Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 7. 1965.
A New Nuttiness — Sydneyside
A New Nuttiness
Campaigning under the banner of the "Boston T Party," Sydney University students introduced a new degree of nuttiness to the New South Wales state elections just passed.
The scheme began when Sydney's Commem. Day (read Capping) co-director Geoff Robertson announced that as polling day fell on the Saturday before Commem. Day a student candidate would be put up as a publicity stunt.
This would achieve wide publicity for Commem, and its charity appeal, he thought, but also would provide an opportunity for voicing genuine student grievances.
The original candidate was Bob Ellis, who undertook to ask his employers, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, for two weeks' leave of absence to stand for Parliament.
However, Richard Walsh became the candidate when Ellis's employers transferred him to Melbourne.
ABC chiefs have denied that the Stale Government put pressure on them to "get Ellis out of New South Wales before the elections."
The Party's first election stand took place at a meeting for Labour candidate Pat Hills, another candidate in Walsh's electorate of Phillip. (On very friendly terms with his electorate, Walsh called it "Pip").
During the speech of the NSW Premier, J. Renshaw, a demonstration took place. A small but courageous group (later referred to by the Deputy Premier as "this band of yahoos on my left") displayed banners reading "What about aborigines?" "No Racial Discrimination," etc.
Richard Walsh's supporters began a low chant of "get left right with Walsh," and a girl dashed for the platform with a sign reading "We want Walsh."
Brilliant repartee then ensued. As Mr. Hills said, "NSW is the best-run State in Australia," the girl let out a shrill shriek of "What about the Aborgines."
A community-minded racialist in the area retorted "By the looks of you, you've been sleeping with one."
Some confusion ensued. "I demand an apology." "The likes of you will get no apology from me." "You didn't ought to say such things to a young lady." "Lady, dirt like 'er?"
The Boston T Party was then conducted from the hall.
Its campaign opened six days later when Its leader and sole candidate addressed a rally in the Wallace Theatre at Sydney University.
After an interview with tv Channel 10 and a brief but pungent press conference, Mr. Walsh arrived, escorted by his personal bodyguards.
His speech was prefaced by an American convention-type extravaganza featuring shimmy dancers and a specially written song.
He bounded onto the stage, removed a streamer from his mouth, extracted a toilet roll from his hip-pocket, and proceeded with his policy speech. He was dressed in a dark suit with a large yellow daisy in his buttonhole, and puffed a revoltingly cheap cigar.
Attacking current political programmes, he announced that he would introduce conscription for the police force. He proposed a programme of decentralisation, moving the Blue Mountains to Sydney, Broken Hill to Kensington, and Sydney University to Hayman Island.
He believed, he told the rally, that the Liberal-Labour candidates in his electorate only wanted to complete the Eastern Suburbs Railway because it ran through their electorate.
"To prove my lack of bias," he announced, "I will build the railway outside my electorate— in Wilcannia."
In order to put the existing railway work to some good use, he would direct Sydney's Tank Stream into the Chalmers Street tunnel—left neglected now for over 20 years—and build a hydro-electric station instead.
"We got a lot of fun out of spoofing some of the 'crucial' issues, and lots of easy publicity for our charity appeal," Bob Thompson of Sydney University told Salient. "The downtown papers gave little attention to the candidate once the elections got really close, though Channel 10 did a good feature on him which seems to have reached a wide audience."
But ignominious defeat faced the heroic campaigner. Amidst state-wide cries of "ballot-box stuffing" John Richard Walsh polled 286 votes to lose the election by nearly 15,000 votes.