How Did the Australian Government Respond to the Threat of Communism After WWII?
Australia faced the threat of communism after WWII ended in 1945. The threat was known as the Red Menace which was caused by all the conflicts in Asia and also things that were going on in Australia at the time. The Australian government responded to the Red Menace in many ways.
They took military action, made alliances, gave economoc aid and tried banning the Communist Party in Australia. Communism is a social organisation where everyone in the country/community all have common property and money is shared equally.
Australia didn’t see communism as a threat until China was taken into control and turned into a communist country. Australia then began to fear that it would only be a matter of time ‘before the reds were on our doorsteps. ‘ Australia responded to the threat of communism in Asia by joining the Korean War in 1950. We joined it because we had a belief that it would be better to fight communism overseas rather than wait for it to reach Australia and fight it here. The Korean War was a part of our government’s ‘Forward Defense Policy’.
Military action was sent to Korea to help our allies to fight communism overseas. Another response to communism in Asia was the ANZUS Treaty which was one of the most important steps that Australia took to protect Australia from the threat of communism. The treaty was an agreement signed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States; it meant that each of the three nations involved would be obliged to help the other if one was attacked. It was an agreement of aid in common defense.
The reason why it was signed by Australia was because we believed that a strong ally was needed to keep Australia safe from communism. There was also another agreement that Australia got involved with called the SEATO alliance. The SEATO alliance was signed by Britain, Thailand, Pakistan, the Phillipines, France, New Zealand, Australia and the United States, in 1954. The alliance was started by the United States becasue of the increasing communist activity in South-east Asia from 1945.
The Korean War had just ended and communist activity was spreading to France and communist guerillas were currently active in Malaya. This made the United States feel vulnerable, so they proposed an alliance with the East- Asian countries to fight ‘communist aggression’. Australia was very happy to sign this alliance because it confirmes to the Unites States that we had their back and it supported our ‘Forward Defense Policy’. Australia later joined the Vietnam war to support their role of an ally and to maintain a close tie with the United States.
In 1962, Prime Minister Robert Menzies began sending 30 Australian military instructors to South Vietnam where Vietcong were trying to overthrow non-communist South Vietnam. The reason why Australia felt that it was vital to help the United States fight in this war was because of the advice we received from Washington telling us that if we help the United States fight North Vietnam, then when Australia need military assisstance, USA would help us. Fear of communism was also another reason which lead to Australia fighting in the Vietnam war.
We believed that if one more Asian country fell into communism, other countries as well as Australia would follow. This was called the ‘Domino Theory’. As well as responding to the threat of communism overseas, Australia also took precautions within the country. In 1949, Robert Menzies promised that he would ban the Communist Party Dissolution Bill which outlawed the Communist Party. The Bill was ruled as unconstitutional by the High Court and was narrowly defeated after a referendum was held. Many Australians feared that communism was getting closer and they were quite worried.
It was time for an elction and the Labor Party was confident that they were going to win thhe next elecion. Just shortly before the election, there was a huge ‘spy scare’. This was the Petrov affair. It was about Petrov and his wife Evdokia who provided detailed documents about a Soviet Spy Ring operating in Australia. Robert Menzies used this case and used the fear of communism for his own political ends, which made him win the election. This was how the Australian government responded to the threat of communism after WWII ended.