Brisbane Radicals

“I believe that Marcuse’s ideas can be as valuable today as they were fifty years ago.”–– Angela Davis.

What Jon Piccini is describing in the article below is Brisbane’s New Left. It took the form of a social and political movement during the period of the Vietnam War. Some of the social aspects are captured in in a super 8 film “The R.E. Film’ – Brisbane’s Royal Exchange Hotel (Circa 1974) “  

The RE was the pub of the New Left in Brisbane.

The New Left in Brisbane is also captured in A Book of Doors by Anne Richards.  Anne’s book reveals ‘social left’ during the anti-war movement. The Australian government was involved in an imperialist war of aggression in Indo-China.

Ian Curr
24 June 2021


‘A group of misguided way out individuals’: the Old Left and the Student Movement in Brisbane: 1966–70

On 15 May 1969 Brisbane’s labour movement came out for its yearly parade. Starting at the site of Trades Hall, abutting Edward and Turbot streets in the CBD, the march wound its usual way through Fortitude Valley to the RNA  showgrounds.  This  was a show of strength and unity by a labour movement gearing up for an election campaign that was to see an 18-­seat swing against the conservative government. Towards the end of this procession, however, a few hundred students carrying red and black flags as well as, by some accounts, wearing helmets emblazoned with the word VIETCONG, had other ideas.1

Marching alongside the Communist-­ led Building Workers’ Industrial Union (BWIU),  this  small  group  of around 300 — organised by the recently-­ formed Revolutionary Socialist Student Alliance through popular youth club Foco — sought  to  seize the international day of workers’ struggle ‘symbolically under red and black flags, socialism and freedom’.2 Brisbane’s conservative Courier-­Mail  described events: a group of about 250 students and others ‘sat in the streets during the procession, calling out ‘Ho Chi Minh’ [and] poked the federal ALP leader Mr. Whitlam with  red  flags’.3 It was  a  provocative  intervention, and threatened to rip apart the bonds between workers and students.

The sixties was a time of transnational ferment and change. Around the world, a generation of youths challenged the Cold War  consensus,  throwing  off the strictures and rules of previous decades in favour of what French-­ American historian and cultural critic Kristin Ross has termed a ‘planetary generation of libertarian revolt’.4 Such a statement is, however, a truth wrapped in a conceit. As Ross highlights, memorialisation of ‘sixties activism’ as the private domain of a privileged youthful elite throwing up barricades outside the Sorbonne forgets more than it remembers — leaving out especially the role of  working-­class  militants  in such struggles. If French students were dedicated to incorporating their struggles with those of the working class — as Ross amply illustrates in her work May 68 and its Afterlives — then Australian students shared a similar inclination. 5

Work by Lani Russell and others has located the working-­class militant as central to the ‘radical imagination’ of youthful New Leftists in Australia, which must be seen alongside the idealised third-­world guerrilla and

 rebelling students in Europe and America.6 The Old Left, for its part, often  saw   radicalising   students   in a less supportive light, with the Communist Party taking a hesitant  and contradictory approach, and the trade union movement — generally associated with the ALP — often perceiving students as a threat to its respectability. This multi-­layered relationship is best viewed through a snapshot in time, one amply provided by the period 1966–70 in Brisbane, which witnessed the birth of a working if strained — relationship between student radicals and the Old Left, and that relationship’s eventual destruction. Through analysing primary sources from the  period  —  amply  collated  at UQ’s Fryer Library — and the reminiscences of activists we can arrive at a nuanced understanding of a key turning point in Queensland’s left history.

A Search for Answers: the New Left meets the Old

Brisbane’s Old Left — militant trade unionists   and   the   Communist Party had a history of involvement in ‘youth politics’ seemingly ill-­suited to the sixties’ changing political-­ cultural mores. A listing of events for Trade Union Youth Week in 1967, publicised by the Queensland branch of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, reveals a ‘strong program’ highlighted by a golf day ‘organised in conjunction with   the   Waterside   Workers’  Golf Club’, a discussion at Trades Hall on ‘problems affecting young workers’ and, to cap it all off, a ‘cabaret supper dance’ in Milton,  where  the  queen  of youth week was to be judged.7 Similarly, Communists sought to partition off ‘youth work’ from their more political activities through a diet of socialising, sport and, according to some, unconcealed sexism. Sydney Trotskyist John Percy describes the Eureka Youth League — led in 1965 by 35-­year-­old Mavis Robertson — as ‘staid and controlled…rebelliousness was not a great part of it, and often there was not much politics either’.8 An issue of their  ‘barely  political  and very amateurish’ journal Target, Percy recalls, featured a back cover illustration on how ‘birdwatching can be fun’ — so long as one was fully   up to date with the various strands of ‘Avis Bikinium’. Clearly, the politics of gender was to be left till one was older.9

It is unsurprising, then, that when students at the University of Queensland began to question the Cold War consensus on a number of fronts — particularly the  bloodshed  in Vietnam — they sought answers outside of the radical establishment.10 Dan O’Neill, English lecturer, leading ‘left oppositionist’ within the Catholic Newman Sciety and founding member of radical group Students (later Society) for Democratic Action (SDA) recalls how 1966 saw ‘a number of independent sources of social criticism emerge on campus’  —  culminating  in SDA’s formation over the August vacation. 11 This incipient group of radicals, led by O’Neill and the ‘silver tongued’ Brian Laver, ‘began to recognise their concerns as very similar to those of other groups, especially in America…in  particular  they  began to read the literature of SDS, notably the newspaper National Guardian and began to think  beyond  Vietnam’.12 The example of America’s  Students for a Democratic Society — brought closer to Brisbane by two radical American academics, Ralph Summy and Marvin Kay — was enshrined in SDA’s early literature, which heralded the American students’ concept of ‘grass-­roots democracy’alongside their desire to challenge an array of social injustices with ‘radical alternatives’.13

Vietnam was the group’s overriding interest in its early period, betraying many members’ previous involvement in the Vietnam  Action  Committee and Kay’s Brisbane Professionals for Peace. This was an interest shared with the CPA and left-­wing trade unions — it was, after all, they who organised initial protests against the war. However, it was students who pioneered the use of headline-­grabbing American protest techniques. Raymond Evans, student and historian,  writes  in his diary of attending a ‘draft-­card burning’ in March 1966 organised by Kit Guyatt and Jim Beatson, an office worker who was to become a founding member of SDA. Evans recalls how ‘[a]s the Action started, pamphlets rained down and various people with hidden placards attempted to display them. The man-­handling by the cops had to be seen to be believed. Twisting a broken arm,  rabbit  punching’  — all  dutifully  captured  by  waiting  TV cameras.14  ‘The  TLC  [Trades  and Labor Council of Queensland] President [Jack Egerton]’, Evans noted in an aside, ‘says it was the greatest breakthrough here for fifty years’.15

As such, Old and New Left met, finding a common enemy in the form of Queensland’s repression of protest. Under the Trafftc Act 1949 — a piece of legislation whose genealogy can be traced back to 1931’s Railway Strike and Public Safety Act — protests were illegal unless previously granted police permission, and a fee applied for the carrying of placards.16 Early in 1967, UQ students and staff led by O’Neill, Summy and Laver formed a Civil Liberties Co-­ordinating Committee that aimed — drawing loosely on the example of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement — to unite as broad a group as possible behind demands to repeal ‘certain clauses of the Trafftc Act’. This culminated in a 4000-­strong march from the university to the city on 8 September 1967, which saw accusations of police brutality and 120 arrests.17

Six days later the Trades and Labor Council held a four-­hour stop-­work meeting in King George Square in solidarity with the students’ demands. Attracting some 3000 people — despite ‘sharp divisions’ within some unions over the veracity of such a political stoppage — the rally ‘was addressed by representatives of the Students’ Civil Liberties Committee and from the TLC’ and saw the union movement ‘join in with the campaign so vigorously commenced by the students’, as Egerton reported to that year’s Trade Union Congress.18 This period saw the beginnings of real student-­worker co-­operation. Laver, a history honours student, was employed as a researcher by the Trades and Labor Council to write an overview of the use of Penal Powers in Queensland against Trade Union activity, while another leading SDA member, Mitch Thompson, became private secretary to Left-­Labor Senator George Georges. Additionally, the first months of 1968 saw SDA members join unionists in supporting a postal workers’ strike, with two youths arrested on a picket line.

‘Australia’s Most Evil and Repugnant Nightspot’: the Challenge of Foco

These same months saw the germination of a youth political-­cultural venue the likes of which Brisbane had never seen an idea named simply Foco. Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Argentine-­Cuban revolutionary, died in  October  1967 at the hands of Bolivia’s US-­backed military. An eminently photogenic figure,  Che’s  face  adorned  countless meeting halls, cafes and living rooms around the world during the late sixties, and his ideas on revolutionary encampments — or Focos — were studied at length by many New Left groups.19 In February 1968 a dozen Brisbane youth activists with experience in either political mobilisation or radical cultural production approached the Trades and Labor Council with the idea of a ‘multi-­media extravaganza’ that, creatively transforming Che’s ideas, sought space to unite new and challenging art forms with a healthy dose of left politics. Growing out of    a realisation that Brisbane’s protest movement was ‘pretty exhausted…  by the political activities we’d been conducting in 66–67’, Laver — who claims to have come up with the name recalls that:

[W]e needed something…where we could show film; where we could  have folk singing, which was fairly big; where we could have political discussion; where we could distribute our leaflets. And there happened to be people around us who had many of these skills.20

All that was required was space, which was found in the third level of Trades Hall, usually hired out for functions and events.

Laver was able to use his position at Trades Hall to secure the location with only a ‘nominal’ rent, helped by what he describes as leading Communist figures’ desire ‘to bring students and workers together’ in the hope that ‘there’d be a lot of young suits who might join the Communist Party’ — an organisation greatly depleted by Cold War fear mongering and its own subservience to the obscene dictates of Soviet foreign policy.21 The choice of Trades Hall was, then, more than just an arrangement of convenience, but expressed a desire for a cross-­class unity, with the making of ‘links with the…young workers’ movement’ a key priority of the Foco experiment, in Laver’s opinion.

Converting the open space into something capable of facilitating ‘youthful activity’, not to mention soundproofing the various rooms, was, however, a costly operation, one that had to be met by the TLC itself on the proviso that this would be paid back through revenues.22  Foco  opened  on 3 March 1968 and was an immediate success. Operating on Sunday nights, possible in conservative Brisbane only if operating as a club, Foco attracted 2500 members by July and a regular attendance of some 500, many of whom saw the club’s disco as  its  main drawcard.23 With acts such as  the Coloured Balls, the Living End  and the Wild Cherries as regulars, the disco was ‘adapted to controversial designs’, as a Foco poster explained.24 More controversial, however, was the club’s political activities. Foco aimed ‘to provide a cultural and political environment and to politicise people’ something facilitated through the club’s sale of radical literature, posters and  counter  cultural  paraphernalia, as well as  its  showing  of  political  or international films and holding

Foco promotional leaflet, 1969

of discussions with domestic and international figures.25

Bands such as Max Merritt and the Meteors, the Coloured Balls and the Living End provided a major drawcard for Brisbane’s youth, so much so that the club occasionally opened Saturdays to cope with demand.

Such material soon created conflict. The Eureka Youth  League,  seeking  to revitalise its  image  in  the  wake  of an obvious explosion of global radicalism, rebadged itself the Young Socialist League at a 1967 conference, and began seeking broader alliances as a means of, in one member’s opinion, ‘breaking out of their ideological straight jacket’.26 As such, they became involved with Foco at a high level, with leading member and young worker Alan Anderson taking on the position of club president. Shaking off old concerns about the danger of overt politics proved difficult, however, with Laver remembering a conflict over whether SDA’s bookstand, ‘probably the most radical literature you’ll ever see’, should be displayed prominently in the building’s annexe. The delivery of an ultimatum that ‘if you take that literature down the New Left will pull out of this operation’ saw the Young Socialists withdraw their objection.27 Despite such concerns, the radical politics of Foco fused well with its more cultural aspects — as was true   of the sixties experience in general.28 The club facilitated ‘some really nice interactions between working class and middle class young people’ and attracted everyone from ‘the university people [to] hippies, the arty crowd and some of the flashy-dressing, middle- class beautiful people’.29

It was this very success that  saw  Foco challenge the worker-­student relationship. Trade Union Week 1968, held in late September, was a much more exciting affair than previous years, with Foco assisting  the  TLC  to  organise  a  daytime  concert  in  the Botanic Gardens that attracted between three and five thousand young people. Such success inspired Alan Anderson to propose that other, more ‘hackneyed method[s]’ of youth week, such as its ‘Cabaret night’ be abolished — while the holding of a debate on whether similarities existed between Czechoslovakia and Vietnam seemed to indicate the growing importance of New Left agendas.30 Such an example of co-­operation was, however, overshadowed by MHR  Don Cameron’s comments two weeks earlier in Federal Parliament, accusing the ‘communist or almost-­communist’ leadership of ‘Australia’s most evil and repugnant nightspot’ of drug peddling and prostitution. ‘[P]eople working there will arrange a young woman for a whole night in a matter  of seconds,’ Cameron insisted, hiding his ‘evidence’ behind parliamentary privilege.31 Foco’s location in ‘the nerve centre of the ALP in Queensland’, as Cameron put it, was exactly the sort of publicity more conservative unions privately feared — despite the TLC’s public support of Foco against its accusers.32 The issue of money appears as particularly prominent in internal debates between Foco and the TLC — with Cameron accusing the Council of funding Foco to the tune of at least $800, and internal documents revealing this to be the case despite public equivocation that the money was used to modernise the space, and was not paid directly to the club.33

Though a ‘confidential’ communication between Alex Macdonald and Queensland Police Commissioner Bischoff  effectively  exonerated Foco and in fact revealed the force’s deep distrust of Cameron’s motives — his allegations ‘had a certain amount of success’, with Foco blaming concerned parents for ‘attendance dropp[ing] as low as 200’ by December.34 The early months of 1969 proved difficult – attendance never climbed back to levels attained before ‘Cameron dropped his bundle’ — and in February the club announced its immanent closure if more members were not forthcoming.35

Foco produced a weekly newsletter in the best spirit of global underground publications. It was distributed  free  to the club’s several thousand strong membership and carried advertisements for the club’s weekly activities, in-­ depth discussion of what movie was  to be shown or play to be performed,

and occasionally reprints from such publications as Rolling Stone.

Other factors were also at play in Foco’s gradual demise. While YSL members were taking leading roles in Foco and transforming their  politics in a New Left direction, other radicals began to turn away from the club. Anderson noted in a retrospective article in Tribune how ‘the student left developed a theory that Foco was not aiding the revolutionary movement… suggest[ing] it was channelling potential revolutionary people into non-­revolutionary activity’.36 This was an   outcome   of   SDA’s radicalisation spurred on by the global rebellion of ’68, Laver’s trip to Europe and a fascination with third world Marxism culminating in the April 1969 dissolution of the organisation. Members of SDA, organiser Mitch Thompson wrote, had decided in favour of ‘moving from a protest organisation to a … revolutionary movement’, and this solidified in May as the Revolutionary Socialist Students Alliance. 37 This move left little scope for Foco’s eclectic cultural mix, which was attacked by several radical students as an attempt to ‘use the bourgeois ideology of personal liberation as an adjunct to the Marxist ideology of the liberation of the proletariat’, which ‘could [only] be contained within the functioning Foco for a limited period’.38

Despite the withdrawal of  elements  of the student left, Foco continued, only to be ‘murdered by a trade union movement steeped in conservatism’, as Anderson put it. Amongst the trade unions, Anderson explained:

there   was   little   understanding of what  Foco  was  about  before  it began and deplorably little developed later, this in spite of repeated invitations, both verbal and written, to affiliated unions and officials to observe the activities that Foco carried out.39

The events of May Day 1969 — a ‘European-­style demonstration’ seeking to ‘transform into something effective a Labor (sic)  Day  which  had in the past relied  upon  Punch  and Judy shows and ice-­cream for its revolutionary content’ — provided ample grounds for severing Foco’s relationship with the trade union movement.40 Condemning in the daily press the students and young workers who marched with Foco as ‘a group  of misguided way out individuals’, Egerton claimed the TLC had never allocated money to the club and that ‘responsible trade union officials have no intention of allowing a group of scrubby, confused individuals who are unable to differentiate between civil liberties and anarchy to cause dissent in the trade union movement’.41

May Day Poster, 1969 Drawing on a romanticised revolutionary aesthetic, this poster sought to rally involvement in Foco’s ‘intervention’at May Day in 1969.

May Day Poster, 1969 Drawing on a romanticised revolutionary aesthetic, this poster sought to rally involvement in Foco’s ‘intervention’ at May Day in 1969.

Despite pleas from Hugh Hamilton, CPA head of the Building Workers’ Industrial Union, to maintain TLC affiliations with the club, Foco was soon ousted  as part of a ‘refurbishment’ project ending with a bang, a key point in Brisbane’s radical history. 42

‘The Communist Party is behind this moratorium — way behind’: the Student Left and the Communist Party post-­Foco

The YSL’s involvement with Foco was only part of a broader transformation within the Communist Party of Australia.  After  a  tortuous  1963 split from pro-­Chinese elements, members of the Aarons family became ascendant.43 Inspired by the Italian CP, reformers questioned the Australian party’s subservience to Moscow and began to think a politics better suited to local conditions. The Conference for Left Action — held in Sydney  over Easter, 1969 — was a key part of this new thinking, bringing together some 800 people and receiving a large patronage from Brisbane — with several prominent northern radicals speaking.44 Laver’s speech, greeted with a standing ovation, asked whether ‘we will have to build a new party based on developments inside the Communist Party’ and the new social movements, as well as calling for militant solidarity with the NLF in Vietnam and other third world liberation struggles.45

 This was a time of experimentation within the old-­style CPA, which was quick to condemn the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 — cutting once and for all financial aid from the Warsaw Pact — and offered key positions in the party to students and intellectuals of the New  Left.  Few took up such offers.46 ‘[W]e were at this stage prepared to accept their bonafides’, Laver explained in a later article, ‘especially because of their developing stand against Stalinism’ and the two groups soon formed a space for mutual collaboration, known as  the Socialist Humanist Action Centre, (SHAC) which met in a house across from Toowong cemetery.47 ‘[F]ormed to discuss particularly the application of the concepts of workers’ control and self-­management’, elements of Brisbane’s New Left saw SHAC ‘as the basis for the formation of a new revolutionary organisation, of the possible transformation of the CPA into that organisation’.48

While many in the CPA shared RSSA’s  ambitions  towards   forming a unified revolutionary party, ‘centrists’ associated with its trade union wing argued that the process of developing consciousness would take time’, invoking Lenin’s work Left-­ Wing Communism to nullify radical demands. Such centrists — who in Laver’s opinion used the rhetoric of anti-­Stalinism to move Communist politics closer to those of the ALP — boycotted the Centre ‘in an attempt to stop activities getting off the ground’, favouring instead an  approach  more in keeping with the CPA’s essentially reformist ‘coalition of the left’ strategy. Only when SHAC decided to distribute literature at May Day  1970  calling  for workers’ control rather than union bureaucracy, did the centrists emerge in a failed attempt to ‘get the decision reversed’. With memories still fresh of the previous year’s incident, radical involvement in 1970’s May Day was again controversial. Egerton ‘issued statements to the press…saying that some of the student elements were going to provoke violence’ and called on workers to ‘deal with this ratbag element’ — though in the end the Communist-­led Waterside Workers’ Federation allowed the radicals to march with its contingent, despite centrists in the party ‘not condemn[ing] Egerton’s statements or actions’.49

The first Moratorium rally on 8 May 1970 — occurring only days after these incidents — is generally remembered as the high point of anti-­Vietnam war dissent in Australia, with over 100,000 marching in opposition to the war. However, in Brisbane what became known as ‘the Laver incident’ put a blemish on affairs, with the Courier-­ Mail claiming that organisers ‘appl[ied] the Moratorium gag’, and radical students dramatically ending their association with the CPA’s leadership via a fantastically titled broadsheet: ‘The Communist Party is behind this Moratorium — way behind’. 50 Reports of the incident of course vary. The Communist Party saw it as important enough to warrant a full page in their national weekly newspaper, where they describe Laver’s ‘emotional’ response to his being left off a pre-­march speaking list which saw him threaten ‘to stop the march from the university by students, staff and others unless he gained access to the microphone’.51

After being repeatedly denied access to the platform, Laver attempted  to  seize the microphone, and was prevented by what Tribune described as the spontaneous action of workers. This reaction was justified by claiming Laver intended only  to  ‘put  a  dampener on events’, referencing comments he apparently made at SHAC the previous year, describing the United States Moratorium (which Australia’s was modelled on) as ‘a great victory for reactionary   imperialists’ due to its timidity.52 Laver himself presents  events  in  a different light, indicating that Egerton  and  centrists in the  CP  conspired  to have him bumped back to the post-­march speaking list,  blocking  a  call  for   an occupation of Queen Street to ‘prevent business  as usual’, an outcome the Tribune writer claimed would have provoked violence. After the march described by Laver as ‘pitiful’ and ‘counter-­revolutionary’ — Laver gave a speech attacking the ‘ALP-­ites and centrists [who] mis-­direct the anti-­ war struggle’ into a ‘support the ALP’ platform, with ‘the Stalinists and the centrists nationally collaborating to build up this lie’.53

 Student-­worker relations were never the same after May’s Moratorium incident. Though Communists within the union movement made one last effort to unite workers and students, they again struggled to overcome ideological differences. A Draft Resistance Centre modeled on a similar operation in Sydney — was launched out of Trades Hall in July 1970 as a BWIU initiative. Offering counseling services to ‘advise young men about to be conscripted into military service’, what was labeled by Premier Joh Bjelke-­Petersen as ‘the treason room’ soon involved a number of young students  and  workers.54  In a now familiar story, militant youths split from the centre only a few months after its inception. Many involved expressed a desire to launch a public campaign of non-­compliance with the National Service Act, a move opposed by the TLC executive on the grounds that such a public display would bring ‘embarrassment to the Council’ in a time when much of its efforts were being put into the election of a Labor government and the smooth  running of peaceful moratoria.55 Though publically  maintaining   solidarity with the Centre’s role as a counseling service, these dissenters established a Brisbane branch of the Draft Resisters’ Union in late 1970, launching a radical campaign against conscription and once more frustrating the Old Left’s attempted engagement with youth.56

‘The Communist Party is behind the Moratorium…’ Radical student broadsheet responding to the ‘Laver incident’ at the Brisbane Moratorium in May 1970.

Using the example of Brisbane in the mid to late 60s, we can re-­locate the centrality of the organised working class to ‘Australia’s sixties’ — so often glossed over in generalisations about pot-­smoking hippies and middle-­class ultra leftists. For in fact, despite a search for  fresh  answers  and approaches, Brisbane’s New Left sought with varying degrees of success and conflict to relate their struggle to those of the ‘Old’. From the early days of collaboration over Vietnam and the Civil Liberties campaign to the moral panic of Foco, Brisbane’s radical youth movement sought unity with local trade unions and the Communist Party. The clashes of ’69 and ’70, however, reveal the problematic nature of this relationship. Many trade unionists saw radical youth as a challenge to ALP electability and their own generally conservative outlook, while the CPA’s spasmodic relationship with the New Left and its theories was too inconsistent and beholden to opportunism and internal factional  squabbles  to  allow a properly fruitful relationship to develop. What is made visible here is much more than the popular narrative of a sixties’ ‘Woodstock generation’ whose promiscuity and individuality corresponds exactly with the present coordinates of lifestyle capitalism. Rather, we witness a group of people whose  ambitious  determination   —  if of an idealistic nature — saw a world beyond capitalism, and sought alliances across the generational (not to mention class) divide to make these dreams realities.

Jon Piccini


  1. This is noted in a recent ‘history’ of UQ for its centenary celebrations, which generally smears oppositional movements as only a commissioned history can. Ben Robertson, The People’s University: 100 Years of the University of Queensland, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 2010.
  2. Mitch Thompson, ‘SDA dissolves’, Society for Democratic Action Ephemera, FVF 381, Fryer Library.
  3. ‘Student Radicals ‘Never Again’ at Labor Day’, Courier-­Mail, 16 May 1969.
  4. Kristin Ross, ‘Establishing Consensus:   May   ’68   in    France as seen from the 1980s’, Critical Inquiry, vol. 28, no. 3, Spring 2002, p. 651.
  5. Kristin Ross, May 68 and its Afterlives, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2002. See chapter two, ‘Forms and Practices’ for an analysis of the (un)remembering of worker participation in May ’68.
  6. Lani Russell, ‘Today the students, tomorrow the workers! radical student politics and the Australian labour movement: 1960–1972’, PhD thesis, University of Technology, Sydney, 1999. Another example is Padraic Gibson, ‘Breaking down the politics of fear: radicalism on campus and at work, Australia 1965–75’, BA Hons thesis, University of Sydney, 2006.
  7. P O’Brien for the WWF, Branch News, 14 September 1967, Dan O’Neill Collection, UQFL132, Fryer Library, Box 7, Folder 10.
  8. John Percy, A History of the Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance, vol. 1: 1965–72,

 Resistance Books, Sydney, 2005, p. 59.

  • ibid., p. 60. It must be noted that this was a certain conservatism born of the Party’s attempts to copy Eastern Bloc ‘youth publications’, and major improvements were made over the next few years.
  • The development of student radicalism on UQ will here be given only a brief glance. For further details see the opening chapters in both my honours thesis, ‘‘Building their own scene to do their own thing’: imagining and contesting space/s in Brisbane’s youth radicalisation, 1968–1976’, BA Hons thesis, University of Queensland, 2009, and Tim Briedis, ‘‘A map  of the world that includes Utopia’: the Self Management Group and the Brisbane libertarians’, BA Hons thesis, University of Sydney, 2010.
  • Dan O’Neill, ‘The growth of the radical movement’, Semper Floreat, 17 March 1969, p. 9.
  • ibid., p. 9.
  • ‘Society for Democratic Action’, Miscellaneous Publications of the Society for Democratic Action, F3235, Fryer Library;; O’Neill, ‘The Growth’, p. 9.
  • Raymond Evans, ‘From Deserts the Marchers Come: Confessions of a Peripatetic Historian’, Queensland Review, vol. 14, no. 1, 2007, p. 13. This was  as  direct  an  importation as can be had: draft-­cards were an American vernacular for what in Australia were termed call-­up papers.

15 ibid., p. 14.

  1. See Raymond Evans, A History of Queensland, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007, p. 184.
  2. See Carole Ferrier and Ken Mansell, ‘Student Revolt, 1960s and 1970s’ in

 Raymond Evans and Carole Ferrier (eds), Radical Brisbane: an Unruly History, Vulgar Press, North Carlton, 2004, p. 268.

  1. ‘Who will stop work?   Unions have problems on today’s rally’, Courier-­Mail, 14 September 1967. Another report quoted state Minister for Industrial Development, Mr Campbell, as ‘urg[ing] the Students Union to divorce its interests from those of the Communist Alex Macdonald and his  followers’, clearly highlighting the state’s concerns over such an alliance. ‘City work stop attacked’, The Telegraph, 14 September 1967;; Jack Egerton, ‘Civil liberties spotlight focuses on Queensland’, Queensland Trade Union Congress Reports, 1967, Trades  and  Labour  Council of Queensland Records, 1894– (hereafter TLC), Fryer Library, UQFL118, Box 90.
  2. For more on this see Frederic Jameson, ‘Periodising the  Sixties’ in Sohnya Sayres, et al (eds),  The  60s without Apology, University of Minneapolis Press, Minneapolis, 1984.
  3. Brian Laver interviewed by Andrew Stafford, 6 Nov 2002, Andrew Stafford Papers, UQFL440, Fryer Library.
  4. ibid. For  more  on   decline   of CPA, albeit from a Trotskyist perspective, see Tom  O’Lincoln,  Into the Mainstream: the Decline of Australian Communism, Red Rag Publications, North Carlton, 2009 [1985]. No academic history of the post-­war communist movement has been written — though see Stuart Macintyre, The Reds, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, for a history of the party until its banning in 1940.
  5.  Hugh Hamilton, ‘Cost of suggested alterations to the Dance Hall for Youthful Activity’, TLC, Box 357.
  6. Raymond Evans, ‘Foco, Second Trades Hall’, in Evans and Ferrier, Radical Brisbane, pp. 273–6.
  7. ‘Foco opening night poster’, TLC, Box 357.
  8. For more on Foco as a venue, see my article ‘‘Australia’s most evil and repugnant nightspot’: Foco Club and transnational politics in Brisbane’s ‘68’’, Dialogues e-­journal, vol. 8, no. 1, 2010: au//dialogue/Vol%208/Piccini.pdf
  9. On changes to the EYL see Russell, ‘Today the students’, pp. 263–4;; quote from Alan Anderson, ‘The Foco story’, Tribune, 8 September 1970.
  10. Laver interviewed by Stafford.
  11. On the inter-­relation between counter cultural elements and the ‘political’ New Left see Doug Rossinow, ‘The New Left in the counterculture: hypotheses and evidence’, Radical History   Review,   no.   67,   1997, pp. 79–120.
  12. Laver interviewed by Stafford;; Anderson, ‘The Foco Story’.
  13. Anderson, ‘The Foco Story’;; Alan Anderson, ‘Report on 1968 Union Youth Week’, Queensland Trade Union Congress Reports, 1968, TLC, Box 90.
  14. ‘Drugs, Women claim on Foco’,

Courier-­Mail, 13 September 1968.

  • ibid.
  • ‘Matters concerning Foco for Executive TLC’ (undated), TLC, Box

357. Though undated, this document is a direct result of Cameron’s allegations re TLC funding of Foco.

  • Memo marked ‘CONFIDENTIAL’, TLC, Box 357. Notes not only that the involvement of Federal customs

 police in the investigation had greatly angered their State counterparts, but also that Cameron’s source of information was untrustworthy;; Foco Club Newsletter, 11 December 1968.

  • ibid.;;      Foco       Club       Newsletter, 26 February 1969.
  • Anderson, ‘The Foco Story’.
  • Thompson, ‘SDA Dissolves’.
  • Diane Zetlin and Larry Zetlin, Untitled paper solicited by Oz Magazine, 1970, Dan O’Neill Collection, UQFL132, Fryer Library, Box 14, Folder 1.
  • Anderson, ‘The Foco Story’.
  • ibid.
  • ‘No union money went to Foco’,

Courier-­Mail, 10 May 1969.

  • G.M. Dawson for the BWIU — Queensland Branch, ‘Statement of policy on Youth and Students’, TLC, Box 357.
  • O’Lincoln, Into the Mainstream, pp. 117–25. Mark Aarons, The Family File, Black Inc, Melbourne, 2010, also provides a narration of these events from a highly personalised perspective.
  • Tim Briedis, ‘The Conference for Left Action, Easter 1969’, unpublished paper, 2010.
  • Brian Laver, ‘Strategies for social change’, Conference for Left Action, Easter, 1969: Papers, Conference for Left Action, Sydney, 1969.
  • Russell, ‘Today the students’, pp. 273–4. The exception to this was Dennis Freney, who went from a member of Nick Origlass’s Trotskyist circle to a leading member of the CPA’s revolutionary wing.
  • Brian Laver,  ‘The  Communist Party is behind this Moratorium

— way behind: towards the Spring Offensive’, B. Laver,  Brisbane, 1970, p. 2. Also see Russell, ‘Today

 the students’, p. 273 for a very short discussion of the centre. The location of meetings was mentioned by Dan O’Neill, personal communication, 21 November 2010.

  • Laver, The Communist Party, p. 2.
  • Laver, The Communist Party, p. 2;; ‘Whitlam will lead march in the city’, Courier-­Mail, 4 May 1970.
  • ‘Applying the Moratorium gag’,

Courier-­Mail, 9 May 1970.

  • C. Gifford, ‘The facts about the ‘Laver incident’’, Tribune, 24 June 1970, p. 4.
  • ibid., p. 4.
  • Laver, The Communist Party, p. 3.
  • Building Workers Industrial Union, Don’t Register! — a booklet of draft resistance  information, BWIU, Brisbane, 1971, p. 1. Quote from Bjelke-­Petersen from The Australian, 25 July 1970.
  • ‘Minutes of meeting of Trades and Labour Council Draft Resistance Centre held on Monday 16 November 1970’, TLC, Box 347.
  • ‘Resisters and TLC disagree’,

Courier-­Mail, 19 November 1970.

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