1975 – My Third Election (Friday Evening Nostalgia and Raffle)

Today’s Friday evening post is from RNM1953. Though sombre, it is nostalgic – perhaps the music this evening should be from that wonderful era of the early 1970s?

And thank you, RNM1953.

(Credit: News Ltd.)

Where was I in 1975? I was living in what’s called the inner west of Sydney and at the time of the Dismissal had just finished my BA. Dip Ed ( thanks to a scholarship ) and was anticipating work in the NSW Education system in 1976.

Lillee and Thompson were destroying the English in the cricket. The Bee Gees’ Jive Talkin’ had been a number 1 hit. Daylight saving had been in for four years and when in your early 20’s those summer days did seem to last forever.

1975 was my third federal Election after 1972 and 1974.

It was the third time manning polling booths, doorknocking, letter drops, driving around in the local member’s car with the speakers on the roof, erecting posters etc.

But it was different.

For those of us on the ALP side of politics 1972 was a time of passion and enthusiasm. It was a look into the future. There was a feeling of hope.

1974 was more about determination. The Libs were spoiling and there was no way we were going to let them regain their mantle with their born to rule attitude.

1975 was also a time of passion. But it wasn’t accompanied by hope – this time there was a deep anger.

From 1974 onwards, Murdoch turned against Labor. Supposedly because Gough denied him the position of Australian High Commissioner to London.

In those days, the printed media had a far greater reach than today. There were morning and afternoon editions. Television, while not in its infancy, still didn’t have the tabloid format that today’s stations have with their morning shows.

John Laws was probably the only talkback radio host.

(Credit: Student Syndicalist)

On the other hand we had the ABC which was an institution of integrity filled with courageous and pioneering journalists. James Dibble presenting the news, TDT week nights with Bill Peach, Four Corners on a Saturday night. Journalists learnt their craft at the ABC and many were subsequently poached by commercial organisations.

Could you imagine the likes of Uhlmann, Crabbe et al worthy of being poached today?

So the ABC always provided a balance to the screaming headlines of the Murdoch press. We couldn’t say that now, could we?

Through late 1974 and then into 1975 there had been a relentless campaign. Affairs, scandals, strikes by petrol tanker drivers, strikes by electricity generators real ,imagined or what many of us felt, manufactured — all creating an air of instability and all whipped up into a frenzy by the Murdoch press. It sounds familiar.

Throw into the mix the Cold War.

Doug Anthony was a close friend of the CIA station Chief in Australia, Richard Stallings. The US Ambassador to Australia was Marshall Green. At the time the belief was that every country that he’d been appointed to had had a coup. Even if we look at his entry in Wiki today, there’s a reference to him as having been implicated in the dismissal of the Whitlam government. Also there was a belief that the coups in Greece, Chile and Australia all around the same time were connected to the presence of Omega bases. These bases were an integral part of American surveillance of Russian submarines. There had been campaigns in these countries and our own to close those bases.

That was the atmosphere leading up to 1975.

It would take forever to talk in detail about the events surrounding the coup and that’s not the point of this post.

So, if it can be termed this way, what were my highlights of the 1975 campaign?

I’d just finished uni so had time on my hands.

Opposition signs/posters were fair game. In the early hours of the morning newspaper bundles were known to disappear. Many of the journos went on strike and published their own newspaper. We distributed those at railway stations. We heckled at Lib public meetings.

But the three big items for me were firstly a march from Sydney Uni into the city. From memory it ended at Hyde Park but I can’t be sure.

It was an incredible experience. Marchers had stolen the RTA signs from expressways that read STOP. YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY and carried these 10-15 people abreast down the main streets. All the while men were standing in vantage points photographing the marchers. The chant was Shame, Fraser, Shame, and it reverberated around the city buildings. Office workers left their desks and joined in the march. There wasn’t any attempt by police to stop the march and there wasn’t any violence, but I suspect that the police resources wouldn’t have been strong enough to stop the surge anyway.

The traffic lights would turn red but the sea of marchers was like a wave that couldn’t be pushed back.

(Credit: The Age)

The second event was a fundraising barbecue we had at my parents’ house. Local members and some nearby Federal Ministers arrived. It’s impossible to estimate the number of people, but just word of mouth brought maybe 500 to 1000 people to this backyard barbecue. A couple of people found some road barricades and blocked off the street. Another person, and remember these were unscripted, they just did it off their own initiative, redirected traffic, standing in the middle of the road. Others walked up to the local pubs and main street shopping and encouraged anyone who was out and about at 7pm that night to come down to the barbecue.

The barbecue itself was planned but the spontaneous reaction of people was truly amazing. We actually raised money but the money was dwarfed by the emotions on display.

The other highlight was Gough speaking at The Domain.

We went in by train and our badge of honour was Shame, Fraser, Shame.

(Credit: RNM1953’s brother)

The carriages were full of people wearing these badges.

The stations were crammed. From memory there wasn’t much humour. There was determination, anger, and a sense of solidarity.

I don’t know how many people were there that day. The Murdoch press said maybe 20,000. I think the Sun newspaper said well over 100,000. The bottom line is that you couldn’t fit any more into that area. The hair still stands up on the back of my neck when I recall those scenes.

(Credit: News Ltd.)

When we manned the booths on election day, we had the biggest turnout of volunteers ever. But it wasn’t enough.

It’s hard to put those memories and feelings into words except to say that nearly 40 years later they are still important.

We are all familiar with the legacies of the Whitlam government and 1975. For me, though, one of the most important things was a failure. Forget for a moment the politics of the time and the political effectiveness of that government. Forget for a moment some of the practicalities.

Rex Connor wanted to borrow $4 billion for the government, as representing the people, to buy all of our natural resources.

He didn’t succeed.

Imagine where we would be today if our nation owned every piece of coal, LPG, oil, iron ore, gold etc. in the ground.

Has anything changed in 40 years?

(Credit: RNM1953’s brother)

313 thoughts on “1975 – My Third Election (Friday Evening Nostalgia and Raffle)

  1. Someone at Fairfax doesn’t seem to like Tony Abbott or Ray King very much.

    Tony finds women in burquas ‘confronting’. Poor petal, what an easily intimidated little marshmallow he is. He finds gays threatening, he can’t cope with strong women in positions of authority and now he finds women who cover up confronting. I’m hoping he’ll find an election defeat a bit ‘confronting’ too.

    As for Mr King – Abbott has been out there defending him for all he’s worth. A Twitter rumour suggested King has dirt on Abbott. It seems very likely, given this sort of garbage from Abbott –
    “Ray King is a decorated police officer with an umblemished record,” he said.
    “His integrity and professionalism has been repeatedly vouched for.”

    “Mr King appeared before the Wood royal commission into the NSW police force over the practice of Fairfield detectives receiving free meals and alcohol from the Marconi Club in exchange for an informal security presence.”

  2. I think King got a rebuke from the Royal Commission over that. It popped up in Father Lee’s memoirs, and King was highly touchy about it – said it had been raised to damaged his chances of pre-selection. However, his friendship with Roger Rogerson is probably more worrying.

    While both King and Abbott deserve a bit of stick, it probably goes down well with their target audience. I base that on my own brother, essentially uninterested in politics. Believe it or not, he has even ticked ‘like’ to Tony Abbott’s Facebook page. He is virtually a single-issue person, wanting SSM.

    Why he imagines Abbott could help him in this endeavour he has not explained to me. But it started out as a ‘hate Gillard’ thing (imagining she had the powers of an absolute monarch and could do it if she wanted to), he went to talk radio to build up his knowledge, and of course it reinforced his hate Gillard mantra. It’s also a hotbed of anti-islamic stuff and he has joined in that quite readily. I have had to chat him about racism at times, and he’s toned it down a little. But he still believes they want to take over and apply sharia law and circumcise every female. Kick ’em out is his idea. He’d lap that up, what they said about the burquas.

    What the hell is our country coming to with those attitudes? He’s a decent family person but somewhere he’s either lost a brain or the ability to reason.


    For what it’s worth, I like the song “I Really Don’t Want to Know” – for some reason Mary Ford’s version appeals to me. It has a sad feeling to it. I also like the Pete Seeger classic, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, which would probably still be effective as an instrumental.

  3. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I confess it just made me cry.
    One of the most moving voices of the last century.

  4. It’s quite simple really ; this voting thing..A lot of people will vote for Labor because of what they do not want to lose…..
    The other lot of losers will vote for the LNP. under a delusion of what they think they will gain!….
    Of course what they will lose if the LNP. gain office will be real..tangible..actual existing services…whereas what they think they will gain are “pie-in-the-sky” policies, many , MANY of which the LNP. has NO INTENTION of implementing.
    So it is really a “win – lose” situation..and if the general public are THAT stupid…! ?

  5. Hi all, back again have been out helping my local member’s campaign and will probably be out doing again until post election and hopefully we are going to have a raucous knees up once she has won her seat again.

    I now have my roster for next saturday and will be there all morning at this stage and have said I am willing for longer if needed.

    Tonight should get more posters to put around and another load of handouts to letterbox.
    I am stuffed but it is all for the good of this country and its society.

    If we win I will be chuffed, if not at least I will know I have done my best, all I ask of anyone is to tell at least five people each day of the good that ALP has done for this country and the great things that are doing and plan to do. Compare that with what the other parties have done over the history of this country, what they are likely to do in the future and really there is no choice for us all.

  6. 6Pack

    The lack of it shows. JBish, Frydenberg, etc is showing.

    20 years ago we didn’t rate a mention in international news.

    Now we do so the stupid stuff gets reported.

  7. 6Pack – a good sense of elsewhere would be a help

    Clearly, we have a mystic in our midst.

  8. I simply say this:

    “What would you say if I sang out of tune?”

    … and rest my case.

  9. Good on the pommie PMs for having the guts to vote how they feel.
    They stopped a pm going to war.
    Unfortunately here it would be voted on party lines and Australia yet again would be tied up in stuff we shouldn’t be

  10. This is one of the most cheerful things I’ve read today – a comment from one Lachlan Ridge on Andrew Elder’s A Vote against the Media post linked earlier:

    I am meeting an increasing number of people who are voting ALP to spite the Daily Telegraph (and I move in Lindsay, Macquarie and the northern part of Eden Monaro). The print media has become a laughing stock, with a nominally Liberal voting but largely disengaged mate opining “Geez, when is it going to come out that Kevin Rudd killed Azaria Chamberlain?” The coverage has moved beyond self parody to bewilder the DT audience, and I would be unsurprised that it is hitting their circulation figures (although we are heading into footy finals time, which is their real raison d’etre).

    Many people, like old mate I mentioned above, cannot stomach the idea of Tony Abbott as PM. Me? I’ve become pretty ecumenical about it. The Katter Party ALP preferences in Queensland may decide it, but I see the ALP ending up with between 67 and 74 seats – an uncomfortably good result for the Murdoch media after everything they’ve thrown at the ALP.

    If the ALP loses surely that means we’ll finally rid public life of Rudd, the classic example of someone who has had their ambition and their ability confused. God, the Latham Diaries alone should have ended his career! And Abbott? Yes, it will be a supremely dysfunctional period, especially as it appears we are heading recessionward, which will be exacerbated by a Calvinist economic policy. But if we keep our sense of humour then this may be entertaining.

    Strap yourselves in kids, the next five years of Australian politics will be interesting, as in the Chinese curse. But gthe real fracture will not be left v right, or even ALP v Liberal (two franchisees of the global monetarist product); no, the real fracture will be media versus the public. And I hold great hopes the people will win that one, and the people shall hold accountable those that the slow media have failed to do. And none of this tosh about ‘only mainstream media has the resources to…’ Piffle! a) cost cutting means they no longer have the resources (and in News Corp’s case, the desire), and b) all of the great political scandals of the last three years have been broken by small independent media and bloggers. None from the press gallery.

    If all this depresses you, just remember that News Corp is in the entertainment business, not the information business.

  11. Let me get this straight. Sportsbet are offering 12.5:1 for Labor to form government. If I sign up, they’re also offering up to $100 as a Free Bet Bonus (not Vic., conditions apply.) So in theory I can put $100 on Labor effectively at 25:1?

  12. Apologies for the quality; I haven’t found the original version of this Cathy Wilcox cartoon:

  13. Re: Sportsbet odds; Labor seems to be stuck on 12.5:1, while the Coalition have falling from at least 1.06:1 to 1.02:1 today… Someone is spending up big.

  14. Fiona – Uncle Rupert, Aunty Gina and … hmm.

    Re: the Sportsbet Free Bet Bonus, the gotcha is you have to first place a bet to be credited the “free bet” amount, which can’t be split. Double-up, or hedge elsewhere?

  15. Jaeger,
    Spot on for the first two. I had wondered about your third, but discounted it because of its obvious associations with one of the first two. However – a promising idea …

    No, my third – maybe now even a fourth – is someone who is a VIP in a VIBig organisation with tentacles overtly everywhere. The potential fourth is – or are – VIP(s) in a VIBig organisation with tentacles covertly everywhere.

    Yes, all conspiracy stuff, and we all know cock-ups are preferable explanations most of the time.

    However, this just might be one of those other times.

    Be very alarmed, and VERY alert.

  16. I went over to King’s Tribune for Andrew Elder, and stayed there for Jane Caro reading a post about a stalemate in the Rudd-Abbott standoff. Rudd can’t talk about the past, and Abbott can’t talk about the future.

    Her view is similar to ours. He has an excellent record to defend. The trouble is, it’s Gillard’s. He can barely mention her name without choking, much less her record, and the fact that his looks puny in comparison.

    He must know by now that charm, personality and folksy popularity won’t do it. Is he vain and stupid enough to go on as he’s been doing? And go into history exactly as Boer War has portrayed him, a treacherous psychopath prepared to sacrifice everything in his way? By this standoff with Abbott he may even get his favourite jealous wish: trashing her legacy. But it will be at the price of trashing his own.

    He should take a lesson from Bowen and embrace the whole period. Even at this late juncture he’d win if he did. And he just might be a hero again – at least for a while.

  17. Jaeger,
    Your second choice is one of the two I’ve been toying with. The other(s) is/are the Koch brothers.

  18. Fiona
    Scary thought but I have wondered how long before our nice little democracy, that proved the worth of Keynesian economics, attracted unwanted attention. 🙂

  19. Puffy,
    Yep – Keynes was a dirty leftie pinko Commie, and his views on economics are to be treated likewise.

    As I wrote earlier, (wtte) welcome to Ayn Rand’s and Friedrich Hayek’s dystopia.

    If only they were left to suffer in it as long as we might.

  20. Ayn Rand went to Canada for lung surgery at Canadian taxpayers’ expense, lived off welfare for her last few years. So much for that subjective scribbler!

    There is a hilarious YouTube or two, Keynes and Heyek arguing their preferred type of economics.

  21. This one?

    (I don’t watch many YouTubes, my tiny 8G data allowance on my 3G wireless broadband)

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