Foreign meddling in Australia’s affairs – part five


CIA agent, Harry Goldberg, looks at Australia in 1960

Australian Report

D. Canberra

1. Calwell, Leader of Labor Party.

He’s a better type than Evatt, of course (how could he be worse), but the big question mark with him, as with others, is whether he has the guts to make the fight versus the commies and put the Labor Party back on an even keel of democratic progressivism free of commie influence.

The general opinion here of our friends is (Laurie is a minority of almost one on the question) that although he’d like to, and would, if it were easier, that he hasn’t the intestinal fortitude to do so because it will take a real hard fight to accomplish the thing.

I can’t, of course, pose as an authority after a single conversation with him of two hours, but I tend to doubt the extent of his firmness and courage. I do think that our conversation threw some light on the matter, so I’ll give it as briefly as I can, blow-by-blow. My initial question, of course, was calculated to get us right to the heart of things:

Goldberg: Well, Calwell, when will the Labor Party come back into power?

Calwell: Oh, I think at the next election.

Goldberg: I don’t see how you can.

Calwell: What do you mean?

Goldberg: This is a natural labor country, and if you had a united Labor Party agreeing on principles, you’d probably have no difficulty coming back and you could be Prime Minister. But the Labor Party is split, there are differences on fundamental questions and so long as the DLP remains out, it has enough votes to stop you. The Labor Party cannot come back without getting the DLP back in the fold.

Calwell: Oh, yes, you’re right about that, Goldberg, but I’m working at that.

Goldberg: How so?

Calwell: I’m appealing to their rank and file over the heads of their leaders (and here he launched  into a bitter attack on the leaders, of why they didn’t give their second preference vote to the Labor Party, etc.). His whole approach was one of an administrative discipline sort, charging splitters, etc., without his touching at all upon the issues (commie influence, Communist China), which had brought the split about. This was the give-away re- his character and intentions, as far as I was concerned, and so I made my pitch at this point.

Goldberg: Well, Calwell, I doubt whether these admonitions will accomplish anything much. You’ll never win back the bulk of the DLP unless you attend to the issues which forced them out. Unless you stand up to the commies, weed out their influence inside the labor movement, and get rid of complacent compromise with Communist China, like the chief Asian socialist parties have done, you will not be able to unite the party, the Labor Party will not come back into power, and you’ll never be Prime Minster.

What you need is a Labor Party united on principle, fighting versus social reaction of the large industrial interests on the one hand and versus the communists on the other.

Calwell: I agree with you, and that’s exactly the kind of a Labor Party I intend to have.

Goldberg: Well, that’s good. I want to tell you frankly that I intend to see Santamaria and the DLP trade union boys in Melbourne; I want to get all points of view. I could give you my impression, if you’d care, after that.

Calwell: I would be interested in that.

Goldberg: And I can tell them what you’ve just told me about wanting to clean the commies out and restoring the Labor Party to its own even keel?

At this point the conversation became rather fuzzy around the edges. Well, you can judge for yourself from the above.

We discussed other matters, for instance the problem of New Guinea and relations to Indonesia with which the Australians are quite naturally deeply concerned, but this part we’ll skip.

2. Ambassador Seebold

I did this, not only to pay my respects, but to see if I couldn’t help Martinson, our labor attache, a bit. His position here at the Embassy is not too hot.

It isn’t that Seebold is malevolent or anti-labor; not at all, he just doesn’t realise the importance of the labor question in Australia. Also administratively, he wants to keep his “flock” around him in Canberra where they can be seen and controlled.

Now, in the case of the Labor Attache, this is pure idiocy. He should be stationed either in Sydney or Melbourne, the two chief labor centers in the country (there really should be a man in each place).

I offered to go to bat specifically on this question with the Ambassador. But Gene asked me not to, since his position as it were was a bit difficult, and the Ambassador would feel that he had put me up to it which would only worsen his situation. There was something to this so I didn’t mention it in my talk with the Ambassador, though it’s something we’ll have to take up vigorously at home.

Seebold had spent many years in Asia (especially Japan) and was interested in all sorts of situations. I gave him my impressions about Japan, also of India as well as Indonesia at length. Then I took up the Australian situation and ended with the importance of the labor question here.

I think he was impressed. He certainly kept me there, asking questions, etc. We were there for one hour and twenty minutes, longer, said Martinson, than any non-diplomatic guy had ever been given by the Ambassador. I think the conversation helped Martinson’s position. That at least is what he himself said to us, at the end.

About the Ambassador as also Martinson, I’ll have something else to add, privately, when we’re home.

3. Peter Hayden – Deputy Director, Ministry of External Affairs.

A nice guy and a sharp guy. We discussed chiefly two questions. Indonesia and the New Guinea question (I wanted to get from the horse’s mouth the offical Government position). I did. No details of this necessary here.

As to the position of the Government on South Africa, I had the definite feeling that Hayden was not comfortable with it and that personally he didn’t agree. He tried weakly at first to defend the Government’s position saying it was an internal affair of South Africa and it would be unwise to bring it up in the UN, because then, he added “Why couldn’t we also bring up the question of Negro discrimination in the US before the UN, it would be just as legitimate.”

(And these are the better, more intelligent ones in Australia, mind you! – H)

I pressed him sharply here, of course, on his absolute lack of discrimination between the two cases, pointing out first the depth of the violence, and the complete violation of every human and democratic principle and further that  this policy was an offical policy of a government, whereas our case was relatively very minor, that the offical policy of the government and the Supreme Court was versus discrimination, that the majority of the people were versus it; that only a small sectional minority was still opposing, that great progress had been made democratically, that the present sit downs were within democratic procedures, and I had not doubt that further progress would be made. Things were moving inexorably and inevitably in the right direction.

He admitted at the end that he was wrong. 

That’s about all for Canberra.


Who’s Who (from Tribune article) 

Oscar Rozenbess: Former secretary of the Melbourne Taxi Drivers Association. Former Labor Minister Cameron was probably referring to Rozenbess when he told parliament last Thursday about “a CIA operative who covered by working as a taxi driver”.

Richard Krygier: Sydney book importer who founded the CIA funded Australian Association for Cultural Freedom which published Quadrant. Named in parliament as a CIA agent by Cameron.

Laurie: Mr L Short, national secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association (FIA). Former Trotskyist now on the ALP’s extreme right.

Harry Hurrell: FIA national president, regarded as the real power in the union until recently.

Joe Riordan: Former secretary of the NSW Clerks Union, a rightwinger who later fell out with Maynes. Elected ALP member for Phillip he became a minister in Whitlam’s cabinet but lost his seat in 1975.

Fred Campbell: Former NSW secretary of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

Harry Jensen: ETU official who became Lord Mayor of Sydney. Now Minster for Local Government in the Wran ministry.

Dr Evatt: Federal Labor  leader after Chifley. Former High Court judge and brilliant lawyer, Evatt appeared before the Petrov Commission accusing Menzies and ASIO of securing Petrov’s defection as an anti-Labor stunt. This led to the 1955 ALP split.

Arthur Calwell: ALP leader after Evatt retired. A rightwing Catholic, he moved to a centre position and finally opposed the Vietnam war.

Bland: Sir Henry Bland, top public service bureaucrat (Holt’s secretary of Labor and National Service, then Defence Department secretary). Briefly chairman of the ABC under Fraser.

B.A.Santamaria: Director of the National Civic Council (NCC) and power behind the now almost defunct Democratic Labor Party (DLP).

Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes: Attorney-General and Minister for the Navy in the Menzies government.

Jim Kenny: Former rightwing secretary, NSW Labor Council.

Jack Maynes: Federal president, Federated Clerks Union, NCC supporter and DLP member.

Littleton: Probably Little, Victorian THC president.

Vic Stout: Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council for many years who finally opposed the NCC.

Bill Evans: Federal secretary of the Federated Enginedrivers (FEDFA), ACTU and THC vice-president. 

Albert Monk: ACTU president for many years and a “centre-right” force in the ALP.

Frank Knopfelmacher: A Sudeten German from Czechoslovakia, a notorious anti-communist academic.


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