Soapbox Speakers

Speakers’ Corner news for Sunday, 4th October

In News From Speakers' Corner. on October 4, 2015 at 8:30 pm
  1. It was a hot, unpleasant day and there were few passers-by about.  Steve and Helmut didn’t turn up either. We still managed to fill half the chairs, for most of the day, but it was a poor day. Still enjoyable.

2. In today’s rant, Peter pointed out how simplistic the politicians are when they speak about the causes of domestic violence. Click here to hear him speak.


3. For past posts, go to the archives.

Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade.

“The last Socialist Party of Great Britain speaker in the Sydney Domain.”

JIM THORBURN (James Alexander Thorburn  1924-2015) was a member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB). He spoke in Hyde Park, London, where the Party had become an institution. He spoke all over the UK, including Glasgow’s Mall and Birmingham’s Bull Pit.

Jim was a coppersmith (Ship’s Plumber), a trade he learnt in Glasgow’s booming shipyards. He emigrated to New Zealand in the 1950’s. In 1955 he planned to work his way back to the U.K, and his first stop was Sydney, Australia.

He arrived in Sydney on a Wednesday, and on the first Sunday headed for the Domain Speakers’ Corner. Jim was attracted to Frank Barnes’ Rationalist Platform. Jim was a Rationalist himself, but persisted in questioning Barnes on matters of politics. In desperation, Frank Barnes allowed him to speak from his platform. Generally this tactic puts people off speaking, but not Jim. It took Frank Barnes a while before he finally claimed his platform back. Jim thanked him for the use of the platform and they parted friends.

When he got down from the platform, a man came up to him immediately and asked him if he were a member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. The Party had a reputation for producing great speakers.

The next week, Jim and a New Zealand friend, Doug Brown,  went down to the Domain again. When they got there, three elderly men approached them. They had been members of the SPGB in England. One of them had made a folding platform for him.

Jim began to speak from the viewpoint of the SPGB. He continued to speak from his platform on a wide range subjects, always from the stand point of a socialist, until 1965. He was the last of the SPGB to speak on the Sydney Domain.

Jim abandoned his plans to move back to the UK. He had fallen in love with Sydney, its harbour, its fine weather, and with a lass called Hilda.

According to a letter from Dave Jones: “Jim ran the Pocket Bookshop from 1959 to 1979 with his wife, Hilda. His knowledge of history and philosophy – not to mention politics – meant he was able to recommend other titles even if the one requested was not in stock. Many students and scholars became loyal customers and would enjoy their conversations with Jim in the basement at Pitt Street or later in King Street, Sydney. Jim’s Scottish voice could be heard in many an erudite discourse.
 His stance against censorship meant he continued to sell the banned novel Portnoy’s Complaint and this led to a number of summons, yet the bold Jim personally took a copy along to the relevant state minister and debated the issue on numerous television interviews and, you know, banning a book is always good for sales!”

On retiring, Jim became President of Sydney U3A ( University of the Third Age), actively lecturing and reading history, especially Pacific history. He passed way in January 2015.

For more episodes of Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade click here. 

The speakers and hecklers!

In Speakers and hecklers. on March 8, 2015 at 11:51 pm

“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” 
Gerry Spence.

Some people say the speakers at Speakers’ Corner are a little eccentric. There might be a skerrick of merit in that point of view. Whatever the case, they’re an entertaining bunch.
Click here to see their 2014 highlights.
Click here to see their 2013 highlights.

The Speakers and Hecklers.

Steve Maxwell, historian and political commentator.

Steve Maxwell In various personas, but always engaging, Steve talks about Australian history and politics. Click here for highlights. To see more videos of Steve, go to the archives site. From his book, ‘Soapbox Oratory‘ Steve writes: ‘In a modern city, there must be a place where strangers can meet and discuss the issues of the day without fear of persecution; where the right to retain one’s individuality is allowed.

Helmut Cerncic, metaphysicist.

Helmut 4

Helmut once beat Arnold Schwartzenegger in a body building contest. He knows a lot about metaphysics, (more than Arnold Schwartzenegger), and is happy to explain why Isaac Newton was an ignoramus. But his battles with hecklers are fun. Here are some highlights. For more videos of Helmut, go to the archives site and to his own site, ‘Is Science the New Religion?’.

Peter, Commentator.

Peter - best

During the week Peter teaches students, and if he teaches them with the same verve he has for the Sunday passers-by, they are lucky students indeed. Click here for a few highlights. For more videos of Peter, go to the archives site.

Mirko Terzic, 21st Century inventor.


Mirko has created a phonetic alphabet to be used world-wide, and it’s better than Esperento. He has solved the problem of perpetual motion and has diagrams explaining how to get free unlimited energy from hydropower. Mirko knows how to think outside the square. Here are a few highlights of Mirko. For more videos of Mirko go to the archives site.

Ray, Christian.

Ray is concerned about your soul.

 Ray is passionate about spreading the word of God. He takes the task seriously but isn’t confronting. He is a gentle man willing to answer your questions. Here are a few highlights. For more videos of Ray, go to the archives site.

Mr Bashful, epiphany specialist.

Mr B 2

Mr Bashful, the epiphany specialist.

Mr Bashful calls his listeners his ‘grasshoppers’. (“You have much to learn, Grasshopper.”) Among other things, Mr Bashful talks about New Age scams,  happiness myths, and why we should burn the Mona Lisa. One thing he isn’t, is bashful.

Tony, atheist. (Speaker and  heckler)

Tony New-Zealander Tony is a fervent atheist and scathing of the Catholic Church. When he is not berating Christianity he is either sinking the boot into other religions, or supporting Palestine. In this video Tony expresses a few of his well considered opinions. For more videos of Tony click here.

Scott, heretic. (Occasional speaker)


Scott is a young man adept at independent thinking. Calm, thoughtful and considered, Scott takes commonly held views and turns them upside down – not for the sake of it, but because he seeks the truth.  Here are a few examples. For more videos of Scott go to the archives site.

Mitch: “All is consciousness” (Occasional speaker)

Mitch 2

Mitch claims everything is consciousness – even rocks and atoms. Mitch’s theory answers questions posed by Eastern religions, it resolves divine paradoxes, it addresses the mind/body problem and the free will problem, and it answers other philosophical dead-ends. Even acknowledging that everything is consciousness is a step towards Buddhist enlightenment, says Mitch, because we experience a different reality. For a glimpse of his theory click here. For a more detailed explanation go to the archives site.

 Jovo (occasional speaker)


 Jovo is a charismatic man, which may explain why he is also known as ‘Rasputin’ and ‘The Wild Man of Serbia’. Throughout the world he is envied by monks, yogis and gurus for his ability to tap into a stream of consciousness and verbalise it. 


Heckler highlights – 2013

Is it any wonder the speakers are a touch testy sometimes, with hecklers like these guys? Click here to see the heckler highlights for 2013.

Andrew, the exhibitionist. (Heckler.)

If you have any questions to ask of a flasher, Andrew is the guy to ask.

If you have any questions to ask of a flasher, Andrew is the guy to ask.

 Andrew used to be a speaker – he used to be the only flasher in the world prepared to stand up and talk about flashing, and support it. There are four entertaining videos of Andrew speaking.  Here is just one. For more videos of Andrew, go to the archives site. His award winning book about exhibitionism (flashing) is available on Amazon.

Arthur (Heckler)

 Arthur 1

Arthur is not what you call the shy type, and is generous with his opinion. I caught him searching for disciples.

David (heckler).

David is dead against any view supporting the existence of ghosts, telepathy, UFO’s, psychics, and any other new-age rubbish you might try to foist upon him, but when it comes to religion he is fervently agnostic. He leaves no stone unturned in his search for the truth.

John (Placid heckler.)

John is always gentle when debating his views.

John is always gentle when debating his views.

Philosopher, skeptic, atheist, and all around good guy, John makes his way to Speakers’ Corner just often enough to get a mention here.

Jack (Quiet observer)


“The old grey owl sat on an oak. The more he heard, the less he spoke. The less he spoke, the more he heard. Now, wasn’t he a wise old bird?”

Click here to hear a few words from Jack.

Kevin (visitor)

Kevin Kevin speaks out against forced medication with psychotropic drugs.



This column is for you, the passer-by!

In For the passers-by. on March 2, 2015 at 11:50 pm

At Speakers’ Corner all passers-by are invited to step up onto The Ladder of Knowledge and speak, and become a part of Speaker Corner history. The brave souls who take the opportunity are a diverse lot, and enrich Speakers’ Corner considerably. 

How about you? Will you stand on The Ladder of Knowledge and tell us what you think?

Click here to see the 2014 passers-by and heckler highlights and full videos.
Click here to see the 2013 passers-by highlights and full videos.
Click here to see the 2013 heckler highlights.
Click here to see the 2012 passers-by highlights and full videos.

2015 passers-by.



Nikola dropped by and spoke with feeling, compassion and insight. Click here.



Deluxe is homeless by choice. He believes there are plenty of facilities to look after the homeless. The real problem is the decisions people make. Click here.

Deluxe also explains why the minimum wage should not be lowered. His ideas would also apply to the proposed reduction of penalty rates. Click here.



This young fellow gave an exciting recitation of a Jeanne Willis poem. We only filmed the last of it, unfortunately. Click here.


Donny Dodd

Aboriginal ex-speaker Donny returned to Speakers’ Corner. He was asked if Adam Goodes’ war dance was legitimate. Click here.


Catriona 1

This remarkable woman is raising her kids to respect our indigenous people and become helpful, responsible and compassionate human beings. All three children run a charity. Click here for the video.
Indigo: ‘Indigo Express
Saxon: ‘Kids in Philanthropy
Hunter: ‘Foundation for Young Australians



Dr Karen has studied the coal and gas industry for thirty years, and she has a warning for us all. Click here.



This fellow is gravely concerned about the big influx of immigrants into Europe. Click here.


Phil 2

Phil turned up with a few mates and debated Norm on the subject of capital punishment. Click here.


Dave Allen

Dave talks about the doubling of our trillion dollar debt. Click here to hear him speak.


Taylor 1

Taylor didn’t like the way the atheists and the believers were treating each other, and he had the courage to stand up and say so. Click here.


Philip had a good word to say about refugees. Click here.
Here is his link to ‘Music for Refugees‘.



On his website Doug lists 22 incidents in which we were all nearly annihilated in nuclear war. Here are a few words on the subject. For more information try his website:


Albert 2

Albert gives an example of why he doesn’t like the way some cultures impinge on others. He received an aggressive response for his trouble. Click here.
Albert has written a book, Civilisation Hijacked.



In normal circumstances some people have no trouble expressing their views, but when you point a camera at them . . . .   Poor Zoe.



Zoe’s friend, Delia, had the same awkward trouble finding something to speak about. Here is her effort.



Albert Morris has written a book, Civilisation Hijacked, in which he addresses questions like ‘Why do good people do bad things?‘  Click here to hear him speak.

Albert spoke twice. In this video he speaks about collective consciousness.



Annette lets her feelings about war be known. Click here.


Doug reminds us that at any moment we could all experience total annihilation in a nuclear war. He has a website,



It’s good to see that people still care about Australian politics. Click here to discover what Brian says.



This perceptive man praised highly the humble Mr B.



Jacob dropped by to talk about transsexuality.  Click here.



Ingrid tried to talk about women’s rights, but had to suffer an interminable question from Andrew Toth. Nevertheless, she did manage to make some sense. Click here.


Victoria 1

Lawyer Victoria talks about the difficulty of maintaining a work/life balance. Click here.


Norm 1

Two weeks earlier Norm had heckled a speaker, saying that universities were wasting money. Today he happened to be speaking on The Ladder of Knowledge and he was asked about that claim. Click here for his response.

%d bloggers like this: