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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 4. 22 March 1972

What's O.H.M.S.?

What's O.H.M.S.?

At last compulsory military service has come under the scope of an organisation which is trying to do something constructive. The Organisation to Halt Military Service was recently formed in the university to oppose the whole system of compulsory military service to encourage those eligible not to register to encourage those who have already registered, to send back their cards and notify the Minister of Labour that they will no longer comply with the directions of the department, or to aid those who have been called up, and refuse to undergo military training.

On the 7th March a panel of four, Don Borrie of S.C.M., John McCreary, Sociology professor who was interested as a Conscientious Objector during the last war, Nigel Taylor a lawyer, and Conrad Bollinger who was involved with the 1949 anti-conscription campaign, discussed the whole question of resistance to military training the National Military Service Act repealed. This leads to the obvious question of how this will be done. In the words of Don Borrie—"We must become politicians ourselves, and whip up support from the public. "But how can this be done when the public is as apathetic and inactive as in New Zealand? To this, Geoff Woolferd, one of the organisers, answered that the group would use methods such as guerilla theatre, distribution of pamphlets, petitions, marches if necessary, and try to raise doubt in the minds of the public about the justification of defence expenditure and its importance as compared to health and education spending.

On the point of raising a nationwide petition it would seem that the organisers are hesitant because they are apprehensive that the public may not come forward to sign and therefore it might be a waste of time and effort. What other things does OHMS hope to achieve before it proposed to face the law courts in a test case, which mutt inevitably come if the organisation is to have any relevance at all? Don Borrie would like to see church opinion mobilised throughout the country. Since it is the church that provides the raison d'etre for society, and where else in the country do people congregate every week with the intent of contemplating the moral values of the society in which we live? He would also like the group to be able to win the support of the trade-union movement and the F.O.L. and thus present the authorities with a united front.

So far the group has not properly got off the ground. There has been one fruitiest meeting with the former Minister of defence, Mr Thompson. Or as one of the orgaisers said, "...a complete non response, he didn't respond in the slightest." Not surprisingly the group expects the same sort of response from the new Minister holding the portfolio, Mr McCready. Therefore the group sees the best hope forgetting the act repealed by the Labour Party. Repeal of the act has been part of Labour Party policy since 1966.

At the moment the group can only put any possible objectors and/or fugitives onto lawyers who are willing to help in the field of legal advice. In the future, however, it Is hoped that the group will be able to provide financial, legal and moral support to anyone who eventually comet into conflict with the establishmentarian forces, to that when the person it on trial he will know that he is not forgotten, nor without allies.

The following months will see the shaping of the organisation as a coherent and forceful body which hopes to get the act repealed and make the whole matter an election issue. Should you with to help or obtain help from the organisation then ring 51-542 and ask for either Ken Howell or Anna Smith, or alternately go to the S.C.M. cabin, which is perched on the hill in front of Rankine Brown.