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 'O Tempora, O Mores' by Guest Historian Chris Oakley
Guest Historian Guest Historian Chris Oakley says, in the September 2008 publication of Changing the Times editor Mr David Attwell published my alternate history O Tempora, O Mores Come September of 2008, six decades will have passed since Lance Sharkey's dream of a Communist Australia died in a torrent of gunfire outside Parliament House... In Todayinah we explore an alternative outcome in which Sharkey succeeds, and we explore some later events in the sixties and seventies. If you're interested in viewing samples of my other work why not visit the Changing the Times web site.
Red Ensign & Southern Cross

March 4

In 1949, on this day the General Secretary of the Australian Communist Party, de facto Head of State Laurence Louis Sharkey (pictured) delivered a major foreign policy speech that was thoroughly condemned by Western political leaders.O Tempora, O Mores Part 1 - A Warm Welcome
"If Soviet Forces in pursuit of aggressors entered Australia, Australian workers would welcome them. Australian workers would welcome Soviet Forces pursuing aggressors as the workers welcomed them throughout Europe when the Red troops liberated the people from the power of the Nazis. I support the statement made by the French Communist leader Maurice Thorez. Invasion of Australia by forces of the Soviet Union seems very remote and hypothetical to me. I believe the Soviet Union will go to war only if she is attacked, and if she is attacked I cannot see Australia being invaded by Soviet troops. The job of Communists is to struggle to prevent war and to educate the mass of people against the idea of war. The Communist Party also wants to bring the working class to power, but if fascists in Australia use force to prevent the workers gaining that power, Communists will advise the workers to meet force with force"
Later that year, Sharkey gave instructions to the Malayan Communist Party to conduct insurgency against their British colonial masters.

July 1

In 1966, on this day the Australian newspaper published a speech delivered in Washington, D.C. by the New South Walesian imperialist reactionary, Harold Edward Holt.O Tempora, O Mores Part 2 - All the Way with LBJ
Holt articulated unquestioning support for US President Lyndon Baines Johnson, for America's Vietnam policy and for continued Australian military involvement in the conflict ~ "You have in us [the Australian Liberal delegation] not merely an understanding friend but one staunch in the belief of the need for your presence in Vietnam. We are not here because of our friendship, we are here because, like you, we believe it is right to be there and, like you, we believe American forces should stay there as long as it seems necessary to achieve the purposes of the South Vietnamese Government and the purposes that we join in formulating and progressing together. And so, sir, in the lonelier and perhaps even more disheartening moments which come to any national leader, I hope there will be a corner of your mind and heart which takes cheer from the fact that you have an admiring friend, a staunch friend that will be all the way with LBJ".
Controversially, Johnson was present for the speech, effectively giving his support to Holt (both pictured) as the de facto Head of the Australian Government in Exile.

May 13

In 1967, on this day the General Secretary of the Australian Communist Party and de facto Head of State Lawrence (Lance) Louis Sharkey died of a heart attack in Sidney, New South Wales. O Tempora, O Mores Part 3 - The Death of Lance Sharkey
His successor would be Laurence 'Laurie' Aarons (pictured) who by coincidence was himself born in Sydney, the son of Sam Aarons, a leading member of the Communist Party and a veteran of the Spanish Civil War. The Aarons family was of German-Jewish origin; Brian Aarons, who was also later prominent in the Communist Party, Mark Aarons, a well-known broadcaster, journalist and author, and John Aarons.
During the Sino-Soviet Split of the early 1960s the CPA suffered a split, and Aarons led the majority pro-Soviet and anti-Chinese faction. He was a strong supporter of Nikita Khrushchev's liberalisation in the Soviet Union, and after Khrushchev's fall he became increasingly critical of the Soviet leadership's policies, re-evaulating his earlier antaganoism towards China.
A fair summary would be that Aarons was an internationalist with a new, compelling vision for the nation. In office, Aarons would seek to re-position Australia as a multi-ethnic Pacific Rim nation, refocusing the economy in the Far East.
During August, Aarons would visit North Vietnam to offer the support of Australian workers to Ho Chi Minh in his struggles against imperialism. Referring to the shipment of convicts from Britain in the eighteenth century, Aarons put together a convincing case that Australians themselves were dehumanised by the same forces threatening the Republic of Vietnam.
So in Harold Holt, Aarons saw an unreconstructed symbol of Australia's colonial past. A link to the hated British monarchy and the white supremacist views of the Australian capitalist. In short, an embarassment to the incoming administration. And since Holt's return from a tour of America and Europe, a rallying point for reactionary politicians who sought to overthrow the 1948 revolution.

December 17

In 1967, on this Sunday morning a swimming excursion by members of Australia's rapidly diminishing monied elite ended in disaster with the disappearance of Mr Harold Holt on Point Nepean near Portsea, on the eastern arm of Port Phillip Bay.O Tempora, O Mores Part 4 - The Disappearance of Mr Holt
Mr Holt and some friends drove down from their millionaire enclaves in Melbourne to see the British lone yachtsman Alec Rose sail through Port Phillip Heads in his boat Lively Lady to complete this leg of his solo circumnavigation of the globe. Around noon, the party drove Cheviot Beach where Mr Holt decided to go swimming, although the surf was heavy and the Beach notorious for its strong currents and dangerous rip tides.
Mr Holt plunged into the surf and quickly disappeared from view.
Following one of the largest search operations in Australian history, the General Secretary of the Australian Communist Party, de facto Head of State Laurie Aarons announced that "the search has come to a dead halt".
News of the disapperance was treated with huge scepticism by the world's press (news report pictured). Holt was a strong swimmer and an experienced skindiver, with what Tom Frame describes as "incredible powers of endurance underwater".
There was great suspicion within the White House that perhaps Mr Aarons had understated his involvement in this mysterious affair.
During July of 1966, Mr Holt had visited the United States and delivered a series of speeches in which he supported the American policy in Vietnam. In particular the "All the way with LBJ"speech on July 1 had deeply embarrassing the Communist Government of Australia. Since the death of Lance Sharkey in May, Mr Aaron and his new administration had sought to re-position Australia as a multi-ethnic Pacific Rim nation, refocusing the economy in the Far East.
Mr Holt's intervention was a reminder of Australia's reactionary and imperialist past that Mr Aarons in particular was very keen to de-emphasise.

March 16

In 1949, on this day the General Secretary of the Australian Communist Party and de facto Head of State Lawrence (Lance) Louis Sharkey issued a Directive for the Establishment and Maintenance of a Security Service, appointing Justice Geoffrey Reed as the first Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO).O Tempora, O Mores Part 5 - The Case
Following the conclusion of World War II, the Australian Communist Party uncovered sensitive government data being transmitted through British diplomatic channels. The operation became internally known as 'The Case'. Officers from the KGB were dispatched to Australia to assist local investigations. The leak was eventually tracked to a spy ring operating from the British Embassy in Canberra.
Later that year, Sharkey gave instructions to the Malayan Communist Party to conduct insurgency against their British colonial masters.
On July 6th 1950, a new charter was formed giving the ASIO wider powers for the protection of the country and its citizens from espionage, sabotage (especially sabotage of critical infrastructure), politically-motivated violence, attacks on the Australian defence system, terrorism and acts of foreign interference
Sharkey and his successor Laurence 'Laurie' Aarons (pictured) would push the definition of that charter to the very boundaries of its definition during 1966-7. To them Mr Harold Holt's speaking tour of America, and in particular his vociferous support for American intervention in Vietnam (the notorious 'All the way with LBJ speech') placed that gentleman in most of the defined threat categories.
During August, Aarons would visit North Vietnam to offer the support of Australian workers to Ho Chi Minh in his struggles against imperialism. This included a personal assurance that something would be 'done' about Mr Holt before he could create further trouble in the region.

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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.