Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November 11: Whitlam's Dismissal and the CIA

Maintaining my rage with a reprise of a 2010 post about the Whitlam government's dismissal and the role of United States:

The question in my post WikiWobbles: What is Julia Gillard Thinking? about what US cables might have revealed about the dismissal of the Whitlam government prodded me to troll/trawl the web for documents from the time.

All I’ve found so far are some declassified State Department communications from 1973 -75. They are kept by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). They are mostly bland rehashes of the news of the day. Many are extracts from the Financial Review or The Australian newspapers.

Somewhat unexpectedly Malcolm Fraser’s handling of the Blocking of Supply crisis receives strong criticism from the embassy. Their author did not seem to be a fan of Fraser's, relaying negative comments on his tactics of the time.

The documents include:

Gough Whitlam’s linking of Country Party Leader Doug Anthony with the CIA

From Secretary of State Henry Kissinger:

4 NOV 1975

SUBJECT: WHITLAM ACCUSES ANTHONY OF RECEIVING CIA MONEY

1. YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO APPROACH THE GOA TODAY AT THE HIGHEST AVAILABLE LEVEL, CATEGORICALLY DENYING ON BEHALF OF THE USG THAT THE CIA PAID MONEY TO THE NATIONAL COUNTRY PARTY OR ITS LEADER DOUGLAS ANTHONY. NEITHER THE CIA NOR ANY OTHER US AGENCY HAS GIVEN OR PASSED FUNDS TO ANY AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL PARTY OR CANDIDATE FOR AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL OFFICE.

2. YOU SHOULD ADD THAT, AS A MATTER OF STANDING PRACTICE, THE USG NEITHER CONFIRMS NOR DENIES PUBLICLY ALLEGATIONS OF THE TYPE REPORTED TO HAVE BEEN MADE BY THE PRIME MINISTER. THE USG REGRETS, HOWEVER, THAT SUCH A CHARGE AGAINST NCP LEADER ANTHONY, IF CORRECTLY REPORTED, COULD HAVE DAMAGING FALLOUT ON OTHER ASPECTS OF US-AUSTRALIAN RELATIONS.

4 NOV 1975

CALL FOR US REBUTTAL OF WHITLAM'S ACCUSATIONS

EMBASSY CANBERRA HAS BEEN RELIABLY INFORMED THAT THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE SECRETARIES WOULD WELCOME A FORMAL USG STATEMENT DENYING ANY CIA FINANCIAL INVOLVEMENT WITH AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL PARTIES. THE EMBASSY RECOMMENDS A STATEMENT BE ISSUED PROMPTLY, SINCE A DELAY WOULD ENCOURAG PRIME MINISTER WHITLAM TO CONTINUE IMPUGNING THE US THROUGH CHEAP POLITICAL SHOTS AT HIS OPPONENTS.

Comment on the blocking of Supply in the Senate by Fraser’s Coalition opposition

From Percival, US Embassy Canberra:

7 NOV 1975

SUBJECT: AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL CRISIS

6. OPPOSITION LEADER FRASER'S DECISION TO WITHHOLD THE GOVERNMENT'S SUPPLY BILLS IN THE SENATE HAS BACKFIRED BADLY. THE LONGER HE REFUSES TO BUDGE THE MORE LIKELY IT IS THAT HIS PERSONAL POPULARITY AS WELL AS THE POPULARITY OF THE OPPOSITION PARTIES WILL CONTINUE TO FALL. FRASER IS ALSO HAVING INCREASING DIFFICULTY HOLDING OPPOSITION SENATORS TOGETHER. A SENIOR SHADOW MINISTER SAID THAT FRASER WAS RELYING EXCLUSIVELY ON THE ADVICE OF COUNTRY PARTY LEADERS; ANTHONY, NIXON, AND SINCLAIR, ALONG WITH A FEW HARDLINE LIBERALS LIKE SENATOR WITHERS AND DEPUTY LEADER LYNCH AND HARDLY CONFERRING AT ALL WITH OTHER IMPORTANT LIBERAL MEMBERS OF THE SHADOW CABINET. THIS SHADOW MINISTER SAID THAT FRASER WAS QTE ONLY CONSULTING WITH FELLOW GRAZIERS END QTE AND SAID POINTEDLY QTE WHEN SNEDDEN WENT TOO FAR WE HAD TO GET RID OF HIM END QTE HE ALSO STATED FLATLY THAT AT LEAST TWO LIBERAL SENATORS WOULD REFUSE TO REJECT RATHER THAN DEFER THE GOVERNMENT'S SUPPLY BILLS IF THEY WERE ASKED TO DO SO.

8. IN OUR VIEW, WHAT FRASER HAS DONE IS TO RESCUE THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT FROM AN ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE POSITION AND TO GIVE IT A FIGHTING CHANGE TO SURVIVE UNTIL THE END OF ITS ELECTED TERM IN 1977. IN THE PROCESS HE REVEALED POOR JUDGMENT IN WITHHOLDING SUPPLY AND SHOWED THAT HE IS UNABLE TO BEST WHITLAM IN PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE. FRASER HAS A NUMBER OF POTENTIAL RIVALS WITHIN THE LIBERAL PARTY WHO MIGHT WELL BE TEMPTED TO TRY TO REPLACE HIM AS LEADER AS A RESULT OF HIS PERFORMANCE TO DATE. GIVEN THE PRESENT SORRY STATE OF THE OPPOSITION, WHITLAM MAY WELL INSIST THAT THE OPPOSITION BACK DOWN COMPLETELY AND PASS THE SUPPLY BILLS IN THE SENATE.

This is not the stuff of deep intrigue, though the reported role of the Secretaries of the Foreign Affairs and Defence departments certainly seems at odds with their own government. If the conspiracy theories about the dismissal are correct and evidence is online, it’s hard to find. I wonder how long materials held by the Intelligence organisations are kept under wraps.

Also came across this reference to the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 and the murder of the Balibo 5. The Timor cable may be of interest to Shirley Shackleton, widow of Greg Shackleton who was one of the Australian murdered journalists, though I’m sure she will have seen it.

Comment on the Missing Balibo 5 in East Timor

From Percival, US Embassy Canberra:

31 OCT 1975

SUBJECT: TIMOR

1. IN A SPEECH TO THE SENATE ON OCTOBER 3, FOREIGN MINISTER WILLESEE REVERSED THE GOA'S POLICY OF NON-INVOLVEMENT IN THE TIMOR CRISIS BY OFFERING TO HELP ARRANGE DECOLONIZATION TALKS IN AUSTRALIA. THE STATEMENT WAS IN REPLY TO LEFTIST ALP SEN. GEITZELDT'S CALL FOR THE GOA TO RECOGNIZE FRETELIN AS THE DE FACTO GOVERNMENT IN EAST TIMOR.

2. SENATOR WILLESEE SAID THAT THE GOA DEPLORED THE FIGHTING IN THE BORDER AREAS AND BELIEVED QTE THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEMS IN PORTUGUESE TIMOR SHOULD BE SOUGHT THROUGH PEACEFUL MEANS FREE OF INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTION. END QTE. THE GOA WAS PREPARED TO PROVIDE THE LOCALE FOR TALKS TO DETERMINE JUST WHAT THE PEOPLE OF EAST TIMOR WANT. IN A CAUTIOUS REBUKE OF INDONESIA, VIEWS IN THIS REGARD AND URGED TO PURSUE HER INTERESTS THROUGH DIPLOMATIC MEANS. END QTE.

3. COMMENT: THE FOREIGN MINISTER'S STATEMENT MARKS A RELUCTANT CHANGE IN THE GOA'S PREVIOUS POLICY OF NON-INTERVENTION IN TIMOR WITH TACIT GOA SUPPORT FOR A GOI TAKE-OVER. AS NOTED IN REFTEL, THE ALP LEFT HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY CRITICAL OF THE GOA'S TIMOR POLICY. PRESS REPORTS WIICH INDICATE THE POSSIBILITY THAT FIVE AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISTS WERE FIRST SHOT AND THEN BURNED BY INDONESIAN SUPPORTED FORCES IN TIMOR HAVE HEIGHTENED THIS CRITICISM. THE ALLEGED REFUSAL OF ANTI-FRETELIN FORCES TO PERMIT AN AUSTRALIAN OFFICER INTO THE AREA TO EXAMINE THE BODIES FURTHER AROUSED SUSPICIONS AND PUBLIC REACTION. THE GOA'S ACTION OFFERING AUSTRALIA AS POSSIBLE SITE FOR TALKS ON THE TIMOR PROBLEM WAS PROBABLY THE MINIMUM THE GOVERNMENT COULD TAKE TO PLACATE THE ALP LEFT. PROTESTS AND OPPOSITION WILL BECOME GREATER AS THE EXTENT OF GOI MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN EAST TIMOR BECOMES KNOWN. THIS WILL PRESENT THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT WITH A MOST UNWELCOME, POTENTIALLY DEVISIVE ISSUE DURING A PERIOD OF DOMESTIC POLITICAL CRISIS.

Shirley was awarded the Best Book Award for The Circle of Silence at the 2010 Walkley Awards on 9 Dec. In her acceptance speech she says that , “our democracy is under threat because of WikiLeaks …”. The video of her speech is below.


There are lots of other documents from those years. But it’s more a job for post-grad Politics or History students than a busy citizen journalist.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Stand Up - Fight Back! #March4


On 4 March 2015 tens of thousands of worker and their supporters marched in Melbourne, Australia in defence of working conditions and government services. The rally against Tony Abbott's Coalition government was organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council .



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Monday, February 2, 2015

Live tweeting @TonyAbbotMHR at the National Press Club

Live tweeting @TonyAbbotMHR at the National Press Club - haven’t had this much fun since watching Asian Cup final and Queensland elections on Saturday night!






































Here endeth the sermon!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Video: ALP Celebrates in Mentone


On the night of the Victorian State election 2014 local campaigners from the seats of Mordialloc and Sandringham gather in Mentone to celebrate Labor's victory. Candidates Tim Richardson and Christina Zigouras thank their supporters.



Tim Richardson won back the seat for Labor with a two-party-preferred swing of 3.5%.

Christina Zigouras gained the second largest 2PP swing to Labor in the State of 8.2%.

The electorates are next to each other and worked closely during the campaign. An historic night all round!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What's the bottom line we should demand of our State Parliamentarians?


A couple of Letters to the Editor in Melbourne's Bayside Leader local 'free' weekly newspaper. It's part of Rupert Murdoch's Herald Sun chain.

A case of old media meets new media, perhaps.

'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' or perhaps just a little bit disgusted with how low the bar is set in Sandy. A pity that politics drives us to clichés.

Don't miss the rest of my coverage of the Sandringham Campaign for the 2014 Victorian State election.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Victorian Election: Sandringham Sandbelt Seat Not So Safe Anymore


The people of Sandringham have been enjoying an unusual election season with a highly visible and focused Labor campaign and a strong independent candidate. ALP candidate Christina Zigouras’ energetic and responsive approach has been in stark contrast to Murray Thompson. After 22 years, our Liberal member did not even turn up to local candidate forums. Locals who looked forward to vigorous debate found that he has added no-show to his customary go-slow.

Independent Clarke Martin has been a tireless advocate for a return to a standalone 7-12 high school in Beaumaris, a passion shared by former student Christina.

No doubt Murray Thompson "is a nice bloke" who does a creditable job helping constituents with their problems. However, the role of a State parliamentarian must be much broader. Our member should articulate a strong vision and concrete policies for the electorate and the State and show leadership on both local and statewide issues. He/she should be actively engaged with the community not just a pipeline to the bureaucracy.

Our issues have much in common with other sand-belt electorates: public transport and traffic congestion; funding of education and training; lack of consultation and inequitable outcomes of residential rezoning processes; protection of bayside coastal areas. There has been lots of media analysis of the Frankston train line. However, few journalists have even noticed that two of the worst level crossings earmarked for removal by Labor are in our electorate, namely Cheltenham and Mentone.

We should not be taken for granted just because we live in a so-called safe blue ribbon seat. Our democracy deserves much better. We need a vigorous voice in Sandringham!

Click for more on the 2014 Victorian State election

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Friday, November 21, 2014

The Next Leader of the Victorian Liberals, Not!

There is already speculation about who will replace Denis Napthine as leader of the Victorian Liberals after the 29 November election.

Our local Liberal member is rumoured to have had only one supporter for leader when Napthine was elected, himself. It is a pity that he did not choose to join Ted Baillieu by retiring this time. After 22 years of cruising in a so-called safe seat, he has become an invisible, unaccountable representative. Thompson did not attend any of the candidates' forums for Sandringham. His excuse was that he did not need to debate the other candidates as he was having his own meeting on 21 November. Well, that day has arrived and it's impossible to find any public announcement of his secret gathering for electors. His expensive, glossy mail-out today made no mention of when he will face the people.

Democracy deserves much better. Sandringham deserves to have a new face in Spring Street. The Labor candidate Christina Zigouras has been energetic, highly visible and genuinely responsive throughout the campaign.

We should not be taken for granted just because they live in a blue ribbon seat.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Governing by Stealth: Low Flying Pollie in Sandringham

It's always good to be published in a Murdoch paper, especially during a State election. So here's my letter to the Bayside Leader published 18 Nov 2014:


Here's the digital version:

Sandringham is not a marginal seat now but after the election it will be ("Frankston train line voters could sway result", November 11). Christina Zigouras will make it a marginal Labor seat. Two Frankston line level crossings with the worst congestion are in our electorate at Mentone and Cheltenham. Daniel Andrews has committed to their removal.

There has been the usual deafening silence form the local Liberal member. As it gets more desperate, we can expect the Napthine government to copy Labor's program of removing 50 level crossings, just as it is playing catchup on schools.

Incidentally, has anyone seen Murray Thompson lately? He was a no-show at the Bayside candidates forum last Friday and the Bayside education forum on Monday. Our democracy deserves better than a sit-down sitting parliamentarian. It's time for 22 years of inaction to come to a close.

As I emailed Christina Zigouras: Love a cliché - “deafening silence”. Squibbed “under the radar” and “low flying”. We should call him Stealth - low flying, off-the-radar that no one sees coming. But he hardly breaks the sound barrier.

This is not meant to be personal. Murray's a nice bloke. It's about performance or lack of it as a parliamentary representative.

I might be biased but I'm also peeved about living in a so-called safe Liberal seat where the bar is set so low. {Cliché alert!] Campaigning in Sandringham is like sparring with the invisible man.

Ad for @Christina4Sandy:




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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Let's Marginalise Our Missing Liberal Member for Sandringham

According to the Herald Sun yesterday:

Four marginal seats on the Frankston railway line that changed hands at the last election will play a crucial role in deciding who will govern Victoria for the next four years.

Well it's time the media take more notice of voters in so-called safe seats. In the seat of Sandringham, an invigorated and resurgent ALP is putting on one of its strongest campaigns.

My online response to the Herald Sun spells out just one of the issues that we are taking up to the Napthine government:

Sandringham is not classified as a marginal seat now but after the election it will be. Christina Zigouras will make it a marginal Labor seat. Two Frankston line level crossings with the worst congestion are in our electorate at Mentone and Cheltenham. Daniel Andrews has committed to their removal.

There has been the usual deafening silence form the local Liberal member. As it gets more desperate, we can expect the Napthine government to copy Labor's program of removing 50 level crossings, just as it is playing catchup on schools.

Incidentally, has anyone seen Murray Thompson lately? He was a no-show at the Bayside candidates forum last Friday and the Bayside education forum on Monday. Our democracy deserves better than a sit-down sitting parliamentarian. It's time for 22 years of inaction to come to a close.
Christina Zigouras with Daniel Andrews at Mentone station

If you're in the electorate and haven't received our pamphlet yet, please contact us:

christina.zigouras@vic.alp.org.au

P O Box 267 Black Rock VIC. 3198

ph: 0408 067 006

Every polling booth, including the pre-polling at Shop 3, 116 Balcombe Road Mentone, will have Labor people with How-to-Vote cards. Please ring us if there are any glitches.

Public transport is only one of many issues that have been ignored by the local Libs. Labor is committed to making Beaumaris a stand-alone 7-12 secondary college. Now that there's the sniff of defeat, the government has discovered areas such school funding and residential rezoning. I can just say to Murray - too late mate!

Christina is online at Facebook, Twitter and her website.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bronwyn Bishop Implicated in Dodgy Political Donations Slush Fund


The political donations money laundering scams have left more very dirty hands in New South Wales. In fact, revelations reach the heart of Tony Abbott's Liberal/National coalition government. The latest to be exposed is the Speaker of Australia's House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop.

Kate McClymont reported yesterday on the latest ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) hearings for the Sydney Morning Herald. First the connection to Abbott's chief of staff Peta Credlin:
Previously suppressed emails before a corruption inquiry raise serious concerns about a major donor to the Liberal Party being rewarded with extraordinary access to senior party figures.
The emails are from the former chief fund-raiser of the NSW Liberal Party Paul Nicolaou to Peta Credlin, one of the most powerful figures in the federal government.

The emails reveal that, in March 2011, while the Coalition was in opposition, Ms Credlin used a major donor to the Liberal Party, Brickworks, as part of Tony Abbott's campaign against the carbon tax.

...Brickworks was one of the largest corporate donors to the Liberal Party, giving $384,000 in a nine-month period from July 2010 to April 2011.

As well as its brand Austral Bricks, Brickworks also lists property development as a core business.

The ICAC has heard that Brickworks used the Free Enterprise Foundation, a shadowy Canberra-based organisation, to channel $125,000 in illicit donations to the NSW Liberals for the March 2011 state election.

Then the Bishop link:
[Bronwyn Bishop] was a director of the Dame Pattie Menzies Foundation Trust, which received $11,000 from the Free Enterprise Foundation on December 9, 2010, which it then directed to the NSW branch of the party for use in the 2011 state election.

EFA: Political Disclosures 2010-11
Dame Pattie Menzies Liberal Foundation

In fact $27,000 was passed on to the NSW Liberals, including a $2000 donation to the Dame Pattie foundation (DPMLF) from Australian Corporate Holdings, a company connected to Sydney property developer Sydney Fischer.

The tangled web spins even wider, as many of Dame Pattie Foundation's directors are key 'off-books' players, to use an ICAC phrase.
ASIC: Current & Historical Company Extract
Date/Time: 08 September 2014 AEST 01:56:50 PM
But let's start with the Secretary, Simon John McInnes. According to Kate McClymont:
In July 2010, Mr Nicolaou, who was getting a 6 per cent cut of all donations he collected, emailed Simon McInnes, the finance director of the NSW Liberal Party boasting: "Please note! Another $50k for us via Free Enterprise Foundation from Brickworks."

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), another $2000 donor to the DPMLF was John Donan, also mentioned in McClymont's article. John and Dick Donan (who also gave $2000), of the Manildra Group, have form as well:
Manildra, the only ethanol supplier in Australia which is set to make a motza from the mandate, has donated $1.2 million to NSW political parties over last 12 years, including $635,000 to Labor, $400,000 to the Liberal party and $132,000 to the Nationals.

The first named director, John Pegg, is obviously close to the new NSW Premier Mike Baird. He is part of the three-person '2015 Committee' set up in July 2014 by Baird to clean up party finances:
"Those three will operate and take responsibility for the financial affairs of the division, including fund-raising between now and the election – at least," Mr Baird said.

"We must have confidence in our processes. It's something we must not shy away from. We have to be determined to shine the light on ourselves."

Mr Pegg should start in his own backyard. Pegg is a former secretary of DPMLF so he should know about its operations.

Anyway, back to the Speaker. Bronwyn Bishop is still listed as a director and should have resigned from this slush fund years ago. Her role as Speaker of the House of Reps should have caused her to review her directorships, especially of conduits (or should that be sewers) like this foundation. They exist for one reason only - to circumvent transparency concerning political donations and to hide breaches of the law. Pegg, McInnes and Campbell have all been called before ICAC. Maybe it's Bishop's turn.

[Incidentally, the original address of the foundation was the same as the NSW Liberal office: Level 9 140 William St. Woolloomooloo NSW 2011. Hardly arms length!]

It seems the devil is in the detail of dodgy donations. Let's keep digging. What price good government?

Thanks to @kate_mcclymont and a very special hat tip to Clarencegirl at North Coast Voices for her help and encouragement.

This post is part of a series about political donations in Australia:

Foundation 51's Cosy Links with the Country Liberal Party

Dare We Call it Whitehousegate

In search of slush funds and off-books moneys in the NSW Liberal Party

Townsville Money Trail: Political Donors in Queensland's Deep North

Nathan Tinkler & Co: Political Donors Anonymous

Bronwyn Bishop Implicated in Dodgy Political Donations Slush Fund


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