Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A conversation with the US ambassador

I said `what would you do if our government decided to nationalise the Australian subsidiaries of the various American multinational corporations?' and he'd been caught by surprise, he wasn't accustomed to a minister asking that sort of question whilst he was in the process of taking his seat, and he blurted out: `oh, we'll move in'. I said, `oh, move in? like bringing the marines in?. He said, `oh...' he looked a bit uncomfortable by now, although he's a senior man he didn't expect being caught off guard, he was very uncomfortable and he said, `oh, no, the days of sending the marines has passed but there are plenty of other things we could do'. I said, `for example?'. He said, `well, trade'. And I said, `do you realise that if you stop trading with Australia you would be the loser to the extent of 600 million dollars a year', that was the balance of trade figures at that time. He said, `oh, well, there are other things'.

A conversation between Australian Labor Minister Clyde Cameron and US Ambassador Marshall Green before the Whitlam Coup of November 1975.

"It is of vital importance that, with not one day's delay, we decide to take matters out into the wider field, establishing and developing now, the means fully to research the causes of authoritarian human behaviour; to educate and to publish our results; and to begin to establish here and now those forms of 'life style' which are alternatives to the acquisitive, alienated, conflict-ridden society which we have inherited from the past."

Jim Cairns [See image], former Deputy Prime Minister in the Whitlam Administration of 1975.
Final paragraph in is 1976 book entitled "Oil in Troubled Waters".


Barkley Rosser said...

Any mention of Pine Gap (or is it Big Pine Gap) in this interview? Or did that business come after this interview?

gordon said...

First, is there a reference for the Clyde Cameron quote?

Second, the earlier Econospeak post("A Coup in Australia and the CIA", Jul. 5, 2008) has a link to a document at
When I try to use this link I get the following message from Firefox: "A user name and password are being requested by The site says: "Friends only"". The site itself says "Unauthorised.
You have not been authorized to see the page.
If you have any queries about this error, please e-mail" Is there any other link for this document?

Brenda Rosser said...

Gordon, the Clyde Cameron quote comes from:

The CIA in Australia
Part 2
Transcript of a 5-part radio documentary,
Watching Brief, Public Radio News Services,
Melbourne, Australia, October-November 1986

If you check the wikipedia entry for Clyde Cameron it says that he kept a diary during his years in the Whitlam Government which was later stolen from his home.

As for the the link -which is the second link in the the earlier post ("A Coup in Australia and the CIA")- you're right. It's 'Friends only'. I had no trouble accessing the page when I wrote the original blog, however.

In any case, the 2nd link was used to reference the details about Shackley in the CIA sending an ultimatum to ASIO (Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation) to do something about the Whitlam Government.

If you go to the above link

the words of Ralp McGhee (former CIA agent) are there verifying the existence of this cable from Shackley.

The first link in 'A coup in Australia...' works ok:

Beyond Conspiracy Theory: US presidential archives on the Australian press, national security and the Whitlam government

Associate Professor Stephen Stockwell,School of Arts
Griffith University
Refereed paper presented to the Journalism Education Conference, Griffith University, 29 November – 2 December 2005

Brenda Rosser said...

Barkley, yes Pine Gap comes up in most interviews and documents that relate to the downfall of the Whitlam Government. In relation to the Clyde Cameron's chat with the US Ambassador it is clear that it was not long after Green's appointment to Australia. Members of the Whitlam Government had been suspicious of Marshall Green from the outset, it being such an unusual appointment and given the context of the times, as Clyde Cameron mentions. (Vietnam War, the US-sponsored coup in Chile, the line of assassinations of left wing leaders in the US etc). It's not clear whether Cameron knew that Green was involved in the Chile coup and other trouble at the time of this conversation though.

From Part Two"...Tony Douglas: In 1974 the conservative coalition blocked supply to force an early election. The move backfired and Whitlam was comfortably re-elected. The prospect was now a Whitlam government until 1977 with prominent left-winger Jim Cairns elevated to the positions of Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister. In that time the lease of Pine Gap would come up for renewal and Minerals and Energy Minister Rex Connor would have time to gain control over Australia's vast and mostly foreign-owned basic commodities...."Part 3 focusses on the role the issue of Pine Gap had on the demise of the Whitlam Government.

Clyde Cameron: "We were never told that Pine Gap was a CIA installation and it wasn't until Gough Whitlam publicly declared that Richard Stallings was a CIA operative and that he had been in charge of the Pine Gap installation that we knew that Pine Gap was a CIA installation and I believe that at the very beginning Gough Withlam and the Minister for Defence were led to believe that it was a pretty harmless sort of operation. But you've got to remember that just about the time the dismissal took place, the Australian government had to make a decision as to whether it would renew the leases of these American installations on Australian soil and there is every reason to believe that the Americans were fearful that the leases wouldn't be renewed. That would be a good enough reason, in their view, for moving in to destabilise the government and to bring about its overthrow to say nothing of any threat that our policies may have for their Australian investments in the multinational area."....
Tony Douglas: ..."Whitlam said he would detail the operations of Pine Gap in Parliament on the afternoon of November 11 [1975, the day he was dismissed by the Governor General]. It wasn't until years later that details about the Pine Gap base and American fears that its top secret role would be disclosed were linked to the downfall of the Whitlam government...

gordon said...

Brenda Rosser, thanks for the links. The text of the Shackley cable is here (also some othr places on the WWW). A transcript of the famous (in Australia) interview of Christopher Boyce by Ray Martin of Australian "60 Minutes" in 1982 is here.

Andrew said...

Was Pine Gap run by the CIA? I had thought it was the NSA. The existence of the NSA was denied until relatively recent times, so I suspect that calling this a CIA operation was a way of saying it was American Intelligence, without naming the un-nameable.