Local army enthusiast 'humiliated' at Talisman Sabre
RECALLING his younger years travelling in Asia and Europe, John Partridge teared up when he said wherever he was in the world, he would stop and spare a minute of silence for the fallen on Anzac Day.
Mr Partridge, who described himself as "patriotic" was an artillery officer in the New Zealand Defence Force in the 1960s, but at the Talisman Sabre open day on Saturday, he was told he was a "security risk" and was refused entry.
He claims he wears a poppy in his shirt every day and lives by the ethos; "every day should be Remembrance Day."
After paying his $2 fee to enter the Rockhampton Showgrounds to admire the large range of military vehicles on display, Mr Partridge was stopped by police.
Humiliated and shocked, he said he quietly and politely argued with the officer.
He said he was constantly pointing to the poppy on his shirt while the policeman was walking him off the premises.
The officer told Mr Partridge that he was believed to be an affiliate of Graeme Dunstan, an outspoken anti-war campaigner, and that is why he was denied entry.
Mr Partridge described the events of that morning as a "comedy of errors".
While riding to the showgrounds, he saw a balloon blowing across the road.
He put the balloon in the basket on his bike with the intention of giving it to a child when he arrived at the showgrounds.
However the first person he saw when he arrived was a clown outside the showgrounds gates, and he chose to give his balloon to her instead.
It was not long after that, he was turned away by police, but while being escorted out he noticed the clown was filming him being removed, and he was later told the clown was a supporter of Mr Dunstan.
But the plot thickens.
Despite being politically against Mr Dunstan and his stance on the army, Mr Partridge said he had rubbed shoulders with the political activist multiple times in the past.
He used to regularly visit Haveachat, a thought forum on East St where "all manner of topics" were up for discussion.
Coincidently, Mr Dunstan also attended Haveachat while in Rockhampton on tirades against Shoalwater Bay military exercises, and the pair became acquainted.
Unable to confirm how police could have linked him with Mr Dunstan, Mr Partridge said the only way was either by his interaction with the clown, or his attendance at Haveachat.
He said Haveachat encouraged robust debate with other intellectuals such as Mr Dunstan.
"It stimulates me to listen to what intelligent people have to say," he said
In a small victory for Mr Partridge, the policeman who escorted him from the premises took him around the corner and let him in a side entrance out of public view.
However, he was obviously frustrated as he described just how deeply the incident offended him.
"I condemn Graeme Dunstan and the treachery he argues for," he said.
"I don't want anyone to think that's what I believe in.
"Word can travel fast and there were a lot of people watching."
He said after he had eventually been let in, he was "hurting like mad".
"I had experienced a humiliation I have never felt before," he said.
"My good name and character has been harmed - possibly irrevocably."
He said going public with such a grievance was out of character for him but he felt "desperate" to right the error made by the police on Saturday.
A spokesperson from Queensland Police said Mr Partridge was "alleged to be known to police for having attended previous protest activity in association with issue motivated groups".
QPS confirmed that after further questioning, Mr Partridge was allowed to enter.
"It was established through conversations between police and the man that he was not there to protest and was therefore no threat to public safety," the spokesperson said.