Waterford, Jack: Australia’s McCarthy era

Waterford, Jack

Unravelling Australia’s own McCarthy era‘, Inside Story, 30 May 2014

While the article rejects the allegation that the Petrov espionage affair was deliberately engineered to electorally damage the Australian Labor Party and its Leader, Dr HV Evatt, it concludes that

the government, ASIO and, ultimately, the royal commission [into the affair] itself saw the whole Petrov exercise as an opportunity to deliver the public a lecture on the evils and menace of communism. The conservative parties’ motive for discovering this is obvious; ASIO saw it as an opportunity not only to justify its existence but also (more legitimately) to raise some consciousness of internal security issues. The commission might have adopted a more moderate tone, but was probably pushed by the violence of Labor’s official reaction to it. In the end, it was Labor, not the Communist Party, that was to be the main victim.

The article originally appeared under the title ‘A Labor Myth?’ in Better Dead than Red: Australia’s First Cold War, edited by Ann Curthoys and John Merritt (Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1986).

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