Bob Briton was born in Canberra in 1955 and received a strict Catholic education. He began work in the public service but was later employed in a variety of lowly paid jobs. He was always active in his trade union and received a service award from his union for his leadership of a campaign, including strikes and pickets, to remove the asbestos from the roof space of his workplace, the National Library of Australia. He was the youngest member of his union, the ACOA (now CPSU) to receive this award.
Bob joined the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1979 and the Socialist Party of Australia (SPA) in 1984. The SPA broke from the CPA over the CPA’s increasingly reformist and liquidationist line. The SPA retook the name CPA in 1996 after the dissolving of the original party.
Bob was very active in community organisations in solidarity with the people of Chile, facing the savagery of the military dictatorship under Pinochet. He campaigned for workers victimised in their workplace, with solidarity actions and support in whatever way possible. and housing for the more needy. He was involved in very bold actions for low cost accommodation that secured housing for many of Canberra’s homeless.
The Canberra Committee for Low-Cost Accommodation led a partial rent strike of public housing tenants. Bob was involved in many occupations and was arrested many times along with well-known Communist activist Ray O’Shannassy. Many nights he was detained in the lock-up in the city while his young family waited for his return. He spent ten days in Goulburn maximum security prison in the course of these activities. His wife, Stephanie, always supported his party activity.
Bob moved to Adelaide in 1990 and became very involved in the work of the Port Branch of the CPA. This included many environmental campaigns, support for industrial struggles and Aboriginal land rights. He was central to a campaign to claim land left after the demolition of the CSR sugar refinery and to build a retirement home for the local Kaurna Aboriginal people who previously lived traditionally on the land. Bob ran as a party candidate in the Port Adelaide district in 2012 and 2014 and attracted noteworthy support.
Bob became South Australian State Secretary in 2002 and elected to the Central Committee the same year. He began work on the party newspaper at this time. In 2013, he was elected acting General Secretary and confirmed in that position at the Party’s 12th National Congress later that year. Bob was re-elected General Secretary again at the 13th National Congress in 2018 and was moving to consolidate discipline and promote activity in the party.
Bob represented the CPA at several International Meetings of Communist and Workers Parties and other significant gatherings. He worked hard at establishing practical links of solidarity with fraternal parties. His contributions at international conferences always emphasised the potential that exists for international cooperation between Communist and workers’ parties.
In his last term as General Secretary, Bob encountered greater resistance to change including to the innovative work of the youth. With other former members of the party, he drew the conclusion that the party had lost its way and been overtaken by various opportunist trends. He decided that the time had come to found a new party without the ingrained, ill-disciplined habits of the old party. That party is the Australian Communist Party
Joined Socialist Party of Australia (now called Communist Party of Australia) in the ACT in 1984
Secretary joint union committee at National Library 1980 – 1988
Branch Councillor Administrative and Clerical Officers' Association (ACOA – clerk's union) 1979 – 1985
ACOA Service Award for leadership of campaign to remove asbestos from National Library 1983 (youngest person to ever receive the award)
Active in solidarity with people of Chile during Pinochet dictatorship
Active in struggles for low-cost housing in the ACT and against unfair dismissals
Active around the issue of political prisoners in Colombia, solidarity with Venezuela, Vietnam and Cuba
Treasurer of the South Australian May Day Collective which organises May Day celebrations in SA
Member Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Positions held in CPA
Secretary Port Adelaide Branch 1995 – 2005
Member South Australian State (SA) Committee 1992 to 2019
SA State Secretary 2005 to 2018
SA State Treasurer 2008 to 2018
Member Central Committee 2005 to 2019
Member CC Executive 2009 to 2019
Member CC Secretariat (politburo) 2013 to 2019
Secretary CC International Department 2009 to 2019
Member CC Media and Communications Sub-Committee 2013 to 2019
Member of the editorial board of The Australian Marxist Review (theoretical journal of the CPA) 2013 to 2019
12th Congress of the Communist Party of Venezuela 2006
Patriotic March organisation in Colombia 2013
International Meetings of Communist and Workers' Parties in India in 2009, Portugal in 2013 and Greece in 2018
Contributions to the International Meetings of Communist and Workers' Parties: