University Of Tasmania
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Anti-communism in Tasmania in the late 1950s with special reference to the Hursey case

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posted on 2023-05-26, 21:40 authored by Jones, Peter D
While the strength of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) was concentrated in Victoria, Tasmania was also significant for several reasons : it was the electoral base of Senator George Cole, the DLP's leader in the Senate up to 1964; Hobart was the venue of the ALP Federal Conference when the Split occurred in 1955; and it was the only state with a Labor Government throughout the Menzies years. While the Anti-Communist Labour Party, later the DLP, contested all State and Federal elections after 1956, they failed to make significant inroads into the ALP vote, although Senator George Cole (first elected on the ALP ticket in 1949) was able to maintain his Senate seat until 1964 - largely because of the Tasmanian tradition of voting for personalities rather than ideologies. The DLP vote in both State and Federal elections failed to affect the overall results, except in the 1959 state election, when DLP preferences in Franklin gave an extra unexpected extra seat to the Liberal Party and resulted in a situation where two Independents held the balance of power. Nonetheless, the ALP remained in power for the next five years, and was again returned to office in 1964, when the DLP vote dropped by a half. No candidates stood at State level after 1969 or for the Senate after 1974. While Tasmania had a staunch anti-communist Catholic Archbishop in Guilford Young, there were less Catholics as a proportion of the overall population than on the mainland, and many of them remained in the ALP - including Premier Cosgrove, Senator O'Byrne and trade unionists like Fred Peters. There was only a small industrial base in Tasmania so the DLP had largely to rely on allegations of communist influence in the unions on the mainland. The Communist Party had few members in key positions in the trade unions, while the ALP leadership was dominated by the Right. Premier Cosgrove supported the Communist Party Dissolution Bill in 1951 and the ALP in Tasmania gave little active support to H.V. Evatt when he was leader of the party. The fear of communism was maintained through a succession of visits by exiles from communistoccupied countries, especially addressing church groups and New Australians, as well as feature articles and letters in the press and constant emphasis in homilies delivered by Catholic priests to their congregations and school students. One significant event in the late 1950's concerned the refusal of two wharf ies, Frank and Denis Hursey - father and son, to pay their ten shilling ALP levy to the WWF, and the struggle over this issue, both on the wharf and in the courts, was to last from 1957 to 1959. Well known in the Hobart community, the Hurseys had a higher- level of support on the mainland than in Tasmania itself.


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Copyright 1995 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Includes bibliographical references. Thesis (M.Hum.)--University of Tasmania, 1996

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