FORMER Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen brokered secret deals with police in the lead up to the controversial Springboks tour of Brisbane more than 40 years ago, according to a new book.
Fearing riots and public violence, Bjelke-Petersen told the powerful Queensland Police Union that officers would “not be penalised for any action they take to suppress” the demonstrators during the tour in July 1971.
Then Police Commissioner Ray Whitrod attended the Sydney match between the Springboks and NSW a few days earlier and saw demonstrators hurling smoke bombs, fireworks, fruit, beer cans and balloons onto the playing field. About 100 people were arrested, raising concerns the same mayhem would descend on the Sunshine State.
I was recently back from Vietnam when they played on 31 July 1971 at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground, Brisbane, defeating us 14-6. As the players were just that, rugby players and not politicians, I had no problems with the tour other than they beat us. Joh and Ray Whitrod did what they should have done- protected the citizens of Brisbane and our sporting visitors.
I did however have a problem with rioting anarchist leaders of the anti apartheid demonstrations.
From Solidarity Online
The mostly white student left, Aboriginal activists and the union movement united to make the Springboks unwelcome and to disrupt the games as best they could, given the massive police mobilisation by State Liberal governments. Henry Bolte, the Victorian Liberal Premier, declared the protests a “rebellion against constituted authority”.
Fairly easy to organize- just redirect the anti Vietnam War pro-communist mob to anti South African sporting teams for a month odd and use the same anarchist tenets. Get the anti then Liberal government unions to close down society with strikes everywhere and anarchy rules.
At first, there were only very small committees organising in the early and mid-1960s against Apartheid in sport. After the struggle against the Vietnam War took off, racism in Australia began to be more seriously challenged.
Solidarity – commo bastards – they stand for everything I stand against. It wasn’t racism they were seriously challenging – it was our liberal democracy they really hated.