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Carr’s Column – John Wheeldon

September 1, 2010

John Wheeldon joins Carr, Gough Whitlam and Gore Vidal for dinner at Maroubra during Vidal's 1997 visit to Australia.

While admiring Mark Aaron’s book The Family File, I dispute Mark Aaron’s claim that former Labor party senator John Wheeldon was an undercover member of the Communist Party of Australia. If he had been, I would have detected it in our numerous conversations. In fact I can’t remember him ever making a reference to Marx or Engels. If Wheeldon had been a communist he would have read himself into all the theory and history he could lay his hands on. And as a spirited conversationalist he would not have been able to resist invoking it. I think Aarons has seriously misinterpreted what were mischievous or ironic comments made by Wheeldon in their one conversation. In the 1960s John was a rip-roaring democratic socialist who believed in the nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange, at least in a rhetorical or theoretical sense. Neither in his conversations or in the contents of his ASIO files is there evidence that supports the conclusion he was an undercover CPA member.

See my article in The Spectator reviewing Mark Aaron’s book The Family File (; and my article in The Australian (


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