The Australian Government’s Response to Communism

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“How did the Australian Government respond to the threat of communism both at home and overseas? ” With the conclusion of World War II in 1945, the world was left divided between two different political beliefs of the communist Soviet Union and the capitalist and democratic United States. The rivalry between these two superpowers, known as the Cold War, threatened Australia’s peace & security, therefore the Australian Government was forced to respond to the threat of communism both at home & off Its shores.

The Australian Government responded to the threat of unionism at home through the creation of propagandist cartoons and advertisements. An increased fear and paranoia regarding communism became intertwined with politics, it being negatively presented for political gain. The propaganda was targeted at communism as it was often portrayed as the ‘red disease’, spreading southwards to destroy Australia. During the late uses, the ‘reds under the beds’ campaign was promoted Robert Enemies’ Liberal Party. Muzzles, Prime Minister from 1949 to 1966, strongly opposed the Communist Party of Australia and Labor Parry beliefs through propaganda.

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The bias images presented, raised concern regarding Labors communist support and therefore, Australians became fearful of the influence of both the Communist Party of Australia and the Labor Party. On April 13 1954, whilst federal Parliament was sitting for its final session, the Prime Minister revealed that a Soviet diplomat In Canberra, Vladimir Petrol, had been granted political asylum. Petrol defection had caused enquiries about Australian security and brought with it strong fear about communism. Enemies announced a Royal Commission into Espionage.

Vat however, claimed that the Petrol Affair was only a Liberal Party conspiracy, aimed at portraying the opposition as being sympathetic to communism to win a majority at the following 1954 election. The Petrol Affair Is an example of how kicking the communist can’ was used in politics, during the sass’s and ass’s to generate panic about the threat of the Soviet union. Robert Gordon Enemies achieved victory In the election and therefore, It Is obvious that fear of communism was used to the advantage of the Liberal Party to maintain power and to manipulate public beliefs.

At home, the Australian Government also spooned to the danger of communism through the proposal of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and the national referendum held on the issue of banning the Communist Party. As Robert Enemies announced that he would outlaw the communist party, In 1950, the communist party dissolution bill was Introduced Into federal parliament. It was argued that the Party was a subversive group aiming to destroy the government and that it was loyal to the enemy power, the Soviet Union. The bill was passed by both houses however the bill was challenged by the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, H. V.

Vat and was declared to be unconstitutional. The defeat was an unspoken victory as Enemies could claim that the Labor Party supported communism as H. V. Vat represented the communist case In the High aware that the opposition approved of the Communist Party. In 1954, Prime Minister Robert Enemies responded by announcing a national referendum to determine Neither or not the Federal Government should obtain the power to outlaw the Communist Party of Australia. The referendum, held on 22 September 1951, resulted in a ‘no’ majority, although not large and consequently, the threat of communism remained a significant issue within politics.

The topic was debated intensely as it challenged Australians values and beliefs and was considered ironic to restrict freedom of speech in the ‘land of the free’. Therefore, it is clear that the Australian Government responded to the threat of communism at home through the creation of propaganda, the use of the colloquial term, ‘reds under the beds’, as well as ‘kicking the communist can’, through the controversy caused by the Petrol Affair. The Australian Government behaved in a defensive manner through the creation of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and the national referendum to maintain power ever communists residing in Australia.

The Australian Government reacted to the risk of communism overseas through foreign policy, forward defense and the belief of the domino theory, the ANGUS and SEATS treaties and therefore the Australian involvement in the Korean War. The outbreak of the Cold War in the late sass’s followed by the Malay emergency and the Korean war, caused the government to emphasis security of its foreign policy. Australians were convinced of the danger communism posed because of the Domino Theory, a belief that if one nation fell under communist control, its neighbors would fall soon after.

A forward defense strategy was therefore required so that Australia could be most effectively defended f any threat was identified. This strategy was evident through the Australian Government’s response to the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950 which Nas Chinese communist baked North Koreans attempt to unify the country through force. The western world viewed the event as a communist threat and increased panic over the ‘red menace’. America considered it the western world’s responsibility to support South Korea in containing the communist threat and so, the Australian Government committed troops.

The government believed Joining was an action against another domino falling to communist China, a sign of loyalty to the US and a diplomatic gesture to ensure that Australia would be supported in the event of a communist attack. Although the Korean War intensified fear of communism, it confirmed a strong alliance with the United States. Enemies was determined to create a secure position for Australia in the world and so two alliance agreements Nerve negotiated. The ANGUS agreement of 1951 involving Australia, New Zealand and he United States was a military alliance in which it was agreed upon to discuss further action if attacked.

The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization alliance of September 1954 guaranteed defensive action to be taken in the event of an attack on countries in South East Asia and the Pacific. Both treaties were based on the Cold Near fears of communism and were the foundation of Australian foreign policy, both being expressions of the forward defense strategy. As a result of these policies, Australia was involved in the Malay emergency of 1955-1962, assisting the British in suppressing a communist rebellion.

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The Australian Government’s Response to Communism. (2018, Jan 27). Retrieved from

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