In March 1968, at 18 years-old, I had my first letter to the editor published
SIR, – To call Australia a democracy is sheer nonsense. The court martial of national serviceman Denis O’Donnell highlights the roots of hypocrisy and the incongruity of democracy in Australia today.
One of the most fundamental dictates of democracy is the right to dissent, and if this is taken away, then we surrender our right to call ourselves democratic.
This is our cause in Vietnam (or so the Government has it_- against the Communists who deny individual freedoms and the rights of conscience. But where does Australia stand?
May the Government realise that its action of imprisoning O’Donnell flouts the essence of democratic principle, and only by acknowledging the right to dissent (where pacifist or not), the Government may then be justified in proclaiming this country as a democracy.