OZ-founding rebel 'never learned his lesson'
BALLINA MP Tamara Smith has paid tribute to writer Richard Neville, the OZ magazine co-founder once subject to Britain's longest-running obscenity trial, after his death at age 74.
Mr Neville spent his final years in Byron Bay, with early-onset dementia first starting to affect his curious and imaginative mind in his mid-60s.
Ms Smith told NSW Parliament she remembered OZ as a magazine of dissent built on the credo of lampooning and offending as many establishment icons and values as it could.
Mr Neville, alongside OZ co-founder Richard Walsh and artist Martin Sharp, were twice tried and found guilty of printing an obscene publication.
"Neville was given a prison sentence for publishing a photo of himself and two other men urinating into a fountain,” Ms Smith told parliament.
"The public outrage at the sentencing and censorship of the magazine that followed provided the social
backdrop to Neville being acquitted on appeal.
"The whole experience certainly raised the profile of the magazine and Neville himself. Richard Neville had not learned any lesson from this experience.
"After travelling the hippie trail overland from Australia to London he founded the London OZ in 1967, working with Martin Sharp again.
"Again he found himself convicted of obscenity. The magazine had captured the ire of the obscene publications squad.”
John Lennon and Yoko Ono joined protest marches against the convictions and they were eventually overturned on appeal.
Ms Smith said Mr Neville became increasingly interested in environmental sustainability during his older years.
"As part of his own television show Extra Dimensions he sought out alternative, non-mainstream projects that in turn eventually led to him exploring environmental issues and co-launching the Australian Futures Foundation, which helps businesses plan for the future, and gets businesses and environmental organisations working together to achieve outcomes,” Ms Smith said.
"Richard Neville's blog also dealt with environmental issues, and he spoke very strongly against militarism and war.
"Richard continued to write and he produced several books including Hippie Hippie Shake, his recollection of the 1960s, which was turned into a film in 2010 but is still unreleased.”
Ms Smith suggested the peak of Mr Neville's fame may have been when actor Hugh Grant portrayed him in the 1991 television drama The Trials of OZ.
She guessed the portrayal would have "both amused and horrified him at the same time”.
"Richard Neville is survived by his wife and speechwriter Julie Clarke and their daughters Lucy and Angelica,” she continued.
"On his blog, the last entry dated 1 September, 2009, is a kind of blank-verse poem that opens with the words: 'A tragedy for humanity is that thinkers, philosophers & futurists, are 40 years ahead of politicians when it comes to sounding alarms'.
"I hope that the politicians in this place can look at Richard Neville's life and heed the alarms he was sounding about our environment and our future as a human race.”