South of the border, Queensland may be better known for the reactionary Joh Bjelke-Petersen regime of the 1970s and 1980s, and more recently as the centre of Pauline Hanson’s racist One Nation Party
Yet in the 1930s and 1940s, the ‘Red North’ — the area north from Mackay to Cairns — developed as the single strongest base of the Communist Party of Australia and Fred Paterson became the only communist ever elected to an Australian parliament, as the member for the seat of Bowen in the Queensland state legislature from 1944 to 1950.
It is this period which is the theme of Diane Menghetti’s pathbreaking book, The Red North: The Popular Front in North Queensland, originally published in 1981 and long out of print. This republication should help a contemporary national audience to understand the fact that as well as a reactionary history. northern Queensland has also had a very radical past,
The ‘Red North’ is a fascinating episode and one deserving of serious study by all those interested in seeing the development of a serious progressive force in Australian politics.