It will be fascinating to see some the senators elected last year swear or affirm their allegiance.
Among them is a very prominent republican who provides a living link with Australia's second republican movement. That was to change our constitutional system to one similar to that of the communist countries.
Under their agenda we would become the Australian Soviet or People’s Republic along those very grim East European lines. (The first republican movement was to create a racist white republic.)
She is Senator Lee Rhiannon, who was formerly a Legislative Councillor in New South Wales. She has indicated that a significant part of her agenda is to close down the coal industry within a decade.
( I was invited to debate her and Professor Stuart Rees from Sydney University’s famous Peace Foundation at the NSW Parliament House in 1988. Did the organisers think one constitutional monarchist is worth two Republicans?)
…allegiance to Soviet Russia…
Curiously Senator Rhiannon's official Senate biography does not mention her very active and long involvement in a breakaway communist party.
This was after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 which proved too much even for the official Communist Party which had hitherto offered its allegaiance to Moscow. Until then it was generously funded by them.
The party which Senator Rhiannon joined was the Socialist Party of Australia, which gave its allegiance to the USSR.
Former Communist Mark Aarons says that when Lee Brown, as the Senator then was, aggressively praised another comrade’s endorsement of Moscow's invasion of Czechoslovakia, he knew his friendship with her was finished. (The Family File, 2010, page 276)
Their friendship was very much based on the fact that both of their families played prominent roles in the Communist Party of Australia.
(Republicans, who are the first to denounce the heredity principle, frequently apply it in handing on not just wealth but real political power. Just look at the Arab republics as well as the People's Republic of China.)
….Soviet news through rose – or was it red coloured glasses…
Christian Kerr discusses Senator Rhiannon's past in The Australian (2/7) (“Brown, red, Green – and a Tokyo Rose”). Usually available to the media she declined to cooperate with him in the preparation of his story.
He says that he in March 1975, a magazine called Survey was launched by the Socialist Party of Australia, "a monthly digest of trends in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries".
( Continued below)
Its editor was Bill Brown. His daughter Lee Brown (subsequently Lee O'Gorman and later Lee Rhiannon) contributed.
"While covering trends in socialist countries generally," a note in the first edition read, "we will make a particular survey of Soviet trends because, as Prime Minister Whitlam indicated during his recent visit, the Soviet Union has a decisive role and responsibility in world affairs."
And so it did. Faithfully.
Survey slammed the splitters in Beijing as a threat to peace and loyally reproduced the explanations of a Soviet historian as to why "Trotskyism remains the enemy of socialism".
It used an article by Russian justice minister and Soviet Lawyers Association president Alexander Sukharev to tell how the "West lags behind Soviets in human rights implementation".Readers were reminded of Czechoslovakia's errors.
"The leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is striving to strengthen socialism and the unity of the socialist community; our fighters for socialism with a human face in 1968 strove to dismantle socialism and to break the socialist community," the secretary of the central committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia told Brown.
"The right-wing opportunist in Czechoslovakia wanted to weaken the leading role of the working class and its leading force – the revolutionary party."
…you can live to 142 in a people's republic…
Labor MP Michael Danby has pointed out in the parliament this was the era of some of the Soviet Union's grossest abuses of psychiatry.
But Survey described "How Soviet workers benefit from low prices". O'Gorman herself praised Soviet housing.
"Rents have stayed the same since 1928 and charges from communal services such as electricity, heating and waste disposal have not gone up since 1946," she wrote.
The Soviet Union's health services were not ignored either. A feature on gerontology by B Kindarov, deputy minister of health of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic, was illustrated by a picture of one Mejid Agayev.
Agayev, the caption handily explained, "lived for over 142 years and earned the distinction of being the oldest person in the Soviet Union.
Soviet science," it continued, "is assisting the elderly to live longer."Lee O'Gorman was listed as Survey's editor from December 1988.
The magazine greeted the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire by republishing a (pro-Soviet) interview in the wake of the fall of the Berlin wall with a pastor in the East German Evangelical Church.
…Survey continued on until the middle of 1990. The July-August edition that year was the last.
"The workers on Survey are sad to see it come to an end – a decision that was inevitable due to rising costs and increased competition," Lee O'Gorman wrote in a signed editorial.
There may have been another reason for the end of Survey. "The Soviet Union funded all the publications," a former intelligence officer says. "They funded the party by … passing over money but they also provided printing presses and they also used to buy huge numbers of copies of these newspapers."
By mid-1990 the collapsing empire had other priorities.
(Although communists always denied stories about “Moscow gold” Michael Aarons details the funding of the Australian Communist Party by the Soviet Union in his book.)
A fascinating issue of chronology arises here. "I have been a proud member of the Greens for 20 years," Rhiannon declared in the blog post last year – or since 1990. "I have been an environmental activist for as long as I can remember," she continued, "a Greens MP in NSW parliament for 11 years and an active member of the Greens for two decades."
Since Rhiannon will not answer questions, she has kept the possibility alive that she was a member of the Greens while producing Survey or that she moved seamlessly from propagandising for the dying Soviet Union to the Greens."
According to Soviet admissions under Gorbachev, tens of millions were killed under communism," Danby ( ALP MP Michael Danby) says.
"You cannot have been a Tokyo Rose for communism and hope to creep into a bastion of democracy like the Senate wishing your recent past politics will disappear down the memory hole."
The Greens leader, Dr. Bob Brown, is one of the Parliament's most determined republicans. Senator Rhiannon spent most of her life campaigning for a Soviet style republic. The minosirty government has a record in accepting the demands of its partners.
Dr. Brown must surely know that he would lose a national vote on a politicians' republic. But it would give them a great debating platform, although the carbon footprint of such a campaign would be significant.
This is the latest report in our section "People's Republic" which can be accessed through the main menu which is on the frontpage .