Soapbox Speakers

John Ambler

John Ambler was The Domain’s philosopher, and he spoke steadily throughout the 1970’s. His eloquent style of delivery, while giving the audience every opportunity to question him, made him popular.

In the 1980’s John was worried that the Domain would fold. He made attempts to relocate the speakers to Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour.  The area had been upgraded as a major city tourist venue. However, the people had grown cold on the idea of listening to street oratory. In a place like Circular Quay, where the tinsel of commercialism shines and buskers entertain; people gather like moths to a light. But not to hear a speaker. It was simply impossible to compete with the noise from the buskers and the Harbour.

What really killed the idea of speaking at Circular Quay was that the area had no protection for Free Speech. When uninvited Nazi speakers began to speak regularly, complaints rolled in. The authority closed the venue to all soapbox orators.

John did not give up. He still went to the Domain and entertained the people with his thought provoking sayings. He faded from the scene in the 1990’s.

Steve Maxwell.

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