Contributed by Ben Wilson
John Kerr’s letters to the Queen are to be released today, after a ruling of the High Court. The more than 200 letters relating to the sacking of the Whitlam government in November 1975, have been in the custody of the National archives.
It took historian Jenny hocking four years to win this ruling.
The sheer volume of communications suggest ongoing consultation with the Palace as the momentous events unfolded in Australia. This is important. Up to now, the official response is that there was little involvement. Revelations in the latter could be explosive.
In 1975, the reaction to Kerr’s sacking was dramatic. The nation stopped. Australia came withing a hair of a national revolt, as huge crowds hit the streets around the country. The army was put on high alert, ready to be deployed against civilians. The nation was gripped in a serious political crisis.
Allegations about the involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States were around then. They persist today, and there is no lack of evidence to back this up.
It is known that Tirath Khemlani, a CIA operative, had been central to the destabilisation of the Whitlam government, as the middleman, setting up loans from the Middle East. This was a sting operation, designed to launch a political crisis, justifying the opposition controlled Senate to deny finance to the government.
Washington made no secret over its displeasure at the Australian government’s turn towards greater independence, and especially its desire to shift towards Australian ownership of essential industries, financial independence and overcoming dependence on foreign investment.
The Whitlam government was moving to close American military facilities on Australian soil. The Pine Gap spying, and communications station was central to this.
Economic reforms like universal health care, free education were regarded as an unpalatable shift towards what looked like socialism.
The Christopher Boyce leaks showed the extend to which the CIA had infiltrated the Australian political scene.
The following only releases part of the story.
Did the CIA interfere in 1970s Australian politics?
Video from SBS Dateline
Kerr himself, often depicted as the Queens’ man, was a leading light in the CIA funded Australian Association for Cultural Freedom. The CIA had worked hard to build Kerr’s position and even paid for his travel expenses. Kerr was also the CIA’s man.
Washington posted its leading head kicker Marshal Green as ambassador to Canberra. He had become known as the coup master. He openly incited opposition to the Australian government of the day.
Leading CIA functionary Theodore Shackley wrote in a secret telex, that the Prime Minister of Australia was a security risk to his own country. Shackley was, besides other events, the man behind the coup in Chile that brought the Pinochet military dictatorship into existence.
In the 1980s, senior CIA officers revealed that the “Whitlam problem” had been discussed “with urgency” by the CIA’s director, William Colby, and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield. A deputy director of the CIA said: “Kerr did what he was told to do.”
This and further evidence shows that the United States and Great Britain worked together to overthrow the elected Australian government. Kerr’s letter to the Queen may show more about the collusion.
Whitlam failed to make a comeback. Many inside and outside the Labor Party believed that a major reason was a betrayal by Bob Hawke, then Secretary of the of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. He pulled away crucial active union support to resisting the dismissal, which disillusioned and dispersed the movement that had arisen.
Hawke collaborated with the US embassy.
Allegation have been made about his CIA connections. WikiLeaks released documents underscore the close association. Hawke had a long assocaition with the the CIA related Harvard Program, which offers scholarships for trades unionists and recruits operatives from their ranks.
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