Communist Party of Australia

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Communist Party of Australia

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Established in 1920, the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) experienced significant growth in membership and influence throughout the 1930s and early to mid 1940s. The Queensland branch of the CPA established itself in Brisbane and regional centres especially the Townsville/Bowen/Collinsville region, known as the 'Red North'. Declared illegal between 1940 and 1942, the CPA continued, however, to function and grow in membership. In 1944, Fred Paterson was elected the state member for Bowen, the first and only CPA member elected to an Australian parliament. By the late 1940s, Cold War hostility and the CPA's increasing militancy saw the CPA under attack from the Chifley Labor government, the industrial groups within the trade union movement and the Liberal Party and business interests. In 1951, the Menzies government failed in its attempts to ban the CPA through a referendum. Yet the CPA was already experiencing significant decline that was only exacerbated by the Petrov 'spy' scandal and Royal Commission of 1954-55 and Chairman Khruschev's denunciation of Stalin's excesses in 1956. Of note is the fact that the Queensland CPA continued to maintain significant influence within the Trades and Labour Council of Queensland throughout the 1960s, largely as a consequence of the Council's Secretary Alec McDonald who died in 1969.
Objectives - To help build a broad alliance and left coalition which can transform society and build socialism while retaining the party's right to put its own independent position; to develop a stronger, larger and broader based party; to seek the opinions of workers and others in developing programmes for socialism; to help develop the independent activity, organization adn policieis of working people; to help develop the analysis of Australian society and the political understanding necessary for effective political activity.
Publicists - See Tribune and Queensland Guardian.
Notes: In 1963 the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) was formed from expelled members of the C.P.A. In 1971, the Socialist Party of Australia was formed as a result of a split in the C.P.A.


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  • EAC

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