The Guardian June 20, 2001


The National Civic Council and anti-communist politics

by Vera Butler

Historically, the Catholic Church in Australia, and a variety of associated 
lay groups, conducted an unrelenting campaign of hostility against 
Communism.

In the early 1940s Bartholomew ("Bob") A Santamaria founded the Catholic 
Social Studies Movement, which was sponsored and financed by the Catholic 
Church. In 1941 Santamaria became Secretary of the newly-formed National 
Catholic Rural Movement, part of Catholic Action  an unofficial 
organisation which had its origin in Europe. By 1945 "The Movement" became 
a formally structured lay body, which allegedly continued being part of 
Catholic Action.

In 1947 Santamaria became founding editor of "News Weekly", the Catholic 
newssheet which was available at parish churches after Sunday Mass. It 
conducted a vociferous scare campaign against a Communist takeover of Asia 
and Australia  the notorious "Yellow Peril", now turned into the "Red 
Peril" after Mao's victory in China in 1949.

Santamaria's vision of a grand communist strategy was published in "News 
Weekly" of April 28, 1954:

"Soviet Russia has a definite plan for Communist revolution in Australia 
in the Kremlin, the advance of Communist world conquest through Asia has 
been planned along the axis of a line drawn from Moscow to Sydney. 
Significantly, this line passes through China, Indo-China, Indonesia and 
New Guinea to Australia..."

The National Civil Council (NCC) was formed in December 1957, in response 
to concerns by Catholic Church leaders that lay groups connected with 
Santamaria were seen to meddle in Trade Union and ALP affairs at a time 
when a split along ideological lines was imminent. The NCC went ahead 
organising, having blocked interference "from above".

After the split of the ALP in 1958, the activities of the NCC were closely 
linked with the breakaway Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist), which 
eventually became the Democratic Labor Party (DLP).

By allocating its preferences to the Liberal Coalition, the DLP managed to 
keep the Australian Labor Party out of office till Whitlam's victory in 
1972. Such ultra-conservatives as Henry Bolte in Victoria, and Prime 
Minister Robert Menzies, were indebted to the DLP for their political 
fortunes.

In the mid-1960s the DLP, the NCC and "News Weekly" became the mouthpieces 
for such Menzies policies as sending Australian troops to Vietnam.

* * *
* Ormonde, Paul, 1972. The Movement, Th. Nelson (Australia) Ltd., Sydney, p.30. Note: another reference was The Split by Robert Murray, 1970, Chesire, Melbourne.

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