Communist Party of Australia CPA

Communist Party of Australia (CPA)


a party founded in October 1920 at a constituent congress in Sydney. A member of the Comintern.

In 1940 the CPA was banned, and it operated underground until Deceember 1942. After World War II, the ruling circles of Australia attempted to outlaw the Communist Party; however, in a 1951 referendum more than 50 percent of the population opposed a ban on the party. Up to the mid-1960’s, the CPA, which was headed for many years by L. Sharkey, was a militant Marxist-Leninist party of the working class, firmly maintaining a standpoint of proletarian internationalism. Its activity was guided by the program “Australia’s Path to Socialism,” which was adopted at the Sixteenth Congress of the CPA (1951) and supplemented at the Twentieth Congress (1964). The program put forth as the party’s ultimate goal the achievement of socialism by peaceful means, in accordance with the interests of the working class and the entire nation. The party was built on the principles of democratic centralism. It was closely connected with the trade unions, which were its mass base, and held firm positions in the peace movement and the women’s movement. In 1963 a group of dissenters headed by E. Hill attempted to thrust a Maoist course upon the party and was expelled.

The CPA took part in the international Conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties held in Moscow in 1957 and 1960 and signed the documents of the conferences.

Beginning in the mid-1960’s, there was a turnabout in the political line of the CPA. On the initiative of new leadership, the program “Australia’s Path to Socialism” was abolished at the Twenty-first Congress of the CPA (1967), and the clauses on democratic centralism as the basis for the party’s organizational structure were in effect removed from the charter of the CPA. In 1968–69 the party’s positions on virtually all of the most important problems of the international communist movement were revised. This was manifested in the resolutions of the Twenty-second Congress (March 1970), which adopted the program “Aims, Methods, and Organization of the CPA” on the initiative of the new leadership. The program fails to mention Marxist-Leninism as the ideological foundation of the party, and it does not say anything on the leading role of the Communist Party in the struggle for the revolutionary transformation of society. The international significance of the experience of the socialist countries in the construction of socialism is repudiated.

The CPA took part in the International Conference of Communist and Workers’ Parties held in Moscow in 1969, but the delegation did not sign the final document of the conference as a whole, agreeing only with its third section. In the early 1970’s the policies of the leadership brought the CPA to an ideological and political crisis. A considerable number of Australia’s Communists opposed the political line adopted by the Twenty-second and consolidated by the Twenty-third (March 1972) congresses of the CPA, and in 1972 they established a new party, the Socialist Party of Australia. This party declared that it was basing its activity on the principles of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism and that it supported the line of the international communist movement worked out at the conferences of the fraternal parties.

The highest body of the CPA is the congress. In the intervals between congresses, party leadership is exercised by the National Committee, from whose membership the National Executive Committee is elected. The national secretary of the CPA is L. Aarons, and the national chairman is L. Carmichael. The party’s press organs are the weekly Tribune and the monthly theoretical journal Australian Left Review.


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