Communist Party of Australia. 1942

Prohibitions Lifted.

Source: Attorney-General Evatt’s speech to Parliament, from official Digest of Decisions and Announcements, December 23, 1942.

On 18th December, 1942, the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) said –

“Having received satisfactory undertakings guaranteeing assistance in war production and in preventing stoppages and absenteeism, the Government has lifted the general prohibition imposed in June, 1940, upon the Communist party and its press. At that time Soviet Russia was a neutral country. Since Russia became an ally of Britain in 1941, most of those who had previously been associated with the Communist party in Australia have been active in support of the war effort and of war production. For instance, a recent report of the Security Service stated that the Communists were now ‘definitely working for increased production and a greater war effort ‘.

“The undertakings which have been entered into by a committee of certain individuals representing themselves and the Communist party bind all concerned –

(1) to do all in their power to assist in the effectual prosecution of the war;

(2) to do all in their power to increase the production of war materials and the provision of services for war or industrial purposes; and

(3) to do their utmost to promote harmony in industry, to minimize absenteeism, stoppages, strikes or other hold-ups.

“This decision of the Government means only that a very unusual ban or proscription which was imposed by a previous government as a war measure to meet a particular war situation will be removed because that situation has completely changed as a result of Soviet Russia’s fighting on the side of the United Nations. I make it clear that the decision evidences no sympathy by the Government with any Communist views or doctrine. As is well known, the doctrines of Communism are opposed to those of the Labour movement of Australia, the rules of which absolutely forbid the admission of any Communist.

“If the undertakings given are not observed, the Government will re-impose the ban. In addition, new regulations are now being promulgated making it an offence on the part of any individual to advocate, encourage or suggest the use of force as a means of advancing any political cause or measure whatsoever; further, the publishing or broadcasting of any such encouragement or suggestion is also penalized. In other words, any individual – whether a Communist or not – who offends against these or other laws punishing subversive conduct will be dealt with as an individual.

“The present revocation of the order of 1940 merely brings Australia into line with Britain so far as Communism is concerned. The Government hopes and believes that its decision will be accepted as a just solution of a difficult problem which arose because of the war and has now been settled solely with a view to the more effectual prosecution of the war.”