What were Australians discussing from 1968 to 1971?

The Sydney Opera House under construction in 1968 (photo by PhillipC - CC-BY)

Towards the end of the 1960s Australia found itself embroiled in the unwinnable war in Vietnam, in support of the US Government’s campaign there. A 1968 debate strongly supported withdrawal from the war (by 35 to 5), but the withdrawal didn’t happen until after a change of government in 1972. Of the debates held by the Mosman Debating Society from 1968 to 1971, several related to international affairs:

  • That Australia should withdraw from the war in Vietnam (carried)
  • That we would vote for Nixon (tied)
  • That the celtic fringe is the lunatic fringe (defeated)
  • That Red China should be admitted to the United Nations (carried)

Morality, lifestyle and culture provided some interesting topics for discussion:

  • That we would take new heart (defeated)
  • That God is dead (defeated)
  • That we would break the law in order to change it (carried)
  • That we would make love not war (tied)
  • That we would take leave of our censors (carried)
  • That all you need is love (carried)
  • That women should be liberated (defeated)
  • That we would support zero population growth (carried)
  • That celibacy is outmoded (carried)

Domestic politics accounted for the greatest number of debates during these years:

  • That abortion should be legalised in Australia (carried)
  • That Sydney should have a single development and planning authority (carried)
  • That one year of Gorton is enough (carried)
  • That hotels should remain closed on Sundays (defeated)
  • That state aid is indefensible (carried)
  • That the mining boom is the great Australian bore (defeated)
  • That we support the forthcoming moratorium (carried)
  • That local government is neither (carried)
  • That cigarette advertising should be banned (carried)
  • That the wearing of seat belts should not be compulsory (defeated)
  • That the political capital of N.S.W. should be moved to Bathurst (carried)

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