1968: Events that changed the world
Talks / Lecture
1968. A year of protests, war, Hendrix and a missing Prime Minister. Curator Dr Guy Hansen introduces our new exhibition 1968: Changing Times, and looks at the highlights of that year—locally, nationally and internationally.
Speakers: Cathy Pilgrim (C), Guy Hansen (G)
Location: National Library of Australia
Date: 7 March 2018
C: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, lovely to see so many of you here at the National Library today. Welcome to the Library. My name’s Cathy Pilgrim, I am the Assistant Director General of the Executive and Public Programs Division. As we begin today I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, I thank their elders past and present for caring for this land that we are now privileged to call home.
Today we’re here to learn from our Director of Exhibitions, Dr Guy Hansen, who co-created our revealing exhibition, 1968, Changing Times. You may have already had the opportunity to see it but if not I hope you will be inspired to visit the exhibition today.
There is no doubt that 1968 was a momentous year. Whether it was the war in Vietnam, student demonstrations, the assassinations of Martin Luther King junior and Robert Kennedy or the music of the time, there was a strong sense the world was rapidly changing. Australia was facing its own challenges with the swearing in of John Gorton as Prime Minister following the disappearance of Harold Holt and the growing unrest about conscription for overseas military service.
The opening of this beautiful building, the National Library’s own on the 15th of August 1968, a realisation of the vision of former Prime Minister Robert Menzies, was a moment of national pride and achievement against the national turbulence and I hope you’ll all come back in August this year to help us celebrate that 50th anniversary. Today Dr Guy Hansen will explore what it was that made 1968 such a year of change for Canberra, Australia and the world. Please welcome Guy to share with us the significance of 1968.
G: Thank you very much, Cathy. I might just start by showing you the exhibition ad.
G: So I look out at the audience, I think that ad may have provoked some memories from 1968 but perhaps a more polite thing to say is that none of you here are clearly old enough to remember 1968 so – so of course doing a show about 1968 makes me think what was I doing in 1968? Well you can see what I was doing, I was standing just there in front of that Perspex dome with my family. This photograph was taken at my father’s place of employment which was 3M in North Ryde, some of you might be familiar with the 3M building in North Ryde. 3M stands for the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.
This photo I think when I look back on it is a classic depiction of a 1960s nuclear family. This is just the kind of corporate image that an international conglomerate like 3M liked to project, a clean-cut white family looking to the future. Going by the expression on my face I seem to be very impressed by the range of products being produced by 3M, I’m the little fellow smiling right at the front there so –
In some ways this photo captures the ethos of Australia in the 1960s, it represents a prosperous modern Australia with a growing consumer economy. Whereas my grandparents had experienced the depression and the second world war my parents grew up in Australia with increasing opportunities. The agricultural and mining sectors had boomed and the Australian manufacturing sector was also growing, shielded by tariff barriers. At this stage in 1968 the white Australia policy had only just been dismantled. It’s true that there’d been some bumps on the road in the ’50s and ‘60s but overall it was a time of growing confidence and prosperity. The stoic generations of the 1930s and 1940s giving way to baby boomers. The new generation were confident in the future and keen to see the world change and change was coming. By the 1970s Australian society would be transformed.
It’s this idea of change that helped us come up with the title, Changing Times, for the exhibition. 1968 was the midpoint in a period of very rapid social change. The bookends on either side of this change are the retirement of R G Menzies in 1966 and the election of E G Whitlam in 1972. The Australia of 1966 is a very different place to the Australia of 1972. In this exhibition we look at this period of change by focusing on what was happening in one particular year, 1968.
As Cathy mentioned there’s another very important reason why we chose 1968 as the year to take our deep dive in the ‘60s. 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the opening of this building. Looking back at 1968 provides a great opportunity to place the opening of this building in the context of the history of Australia and the history of the world. And as I’m sure you all know 1968 was a very iconic year in world history. There are amazing events and personalities to explore.
The Library’s collections are a fantastic resource for exploring 1968, myself and my colleagues, Grace Blakely-Carroll and [Morta Goodrich] 6:08, had the great pleasure of surveying the Library’s collections and looking for material which would [able] 6:16 us to look into what happened in that year.
So when we did this exhibition the metaphor I’ve often used is that it’s like a series of Russian dolls. The innermost doll is the opening of the Library, this building so that’s right at the core of the exhibition, that’s sort of the end room, room 4. Around that doll is wrapped another doll which is the history of Canberra, what was happening in Canberra in 1968? And around is wrapped the idea of what was happening in Australia in 1968 and the introductory room looks at what was happening in the world so that’s the structure which I’ve used to explore 1968.
So when we look at 1968 there was a strong sense that the world was going crazy. In some ways it sort of reminds me a little bit of 2018. So what was happening in 1968? At the beginning of the year there was a civil war in Nigeria and the Biafran famine was beginning to unfold which was one of those major African famines which began to really impact on our consciousness of what was happening in the world. Of course there would be many other major famines which would receive similar coverage but the Biafran famine was a very significant one.
Also early in the year there was the Tet offensive in Vietnam. This is when the north launched a series of coordinated attacks across the south and it began to bring into the question whether America could win the war. Even though retrospectively it would seem America was militarily winning the battles held during the Tet offensive at the time it looked like it was all going to hell in a handbasket and the war was unwinnable so psychologically it had a huge impact, the Tet offensive.
Another thing which occurred early in the year was the North Koreans captured an American spy ship which was the Pueblo and there was a you know significant speculation about would there be another outbreak in the Korean war? They took 83 American sailors prisoner and they took the ship back to North Korea and it’s still there, that particular ship is still in North Korea and if you’re in – happen to be in North Korea you can visit it, it’s a tourist destination. So that idea of possible war with North Korea was very much on the horizon at the beginning of 1968.
Another event which people remember from 1968 is the Prague spring. You have Dubcek in Czechoslovakia begin a project of trying to reform socialism. Of course the Prague spring was crushed by the Soviet Union and it was – and a few months later Russian tanks rolled into Prague. Here you can see the covers of two Time magazines which capture that moment. And in the exhibition we use magazines like Time and Life to illustrate some of the milestones of the year.
I’m sure many of you will know about the demonstrations in Paris in 1968 and here you can see a spread from Paris Match showing the confrontation between students and French police. In the exhibition we’re very lucky to have borrowed from the National Gallery some of the street art from 1968 and this is one of many posters which were decorated which were used to decorate the streets of Paris in May 1968. The art students took control of the <inaudible> 9:56 those arts in Paris and they began to make it a factory to produce propaganda supporting the protest movement outside so the National Gallery has lent us this poster and you can see it in the exhibition today.
Of course Paris was only one of many cities which were in turmoil in 1968, there were major riots and protests in cities across the world, in America, in London, in Grosvenor Square, famous demonstration in front of the American Embassy, in Berlin, Mexico City and in Tokyo. So there was a sense that the world was falling apart, there was protest everywhere and things were very much uncertain what was going to happen.
Let’s turn to American politics and see what was going on and in America events were very dramatic as well. In April you have the assassination of Martin Luther King junior and here you can see the image of the funeral procession after his death and American cities erupted in a series of riots after this, people were bereft at the idea that Martin Luther King had been assassinated. Of course not long after that – actually just before Martin Luther King was assassinated President Johnson had announced I shall not seek and will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as President. That was very dramatic. Johnson, who had put so much effort into the civil rights agenda and into building a great society had decided he had no chance of winning the next election, that the Vietnam war had become the major thing which he had to concentrate on and he felt that he had to bow out in order to conduct that.
So that left Americans with a deep sense of uncertainty, their President wasn’t going to run again, a major leader had been killed and then not long after that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. So Kennedy had – following Johnson’s announcement Kennedy had decided to run for President but after winning the Californian primary he was shot in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in California so another important leader in America was gone so America was in a very, very difficult place at that time. And at the end of the year you had a very partisan political campaign where you had Republican Richard Nixon run against Hubert Humphrey. Nixon went on to win the election. The Democrats were deeply divided over the issue of the war with McGovern and Eugene McCarthy running as anti-war candidates and Hubert Humphrey being eventually nominated for the Democrats. So divided Democrats at a very violent and disruptive convention in Chicago in August weren’t able to beat Richard Nixon, Richard Milhous Nixon who was promising to go forward and prosecute the war in Vietnam.
So you can get a – when I look at 1968 you get a really strong sense of – we can play that game what if. If you take some of these events and think what if Kennedy wasn’t assassinated? What if the Democrats had won the 1968 election on an anti-Vietnam war platform? What would have happened? We can speculate, it didn’t happen, Nixon won, the war went on.
So I can’t talk about 1968 without talking about music. I think it was an incredibly important year in popular music. Some very significant albums were released in 1968. The White Album came out in 1968, Rolling Stones’ Beggars’ Banquet came out in 1968, Cream’s Disraeli Gears actually came out at the end of 1967 but it dominated the charts in 1968. And Jimmy Hendrix had one of his major albums out with his cover of Bob Dylan’s, All Along the Watchtower. So there’s all these major moments in popular music which you – which went on to dominate the play lists of radio stations for years to come and I think you can still tune into a radio station in Canberra today and hear some of the songs which I’ve got up here.
What was happening in the world of books? And this was one of the more challenging aspects of doing this exhibition was selecting some of the titles which came out in 2001 – sorry, in 1968 and if you go down to the exhibition you’ll see a selection of books which were published in 1968. I did select books which did very well on The New York Times bestseller list and also books which I think have gone on to have lasting – a lasting impact and are still read today. So Tom Wolfe with The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test creating a new genre of writing in new journalism, 2001 Space Odyssey which of course has the incredibly powerful computer who is very focused on doing the task which it has been given and not necessarily taking into account what that means for the humans for whom it’s working. I think that’s a story which still remains relevant today.
And Ursula Le Guin with her Earthsea trilogy. Of course Ursula Le Guin died this year. Arthur Hailey going to the airport – literally the Airport spectrum of novels. I included this one because I think Airport was really – created this genre of blockbuster novels which then turned into blockbuster movies so I think Airport’s quite an interesting novel. Wouldn’t necessarily want to read it but I think it’s sort of like a turning point in that sort of literature. And of course you have Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn writing his book In The Soviet Union and you have an author like John [Afteriq] 15:50, was exploring what the promiscuity and sexual relations in the late 1960s, what sort of social impact that would have. So they’re just some of the novels. I’m sure you have your own favourites from that period which you’d like to remember.
So moving from the world stage back to Australia I can’t talk about 1968 without first talking about what happened in December 1967 and that of course was the disappearance of Harold Holt who having gone away for the weekend to his holiday house in Portsea, Victoria then was lost in the surf off Cheviot Beach and his body wasn’t recovered and was presumed drowned. So at the very beginning of 1968 Australia did not have a Prime Minister. The great object – it had an acting Prime Minister but Harold Holt had just gone missing.
One of the interesting objects in the exhibition is the briefcase which he took away with him on that weekend which had government documents inside it and it was – the federal police took possession of that briefcase as they were investigating why he’d gone missing and that briefcase remained in the collections of the Australian archives ‘til this day and we were able to borrow it for the show so it’s quite interesting to look at that personal possession and that photograph of Holt and reflect on what occurred there.
The situation at the end of 1967 was John McEwen, the leader of the Country Party was Prime Minister and he had given the Liberal Party basically an ultimatum saying that I will not serve under <inaudible> 17:21 and said that – he basically said do not select him as your leader. And so the Liberal Party decided to elect John Gorton who was actually in the Senate at this time to become Prime Minister and this was a very big departure for the Liberal Party. John Gorton was a different sort of leader, he was quite a larrikin at the time and very – distinctly Australian, was giving expression to a kind of a new type of Australian nationalism. And I think you’re beginning to see this big transformation from the days of Menzies with the election of a character like Gorton.
And The Bulletin – sorry, The Bulletin was asking the question of whether Gorton would – would he work out? But he did in that first year do quite well as Prime Minister and did become quite a distinctive leader. Here you can see him towards the end of 1968 on a visit to Vietnam and you can see how comfortable he was visiting Australian troops. He’d served in the Royal Australian Air Force during world war two. He’d actually been in a couple of plane crashes and all the injuries on his face but you can see – when you look at photographs of him in Vietnam he always appears to be very comfortable and I think sometimes people use the term of a khaki Prime Minister. He did leverage off the Vietnam war and he was a strong supporter of the Vietnam war.
Of course the Labor Party had its own leadership struggles in 1968 as well. There was a period where it appeared that Whitlam actually when facing off with sections of his party offered his resignation and he was re-elected and was able to start a process of reform of the Labor Party to make it much more electable. So you’re seeing a period of change here, the Liberals have a new leader. The Labor Party is giving itself over to turning into a more electable party and of course this would all unfold until you get to the point that the Labor Party is elected in 1972 and you see the end of a very long period of coalition rule of the country.
So one of the biggest issues in 1968 around the world but in Australia as well was Vietnam. Here's a photograph of Australian forces in 1968 in Vietnam. It’s at this point in the war, most probably a lot to do with the Tet offensive, that support for the war in Australia had really begun to turn. It had previously had majority of support but by 1968 majority of Australians were beginning to be against the war. Here you have the 80th Australian taskforce [face] 20:18 map in Nui Dat. We have this in our collection. I actually – the other day I was – Tim Fischer, former Deputy Prime Minister, happened to be visiting the Library and asked to be taken on a tour of the exhibition and I showed him around and he was – he actually was serving in Vietnam in 1968 and he was very impressed with this map and stood in front of it for some time and was able to point out exactly where his tent was in 1968.
So the issue of Vietnam in 1968, one of the things which made it very unpopular in Australia was compulsory national service and if you actually – you – if you were doing national service there was a good chance you’d actually serve in Vietnam. And this is very controversial and if you look back through Australian history you can see why. In world war one there’d been two plebiscites, both of which had rejected conscription. In world war two conscription had only been on a limited basis in direct defence of Australia so up into New Guinea so they – Australian conscripts didn’t serve further afield. And yet in the Vietnam war Australians were being sent as conscripts to fight in Vietnam and that was a very controversial issue which I think undermined support for the war.
One of the prominent groups who were against the Vietnam war and whose papers are held by the Library was Save Our Sons movement. Here you can see a really fascinating photograph which was taken in Marrickville at the Marrickville recruitment station for the Australian army and you can see the protestors standing there respectfully with their banner. And I like this photograph because it goes against the perception of protestors as sort of longhaired hippies or just students. Here you can see middleclass mums protesting against the war and we’re very lucky, we were able to track down that actual banner which is in the exhibition. So you can see it downstairs if you haven’t already.
Moving away from Vietnam and back to Australia this is an object which we selected for the exhibition which I’m – I particularly like, I love the graphic design and what it represents. I think it speaks to an older view of the continent, an older view of Australia as being this big quarry or farm where we can dig things up and grow things and sell them and make lots of money. And we’ve got some interesting animals as well. So I think this is a kind of a perception of progress in development which was quite common in the 1960s and that one graphic sort of captures some of those ideas.
If we’re talking about Australia it’s not long before – if you want to talk about Australian culture you have to talk about sport so what was happening in Australian sport in 1968? One of the major things which was happening was the Mexico Olympics and Australia of course was represented there at the Mexico Olympics and one of the most famous incidents which occurred was Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter, had won a silver medal in the 200m sprint and he had in support of the two African American sprinters who were doing a black power salute, was wearing a little civil rights badge on his jacket and he was supportive of their protest and he talked to them about his protest before they went to the podium to receive their medals. And Peter Norman was punished by the Australian Athletics people over this. He never got to represent Australia again even though he was the fastest sprinter in Australia. They didn’t like the fact that he’d sort of – even though he wasn’t actively involved in politics they were aware of his support for those sprinters so they basically blackballed him from being in the Australian Olympic team after that.
Another sporting event is – which occurred in 1968 is the London to Sydney marathon. I really like this graphic because it shows the overland route between Australia and London which some people would catch a ship to England and then drive back over this way to get back to Australia or vice versa so it was something that people actually used to do and of course this really went on this route and you can see that you’ve got the rally going through places which now would be impossible to go through, particularly going through – coming into Afghanistan and places like that so it’s a very – I think this sort of single image catches one of the things which has really changed from 1968 to the present.
Another sporting event from 1968 which is Lionel Rose became a world boxing champion, he beat – fighting in Harada in Tokyo in Japan and that made him the first indigenous world boxing champion, Australian indigenous world boxing champion and he was a major personality and celebrity in Australia at this time and even went on to have some success as a pop star as well so I think a very interesting and attractive photo of Lionel Rose there.
Other things in ’68, the Australians went to England on an Ashes tour and it was a drawn series in England. Carlton won the Premiership and in Sydney there was a World Cup of rugby league and Australia beat France. Of course in the ‘60s France was quite a power in rugby league which is – they’re not really so much these days.
What were you watching on TV in 1968? Well you could – it wasn’t that long since This Day Tonight had started. Skippy of course was doing very well and going on to be a major international success for Australian TV and also you could see Lenny Teale in Homicide. Interesting to think back, in most Australian cities there was just two or three channels, we were all watching the same TV, most probably talking about the same TV rather than having a huge variety that we have now.
Fashion, you have a designer like Prue Action sort of responding to the fashion – changes in fashion around the world and you can see some of this down in the exhibition.
What was happening in music in Australia? The super group in Australia and the most popular Australian group was The Seekers and they had – came back early in the year for a tour of Australia and it was ‘round the middle of the year that The Seekers actually broke up so this was the end of one of the most successful Australian groups. In terms of international acts who came to Australia The Monkees came in 1968 and The Who and Small Faces came. And of course The Who distinguished themselves while visiting by – there were complaints about sound and behaviour of members of the group. There was an incident of one domestic fight where the band members were said to have had too much to drink and they went over – arrived at Essendon Airport, they were escorted off the plane by the police and in one account I’ve read they were then taken to a special VIP area of the airport and given more drinks. So that’s how you dealt with things in the ‘60s so –
The counterculture in Australia, what was going on? Well we have - I think one of the emblems of that in Australian popular culture is OZ magazine. Now of course there was a Sydney OZ magazine which had started earlier in the ‘60s and been involved in an obscenity trial but in ’67 half of the editorial team, Richard Neville, Martin Sharp, went over to the UK and they established London OZ. So in the exhibition we’ve got a really good display of both Sydney OZ and London OZ.
When you look at the magazine you can really see the contribution of the graphic artist, Martin Sharp, and you can see how this magazine provided a space for him to develop his skills and go on to be one of the major – most important graphic artists of Australia in the late 1960s. I think actually when you get beyond the graphic art, though, there’s not much in the magazines, they’re quite strange to read but all I’m asking you to do is look at the pictures when you go downstairs.
Gender relations in the 1960s. So this photograph actually isn’t in the exhibition downstairs but I did find it in my research and I desperately wanted to use it ‘cause I thought it said so much. So you can see a different idea of how employment was organised. Conditions for women, their pay rates were lower, they often had to leave work once they were married and obviously you couldn’t have children, you were meant to go home. And this particular photograph was a photograph taken from I think the Dunlop factory in Sydney and it was just part of a process of documenting the production processes at Dunlop. So we did include some material in the exhibition which was about the beginnings of the campaign for equal pay for women which of course is a campaign which is still continuing today, it still has not been fully realised but you can see the roots of that campaign and many other feminist issues started back in the 1960s. Other things too like control of contraception and things like that as well so feminism in 1968 is beginning to emerge as a major force and of course it becomes bigger as you get into the ‘70s.
In the world of literature in the late ‘60s, while there had been a long period where many bright young things in Australia had as soon as they were able to, jumped on a ship and gone to London to try and impress the world. There were also by the late ‘60s a group of writers who were staying in Australia and were writing about Australia and reflecting on what it meant to be Australian so we’ve got some lovely illustrations downstairs by Louis Kahn, Frank Harding, Judith Wright and Thomas Keneally who were all writing and publishing in Australia at this time and we’ve got a selection of some of the books and poems and journals which were coming out of the intellectual <inaudible> 31:08 in 1968 in Australia.
So we’re getting down in my Russian dolls now, we’re heading towards Canberra. And I think that the really interesting thing to think about is that in – how small a town Canberra really was in 1968. So many of the features which we now think of as the national capital weren’t actually in place at that time. In this direct area here you have the provisional Parliament House behind us and you have the war memorial across the lake. The lake hadn’t been in place for that long and you had in a sense almost that sense of open paddocks around here and the parliamentary triangle. So the opening of this building in 1968 was a very significant moment because it was actually a reflection of moving beyond just servicing the needs of the federal parliament, just straightforward public service buildings and the parliament. This was a cultural institution which was really to serve the needs of not just the people of Canberra but of broader Australia so it’s a significant movement.
So you’ve got – I think you’re beginning to see that new vision of Canberra as a national capital really beginning to come to fruition and that’s reflected in the opening of this building. And here is a design from that period. I should – I think it’s good to pause and just consider that the Library of course has a longer history than this building, it didn’t come into existence in 1968, it actually goes back to 1901 with the establishment of federal parliament and was actually in the – what is - the Victorian Parliament Library was actually the first home of the National Library. And then of course the Library also existed in the provisional Parliament House and then of course in its building which was over on King’s Avenue and that building was – after the opening of this building that building was pulled down so you can see some images of local history before it actually came here in 1968.
I’m not going to talk a lot about the design and construction of the Library ‘cause that is going to be the topic of another talk in supporting this exhibition program. My colleague, Grace Blakely-Carroll, will talk about the architecture of the building another time but we do have some beautiful material in our collection relating to the design by Walter Bain. Just – you’ll notice that the original design featured two additional wings which would be on either side, one on the Patrick White Lawn and the other on the carpark behind us so you could imagine that – you can see that Bain’s original design was to provide room for growth for the Library so these additional annexes could be built. Of course those annexes never were built.
You can see the beautiful – you can see the Oriental Studies Room which is actually the Asian Studies Collection Room which is still in existence today, that’s one of the rooms which has survived and you see beautiful drawings down there. The – another really important feature which Grace will talk about in detail when she gives her talk is the beautiful bespoke furniture so the furniture designer, Fred Ward, used Australian timbers to prepare purpose-built furniture for the Library and some of that’s on display downstairs and when Grace gives her talk she’ll tell you more about that.
I just love this photograph, it’s a Max Dupain photograph of the Reading Room as it was in 1968 and you can see that the major features of the Reading Room are still extant and it is recognisable and you can see that beautiful bespoke furniture on display there.
Other aspects of the building which I think are very worth considering are the beautiful stained glass windows by Leonard French and the Tom Bass relief above the doors as you come in. I think Grace will talk about those when she gets to her talk as well. Such a beautiful slide, just stole it <inaudible> 35:24 so gorgeous and some of that material’s explained down in the exhibition.
So I wanted to finish on a bit more of a positive note because 1968 is quite a bleak and controversial year, there’s a lot happening in the world and much of it is not very happy but I do think the year finished on a very positive note which was the Apollo 8 mission which was part of the NASA program, the NASA program all coming from Kennedy’s original promise that America would put a man on the moon and they had to go through a series of Apollo missions, improving the technology, improving the technology to make that possible. And Apollo 8 which occurred in December 1968 was a very important moment in that technological development or evolution because it was the mission – the first manned mission – and I say manned ‘cause it was manned – where they orbited the moon and this very famous photograph called Earth Rising was taken which when the astronauts had this perspective, which no-one had ever had before, being on the other side of the moon and seeing the earth rise, sort of – that’s a – as a sort of fragile globe in space. And I think that was a very important vision which NASA provided to the world. And they very generously provided that photograph free of charge to the Library so we could display it.
So 1968, the exhibition, lot’s happened, I think it’s a great way of celebrating this 50th birthday of the Library. Thank you.
C: Thank you very much, Guy, for taking us quickly through the events of 1968, those that did the challenge [to end in sky dust as Australians] 37:10. We do have some time for questions this afternoon so if you’d like to pose a question to Guy please put your hand up. We’ve got a microphone so that we can all hear your question and I open it to the floor. Questions, please.
A: Somebody whose birthday came up invalid for national service, what proportion of people or men who were called up didn’t actually serve?
G: To be honest I don’t know what the figures are. I don’t think you inevitably served if your name came up. The Australian forces in Vietnam weren’t that large and quite <inaudible> 37:59 compared to the United States but obviously quite a large number, there you go. But I’m sorry I just don’t know.
A: Probably I meant more what number of people actually agreed to go –
G: Oh I think the vast majority did agree to go but there were some very famous conscientious objectors. I think the most famous is Simon Townsend and yeah, there’s some material about Simon Townsend but quite a number of people went to jail rather than go overseas and they were prisoners of conscience.
A: Or else did their PhDs.
A: Thank you very much for the lecture and the display downstairs was terrific, especially the music. My question is about f<inaudible> 38:49 that happens in 1968, was that primarily demographic? Was it the baby boomers were 18?
G: I must admit I think that that is – the prosperity and the freedom. I think if you’re a teenager in the depression you weren’t thinking about changing the world, you were thinking about surviving but if you were a teenager in world war two you were thinking about the war and I think it’s when you get to the ‘60s that you’ve got a generation of young people who have a good education, they’ve got access to things like motorcars and music and I think that completely changes the way they look at the world.
The world wasn’t just something to be survived, it was something you could have fun, it was a consumer economy, it was a leisure economy so yes, complete change of how you see the world and I think that does really change the character. And there’s other demographic forces which are coming through in Australia, a lot more young people too like so very – there’s a lot of babies born after world war two so you’ve got a demographic bulge as well so a lot of young people with money and time and feeling happy, it’s going to change the world.
A: The short answer to the lady in the front. I was in the first callup that came out that was being done and protracted a university career ‘til 1972 that saved me.
G: So –
A: Beg your pardon?
G: Deferment, you were able to –
A: It’s deferring it <inaudible> 40:34. I’m not sure whether that is <inaudible> or not in respect of the people that went but I know that after the election of Gough Whitlam, the Monday after I received a telegram but you don’t have to come for a medical. I’d been putting it off, I had colds and put it off. The other observation I think is Cole Joye and Johnny O’Keefe were very big and Ryan Henderson and John-Pauls and the radio. I grew up in <inaudible> 41:10 and we listened to 3AW on the wireless, you know? From Melbourne to listen to the DJs at night and this sort of stuff. Anyway it was a fascinating talk, thank you.
G: And no doubt listening to the test series on your crystal radio set as well. The great challenge in doing a show like this is there’s so many things you can look at and I think we’ve got something like 260 odd <inaudible> 41:34 in the exhibition and we could have put another 500 in. And you mentioned Normie Rowe was one of the biggest pop stars and Johnny Farnham and you’re going to hate me for this ‘cause his big hit in ’68 was Sadie, the Cleaning Lady. You’re going to have that in your head for the rest of the day now. So I’m sorry about that but you know there is so much which is happening in 1968 and it is – I think it is a remarkable year because when you think of – these are some of the things which occurred in 1968. Many of them are very memorable and clearly left a very long impression. Thank you.
A: Does Ainsley Gotto get a guernsey?
G: Very good question. We – no, she doesn’t and that was because the amount of space which I spent on Australian politics was quite small and it’s actually one case downstairs. She was working as – she became Gorton’s principal private secretary or effectively chief of staff. Her patents are held by the Library and she is a very significant figure from that period. Her papers when we were researching this exhibition, actually there is a restriction on them. I actually wasn’t allowed to see the papers. The restriction was originally in place until her death, she’s just died a couple of weeks ago but actually not long ago she changed the restriction and she’s given them – she organised for an authorised biography which is being researched and the biographer has first look at those papers and until such time as that biography is finished those papers will remain closed. And when that biography is finished and published then those papers will be open so you know so yes, we didn’t go into Ainsley Gotto and we didn’t go into Ainsley Gotto’s relationship with the Prime Minister, we sort of - we remain mute on that.
A: I wondered what was happening with indigenous affairs in 1968.
G: Yes, of course the big anniversary in terms of indigenous affairs is the previous year with the referendum so there is – there are issues in relation to the – oh the [Garinge] 44:08, there are things which are going in relation to Aboriginal land rights in his campaign but it’s not a major feature of 1968. And using that frame of reference <inaudible> 44:15 what was the indigenous thing that we picked up from ’68? And it tended to be Lionel Rose because he was really quite unique in the fame and fortune that he acquired as an indigenous person. Of course later on there’d be athletes like Yvonne Goolagong but really Lionel Rose was a trailblazer at that time so – we did talk a lot about how would we include indigenous Australia but in a sense we did try and keep to the period of 1968. We’ve crept over a little bit in 1967 and a little bit in 1969 at times but yes, it’s a good question.
C: Thank you very much, Guy. Please thank Guy again.
C: If you haven’t already done so I hope Guy’s inspired you to go down and visit the 1968 Changing Times exhibition downstairs. Should you wish for a deeper exhibition experience our wonderful volunteers provide guided tours of the exhibition at 10:30am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and on the weekend. And this weekend as part of our Enlighten activities here at the Library Guy and <inaudible> 45:32 Grace and we’ll be taking tours of the exhibition at 7pm on Friday and Saturday night. So once again thank you for joining us here at the Library today, we look forward to seeing you again soon. Thank you.
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