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Communism in Australia How did the Australian government deal with the “threat” of communism?

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Presentation on theme: "Communism in Australia How did the Australian government deal with the “threat” of communism?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Communism in Australia How did the Australian government deal with the “threat” of communism?

2 Fear of communism In 1949 many people in the western world feared the spread of communism People in countries like the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand feared the growing spread of communism in Eatern Europe and Asia

3 Fear of communism


5 Films and newspaper reports claimed that communists were unAustralian These same reports said that communists were subversives Members of the communist party were also active in industries such as shipping, wharves, coal and steel- making. Why would some people consider this to be a dangerous factor for Australia?

6 Fear of communism




10 Menzies on Communism … "All I need say is that Australia is British. It has a great and tried and common family allegiance under the Crown. But Australia knows, and so do the Communists, that the closest concert between the United States and the Commonwealth is vital to the common defence.We will work incessantly to strengthen this great association, just as the Communist powers and their overseas friends will work incessantly to divide and destroy us."

11 Fear of communism





16 Australians were so fearful of communism in 1949 that it became an election issue During the 1949 election the leader of the Liberal Party said he would introduce laws that would declare the communist party in Australia illegal Menzies said he would ban the communist party if he was elected Prime Minister

17 Guilty Until Proven Innocent What is wrong with that? In 1950 Prime Minister Menzies introduced a “bill” or proposed law into the Australian Parliament The bill was called the Communist Party Dissolution Bill The bill proposed to outlaw the communist party and to stop any member of the communist party from being a government employee and/or a member of a trade union

18 Guilty Until Proven Innocent The bill also proposed that anyone who was declared a communist had to prove his or her innocence This proposed law angered many people as it threatened individual freedoms and the rights of the individual

19 Guilty Until Proven Innocent Ten trade unions and the Australian Communist Party challenged the proposed law in the Australian High Court They argued that the Australian government should only have such powers during wartime The High Court agreed and said that the proposed law was unconstitutional Menzies proposed law was scrapped

20 Menzies votes in the election

21 1951 Referendum Menzies was angry that his proposed law was unconstitutional Following that he set up a referendum to put the vote to the people whether or not the communist party should be banned The Catholic Church and many news organisations said that people should vote yes. What was the result of the referendum?

22 1951 Referendum It was a bitterly fought referendum with many people arguing, protesting and writing letters to newspapers and politicians. Date of referendum: 22 September 1951 Yes vote: 2, 317, 927 votes No vote: 2, 370, 000 votes

23 Robert Menzies on the Internet The Robert Menzies Virtual Museum

24 Censorship The Autsralian government attempted to censor or ban literature and art during the 1950s A novel by Frank Hardy entitled Power Without Glory came under the scrutiny of the government It was claimed that the novel criticised capitalists and Hardy was accused of being a communist The court case against him failed and he was acquitted - declared not guilty His book became an international best seller as a result

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