1975, Australia:  Overthrowing Whitlam's Labour Party


Chris Boyce, a cipher clerk at TRW, a California-based aerospace corporation, claimed during his espionage trial that he started spying against the U.S. after learning of the CIA's role in the downfall of the Australian Labour Party (ALP) government in 1975.

      Australia was a very important part of the CIA's world-wide intelligence network.  Thousands of CIA employees were stationed in Australia.  It is a vital part of the early warning and nuclear war fighting system.  The major U.S. bases in Australia - Pine Gap, Nurrungar and North-West Cape - were of very high importance to the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s. 

      After the ALP came to power in 1973, some of its members voiced very strong criticism of the U.S. bases.  They began to demand an official explanation for the bases and at times even voted for their removal.  Despite all this radical posturing, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and his cabinet didn't carry out these threats.  They were not about to leap into the political no man's land of cutting ties with the West.  They spoke of neutralism and non-alignment on occasion, but were willing to settle for independence.

      One of the CIA's head officers, James Angleton, who was involved in intelligence operations with Australia, complained in an Australian TV interview about the famous "raid" conducted by Attorney-General Lionel Murphy on the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) in 1973.  The CIA, he said, seriously considered breaking intelligence relations with Australia.1

      In 1974, Ray Aitchison published Looking at the Liberals (the other main conservative party), in which he said that the CIA had offered the opposition unlimited funds in their unsuccessful attempt to defeat the ALP government in the 1974 election.2  Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, confirmed that the CIA had indeed funded both opposition parties, and a Sydney newspaper stated that the Liberals had been on the receiving end since the late 1960s.3

      Matters started to come to a head in 1975.  Whitlam dismissed the heads of both the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and the ASIO, the former because he had been secretly assisting the CIA in covert activities in East Timor during the brief civil war there.4   Then, in November, the press revealed that a former CIA officer, Richard Lee Stallings, had channelled funds to Doug Anthony, leader of the ultra-conservative Country Party.

      It was also reported that Stallings was a close friend and former tenant of Anthony's, that the secret U.S. bases were indeed CIA creations and that Stallings had been the first head of much of the operation.5

      When Whitlam repeated the charges against Stallings, insisted upon an investigation to identify the true purpose of the U.S. bases and demanded a list of CIA operatives in Australia, alarm bells began to ring at CIA headquarters with a vengeance. 

      The Australian military-industrial complex was spurred into a flurry of activity.  On November 6, the head of the Department of Defence reportedly met with the Governor General, Sir John Kerr, and then declared publicly: "This is the greatest risk to the nation's security there has ever been."6

      On November 8, another senior defence official held a meeting with Kerr and briefed him on CIA allegations that Whitlam was jeopardizing the security of U.S. bases in Australia.7  The same day, the CIA in Washington informed the ASIO station chief that all intelligence links with Australia would be cut unless a satisfactory explanation was given of Whitlam's behavior.8  The CIA had already expressed reservations about releasing intelligence reports to certain key government ministers who had once been very active in the anti-Vietnam war protest movement.9

      On November 9, Kerr was received at the Defence Signals Directorate for another briefing.10  The next day, the ASIO station in Washington at the request of the CIA, sent a telex to its HQ in Melbourne, stating that the "CIA cannot see how this dialogue with continued reference to CIA can do other than blow the lid off these installations."11  In addition to Stallings, the names of his successors (also senior CIA officers) and the CIA station chief had appeared in the press.  On the 11th, Kerr used the little-known part of the Australian constitution, under "Executive Powers," to dismiss the Whitlam government. 

      Kerr, who had been in military intelligence during WWII (planning for the eventual re-occupation of Pacific territories and colonies which the Japanese had captured), was much taken with the world of spookery.  He regularly saw classified material and in all likelihood was aware of the ASIO telex or at least its sentiments through the "old-boy" net of which he was a part.12  Kerr was involved in the 1950s, first as a member and then an executive board member, of the Australian Association of Cultural Freedom.  This organisation was spawned from the CIA's own front organisation, the Congress for Cultural Freedom.  He regularly wrote in the organisation's magazine, Quadrant.  One such article, "The Struggle Against Communism in the Trade Unions," was published in 1960.  The CIA has always accorded a high priority to resisting the infiltration of communism into organised labour.13

      In 1966, Kerr helped to found Law Asia, an organisation of lawyers in the Far East funded by the Asia Foundation.  The Foundation was one of the most prominent CIA fronts for over a decade, with offices and representatives in all the major capitals of Asia.  Again according to Marchetti, one of its prime missions was to "disseminate throughout Asia a negative vision of mainland China, North Vietnam and North Korea."14  Kerr became Law Asia's first president, a position he held until 1970.15  According to Christopher Boyce, "There was a bit of a celebration," in the CIA when Kerr dismissed Whitlam.  According to Boyce, the CIA often referred to Kerr as "our man."16

      Boyce revealed that the CIA infiltrated Australian unions and had been "manipulating the leadership."  They had also apparently, "suppressed their strikes," particularly those involving the railways and airports when they held up deliveries of equipment to the CIA's installations.  Some of the unions had been the most vocal in their opposition to the creation of the secret bases in the first place.17

      It is obvious that the CIA was very concerned with what was happening in Australia at this time.  It was channelling money to opposition parties and it did have input into what was going on.  Without the CIA to fund it, and perhaps to control Kerr, the ALP would have either been able to wait out the crisis, or even win the election which resulted from it.


The Nugen-Hand Bank


The Nugen-Hand Bank of Sydney was founded on the writing of a fraudulent cheque by one of its founders, Michael Hand, an ex-CIA pilot who had flown with Air America.18  The CIA's Air America supplied secret wars in Laos and Burma, and flew opium out of the Golden Triangle to fund covert actions.19

      The Bank was involved in; drug trafficking, international arms dealing, organised crime, laundering money for President Suharto, unspecified services for the Marcoses, assisting the shah to move money out of Iran, channelling CIA money to political parties and operations in Europe, attempting to blackmail an Australian state minister who was investigating organised crime, and transferring $2.4 million to the Australian Liberal Party.

      Among its officers were U.S. generals, admirals and CIA men.  One of its lawyers was former CIA Director William Colby.  It had branches in Saudi Arabia, Europe, Southeast Asia, South America and the U.S.  In 1980, amidst several mysterious deaths, the bank collapsed, $50 million in debt.20



 1.    Freney, D., The CIA's Australian Connection, Sydney 1977, pp.75-80.

 2.    Aitchison, R., Looking at the Liberals, Sydney, 1974.

 3.    Sydney Sun, May 4, 1977.

 4.    Jose, J., 'The Whitlam Years: Illusion and Reality,' (in Flanagan, P., ed., Big Brother or Democracy?, 1981; p.50, Albinski, H.S., Australian External Policy under Labor, 1977.

 5.    Australian Financial Review (AFR), Nov.4, 1975, p.4.

 6.    Coxsedge, J., Coldicutt, K., Harant, G., Rooted in Secrecy: Clandestine Involvement in Australian Politics, 1982, p.35

 7.    AFR, 28 April 1977.

 8.    AFR, April 28, 1977, p.1.

 9.    Albinski, p.169.

 10.   Consedge, et al, p.96.

 11.   Freney, pp.30-1.

 12.   ibid, p.33.

 13.   Blum, W., The CIA: A Forgotten History, New York, 1986, p.282.

 14.   Marchetti, V., Marks, J., The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, 1975, p.178.

 15.   Kerr, J., Matters for Judgement: an Autobiography, 1978, pp.172-86.

 16.   San Francisco Chronicle, May 24,  1982.

 17.   Ibid.

 18.   Kwitney, J., The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of dope, dirty money, the CIA and the Nugan Hand Bank, 1987.

 19.   McCoy, W., The Politics of Heroin, 1991.

 20.   Kwitney, J., 1987.


Source: Author unknown



Marshall Green


CIA Career Diplomat

New Zealand (1945-47), Sweden (1950-55), Korea (1959-61), Hong Kong (1961-63), Indonesia (1965-69) and Australia (1973-75)  www.pir.org

 "Green was the first carer diplomat in Australia.  Alarm bells rang in Washington with the election of a Labour government.  They were worried we would close the bases and exert more independence on our economy.  They wanted somebody to monitor and lead a destabilisation of the government.  God knows he had plenty of experience." Joan Coxsedge (Labour MP)

 "Green was a top CIA operative who orchestrated the overthrow of Sukarno and was involved in CIA intrigue in Vietnam and overthrowing the government of Greece.  He's very skilled in the art of destabilising governments the U.S. doesn't approve of.  He made close contact with the military of a country, those who own and control the media and he infiltrated the policy or decision-making sections of governments. One of the first people he called on was me.  As he walked into my office I said, 'pleased to meet you your excellency,' and before he could take a seat, I said 'what would you do if we nationalised Australian subsidiaries of American multinational corporations?'  Caught by surprise, he blurted: 'We'll move in.'  I said, 'Bring the marines in?'  He was very uncomfortable, '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 'there are other things.'  He didn't elaborate." Clyde Cameron (ALP Cabinet Minister)


Source: "The CIA in Australia," Watching Brief, Public Radio News Services, Melbourne, Oct.-Nov. 1986


Gough Whitlam

Labour Party

Prime Minister of Australia