“After a massive 250,000 “March of Death” protest in Washington, the New Zealand and Australia peace movements decided to do the same. The first moratorium was held in 1970.”
Impacts on Australia
In Australia, resistance to the war was at first very limited, although the Australian Labor Party (in opposition for most of the period) steadfastly opposed conscription. However, anti-war sentiment escalated rapidly in the late 1960s as more and more Australian soldiers were killed in battle. The introduction of conscription by the Australian Government during the war also enraged some, and groups of people resisted the call to military service (which was punishable by jail time) by burning the letters notifying them of their conscription. Growing public uneasiness about the death toll was fueled by a series of highly-publicised arrests of conscientious objectors, and exacerbated by the shocking revelations of atrocities committed against Vietnamese civilians, leading to a rapid increase in domestic opposition to the war between 1967 and 1970.
On 8 May 1970, moratorium marches were held in major Australian cities to coincide with the marches in the USA. The demonstration in Melbourne, led by member of Parliament, Jim Cairns, had over 100,000 people taking to the streets in Melbourne alone. Across Australia, it was estimated that 200,000 people were involved.
Every evening, television brought the horror of Vietnam into Australian homes. By 1970, the antiwar sentiment had rapidly grown into huge rallies, marches, church services, sit-ins and candlelight processions. These united protest movements represented a great range of opinion from political radicals to people who would not normally protest or challenge the government's actions. The headmaster of a Methodist College in Sydney expressed the depth of the challenge to the government when he encouraged young men to defy National Service