Australian Events

Posted in 1951

  • School of the Air The High Court declares invalid the Communist Party Dissolution Act on the grounds of its effect on civil liberties and property rights.
  • A referendum is put to the people asking for the government to have the powers to ban the Communist Party. It is narrowly defeated.

"Leader of the Opposition Dr H V Evatt led the attack from the Labor side, claiming that in defeating the 1951 referendum, the Australian people had 'rejected the Menzies campaign of unscrupulous propaganda and hysteria' and saved themselves and their children from the 'insidious aggressions of a police state'. Menzies, while urbanely accepting defeat ('as a democrat I respect and recognise the popular voting') expressed his belief that the electors had been misled by a 'wicked and unscrupulous "No" campaign'.
Allan Martin in Australian Prime Ministers, 2000 p 196.

  • June 13: Leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister from 1945 to 1949, Ben Chifley dies of a heart attack while working in his room at the Hotel Kurrajong. At 11.50pm a visibly upset Prime Minister Menzies makes the announcement at a splendid Commonwealth Jubilee Ball being held in Kings Hall, Parliament House to mark 50 years of Federation. The Prime Minister calls for an end to the night's festivities as a mark of respect.
  • The first radio-based "School of the Air" broadcasts are made from Alice Springs over the Flying Doctor network.
  • Author Frank Hardy is acquitted of having criminally libelled Ellen Wren in his popular book Power Without Glory.