The Catholic Right in SA Labor (2)


Gary LockwoodA speech delivered by Mr Gary Lockwood – (President of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History – Adelaide Branch) at a meeting of the Norwood Sub Branch of the ALP on Monday 21st May 2012.

Ladies and Gentleman fellow members of the ALP …Comrades

A few years ago I was involved in a couple of controversial issues within the Party and after one of these events – someone said to me ‘Oh Lockwood – with what you’ve been up to over the years – you should join Labour History – you would fill a book’ – thought the comment was a bit of a dig but later – somehow I was introduced into an organisation called the Adelaide Branch of the Aust Society for the Study of Labour History.

As it turned out, several of my friends or associates were active members of the group including Frances Bedford MP, Steph Key MP, Gordon Bilney and Ralph Clarke. John Bannon is a member also, but maintains his connection through the Sydney Branch.

I discovered that many people who supported the broader Labour Movement – from the right to the extreme left and even those who had  ‘gone off’ the official ALP  altogether’ – somehow found a home in political expression through the events organised by Labour History – open to all – no questions asked. I knew very little about the organisation but before long I was not only a member but soon elected as its President.

 So what does the organisation stand for?

The Australian Society for the Study of Labour History was founded in 1961 to study “the working class situation … and social history in the fullest sense”. The Society aims not only to encourage teaching and research in labour history but also the preservation of the records of working people and the labour movement.

It desires to make history a vital part of popular consciousness, a matter for reflection and debate, at a time when it is under attack from prominent conservative intellectuals.

The Society’s most recent ‘Twelfth Biennial Labour History Conference’ was held in September 2011 at the Manning Clarke Centre at the Australian National University Canberra ACT – the papers are stunning and the subject matter – a treasure for the person who soaks up ‘all that can be found in the History of the Past’.

In most of the other states it has a strong connection with Academia. Meetings are held at the Box Factory in Regent Street South. The Adelaide branch produces its own ‘Newsletter’ where many events are advertised. The bi monthly events are always interesting – full of challenge.

In recent times we had Luke Faulkner with talk on the Accord, David Palmer on a Mining – Military based SA economy, ‘Clean Start’ campaign by Chris Field and the history of Women’s rights in the Commonwealth Bank by Judy Davis.

Last year of course there were issues regarding Ark Tribe with contributions on ‘Our Labour Struggle’ by Steve Dolphin, Kevin Purse, Janet Giles and Martin O’Malley – plenty of Labour History there.

I have found the membership and people who have attended our functions to be ‘grass roots’ Labour people – many from the Trade Union Movement and though we lack a bit in the area of strong connection to the Universities – our connection with the Trade Union Movement is very strong indeed  – many have become corporate members of our Adelaide Branch. ASSLH is not affiliated to the Australian Labor Party or any other political party. We have a newsletter edited by Allison Murchie on behalf of the ASSLH (Adelaide Branch).

I want now to turn to a bit of history of my own – there will not be time to tell the whole story but here goes… hang on to your history quiz… just hang on….

 In November 2010 I attended the Annual General Meeting of Labour History at Sydney University of what I mentioned earlier is quite an academically orientated organisation – it produces the Journal ‘Labour History’ –it is the peak history recording body of its type in Australia – highly held on an International base and historians long to have their works published in ‘Labour History’ – a publication that is produced twice yearly.

We were sitting around the table  and just before the meeting commenced this  ‘freshly off the press’ edition of Labour History issue number 99arrived – someone handed me a copy and said ‘Oh Gary – you might just as well have your SA copy – it will save postage’ – I took it – just intended to flick through its pages.

Have you ever flicked through a book …I did just that and as I did my fingers …somehow opened at page 184 and looking down I saw my name … I could not believe it …my name ….right there in a Labour History book …What was this all about? Then I saw that it was a paper ….submitted by Malcolm Saunders, it was headed ‘Research note – A note on the Files of ‘The Movement’ in South Australia’.

As a historian, Saunders in his note on The Movement talks of the period 1946 to 1953 and I get a mention regarding attending Todd Building in Victoria Square -and seeing on the wall of the room a large map of Greater Adelaide where red pins in the map indicated the location of every known Communist at that time.

It is a paper that bemoans the lack of paper evidence and the loss of written records, so sought by historians.

Todd bldg Adelaidetrades hall adelaide







Photo 1 – The Todd building on the corner of Wakefield Street & Victoria Square next to the unfinished cathedral of St Francis Xavier. I was detained or interviewed in a small room between ground and first floor on the left side of the building (somewhere below the chimney location) – in earlier times we would meet in the office (centre of picture) on the ground floor below the Viceroy Tea Ad.

Photo 2 – The old Trades Hall in Grote Street, City
Once we received our instructions in Todd Building we would walk across the square and move into Trades Hall. The facade of the building should never have been destroyed.

So this photo in Victoria Square – Wakefield street is the central base of my story to you tonight – all part of ALP History – all part of Labour History.

Sen Joseph McCarthy

After the Second World War – the western world was unable to relax – Joseph Stalin had effective control much of Central Europe – communist had taken control of China – there were the stirrings that led to war in Korea. At the same time the United State produced a man called Senator Joseph McCarthy – he was dominating the airwaves of Americans …Communism was becoming along with the possibility of Atomic Warfare – our greatest threat.

Senator Joseph McCarthy

  1.   The Communist Party of Australia was founded in 1920 – it was a merger of two groups and joined the Communist International – was small in the beginning but within 25 years by 1945 – 1949 the organisation – through its influence within the Trade Union Movement came very close indeed to challenging the Labor Government of Australia.
  2. Communist control was an abstract term – but it was an effective tool – as it became a reality if  within a Union body a Communist held one or more full time positions on the Executive, had other Communists on the Committee and had sufficient ‘fellow travellers’ – prepared to join with them to implement Communist general policy – effective policy control.
  3. A control group that went along with the Communist Executive and was unlikely to oppose the Communist line….support Peace Committees and the like.
  4. Communist Party General Secretary Lance Sharkey believed in the use of strikes to inflict economic damage in line with Lenin’s view that ‘Without the Trade Unions – revolution is impossible’.
  5. The development of Shop Committees and Factory Councils was led by Sharkey and they became effective agencies of Communist Policy amongst the ‘Grass Roots’.
  6. The 1945 ACTU Congress was a great victory for the Communist Party – Fellow Travellers and Communists had a majority of 90 delegates. The Communists moved quickly to take even greater control with constitutional amendments designed to bind ACTU decisions on local Trades and Labour Councils – this was partially successful.

Yes we were living in the cold war but after doing a wonderful job in getting us through a world war with Prime Minister John Curtin, our then Prime Minister, Ben Chifley had another war to wage – saving Australia from itself being taken over by the Communist Party. 

Ben ChifleySo concerned was Prime Minister Chifley about the gaining influence of the Communist Party that he apparently made contact with senior leaders of the Catholic Hierarchy – and it was Chifley himself who sought the assistance of the Catholic Church to curtail this threat to the Party and to the Nation.  



Ben Chifley

At this point – some background information and then I want to introduce you to 3 people who played a very important part in this period of history – 2 of these – you will know well the – other was a bit of a mystery man.

Let me take you back to the era from the First World War – through the Depression years and after the War into the mid 1950’s – Catholics were in the main the poorly educated class– the wealthy and powerful of the country were mainly Protestant and well educated. Catholics tended to be amongst the poorest families of the poor. Most were Irish in origin and politically the ALP was their home – the political party of the Labour Class.

In some ways – this journey starts with 3 men Controversial Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Most Rev Dr Daniel Mannix, obscure Irish Jesuit Priest Father William Hackett SJ and a young lawyer of Italian background Mr BA Santamaria.

 Archbishop of Melbourne Most Rev Dr Daniel Mannix


I’ve opted to say very little about Mannix as most of you would have to know much of his history – history with the British – being arrested on the High Seas – His fight for a free Ireland. History in taking on Billy Hughes Prime Minister of Australia …
2 times and won both battles over Conscription and the History of Daniel Mannix in his role in the Great ALP Split in the 1950’s.

He lived to the age of 99 and at his death the lines stretched for about 3 miles whilst he lay in State in St Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne  – a remarkable man but indeed – very controversial.


Father William Hackett SJ
Fr Hackett SJ

Fr Hackett  was a Jesuit Priest, an Irish revolutionary – was active against the British prior to and when Home Rule came to Ireland – he opposed Michael Collins, was a Sinn Fein – DeValera supporter and came to Melbourne in the 1920’s under the protection of Mannix. 


 Mr BA Santamaria
santamaria 2

Bob Santamaria was the eldest son of an Italian immigrant from the Lipari Island off the coast of Sicily. At the age of 12 caught the attention of teachers at the Brunswick Christian Brothers College.

At the early age of 15 he qualified for University Entrance and eventually obtained in 1932 a double Honours Degree in Arts/Law with ease. Santamaria was called to become the Director of the National Catholic Rural Movement. 

At 19 he organised a newspaper that carried the name of ‘The Catholic Worker’

Santamaria intended to  practice law but in 1937 Mannix invited this young man to  join the staff of the newly formed Australian Secretariat of Catholic Action – a fellow called Frank Maher became the Director and the young Santamaria became Deputy – Catholic Action was always described as being non political.

In the period – just before the start of World War II- Mannix and Hackett recognised that the future for the Catholic Community rested in Higher Education

The colleges were there – the Jesuits were there – the Christian Brothers were there also…they knew the key was to Educate and educate enough to get into the higher professions …this was going well. But the challenge in higher Education was also to lift up the standards of the working class Catholics – Hackett was appointed by the Jesuits to become the rector of the prestigious Xavier College Melbourne from 1935 to 1940.

The Movement and the Industrial Groups

As early as 1941 concern was being expressed in both political and church circles over various union officials being defeated and replaced by Communist activists. These concerns led to a group of people setting up an unknown group to take the Communists on… nameless … it in time secured the name ‘The Movement’.

The model for combat would be the model used by the Communists themselves – the cell system.  Joining the movement involved taking a pledge.

Each Parish Priest involved, under the direction of his Bishop, became the ‘cadre’ – each cell was secret – each group had a specific direction and goal – it was all very serious. Not even wives were informed of what their ‘men folk’ were doing – in some cases women were also recruited.

Catholic Adult Education

Archbishop Matthew Beovich
Archbishop Beovich

One of the truly great Educators within Catholicism at the time was the Director of Catholic Education in Melbourne. He became the Archbishop of Adelaide – greatly supported Catholic Adult Education and founded what became known as the ‘Newman Institute’

But was it not the front for the Archbishop’s own ‘Secret Movement’ – one that in time challenged Mannix and Santamaria?


Concurrent with the Movement – the NSW Branch of the Labor Party set up the official Industrial Groups – this structure enhanced the battle – a candidate endorsed by the Industrial Groups meant that he was the OFFICIAL LABOR CANDIDATE – at last the Communist candidate was being opposed and Labor Members were beginning to win union elections.

Things improved in some unions for Chifley but sadly at a time when the Nation was being brought to its knees by the 1949 Communist inspired Miners Union strike he was forced to use the troops against Australian Unionists – something he probably never recovered from. 

In an effort to deal with the Communist elements in 1949 Chifley most significantly introduced ‘clean ballot’ legislation – a move that certainly assisted right wing unions to stay in power – even more so when enforced by Menzies. The defeat of Chifley and the action of the Communist Unions only assisted ‘The Movement’ in making further ground but it had one great problem.

As the official Labor Party endorsed and supported the Industrial Groups it would appear that elements of the Catholic Movement – somewhat fused their activities together – they were working in the same patch – in time they would become somewhat indistinguishable.

This of course led to a sideline consequence – Whoever controlled the Trade Union Movement …would have effective control of the Labor Party.

 Basic Training

 I hope you have soaked up the situation in the early 1950’s – The Catholic church was engaged in educating its adult people in Catholic Social Teachings, the Divine Law, the Natural law, elements of Canon Law and especially the Papal Encyclicals… Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (on the conditions of the working class) and Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno (social reconstruction) – a work that contributed greatly to the establishment and promotion of what we would today call ‘Labour Laws’.

My family had always been Labor – I refused to go to school when Ben Chifley’s funeral was held and stayed home to listen to the Radio Broadcast.

I joined the Shop Assistants Union at the age of 15 – signed up in secret. Within months I had also joined the Shop Assistant’s Industry Group becoming its Secretary and thereby unknown to me had become a ‘grouper’.

I worked closely with Teddy Goldsworthy, Jack Cashen, Spencer Killicoat and Frank Hussey in the Union – I also worked co-operatively with Joyce Henriott of the Clerks, Pat Haydon of the Iron Workers, Peter Lazarewich of the Railways Union and went to many Industrial Group fundraising functions and social events that included the Archbishop’s people Graves, Naughton and Brian Nash.

young Gary LockwoodThere was a great deal of tension in the early days – it was a battleground and even when you won a union election – keeping control was an ongoing commitment.

I survived an attempt on my life whilst walking through the streets of Bowden…

I had been followed after a Union meeting – it was all very serious.

Gary Lockwood in his DLP days

Now back to home in South Australia

Communists marked on the map

In the front right side of the Todd building was the main office (see photo 1) – On the wall was recorded all those evil Communists and fellow travellers – Who among you here were recorded as a little red dot? This is also the location where The Industry Group would meet prior to the meeting and we were all allocated ‘our part’ before crossing Victoria Square to attend union meetings at the old Trades Hall – then located in Grote Street. Obviously it was in this arena I developed the art of moving motions and perhaps the art of the cutting comment at the appropriate time.

 In 1954 five members of ‘The Movement’ in South Australia refused to work for the endorsed Labor Candidate for Boothby Rex Matthews and they were charged and expelled from the party – they were all friends of mine . They were Spencer Killicoat of the Shop Assistants Union, Jack Ryan, Brian Nash, Mary Graves and Cyril Naughton – the last 3 were employees of the Archbishop of Adelaide Beovich.

The Cyril Naughton mentioned above was the uncle of Kevin Naughton – the former ABC Radio announcer and later advisor to Hamilton Smith as former leader of the local Liberals – advisor when the ‘dodgy documents’ were in full flight.

Dr Herbert Vere Evatt

HV EvattDr H V Evatt replaced Opposition Leader Ben Chifley when the loved Chifley died. None of the three key people mentioned earlier were in support of Evatt.

By this time Fr Hackett had made friends in high places and with the assistance of Ambassador Paul Maguire had become a friend and confident of Bob Menzies – was in fact the person that encouraged Menzies to see that the Federal Liberal Party provide an opening for Catholics to be accepted into that conservative- non Labour Party.

Evatt did a remarkable job in taking on Menzies over the Communist Party Dissolution Act in 1951 but all of this wonderful work and great political achievement was undone with his appearance at the Petrov Royal Commission.

The right of the Labor Party wanted to be rid of Evatt. Not unlike what we saw in Federal Labor last year the right forces of New South Wales undermined Evatt to the point where Evatt felt his endorsement for the seat of Barton was in jeopardy – this led to Evatt attacking ‘this insidious Movement’ in an attack launched in October 1954.

Joining the Labor Party

About the same time around 1953 someone in the Church- possibly Spencer Killicoat of what is now called the SDA encouraged me to join the Labor Party.

My mentor in the sub-branch was Noel Dundon a Chemist from Croydon, He nominated me for membership. I joined Clyde Cameron, Cyril Hutchens, Ernie Crimes. Little did I know he was ‘The Movements’ operative for that sub-branch – he was President of ‘St Lukes Guild (a group opposed to the sale of condoms) but that was not an issue for me – I did not know what a condom was at the time and in this innocent state I soon became the Minute Secretary of the Hindmarsh Sub Branch of the ALP.

Minute Secretary of the Sub Branch

I was unaware that Noel was the main ‘Catholic Social Movement’ plant in the sub-branch – at this time I was completely in the dark about the cell structures that were in operation virtually ‘parish based’ but somehow I knew he was one of us… and he often spoke to me just before meetings about seconding a motion he intended to move at the sub-branch.

Within Catholicism – Control of the Labor Party

If it were true ‘Whoever controlled the Trade Union movement would basically have control of the great Australian Labor Party’ – it was also true that as Unions fell to the right – the great Australian Labor Party would be falling further under the control of the Catholic Church – a minority also having more control and influence then their numbers warranted.

Following the Hobart Conference in 1955 and the walkout against Evatt most Labor State Governments fell and a group of House of Representative members broke away to form the Anti Communist Labor Party in the National Parliament.

By 1955 the Great Australian Labor Party was beginning to Split apart.

Almost every Bishop in Australia went against the Evatt Labor Party but importantly 2 bishops went the other way…Cardinal Gilroy of Sydney and Matthew Beovich of Adelaide…they became known as the bishops who opted to keep their ‘Movement’ members inside the Labor Party…the stay in and fight option.

He kept control of what came to be known as the Newman Institute – did not support the DLP – opposed Satamaria and the NCC .

The other Bishops and Santamaria saw it differently and in time ‘The Movement’ as operated by Santamaria and his allies – the other Catholic Bishops – formed and supported what came to be known as the NCC – The National Civic Council.

 With this split in the Church … even families split – especially so in Victoria – a father might have stayed in the old ALP branch (later to be known as the DLP) as President whilst a son who had been Secretary of the branch may have moved over to become the Secretary of the ‘Vic Stout – Evatt Labor Party’. Mothers and daughters even disagreed.

Long lasting friendships ended and at the Communion table many Priests refused to give Holy Communion to Evatt Labor supporters in Victoria.

In South Australia it was much calmer – but I was challenged after Mass at Hindmarsh one Sunday Morning – this member of the Legion of Mary (probably a member of the local branch of ‘The Movement’)* accosted me and said ‘ I had no right to receive Communion because I was going against my own bishop’s (Beovich) decision.
*Patrick Morley.

South Australia avoided an internal split – Cyril Chambers the Member for Adelaide almost joined the Anti Communist Labor Party – Pat Galvin the Member for Kingston was under suspicion.

Though I was never a member of ‘The Movement’ or the NCC Malcolm Saunders in his discussions with me, is convinced that Beovich and his operators considered Gary Lockwood as a fringe member – part of the Industry Groups and a person in a strategic position in the Industrial arena – let alone being a member of the Hindmarsh Sub-Branch of the ALP – they wanted me to stay in this arena – not get involved with the new political group ‘The Anti Communist Labor Party’.

Split in the Australian Church

Pope Pius XIIPope Pius XII was greatly concerned about the split in the Australian Catholic Church and later sent Cardinal Agaginian out to Australia to sort the parties out – they both took away different interpretations of the separation of Laity from Ecclesiastics – thus we see the survival of the NCC to this day.

I  knew nothing about ‘The Movement’ – my usage at the Hindmarsh sub-branch by Noel Dundon…seconding motions etc, did not seem extraordinary but when I joined the new party I had no idea it went against the wishes of Archbishop Beovich. At this time I was seen by ‘Beovich’s people at several early rallies of the new Party.


In November 1955, I received at work a phone call to meet a member of the Industrial Groups at lunch time.*  As I came out of John Martin’s Charles Street Door – I was near bundled into a car and detained by the Archbishop’s men …eventually taken to a small office… located mid way between the ground and 1st floor of Todd Buildings.

* This is an abridged story as I was picked up twice – the first time taken to the back of Adelaide Uni – the second time taken to Todd Building and really lent on.

I was told the Archbishop considered my role in the Industrial front  asvital – I was told to tear up the political material I had been given – I was railed against.

Perhaps it was my age grouping but I was incensed…quite outraged and beside I had already signed up several new members of the new party and riding my bike around Hindmarsh, Bowden and Croydon had collected over 200 pounds…I was not going to be told by an Archbishop what I would do or not do.

I just did not agree with the Archbishop’s views – went my own way…became the first full time official of the new party and played a major role in that first election and eventually organised the branch structure of what came to be known as the DLP…I think I was only 17 years old…not even old enough to vote.


Arthur CalwellEvatt was in time replaced by Arthur Calwell who almost defeated Menzies in the early 1960’s but Labor’s policy on Aid for Independent Schools was a prohibitive.

This would have lasting results. Most of you know that because of our preference voting system – hard core Irish Catholic Labor voters saw fit to move their vote over to the new Labor Party.

Gough WhitlamThrough preference distribution, this previous Labor Vote slipped over to elect Liberal Party Candidates, keeping Menzies in power for near on 25 years or until Labor had revised its ‘Aid to Independent Schools Policy’ and replaced Arthur Callwell with new leader Gough Whitlam.  

It was time.


Don DunstanDunstan found the answer to the issue and secured a policy change of words at a Labor National Conference – it cleared the way for Whitlam.

I became the Executive Officer of the Advancement of Education Association and once again found myself in direct conflict with the policies of Archbishop Beovich – 

The battle was on for obtaining a breakthrough on the State Aid issue – Don Dunstan found the compromise in the National ALP Policy Platform that later would allow so many Catholics to feel comfortable with the ALP brand once again.

Dunstan was the first to promise Aid to Independent Schools in SA  – but did not deliver as he was defeated by Steele Hall.

Though at times I feel like hanging my head in shame – especially as funding under Howard so endowed the rich schools – It was me – with a fellow called Peter Meridith that secured from Steele Hall the breakthrough in gaining Aid for Independent Schools – all negotiated at the Channel 10 Car Park at Gilberton.

I went down a path that led me away from the Labor Party for almost 40 years but having never been a supporter of Santamaria or a member of ‘The Movements’ lay replacement, called the National Civic Council.

I could not support them any longer and I left the DLP and became an ALP supporter from the time of the Whitlam dismissal – I thought being readmitted would be too difficult. Even earlier – Though no longer a member of any political Party I worked with Gill Langley to help him get elected to the Seat of Unley.

I did rejoin the SDA as President of the Retail Managers section of the Union.

Over the years I supported Chris Hurford, Bob Catley and Peter Duncan. It was at this time that I met Frances Bedford (later to be the State Member for Florey).

On a State level I supported Gill Langley, Terry McRae, Robyn Geraghty, Ralph Clarke and even John Quirke.

It was not until the Patrick’s wharf issue that I felt compelled to make an application to rejoin the Party again – my beloved ALP.

Yes I rejoined and with a wink and a nod John Boag at Party Head Office took my application – it was processed – I became a member of the Enfield Sub Branch – Ralph Clarke’s domain and eventually was elected to be the President.

That later all came undone – but is another long story and a delicate one indeed…another History spot, a story to be told another time.

History for me then – is something of importance.