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Movements against Communism 1951–4

Why did the Labor Party split?

Read pages 172–5 of Australia's Democracy.

  • If the anti-communist referendum had been won, do you think that the ALP would have split and the DLP formed? Justify your response.
  • Using the 'Additional resources', investigate the role of BA Santamaria in the formation and early years of the DLP.
  • What was one way in which Australian Catholics benefited from the defeat of the referendum and the formation of the DLP?
  • Explain how events in the 1970s and 1980s have contributed to a decline in the significance and purpose of the DLP.
  • Hirst concludes the section 'Threats to democracy, 1920–1970' with the words 'Communism as an issue in Australian politics was finally dead.' To what extent do you agree with this assertion?

Examine visual sources

Look at the Communist Party referendum handbill (p 172).

  • Identify the various techniques used in this handbill and explain the message it is trying to convey.
  • To what groups in the population was this handbill directed? Refer to specific features of the handbill to support your view.
  • How representative of the general attitudes to the referendum are the views shown in this handbill?

Now examine the Democratic Labor Party poster (p 174). Compare it with the one produced by the Communist Party of Australia.

  • Comment on the circumstances in which the DLP poster was produced: the emotions, ideas and values to which it appeals.
  • What techniques are used to convey the message?
  • What impact might this and similar posters have had on the referendum result and the later political history of Australia?

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