1954: Prime Minister Menzies announces that a diplomat from the Soviet Union Embassy in Canberra has defected and gone to the Australian government for asylum and protection. It was the 13th April, 1954.
The name of the Soviet Union diplomat was Vladimir Petrov
Petrov told the Australian government that there were spies from the Soviet Union spying in Australia
The Labor Party and its leader Dr Evatt were not told about the allegations of a communist spy ring. He felt it was a set up by the Liberal Party to embarrass the Labor Party just before the 1954 election so that Menzies and the Liberal Party would win the election
Robert Menzies and the Liberal Party won the Federal election in 1954
The attempted abduction of Mrs Petrov by two Soviet Union embassy officials and the arrest of the two Soviet officials at Darwin airport was sensational at the time
This sensational episode added fuel to the anti-communism fire
A royal commission investigated the claims of a spy ring. The investigation found that:
Staff of the Soviet Union embassy in Canberra has been spying
Australians became more politically aware and more politically active
Australians became aware of and discussed issues like the Cold War, conscription, the nuclear arms race between the superpowers, freedom of speech.
Australians had feared communism in the 1950s.
This fear had reduced by the 1970s.
In 1973 Australian established diplomatic relations with communist China
The Vietnam War had been an unpopular war and the Vietnam veterans of the war were not given an official until nearly 15 years after the end of our involvement in the war
Problems for the Vietnam Veterans returning from the war in Vietnam
Vietnam veterans had come home to Australia where they were treated with contempt and hostility by Australians that were opposed to the war
They were not thanked for their efforts
Many veterans did not receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder
Many veterans were exposed to dangerous chemical during the war in Vietnam
In 1980 the Vietnam Veterans’ Association of Australia was established to get help for the veterans and to get money from the government
The Australian government finally recognised in 1994 that chemicals like Agent orange that were used in the war did have an effect on the health of Vietnam veterans and the government began to help the veterans and their families
The Vietnam Veterans’ Association is a good example of how citizens working together can influence a government
Communism and the Vietnam War: Do you know the answer to these questions?
Which two countries were the superpowers after WW2?
What was the Cold War?
What was the Domino Theory?
What was the Petrov Affair?
Why did Australia join the USA in the Vietnam War?
What is meant by “Australia Goes All The Way With LBJ?”