A talk presented at a meeting of the 17 Group on Wednesday 8th May 2013 in West End, Brisbane.
The speaker, Peter Cross, covered aspects of the radical student-worker alliance in Brisbane during the late 1960s and discussed the role of Communist TLC secretary, Alex Macdonald, in the events of those years.
The speaker's introduction to the talk he delivered:
The late 1960s were a time of protest in Queensland. Issues such as Australia’s involvement in Vietnam politicised large sections of the population. A fascinating aspect of this period was how the trade union movement and the student movement began to co-operate during this time. This alliance was certainly not an inevitable one, as Trades Hall was generally suspicious of youth and of the New Left ideas which permeated student protest groups.
My talk examines how important Alexander Macdonald’s role was in building links between the Trades Hall and the student movement. In particular, I want to focus on how important his support of the Foco Club was. Based largely on oral recollections of students and CPA members of the time (most notably Alan Anderson) I argue that Macdonald’s support was vital to the success of Foco and to student/union engagement more generally. I also examine to what extent Macdonald’s actions can be understood by the allegiance to the CPA.
Click to read a paper by Peter Cross entitled: 1966-1969: Alexander Macdonald and Student-Union Solidarity
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During a late night sitting of Federal parliament on September 12, 1968, MHR Don Cameron, Liberal backbencher for Griffith, delivered a speech attacking the Foco club. Cameron’s claims provoked a media storm that immediately followed.
The following day’s Courier-Mail gave in depth coverage of the speech, under the raging headline "Drugs, women claim on Foco". The article reported Cameron saying that "Marihuana and Methedrine are procurable for the asking" at Foco.
He added that its "communist or almost-communist" leadership could "arrange a young woman for a whole night in a matter of seconds" for a standard asking price of $10. Cameron went on to proclaim that Foco was "Australia's most evil and repugnant nightspot" (Courier-Mail, September 13th., 1968).
The FOCO collective responded to the attack in their next newsletter. Click here to read the response. (92KB)
The Last Joint Effort - a tribute to FOCO (15KB)