Just around a week ago in Beijing, Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr entered the US-Korea conflict by trying to persuade the Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi to adopt sanctions against North Koreai On Monday, the Australian newspaper, The Age, after going through 11,000 cables published by WikiLeaks, found that Carr had been briefing the US embassy since the 1970s on both the internal decision-making of the Australian government during the Whitlam Labor Government (1972-75) and internal workings of the Australian Labour Party.
Bob Carr has been Australia’s Foreign Minister for 12 months, replacing Kevin Rudd who resigned after challenging Julia Gillard for the Premiership. Carr has been involved in the Australian Labor Party for more than 40 years and was once the New South Wales premier from 1995-2005. Carr began his relationship with US embassy officials in the mid 1970s when he was President of Young Labour and education officer of the NSW Labor Council.
According to The Age report, written by Philip Dorling, Carr regularly briefed the US Consul General over labor issues and the Labour government’s prospects in Canberra. From the information gathered from Carr and also NSW Labor President John Ducker, intelligence reports on Australian politics and labor issues would be sent onto Washington. The leaked US cables also indicated that the former Labour Senator Mark Arbib, who is also the son in law of the current Australian Governor General Quentin Bryce, was also a "protected" US embassy source passing on information and commentary on Australian politics.
Bob Carr is very well known for his staunch support for the Australian-US alliance, as an non-negotiable pillar of policy and often dismisses critics as being in "emotional silly expression lacking in any substance and characteristic of the silly left wing fringe of the ALP". With such advice to the prime minister and cabinet at a time where many academics and commentators like Professor Hugh White of the Australian National University are calling for a re-appraisal of the alliance and much more strategic engagement with China, it is very difficult to see how the pending 2013 Defense White Paper will hale any major shifts in policy. At the very least, hanging on to the Australian-US alliance without any objective appraisal and redefinition may not serve the country’s strategy interests in the Asia-Pacific Region well, if the US continues a competitive stance against China.
These revelations add to past suspicions by many in the labor movement about members of the party and government (when Labour was in power) who have been involved in close relationships with US officials.
Labour suspicion of US intelligence operating in Australia mainly stems what appear to have been US attempts to destabilize the reformist and nationalistic Whitlam Labor Government in 1972, after 23 years in opposition. Whitlam immediately pulled Australia out of the Vietnam conflict, recognized the Peoples’ Republic of China, campaigned for a nuclear free Indian Ocean, spoke up for Palestinian rights in the United Nations, and opposed French nuclear testing in the Pacific.
In 1973, the then Attorney General of Australia Lionel Murphy led a raid on the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the equivalent to the US CIA, over concern with the organization’s involvement with the training of fascist Croatian groups, and the launching of terrorist operations from Australian soil. According to the Hope Commission back in 1977, the3 ASIO was handing over to the CIA information on Australian opposition politicians and kept files on all ALP members.
The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) was assisting the CIA in undertaking clandestine operations in Cambodia and Chile, even though Australia was officially neutral in Cambodia and supported the Allende government in Chile without the knowledge of the Australian government itself. Kerr’s time working for a closely aligned Australian intelligence organization to the US OSS, the forerunner of the CIA has always added mystery to conspiracy theorists about the dismissal.
Many felt that when the Whitlam government took measures to control the operations of the US Naval Communications Station on the North-West cape of Western Australia, the Defense Signals Directorate in Melbourne, the Joint Defense research facility at Pine Gap and Nurrunger in South Australia, that the US became vitally concerned.
After Whitlam discovered that ASIO and ASIS had secretly assisted the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975, he dismissed the heads of both organizations. Whitlam then hinted that he might not renew the Pine Gap agreement with the US due for signing on 9th December 1975, which would have severely dented US intelligence-gathering ability. Labor mythology believes that the US Ambassador to Australia at the time Marshall Green had a hand in the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in November 1975 by the then Governor General, Sir John Kerr.
During the first week after the dismissal of the Labor government, the army was on stand-by at their barracks in case there were mass demonstrations. However it was the Australian Council of Trade Union President Bob Hawke who urged the labor movement to be calm. US diplomatic cables also implicate former Prime Minister Hawke, who regularly conferred with the US Consulate in Melbourne during his ACTU years. It was generally believed that the Labor Attaché at the US embassy in Canberra was in reality the CIA station chief. The future Hawke government, which was to be elected in 1984, went on to implement many pro-US initiatives and prevented public disclosure of documents relating to the Nugan Hand Bank, which were believed to implicate the CIA with drug trafficking and organized crime, during his term as Prime Minister.
This is the first time that leaked US documents have confirmed what many believe to be the truth surrounding US infiltration of the Australian Labor Party. The issue is likely to be very quickly dismissed in Australia over the argument that the US is an ally. However, within these documents there is some proof and support that the US has meddled in the affairs of the Australian union movement and political parties for years. What is even more astounding is that some Labor politicians showed disloyalty to their party to a foreign power, at during the Whitlam years.
Bob Carr has been forthright in exposing past politicians as members of the Communist Party of Australia, so should take the accusations against him seriously, either by stepping aside for the duration of an inquiry or resigning outright. David Combe’s relationship with a Soviet diplomat Valery Ivanov back in 1984 led to swift action on the part of the Hawke government. In the interests of transparency and ensuring sovereignty of the Australian government, the Federal Police and ASIO should conduct an inquiry. This needs to happen in the interests of Australian independence. Somehow I doubt this will happen.
Just how objectively can the Australian Government consider their strategic options in the coming 2013 Defense White Paper?