorium




Jim Cairns on truck September 18, 1970 (Max Ogden, Bernie Taft, Sam Goldbloom, Julie Ingleby seen in foreground)
Moratorium, September 18, 1970
An idle moment at The Bakery, Greville Street Prahran late 1970 (note CPA-ML newspaper ‘Vanguard’ in window). 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