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Issue No. 138 31 May 2002  

Demonising Unions
There's a common streak running through the Liberal Party's prosecution of its witch-hunt of the building industry unions and the federal ALP leader's push to reduce the influence of trade unions within the Party. That's the view that unions are on the nose.


Interview: The Star Chamber
CFMEU national seretary John Sutton surveys the limited progress of the Cole Royal Commission.

Politics: The Odd Couple
After spending years yelling at each other, a couple of young factional players started talking to each other in the name of refugees.

Tribute: I-Conned
A rogue priest and Philip Ruddock have combined to leave master artist, Rados Stevanovic, living in a suburban park, as Jim Marr reports.

Media: Audiences Before Politics
The real challenge facing the new managing director of the ABC is how to make audiences central to what the national broadcaster does, argues Tony Moore.

International: The Off-Side Rule
It may be kick off time at the World Cup but unions in South Korea and around Asia are using the world�s biggest sporting event to focus attention on workers� rights, as Andrew Casey discovers.

Economics: The Fake Persuaders
Companies are creating false citizens to try to change the way we think, writes George Monbiot.

History: Terror Tactics
As the Howard Government prepares terror legislation to ban organisations, Neale Towart remembers a similar attempt at censorship in the name of security.

Poetry: Food, Modified Food
That old school yard joke "what do you get if you cross a ... with a ...?" is becoming startlingly true. The latest development is a featherless chicken.

Review: Spiderman Spins Out the US
Red Pepper's Rick Giombetti scales the big screen and puts Spiderman in his place, flying in the face of right wingers who would claim the Marvel Comic legend as their own.

Satire: England's World Cup Disaster: Star Hooligan Breaks Foot
The English World Cup 2002 campaign is in tatters after star hooligan Gerard Wilson of Chelsea broke his foot.


 Cole Suffers Credibility Crisis

 Councils Armed To Drown Sweatshops

 Miners Win Record Payouts

 Bracks Crew Not Family Friendly

 Time to Charge Directors

 Waterfront Truth One Step Closer

 Speedy Flow-On for NSW Workers

 Star Sin-Binning Prompts Inquiry Call

 New Chief Puts ABC Back In The Picture

 Getting it Wrong on Training

 Gravy Train Gets Richer For Max and Mates

 Reward For Delegate Who Stood Up

 Casino Workers Hit Mat Leave Jackpot

 Drug Haul Sparks Security Warning

 East Timor�s MPs Take Australia On

 ACTU Officials Denied Visas Into Fiji

 Commemorate 100 Years of Votes for Women


The Soapbox
Modernising Labor?
NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson argues that genuine reform of the ALP would go beyond the 60-40 rule, to increase the voice of unions within the Party.

The Locker Room
Juego Bonito
Forget the dour contests of the Premier League and Serie A, it�s the World Cup which transforms football into the beautiful game. Noel Hester analyses the form.

Week in Review
He Who Pays The Piper
Money comes in all colours but, in politics, the hue is usually blue, as Jim Marr discovers �

Rich Pickings
Australia's wealthiest were on display this week as BRW released its annual Rich 200 list.

About Last Night
The CFMEU's Phil Davey, on an APHEDA -Union Aid Abroad delegation to Palestine, recounts his experience trying to get back to his hotel after dark.

 Simon and the Creanites
 In Defence of Latham
 Swans A Pathetic Con-Job
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Terror Tactics

As the Howard Government prepares terror legislation to ban organisations, Neale Towart remembers a similar attempt at censorship in the name of security.


The Australian government introduces legislation to crack down on internal dissent. It supports and joins in the invasion of another country to our north.

This 1950 action was not the first time Menzies banned the Communist Party. Laurie Aarons, at an Evatt Foundation Forum in April 1991, recalled the night in 1940 when the police raided his father's home after the regulations gazette-ing the outlawing of the CPA came into force. "The police took away truckloads of documents and books." The political police took away copies of the work of Marx, Lenin, Brian Fitzpatrick, Doc Evatt, Shakespeare, Hemingway and even The Bible. He was wounded because his own place wasn't raided so he wasn't deemed important enough.

He had had earlier "brushes with fame" when in 1933 Sir John Latham, as United Australia Party (UAP) Attorney-General, prosecuted Hal Devanny for soliciting money for a subversive publication, namely the Workers Weekly. This was the official CPA journal at the time, and Laurie sold it door to door and wrote for it occasionally. The High Court through out the case eventually.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) had been an earlier victim of attacks on free speech and human rights in Australia, when Hughes went after it during World War I.

Clem Lloyd traced the connections between Latham and Menzies at the same forum as Laurie Aarons. Latham was a long term anti-communist, anti trade union warrior, having been involved in defending the status quo after the Brisbane Red Flag riots in 1919, introducing amendments to the Crimes Act in the 1920s to harass unions and communists and he was the federal governments main player in the prosecution of maritime and timber workers in 1928-9. He also moved to deport Walsh and Johnson in 1927

The Commonwealth Investigation branch flourished while he was A-G in the 1920s. He returned to that position in 1932 after the defeat of the Scullin government and restrictions on mail, offices and access to public halls were applied to Communists and other "subversive" groups.

Through this time, Latham maintained connections with Menzies. They were close legal confederates in the Melbourne Bar in the 1920s. When Latham went to the High Court in 1935 Menzies inherited his annual retainer from BHP (which was apparently still paid to him in when he was PM during WWII).

On the Labor side Doc Evatt played a crucial role in the defeat of the attempt to ban the CPA, and was also a player in the attempts to deport Walsh and Johnson in 1927, was a member of the High Court that threw out the prosecution of Devanny. Evatt also signed the documents that banned the CPA in WWII.

Laurie Aarons feels that Evatt's individual efforts were the highpoint of his many achievements. Aarons says that "Menzies was determined to press ahead with a totalitarian program of banning the CPA and taming the trade unions forever. Once he started on that road, the logical result must have been a full-blooded effort to impose a police state and crush all opposition. It was rumoured, not too fancifully, that he planned a concentration camp for the Reds on King Island - he had already interned Thomas and Ratcliff in 1941, and he believed the danger was much greater in 1951.

Lest this be thought exaggerated, consider the powers he sought: ban and dissolve the CPA, seize its property and assets; disqualify all Communists from Commonwealth employment; declare other organizations to be unlawful associations and seize their property if they had as officers members of the CPA; and remove from office in a trade union anyone alleged to be a Communist and debar them from standing for office (this applied to unions in the coal-mining, steel, engineering, building, transport or power industries, and to any other industry declared by the government)."

Aarons moved on to address squarely the seriousness of Menzies attacks. He says that conventional wisdom would have it that Menzies was not really serious in his attacks, but just using the move for political gain as it suited him, so he could paint Evatt and Labor as "crypto-Reds". Aarons begs to differ. "Menzies hated the CPA. It had fought him, ridiculed him and thwarted him: the Kembla wharfies, led by the Reds, had tried to take foreign policy out of his hands in the Dalfram struggle when he tried to appease Japan, coining his nickname Pig Iron Bob; they had led his political police a merry dance by producing and spiriting away Kisch and Griffin under the noses of the cops; and they had defied his 1940 ban and exposed him as a man of Munich, an appeaser and an apologist for colonialism in British India, Dutch East Indies and French Indo-China. He was fair dinkum in his determination to ban the CPA and eradicate it root and branch."

Menzies revisited the red menace in 1960. Garfield Barwick and Menzies tried to get through their unfinished business from the defeat of their Communist Party Dissolution Act. They moved to amend the Crimes Act. Barwick argued "tough security legislation was an attribute of nationhood" David Marr quotes from Barwick's statements of the time in language that is alarmingly familiar. " diplomacy and in defence Australia has found it necessary to enter into close relationships not only within the Commonwealth of Nations but also with its near and distant neighbours in Asia and across the Pacific."

Daivd Marr commented "Barwick's bill redefined four offences against the State. The greatest was treason: levying war against Australia. A new provision was added making it treason to assist 'by any means whatever' an enemy at war with Australia whether or not war had been declared. ...Australia's Cold War adversaries would be enemies for the purposes of treason whether there was a 'shooting war' or not. It was an argument Barwick used to try to validate the Communist Party Dissolution Act ten years before but now the penalty for peace-time treason was death.

There was a new crime of "treachery, both domestic and foreign". As the CPA put it in its campaign against the Bill, the concept of a "proclaimed" country whereby any country could be declared a "proclaimed country". Thus the USA could be declared a proclaimed country, and Australians could be gaoled for life for "treachery" to the USA. The throwback this time was to Latham's 1926 Act making membership of any association pledged to violent overthrow of the state punishable by imprisonment.

The draft of the bill meant that any discussion by anyone of Australian foreign policy would expose the discussants to charges of treason.

The definition of sabotage was a wide restatement of an old law. It protected any article in "prohibited places" such as commonwealth offices, dams, roads etc. The harm had to be done with intent to prejudice the defence of the Commonwealth but the courts would be allowed to infer criminal intent from the accused "known character."

The key feature was the "known character" provisions. Under the clause, a union official might be in danger of facing prosecution if he or she approached a declared "prohibited place" for the purpose of organizing the workers. The penalty was seven years gaol.

These features even went beyond what Barwick had tried in the Communist Party Dissolution Act, in that the person did not have to be a member of the CPA but just needed a reputation of being one.

Even the arch anti-Communist John Latham wrote to Barwick asking him to remove the 'known character" provisions and to introduce protection of free speech. The bill was passed and many aspects of it remained for many years, as the toughest security legislation in the English-speaking world.

Laurie Aarons was speaking at a 1991 conference held during the first George Bush's war to establish a "New World Order" where the US took its first major opportunity to assert its right to decide what's best for all unrestrained by any countervailing power.

The current George Bush has been pursuing the agenda of his father (and of many other figures in the US establishment who have been driving it uninterrupted for many years). Aarons comments then that "we will need to fight new fights for democracy, civil liberties and human rights." He was writing during the Hawke-Keating years and stated then that the main threat to democratic rights in Australia was the threat to unionism and the right to strike. With John Howard now in power, a man who regularly speaks of the Menzies heritage as important for Australia and his own political views, the Menzies example of suppression of free speech, and crackdowns on any perceived "dissent" looms large. The security legislation that has been introduced (and delayed so far) would introduce the same powers that Menzies sought then (and later in the early 1960s) and poses at least an equal threat to rights of Australians, and is being introduced again at a time when the "security" of the "free world" is again seen as under threat.

Many people today enjoy attacking the CPA and its members as Stalinist apologists. The most boring stuck record on this is Gerard Henderson (although Robert Manne was a challenger for the title a few years ago). This week he managed to get in an attack on Cathy and Paula Bloch for writing an obituary of their mother Betty without the apology for Stalinism that he seems to feel is obligatory for any CPA members or even someone who "had a reputation" of being one. The CPA, however, has been the longest standing group in Australia supporting human rights and civil liberties for all Australians (including Aboriginal people long before any other political party). Communism has faded, but the issues that drew many people to a party that stood up for ordinary people remain alive today.

Laurie Aarons summed up in 1991. "The defeat of the Menzies referendum, 40 years ago, has this lesson for us all - the fight goes on in new conditions and times. We all should strive to answer the questions this poses. We will come up with different visions, perhaps. Certainly our ways of achieving it will differ. But we should turn our minds and our efforts to seeking answers."


Further Reading:

Max Julius. What the Communist Dissolution Bill Means to You! [pamphlet]

Brian Fitzpatrick. Constitutional Aspects of the Royal Commission on the Communist Party. (Melbourne: Australian Council for Civil Liberties, 1949)

J. G. Starke. Constitutional Aspects of the Communist Party Dissolution Referendum. {article: source unknown to me]

Defend Peace - Union Rights - Liberty. Defeat Barwick's Crimes Bill. (A Tribune publication, 1960)

David Marr. Barwick. (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1980)

Laurie Aarons. Confessions of a Failed Outlaw; in; Seeing Red: the Communist Party Dissolution Act and Referendum 1951: lessons for Constitutional Reform (Sydney: Evatt Foundation, 1992)

Clem Lloyd Evatt, Menzies, Latham and the anti-Communist Crusade; in; Seeing Red.


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