DR. EVATT, leader of the Labour Opposition in Australia, last Sunday won a tactical victory against Catholics in the Australian Labour Party and Trade Union movement.
His first victory
Dr. Evatt first made his allegations after Catholics and others had criticised him for his defence of Communists at the bearings of the Petrov spy enquiry. His attack on Catholics had all the signs of being an attempt to deflect the fire from himself by starting up a diversion elsewhere.
At Sunday's meeting of the Federal Executive he got his first victory.
The next round will come on February 26 when the Victoria branch of the Labour Party, in which the Catholic minority has in the past provided many of the people who really do the work, will meet to elect a new executive. It is already being suggested that the composition of that conference will be loaded in Dr. Evatt's favour.
Should the old executive be reelected — which, given fair repre sentation, is likely it will he a major defeat for him. The industrial groups, from which, in conformity with last Sunday's decision, recognition is to he withdrawn in Victoria on December 31, would certainly be re-formed.
Just one vote
A victory for Dr. Evatt on February 26 might lead to the disaffiliation and banning of the industrial groups in other parts of the country too, And this would mean the virtual disarming of the Labour movement in its fight against Communist infiltration.
The industrial groups were officially brought into existence by the Australian Labour Party in the late 1940's when the Communist Party had already come near to getting the entire Labour movement in its grip.
At that time five out of six of the State branches of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (approximately equivalent to our T.U.C.) were controlled by Communists. A move for Communist Labour organisational integration had been defeated by just one vote. The Communists controlled heavy industry. power. transport, the metal industry and the all-important waterfront.
Through the workers on the waterfront (and Australia lives entirely by her exports and imports) the Communists were dictating foreign policy. The classic example of this was when the Government wanted to give support to Dutch "policies in Indonesia. and the Communists, through the waterfront workers, stopped shipments of arms to that country.
First to see
It was against that background in industry, the trade unions and the Labour Party itself that the A.L.P. set up the industrial groups. They were created for the immediate purpose of defeating the Communists in the trade unions and clearing them out of the entire Labour movement and so weakening their hold on the country generally.
Because the Catholics were the first to see the danger of Communism, and because their hostility to it was fundamental, they naturally went into the newly established industrial groups wholeheartedly.
In practice they provided many of the groups' most active members, although there were large numbers of good non-Catholic Christians who also took up the work, were given every support by the Catholics, and went into leading positions after the It is one which may give Dr. Evatt and those around him an immediate advantage, but the only ones who will really gain by it are the Communists. They came near to strangling Australia in the 1940's and may yet do so again.
Dr. Evatt won his victory after publicly charging "Catholic Action" with working for the control of the Labour movement. On Sunday he even stooped to using the "Fascist" smear against Catholics, which in the past has usually been used by the Communists.
At a meeting of the Australian Labour Party Executive it was decided by a narrow majority to dissolve and reorganise Victoria's Labour Executive and to disband "the industrial groups" in the trade unions throughout the State of Victoria (not throughout the whole of Australia as was suggested in some daily papers here last Monday).