December 19th 2015

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The first Christmas: a birth that set fire to men's hearts

CANBERRA OBSERVED A Nationals welcome no sure thing for Macfarlane

CLIMATE CHANGE $100bn a year climate fund the rub in Paris deadlock

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Free speech petition: appeal all 'right not to be offended' clauses

WATER POLICY Review tells of destruction of farms in Goulburn Valley

CULTURE AND POLITICS Liberalism's disappearing act on human freedom

TAX REVIEW Rise in GST a no go when the need is for jobs

HISTORY Taiwan's first people have survived waves of settlers

FREEDOM OF RELIGION Law not broad enough to contain freedom's flow

SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT Credit where credit is long overdue: B.A. Santamaria

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Swedish daycare part II: problems of weak parenting

CINEMA No life is lived as an island: It's a Wonderful Life

BOOK REVIEW A contribution to Pope Francis' call for a conversation on conservation


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Credit where credit is long overdue: B.A. Santamaria

by Joe Bullock

News Weekly, December 19, 2015

Senator Joe Bullock is an Australian Labor Party senator for Western Australia in Federal Parliament. He delivered this speech to the Senate on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. It is a fine testament to the life and work of the founder of the National Civic Council, B.A. Santamaria, the centenary of whose birth is this year.

Senator Joe Bullock

There is a common and very human tendency to accept unquestioningly that the way things are is the way they must be, as if history has been guided by some predetermined inevitability which has led us to where we are today, that it was inevitable that the Allies should have defeated fascism and that the Berlin Wall was always destined to fall.

There is a sort of reassuring comfort in such a belief but it is plainly untrue. Time and again in the history of nations, their futures hang in the balance with the outcome determined one way or another by the actions of a handful of committed individuals determined to influence the way the cards fall.

It is to these individuals at these times that the credit, or indeed the blame, for the outcome of the contest which comes to constitute the new national norm is attributable.

Often the commonly held belief by those not intimately involved in the contest that the outcome was inevitable diminishes the credit which is owed to those who effectively changed the course of history. This is even more likely to be the case where the protagonists themselves – either of their own decision or by force of circumstance – wage their battles out of the public glare and with a commitment to, as far as is possible, avoiding publicity for their work.

There are times, however, when acknowledgement of the actions critical to the shaping of a nation’s history must either be properly afforded or people are condemned to ignorance as to the forces which have shaped their society. Tonight is an appropriate time for such an acknowledgement.

As the centenary year of B.A. Santamaria’s birth comes to a close, I want to record a few thoughts about this great Australian, who never held political office and was never a member of any political party but who nonetheless had a significant influence on public affairs over nearly 60 years.

Santamaria’s greatest achievement was his contribution to the defeat of the organised effort in the 1940s and early 1950s by the Communist Party of Australia and its fellow travellers to dominate the trade union movement, the ACTU and consequently the Labor Party. At this time the Communist Party of Australia was entirely subservient to the Stalin-led Soviet Union and its interests.

Writing in the foreword to a 1940s Australian edition of Stalin’s The Foundations of Leninism, Lance Sharkey, general secretary of the Communist Party of Australia from 1948 to 1965, enthused: “The whole of the toiling masses of the world today acclaim the great work of the great statesman, Stalin.”

More than 60 years later, looking from the other side of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the liberation of Eastern Europe from Soviet domination and the collapse of the Soviet Union itself, it may be difficult for us to understand just how serious a threat to the free world, including Australia, the communists were.

Stephane Courtois’ The Black Book of Communism, published in 1999, tallied up the corpses and found that communist regimes worldwide were responsible for some 100 million deaths, 20 million in the Soviet Union alone.

Santamaria described how he became a committed opponent of communism:

“One day, by the purest accident, I was wandering round a suburban library, and by mistake I picked up a book that turned out to be Malcolm Muggeridge’s Winter In Moscow, which he published in 1934, and as I told Muggeridge many years later, ‘I blame you for everything that’s happened to me in my life, because that book changed my life’.”

In 1937, on the day he signed the solicitors roll after graduating in law from the University of Melbourne, Santamaria, then just 22 years old, was invited by Archbishop Daniel Mannix to come and work for the Australian national secretariat of Catholic Action. In 1941, Bert Cremean, deputy leader of the Labor Party in Victoria, asked Santamaria for help in combating the dominance of the Communist Party of Australia in the trade unions.

Santamaria described the approach he developed to tackle this task. He said: “I always believed that the only way to fight communism in the union movement was to go in, create a counterforce of anti-communist unionists, organise as well as they did, better than they did, and beat them and throw them out.”

The vehicle Santamaria developed to recruit and organise unionists for this task was the Catholic Social Studies Movement, “the Movement”.

However, he worked more broadly with Labor Party and trade union leaders through the ALP-sponsored industrial groups. Leaders such as Laurie Short of the Federated Ironworkers Association; Lloyd Ross of the Railwaymen’s Union; Percy Cleary, president, and Reg Broadby, secretary of the ACTU, and Arthur Calwell, then a minister in the Curtin government, supported this approach.

By 1954 this task was largely achieved. Labor, under the leadership of Bert Evatt, narrowly lost the May 1954 election. After appearing as legal counsel for two of his staff members at the Royal Commission on Espionage and failing to produce any evidence for his bizarre theory that ASIO had conspired with Vladimir Petrov to produce a forged document naming the two staff members as sources for information passed to the Soviet Union by Rupert Lockwood, Evatt cast about for someone to blame. He settled for a sectarian attack on B.A. Santamaria and the Movement, notoriously claiming to Alan Reid that for every Catholic vote he lost he would gain two Protestant votes.

He believed, or claimed to believe, that Santamaria had conspired against him with ASIO.

Evatt, claimed to have confirmation of his conspiracy theory when he received a reply from Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister, who assured him that, as there was no Soviet espionage in Australia, the Lockwood document must be a forgery.

If Evatt had not succumbed to his own conspiracy theories, a broad-based Labor Party would almost certainly have won government some time in the second half of the 1950s. In the event Evatt’s reckless and unnecessary attack on Santamaria led to the tragic Labor Party Split of 1955 and to Labor’s extended occupation of the opposition benches until 1972.

In his 1973 pamphlet, Philosophies in Collision, Santamaria identified three philosophies in contention for the soul of the West: Christianity as broadly understood; Soviet communism; and secular humanism or libertarianism – the view that the individual should be able to do whatever he or she liked.

Santamaria noted that technological developments such as television and the contraceptive pill had played a major role in facilitating the spread of a libertarian approach beyond narrow intellectual circles to the broader community.

By the early 1980s, Santamaria had refocused his energies on combating the new Gramscian strategy of the “long march through the institutions” adopted by the left. Both old communists looking for new causes and libertarians were seeking to change Australian society through demolishing or restructuring the family, religion, education and culture. Santamaria engaged in this new struggle through publications such as News Weekly and AD2000, as well as through ancillary organisations such as the Australian Family Association.

Santamaria was fond of posing the question used as the title of a 1902 pamphlet by Lenin, “What is to be done?” His whole professional life was driven by the answers to this question which he developed, along with his collaborators, in the face of one challenge after another – communism in the trade unions, the Labor Party split, the Cultural Revolution.

It is a question each of us engaged in public life should constantly be asking ourselves.

Tonight I pay tribute to the life of Bob Santamaria and to those thousands of unnamed people who met in small groups around the country and who bowed their heads and prayed:

Lord Jesus Christ our King,
Teach us to be generous
To serve you as you deserve to be served,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the   wounds,
To work and not to seek for rest,
To spend ourselves and not to seek reward
Save the knowledge that we do your holy will.


From B.A. Santamaria, Philosophies in Collision

... Is the community automatically to be expected to pay the inevitable financial costs of the libertarian society?

The question was posed by Mr Justice Megarry of the English High Court of Justice in his fifth Riddell Lecture in 1972. He indicated that this society, sometimes called “permissive”, more accurately called “libertarian”, involves not merely a claim for absolute rights but also a “demand for facilities”. His own words are more exact than mine:

“There is (said to be) the ‘right’ to take drugs. This is balanced by the duties of others to provide or make it possible to obtain the drugs, and the duties of doctors and lawyers to lend their aid when the taking of drugs has got out of hand.

“There is the ‘right’ to freedom of sexual intercourse. This is balanced by the duty of society, through clinics and hospitals, to provide the treatment for venereal diseases and the termination of pregnancies that are so often required.

“There is the ‘right’ to contract out of the world and belong to the ‘alternative society’. That is balanced by the duty of the rest of the world to make this possible, to provide the means for the permissionists to live on their own and do what they want, with recourse to all the food and all the medical, dental, legal and other services which the ‘alternative society’ does not and cannot provide.”

It raises very serious questions of economic cost and social priorities.

There is a definite upper limit to the proportion of the gross national product governments can take in taxation without precipitating a far more rampant inflation than today’s. The “claim for facilities” is that it is right and necessary to spend public funds raised by taxation on abortion clinics and VD centres and similar “social services”. But this. of course, simply means that there is less to be spent on deserted wives, on widows, on abandoned old people, that is to say, less to spend on genuinely distressed humanity. It is not a moral but a social question to determine whether these are really the correct priorities in the expenditure of limited public funds.

In my view, to take public funds from the gneuinely poor and distressed and to devote them to the devotees of the libertarian “lifestyle”, is a particularly shabby form of theft.

(In parenthesis, may I pay a professional tribute to the media for having sold this “bill of goods” to so many women in the name of Women’s Liberation. It is very doubtful whether women have really been liberated from male dominance by the Pill and the abortion clinic. Liberation seems to me to have come much more fully to the male, our wandering Casanovas, who no longer need fear the “shotgun wedding” or the maintenance order. They are now entitled to expect that their more or less willing victim will have got the Pill on the National Health. If she was silly enought to be “careless”, to use their jargon, they can refer her to a newly legal abortion clinic. She is not “liberated” from the inconveniences of the Pill, or the trauma of abortion. But who can deny that his “liberation” is complete?)

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