Peter McGregor 1947-2008

Issue 

A long standing activist of anarchist persuasion, Peter had been a lecturer in media studies at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) until his retirement in 2005.

Totally unsectarian and extremely generous with his time and money, Peter supported and was a member of many causes and organisations.

His activism included involvement in the anti-apartheid movement, the anti-Vietnam war campaign, anarchist groups in Sydney, Palestine and East Timor solidarity, the National Tertiary Education Industry Union, Search, Exit, civil liberties and anti-war campaigns, Green Left Weekly (as an original sponsor and regular street seller) and the Socialist Alliance.

As well his activism, Peter published works such as Cultural battles: the meaning of the Viet Nam — USA war and an essay "The Viet Nam/USA war and the Australian media" in the Viet Nam Voices exhibition catalogue.

His lectures at UWS were very popular as he delivered scathing critiques of capitalist media and its barons.

Respect for Peter was felt widely, as was indicated in December 2007 when a wide range of activists and colleagues from across the left political spectrum attended his 60th birthday party. Many moving tributes were paid to him, by everybody from the Democratic Socialist Perspective to members of the Greens and the ALP, including a Marist Brother.

In recent months Peter had become a "nightmare of conscience" for the previous attorney-general, Philip Ruddock, and PM John Howard, having attempted to arrest both on a citizen's warrant for war crimes. Very uncompromising, Peter was never afraid of inviting arrest, especially when he thought that the issue was a matter of principle.

One of the many events he organised in the last year of his life was a very successful Green Left Weekly/Socialist Alliance fund-raising screening of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter House Five.

Peter quoted Vonnegut when accepting a Eureka Australia Day Medal from the Anarchist Media Institute in Ballarat on the anniversary of the Eureka Stockade in 2007. He noted that Vonnegut's philosophy that "life is about helping each other get through it" was "quite similar to the Eureka Oath … to stand true to each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties".

We have lost an invaluable comrade, activist and friend. Our sympathies to Johanna, Peter's partner of 28 years.