Comintern History. Communist Party of Australia. 1967


Full Human Rights for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders

A program adopted by the 21st Congress
of the Communist Party of Australia
June 1967.

Published: by Communist Party of Australia, June 1967;
Printed and published by D. B. Young Pty. Ltd., 168 Day Street, Sydney;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden for 2003.

The making of a tragedy

WHEN ENGLISH COLONISATION began in Australia in 1788 there were already at least three distinct ethnographical groups inhabitating the continent and the nearby islands. They came to be known as the Torres Strait Islanders, the Australian and Tasmanian Aborigines.

Geographically isolated from the main areas of human progress. these peoples had nevertheless developed, on the basis of simple communal economies, highly complex and intricate human cultures, still of tremendous importance to mankind and studied as such by scientists and artists.

The lack of grain crops suitable for agriculture and of native animals suitable for domestication in Australia prevented the development of the pastoral and agricultural pursuits which formed the basis for economic advance in other continents.

The English colonists, products of a rising capitalist system, paid scant regard to the rights or needs of the Aboriginal population.

In particular, the drive for land cut across the Aborigines’ occupation of their tribal territories. On the island of Tasmania, where all the land was seized by settlers for agricultural and pastoral pursuits, the Aborigines were brutally exterminated before a century had passed.

On the mainland, tribal societies were disrupted, first by the early colonial settlements and later, when the process was greatly intensified by squatters taking up large areas of land for grazing after the 1820s. Aboriginal communities were decimated as a result of the seizure of their land, massacres, ruthless police suppression, and imported diseases.

The northern part of Australia, except for the high rainfall areas, was not occupied until the 1880s, and then only for pastoral purposes. Because of the different climatic and geographical conditions, the pastoral industry in the North followed a different pattern from the southern states (based on cattle rather than sheep) and an uneasy modus vivendi could be established with the Aborigines. While massacres occurred, extermination was not carried through to the same extent as in the South. Consequently, it is in the Northern parts of Australia that the Aborigines are the most numerous today.

At first they were regarded as industrially useless but, especially following the enlistment of many white stockmen during the first World War, they were used more and more widely on Northern cattle stations, and soon developed into a source of cheap labour for the cattle industry.

The Torres Strait Islanders, though able to maintain some control in their many islands, were subjugated and placed under the control of the Queensland Government.

Towards the end of the century, the Queensland Government imported many thousands of near-slave laborers from other Pacific Islands, many of whose descendants now live in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Governments eventually created reserves and settlements on to which the remnants of the Aboriginal tribes were herded. These included Christian religious missions, set up in areas arbitrarily allotted to various sects, and vested with powers of government.

Reserves became pools of cheap labour, where the people were compelled to live in isolated, backward conditions. The Aboriginal population as a whole was deprived of all land ownership and denied elementary human rights.

Today, 180 years after the establishment of the first colonial settlement, the tribal system has largely been destroyed. The estimated Aboriginal population declined in this period from 300,000 to 100,000.

This, in brief, is the genesis of the so-called “Aboriginal problem” which has now become an Australian and international scandal — the problem of many thousands of gifted, capable human beings denied the human rights guaranteed by the United Nations Charter, in the land they have inhabited since ancient times.

In recent years, increased public awareness, the influence of the national policies of the Socialist countries and the world-wide sweep of the postwar national liberation movement have compelled Australian Governments to take some steps — however reluctant, belated and inadequate — towards rectifying some outstanding evils and injustices . . .

But the basic condition of the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders remains that of oppressed national minorities. This is emphasized, not contradicted, by the fact that the great majority of them are under-paid laborers, living in poverty.

The high unemployment, sickness and illiteracy rates among them, heir generally substandard housing and education, their virtual t exclusion from most skilled trades and professions are the direct result of official discrimination against them as peoples, not of any natural shortcomings. Person for person, they have the same potential as any other human being. What they lack is opportunity, encouragement and help.

This program is published with the aim of showing what can and must be done in the interests of justice to the oppressed native peoples of Australia.

Out of the massacres, slavery and contempt . . .

THE ABORIGINAL NATIONAL MINORITY is scattered throughout the continent. In far Northern Australia and in Central Australia, Aborigines are the majority of the population, the backbone of the cattle industry and potentially the most capable workforce to develop those areas. They are also becoming big minorities in some towns and cities, as mechanisation and other causes force them out of the countryside.

No proper count of the Aboriginal population has yet been made. Until May 27th, 1967 when the Australian Constitution was amended, the Aboriginal people were excluded from the census. There is still no exact count — the figure of 100,000 is only an estimate — but the Aboriginal population has been increasing for some years. It is estimated that it will reach 500,000 by the end of this century.

In addition, there are approximately 6000 Torres Strait Islanders and some thousands of people descended from other Islanders. These are distinct minorities, but their general position in Australian society approximates that of the Aborigines. While there are historically formed differences between them, they are tending towards mutual understanding and unity in action, as the conscious movement for their rights develops.

Various problems . . .

THE PROBLEMS OF THE PEOPLE differ from place to place. Few still live in near-tribal conditions. The great majority have been converted into underpaid, underprivileged workers. Some are free, others strictly controlled and restricted on Government reserves and religious missions.

Some are of pure Aboriginal or Island descent, others of mixed origin. But all who identify themselves as Aborigines or Islanders, and are accepted as such, should be so regarded. Unscientific and insulting definitions in terms of “caste” or “blood” should be rejected.

Living and working conditions differ in different industries, towns and areas. Some town and city workers have full rights, wages and housing. Many are casual, underpaid laborers living on the fringes of towns and cities. Others are employed under near-slave conditions on cattle stations and pearling luggers or segregated in Government and Mission settlements.

The special laws covering Aborigines vary from State to State — even in the definition of “Aborigine”.

But all Aborigines and Islanders are oppressed, to a greater or lesser extent by Federal and State Governments, and by discriminatory practices arising from false and irrational prejudices against them, cultivated for generations by those who stand to gain from their continued subjugation.

Recent amendments to State and Federal Acts have removed some of the most oppressive forms of official discrimination against them, though many remain. They have been given general Federal and State voting rights but, as yet, no real control over their own affairs as peoples.

The problem is a two-fold one: the problem of workers suffering exceptionally bad conditions, and the problem of peoples fighting for the right to exist as such.

Science rejects the view that there are naturally superior and inferior peoples. The Aborigines and Islanders have the same right as any other nationalities to exist and develop as peoples, and to full social equality with other Australians.

Official policy has never recognised this right, though a beginning is now being made in South Australia.

The fraud of “protection”

IN THE COURSE of the colonisation of Australia by European settlers, the Aborigines’ land has been seized and their social organisation disrupted and largely destroyed. Shooting, poisoning, disease, starvation and degradation had, towards the end of the last century, reduced their numbers to such an extent that it was believed they were dying out.

However, as it became apparent that they could be useful as a source of cheap labour, official policy began to turn towards 11 protection”, so that in the years before Federation, most of the State Governments introduced Protection Acts. The main purpose of this legislation was not really protection of the Aborigines and Islanders, but restriction of their personal freedom and other democratic rights in order to ensure a source of cheap labour, especially for the cattle and pearling industries.

This is clearly revealed by the position in the Northern Territory where there was no special Aboriginal legislation until 1918, when a protection-type ordinance on the model of the Queensland Act was introduced. The labour shortage caused by the First World War had suddenly led to an awareness of the labour potential of the Aboriginal population.

“Protection” has meant in practice exploitation and persecution of Aborigines and Islanders under State and Federal laws. It has been the excuse for depriving thousands of defenceless people of elementary human rights, segregating them in isolated settlements under white control, destroying their ancient cultures and customs and not replacing these with the major advantages of modern civilisation.

In the last few years, under growing pressure from the peoples themselves and from democratic minded individuals in Australia and elsewhere in the world, State and Northern Territory laws have been liberalised to varying degrees.

But no Government, State or Federal, (with the exception of South Australia) has yet begun the fundamental program of work and expenditure essential to enable these peoples to move rapidly into the world of today.

In South Australia, legislation for a more enlightened policy has been passed, to ban racial discrimination, establish Aborigine Councils, protect Aboriginal cultural and religious relics and provide for their free use by Aborigines, and create a Land Trust, controlled by an all Aborigine body, to provide land to Aborigines or groups of Aborigines and help with its development.

Federal and State responsibilities

WHEN AUSTRALIA BECAME A FEDERATION of States in 1901, the States jealously retained certain powers, among them power over land, with which the Aboriginal question is intimately connected.

Consequently the Federal Constitution (until amended by referendum in 1967) denied the Federal Government the right to make laws with respect to the Aboriginal people in any State. Moreover the Constitution specifically excluded Aborigines from the Australian population count, first because it would have been impossible to take a census of Aborigines at that time, as most of them were still tribal, and secondly because it was not considered important, as they were thought to be dying out.

Because the Constitution prevented the Commonwealth from making laws for the Aboriginal people, the States continued to legislate independently. Aboriginal people thus come under a different set of laws each time they cross a State boundary. These range from the vicious racist laws of Queensland to the new legislation of South Australia.

The Federal Government’s lack of constitutional power to legislate for Aborigines has been used again and again by both State and Federal Governments as an excuse for the deplorable situation in the States. Federal control of the main sources of finance has been said to be the reason why States ‘could not do what is necessary. But the legal position was not the reason for Federal Government inaction in the Northern Territory, which it controls, and State Governments found very large sums of money and solved land and other problems easily in connection with, for example, the entry of big overseas monopolies to exploit mineral deposits.

The Federal Government, after years of successfully evading demands for a referendum to give it the necessary powers, gave way in 1967.

On May 27th, 1967 the Australian people in a nationwide referendum voted by 10 to 1 to amend the Constitution to permit Aborigines to be counted in the census and to allow the Federal Government to legislate for Aborigines. This was an overwhelming vote for justice to the oppressed.

But experience since the Referendum shows that neither State nor Federal Governments are yet facing up to their plain and urgent duties to take the steps needed to make amends for the shameful past.

The removal of the constitutional barrier will not in itself ensure justice for Aborigines. Proof of this came within a few weeks of the Referendum, when the Federal Government refused to grant the Gurindji (NT) Aborigines a small part of their homeland, and failed to allocate suitable funds for Aboriginal advancement in the 1967 Budget.

Protracted and uncompromising struggle will have to be waged to compel the Federal Government to make proper use of the powers it now possesses. The States, which still retain considerable powers, must not be permitted to shelve their responsibilities.

It is essential that the Federal Government provide large scale grants to enable Aborigines and Islanders rapidly to overcome the handicaps imposed on them by nearly two centuries of repression and exploitation. To overcome the shameful legacy of the past, it is not enough to end discrimination against them; it is necessary to introduce discrimination in their favour. Only thus will it be possible to provide the housing, education, job training and other basic needs which will enable Aborigines and Islanders to enjoy real equality with other Australians.

The States, which have control over their land, have a duty to restore ownership of some areas to Aborigines. The Federal Government has the same duty in the Northern Territory.

The complete deprivation of land suffered by the Australian Aborigines is a wrong suffered by few other peoples on earth. New Zealand Maoris and even U.S. “Indians” are far better off.

A history of heroism & struggle

THE ABORIGINAL AND ISLAND PEOPLES, though naturally gentle and friendly, have defended themselves throughout their history to the best of their ability. Many stories of their heroism have been recorded. As far back as the twenties and thirties, especially in Queensland and Western Australia, they have been raising demands for human rights in the limited ways open to them.

Herded into sub-standard Government and Mission settlements, denied land ownership, forbidden to organise and control their own individual and social affairs, deprived of up-to-date educational and health services, denied privileges and safeguards enjoyed by other members of the Australian community, or treated as second-class citizens when free of the Acts, the Aborigines and Islanders nevertheless succeeded in maintaining their identity as peoples, despite official efforts to have them abandon it.

For many years, devoted individuals pleaded for recognition of the human rights of the Aboriginal and Island peoples, publishing scientific and other materials demonstrating their high intelligence and ability, and exposing many cases of merciless exploitation of them.

But because the Aboriginal people had been broken and divided, with detribalised elements scattered around the towns and the majority segregated in remote settlements, and because racialism was fostered in the Australian labor movement during the long period of domination by, rightwing theories no wide mass movement could develop around the needs of the Aborigines until recent times.

The experience of building the Soviet Union following the Revolution of 1917 showed that equality for all nationalities, together with international solidarity, was the way forward to a new world.

The formation of the Communist Party of Australia in 1920, with its aim of developing socialist consciousness in Australian conditions, made possible a new approach to the problem of the Aborigines.

From the beginning, the Communist Party fought against all forms of racialism, especially those expressed in the “White Australia” policy, and supported efforts to improve the lot of Aborigines.

The publication in 1939 of Tom Wright’s pamphlet “A New Deal for the Aborigines” was a big step forward though Wright’s work concentrated on the then remaining tribal and semi-tribal

Aborigines. In 1947, Gerald Peel, M.A., then a Communist Party organiser, published a valuable study of the Torres Strait Islanders, “Isles of the Torres Strait”, putting forward a basic program which, has since been enlarged by the Islanders themselves, who have made some gains as a result.

The publication of this program will, we hope, make a further contribution by advancing new ideas and taking into account major national and international changes.

The second world war and after

THE YEARS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR brought vital new elements into the struggle for Aboriginal rights. The struggle against fascism raised sharply the fundamental question of human rights, and revealed the hideous consequences of racism. The plight of the Aborigines became known to thousands of Australians, the injustice and inequality being further underlined by the valuable contribution of Aborigines and Islanders to the war effort.

During the War, thousands of troops and civilian construction workers were stationed in Northern Australia. Many of these had political and trade union experience. They brought with them the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity — of internationalism. Aborigines who came in contact with them became aware that they had allies and friends in the white community.

The effect of this contact was evident in the famous Pilbarra (W.A.) strike which began on the 1st May, 1946. Here, and again in the 1950 and 1951 strikes in the Northern Territory, there was a new quality in the Aboriginal struggle. This was still more apparent in the 1967 struggle of Northern Territory Aboriginal stockmen for equal wages, land and human rights. The striking Aborigines made contact with the trade union movement in other parts of Australia and got substantial assistance.

New opportunities

THE TREMENDOUS DEVELOPMENTS in Northern Australia during and since the war have created new opportunities. There has been a big expansion of air and road transport; radio and other means of communication have been greatly improved; formerly remote areas have been systematically explored in search of oil, bauxite, iron, copper, uranium and other minerals; inland mines and settlements have been developed; military activities, including establishment of rocket ranges and siting of bases, have covered a wide area.

Before World War 11, the white population of the Northern Territory was never more than 5,000. Today it is 35,000 and rising. In addition to the residents, some 20,000 tourists visit the Northern Territory each year — before the war there were practically no tourists.

One very significant result of technical and scientific development has been the virtual disappearance of tribal conditions among the Aborigines and their absorption in a money-commodity economy. Thus in 1938, half of all Northern Territory Aborigines were classified as living under tribal conditions, compared with 400 in 1960, out of a total Aboriginal population of 16,000.

Increasing numbers of Aborigines and Islanders are being drawn into industry. The great majority have become wage labourers. Big numbers of Torres Strait Islanders have been brought to the mainland to work on railway construction and other developmental projects. This has deepened their working-class knowledge and helped to improve Aboriginal-Islander understanding. Aboriginal and Islander leaders of great courage and ability are emerging.

The Aborigines and Islanders are no longer isolated from the working-class movement in the cities, which can now more easily give them moral and material support.

The increase in the Aboriginal population in this period is very significant. During the war years, better medical and hygienic services were introduced, primarily to protect soldiers and construction workers stationed in the area. After the war, the increased white population, and the greater risk of infection from the growing air traffic between Darwin and other countries meant that supervision of the health and hygienic conditions of Aborigines (though still inadequate) had to be continued. The effect of these measures, in some cases, has led to a big population growth among Aborigines. For example, on Groote Eylandt the Aboriginal population has increased from less than 350 in 1941 to 800 in 1965.

Powerful effects

IN THE COURSE OF THE POSTWAR YEARS, the great national liberation movements in many countries, the freedom movement of the US Negroes, the South African and Rhodesian issues and the worldwide struggle against colonialism in all its forms have made an increasing impact on Australia. The Australian Aboriginal movement has become part of the world movement for national liberation. Those fighting for Aboriginal rights have begun to gain more support. Criticism in the United Nations by Soviet, African and other delegates of Australian policies towards the peoples of New Guinea, the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders has helped Australians to realise that the conditions forced on these peoples are among the worst in the world.

The great postwar immigration has compelled Australians to learn to live with people of various national origins. The inhuman treatment of the Aborigines has become even more obvious when contrasted with official attitudes to “New Australians.”

Public knowledge of hitherto concealed facts about the condition of the Aborigines has improved. Revelations of the squalid conditions on most Government and Mission settlements have led to demands for drastic improvements from many sections of the community.

State and Federal Government handovers to Australian and foreign monopolies of millions of acres of land formerly reserved for Aboriginal occupation have underlined the fact that the Aborigines have no title to their ancestral lands. Long established settlements have been destroyed and the people forcibly removed at short notice. Aboriginal rights to land ownership have thus become an urgent and immediate question.

Movement grows

THE MOVEMENT FOR ABORIGINAL RIGHTS has begun to assume a new quality in recent times.

It is becoming an organised, growing mass movement, in which capable Aboriginal representatives are increasingly taking leading parts, with a number of trade unions and other organisations playing an increasingly important role.

Conferences for Aboriginal advancement have brought together Aborigines from all over Australia, increasing their awareness of themselves as a people.

In 1963, for the first time, the Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions adopted a sound basic policy, opening the way for much stronger participation by the unions. This policy has since been strengthened. Wage-rates in the Northern Territory have been improved, though pastoralists are trying to offset this by reducing work-forces.

The former handful of devoted individuals has expanded into a network of organisations fighting for Aboriginal and Islander rights, with centres in all States, many linked together in a strong Federal movement, but some acting independently.

The organisations have made systematic studies of the conditions of the Aboriginal and Island people in all parts of the Commonwealth and formulated sets of demands.

Trade union representatives, members of political parties, especially of the left, youth, religious and women’s organisations, scientists and other professional people and progressive individuals are active in this movement and helping to arouse Australian consciousness of the situation.

Actions have been undertaken against particularly glaring injustices, with considerable success. Governments have been compelled to pay serious attention to a problem they had thought successfully buried.

A profoundly important development is the fact that, throughout Australia, Aborigines and Islanders are feeling the growing strength of their movement and, knowing that they have many allies in the white community, are developing greater confidence and skill in formulating and presenting their economic and political demands.

Assimilation and Integration

FROM THE EARLIER OFFICIAL policies of “protection”, the State and Federal Governments moved in 1951 to proclaim “assimilation” as the way forward for Aborigines.

The Governments’ problem was to frame legislation which maintained discrimination without appearing to do so, as Australia’s racist policies and legislation were coming under increased national and international criticism. In an effort to solve this problem, the Northern Territory Welfare Ordinances of 1953 were applied by naming in the Government Gazette individuals to whom they applied. Thus Northern Territory Aborigines were declared wards of the State and came under the legislation’s restrictive clauses, without the word “Aborigine” being mentioned.

The policy of “assimilation” was publicised to make it look as though something was being done.

Aborigines or Islanders should have every right to become assimilated in the general community if they wish to do so. But this should be their voluntary, individual choice. In practice, however, little has been (lone to make it possible for most Aborigines or Islanders to become so assimilated.

The great majority are still discriminated against and forced to live under conditions which make it impossible for them to acquire the knowledge and experience necessary to enter the major Australian communities on equal terms. In North Queensland and elsewhere, a deliberate policy of enforced segregation on backward settlements and islands is pursued.

The official assimilation policy is not the way forward. Stripped of pretence, it means in practice the elimination of the Aborigines as a people, through enforced absorption into the general population of Australia. As a former South Australian Minister in charge of Aboriginal Affairs put it, assimilation means that the Aborigines “are called upon to make the changes, to learn our languages, our ways, our food, our laws, our customs and our sophistications.”

But there are many undesirable features of Australian capitalist society and many things of great value in the experience accumulated over centuries by the Aborigines and Islanders.

In their own environment, they have developed unique skills and arts, great courage, initiative and intelligence. The few who have been able to overcome the barriers have demonstrated that Aborigines and Islanders can hold their own in any occupation in the Australian community.

They have much to contribute to Australia and the world from their own social and cultural heritage. Assimilation as intended by Australian governments, would destroy what they have to give to mankind, as well as denying them the fundamental right of all peoples to preserve their identity and develop along their own lines.

The policy which upholds their right to exist as separate peoples has come to be known as “integration”. This means that Aborigines and Islanders should be free to live as they choose, either as members of the general Australian community, or in their own autonomously controlled communities, according to individual choice. In other words, this policy provides for the minorities to be integrated into the Australian community without losing their identities.

For such a policy to become a reality, Aborigines and Islanders should have inalienable possession of their remaining tribal areas, of the lands now set aside as Government or Mission Settlements, or of better land where these are unsuitable, ownership of mineral and other natural wealth located on their lands, and economic aid to enable them to develop rapidly as modern communities.

Preservation and development of their own cultural heritage is a necessary condition for the progress of any community of people. The beliefs that will develop, forms of organisation, ways of doing things, languages, family and community relationships should be determinated by the Aboriginal and Island peoples themselves.

The rights of the Aboriginal and Island peoples to full citizenship, equal wages and other award conditions, together with such special aid as may be needed to enable them to enjoy equal rights, and also to exist and grow as distinct national minorities, are fundamental.

Many well-intentioned people who have been deceived by official assimilationist propaganda are nevertheless deeply concerned at the condition of the Aboriginal people and work for their welfare.

Those who are working for liberation of the Aborigines and Islanders do not oppose welfare work. They find it is possible and desirable to work with people in the organisations dispensing charity. The best of these become convinced, in the course of activity, of the need to assist the basic struggle for liberty.

Immediate demands

THE CHIEF IMMEDIATE DEMANDS now being raised by the Aboriginal and Island movements are:

* The Federal Government to enact immediately special legislation and allocate large scale finance for a crash program of education, modern heath and housing facilities and other needs, to make equal rights a reality, not formal, and to make it possible for Aborigines and Islanders to move rapidly into Australian society or, where desired by them, to control their own affairs on their own inviolable, communal lands.

* Close co-operation between Federal and State Governments in consultation with Aboriginal leaders and communities to achieve these aims.

* Repeal of all repressive and discriminatory legislation. All Aborigines and Islanders, including those on settlements, to have full rights, including the right to organize and to full trade union conditions, the right to receive full wages and to control the full amount earned. Social Services to be made known and available to all Aborigines. Payments to be made direct to the person concerned.

* Continuing Federal and State economic and technical assistance to enable Aboriginal and Island communities to develop along modern lines, including towns, industries, and communications. As the main centres of Aboriginal population are in the North, Federal and State plans for Northern Development to include ways and means to ensure that Aborigines and Islanders have a large share and opportunity in developing North Australia.

* Elimination of the shameful fringe settlements” and city “ghettoes”, replacing them with adequate modern housing on terms of complete equality with other citizens. Governments to provide special aid for families moving to towns and cities.

* Education opportunities and health services to be brought up to the general Australian standards.

The concern of all

AMONG WHITE AUSTRALIANS there are two ways of looking at these demands — from the democratic, humanist viewpoint of the great majority, or from the viewpoint of the few who profit from exploitation of Aborigines and Islanders.

Those who benefit chiefly from the wage-robbery of Aboriginal and Island workers and from the theft of Aboriginal lands are the big (mostly foreign) pastoral and mining concerns.

It is the power of these and other monopolies over State and Federal Governments that stands in the way of the liberation of the Aborigines and Islanders, prevents abolition of the backward state of life forced on them and denies them land ownership and control of their own affairs.

The struggle for Aboriginal and Islanders’ rights therefore, is an important part of the struggle of the Australian people against monopoly and its governments, for radical social change and for socialism.

For this reason, the fight for Aboriginal and Islanders’ rights should be regarded as an important aspect of the whole political struggle in Australia, not a matter for a few well wishers, but one to be taken up by all progressive people, all true patriots.

The majority of the Aboriginal and Island peoples has been converted into a particularly oppressed section of the working class. Their economic problems are therefore the direct concern of the working class and its unions.

Their problems as oppressed national minorities are also the concern of the working class, which is called on by history not only to emancipate itself but, in so doing, to help emancipate all other sections of the people.

Basic policy

OVER THE LAST DECADE or so, the Communist Party has worked seriously to help form a correct approach to the problems of the Aborigines and Islanders. A considerable body of theory has been developed and tested in practice.

The Communist Party has included a fundamental policy on Aborigines and, Islanders in its National Programme, published numerous articles in its press and periodicals and encouraged active concern of Communists with the struggles of the Aboriginal and Island peoples.

Taking as fundamental the right of all peoples to self-determination and the need to develop friendship between all peoples on the basis of equality, the Communist Party believes that Aborigines and Islanders must be enabled to live either as members of the general Australian community or in their own autonomously controlled communities, according to individual choice, and to move freely from one to the other as they wish. It is opposed to both compulsory assimilation and enforced segregation. It calls for strict legal guarantees against discrimination, regarding racialism as a serious crime.

The Communist Party fully supports the struggles now proceeding to win elementary rights for the Aboriginal and Island peoples.

The Party welcomes Aborigines and Islanders into its ranks on terms of absolute equality with all other members and provides special facilities to help them work for the emancipation and progress of their peoples.

It calls on all its members to give active assistance to them to work in a spirit of co-operation and unity with other progressives, especially the Aborigines and Islanders themselves, who are certain to become more deeply involved in struggle for their own rights and destinies within the next few years.

Comment and opinion on this program would be welcomed and should be addressed to:
Communist Party of Australia 168 Day Street, Sydney, 2000.