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Issue #1839      September 12, 2018

Writing communists out of history

The recent death of Professor Patrick Troy means the loss of Australia’s greatest champion of social justice achieved through planning for better cities.

Professor Patrick Troy, a man who had a “passion to improve the urban landscape”.

Troy was an important figure in town planning, a man who had a “passion to improve the urban landscape”. As head of the Whitlam’s Department of Urban and Regional Development, Troy initiated many reforms in cities and towns around Australia. “Big parts of [Sydney suburbs] Glebe and Woolloomooloo were bought for upgraded public housing so that working class people could still live in the inner city.”

Troy believed that cities should be more efficient and sustainable. Sadly those ideals have not been sustained in this current era of neo-liberalism.

Mentioning his background, the Sydney Morning Herald said:

“Pat Troy was born in Geraldton, WA, the son of Hilda and Paddy Troy, and then grew up in Fremantle. His dad Paddy was a waterside worker and the best-known Communist unionist in Western Australia. Paddy spent three months in jail for a minor political infringement.”

However, the obituaries in the online Fairfax version and the Canberra Times stated:

“His father, Patrick (Paddy) Troy (1908-1978), founded the Western Australian Trades and Labour Council (1963) and was an ALP ‘hero’ in the period 1935 to 1970, who enjoyed the respect of employers and the trust of his union. Well before his time, Paddy was a strong supporter of Aboriginal emancipation. For these reasons, Paddy was a significant influence and source of pride in his son’s life.”

It is curious how Professor Troy’s father morphed from the most famous communist unionist in WA to an ALP hero, all in the space of the same company’s papers.

Of course this is not new. Many significant social and economic justice gains have been initiated by Communists but later attributed to other groups.

An academic recently said to a member of the 78ers (those who were at the infamous walk by gay men and women in Sydney in 1978), “I suppose you were all Left Labor”. “Oh no,” came the definite reply, “some were Communist, some Anarchist but no one was in the ALP”.

Next article – Book Review – Fear

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