After enduring his two minutes with Bob Carr, Hans Lovejoy quotes the imperious ex-premier saying: ‘Whitlam himself said he didn’t think it [the dismissal] was anything to do with the US.’
This is not true. Whitlam was reluctant to believe it but events and revelations in the press in 1975-77 made it quite clear that the White House and the State Department (Nixon and Kissinger) as well as the CIA’s East Asia Division led by Ted Shackley had intervened, and Whitlam said in Parliament in May 1977: ‘The manipulation of unions, the financing of political parties, the deception over the CIA and the activities of foreign installations on our soil all affect Australia’s independence and sovereignty. There is a need for parliamentary scrutiny of foreign intelligence activities in this country. The need is urgent.’
In his column in the Sydney Sun on May 6, 1977, he said ‘The CIA tried to get Australia’s own intelligence service, ASIO, to withhold information from [my] Government.’
Yes, Gough never wanted to say outright that US agencies were part of the gang-tackle that brought him down, perhaps he was too proud to concede that American thugs had as much to do with his downfall as did the Sir Johns, Sir Arthurs, and Sir Garfields in Canberra.
Soon after Whitlam was dumped, newly-elected US president Jimmy Carter sent his deputy secretary of state Warren Christopher on a secret mission to apologise personally to Whitlam for US interference during Gough’s prime ministership.
And just last month, Gough’s former principal private secretary Richard Butler, who accompanied Whitlam to the meeting, revealed that he had no doubt the interference for which Carter was apologising included helping tip Kerr’s hand to dismiss Whitlam.
In an interview with Max Suich for the Australian Financial Review issue of 30 October this year, Butler said: ‘It seemed to me quite obvious then and it still does today. . . there were groups in the Nixon administration that… activated the intelligence systems to listen, follow Whitlam and his policies [and that they] had a role in the dismissal. . . eavesdropping, colluding with the actors and people like Kerr. . . encouraging them.’
I wrote an extensive account of the US intelligence agencies’ role in the dismissal in 1984, which was published in the American investigative magazine Mother Jones, but has never before been published in Australia.
I have now posted that article with a new introduction and a postscript update, which your readers can read at http://coorabellridge.com/2014/10/28/the-role-of-american-agencies-in-the-overthrow-of-whitlam/
I will be talking about this and today’s US-Australian relationship, now that Malcolm Fraser takes a harder line in favour of Australian independence from Uncle Sam than Whitlam did, at a public event in Mullumbimby in January, with Richard Hil, a widely-published academic and commentator who now lives in Mullum.
Phillip Frazer, Coorabell