Labour History

The Apostasy of Allan Fraser: The ALP and Civil Liberties in 1955

Labour History (2012), 103, (1), 187–202.


A landmark event in Australian political, legal and constitutional history, the parliamentary privilege case of 1955, whereby two men, Raymond Fitzpatrick and Frank Browne, were sent to gaol on a vote of the Commonwealth House of Representatives is normally understood to have been driven more by the vindictive machinations of Prime Minister R.G. Menzies than by their ‘crime’ of contempt of Parliament. This article examines the extent to which Dr Evatt and ALP members were also responsible for the fate of Fitzpatrick and Browne and highlights the principled stand of one ALP parliamentarian, Allan Fraser MHR, in opposing the gaolings and seeking to have a travesty of justice set right.

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14.Peter Golding’s biography ofJ.J. Cahill, They Called Him Old Smoothie,Australian Scholarly Press,, 2009, pp.268-69, contains an intriguing anecdote of Fitzpatrick’s less than subtle methods in soliciting the support of senior politicians. Having invited Cahill, the Labor Premier of New South Wales and other members of State Cabinet to a day’s boating at Gymea Bay, Fitzpatrick presented each of the politicians’ wives with a fur coat. See alsoMoore, Mr Big of Bankstown, chs 2, 3, 4. Google Scholar

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46.Fraser,Allan Fraser and the Australian Labor Party, pp.89-90. Helen Fraser’s account of the manoeuvring of ALP Caucus is usefully informed by the oral testimony of Fred Daly. Mr Gough Whitlam declined an opportunity to be interviewed for the present study on the grounds of his advanced age and many commitments. Google Scholar

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65.Les Haylen, Twenty Years Hard Labor,Macmillan,, 1969, p.160. Google Scholar

66.Fraser,Allan Fraser and the Australian Labor Party, p.75. Google Scholar

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Author details

Moore, Andrew