August 5, 1964 — The first Anti-Vietnam War protest in Australia

It started off small – although by 1964 standards, 2000 people gathered outside the American Consulate in Prahran, Victoria probably seemed like a lot more. There’d been anti-war and anti-nuclear protests before now, but this was the first one that was specifically about the Vietnam War. Mounted in response to U.S. aerial attacks on North Vietnam in the wake of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, it called less for an end to the war than for a re-convening of the Geneva Conference.

In the years that followed, the Vietnam War would become less and less popular with the Australian public. The numbers at protests would grow, especially after the introduction of conscription in November of that year. And more than eight years later, a newly elected government would announce the withdrawal of the last Australian troops in Vietnam.

As mentioned in:

Long Run — Redgum

December 9, 1972 — The Whitlam government is elected in Australia

It was time.

After 23 years in the wilderness, the Australian Labor Party was once again elected by the Australian people. Led by Gough Whitlam, they had only narrowly lost the previous election and this time thumped home with a comfortable 9 seat majority. Whitlam wasted little time – he and deputy Lance Barnard were sworn in by the Governor-General the following day, and set about enacting their agenda.

In the parlance of today, they moved fast and broke things – one of those things, unfortunately, their own government. But in the meantime, they ended Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, introduced socialised health care and ended the White Australia Policy, among other reforms. A later Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, characterised the Whitlam government as waking Australia from its ‘Menzian torpor’, and it’s hard to argue with him.

Gough Whitlam 1972 policy speech.jpg
By National Archives of Australia – http://guides.naa.gov.au/gough-whitlam/gallery/image009.aspx, CC BY 4.0, Link

As mentioned in:

Long Run — Redgum