When the CIA overthrew…Australia. Seriously.

In 1975, Australia experienced a near disastrous Constitutional crisis when, using reserve powers, its Governor-General Sir John Kerr “removed” then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.  Reasons for this were complicated.  The official line reads something like this: the government’s annual money bills (e.g., appropriations bills that you would find in the United States) had been frozen in Parliament and, as financial disaster loomed in the form of Australia not being able to pay its bills, Whitlam was removed and replaced by opposition party leader Malcolm Fraser at the hand of Kerr.  Unofficially, its been reported that the CIA ordered Kerr to remove Whitlam because, behind closed doors, he was trying to kick United States’ military and intelligence assets out of the country, specifically the highly secretive satallite tracking station at Pine Gap better known as the Joint Defence Space Research Facility.  In addition to the removal order, its also alleged that the CIA employed destabilizing measuers (e.g., strike breakers, unfavorable media) to foster the tenuous situation.  Not that any of this is new (see: Guatemala, Chile, Vietnam, etc.), it was just the first time it was an ally making the accusations.

Joint Defence Space Research Facility

They don't take kindly to the "pop in"

I first became fascinated with this story after seeing the brilliant John Schlesinger film The Falcon and The Snowman. In this true-life account, Christopher Boyce contends that while working for the CIA at a California-based defense contractor, he was accidentally sent sensitive transmissions that detailed the CIA’s plan to derail the Whitlam government.  Pretty amazing stuff, especially considering Boyce credited this as the flash point that catapulted him to the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted List after he started selling similar transmissions (among other things)  to the Russian Embassy in Mexico City via his cocaine dealing best friend.

Don’t take my word for it, read for yourself:

Transcript of 1986 Australian Public Radio Report

Transcript of Christopher Boyce’s 1982 appearance on 60 Minutes Australia

2005 Melbourne Indymedia Article

The Smoking Cupcake, January 2010


3 responses to “When the CIA overthrew…Australia. Seriously.

  1. John Pilger gives a full account in his book ‘A Secret Country’

  2. Thanks so much for the head’s up – I’ve already ordered the book!

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