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From the Archives: Minister uses bat to ward off gang

“What we wanted to do at Bellevue Hill was give a list of the 182 to the Attorney-General, but he slammed the door in our faces. So we stuck the list on the door. We also stuck some Moratorium stickers on the door.”

Slogans scrawled across the exterior of the Bellevue Hill home of Mr Hughes.

Slogans scrawled across the exterior of the Bellevue Hill home of Mr Hughes.Credit:Staff photographer

Mr Hughes said he was worried about his two young sons during the demonstration.

Asked whether he had “gone to work on the demonstrators” with his cricket bat, Mr Hughes replied: “I had one, yes.” Mrs Hughes said the Moratorium stickers on the front door “didn’t look too bad. We might leave them there.” Police took possession or several posters mentioning the union, the war in Vietnam and National Service registration. After the demonstration, Mr Hughes relaxed by throwing a football around with his son Tom.

Mr Hughes refused to say whether he would give evidence against the charged men if they pleaded not guilty. At the height of the demonstration, friends said, Mrs Hughes had phoned from the airport, learned what was happening, and rushed back to the house. Almost weeping she had phoned her uncle, the poet R. D. Fitzgerald, who is a sponsor of the Moratorium campaign.

“Are you going to let your kids terrify my children?” the upset Mrs Hughes asked. “I ask you to try to stop it. Whatever differences in politics there are, children should not be terrorised and homes should not be invaded.”

Aftermath ... Mr Hughes with son, Tom and daughter, Lucinda (a future Lord Mayor of Sydney) after the incident.

Aftermath … Mr Hughes with son, Tom and daughter, Lucinda (a future Lord Mayor of Sydney) after the incident.Credit:Vic Sumner

Mr Fitzgerald said last night: “I don’t feel that this will do the cause of the Moratorium any good. I have very little influence, but such as I have will certainly be exerted against this sort of thing for the sake of the Moratorium itself. I’m terribly regretful of the upset caused to Mr Hughes and his family.”

Sixty-five people attended the anti-conscription conference, organised by the Victorian Draft Resisters’ Union. They decided to establish a Draft Resisters’ Union in Sydney, and claimed an initial membership of about 50.

The Victorian union has 110 members and supports conscription advice centre

s in the State. It was learned last night that another Federal Minister’s wife, Mrs Susan Peacock, was distressed by threatening phone calls last Friday. Her husband, the Minister for the Army, was in Canberra and had planned to stay the night. But he called police and asked them to guard the Melbourne house and flew back immediately when he heard of the calls.

When Mrs Peacock answered the phone the first time she heard only heavy breathing. The second time a man’s voice said: “We know your husband is in Canberra. Watch out for yourself.” The third time a man’s voice gave the same message, and Mrs Peacock hung up and then phoned her husband in Canberra.

Handy with a bat ... Mr Hughes, shows his style in a Parliamentarians vs Press Gallery match later in the year.

Handy with a bat … Mr Hughes, shows his style in a Parliamentarians vs Press Gallery match later in the year.Credit:Staff photographer

The Premier, Mr Askin, said last night: “Today’s deplorable occurrences at the home of the Federal Attorney-General make the State Government firmer than ever in its resolve to proceed with the Summary Offences Bill, which will provide much higher penalties for offences of this kind.”

On December 10th, 1970, charges against the seven young men accused of trespassing on the property of Mr Hughes, were dismissed after it was not established that the Bellevue Hill property was enclosed in accordance with the Enclosed Lands Act. A further charge of assault against Mr Hughes himself was dropped the following month.

Hughes received a number of expressions of support, including one from Jack Fingleton, a former opening batsman for Australia who said: ‘Footwork magnificent – cannot be faulted. Grip with bat just a little suspect. Perhaps hands should have been closer together although gap is permissible if stroke is improvised’.

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