Demons and Democrats: Kim Beazley's viewby Kim BeazleyNews Weekly
, May 4, 2002
Kim Beazley Snr was Federal Labor Member for Fremantle from 1945 to 1977 and Federal Education Minister 1972-75. He provides the following assessment of
Demons and Democrats: 1950s Labor at the Crossroads, by Gavan Duffy, which is available from News Weekly Books for $27.95.This study by Gavan Duffy has a baffling title, but it is comprehensive as a study of a great many Australian trade unionists, in relation to the DLP and the Labor split.
The foreword by Bill Hayden pays a strong tribute to B.A. Santamaria, and a thread of Santamaria's wisdom runs through the book.
I do not think the book assesses behind the DLP, and its well known assignment of preferences against the Labor Party (which kept Labor out of Federal Office for more than two decades), nor the more profound motive of ensuring the Catholic ethic benefitted the life of Australia.
That, not preferences, was what mattered to Santamaria and, I think, to Senator Frank McManus and to Senator Condon Byrne.
I remember a conversation with Santamaria in which it was obvious he was hurt and distressed by the fact that Italy voted to legalise abortion. The spiritual fact most devastating for anyone interested in Catholic and Christian thought is that there are 100,000 abortions in Australia every year.
What is euphemistically called our "low birthrate" is "leading to an aged population and the young will not be able to support the old". Supporters of abortion usually dodge the fact that we are killing the young, and pretend that somehow this is not taking life.
The book describes Chifley's devastating attack on the Communist coal strike of 1949 - the use of the army, the railways, the confiscation of union funds, and the exposure of communist lying. It points out that Evatt, as Attorney General, was legal adviser for this.
When Chifley was dead and Evatt became Labor leader, he was incapable of such clear-minded leadership. He was blind to Stalin.
I remember when a Congressional group from the United States visited Poland and were told what everybody in Poland knew: that the Soviet Union had murdered thousands of Polish officers, and the elite of Poland, and I commented on this to Evatt. He became vehement that the murders had been done by the Nazis.
Evatt did not live to learn of Gorbachev giving the most detailed description of the guilt of Stalin and Soviet officers in this massacre, which sickened some of the Russians who carried it out by a shot in the back of the head.
|"So comprehensive a study that those who wish to be informed will turn to it as essential."|
The most pathetic episode in Evatt's career is described in the book - Evatt saying in the House of Representatives how he had written to Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov, and Molotov told him he had no spies in Australia - so there!
The Labor Party was stunned, while the Liberals rolled with laughter. As we walked out, Eddie Ward said to me, "Kim, I've got my slogan for the next election." "What is that?" I asked. "Molotov says, 'Vote 1 Ward'."
He was the only one who could find anything amusing in the shattering stupidity of Evatt's position, which may have been indicative of the onset of his mental illness.
This book evades a study of the DLP leader, Vince Gair, deserting the DLP to become Gough Whitlam's Ambassador to Ireland, where he did himself and Australia no good; but it deals carefully with most people in trade unions and Australian politics and the DLP.
It is so comprehensive a study that those who wish to be informed will turn to it as essential.