The Petrov Affair
During the Cold War between Communist and democratic nations in the late 1940's, Communism was feared by many Australians. Menzies exploited that fear during his time as prime minister. But his attempts to outlaw the Communist Party were declared invalid by the High Court and rejected by the electorate in a referendum in 1951. The issue of Communism, however, split the Labor Party, guaranteeing the Liberal-Country Party coalition a long term in office.
In 1954, Menzies announced the defection of Vladimir Petrov, a Soviet diplomat, and the creation of a Royal Commission to investigate Petrov's allegations of a Soviet spy ring in Australia. Diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union were severed. After two of his staff was called before the commission, Evatt claimed that the Petrov Affair had been engineered to discredit him politically.
The most successful and visible component of postwar reconstruction was Australia's immigration program directed by Arthur Calwell.
Assisted passage was given not just to British immigrants but also to immigrants from mainland Europe and displaced people and refugees. In all, 853,953 immigrants arrived in Australia between 1947 and 1960. The impact of these 'new' Australians on society was profound.
Australia was seriously under populated after World War II, partly because of the low birth rate resulting from the depression in the 1930's, and also because of the loss of more than 37,000 servicemen in the war. For Australia, there were the benefits of creating a bigger domestic market and providing a workforce for new industries and projects such as the Snowy Mountains Scheme. By international agreement, Australia took thousands of displaced people from Eastern Europe. In the 1950's and 1960's Greeks and Italians entered Australia in large numbers. In 1958, the federal government abolished the dictation test.
Government policies towards Aborigines...