Last Updated: December 29, 2010

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Will Julia Gillard's past cause red faces?

Julia Gillard

Comrade Julia: From activist to Deputy PM? Radical policies from a student Julia Gillard threaten to embarrass the opposition. Source: Sunday Herald Sun

SCRAPPING the ANZUS treaty, twinning Melbourne with Leningrad and introducing a super-tax on the rich were among radical policies devised or backed by Julia Gillard as a student activist.

Labor's deputy leader was a key figure in a socialist group that pushed radical policies and social agendas in the 1980s and early '90s.

Founded in 1984 as a pressure group within the ALP, the Socialist Forum also wanted to sever Australia's alliance with the US, remove the spy base at Pine Gap, introduce death duties and redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.

The Sunday Herald Sun has gained access to the forum's archive - held in the Baillieu Library at the University of Melbourne.

The archive contains material revealing the radical past of Ms Gillard, including her links to former members of the Communist Party of Australia.

Ms Gillard, who could be Australia's next deputy prime minister, was on the management committee of the forum for many years. She acted as its public officer, secretary, and legal adviser on the drafting of its constitution.

Her signature is on liquor licence applications for the forum's social events, such as theatre nights.

In a pamphlet from the mid-1980s, Ms Gillard describes herself as a "socialist and a feminist" and someone who joined the ALP at 16.

"Contrary to what may have been suggested, Socialist Forum is not a secret organisation nor is it a sub-caucus with the Socialist Left," Ms Gillard says in the pamphlet.

"The members of the forum are drawn from varied backgrounds. Around 45 of the forum's members left the Communist Party of Australia in the division of a year ago and about 80 are members of the ALP. The largest group are not members of any political party."

The 200-plus member forum sought to influence Bob Hawke's Labor government, especially on foreign and economic policy, through the free discussion of ideas.

One key document is the 1985 "Pine Gap - Planning a Strategy", drafted by Philip Hind, who recommends a long-term policy of abrogating the ANZUS Treaty, removing Pine Gap and eventually closing all US bases.

Mr Hind visited the former Soviet Union and came back praising the reforms of president Mikhail Gorbachev. He recommended stronger ties with the USSR, including making Melbourne a sister city of Leningrad (now St Petersburg).

The archive also reveals the forum's debate over tax policy was based on a Communist Party tax pamphlet titled "A Case for Radical Tax Reform".

"We argue that there is only one effective way to reform the tax system, by a sweeping redistribution of the tax burden which now hits hardest at low and middle-income earners," the pamphlet says.

Health Minister Tony Abbott has accused Ms Gillard of erasing her radical past and her links to the forum.

Yesterday, Ms Gillard said she could not remember the forum discussing radical policies. "It did not adopt policy positions and I don't remember any of the papers being referred to," she said.

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