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Byron Shire
June 16, 2024

Whitlam’s racism

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Frank Kelly writes of Peter Dutton’s racism (Echo 8 February) stating that Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke and Keating were ‘famously’ anti-racist. Close examination of Whitlam’s race record, including [relations with] the peoples of Timor-Leste, and specifically, to those who identified as South Vietnamese in 1975, paints a different picture. 

Whitlam government cabinet member and Minister for Labor and Immigration at the time of the fall of Saigon, Clyde Cameron, provides details in his book China, Communism and Coca-Cola (1980) of a Cabinet meeting confrontation in 1975 between Whitlam and his then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Don Willesee. In that, Willesee was requesting urgent action and the utilisation of the RAAF to evacuate civilian South Vietnamese refugees from war-torn Saigon. 

Whitlam denied the request, responding that he ‘was not having hundreds of f…… Vietnamese Balts coming to this country with their political and religious hatreds against us’. 

After publication of Cameron’s book in 1980, Whitlam never denied making this comment. Moreover, the late, and much admired (on these pages) Mungo MacCallum wrote in the Quarterly Essay (Issue 6, 2002) that Whitlam’s 1975 cabinet meeting statement was just ‘a few lines of rhetoric’. 

When you consider Whitlam’s attitude towards the South Vietnamese population you get a better understanding as to the reasoning of the then Australian government’s shameful and regrettable inaction in responding to and facilitating the evacuation of the civilian populace. Save for a much publicised and photographed evacuation of 200 orphans and a couple of handfuls of adults.

Mark May, Ballina

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  1. Of course he didn’t want them in Australia, he perceived them to be racists. Why would a good commie allow racists in his country. Your simply being confused by the contradictions of leftist doctrine. You are working under the wacky concept that non-whites can’t be racist no matter how racist they are. Most people in the world are highly racist and don’t care if you White people demand they stop. They will even pretend not to be racist to get into your country and grab what they can, even though they would sooner see you dead.

    • Correct Christian… !! what about our latest
      Edition.. Comrade Albo .. he speaks of freedom
      Of speech.. oh i see ..you vote no to the voice
      and you are a racist !!

      • Correct Barrow. Comrade Albo want a free and fair yes vote, de-funding and de-platforming any descent.
        Some animals are more equal than others.

  2. No what side of politics you are calling the alp commies. I suppose you think there are still reds under the bed. Better go out and hang out with the neo nazis.
    Anyway Mark, the article still doesn’t say Peter Dutton is not a rascist by suggesting someone else is.

    • Are you trying to gaslight people about Comrade Gough or are you will fully ignorant?
      Everyone to the right of Lidia Thorpe is called a ‘N*zi’ now. Haven’t you be keeping up?
      Maybe you could define what you mean by ‘Racist’ so Mark can respond.


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