The Petrov Affair WebQuest
Old Parliament House
Old Parliament House is the first home to Australia’s Federal Parliament in the national capital, Canberra. The House witnessed many significant social and political events of the 20th century.
One in particular, the Petrov Affair of the 1950s, was to become a turning point in our history.
The Petrov Affair
On 13 April, the eve of the last Parliamentary sitting day before the 1954 election campaign, Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced the defection of Vladimir Petrov. He called for a Royal Commission to investigate evidence of espionage contained in the documents Petrov brought with him.
“Some days ago one Vladimir Mikhailovich Petrov, who had been third Secretary to the Soviet embassy in Australia since February 1951, voluntarily left his diplomatic employment and made to the Australian Government through the Australian Secretary Intelligence organisation a request for political asylum…The request has been granted.” R. G. Menzies, 13 April 1954.
“…I wish to ask the Australian Government for permission to remain in Australia permanently. I wish to become an Australian citizen as soon as possible. I ask for protection for myself and assistance to establish myself comfortably in this country. I no longer believe in the Communism of the Soviet leadership—I no longer believe in Communism, since I have seen the Australian way of living.“ Vladimir Petrov, 3 April 1954.