Tribute to Bob in federal parliament



Bob Gould, House of Representatives, 30 May 2011

I rise to pay tribute to Newtown bookseller Bob Gould, who passed away on 22 May 2011 aged 74. Bob was part of the progressive left in Australia for the better part of the post-war era. From the Vietnam War to asylum seekers, he has marched and argued for what he believed in. As former New South Wales MLC Meredith Burgmann noted, “He was involved in most of the great political protest movements of the time.”

Bob did live through interesting times. He was one of three people who chased down and restrained the man who tried to kill Arthur Calwell after an anti-conscription rally in 1966. His bookstores were raided for stocking such scurrilous works as Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint and pictures of Michelangelo’s David.

Most students who attended the University of Sydney have a story about Gould’s Books. Mine came when I was walking down an aisle and brushed past two precarious stacks of books on either side. Both collapsed on me, trapping me for about five minutes, until Bob heard my cries for help and ambled over.

Although he was a Labor Party member Bob was probably to the left of everyone in the current federal parliament. Yet even my libertarian friend Sinclair Davidson has noted Bob’s passing, and recalled fondly his time buying books at Bob’s bookstore. Through his activism and his bookstore, Bob Gould injected ideas and energy into the public debate. He will be missed.



2 Responses to “Tribute to Bob in federal parliament”

  1. Jenny Haines Says:

    Readers – I sent a thank you to Andrew Leigh and he responded!

    Dear Jenny,

    My pleasure. I didn’t know Bob well, but my bookshelf is weightier for time spent in the store, and I enjoyed my occasional chats with Bob at the checkout. He was an important Australian, and I was pleased that the PM happened to be in the parliament when I spoke about him.

    Take care of yourself these coming months.

    Best wishes,


  2. bob peckham Says:

    I wish to express my sincere condolences on the passing of Bob Gould .I lived in Sydney during the eighties but sadly had to return to the look after my mother.I will return to retire in wonderful Sydney and although his politics were light-years away from mine he was obviously a true Australain gentleman and i respected him in peace Bob.
    Bob Peckham Eastbourne England

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