Role of Hawke, Labor and unions in suppressing workers’ opposition after 1975 “Canberra Coup”

Declassified US State Department documents shed fresh light on the November 11, 1975 dismissal of the elected Labor Party government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by Governor-General John Kerr, the constitutional representative of the British monarch, Australia’s head of state, using the anti-democratic royal “reserve powers” vested in his position.

In particular, the cables sent from the US Embassy in Canberra show Washington’s appreciation of the pivotal role of Whitlam himself, along with the then Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) president Bob Hawke, assisted by the Stalinist leaders of key unions, in blocking workers’ demands for a general strike.

The “Canberra Coup” tore open the façade of the parliamentary system, and revealed that standing behind it is a ruling class prepared to resort to outright dictatorship when it considers that its interests require such methods.

It was part of the response in the ruling classes internationally to the global upsurge of the working class and potentially revolutionary struggles that initially erupted with May–June 1968 general strike in France. That was followed by the “Hot Autumn” in Italy in 1969, a general strike in Australia in May 1969, a wave of struggles in Britain,

— source | Mike Head | 8 Aug 2021

Nullius in verba


Washington involvement in the lead up to the 1975 Canberra Coup

Today, the population of Australia is being subjected to a constant barrage of totally unsubstantiated claims by the media, intelligence agencies and politicians of Chinese “interference” in Australian politics. This is in line with the drive by US governments to confront Beijing and reassert Washington’s global hegemony.

But the almost daily reports from the Canberra embassy in 1974–75 on the unprecedented political crisis that developed during that time demonstrate that the main source of “foreign interference” in Australia since World War II has been US imperialism.

Washington’s active intervention culminated in the veneer of parliamentary democracy being torn aside to remove an elected government in November 1975, provoking massive opposition throughout the working class.

The embassy’s secret consultations with Labor and union leaders, notably Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and Labor Party president Bob Hawke, throughout this period

— source | Mike Head | 2 Aug 2021

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Reliance on trade unions to suppress working-class unrest in Australia

Declassified US diplomatic cables from the 1970s have revealed the intense, daily preoccupation by the American State Department—and its many informants throughout the Labor Party and trade union leadership—with how to contain and quash the eruption of potentially revolutionary working-class rebellions in Australia and internationally.

The extremely limited media coverage of a recently-published study of the documents has focused on the revelation that Bob Hawke, who later became a Labor Party prime minister, was a highly-valued and constant “informer” to the US government while the head of the Australian trade union movement and president of the Labor Party during the 1970s.

But the partly-released secret cables from 1973 to 1979 point to much more than that. It was not just Hawke scheming with US ambassadors and labour attachés. A roll call of Labor and union leaders were secretly consulting with US officials throughout this convulsive period of mass working-class upsurges. They included future Labor leader, foreign minister

— source | Mike Head | 20 Jul 2021

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Climate change protester jailed for 15 months in Australia

Last Friday, a young woman who briefly blocked one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a protest over governments’ refusal to halt climate change was jailed for 15 months and then denied bail for an appeal. This chilling punishment highlights the resort by Australia’s governments—Labor and Liberal-National alike—to draconian anti-protest laws to try to suppress opposition to their pro-business agenda. This includes protecting the fossil fuel super-profits being made by the coal, oil and gas conglomerates on the back of the US-NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.

The jailing of Deanna “Violet” Coco is designed to send a wider message of intimidation directed against any protests that cut across the interests of the corporate elite. She was the first person to be sentenced under laws introduced by the New South Wales (NSW) Liberal-National government in April that impose fines of up to $22,000 and jail terms of up to two years for protests on roads, rail lines, tunnels, bridges and industrial estates.

— source | Dec 6, 2022

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Under the Influence

For the few of us who reported East Timor long before it was finally declared news, the “disclosures” last weekend that Washington had trained Indonesia’s death squads are bizarre.

That the American, British and Australian governments have underwritten proportionally the greatest savagery since the Holocaust has been a matter of unambiguous record for a quarter of a century. All it needed was reporting.

In December 1975, after US secretary of state Henry Kissinger returned from Jakarta, having given Suharto the green light to invade East Timor, he called his staff together and discussed how a congressional ban on arms to Indonesia could be circumvented. “Can’t we construe a communist government [in East Timor] as self-defence?” he asked. Told this would not work, Kissinger gave orders that he wanted arms shipments secretly “started again in January”.

A few weeks later, on January 23 1976, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, sent a top-secret cable to Kissinger in which he boasted about the “considerable progress” he had made in blocking UN action on East Timor. Moynihan later wrote: “The department of state desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective

— source | john pilger | 21 Sep 1999

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Australian PM declares “national emergency” amid mass anger over response to flood crisis

Prime Minister Scott Morrison this afternoon declared that the ongoing flooding affecting large swathes of Australia’s east coast is a “national emergency.” Morrison’s announcement was made two weeks after torrential rains began hitting southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales (NSW) and created massive floods affecting hundreds of thousands of people. In the Queensland state capital of Brisbane, and in flood-prone areas of northern NSW, residents were given virtually no warning of the impending disaster. Two-thirds of Lismore properties that were inundated have been assessed as uninhabitable. Sydney has been hit by 821.6mm of rainfall so far in 2022, beating the previous record of 782.2mm in 1956. This points to the impact of climate change, which has made severe weather events more frequent than ever before.

— source | 9 Mar 2022

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Australia ignores the plight of the East Timorese,

Howard has been adept at exploiting the popularity of Australian troops’ peacekeeping in East Timor. He has dished out honours, made a triumphant trip to East Timor and generally wrapped himself in the flag. It is a remarkable feat, for behind it is yet another betrayal of the East Timorese by a western government, and one that seeks to deny urgently needed resources to a nation still stricken from the long years of Indonesia’s genocidal occupation.

In 1975, the then Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam agreed with the dictator Suharto, in effect, to look the other way while the Indonesians annexed the Portuguese colony. Three months prior to the invasion, the Australian ambassador to Jakarta, Richard Woolcott, sent this cable to Canberra: ‘It would seem to me that [the] Department [of Minerals and Energy] might well have an interest in closing the present gap in the agreed sea border, and this could be much more readily negotiated with Indonesia than with Portugal, or with independent Portuguese Timor. I know I am recommending a pragmatic rather than a principled stand, but that is what national interest and foreign policy is all about.’ In other words: if we back Suharto, we’ll get East Timor’s oil and gas fields, the seventh largest on earth.

Official documents from 1975, released by Howard in September, leave little doubt about the duplicity of a policy that promoted self-determination for East Timor in Australia

— source | john pilger | 11 Dec 2000

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Australia’s role in 1973 CIA coup in Chile

Australia’s overseas spy agency, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), actively assisted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in destabilising the Chilean government ahead of the bloody US-backed military coup on September 11, 1973.

Declassified government documents, released from the National Archives of Australia in June, after a four-year legal battle, show that Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam eventually shut down the ASIS operation in April 1973, just five months before the coup. But that was only out of concern that if the public became aware of it, “he would find it extremely difficult to justify our presence there.”

Although heavily-redacted, the documents reveal that Whitlam’s predecessor, Liberal Prime Minister Billy McMahon, approved an ASIS request in December 1970 to open a base in

— source | Mike Head | 13 Sep 2021

Nullius in verba