Christian Jollie Smith

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Christian Brynhild Ochiltree Jollie Smith (15 March 1885 – 14 January 1963), was a socialist lawyer and co-founder of the Communist Party of Australia notable for her work representing striking miners, underprivileged tenants during the great depression and briefing legal council for the successful High Court challenges to the attempted exclusion of Egon Kisch from Australia and the Communist Party dissolution Act.

Born at Parkville, Melbourne, daughter of Scottish-born Thomas Jollie Smith and his Victorian wife Jessie Ochiltree. Brought up at Naracoorte, South Australia, where her father was Presbyterian minister. She was educated in Adelaide, and at Presbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne, in 1904. Christian studied law at the University of Melbourne (LL.B., 1911) and was introduced to socialism by her friend Guido Baracchi. She belonged to a group of left-wing intellectuals including William Earsman, Louis Esson and his wife Hilda, and Katharine Susannah Prichard, and was active in the anti-conscription campaigns of World War I.

Jollie Smith worked as a solicitor, from 1914 onwards but chose a number of diverse career paths including journalism for her socialist political cause and teaching. Early in 1918 Jollie Smith was the first woman taxi-driver in Melbourne, under the trade name 'Pamela Brown'. In 1919 she taught English literature at Melbourne High, Brighton Grammar schools and the Labor College of New South Wales, Sydney. In December 1920 she became a foundation committee-member of the Communist Party of Australia and published the Sydney-based Australian Communist from 1920-21.

Christian Jollie Smith became the second woman to be admitted as a solicitor in New South Wales on 30 October 1924. She established her own practice dealing chiefly with political and industrial cases. During the attempted exclusion of Egon Kisch from Australia she briefed Albert Piddington and Maurice Blackburn who won appeals in the High Court of Australia against charges that he was a prohibited immigrant.

In 1951 Jollie Smith briefed Herbert Evatt who successfully challenged the validity of the Act outlawing the Communist Party.

Jollie Smith never married. She died at North Sydney and was cremated with Presbyterian forms. The Australian Communist Newspaper Tribune acknowledged her as one of the 'most devoted fighters in the intellectual and professional fields' on behalf of the working class.

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