IN quick succession, Bowditch made known his views on important issues . In an editorial headed NEED FOR UNION UNITY he said for the NT to progress there had to be unity of purpose and action from all sections of the community. This being so, it was disconcerting to see that North Australian Workers’ Union was in the grip of a faction fight. While one group announced its intention to declare black all pearlshell won by cheap indentured labor , the executive had issued statements to the contrary. The NAWU, he wrote, owed it to its members and to the people of the Territory , and to the “great Trade Union movement ” to put its house in order.
Bowditch made the public aware of his stance on what he regarded as an important community matter- freedom of speech . In an editorial headed FREEDOM TO SPEAK he raised the matter of Darwin people being reluctant to air their views publicly. He pointed out that when the paper asked people if Japanese divers should be allowed back to the Territory to revive the pearling industry they had been “ afraid ” to comment and have their names published. This was an unhealthy situation . The editorial recalled that one of the first people elected to the Legislative Council had been a public servant who had been told that he had to resign from his job or refrain from standing as a representative of the people. A copy of this editorial went into the ASIO files.
The editorial drew a letter to the editor from one Bob Steele which said it was high time that all citizens took hold of their liberties and defended themselves against the insidious influences at work in Australia, the country being run from Canberra like a police state. ASIO headquarters received a copy of the letter from its Darwin office with a note which said that since Bowditch took over running the paper he had written or edited articles “ which would appear to support his well-known leftish ideas”. It pointed out that Steele, “ a known communist”, had taken the opportunity to congratulate the editor on his editorial. In adding to the ASIO file on Bowditch , the Victorian regional office of the service in March composed an erroneous entry :
I understand the paper at Darwin now known as " Northern Territory News" was previously known as " Northern Territory Standard" , and was edited by one Douglas Lockwood , brother of Rupert Lockwood. It amazes me to think why the ( Melbourne ) Herald would send Douglas Lockwood to act as their representative in London. I might add that Bowditch and Lockwood were on very friendly terms
The clangers in this statement are : the NT News and the Standard were two different papers; Doug Lockwood edited neither. Rupert Lockwood , Doug’s brother , a Communist, figured in the Petrov Inquiry . Rupert Lockwood was said to have been a Liberal until experiences as a reporter in Europe , especially in the Spanish Civil War , where he saw the mangled bodies of children killed by aerial bombing , turned him to communism. Doug Lockwood definitely was not a communist. It is said the reason why Doug Lockwood went to London was due to a gross error made in the Melbourne Herald’s coverage of the controversial Petrov Inquiry . In referring to the “ communist” Rupert Lockwood, a sub editor supposedly changed the name to Douglas Lockwood. As a result , the Herald acknowledged the mistake and asked Doug Lockwood if there was anything they could do to make amends. Send me to London , was the supposed reply. (The Lockwoods were at the London screening of the Territory movie Jedda, and emerged from the theatre to find snow falling.)
ASIO also reported that Bowditch , in moving to Darwin , had taken his coloured “ de facto” and their child north . ASIO made several mentions of Betty , calling her Beth in one report , and variously described her as “ coloured”, half- caste” and a “ quadroon”. It is difficult to understand the relevance of the fact that ASIO recorded that she had lost a baby in Alice . What comes through clearly in the files kept on Bowditch is that he and many others in the Northern Territory were subjected to Australia’s brand of McCarthyism. Just associating with a person or expressing a democratic view against the government was enough to have you entered in a file . NEXT : Police officer sent to “Siberia” over case involving Bowditch .