Australia on Communism

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History Essay: Australia on Communism

How did Australian governments deal with the perceived threat of communism after 1950, both at home and abroad?


Communism was spreading during the 1950s. It seemed as though it had spread from the USSR to China and was still advancing, causing the Australian government to become fearful of communism eventually reaching Australia and the threat of communism existing within Australia. To fight this perceived threat they brought in policies and propaganda to fight it both at home and abroad. At home they attempted to ban the Communist Party, which was slowly gaining more support, and they claimed that they had possession of a list of communist spies given to the by Vladimir Petrov (of the ‘Petrov Affair’). Abroad, the Australian government formed more international treaties, in an attempt to stop the Domino Theory, and they also became more militarily involved with the world as a form of forward defence.

In an attempt to contain the spread of communism Australia formed more international treaties with what Menzies called the Australians’ “great friends and allies”. Such treaties included the ANZUS Treaty, which was between Australia, the United States and New Zealand, and SEATO, a treaty formed for the protection of South-East Asia. The main reason behind all these treaties was US President Truman’s policy of containment, or the Truman Doctrine. This policy states that the US would help any nation threatened by communism from within or without. Australia wholeheartedly supported the containment policy and so assisted the US in an attempt to stop the Domino Theory. The Domino Theory held with the belief that if one Asian state “fell” to communism then slowly all of Asia would fall like dominoes to communism. Australia was determined to not be just another domino and so tried to stop this fate by using forward defence.

Forward defence is...
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