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Australian History

AOS4 - Vietnam NOTE: Do in order

1965 Paragraph 1965 Paragraph
Prime Minister Menzies announced in Parliament the government’s decision to send a battalion of Australian troops to Vietnam on the 29th of April 1965
Menzies justified his decision by quoting Australia’s treaty obligations under the Australian New Zealand and United States defence pact (ANZUS) and the South East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO).
At this time the Cold War was at its peak. Consequently, fear was rampant among Australians. With the perceived threat of Communist China and the ‘domino theory’ both providing incentives for military action
The Minister for External Affairs at the time, Paul Hasluck, said that “it would not be in the Australian character or consistent with our national self-respect to stand aside while the Americans do the fighting in what we know are our own interests and causes”.
Many groups were supportive of the governments decision. The Returned Services League (RSL) were supportive of the Vietnam War and conscription seeing both as a rite of passage or ‘testing’ for the younger generations.
The majority of the media supported the Government in their decision, The Age characterises this; the decision was a “grave one” however “these are inescapable obligations which fall on us"
A Gallup poll from September 1965 indicates that 56% of Australians supported continuing the fighting while only 28% supported bring the troops home.
The Australian took an alternative view, stating that the government “has made a reckless decision on Vietnam which this nation may live to regret”.
However the majority of the population were persuaded and seduced by the conservative media.
Many of the Churches in Australia were pro-war. The Catholic Church was largely supportive of the war. With B. A. Santamaria speaking for many Catholics through his anti-communist commentaries on the television program ‘Point of View’.
However a group of Anglican Bishops, in a letter to the Prime Minister in March 1965 expressed that “our nation” should strive towards “bringing to a close a war that is costing so many lives and reducing the economy of Vietnam to chaos”.
Groups such as Save Our Sons (SOS) and Youth Campaign Against Conscription (YCAC) were formed by 1965 and also held an anti-war stance. These groups organised rallies and demonstrations. However their principle role was educative: circulating petitions, organising public meetings and conducting ‘teach-ins’.
1970 Paragraph 1970 Paragraph
At the May Moratoriums of 1970, more than 200,000 people gathered to protest against the war in cities and towns throughout the country
The leader of the Moratorium and Labor MP, Jim Cairns, stated that “the killing and devastation is not declining… our interests are for peace”
The influence of the Moratorium is reflected in the shift of attitudes in some media outlets, such as The Age. Prior to the event, the newspaper described it as “irresponsible, potentially dangerous and, ultimately futile”.
On May 9th, however, it reported, “the takeover of the City of Melbourne was [achieved] with good humour… with dignity, and without violence”
On the other hand, not all citizens were of this belief. The Minister for Labour and National Service at the time, Billy Snedden, said that the leaders of the moratorium were “political bikies pack-raping democracy”, representing attitudes of some in government.
Despite this event the PM John Gorton, had already announced on the 22nd of April, that Australian forces in Vietnam would be reduced.
Across the floor, the Annual Victorian State ALP Conference in June supported young Australians who refused to be conscripted.
A Gallup poll taken on the 31st of October 1970 indicated that 42% of Australians wanted to continue the war, while 45% wanted to bring the troops home.
Furthermore, the Senate elections of 1970 were vastly varied, with Liberal 21 seats, Country Party 5 seats, ALP 26 seats, DLP 5 seats and 3 Independent seats.. This result alone reflects a divided community
The attitudes of groups such as Save Our Sons, Youth Campaign Against Conscription and the Draft Resistors Union now were reflected in the views of a slim majority in 1970.
1966-1969 Paragraph 1966-1969 Paragraph
In March 1966, Prime Minister Harold Holt increased the Australian commitment in Vietnam.
In the same year, the first Australian conscript, Errol Noack, was killed.
During these years a ‘television war’ was sparked with coverage of The Battle of Long Tan in August 1966—a significant battle for Australia, in which 18 Australians were killed and 4 wounded— the 1968 Tet Offensive, and the My Lai Massacre in 1969 all of which were ‘psychologically shattering’ for many supporters of the war.
The belief that the war was not “winnable” evolved, as “the US could not even protect its own embassy” (Burns).
William White, a Sydney teacher, was the first conscientious objector in the Vietnam era to refuse call up.
The Judge handling his case rejected his appeal on the grounds that White’s ideas were “the result of ignorance rather than good reasoning founded on learning and logic”.
Many more objectors went underground and joined the Draft Resistors Union, established in 1970.
Others took legitimate routes, volunteering for the Citizens Military Force at the time of registration. Which in turn fuelled the anti-war movement, as pure pacifists remained heavily involved.
The returning soldiers brought with them stories, and Super 8 films, of atrocities and conditions. That when shown to their friends and families, contributed to the shift in attitudes to the war.
Save Our Sons along with Youth Campaign Against Conscription were continuing their educative role, with ‘teach-ins’ hosted at various Universities and town halls across the country
In August 1969, a Gallup poll revealed that 55% of Australians were opposed to the war, with 40% supporting the continuation of the war.
Last Paragraph Last Paragraph
Therefore, it was through the cooperative and educative approach that various protest groups employed, coupled with the events of the war in Vietnam and at home through the years 1965 to 1970,
that culminated in a change of attitudes, a change that was clearly expressed at the moratoriums and is captured in the…. [BACK TO EXTRACT]
Created by: alex.iwanuch