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Thursday, 20 November 1986
Page: 3510

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Mr STAPLES(12.53) —On 11 November» «1975 we saw the culmination of the most blatant act of external interference in Australia's affairs and its autonomy as a nation and a democracy. The dismissal of the Whitlam Government was orchestrated by a combination of forces inside and outside Australia-namely the United States of America. Now, 11 years later, with the protection of history, this matter has not been properly and exhaustively addressed by either the Australian or the United States governments, present or past. Nor has it been addressed by the Australian media or faced by the Australian people. We have had plenty of opportunities to do so. Much has been said in the media about a former Australian Prime Minister who, in a city in the United States, could not find his trousers. That sort of thing attracts a lot of media attention. Again, we have seen the question of the use of three little words, `my little mate', take the whole of Australia by storm for a year or more and follow a man from the beginning of his career to his grave. We listen day by day, as does the Press, to references to this issue of external interference but the Press has heard it all before and says nothing or very little about it. This issue is not addressed in Australia. The Australian people have held their heads in the sand over it. In fact, they have had their heads held in the sand over it. The Australian Press has virtually ignored the biggest political history event in Australia, the biggest story that they could want in a democracy and an autonomous nation. The public has failed to seek further information. I blame most of that on the Press because it has not sought to pursue the matter further. The blame does not lie there alone. It extends further, to this Parliament, but it is difficult to decide what happened and which way to address this matter first. Should we look at what happened or why it happened? In this event we have a significant amount of evidence which shows the involvement of the United States, through the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA. It is a concern which virtually every Australian has had at some time or another. I am sure that the extent of the involvement of the CIA, of the United States, in this event, has crossed the minds of honourable members opposite who were perhaps on the fringe of the event. For those in the community who are concerned it is a constant sore and a reminder of the threat that we are placed under. Allegations and information are available in Australia and overseas, and have been for a long time, but we are faced by the iron curtain of American intelligence; we are faced by the Berlin Wall of American intelligence and Australian secrecy, the unavailability of such information to the public.

One person who did make this information as public as possible, and is now paying the price for having caused quite a furore, was Christopher Boyce, a person convicted in the United States for spying, and serving a 68-year sentence in solitary confinement. He was denied a fair trial because he was prepared to say things that neither the Australian nor the United States governments wanted the public to hear. He was, in 1974, a disillusioned 21-year-old. His faith in the country of his birth had been shaken to the foundations by Vietnam, by Watergate, by racial tension and the mad march towards nuclear destruction. He took a simple job as a postal clerk in an electronics firm, TRW Systems, in California. He stipulated to his employer that his interest in the job was limited to staying only for as long as it took him to save enough money to return to college, but less than two weeks after his commencement a detailed personnel file on Boyce was sent to the CIA. His employer had made the curious decision to recommend this 21-year-old, this restless ex-student who was eager to improve his financial status, to operate and work in a department run by the CIA in this company. Thirteen weeks later Boyce was transferred to the CIA black vault, a communications relay room. He was inexplicably given an exclusive security clearance that allowed him access to America's most secret espionage operations. During the briefing for this new job, that Boyce had not asked for, he was told that much of the communications involved would be coming from Pine Gap in Australia; that although the United States had signed an executive agreement with Australia to share information from Pine Gap, the agreement was not being honoured. It was emphasised that certain information must not be passed to Australia-he was working for the CIA although employed by a private company. He was witnessing at first hand his country's betrayal of allies and had been told that his complicity in deceiving Australia was expected. That was the situation.

Eventually he was brought to trial because he gave information to the Russians and brought out what the United States was doing in its relationship with Australia through Pine Gap. Neither of Boyce's defence lawyers was ever allowed to see any of the documents that he had passed to the Russians, nor were they allowed to examine the file on the CIA's own investigation of Boyce. This despite the fact that both of Boyce's lawyers held the appropriate security clearances. Could it be that the documents were in fact so useless to the Russians that if they had been produced as evidence in court the case would have been dismissed? This matter should certainly be laid to rest but should it be left to rest? As Australian citizens, are we to accept CIA violation of our domestic affairs? Does it matter to us that the United States lied about Pine Gap being a Defence Department project when it was actually a CIA project? Are we unconcerned by America's betrayal of that executive agreement? Does it not strike anyone here as sinister that Gough Whitlam was dismissed from office only hours before he was to expose in Parliament the role of the CIA at Pine Gap? Can Christopher Boyce be condemned for failing to honour his security agreement when a precedent for that had been blatantly set by the United States Government? What are we in this country going to do about Christopher Boyce? What are we going to do about a person who has shown what has been happening in the guise of secrecy, under the protection of an ally, in Australia? This is not a bash against the United States. This is a matter of fighting for Australia, for our own sovereignty, for our democracy. We sit in this House day after day under two Australian flags that hang above. Hour after hour we hear of abuses, of how Australia is not being properly treated, of how we must keep this, our flag, forever and so on. But what is the meaning of the flag if we cannot protect our own autonomy? That is the question that we have to face. The person who could be most incensed over this issue, Gough Whitlam, said in 1977-in this very House:

It is precisely because America is our principal ally that Australia must be satisfied that American agents are not acting in a manner contrary to our interests as a nation. Are we to let an ally get away with something that a rival would not be allowed to get away with? Alliances are not strengthened by covert operations or by condoning and covering up such covert operations.

Our dignity and self-respect as a nation, no less than our national security, demand that the Parliament exercise its supremacy in scrutinising the activities of foreign intelligence services operating in this country.

There is plenty of evidence available, Mr Deputy Speaker. We have seen the attention of the media of Australia and of both Houses of the Parliament focused on the three insignificant words `my little mate'. On the other hand, despite the fact that the evidence of external interference is so much greater, little attention is being paid to it.

Let me return, in the last few minutes left to me, to a description by Gough Whitlam in The Whitlam Government 1972-75 of a meeting held in Sydney. Mr Whitlam says:

I never met President Carter but I had a significant meeting with his Assistant Secretary of State for Asia in the South Pacific, Warren Christopher. On Wednesday, 27 July 1977 at 8 a.m. Alston arranged a breakfast meeting in the Qantas VIP room at Sydney Airport. Those present were Alston, Christopher, his aide, my aide, Richard Butler . . . and I.

He continues, speaking of Christopher:

He made it clear to us that he had made a special detour in his itinerary for the sole purpose of speaking to me. The President had asked him to say:

That he understood the Democrats and the ALP were fraternal parties;

That he respected deeply the democratic rights of the allies of the US;

I ask honourable members to note what he says next:

That the US administration would never again-

I repeat those words:

would never again interfere in the domestic political processes of Australia; and

That he would work with whatever government the people of Australia elected.

If our Bicentenary means anything--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.