Author Topic: Hawke and Carr were US sources on Whitlam turmoil  (Read 873 times)

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Hawke and Carr were US sources on Whitlam turmoil
« on: April 08, 2013, 22:50:22 PM »
Hawke and Carr were US sources on Whitlam turmoil

April 9, 2013
Philip Dorling

Bob Carr may have been Foreign Minister for only 12 months, but he started talking to American diplomats about internal Labor politics nearly 40 years ago.
Previously secret US embassy and consulate reports incorporated into a new searchable database unveiled by WikiLeaks on Monday reveal that Senator Carr was a source for US diplomats seeking information on the Whitlam government and the broader Labor movement in the mid-1970s.
Then a rising star in NSW Labor, Senator Carr was quick to join in criticism of prime minister Gough Whitlam as the federal Labor government encountered growing political and economic difficulties after the May 1974 federal election. But he was only one of many Labor figures who briefed US diplomats on the workings of and conflicts within the Whitlam government.

Bob Carr 'expressed deep concern to [the US] consul general over [the] impact of labor disputes on the prospects of [the] Labor Government'.
Then ACTU president Bob Hawke was the US embassy's most valued Labor contact, conferring regularly with embassy officers and the consulate in Melbourne. Mr Hawke was scathing of Mr Whitlam, describing him as ''difficult and very egocentric ('even for me')".
 
Mr Hawke was especially critical of what he called Mr Whitlam's ''immoral, unethical and ungrateful" attitude towards Israel. He told the US consulate he felt unable to approach the Jewish community for campaign funds because of "Whitlam's 'unprintable' even-handed 'unprintable' Arab policy".
In August 1975, Mr Hawke told US diplomats the PM did "not understand [the] scope of [the] 'parliamentary disaster' which Labor 'surely faces at [the] next election' ".

After governor-general Sir John Kerr's dismissal of Mr Whitlam and Labor's defeat at the December 1975 federal election, Mr Hawke told US diplomats details of his own plans to succeed Mr Whitlam.
He didn't hold back in his attacks on other political figures, labelling prime minister Malcolm Fraser a ''fascist'' and referring to the governor-general as the ''von Hindenburg'' of Australian politics.
Mr Hawke and Senator Carr have been in China this week supporting Prime Minister Julia Gillard's efforts to advance political and economic ties with Beijing.
Senator Carr's diplomacy involvement goes back to at least August 1974 when the US embassy in Canberra reported on what it called "a pervasive sense of gloom and anxiety" in the Labor movement as the Whitlam government "struggle[d] in [a] disorganised fashion to stem growing inflation".
Together with NSW Labor president John Ducker, Senator Carr candidly told the US consul-general in Sydney that "economic policy has never been Whitlam's bag" and criticised the prime minister's "tendency to delegate practically everything".
A former Australian Young Labor president and then education officer with the NSW Labor Council, Senator Carr later "expressed deep concern to [the US] consul-general over [the] impact of Labor disputes on the prospects of [the] Labor government".
The once confidential cables also suggest US envoys turned to him as a source of background information on Labor figures. For example, Senator Carr explained that a speaker at a pro-Palestinian protest in 1975 - left-wing Labor parliamentarian George Petersen - was "a NSW equivalent of Victoria's [Bill] Hartley", another prominent Labor Left figure who developed close ties with Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.
Senator Carr has long been a strong supporter of Australia's alliance with the US. He was a prominent participant in the Australian American Leadership Dialogue while serving as NSW premier.
In his early conversations with US officials he appears to have followed the lead of Mr Ducker, his NSW Labor Right faction mentor, who advised the Americans on industrial relations issues and internal Labor politics, and dismissed critics of the US alliance as being engaged in ''emotional, silly expression lacking in substance and characteristic of the silly left-wing fringe of the ALP".
Asked about his 1970s contacts with US diplomats, Senator Carr said on Monday: "I was in my 20s. I could have said anything.''
US embassy cables leaked to WikiLeaks in 2010 revealed that another NSW Labor Right faction leader, former senator Mark Arbib, was a more recent "protected" US embassy source providing inside information on Labor politics.
Some 11,000 cables from the US embassy in Canberra and consulates in Sydney and Melbourne between 1973 and 1976 are part of a huge trove of more than 1.7 million electronic documents transferred to the US National Archives and Records Administration in 2006.
But the records have been largely neglected by historians, owing to a lack of an effective search engine. WikiLeaks has incorporated a copy of the entire electronic archive into an easily searchable database that includes the more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables leaked by US Army private Bradley Manning.
With more than a billion words, WikiLeaks' Public Library of US diplomacy is the largest electronically searchable diplomatic archive available to historians, journalists and other researchers.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/hawke-and-carr-were-us-sources-on-whitlam-turmoil-20130408-2hhe5.html#ixzz2PuJ1EBFA