For some reason, Lucy Battersby and The Age decided to announce that the political artiste formerly known as the Socialist Party of Australia (1971–1996) but now known as the Communist Party of Australia has formed an Alliance (Alive and red, Communists back from the dead, January 16, 2009).
A Communist Alliance!
The Communist Alliance has lodged an application with the Australian Electoral Commission for federal registration. If approved, it will be the first time a communist party has been registered in Australia since July 1990, when the then national congress was deregistered due to declining membership. “The most common response we get is ‘Oh, you still exist’,” Victorian state branch secretary Andrew Irving told The Age yesterday.
Oddly enough, this is precisely the same reaction received when the Communist Alliance last launched itself upon the world stage. Assessing the outcome of the 2001 Federal election — a contest in which the CPA ran candidates — the editorial in the November 14, edition of The Guardian reads: The comment, “I thought you had gone out of existence”, is still all too frequently heard; more hopefully: The discovery that that is not the case is often followed by the comment that the Party’s continued existence is a good thing.
In the NSW Senate contest in 2001, there was a ding-dong battle between the CPA and the Socialist Alliance for electoral supremacy. Sadly for the CPA, they lost by over 100, gaining 1241 to the SA’s 1364 votes (from an overall total of 4,021,724). (By 2008, SA had gained 3,351 votes.)
*Note that following the Socialist Party of Australia’s adoption of the name Communist, the Militant Socialist Organisation adopted the name Socialist Party. The MSO/SP is a member of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), originally formed in 1974.
Oh yeah. Previously…
Communists’ website a hit with youth
April 29, 2001
Perched at their Internet-connected computers, an army of apparatchiks-in-waiting has flocked to the Communist Party of Australia’s website, bombarding it with more than 95,000 hits in the past two months.
CPA general secretary Peter Symon, 78, says it’s the strongest wave of youth interest he has seen in his 60 years as a card-carrying communist and almost three decades as general secretary.
And at its ninth National Congress recently, the CPA voted unanimously to convene in September a foundation congress of the Communist Youth of Australia for those aged 14-29. Waiting in the wings is a small but dedicated number of wannabe reds, who have been meeting as a loose network since October.
Mr Symon said that most of the hits came from young Australians curious about the party that former prime minister Robert Menzies tried unsuccessfully to declare unconstitutional in the early 1950s.
Youth interest in the CPA is not new. The Eureka Youth League – formed in 1941 from the remnants of the Young Communist League, deemed illegal early in World War II – was one of the main rallying points for protests against the Vietnam War in Sydney and Melbourne.
By 1972, however, many young firebrands of the left had broken ties with the Eureka Youth League, outraged by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia four years earlier.
Ray Berbling, CPA Victorian state president, said that youth interest in the party was “a cyclical thing” and interest was high now because “young people are suffering more under the governments that have been running Australia for the past 20 years”.
Organiser and youth spokesman Jules Andrews, 26, said the stimulus for forming a youth branch of the CPA was a trip to Melbourne last September for the S11 protests outside Crown Casino, which he hailed as “a triumph of left parties working together”. Mr Andrews said aspiring members of the Communist Youth of Australia met at party headquarters in Sydney once a fortnight for a formal meeting. Another activity – such as meeting at a protest rally, or a party function where they can set up a
youth table – is also held once every two weeks.
Raised in Townsville, Mr Andrews did not go to university (“it’s too expensive”) and does not come from a long line of communists (“my older sister, two younger brothers and I had a conservative, Christian upbringing”). He said his siblings had adopted his ideas.
To Mr Symon, such support is “indicative of a certain sort of milieu that’s developing in a society that is discontented and disillusioned” with the major political parties.
“They (young people) want to make life better, which is very commendable and understandable, and that need is being facilitated by the Internet. And in the 60 years I have been involved with the CPA, I can say without fear of contradiction that the ideas that we stand for have never let us down,” Mr Symon said.