Australians response to the Cold War

Cold War is the term used to describe the tensions from about 1945 between the USSR and Eastern Europe on the one hand and the USA and Western Europe on the other. Cold War can be seen in the disagreements between the USSR and the Western allies during World War 2, especially over the future structure of Eastern Europe. As Europe was divided into East and West, the USSR creates communism in Eastern Europe, whilst the West remains Capitalist. Australia felt that the communism could be a threat and so Prime Minister Menzies sought a major US presence and manoeuvred Australia into a position of being invited to send military help during the Vietnam War.
At the end of World War 2, Australia and other Western countries were concerned, as communism swept across the world. The Soviet Union controlled Eastern Europe and in 1949 China became communist. In 1950 communist North Korea attacked the non communist country of South Korea. The Cold War developed between the East and the West and the USA introduced a policy of containment to stop the spread of communism.
The Australian Prime minister Robert Menzies believed that communism was a threat to Australia as several union leaders were communists and there had been a series of serious strikes in the late 1940’s. He introduced a law to ban the Communist Party, however this law was challenged and dismissed in the high court. In 1951 Menzies held a referendum to legalise the banning of the Communist Party. The result was a narrow NO vote.
In the years that followed, Menzies called for a Royal Commission to investigate alleged Soviet spying in Australia, after being warned by a defector named Vladimir Petrov. Soviet officials tried to force Petrov back to the Soviet Union, but he was allowed to remain in Australia and given political asylum. The Labour Party tried to use the Petrov affair to gain votes in the 1954 election. The Royal Commission found that there was no Soviet Spy Ring in Aust


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