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Communist Party of Australia

The Communist Party of Australia (CPA) was a Soviet-aligned communist party that existed in Australia for much of the 20th century. (There is a party named the Communist Party of Australia now, but it is unrelated to the historic one.) In its heyday, it was a mass party that played a crucial role in drawing the trade union movement to the left (holding the leadership of many of the most militant unions, like the Builders Labourers’ Fed­er­a­tion). The party also represented, for a long time, pretty much the only “white Australian” organisation that stood against the severe oppression of Aboriginal people. It achieved this despite periods of repression (including Menzies’ attempt to outlaw it in the constitution, even though that failed) and splits (like a Maoist split in 1963, and a Stalinist hardliner split in 1971 after the CPA condemned the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia).

Numerous Australian literary greats of the 20th century either belonged to, or were fellow travellers of, the CPA. These include Frank Hardy and Katharine Susannah Prichard. There are also other well-known public figures in Australia who were, at least for a time, members of the CPA, including long-time Gardening Australia host Peter Cundall.

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