What were the political consequences of the attempts to deal with the threat of communism in Australia in the 1950’s. There were many Government attempts to ban the Communist Party of Australia in the 1950’s. The idea of “Reds under the Beds”, was presented in the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and the Petrov Affair, which Menzies used to his political advantage. These two attempts to ban the Communist Party led to a significant change in the Australia Labor Party in the 1950’s that changed the course of the Party for decades.
The term “Reds under the Beds” refers to Communists, as a symbol of bloodshed by the working class and its struggle against Capitalism. Using this fear of communist influence inside Australia, the Menzies government attempted to ban the Australian Communist Party. In April 1950 it introduced the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, which would have made the party illegal and allowed the government to seize all its assets (property). Under the law, any person declared to be a communist could not hold a position in a trade union and their home and property was subject to search by the police. Most of the opposition Labor Party, led by Dr H. V. Evatt, opposed the bill on the grounds that it challenged the basic rights of Australian citizens. Nonetheless, the bill was passed, but in March the following year six of the seven judges of the High Court declared the action unconstitutional. Menzies, however, was still determined, and in September 1951 he called for a referendum to allow the Constitution to be changed to give the government power to make laws in respect of communists and the Communist Party. Like so many attempts to change the Constitution, the referendum was unsuccessful.
Vladmir Petrov was an official of the Soivet Russian Embassy in Canberra. In 1954, Menzies told Parliament that Petrov had asked for political asylum in Australia and that he had provided details of a Soivet spy rig operating in Australia and that there...
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