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Sydney City Council’s policy of keeping communists out

Coultan, M. Council’s communist ‘quirk’ abolished The Sydney Morning Herald 23.12.82

For 33 years, the Sydney City Council has had on its books a policy of not letting its halls and other premises to communists.

When the policy was set, there was only one Communist Party. Now there are several.

One of them, the Communist Party of Australia, has not been worried by the ban, which seems to have been forgotten by the council. The CPA rented a council hall at Darlinghurst for its national congress last JULY, the national organiser, Mr Rob Durbridge, said this week.

Mr Durbridge said he did not know about the ban, and the party had not, in his experience, had any troubles.

However, during the late 1940s there had been controversy about renting Sydney Town Hall to the Communist Party, with several thousand people gathering outside the Town Hall, shouting, "Open the doors, Ernie"– a reference to the then Lord Mayor, Ernie O Dea.

The policy was abolished at last Monday’s council meeting after the chairman of the finance committee, alderman Robert Tickner said it was a historical quirk.

It was silly, he said, to have the policy when the council was letting its properties to the Nazi Party and the Festival of Light.

The existence of the ban on the Communist Party came to light after Alderman Tickner discovered the existence of a South Sydney Council policy, still theoretically in force, banning Aboriginal groups from using Redfern Town Hall.

The ban dates from March 2, 1971, when the Town Clerk of South Sydney wrote on a file that Redfern Town Hall was not to be rented to any "Aboriginal or allied group."

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