Communist Party of Australia

We acknowledge the Sovereignty of the First Nations’ Peoples.

Home


The Guardian

Current Issue

PDF Archive

Web Archive

Subscribe

Press Fund


CPA

About Us

Why you should ...

CPA introduction

CPA Policies

CPA statements

Contact Us

facebook, twitter


Major Issues

Indigenous

Unions

Health

Housing

Climate Change

Peace

Solidarity/Other


What's On

Resources

AMR

Links


Shop@CPA

Books, T-shirts, CDs/DVDs, Badges, Misc


 

Issue #1925      July 27, 2020

Editorial

“Palace letters” a cover-up for truth

After a four-year legal battle instigated by historian Jenny Hocking, the National Archives of Australia have released the “Palace letters” – a series of letters between then Governor General John Kerr and Buckingham Palace.

The big “scandal” to arise out of the correspondence was the fact that Queen Elizabeth II was not informed in advance about the dismissal (despite evidence to the contrary). The revelations have produced public discussions about the nature of Australia’s relationship with Buckingham Palace. As a result, many independence advocates have used this as an opportunity to galvanise their position. Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull stated the disclosure “underlines why Australia should have an Australian head of state,” with Opposition leader Anthony Albanese parroting much of the same rhetoric.

While the Communist Party of Australia advocates for an independent Australia (and the correspondence definitely strengthens this case), in reality, the letters at best provide nothing more than filler material for the historical details of one of Australia’s darkest chapters. At worst, they are an attempt to distract or re-orientate the narrative of the soft coup d’état that took place. As Morrison’s camp mounts its own claims of Chinese interference into Australian affairs, what better time to disguise the Whitlam dismissal, a real affair of international interference by Australia’s “allies”? Especially so, when Australia is experiencing political unrest not unlike that of the ’70s over climate change, Black Lives Matter, and COVID-19.

Today, when revisiting the Whitlam dismissal, Australians are directing their anger towards the ill-conduct of our former Governor General in the form of his inability to follow protocol. Thus, we must remind those angry citizens to direct their anger not just towards the conduct itself but towards those who were truly at hand in undermining Australia’s democratic processes.

The work of John Pilger, in recent years, best shines a light on who was behind Whitlam’s dismissal and the reasons why. Pilger, while noting that Whitlam was not on the left of the ALP, assessed him to be “a maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety” – a fair assessment that can easily be corroborated by the direction of his policies. However, what was it that alarmed the ruling class of Australia, Britian, and the US so much that Whitlam’s removal was deemed necessary?

Under Whitlam’s leadership Australia was moving towards the Non-Aligned Movement which were a collection of nations taking a neutral stance in relation to the major power blocs in the second half of the twentieth century – namely the Western and Soviet Blocs. This direction in foreign policy meant that Australia, for the first time in its history, was making its own decisions about international affairs. This resulted in much consternation for the Western Bloc who were privileged to have a mineral rich continent squarely in their camp, located in the Asia-Pacific region. And their consternation was justified. Prior to Whitlam, Australia provided “black teams” to the CIA for usage in the Vietnam War. When Whitlam came into office, his ministers condemned the US bombing of Vietnam. According to Pilger “a CIA station officer in Saigon said: ‘We were told the Australians might as well be regarded as North Vietnamese collaborators.’ ” – this is how serious the US took our pivot. Perhaps even more alarming for the US was Whitlam’s desire to know about the activities happening in Pine Gap. Whitlam warned the Americans that any unsavoury conduct would lead Pine Gap to “becom[ing] a matter of contention.” The spine Australia had developed under Whitlam, particularly when it came to the affairs of US imperialism proved too much and risky to be allowed to continue. As Pilger recalls, “Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap, later told me, ‘This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House … a kind of Chile [coup] was set in motion.’”

It is important to note that John Kerr was privy to all this. Kerr was a member of Association for Cultural Freedom – a CIA institution.

All that these letters show, in a roundabout way, is that Kerr was moving, and had every intention to, remove Whitlam in the service of US imperialism. We cannot forget that the US and the UK played major roles in undermining our sovereignty. This is the fundamental lesson we must take away from the removal of the Whitlam government. The ruling class will never accept the slightest of challenges to its power, and therefore, we must always remain vigilant against it.

Next article – Victoria’s stage-3 lockdown resumes with the same big issues! (RAHU)

Back to index page

Go to What's On Go to Shop at CPA Go to Australian Marxist Review Go to Join the CPA Go to Subscribe to the Guardian Go to the CPA Maritime Branch website Go to the Resources section of our web site Go to the PDF of the Hot Earth booklet go to the World Federation of Trade Unions web site go to the Solidnet  web site Go to Find out more about the CPA