‘Taking to the Streets against the Vietnam War’: A Timeline History of Australian Protest 1962-1972 –– 1971


January – Commonwealth police interrogate signatories to Christmas anti-conscription advertisement in The Australian

January 9-10 – National Moratorium Coordinating Committee meets in Melbourne to plan February 17-21 National Anti-War Conference

January 15 – ‘Black Power’ demonstration by GI’s in South Vietnam

January 18 – Brian Glover to serve seven days at Long Bay jail for refusing medical examination

January 23 – Dr Cairns among speakers harassed by police at film screening on Lorne foreshore

January – Gorton Government refuses visas to two representatives of PRG of South Vietnam to attend February 17-21 Anti-War Conference

January 29 – National Moratorium Coordinating Committee meets in Sydney

January – Grand jury in U.S indicts Berrigan brothers of plot to kidnap Henry Kissinger

February – Graham Potter appears in Port Kembla court charged with refusal to comply with National Service Act

February 3 – Draft Resisters Union in Brisbane announces formation of underground ‘escape’ network

February 8 – U.S and Saigon forces invade Laos and escalate Indochina war. RAAF bombers target Laos

February – Professor Noam Chomsky suspects Pentagon plan to invade North Vietnam and use tactical nuclear weapons

February 17 – 1800 people attend public rally at Sydney Town Hall to hear seven overseas speakers attending National Anti-War Conference

February 17-21 – 1300 registered delegates at National Anti-War Conference in Sydney plan nation-wide mass actions (April 30, May 30, June 30) and adopt Aims and Strategy for application by National Vietnam Moratorium Campaign

February 19 – Protest march in Sydney against arrest and jailing of Darrell Dawson for pasting Moratorium posters

February 25 – Anti-Apartheid demonstrators in Sydney occupy office of South African Airways in protest against South African surf lifesaving tour of Australia

March 1 – Demonstration outside Box Hill courthouse in support of draft resister Mark Taft who has refused to register under National Service Act

March 3 – International Moratorium speakers (Bala Tampoe, Peter Wiley, Michael Uhl, Patti Iiyama) address Melbourne public meeting

March 10 – Brisbane DRU poster ‘To Arms!’ capitalists, politicians, newspaper editors and other stay-at-home patriots – Your country needs you in Vietnam – Workers follow your masters! Refuse to register for National Slavery! – Refuse to fight the Bosses wars!

March – William McMahon replaces John Gorton as Prime Minister of Australia

March – Harsh new penalties against demonstrations and sit-ins written into Public Order Bill presented to Parliament by Attorney-General Hughes

March 19 – Draft resister Karl Armstrong is dragged by police from City Court to serve seven days in jail

March 22 – Geoff Mullen is sentenced to two years in prison for not registering and refusing to obey call-up notice

March 23 – Demonstration at Coburg Court in support of draft resister Alan Walker who has refused to register

March 24 – Dr Jim Cairns addresses 500 people at Melbourne University and warns U.S is prepared to use nuclear weapons in Indo-China war

March 24 – Occupation of Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Melbourne to protest the jailing of Geoff Mullen

March 27 – Anti-Apartheid protestors successfully disrupt surf carnival at Coogee Beach (Sydney)

March 29 – Draft resister John Varley sentenced to seven days jail for failure to attend medical

March 29 – Victorian Vietnam Moratorium Campaign elects new executive body. Dr Cairns and John Lloyd are elected unopposed as President and Secretary respectively

March – Chinese Government openly supports Yahya Khan’s brutal suppression of revolt in East Bengal

April 4 – ‘Freedom ride’ to Adelaide jail demanding release of draft resister Charles Martin

April 8 – Five SOS women (Jo McLaine-Cross, Jean McLean, Renee Miller, Joan Coxsedge, Chris Cathie) sentenced to fourteen days in Fairlea Women’s Prison for breach of trespass provisions of Summary Offences Act while urging young men not to register during demonstration at Department of Labour and National Service

April 9 – Demonstration at Fairlea Women’s Prison in support of the five incarcerated women

April 16 – Draft resisters David Franken, John Martin, Bill Cochrane appear in Brisbane court charged with refusing to comply with provisions of National Service Act

April 17 – Moratorium movement in Melbourne demonstrates at ‘Herald and Weekly Times’ offices over misreporting and suppression of anti-war news

April – Charges of manslaughter laid against two policemen over death of Neil Stanley Collingburn

April – American ‘ping-pong’ players visit China

April – Melbourne wharf workers and seamen stop work in protest against jailing of ‘Fairlea Five’

April 18 – ‘The Fairlea Five’ are released and appear at welcoming rally in City Square

April 19-20 – Melbourne Moratorium Committee decides to set up draft counselling centre in foyer of Department of Labour and National Service during draft intake

April 22 – Over 1000 Vietnam veterans pack lawns around Congress building in Washington to protest the war

April 24 – Massive protest demonstrations in U.S – 500, 000 in Washington, 250,000 in San Francisco

April 26 – Moratorium rally in Adelaide launches appeal for medical aid for Indo-Chinese forces

April 30 – 6000 students participate in Moratorium march from Sydney University to Belmore Park

April 30 – 3000 participate in Adelaide Moratorium demonstration despite official ALP and trade union proscription

April 30 – 100,000 copies of the newspaper Moratorium News have been distributed in Victoria

May 1 – Forty Moratorium protestors march fifteen miles out of Adelaide to Salisbury Weapons Research Establishment

May 2 – Victorian Special Branch detective Robert Larkin is identified by the Chairman on the May Day platform and is pursued by angry crowd

May – Perth students charged with ‘wilfully obstructing Commonwealth police’ at Department of Labour and National Service

May 7 – Perth Moratorium Committee pickets Parmelia Hotel used by U.S Admiral John McCain as command centre

May – Members of Third Form class at Roman Catholic convent school in Gosford ‘stop work to stop the war’

May – Queensland branch of BWIU publishes printed booklet Don’t Register

May – Berrigan brothers now charged with conspiracy to ‘blow-up’ Federal buildings in Washington

May – Sydney University Senate expels Hall Greenland

May 21 – 187 students arrested during demonstration against conscription in Canberra

May 24 – Tony Dalton and Michael Hamel-Green called to Melbourne Magistrates Court for refusing to register for National Service and failing to obey call-up notice. Hamel-Green does not appear

May – Michael Hamel-Green announces intention to go temporarily underground. Hamel-Green is encouraging mass resistance to wreck the draft

May – Melbourne DRU aims to get 1000 young men to not register

May 30 – Demonstrators in Canberra plant 470 small white crosses on Parliament House lawns to symbolise number of Australians killed in Vietnam

May 30 – Supporters of Victorian Vietnam Moratorium Campaign distribute 50,000 leaflets to churchgoers

June – Twenty-one NSW unions and two Labour Councils (Newcastle, South Coast) declare support for ‘Stop Work to Stop the War’

June – Brisbane draft resister Ken Howard ordered to perform non-combatant duties

June 9 – Dr Spock arrives in Melbourne

June 10 – Draft resister Peter Graf carried from his bed to serve eight days in Pentridge jail for non-payment of fine (failure to register)

June 10 – Dr Spock draws 2000 to Exhibition Buildings

June 13 – Dr Spock draws 1500 to Moorabbin Town Hall

June 14 – Dr Spock draws 400 to Geelong West Town Hall

June – 1000 hear Dr Spock at Perth University

June 18 –Tony Dalton issued with summons to appear in court for failing to obey call-up notice. He does not appear and joins Michael Hamel-Green ‘underground’

June – Release of Pentagon Papers reveals successive U.S administrations have lied to the American people about Vietnam war

June – South Australian Moratorium leader Professor Brian Medlin jailed for refusing to pay $20 fine received for failing to obey constable during September Moratorium

June 20 – 8000 hear Dr Spock in Sydney’s Lower Domain

June 26 – Anti-Apartheid demonstrators ‘greet’ the ‘Springboks’ in Perth

June 28 – Melbourne waterside workers and seamen place ban on Dutch ship carrying South African cargo

June 28 – Dunstan Government endorses court decision refusing Vietnam Moratorium Committee permission to use streets as requested June 30

June 29 – Dr Jim Cairns claims only 37% of Australian population support continued involvement in Vietnam

June 30 – Official trade union movement in South Australia bans Moratorium. ALP Government proscribes ‘Stop work to stop the war’ plan

June 30 – Eighty arrested as anti-Apartheid campaigners in Adelaide disrupt ‘Springboks’ versus South Australia rugby union match Norwood Oval

June 30Princess of Tasmania delays sailing for hour from Devonport while public Moratorium meeting is held

June 30 – Melbourne Moratorium march converges on City Square for mass rally estimated at 100,000. Dr Spock is flown from Adelaide to speak. Draft resisters Garry Cook (WA), Tony Dalton, Paul Fox, Michael Hamel-Green address the rally – the first serious ‘underground’ action

June 30 – 20,000 Moratorium demonstrators in Sydney block George Street for nearly two hours

June 30 – Dr Spock addresses 5000 in Victoria Square Adelaide. There are 40 arrests

June 30 – 8000 people stage ten-minute sit-down in Brisbane’s Queen Street

June 30 – 6000 march in Perth

July 2 – Dr Spock leaves for New York

July 3 – 5000 people rally in Treasury Gardens and march to Olympic Park for ‘Springboks’ versus Victoria rugby match. Twelve protestors invade arena despite three fences, thousands of police, and charges of mounted police

July 4 – Police bash demonstrators at U.S Consulate and South African Trade Commission in Melbourne

July 4 – 1000 protestors picket outside Squire Inn Motel Bondi Junction as ‘Springboks’ arrive in Sydney

July 5 – 200 demonstrate at Sydney Town Hall against reception for ‘Springboks’

July 5 – Death of Melbourne peace movement stalwart, the Rev. Frank Hartley

July – Australian Labor Party delegation visits People’s Republic of China

July 6 – 3000 demonstrators cause mayhem at first ‘Springboks’ match in Sydney (Sydney Cricket Ground). There are 59 arrests

July – Albert Langer faces committal proceedings on charge of ‘riot’ arising from 1971 May Day rally at Yarra Bank

July 10 – 6000 demonstrators disrupt ‘Springboks’ match at Sydney Cricket Ground despite mobilisation of 1000 police (400 inside the arena) and 142 arrests

July 14 – Queensland Premier Bjelke-Petersen declares State of Emergency ahead of arrival of ‘Springboks’ in Queensland

July 17 – Carloads of plainclothes police make early-morning preventative arrests of three anti-apartheid activists

July 17 – 600 police posted inside arena at rugby ‘First Test’ match (Sydney Cricket Ground). There are forty arrests

July – U.S President Nixon to visit Peking before May 1972

July – 200 girls at Angle Park Girls Technical School in Adelaide strike to protest sacking of anti-war/anti-apartheid teacher Nell Thayne

July 21 – Queensland TLC involves 40 unions in 24-hour state-wide protest strike against State of Emergency decree

July 21 – 2000 students march from University of Queensland to Roma Street and Parliament House. Skirmishes and police brutality result in 33 arrests

July 22 – Brisbane anti-Springboks demonstrators in Wickham Terrace are forced back by violent police attack at Tower Mill

July 23 – Students and staff at University of Queensland start extended strike – the first political strike at an Australian university – to express outrage at previous evening’s police action

July 24 – 3000 Brisbane anti-Springboks demonstrators rally at Victoria Park, march to city, and hold sit-down demonstration in Queen Street

July 24 – Thirteen people are arrested during city hand-out of ‘Don’t register’ leaflets in Melbourne

July 26 – University of Queensland campus strike is re-endorsed at strike meeting of 5500 in Great Court. The strike will end when ‘Springboks’ leave Australia

July 29 – Ten Victorian trade union officials are arrested outside offices of Department of Labour and National Service. They were handing out ‘Don’t register’ leaflets in solidarity with the first thirteen (arrested July 24)

July 30-31 – Dozens more are arrested in Melbourne for handing out ‘Don’t register’ leaflets. Over 100 people now face Crimes Act charges of inciting breaches of the National Service Act

July 31 – Saturday morning march of 8000 in Adelaide against Vietnam war sponsored by forty organisations

July 31 – Saturday anti-Apartheid rally at Victoria Park in Brisbane against rugby union ‘Second Test’

August 3 – Anti-Apartheid protest in Toowoomba at rugby match South Africa versus Queensland Country

August 5 – Ten Victorian trade union officials charged under Crimes Act with incitement attend court but refuse to enter the witness box

August 5 – Waterside workers in Port Kembla refuse to load cargo of galvanised iron on ship Atsuta bound for Saigon

August 9 – Meredith Burgmann sentenced to two-months hard labour for running onto SCG July 6

August – The ‘Springboks’ front up to play Australia in the rugby ‘Third Test’ in Sydney. There are 28 arrests

August – Errol O’Neill of Brisbane declares his non-compliance with National Service Act

August – Mark Aarons declares he will not comply with the National Service Act

August 18 – CICD General Secretary John Lloyd welcomes moves towards normal relations with People’s Republic of China

August – Bill Hartley faces jury trial in County Court on spurious charge of causing actual bodily harm to member of Victorian police force at July 3 anti-Springboks protest

August 27 – Kenneth Ferrier sentenced to seven days jail in Brisbane for failing to register for National Service

August 30 – DRU demonstration at Federal Court Sydney for Laurie Carmichael junior who is facing two years jail for failing to obey call-up notice

September 1 – McMahon Government announces early withdrawal of Australian combat troops from South Vietnam. Australian military ‘advisors’ will remain

September – Melbourne DRU produces draft resistance manual – Downdraft

September – Overflow audience at Sydney Town Hall hears Professor of Biology (Stanford University) Dr Paul Ehrlich address question of ‘Zero Population Growth’

September 6 – Denis Freney is fined $200 for throwing smoke bomb outside Sydney Town Hall civic reception (July 5) for ‘Springboks’ rugby team

September – The Australian Cricket Board of Control cancels 1971-72 South African cricket tour

September – Death of former Soviet premier Nikita Sergeievitch Khrushchov

September 14 – Port Kembla waterside workers strike for twenty-four hours in support of draft resister Louie Christofides who appears in Wollongong court for failing to undergo medical examination for ‘National Service’

September 18-19 – National Draft Resisters’ Conference at Melbourne University

September – Vietnam Moratorium Campaign supporters meet in Richmond Town Hall and decide to organise ‘Don’t Register’ demonstration on December 3

September – Perth draft resister Derek Schapper is imprisoned for four days for refusing to pay fine

September – Perth draft resister Garry Cook is jailed for two years. The other non-compliers in jail at present are Geoff Mullen and Charles Martin

September 25-26 – Eighty Commonwealth and state police raid headquarters of ‘Radical Action Movement’ at 57 Palmerston Street Carlton

September 29 – ‘People’s Parliament’ outside Parliament House in Canberra organised by ACT (Canberra) Vietnam Moratorium Campaign

September 29 – Four ‘fugitive’ draft resisters for whom arrest warrants have been issued come out of hiding and set up temporary headquarters in Melbourne University Students’ Union. They are Tony Dalton, John Scott, Michael Hamel-Green, and Mike Matteson

September 30 – 100 Commonwealth police officers attack Union building at Melbourne University in early hours of morning. They smash doors and plate-glass windows (causing $10,000 damage) but fail to find Hamel-Green and Matteson who are concealed in a custom-built alcove behind sheet of plasterboard. Dalton and Scott had already escaped

October 1 – AICD demonstration outside U.S Consulate Sydney to protest increase in U.S bombing in Indo-China (particularly September 21 air raid on North Vietnam)

October 4 – Albert Langer is sentenced in County Court to eighteen month’s jail after being found guilty of charge of ‘attempting to incite an assault’ on a member of the Victoria Police Special (political) Branch

October – George Petersen (ALP) campaigns for removal of draft resister Geoff Mullen from maximum security prison at Cooma

October 8 – March of several hundred from Melbourne’s City Square to Special Branch headquarters in Fitzroy

October 13 – Simultaneous demonstrations outside U.S Consulates in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide demanding freedom of Angela Davis and all other political prisoners

October 15 – Denis Freney is sentenced to three months hard labour in Sydney Central Court of Petty Sessions for possessing flare

October – Kerry Langer is fined $200 (or month’s jail) for her reaction to her husband’s jailing

October 29 – Recently-formed ‘Bangla Desh Solidarity Committee’ in Melbourne holds demonstration at City Square

October – Representatives of various trends in Australian Left release statement condemning sentence imposed on Albert Langer and demanding his release

October – Seamen unionists in Adelaide pledge to man ships without wages to transport relief for East Bengal refugees

October – Leader of Cambodian National United Front Prince Norodom Sihanouk claims two-thirds of Cambodia has been liberated

November – United Nations invites People’s Republic of China to take the China seat in the U.N

November – McMahon Government proposes that Australian military advisors train elements of Cambodian counter-revolutionary (Lon Nol) forces

November – Vietnam Moratorium Campaign committee in Victoria condemns proposal that Australian troops train Cambodian forces to fight against their own countrymen

November 12 – Waterside Workers Federation announces donation of $10,000 to Gurindji tribe in Northern Territory ‘with no strings attached’

November – The United States still has almost 200,000 men in South Vietnam

November – Experts calculate more than 12,000,000 tons of explosives have been expended on Indochina peninsula between January 1965 and July 1971

November 23 – Brisbane march in protest at racist Queensland Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Acts

November – Albert Langer successfully appeals to Victorian Supreme Court against eighteen-month jail sentence

November – Melbourne draft resister Bob Scates is fined and jailed for seven days for refusing to attend medical examination

November – Commonwealth Police in Sydney are searching for draft resister Mike Matteson but fail spectacularly to apprehend him when he appears on ABC TV program This Day Tonight

December 3 – Vietnam Moratorium Campaign anti-conscription rally in Melbourne takes charge of main city streets for two hours. Mass sit-down in Flinders Street blockades Department of Labour and National Service building

December 3 – 500 demonstrators led by group of 100 Koories hold ‘March Against Racism’ in Sydney

December – Geoff Mullen is moved from Cooma maximum security prison to prison farm at Emu Plains

December 8 – Draft resister Mark Taft is summoned to Melbourne Magistrates Court to face charges of failing to attend a medical examination

December 13 – Draft resister Bob Muntz appears in Melbourne Magistrate’s Court and faces seven days jail for refusal to attend medical examination

December – Lyn Rendell of Sydney and Peter Lammiman of Brisbane have arrived in Hanoi for a two-week visit to the DRV

December – The U.S requests Australian military advisors remain in South Vietnam to train Cambodian (Lon Nol) troops after the majority of U.S troops are withdrawn

December – Lyn Rendell and Peter Lammiman return from visit to DRV and report stepping up of U.S aggression – the continued bombing and strafing of villages and hamlets north of the Seventeenth Parallel

December 24 – Mark Aarons appears in Sydney court charged with possession of article capable of causing bodily harm (smoke flare) at anti-Springbok protest. The case is dismissed when prosecution fails to produce expert witness

December 25 – Commonwealth police raid Matteson family home in Sydney on Christmas Day

December 27 – DRU ‘Summer Offensive’ begins at Point Leo surf carnival

December 30 – Anti-war activists in Melbourne respond to renewed U.S bombing of North Vietnam during Christmas period. Meeting at home of Dr Jim Cairns considers the response of anti-war movement

December 31 – 200 demonstrators with placards gather outside U.S Consulate in Sydney at mid-day and picket for hour to express anger at renewed U.S bombing of North Vietnam. A leaflet reads: ‘While Western world celebrates Christmas with orgy of spending, ‘Christian’ leader Nixon orders orgy of death and destruction for Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians’

December 31 – Anti-war movement in Melbourne conducts spirited and angry late-night demonstration in City Square against renewed U.S bombing of North Vietnam. Dr Cairns calls for breaking off diplomatic relations with USA. At 11.45 pm bonfire lit, Nixon effigy burnt, march through city streets. Rally highlights picked up by U.S media



Downdraft. DRU Melbourne.


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