june memories / 30


30th June, 1965 : The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies declared that Australia was at war in Vietnam. Sir Robert said there was an old belief that a country was not at war unless “something else” happened. Nothing was going to happen, except that the Viet Cong were coming out under cover of darkness to cut the throats of the people in South Vietnam, whom Australia had undertaken to defend. That was war, Sir Robert said.

His declaration drew a savage response from the Leader of the Opposition, Arthur Calwell, who asked with whom Australia is at war. Was it North Vietnam; was it China as well? He said Sir Robert had vouchsafed information to a London audience which he refused to give to Parliament. “Was the Prime Minister really declaring war, or was he merely indulging in an oratorial flourish suitable for a banquet hall full of wealthy and elderly men and women, 12,000 miles from his homeland?”

About Avadoro Worden

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