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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 17. July 23, 1968

Rex Benson: Sydney letter

page 5

Rex Benson: Sydney letter

• A word of warning to those contrmplating trans-Tasman transit: If you happen to be sporting a duffle coal and beard, or any other article of colthing that sets you off as a typical university scungy, be prepared for a cool reception on arrival. The might of Australian Customs descended on me at Kingsford-Smith airport, searched my luggage thoroughly, examined books with dubious interest, fingered articles of clothing, and generally treated me as a pretty shady character One of the officials muttered the word 'marijuana' under his breath, thereby indicating a blitz on the importation of noxious and innocuous drug I don't know why they were bothering, as acid and pot can be obtained with ease from many sources in the city.

• The normally amiable relationship between protesting students and the Police took a hammering recently when a policeman died of a heart attack during a demonstration. Many irate citizens wrote irate and ungrammatical letters to the local rags, protesting at 'student hooliganism: the murder of a policeman doing his duty, and so forth. They behaved, in fact, just like the reasonable Fascists most of them seem to be. Student leaders immediately predicted that future protests would he used by the Police for purposes of retaliation. Their fears were realized when Prime Minister Gorton was met by a haggle of hecklers a few days ago. A squad of minions charged at them (first removing identification numbers) and proceeded to lay about with considerable force and abandon. Over twenty students were arrested and others carted off to hospital. I look forward with anticipation to the next round in the continuing battle.

A favourite venue for Sunday afternoon entertainment is the Domain, where speakers gather to exhort the population on a variety of topics. There's a character called Webster who draws crowds of up to a thousand. He is supposed to be an entertainer, and the mentality of the Australian public can be gauged by the numbers who gather to listen to his ramblings. What he has to say is negligible, as is the content of the newspaper that he publishes and hawks off to the more gullible in the Sunday audience. The best speaker on the Domain, and the one who has the best things to say (natch), is former Vic activist and anarchist Bill Dwyer. Older hands who remember his anti-Exec tirades of 1962 will be pleased (or otherwise) to hear that his powers of oratory are as good as ever. Up to 300 supporters and opponents gather to hear Bill attack the State, the Church, the Police, the Vietnam War, Australia ("the most depraved country in the world"), current injustices, and anything else that takes his fancy. He has a psychedelic pad in Oxford St. where anarchists, fellow-travellers, bohemians and bums gather for conviviality and raves. Bill was beaten up by the cops some two months back, and is appealing on a trumped-up charge of obscene language, but otherwise his relations with the Law are as poisonous as ever.

• There's a lot of talk in the air about helping the aborigines, especially among the do-gooders in the student population. At a recent meeting of the Free University (a terraced house in Redfern) a group of keen types gathered to plan a further stage in their Up the Abos campaign. One remark, casually dropped into the conversation, really bowled me over. A speaker facetiously suggested that they set up boomerang factories as part of their activity, and one young woman replied that this wouldn't help the aborigines very much, as the only people she knew who made boomerangs were Australians. An unconscious slip, perhaps, but clearly indicative of some brand or other of sell-deceptive doublethink.

• People glimpsed: Kuku Kaa, Steve Freed, Tony Lush, Peter O'Brien, Murray Rowlands, Dave Tossman and Nigel Roberts Dwyer and John Murphy form the nucleus of an expatriate anarchist group, and Tim Elloit and Martyn Sanderson are to be found in the loftier realms of theatre.

• Film-going is outrageously expensive, but has not deterred me from seeing Stanley Kubrick's dazzling achievement. 2001: A Space Odyssey, shortly opening in N.Z. I believe, This is Kubrick's finest film, from the point of view of both technique and content. The colour Cinerama is at least as good as that in Grand Prix, and the simulations of space and space travel are unrivalled. Some may question the enigmatic nature of the theme. with us implications of metaphysics and Einstein, but I think that definite knowledge of what Kubrick and Arthur C. Ctarke were 'getting at' would in no way contribute to one's enjoyment and appreciation of the film, 2001 is not popular with the intellectuals over here, and even the film addicts seem to he anti-Kubrick, to say nothing of being anti-Frankenheimer. A queer place, but I suppose there are compensations. At least Tne Graduate and No Way to Treat A Lady can still be seen, and one can always avoid the grumblings of the pedants. In a few days I will be seeing Vittoria de Sica's classic Bicycle Thieves, so my jaundiced assumptions about neo-realism will be put to the test More of that another time.

Photograph of a group of students