Movements against Communism 1951–4

What was the Communist Party Dissolution Bill?

  • Explain the roles of the Catholic Church (The Movement) and the ALP (The Industrial Groups) in attempting to break the perceived power of communism in the trade union movement.
  • Explain how the following events contributed to fears of communist influence in Australia:
    – the 1949 coal miners' strike
    – Chifley's plan to nationalise the banks.
  • Chifley's actions in the coal miners' strike and the bank nationalisation plan seem to contradict each other. Can you explain his actions in relation to these two events?
  • It was against the background of general fears of communism and the specific outcomes of these two events that the 1949 general election campaign began. Examine the Liberal Party poster (p 168) and comment on the point that it is making, the words that it uses, the ideas and values that it appeals to and the overall impression that it creates.
  • In October 1950, Parliament passed the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. What were the key features of this Bill? Comment on aspects of this Bill that seemed to run counter to Australian democratic traditions.
  • On what grounds was the Bill declared unconstitutional in the High Court?
  • Dr Herbert Evatt claimed to be anti-communist, yet he acted for the Communist Party in its High Court challenge to the Bill. How would you explain his action? What consequences did this action have for Evatt personally and for the ALP?

Introduction | Why was communism feared? | Timeline of key events in the campaign against communism | What was the Communist Party Dissolution Bill? | What happened in the 1951 referendum? | Why did the Labor Party split? | Assessment tasks and Additional resources