1971 Springbok tour – A time to fight
The 1971 South African Springbok Rugby tour of Australia was the most controversial of all Australian involvement in ending the reign of Apartheid in South Africa. The six week tour of an all white South African team was dogged by protests where ever the team traveled. After a protest by more than 5,000 the Test Match in Melbourne was cancelled, while games in Sydney were played behind 2m chain wire fences.
But it was in Queensland where the issue escalated and then Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen issued a month long state of emergency. Joh was a supporter of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, but people took to the streets on mass to show their support for an end to Apartheid.
PETER BEATTIE, FORMER QUEENSLAND PREMIER: It was one of the reasons why I ended up in politics, so there you go. (Laughs) It really, sort of… Well, I’d always had an interest in politics. This really politicised my view that this was just wrong.
WAYNE GOSS, FORMER QUEENSLAND PREMIER: For us, racism was objectionable. And the Government taking a pro-apartheid position – which is what we felt they were doing – and on top of that, using the police deliberately, quite deliberately, to have a confrontation, I think, made us very angry.
Protesting in Queensland in the 1960’s & 70’s for civil and political rights here and abroad was always going to lead to a conflict with police. But that didn’t deter thousands of Queenslanders taking to the streets.