50b6ef161b981012889bb6666f389812.jpgThe Australian moratoriums were organised by representatives of the major anti-war groups in the aftermath of the My Lai massacre coming to light and the defeat of the Labor Party in the 1969 federal election. They met in November 1969 and announced that an Australian moratorium would be held in May the following year. Its aims were twofold: firstly, to force a withdrawal of Australian and other foreign troops from Vietnam and secondly, to repeal the National Service Act 1964.

The moratoriums were a turning point in the anti-war movement in Australia as it was the first time that there would be a nationwide response to Vietnam. Until that point, demonstrations had been independently organised by the various different peace groups, with no central organisation. That was all about to change.
The first Vietnam Moratorium took place on 8 and 9 May 1970 and over 200 000 people across Australia took part. In Melbourne, an estimated 100 000 marched. It was a peaceful demonstration with no arrests made. The second Vietnam Moratorium in September 1970 was smaller, however, more violence occurred. Approximately 50 000 people participated and there were violent incidents between police and demonstrators. Two hundred people were arrested in Sydney alone. The third moratorium in June 1971 closed the centre of many of the major cities. In Melbourne there was another march of nearly 100 000 people. By this time public opinion was beginning to turn decisively against conscription and Australian involvement in the war.

moratoriumvietnamaust.jpgThe strength of the moratorium movement did shock the government. They were surprised at the level of ant-Vietnam and anti-government feeling in the country. They had thought the announcement of the withdrawal of a battalion would be enough to appease the people, but they were wrong. They had only just won the 1969 federal election and they were starting to realise that after more than 20 years in power, they were no longer invincible. The Liberal Party was starting to fall apart.
By the end of the war in 1972 it became obvious that the majority of Australians were anti-conscription. Australians no longer wanted the prestige that supposedly came with fighting wars, and they no longer agreed with the 'Forward Defence' policy of going out and meeting the threat where it was. The graphic nightly news broadcasts of the conflict in Vietnam had increased ordinary Australians' dislike for the war; until they no longer believed they should be fighting or that the war could be won