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E F (Ted) Hill (23 April 1915 -1 February 1988) was a prominent and outstanding Communist leader, activist and lawyer who dedicated his life and work to working people in Australia. He was the founding Chairman of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist). Born Edward Fowler Hill at Mildura, Victoria, he was the third surviving child of James Frederick Hill, principal of Mildura Agricultural High School, and Alice Steele, nee Fowler.

As a young teenager Ted witnessed the hardships inflicted by the Depression on working class and poor farmer families around him. He began to question the root causes of  the deep social, economic and political problems and started to search for answers.

He attended Essendon High School from 1928-1931 and studied the Articled Clerk's course at Melbourne University from 1933-1937. Angered by the injustice of the capitalist system and the Depression, he turned to study Karl Marx and joined the Communist Party of Australia in 1936, immersing himself in the lifelong political and economic struggles of working people for a better life.

Hill was regarded as an outstanding student. In 1933 he was awarded the Harry Emmerton Scholarship in Constitutional Law and Legal History; in 1934 he gained First Class Honours and the Exhibition in Contract; in 1936 he was awarded the Bowen Prize for English Essay and in 1937 the Supreme Court Prize.

In 1935 Hill had an article on the Crimes Act published in the Oct-Dec issue of Proletariat, organ of the Melbourne University Labour Club. The Commonwealth Government was intending to declare both the Communist Party and the Friends of the Soviet Union unlawful under the Act. Citing the success of mass action by the people in freeing imprisoned Czech anti-fascist Egon Kisch, Hill declared that "mass action will secure the repeal of this measure". It was an early statement of his refusal to rely on legal and parliamentary measures to fight reactionary attacks on the people.

Hill did his articles on a part-time basis with law firm Slater and Gordon and was admitted to the bar in September 1938. In 1939 he resigned from the Communist Party to contest the Victorian seat of Essendon for the Australian Labor Party (ALP). That experience convinced him that the ALP had no answer to the  problems of capitalist society, and three months later he re-joined the CPA.

In 1938 he joined Jack Lazarus, another Communist lawyer, and together they did the legal work for the Victorian Branch of the Australian Workers Union. Through his legal and political work defending workers Hill built strong links with trade unions and working people from all walks of life.

A Victoria Police Special Branch report compiled by Detective Constable Coady on June 28, 1940 reported that Hill "is personally popular in the profession and regarded as a capable solicitor."

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Communist publications were subject to censorship from September 1939. Hill wrote extensively defending people's rights, and was active in the fight against the Party's illegality which was declared by Prime Minister Menzies in April 1940. Illegality was maintained even after Menzies' defeat by the  ALP and Curtin until March 1943, providing Hill and other Communists with rich experience in carrying out Communist Party work under oppressive conditions.

In 1944 and for four years after that, Hill lectured on a variety of topics for the education of Party members at Marx School in Melbourne.

In 1945 he became a member of the Victorian State Committee of the CPA and in the same year published What Is The Liberal Party? following Menzies' creation of the Liberal Party as a replacement for the United Australia Party.

In May 1948, Hill left Slater and Gordon to concentrate on his own workers' compensation practice with Communist solicitor Cedric Ralph.

By 1949 Hill had been elected Victorian State Secretary of the CPA.

1950-51 saw the escalation of the reactionary anti-Communist assault by the Menzies government to ban the Communist Party of Australia. The McCarthyism of the Cold War era was initiated in the US and spread globally. Communists, trade unionists, peace activists and many progressive people were vilified and demonised. Communists and progressive people lost their jobs, families and even children were ostracised. Hill wrote several influential booklets exposing the wider aims of the vicious anti-communist campaign, namely, to destroy the unions as defensive organisations of the working class. A broad based united front campaign launched by the Communist Party, progressive unions, civil liberties and community organisations defeated the ban. Hill worked tirelessly with many across all sectors of society, including Dr. H. V. Evatt, prominent Judge and Labor politician, to defeat the anti-democratic legislation.

Despite a growing interest by the Victorian police and ASIO in gathering "dirt" on Hill and his wife, Joyce, a 1952 ASIO report on Hill concluded that "Nobody is turned away who might wish to see him and it is known that he gives much legal advice gratis to ordinary workers, whether Party members or not".

E.F.Hill and Joyce Hill with Chairman Mao Tse-tung - July 22nd 1963

E.F.Hill and Joyce Hill with Chairman Mao Tse-tung - July 22nd 1963

Hill continued his work as a lawyer and Communist activist during the Petrov Affair vigorously defending hard won civil liberties and democratic rights in Australia. He worked closely with Doc Evatt, appearing in t he.Royal Commission into Communism and in the Petrov Affair case. The decade was a crucial one for civil liberties. The Royal Commissions were established for the purpose of launching a witch-hunt against Communists and other progressive Australians. Hill and Cedric Ralph worked with Labor leader H.V. Evatt to fight back this latest attack. "Ted's advocacy for a cause, subject to fierce hostility from the great and the powerful, vindicated the right to dissent. He promoted the right of free speech by exercising it when most feared to do so.”

By the early 1960s, however, the Soviet leadership was turning away from Marxism­ Leninism leading to a split in the international communist movement. In Australia, divisions deepened around questions of paying closer attention to analysing Australian history and conditions from a Marxist position, the mass line, including correct methods of work in trade unions, appropriate forms of organisation for a revolutionary party, and the class approach to parliamentarism.

Hill vigorously insisted on the Australian Communist Party applying and developing Marxism-Leninism in Australian conditions. He fought for a principled Marxist-Leninist line within the Central Committee of the CPA, until he and his supporters were forced out and removed from the Victorian State Committee.

The following year, on March 15, 1964, Hill, together with other leading comrades, founded the CPA (M-L) in order to rebuild a revolutionary proletarian party in Australia. CPA­ ML website

The founding members and collective leadership included Paddy Malone (BLF), Clarrie O'Shea (Tram and Bus Union Secretary), Dulcie Steffanou, Ted Bull (Waterside Workers Federation - Victoria), Rick Oke, and Norm Gallagher (BLF) - all outstanding working class representatives. Hill was elected Chairman of the newly established CPA-Ml.

Hill took the lead within the new Communist Party in applying Marxism to Australian reality. He continually urged the study of the Marxist classics (Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao) so as to elevate the revolutionary working class theory and practice of the new party and its members. Hill initiated and made an enormous contribution to the development of the Marxist theory and practice in Australian conditions. He paid immense attention to investigation and study of Australian reality and integration of the science of Marxism into Australian conditions.

Among his great contributions were Looking Backward: Looking Forward, first published in 1965 which clarified a number of important problems relating to trade unions and trade unionism; Australia's Revolution: On The Struggle For A Marxist-Leninist Party {1973), Imperialism in Australia - The Menace of Soviet Social-Imperialism (1975), The Labor Party? Dr Evatt-The Petrov Affair-The Whitlam Government (1975), The Great Cause  of Australian Independence (1977) and Communism and Australia: Reflections and Reminiscences (1989) . These major writings were complemented by his prolific articles (often unattributed) in the Party publications Vanguard and Australian Communist.

In addition to his Party work, Hill continued as a barrister to defend the interests of injured workers and was regarded as the pre-eminent advocate on workers compensation matters. He assisted Clyde Cameron, then Labor's spokesperson on Industrial Relations in the lead up to the 1972 Federal election, to draft a Bill for a new and greatly improved Commonwealth Employees' Compensation Act, and did so free of charge.

Hill used his brilliant legal skills and his revolutionary Communism to assist the struggles of workers and unions. In 1969, together with Lionel Murphy, he provided legal and political advice to the Tramways Union during the intense Penal Powers struggle that saw the then Victorian Tramways Union Secretary, Clarrie O'Shea, jailed for refusing to pay accumulated fines for taking unlawful industrial action. Within hours of Clarrie O'Shea being sent to jail a spontaneous national strike broke out, virtually closing down industries and public transport in Victoria. At the time Clarrie O'Shea was one of 3 Vice-Chairmen of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist). Hill made an outstanding contribution to Australia's working class.

Under Hill's leadership, the best elements in the working class and amongst the youth joined the CPA (M-L). A body of creative, active and dedicated revolutionary communists committed to serving the interests of working people were nurtured and encouraged by Hill and other veteran founding members of CPA-ML.

In 1986, Comrade Hill stood down from his position as Chairperson owing to ill-health. He died on February 1, 1988.

At Ted Hill's funeral the former Labor Party Minister Clyde Cameron spoke for all who had known, worked with or been influenced by Hill when he said that "neither profit nor power could buy the great Ted Hill". (Read the full speech here)