May 30

Australia’s second republican movement

By way of contrast with Australia’s first republican movement, the earlier twentieth century republican movement, from the First World War until about the sixties, was at most times not racist. However its allegiance was certainly not to the Crown, but rather to a foreign government. That allegiance was wholly and totally to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The comrades of the Communist Party denounced and sought to undermine the Second World War while Stalin was in alliance with Hitler, with a secret deal on how to partition Poland. When Hitler turned on Stalin, they suddenly declared the war to be just. This did not stop them from actively sabotaging the war effort when they saw it advancing their aims and when such sabotage did not damage their beloved USSR. The USSR gave the Party not only its direction, but also substantial financial assistance.

The Party did not achieve any significant electoral support in Australia, never winning a seat in the federal parliament, even with their apparent support for the war and talk of a united front, the Stalinist tactic at the time. But they managed to occupy commanding positions in the trade unions, particularly those of strategic importance to the defence of the Commonwealth. Although against the rules they sought to infiltrate the ALP, and to influence it. The damaging post war split in the ALP, and the formation of the Democratic Labor Party was a result.

Before the split, the ALP Industrial Groups in the union movement were the only significant opponent of communist control. Heavily influence d by the Catholic Church, but not exclusively Catholic, they gradually removed the communists from a large number of trade unions.


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