What were Australians discussing from 1960 to 1963?

Doing the Twist at Sydney's Peppermint Lounge in 1962 (Photo from State Library of NSW - NKCR)

The debates held by the Mosman Debating Society in the first few years of the 1960s were diverse, but as always included international affairs:

  • That darkest Africa should be declared black (defeated)
  • That we approve of Britain’s entry into the Common Market (carried)
  • That Indonesia is justified in her claim to West New Guinea (no vote taken)
  • That Kennedy is the best leader for the West (defeated)

Lifestyle, literature and the human spirit are always interesting to debate, because the positions of the speakers and the audience are not as entrenched as with political debates:

  • That fashion in humour never changes (defeated)
  • That we prefer Shaw to Shakespeare (carried)
  • That we should put a man into space (carried)

Morality and philosophy were evergreen topics for discussion:

  • That a private conscience is a public nuisance (carried)
  • That men are unfair to women (carried)
  • That Christians cannot justifiably participate in modern war (carried)
  • That parents know best (carried)
  • That we should give up smoking (defeated)
  • That a politician’s life is his own business (defeated)

In previous decades, debates about race relations were more likely to be about Asiatic people than Australian aboriginies, but that had changed by the 1960s:

  • That the present restrictions on the sale of alcohol to aborigines should be maintained (defeated)
  • That Australians should vacate Australia (defeated)

Domestic political debates reflected the issues that were causing concern at the time:

  • That overtime should be abolished (defeated)
  • That religious instruction in schools should cease (defeated)
  • That the upper house should be abolished (defeated)
  • That the need for the Labour Party is decreasing (tied)
  • That we would fluoridate Sydney’s water supply (defeated)
  • That education should be the responsibility of the Federal government (carried)
  • That the Opera House is built on weak foundations (defeated)
  • That New South Wales needs an ombudsman (defeated)
  • That safety belts should be compulsory (tied)

For what it’s worth, since that time Sydney’s water did get fluoridated. The Opera House proved to have been built on sounder foundations (structurally and culturally) than anyone imagined at the time. New South Wales got its ombudsman, and seat belts became compulsory. Overtime hasn’t been abolished, nor has religious instruction in schools ceased. The upper house of the state parliament was not abolished (but it is now elected rather than appointed), and the state government still holds responsibility for schooling.

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1 Comment

  • myoarin says:

    For those who liked the photo, here is the caption:
    “”Weird and wonderful Sydney” exhibition caption: “This young man could not believe his luck and the photographer couldn’t keep his camera steady, when Sabrina danced The Twist at the Peppermint Lounge. The medical profession said the twist would cause “dislocated joints, slipped discs, sacroiliac damage and muscle sprains”. The only muscle sprain here was ocular”

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