source: Melbourne Indymedia

Friday November 18, 2005

The Hidden Australia - A secret recent History of the Whitlam Dismissal

Whilst the only actual direct piece of evidence of CIA involvement in the 1975 Dismissal comes from Chris Boyce (of "Falcon and the Snowman" fame) who claimed during his espionage trial that the whole reason why he decided to start spying against the US was because of a misdirected CIA message he received at TRW's Black Room, which acknowledged the involvement of the CIA, there are other pointers. The entire episode was very similar to that of the destruction of Allende's government in Chile in 1973. Destabilisation was the new in word in the CIA at that time (although, they had used the concept in several operations in the 1950's) and Chile had taken the concept to new highs.

One of the CIA's head officers, Jame Angleton, who had been high in the CIA in 1973 and directly concerned with intelligence operations with Australia, complained to an Australian television interviewer about the "Attorney-General moving in, barging in, [this was the famous "raid" conducted by Lionel Murphy, the Attorney-General on the ASIO offices in Melbourne in 1973] we were deeply concerned as to the sanctity of this information which could compromise sources and methods and compromise human life."(1) The CIA, he said, seriously considered breaking intelligence relations with Australia.

You have to remember that Australia was a highly important part of the CIA's world-wide intelligence setup. It has thousands of CIA employees stationed here and is a vital part of the early warning and nuclear war fighting system (how important was only revealed incidentally during the Gulf War when Nurrungar grounds station which our government always claimed to have been there for "verification" was used to observe and report on Iraqi SCUD launches with its related DSP series satellite which is stationed over the Indian Ocean). The three major bases on Australian soil, Pine Gap, Nurrungar and North-West Cape were all of very high importance to the US during the 1960's and 70's.

After the ALP came to power in 1973, some of its members voiced very strong criticism of these bases (and one very now famous and revealing Phd Thesis by Dr.Des Ball, "A Suitable Piece of Real Estate" was published ;-) and began to demand an official explanation for their presence and at times even voted for their removal. Despite all this posturing, Whitlam and his cabinet didn't carry out these threats because despite their radical posturing were not about to leap into the political no man's land of cutting their ties with the West. They did speak of neutralism and non-alignment on occasion. but they were willing to settle for independence; which is all the Papandreous government wanted when it was overthrown by a CIA backed military coup and you have to remember that Greece was also another _very_ important US electronic spy site.

Matters started to come to a head in 1975. Whitlam dismissed the heads of both ASIS and ASIO. The former because he had been secretly assisting the CIA in covert activities in East Timor during the brief civil war there.(2) Then, at the beginning of November, it was revealed in the press that a former CIA officer, Richard Lee Stallings, had been channelling funds to Doug Anthony, leader of the Country Party (one of the most conservative parties in Australia), then in opposition.

It was reported that Stallings was a close friend and former tenant of Anthony's, that the secret installations in the hinterland were indeed CIA creations, and that Stallings had been the first head of much of the operation.(3)

Ray Aitchison in 1974 published a book called, "Looking at the Liberals" (the other main conservative party), in which it was claimed that the CIA had offered the opposition unlimited funds in their unsuccessful attempt to defeat the ALP government in 1974 election.(4) Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, confirmed that the CIA had indeed funded both opposition parties, and a Sydney newspaper stated that the Liberals had been on the recieving end since the late 1960's.(5)

When Whitlam repeated the charges against Stallings and insisted upon an investigation of the facilities, to identify once and for all their true purpose and at the same time demanded a list of CIA operatives in Australia, alarm bells began to ring in Langley with a vengeance.

The Australian military-industrial complex appears at this point to have been spurred into a flurry of activity. On 6 November, the head of the Dept. of Defence reportedly met with the Governor General (GG), Sir John Kerr, and afterward declared publicly: "This the greatest risk to the nation's security there has ever been."(6)

On the eighth, another senior defence official held a meeting with Kerr in which he was briefed about allegations from the CIA that Whitlam was jeopardizing the security of American bases in Australia.(7) The same day, the CIA in Washington informed the ASIO station chief that all intelligence links with Australia would be cut unless a satisfactory explanation was given of Mr.Whitlam's behavior.(8) The agency had already expressed reservations about releasing intelligence reports to certain key government ministers who had once been very active in the anti-Vietnam protest movement.(9)

On 9 November, Kerr was received at the Defence Signals Directorate for another briefing.(10) The following day, the ASIO station in Washington at the request of the CIA, sent a telex to its HQ in Melbourne, in which it stated that, "CIA can not see how this dialogue with continued reference to CIA can do other than blow the lid off these installations...."(11) In addition to Stallings, the names of his successors (also senior CIA officers) and the CIA station chief had appeared in the press. On the 11th, Kerr acted and used the little known, or even remembered part of the Australian constitution under the heading of "Executive Powers" and dismissed the Whitlam government.

Kerr, who had been in military intelligence during WWII (the section concerned with the planning for the eventual re-occupation of Pacific territories and colonies which the Japanese had captured), was much taken with the world of spookery and regularly saw classified material, in all likelihood was aware of the ASIO telex, or at least its sentiments through the "Old-boy" net of which he was a part.(12) Kerr had also been involved during the 1950's as first a member, and then a member of the executive board of the Australian Association of Cultural Freedom, an organisation spawned from the CIA's own front organisation, the Congress for Cultural Freedom. He regularly wrote in the organisation's magazine, Quadrant. One such article was called, "The Struggle Against Communism in the Trade Unions" and was published in 1960. The CIA has always accorded a very high priority throughout the world to resisting the infiltration of communism into organised labour.(13)

In 1966 Kerr helped to found Lawasia (or Law Asia), an organisation of lawyers in the Far East funded by the Asia Foundation. The Foundation was one of the most prominent CIA fronts for over a decade, with offices and representatives in all the major capitals of Asia. Again according to Marchetti, one of its prime missions was to "disseminate throughout Asia a negative vision of mainland China, North Vietnam and North Korea".(14) Kerr became Lawasia's first president, a position he held until 1970.(15) According to Christopher Boyce, "There was a bit of a celebration," in the CIA when Whitlam was dismissed by Kerr. According to Boyce, the CIA often referred to Kerr as "our man".(16)

Boyce also revealed that the CIA had infiltrated Australian unions, and had been "manipulating the leadership". They had also apparently, when it suited them, "suppressed their strikes", particularly those involving the railways and airports when they had held up deliveries of the Agency's deliveries of equipment to their installations. In addition some of the unions had been the most vocal in their opposition to the creation of the secret bases in the first place.(17)

To this, should also be added that other aspect, now well known, of the CIA's involvement in Australia: the Nugen-Hand Bank. The Nugen-Hand Merchant Bank of Sydney, is now known to have been a CIA front bank used to launder money. It was founded on the fraudulent writing of a personal cheque to fund itself by one of its founders, Michael Hand, an ex-CIA pilot who had flown with Air America.(18) Air America had been the CIA's own private airline which had been used to provide supplies to the secret wars in Laos and Burma, and to fly Opium out of the Golden Triangle to fund its activities there.(19)

The Bank was also involved in such activities as; drug trafficking, international arms dealing, links to organised crime, laundering money for President Suharto, unspecified services for the Marcoses, assisting the Shah to move money out of Iran, channeling CIA money to pro-American political parties and operations in Europe, attempting to blackmail an Australian state minister who was investigating organised crime, transferring $2.4 million to the Australian Liberal Party, and as a host of "socially useful other services."(20)

So, whilst a lot of the evidence is circumstantial at best, it is obvious that the CIA was concerned with what was happening in Australia at this time in a big way. It was channeling money to the opposition parties and it did have some form of input into what was going on. The question is how much? Personally I think that without the CIA to fund it, and perhaps to control Kerr, the ALP would have either been able to wait out the supply crisis, or even win the election which resulted from it. However, if the tale of CIA involvement is true, then we like Chile, have been robbed of our independence, and whats more our right to be called a nation by the shenanagins of a secret government within _our_ government.


1. Freney, D., The CIA's Australian Connection, Sydney 1977, pp.75-80.

2. Jose, J., `The Whitlam Years: Illusion and Reality', in(Flanagan, P., (ed), Big Brother or Democracy?, London, 1981; p.50, Albinski, H.S., Australian External Policy under Labor, Sydney 1977.

3. Australian Financial Review, 4 November 1975, p.4.

4. Aitchison, R., Looking at the Liberals, Sydney, 1974.

5. Sydney Sun, 4 May 1977.

6. Coxsedge, J., Coldicutt, K., Harant, G., Rooted in Secrecy: the Clandestine Involvement in Australian Politics, Australia, 1982, p.35

7. Australian Financial Review, 28 April 1977; Jose, p.51 adds that the official, Dr.Farrands, denied the allegation but did admit to meeting Kerr in October but refused to discuss the meeting's contents.

8. Australian Financial Review, 28 April 1977, p.1.

9. Albinski, p.169.

10. Consedge, et al, p.96.

11. Freney, pp.30-1.

12. ibid, p.33.

13. Blum, W., The CIA: A Forgotten History, New York, 1986, p.282.

14. Marchetti, V., Marks, J., The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, New York, 1975, p.178.

15. Kerr, J., Matters for Judgement: an Autobiography, Melbourne, 1978, pp.172-86.

16. San Francisco Chronicle, 24 May 1982.

17. Ibid.

18. Kwitney, J., The Crimes of Patriots: dope, dirty money, the CIA and the Nugan Hand Bank, New York, 1987.

19. McCoy, W.A., The Politics of Heroin, New York, 1991 (revised edition).

20. Kwitney, J., The Crimes of Patriots.

------------------------------------------------- Reposters Note:

William Blum also devotes several pages to the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government in his book "Killing Hope - U.S. Military and CIA interventions since World War II" ISBN 1551640961 Black Rose Books, 1998.