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Movements against Communism 1951–4

Timeline of key events in the campaign against communism

December 1949 Robert Menzies (Lib) defeated Ben Chifley (ALP) in federal election.
April 1950 Menzies introduced the Communist Party Dissolution Bill.
October 1950 Communist Party Dissolution Bill passed through Parliament.
October 1950 Communist Party challenged the Bill as unconstitutional.
March 1951 High Court found the Bill to be unconstitutional by a vote of 5 to 1.
April 1951 Double dissolution followed by an election returning Menzies to power.
September 1951 Referendum to allow Commonwealth Government to ban Communist Party was narrowly defeated.
April 1954 Russian spy Vladimir Petrov and his wife defected to Australia and revealed information about a spy network operating in Australia.
May–June 1954 Election campaign – main issue was communism. Menzies was returned with a reduced majority.
August 1954 Report of the Royal Commission into the Petrov affair.
February 1955 ALP split over fears of communism. DLP (Democratic Labor Party) was created.

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