The revelation, or some would say the confirmation, that some members of the Communist Party were also members of the Labor Party has 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 surely this infiltration is well known?
… kind old Uncle Eric…..
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 led by his father Laurie Aarons.
A few years ago the ABC broadcast a documentary on the Communist Party. They were portrayed as little different from a church group, slightly misguided, but such sweet people.
I haven’t seen Mr. Aarons book yet , but I wonder whether it mentions , as Gerard Henderson recalls, the admission by “kind old” Uncle Eric Aarons in his book What’s Left (Penguin, 1993).
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.
…a communist Minister of the Crown?
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.”
….the history of republicanism ….
Now all of this is completely relevant to this column.
In the history of Australian republicanism, the Bolsheviks constituted our second republican movement. When I pointed to this unsavoury aspect of the history of Australian republicanism, I was challenged, but the evidence is quite clear. The Communists planned to establish a People’ Republic on the model found in Eastern Europe. There the monarchy, a check and balance on the government’s power was ended wherever one existed.
I came to discuss the history of Australian republicanism in response to a student request to explain why our Founders rejected calls to make Australia a republic when we federated. The answer was that there were none. By that time, any support for a republic – of the politicians’ kind – had faded away.
This was because Australia’s first significant republican movement had as its end the establishment of a white supremacist republic. I remember shocking an audience in Perth in 1999, when I told them this. None of my republican opponents, Democrat Senator Stott-Despoja, Professor Greg Craven and Liberal Attorney –General Daryl Williams challenged me. (The No team consisted of myself, former Governor-general and Leader of the ALP Bill Hayden and former Liberal Senator Reg Withers.)
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 unions, who feared that their new won standards would be reduced by Asian immigration.
…treacherous but not racist…
By way of contrast with Australia’s first republican movement, the second 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 pseudonym the Bolsheviks chose to disguise their brutal empire. The members and supporters of the Communist Party of Australia demonstrated their absolute loyalty to Moscow when they denounced and sought to undermine the Second World War while Stalin was in alliance with Hitler under the Molotov – Von Ribbentrop Treaty which included secret clauses to divide Poland between them.
When Hitler turned on Stalin, they then 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.
…Frank McGrath liberates the Ironworkers…
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 influenced by the Catholic Church, but not exclusively Catholic, they gradually removed the communists from a large number of trade unions.
In fact it was a renowned constitutional monarchist, Dr Frank McGrath (formerly His Honour, Mr. Justice McGrath), who was instrumental in breaking the grip of the communists on the Federated Ironworkers Association. This seemed to contradict the story that the late Whitlam government minister, Jim McClelland had actually done this.
According to Frank Rooney, a prominent anti-communist trade union leader, Jim McLelland was never part of the team and came into the picture only after the battle had been won. Then a young articled clerk, Frank McGrath was working with a firm of solicitors in 1951 in a challenge to a recent union election.
During the hearing, he signalled to the junior barrister, later Governor-General Sir John Kerr, that he had discovered something. With the aid of the rays of the sun streaming into the court room, a number of impressions of “ticks” clearly came through on the disputed ballot papers tendered as evidence. Obviously stacks of blank ballot papers were being filled in by one person at a time.
Frank McGrath was to spend days in the witness box, and on the strength of his evidence and that of handwriting experts Mr Justice Dunphy found that Laurie Short had actually been elected as general secretary, and that new elections for the other offices must be held. (This story is told in Frank Rooney, Dictators within the Labor Party of Australia, edited by Dr. Amy McGrath, Towerhouse Publications, Sydney, 2005 )
…these republicans had a model…
Unlike today’s republican movement, the communist republicans did not pretend they had no model. They wanted to turn Australia into a workers’ paradise – a people’s republic on the east European model. They never explained why people were always trying to escape from, and not into, their peoples’ republics.
Australia’s second republican movement was for long subsidized by and under the instructions of the Soviet Union. Without the Soviet Union it would have been impoverished and directionless. It is unlikely that it would have been able to occupy the positions of significance it did in the trade union movement and in political life.
With the confirmation that Australian politics was infiltrated by the republican communists up to the eighties, the obvious question is did it magically stop there? To what extent is the current republican movement made up or supported by former proponents of a Marxist peoples’ republic?
This is particularly relevant when it is recalled that the leaders of the republican movement refuses to reveal anything about whatever politicians’ republic they have in mind for Australia. What are they hiding?