FEAR OF COMMUNISM
The Cold War stimulated the ‘fear of communism’, which had extremely cohesive and divisive implications amongst Australian society and politics. The fear of communism exercised it’s powerful influence over the minds of Australians from about 1949 with the beginning of the Cold War and the communist revolution in China, until about the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War in 1972. Through close examination of the ALP split as a result of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill (CPDB) and the Petrov affair, and Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War it can be seen just how divisive the communist scare was, as well as creating cohesion.
The CPDB was introduced in 1951and was the cause of immense political division, laying the foundations for the ALP split. In 1951 the bill (stating that anyone who was communist or associated with communist bodies was illegal) passed in both houses of parliament, however ALP deputy leader Dr Evatt believed it to be unconstitutional and took it to the high court, where it was declared unconstitutional in a 6 to 1 judgement on the grounds that the Act infringed on civil and property rights. Menzies however, soon had a referendum passed to try and change the constitution, and so Dr Evatt helped represent the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in its battle against the ban Menzies was trying to impose. Through he was not a communist sympathiser, Evatt believed in fair rights for all, and the bill infringed on that. In 1951, Menzies’ bill was closely defeated, 49.5% NO, 50.5 % YES along with a states vote of 3:3. These results exemplifies the severe and clear division caused by the CPDB throughout Australia. The Bill also set the ALP up for a disastrous split as it caused immense tension between right and left wing factions of the party, as the right-winged Catholic faction was highly opposed to communism and were unappreciative of the communist association brought to them by Evatt.
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