The C.M.F. Occupation and Quang Incident

The C.M.F. Occupation and the Quang Incident occurred on the University of Queensland campus just two days apart during the first week of September 1970. These events (taking place on Wednesday 2nd and Friday 4th) were important chapters, even pivotal events, in the unfolding (radical) history of those times.

As in most old "brownstone" universities in Australia, the C.M.F. (Citizens Military Forces, or Army Reserve) had a recruitment and training facility on the edge of the UQ campus, called the University Regiment.

The decision to occupy the C.M.F. building was made in a closed RSSA meeting held in the J. D. Story Room. The proposed action was not widely publicised beforehand for fear that the occupation might be pre-empted by an informant, or leak of some kind. In other words, the tactical consideration was for quick-strike action so the element of surprise would be in the occupier's favour.

It was largely coordinated by word of mouth. Students in "the refec" (student cafeteria) recall Dick Shearman racing in and announcing that they were going to occupy the C.M.F. compound. Presumably this was part of a last-minute sweep around campus to swell their numbers with as many supporters as possible. While this is regarded as the only public announcement of the intention to occupy, occurring shortly before the event took place, it is of significance that members of R.O.C. (Revitalisation of Christianity), a radical Christian group based on the campus, were also involved.

Luic Tuong Quang was a First Secretary from the Embassy of South Vietnam in Canberra, during the time of the Vietnam War. Opposition to Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War, and recognition of South Vietnam as a nation state, peaked in 1970, with two national Moratorium protest-weeks occurring in May and September of that year.

Pro-War student groups (such as the Democratic Club, ie the DLP Club) invited First Secretary Quang to speak on the UQ campus in September 1970. Unsurprisingly, the visit was met by strong resistance from the far larger number of students and student organisations that opposed our country's involvement in the Vietnam War.

The first document presented below is an extract taken from a well-researched history written by Jon Piccini (published in Crossroads in 2011). The other two documents are transcripts of articles published in Semper Floreat (student newspaper) in 1970. The first is a full report of both incidents by Bruce Dickson and Davin Frankin. In the second, Dan O'Neill looks at the implications of the events and argues to what extent the actions were defensible when seen in a proper context.

An extract from "Up the New Channels" by Jon Piccini (28KB)

Full report published in Semper Floreat (84KB)

The University Co-ordinating Committee by Dan O'Neill (60KB)