Australia’s first republican movement had as its end the establishment of a white supremacist republic.* The second was led by the Communist Party of Australia, and planned to make Australia a People's Republic on the East European model.
Speaking before a Senate Committee last year against his Plebiscite for an Australian Republic Bill, I said the choice was between some form of Politicians’ Republic or what we already have, a Crowned Republic. Senator Brown said “What about a People's Republic?” I said that we had seen them in Eastern Europe and they exist in communist states.
…communism and the Crown..
The communists planned to establish a People’s Republic of Australia on the Soviet and then Eastern European model.
Whenever the communists took over a country which was a constitutional monarchy, the monarchy was soon overthrown. The communists did not want any check and balance on the ‘people’s government’.
The Communist Party is interesting for an organisation such as ACM. First it was profoundly republican. For more than four decades it was the dominant republican organisation in the country. That of course is not to suggest that today’s republicans are an extension of the Party, just as the Party was not an extension of the 19th century white supremacists.
Second it had been the subject of a major constitutional case relating to an unsuccessful attempt to outlaw the Party, Australian Communist Party v The Commonwealth (1951) 83 CLR 1. This was followed by an unsuccessful referendum to give the Parliament power to do this.
In Republicanism under foreign control (30 July 2010), we reported that the revelation – some would say the confirmation – that some members of the Communist Party were also members of the Labor Party had surprisingly surprised Bob Carr, the former Premier of New South Wales.
He declared it a “bombshell”. He said this vindicated the decision of a large part of Catholic Australia to veto the election of federal Labor governments by voting for the breakaway Democratic Labor Party after the Labor split of 1955.
But as we asked, surely this infiltration was well known?
The story about the Bolshevik incursion into the ALP is revealed in Mark Aarons’ book on his family, “The Family File.” This tells the story of Australia’s leading Bolshevik dynasty which was led by his father Laurie Aarons.
A few years ago the ABC had broadcast a documentary on the Communist Party. They were portrayed as little different from a church group, slightly misguided, but such sweet people. But as Gerard Henderson recalls, the admission by “kind old” Uncle Eric Aarons in his book What’s Left (Penguin, 1993) demonstrates that ommunism in Australia was to be no less brutal than the communism of Eastern Europe.
This was that if the Aarons’ dynasty had ever come to power in Australia they would “have executed people.”
This of course was what would have happened if Australia ever had followed the well trod path of becoming a workers’ paradise, a People’s Republic.
Mark Aarons says “no leader of the Communist Party of Australia ever had more influence than his father, Laurie Aarons, in senior levels of the Labor Party.
The Communist Party already influenced significant sections of the ALP Left through its mass work, especially in the unions. But Mr. Aarons gives details of direct influence into the federal parliamentary Labor Party and Labor governments.
He says his father’s main contact was Arthur Gietzelt, who had taken over the CPA's work among ex-service personnel in the mid-1940s.
“After playing a key role in reviving the NSW ALP Left in the 1950s, Gietzelt, who became a Hawke government minister, was a major force in the 1960s and 1970s, as ALP national vice-president and then as a senator.”
…ABC’s I Spry…
Now in a recent column in The Sydney Morning Herald (2/11) , “Scott needs to take control to ensure ABC represents diverse views”, Gerard Henderson is highly critical of an ABC documentary I, Spry, which was broadcast nationally by ABC1 on Thursday, 4 November.
It is, he says, a leftist account of Brigadier Sir Charles Spry (1910-94), director-general of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation between 1950 and 1969.
ASIO is one of the tools a government relies on in the defence of the Realm, a core function of government.
It was established after an exasperated American administration cut off significant intelligence sharing to the UK and Australia. They believed information was leaking from Australia to the USSR. The Chifley government then established ASIO on British advice.
The programme director Peter Butt, he says, does not like Spry or Western intelligence services. Mr. Butt labels Spry as an alcoholic and declares that his view of the world was "out of step with an open, healthy democracy''.Dr. Henderson thinks that to present ASIO as a subversive organisation beyond government scrutiny is a travesty. ( Peter Butt puts his case in a letter to the Weekend Australian , 6-7 November, 2010)
Dr. Henderson points out that Spry and his colleagues at ASIO oversaw the defection of the Soviet embassy operatives Vladimir Petrov and his wife Evdokia, perhaps the most significant defectors from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
[To continue reading, including Mark Aarons' assessment of the programme click on 'Read more' below]
ASIO established that there was a Soviet spying operation in Australia led by Wally Clayton, who was a member of the Communist Party. Mark Aarons in his book The Family File, accepts that some Australian communists were spies and that the Communist Party received funds from Moscow.
Dr. Henderson continues:
Aarons remains a man of the left. Yet he acknowledges in The Family File that ASIO's surveillance of his family was "basically accurate", that "despite many stupidities, considerable crudeness and frequent lapses of professionalism, ASIO had a legitimate task", and that "for the most part, ASIO's work was conducted within a largely democratic framework".
Aarons also accepts that, despite its many faults, ASIO stands in contrast to intelligence services in communist countries, which "established elaborate networks to intimidate their own citizens".
…The Australian's critique…
Before I come to The Australian's critique, it seemed to me the programme only presented one side. Where was the defence of Brigadier Sir Charles Spry? It seemed unbalanced.
The Australian’s assessment of the broadcast was scathing. I agreed with it except for its approval of Bob Carr’s surprise at the facts Mark Aarons confirms. Surely everyone knows what he said was true. The only surprise is that he has written a book confirming the treachery of his relations.
The Australian’s editorial (5/11) opened:
ANYONE interested in ASIO's Cold War counter-espionage activities in Australia would have been better off reading an authoritative history book than enduring the ABC's highly subjective documentary I, Spry in last night's schedule.
As part of the advance publicity campaign, filmmaker Peter Butt claimed that ASIO boss Colonel Charles Spry's world view was out of step with an open, healthy democracy.
In fact, defending Australia's open, healthy democracy was ASIO's raison d'etre. In the face of determined Soviet infiltration of unions and other spheres of Australian life, it generally did the job well.
…Spry did not conspire with Menzies, says Aarons…
Readers may be interested in Mark Aarons, assessment of I Spry. While critical of Sir Charles Spry in later years, he confirms that two arguments by the Communist Party long accepted by many on the left and in the media are not sustainable.
The first was that there never was a Soviet spy ring in Australia, and the secondwas that Sir Charles Spry and Sir Robert Menzies orchestrated the Petrov affair to deny Labor leader Dr. H.V. Evatt victory in the 1954 election.(The Weekend Australian, 6-7 November,2010).
Dr. H.V. Evatt attributed his loss to a conspiracy between them, and this may well have pushed him into his disastrous attack on the industrial groups who under the extrordinary leadership of B.A. Santamaria were fighting the communists for control of key trade unions. ( See this column," A People's Republic of Australia", 1 September, 2008)
This led to a split in the Labor Party, the formation of the Democratic Labor Party, and Labor being in the political wilderness federally until 1972.
*Footnote on the first republican movement:
As to the white supremacist republican movement, I remember shocking an audience in Perth in 1999, when I told them this. Pointing out the earlier manifestations of the movement to establish a politicians' republic is a matter of establishing the historical record.
It does not mean that we are suggesting current supporters of such a republic are racists or communists. But if the republicans had a pantheon of heroes, do you think for a moment they would not be talking about this – endlessly?
The fact is the heroes of Australia were constitutional monarchists- just look at the memorials around the nation.
The republican movement too often objects to the truth. When we recently referred to Gerry Adams’ shrill support for the Yes Case, and the ARM's failure to distance themselves from this in the light of the murder by the IRA of Australians, we were not suggesting the ARM favours terrorism. Instead the ARM first denied Adams was even in Australia at the time.
At the time of the Perth debate republicans including the mainstream media were suggesting that we were lesser Australians because of our support for the No case, a proposition condemned by the 26th Prime Minister John Howard in Lazarus Rising.
None of my republican opponents in the debate, Democrat Senator Stott-Despoja, Professor Greg Craven and Liberal Attorney –General Daryl Williams challenged me about the agenda of the first republican movement.
(The other members of the No team were the former Governor-General Bill Hayden and the former Liberal Senator Reg Withers.)
Bu the late nineteenth century, those in favour of a White Australia realised this could be achieved by the new federal entity, which the founders ensured had power to deal with immigration.
A white republic outside of the Empire was not necessary.
British opposition to a race based immigration policy could be disregarded at the federal level. In the hope of placating London, the policy was disguised by the administration of a dictation test. This transparent piece of hypocrisy was borrowed from South Africa.
The strongest support for the policy came from the trade unions supported by the Labor Party, who feared that their new won standards would be reduced by Asian immigration. This was to change in the sixties when the policy was relaxed and abolished by Prime Minister Harold Holt