Doc Evatt

Doc Evatt

´╗┐Doc Evatt

Doc Evatt and His role as leader of the Opposition

In 1950 Evatt becomes deputy leader of the Opposition party. At this time Labor still had primary control over the senate. This year the Menzies government said it would pass a legislation to ban the Communist party from functioning in Australia. This was because of the strong communist presence in the workforce in Australia at the time of the Cold War, the time where fear of Communist infiltration in Australia was at its peak. At the time, the Labor party did not want this on their election bill and allowed the issue to go through to the senate. Chifley and Evatt were very opposed to this and were very angered when the banning of the Communist party act became law in October 1950. This led to Menzies making an address and naming a number of people as Communists publicly. A few hours later he was made to retract a few of the names as he had accused them wrongly, although the damage of being an accused communist was already done. Due to this, many unions fearing the repercussions challenged the validity of this act in the high court. Evatt accepted the position of senior counsel for the workers arguing that it was unconstitutional to do so. The Commonwealth Government argued that it was a precautionary method for defense and therefore had the power to do so under the constitution. This idea was strengthen by the Korean War and the Australian servicemen presence in it. Evatt presented his case with great skill and on March 9, 1951, the High Court declared that it was not constitutional for the Commonwealth Government to use their defense powers as such and the whole act was dissolved.

In 1951 Menzies secured a double dissolution of the Government and an election, in which the Labor government gained five seats. The Menzies Government had won by a landslide, partly due to the vicious campaigning against Labor with its pro-Communist association messages directed at Evatt. On June 13, 1951, Chifley...

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