Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sir William Walkley, Ampol and the New England New State Movement

I was doing some research on the Walkley Awards. Named after Sir William Walkley, the Walkleys are Australia's top journalism awards. This reminded me of a New England linkage and a possible explanation to something that has always puzzled me.

Born in New Zealand, Sir William founded what would become Ampol Petroleum. Now how does this link to New England and our fight for self government?

In 1961, the New England New State Movement launched Operation Seventh State, a major fund raising campaign to support a new self government drive. I acted as an usher at the launch, wearing my first ever suit borrowed from my Uncle Jim.

Our target was to raise 100,000 pounds, a very large sum in those days. We were successful, leading to a very major campaign culminating in the 1967 self government vote.

As part of the campaign, the Movement decided to mount a major car drive on Sydney. The aim was to flood Sydney with thousands of demonstrators in the domain matched by press advertising. Because it was a car drive, the decision was also taken to swamp parking spots around the Domain even though this would incur fines.

The drive was organised with military precision by a team headed by General MacDonald from Wallabadah Station as marshall. This was my second New State demonstration - I organised the first at the request of ABC Four Corners to provide them with some TV footage - and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But that's another story.

So what's the linkage with Ampol? While we were asked not to talk about it, and no-one did, Ampol provided free petrol. As I remember it, the company also offered to pay the parking fines.

The thing that has puzzled me? The Australian Soccer Federation acted to separate New England from NSW, creating a Northern NSW State League. I never knew how this happened. Now that I have read Sir William's ADB entry and learned of his connection with soccer, I suspect that I have the answer.


Mezza said...

1957 In January, a group of dissatisfied officials and players met at the home of Hakoah official Walter Steinberg. There had been growing discontent amongst NSW migrant clubs with the way in which the NSW Association ignored the promotion issue, the style of leadership of some of the officials of the amateur association and perceptions that they were discriminated against on the part of migrant clubs and their memberships.

A rebel administration was set up and a new competition formed. It was called the NSW Federation of Soccer Clubs. The Federation and the Association were to be at loggerheads for several years.

These days Jim, it is no longer known as soccer in Australia and it would be good if you called it the correct and proper name, which is football. The word "soccer" being the shortened form of "Football Assoc" and "Soccer" the word forming from this original English terminology.

Jim Belshaw said...

Oh dear, Mezza. I am a Rugby Union follower. You are asking me to me to put my sporting prejudices aside!

More seriously, I was quite fascinated by your post. Can you give me more information? How does this fit with my musings on the creation of the role of Walklely and the creation of the NNSW Federation? After your comment, I went to do some further searching on-line but found little useful.