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Australian Visit (1967)

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clip Saturday in Sydney education content clip 2, 3

Original classification rating: G. This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

Air Vice-Marshall Ky and Mme Ky finish their Brisbane visit, and the following day travel to Sydney.

Curator’s notes

The South Vietnamese visitors finished their Brisbane stay and the next day, Saturday 21 January 1967, flew to Sydney. They were met at Kingsford Smith Airport by New South Wales Premier, Robert Askin. As a result of the anti-Vietnam War demonstration in Brisbane the day before, where arrests had been made, more than 300 police were present at the airport. The crowd awaiting the arrival at the airport was however made up mainly of supporters, whom the Kys were relieved to see. Most members of the anti-Vietnam War movement in Sydney that day were attending a demonstration organised by the Vietnam Action Committee. A crowd of up to 10,000 people rallied under the Harbour Bridge at Milson’s Point, where they were addressed by Arthur Calwell. A large number (the narration in this clip refers to it as 3,000, whereas the Vietnam Action Committee recorded it as over 5,000) then marched to Kirribilli House, the Prime Minister’s Sydney residence. Shots of the rally are conspicuously absent from this clip. Rather the footage follows the touring party around Sydney, as its route is altered to avoid the demonstration.

The footage skilfully presents Ky and his wife in a glamorous light, framing them like film stars at the top of the stairs into the plane. The motorcade is dwelt on at length and nicely shot for maximum impact.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This black-and-white clip with commentary shows scenes from the visit of South Vietnamese Premier Air Vice-Marshall Ky to Australia in January 1967. A scene of Ky’s wife inside a car, being greeted by well-wishers in Brisbane, is followed by footage showing her and her husband leaving Brisbane Airport and later arriving in Sydney. At Sydney Airport they are welcomed by New South Wales Premier Robert Askin, before greeting supporters. Scenes of their motorcade, accompanied by music, provide glimpses of supporters with placards lining the streets.

Educational value points

  • This clip, which is from an ABC news report, portrays the Kys’ visit in a positive light by using footage that focuses on the glamour of the couple and shows their friendly interaction with Vietnam War supporters. The upbeat music accompanying the motorcade footage adds to the celebratory tone.
  • Anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, which were timed to coincide with Ky’s visit, are referred to in the voice-over, although no footage of them is shown. Opposition to the War had been steadily growing since 1966, when Holt announced that Australia’s contribution would be trebled to a force of 4,500 men, including conscripted national servicemen. Leading members of the Opposition Labor Party frequently addressed the anti-War rallies, including the one referred to in this clip.
  • Although the clip could be described as an effective public relations exercise, the scenes of the motorcade show the high level of security that was put in place for the visit, and this – together with the narrator’s comments about the number of police, the speed of the official cars and the enforced change of route – reflects the government’s concern that demonstrators might disrupt the visit.
  • Premier Ky’s visit to Australia, on the invitation of Prime Minister Harold Holt, took place during the Vietnam War (1962–75). Australia had entered the War against communist North Vietnam in 1962, in support of the South Vietnamese Government and its ally, the USA. The predicted 'domino effect’ throughout South-East Asia if one country fell to communism, and the consequent threat to Australia’s national security, had been used effectively by Prime Minister Robert Menzies to justify Australia’s involvement in this civil war.
  • The clip illustrates the role played by the media in influencing public opinion about the Vietnam War. Footage of atrocities in Vietnam and of the tens of thousands of people protesting against the War, both in Australia and in the USA, had already appeared on Australian television. The footage in this clip provided another perspective on Australia’s involvement, and allowed Australians to see the leader of the country that Australian soldiers were fighting to support.
  • Nguyen Cao Ky (1930–) became Premier of the Republic of Vietnam in 1965. He visited Australia and other nations to gather support for South Vietnam’s position as a sovereign nation, and to secure military assistance for the fight against the communist forces of North Vietnam. In September 1967 he was elected Vice-President. He retired from politics in 1971 and later settled in the USA. In 2004 he became the first South Vietnamese leader to visit Vietnam since the War.

A scene of Ky’s wife inside a car, being greeted by well-wishers in Brisbane, is followed by footage showing her and her husband leaving Brisbane Airport.
ABC announcer (voice-over) During the day crowds were friendly outside the Red Cross headquarters and Lennons Hotel as Mme Ky arrived and departed. But by the time her husband arrived back from Canungra, the crowds had built up to almost 2,000, including many anti-Vietnam demonstrators. Fights broke out between the rival factions and 14 people were arrested. However, all this was forgotten by the next day as the visitors left for Sydney. The second Air Vietnam plane carrying many of the official party followed the RAAF Viscount carrying the Prime Minister.

SYDNEY – Saturday
At Sydney Airport they are welcomed by New South Wales Premier Robert Askin, before greeting supporters. Scenes of their motorcade, accompanied by music, provide glimpses of supporters with placards lining the streets.
ABC announcer (voice-over) At Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport more than 300 police outnumbered the welcoming crowd. The Premier of New South Wales, Mr Askin, escorted Mme Ky as she went with her husband towards the safety fence. The cheers and applause from the crowd had prompted the South Vietnamese leader once again to brush aside his security men and go to speak to the people.

Sydney, with a population of two-and-a-quarter million, is the largest city in Australia but few residents on this Saturday afternoon had an opportunity of seeing the visitors at close range. The motorcade carrying them to Kirribilli House travelled to and through the city at speeds up to 50 miles an hour. Small groups of people dotted the route and, at one of the city’s busiest intersections, several hundred people lined the road, most carrying posters in support of the distinguished visitor. A carload of police and security men headed the procession with Air Vice-Marshall Ky’s limousine and other official cars flanked by a line of police motorcycles. The temperature at this time was in the high 80s and it was stifling in the airless city streets.

Officials made a last-minute change in the route to avoid more than 3,000 demonstrators near Kirribilli House. Instead of driving across the Harbour Bridge, the party was taken down to Circular Quay. The organisers of the procession had decided that Air Vice-Marshall Ky and Mme Ky should cross Sydney Harbour by boat.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described here and elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions. ALL rights are reserved.

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When you access ABC materials on australianscreen you agree that:

  1. You may download this clip to assist your information, criticism and review purposes in conjunction with viewing this website only;
  2. Downloading this clip for purposes other than criticism and review is Prohibited;
  3. Downloading for purposes other than non-commercial educational uses is Prohibited;
  4. Downloading this clip in association with any commercial purpose is Prohibited;

The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

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