On February 1, 1936, B.A. “Bob” Santamaria began his publishing and activist career when he wrote, edited, published and distributed the first edition of The Catholic Worker. You can view an image of the cover of the first edition ofThe Catholic Worker here.

James Murtagh, in Australia: The Catholic Chapter, wrote of this first issue of that under-tabloid sized newspaper: “The first issue was printed on an over-worked press in a small suburban printery of a Melbourne industrial suburb in January 1936. The edition was mailed from a grocery store next door, owned by the father of the editor. The first copy was sent to Pope Pius XI and another to Joseph Stalin, Moscow.”

Similarly, the first issue of Freedom, the news sheet B.A. began to publish in 1943 as the mouthpiece of the incipient “Movement”, was entirely written by B.A. Freedom was established specifically as a counter to communist propaganda with the help of then Archbishop of Melbourne Daniel Mannix. It was this latter newssheet that evolved eventually into News Weekly in 1947.

Page one of the first edition of Freedom, dated Saturday September 25, 1943.

Since the four-page tabloid first edition of September 25, 1943, Freedom-cum-News Weekly took several forms, expanding and shrinking in format and page numbers as fashions and readerships changed, until it settled into the magazine-type periodical format in 1965 that it continues to have today.

By the time it was decided to change the National Civic Council’s main publication to a fortnightly, in 1989, for reasons opaque to this editor but possibly due to straitened circumstances and a shrinking readership, the name News Weekly had so rusted on that changing it would most likely have hastened its demise. Thus, since 1989, News Weekly has been a fortnightly, with no detriment to its content.

In January 2017, News Weekly grew a little once more and began to take full advantage of the latest printing and publishing technologies to offer readers a better visual and tactile experience with full colour throughout and a higher stock of paper. At the beginning of 2020 it refreshed its look a little and settled on the banner that now adorns its covers, as representative of both its longevity and its ever-fresh appeal.

For well over 70 years, News Weekly has served as a major mouthpiece of the “Movement”, which became the National Civic Council (NCC); and also since 1980 of the Australian Family Association (AFA); to disseminate the ideas around which these entities organise their activities.

News Weekly has gone through as many phases as have the NCC and AFA themselves, keeping pace with the changes in society and politics, and striving at every step to be a voice of reason, of informed analysis of emerging situations, and of sober and authoritative commentary on developing issues of every kind.

Given this constant movement to keep up with every rising social challenge, it has simultaneously been News Weekly’s brief to keep itself grounded in the founding principles, or “primacies” of the NCC.

These “Five Primacies” are:

Defending life (The integrity of the individual)
Supporting the family (the fundamental unit of society)
Assisting small enterprise (the family farm, small business)
Promoting the national interest (patriotism, self-reliance in defence)
Fostering Judeo-Christian virtues as objective realities

It is only thus that the magazine has been able to reflect and drive forward the efforts of the NCC and AFA to influence opinion both at the grassroots level as at the level where programs are shaped and decisions made: within civic and religious groups, the universities, and inside our governmental assemblies. Its role might be summarised as to form and inform its readers.

As noted above, News Weekly serves its readers with content that is both informative and formative.

First, informative content.

The NCC and the AFA exist as activist organisations with a political agenda. To forward that agenda, each member of the organisations must know what it is; and each must be reminded repeatedly what it is. Just as even the most accomplished musician will spend a great part of his day just playing long single notes. If he doesn’t, his foundation becomes unsure and all the perfections that rest on that foundation will fall into cacophony.

For this reason, each edition of News Weekly carries articles that reflect the work that the several organisations that function under the umbrella of the NCC are doing. When the NCC contributes to the national debate on rural affairs and water policy – such as the debacle that is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and the exacerbation of natural drought into a man-made drought by flushing water by the gigalitre out into the ocean under cover of a defective policy on environmental flows – News Weekly will keep you informed on these and other issues.

Or, if the AFA has prepared a submission to a parliamentary inquiry on religious freedom or the shortcomings of transgender theory, News Weekly will carry news of those efforts.

News Weekly is unique is this respect: that such news is directly from the horse’s mouth; whoever wrote the submission – be it Terri Kelleher or Patrick Byrne, for instance – will be the author of the article in News Weekly on the issue.

Nowhere else in the Australian press do you get that!

News Weekly’s strengths don’t end there. We also publish commentary and analysis on current affairs and are proud to bring these issues to you in a manner that is always thoughtful and considered and free of the shrillness that attends much reportage in the mainstream media.

Second, formative content.

Anyone who believes politics and culture are not related, or at least ought not to be related, needs only look at any mainstream newspaper of magazine. There the cultural pages are closely interwoven with the political agenda of the publication.

If you want to read about the latest transgressive play or interactive putty exhibition, for instance, your go-to point is The Age or The Telegraph. What is pushed as an agenda up the front of the paper is rearticulated and buttressed in the arts pages.

News Weekly does the same … except different. And our motive is not to politicise the arts but to allow the voice of the arts to be heard in their own sphere. We feature articles on music, cinema, philosophy, history, biography, political theory and so on as part of the great conversation that is Western civilisation.

It might be thought that any publication of an activist group could not help but be a slave of that group’s ideology. That may be so for groups held captive to ideologies (and undoubtedly those of the radical left, just such slaves, would claim that it could not in the nature of things be otherwise, the nature of all things being entirely political); but for a group that adheres not to pre-made ideologies but to principles, the enunciation of which takes about 20 seconds but which encapsulate 3,000 years of human history, thought, religion, politics, law, art, literature, philosophy, the freedom is immense, and the possibilities of development almost infinite.

The amplitude of free movement the “Five Primacies” allow the NCC and AFA, and hence News Weekly, has enabled them to move with the changing times and to respond to the challenges thrown up to them.

Without doing damage to the facts, it might be asserted that the life of News Weekly has been lived in two movements so far. Its first movement was as the organ for the promotion and articulation of the opposition to communism in Australia. It was with this purpose that B.A. “Bob” Santamaria founded the “Movement” and Freedom-cum-News Weekly.

Yet, even as the first movement was in full flight, the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s was sowing the seeds of the weeds that it would become the Movement’s task to eradicate in the second movement of its life. (By then the “Movement” had adopted the name the National Civic Council.)

We are in the midst of that task now.

So it is that, under the formative influence and grounded in the “Five Primacies”, News Weekly presents trustworthy alternative views to those generally found in the media on issues as current as redefining marriage, transgenderism, climate change, the energy crisis, rural and water issues, manufacturing, family taxation, and much more.

Moreover, News Weekly provides a cultural forum for recovering and illuminating the Western heritage, starting from its true roots in ancient Greece and Rome and the meeting of these with Jerusalem.

Please subscribe to News Weekly, and join the great conversation.

And give a friend a gift subscription.




Peter Kelleher
Editor, News Weekly