Inquiry Question: How did the Australian Government respond to the threat of Communism after World War 2?
1. The major political influences on society after ww2 and into the 1950s:
*What was Communism and what did its supporters believe?
Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Communism was a theory about government and work which was originally devised by German philosopher Karl Marx in the (19th , but which grew in popularity in the early (20th . Marx believed privately owned businesses existed purely to make their owners rich and that the workers were being exploited. He called this system Capitalism. He believed governments dominated by the rich, the aristocracy and the church all had to be removed by revolution to allow a workers' state to evolve, in which all profits belonged equally to the people, through state ownership. His ideas were hugely influential in the (20th - interested?Thanks John Green.
*What countries of the world had Communist governments at this time? See pages 160-161 Retro 2. Check this animated map.
The USSR was formed after a REvolution in 1917. Even though Communist USSR (Russia) had been an ally during WW2 against the Nazis, and many Communists had been part of the resistance movement in Europe, most governments in the “west” were very wary of this theory of government. (There were good reasons for suspicion: e.g. the USSR and China were taking control of neighbouring smaller states by force, and there was evidence of abuse of human rights, denial of democracy, loss of freedoms in these places...By the 1950s, stories of mass murder under the rule of Joseph Stalin in the USSR were emerging from behind the Iron Curtain)
China became a Communist nation after a revolution in 1949. John Green again - zoom through first 4 minutes...

*Which nation led the anti-communist world and who were significant allies? The United states of America had been crucial in defeating both Germany and Japan in WW2. They became the most powerful nation in the world in the (20th. Great Britain and NATO countries were allies. They saw the communist states of USSR and China as great threats to world peace, freedom, democracy and trade.

*What was the Cold War? Much of the world was divided over the clash between Western Democratic governments [led by USA], and Communist nations[led by USSR]. Both sides sought to increase their influence on smaller nations. Read more here. The Cold War was a term that described this build up of hostility and fear between the two sides. It was marked by an arms race, propaganda, espionage and occasionally local violent conflicts, in which the USA backed one side, and the USSR backed the other.

*What impact did the fear of Communism have on Australian politics?
Menzies successfully campaigned, 1949
Menzies successfully campaigned, 1949

It helped bring Robert Menzies(Liberal) to power in 1949. Chiffley’s Labor Government was seen to be too Socialist (Socialism was a political theory similar to Communism) - even though it had fought against the Communist Trade Union leaders during strikes in the 1940s. Many members were positive about the philosphy of Communism and believed in working with the Australian Communist Party.
Menzies however, was totally opposed to Communism, Socialism and all that was happening in the USSR. He vowed to fight it wherever it threatened Australian security and freedom. [You could read Menzies campaign speech here.] [Here is the 1949 Liberal Party ad for cinemas

*Communism was seen as both an internal and external threat, and voters believed Menzies would provide greater security.

*Where did Australians see the external threat of Communism coming from and what events increased these fears? Use pages 160,161 166 in Retro 2. (Expansion of USSR through Eastern Europe - but closer to home, China was backing Communist forces in SE Asia). This site has useful information - and the downloads in top right hand corner are very interesting. Look here!
*What steps did the Menzies government take to improve security against the external threats of Communism?
- a policy of FORWARD DEFENCE...
-treaties/alliances (ANZUS, SEATO)
-troops sent to the Korean War (fighting Communist North Korea)
-conscription introduced
-troops sent to Malaya to fight against Communist guerillas
Learn more here:
You can read Menzies' own comments about these policies here, from a book he wrote in 1970.

* Explain how the Menzies government also saw an internal threat from Communism within Australia.
*Where were Communists active? (obviously in The Communist Party of Australia, but also among Trade Unions and on the Left Wing of the Labor Party, a few among the Arts and in some University circles. A significant goal of Communist parties was creating world-wide unity among workers to fight for an international socialist state.)
*what did the term "Reds ender the beds" imply about popular attitudes?
*What steps did the government take to remove this threat? Pages 162-3 Retro 2
-describe the Communist Party Dissolution Bill introduced in 1950
-explain the follow-up referendum in 1951
-why did the government apply censorship to some publications from the Left?
Find Answers here
What did these people who served in the Korean War think of the events at home?
This website is pro-Communist. It shows you many Australian Communist Party documents from the time. What views of events do you see here?
The Government claimed that Australian Communists were being aided by foreign agents, as part of the global push for world Communism. Strange and dramatic events in 1954 seemed to confirm this – and helped Menzies win another election.
Describe the events of ‘The Petrov Affair” using p 164 Retro 2. Youtube vid
Learn more and decide for yourself: was it a Liberal Party beat-up, or was there a real Soviet threat which implicated members of the Labor Party? investigate here
These dramatic events seemed to bring The Cold War (the ideological hostility and arms build up between the USA and the West, vs the USSR and countries 'behind the Iron Curtain') to Australia, and helped Menzies win the 1954 election.
The USA was the big player in this ideological struggle. The conservative Menzies Government aligned itself closelywith the US and maintained strong support well into the 1960s.

Meanwhile the Labor Party, led by 'Doc' Evatt, struggled to disassociate itself from links to Communism. In 1954, Catholic members – who were strongly anti-Communist – broke away from Labor and formed the Democratic Labor Party, attracting many votes away from Labor well into the 1970s.