48. Minutes of the Acting Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting, Washington, June 14, 1974, 3:10 p.m.1 2



  • MR. LORD
  • MR. MAW

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Australia.]

[Page 2]

MR. INGERSOLL: On Australia, we have a considerable concern over the new government and its Deputy Prime Minister, Cairns. He won the Deputy Prime Ministership by a very large margin over Barnard, who was the former Deputy Prime Minister. In fact, the whole shift of the government seems to be more to the left. Barnard was moved from I think second to tenth in the voting. Other members close to Whitlam were also down-graded. And it seems as if Cairns and the left wing of the ALP have become much stronger.

Now, nobody has been able to determine that Cairns is a communist — although he has sided with Hanoi and Peking in many issues. He has said unequivocally that all foreign military installations should be removed from the country. And he wants to disband ANZUS. So that we have a possible security problem with Cairns and some of his — the Deputy Prime Minister of Defense also is a leftist, a fellow named Bill Morrison. And we have a concern about him.

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We have discussed this with Sir Arthur Tang, who is the top bureaucrat in the Defense Ministry, before the election even took place, because we were concerned that it might happen, and what that would do to our security relationships, intelligence relationships, with Australia. He believes — and I think he discussed this with Whitlam, although we are not sure — that there would be no reason for Cairns to be cleared for much of this intelligence, even if Whitlam were out of the country; that Whitlam would be operating from wherever he is, rather than having Cairns have access to these sensitive matters. This we are not sure of. And we would have to get, I think, some concrete assurance from Whitlam to make sure in the future.

Frankly, the advice from Canberra and also from our desk here is that we should be very careful about upsetting our relationship with the Labor Government, because if we publicly or in some way so that the word became public would indicate that we have concerns about Cairns, or the security of our intelligence information, that the general Australian public would react unfavorably against us. Now we have a favorable image in Australia. But it might go against us if there became a news media furor [Page 4] over our trying to influence the Australian Government in any way with respect to their defense or security issues. And we are now studying just what we would recommend in our relationship in the near future. We just don’t want to move fast on it and don’t have any recommendation right now.

MR. SISCO: How are they doing economically, Bob?

MR. INGERSOLL: They are doing very well economically, except for inflation. They have a substantial inflation of about 15 percent, which is even higher than ours. This is the issue that really I think caused people to think that Whitlam might be overthrown, or the Labor Government might be overthrown. Actually their majority is half of what it was before in the Lower House, and the Upper House has not been decided yet. They have a definite 20 out of 60 seats, and they might get 30. But we are not sure yet, because it is not finally decided — in two different districts.

But we cannot count on the Labor Government being overthrown, even though they are in a weaker position than they were before. They may be around for another three years.

MR. SISCO: Then the election on the whole was as close as everybody predicted.

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MR. INGERSOLL: Oh, yes. But it went the wrong way.

MR. SISCO: Went the other way.

Any questions?

MR. INGERSOLL: Bill, you may have some comment on this.

MR. HYLAND: This was discussed yesterday at the United States Intelligence Board. They are starting a survey of possible relocation of two of the projects there on the assumption that we might be asked out. And it would require a tremendous lead time, a lot more money.

MR. SISCO: But do you think there is a serious risk that we will be asked out? I understand the security problem. But does this fellow — does this carry this much clout?

MR. INGERSOLL: Well, Whitlam made a statement before the Parliament was dissolved, saying that they wanted to eventually phase out foreign military installations. Now, the statement that he read had been changed by him personally from what the Foreign Office gave him. We ran this down. And he personally changed the statement which they said — well, the first part of it was innocuous. But the second part, he deliberately put in that they were going to eventually phase these out.

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Now, we haven’t been able to get to him to find out exactly what he had in mind. But he did this, they tell us, deliberately to prevent the left-wing people from opposing him. He had to keep his leadership in the party. And he had to make such a statement, so they say. But he has it now on public record. And we did get sort of a withdrawal from Barnard to Marshall Green. But it was never public. So that public statement still stands. And we think this is the way Whitlam believes, and certainly Cairns has made many statements of this type.

MR. SISCO: And the Foreign Minister now is really down-graded in the hierarchy. And certainly the people in the Foreign Ministry — we all know them as you do, and they are all well-oriented, and they want to be very helpful. Which really leads me to ask this question. Should we, among other things, as we look at this situation, be considering how we, as a government, at the upper reaches, really get at Whitlam? Because he is the man that is calling the shots. And we have got, I think, very good contact at the Foreign Ministers level. And I am sure that Marshall has access to Whitlam whenever he wants. But there are, among the things that we ought to consider, things we ought to be considering as to how we get at Whitlam directly. Because [Page 7] I suspect we are going to have to deal with this fellow for a long time.

MR. INGERSOLL: He may be over here for the General Assembly and he may not. And he may not come to Washington even if he is. But I think we should make an effort to get close to him.

MR. HYLAND: The first issue really is, if Cairns asks to be briefed, or Whitlam asks that Cairns be briefed, the State Department is going to have to make the decision whether to brief him, or not, and how far they can go.

MR. SISCO: With all sorts of political ramifications — this fellow will make it an absolute major issue in those circumstances. I would suspect there may be a way to brief him judiciously, if I can put it that way. I would guess that that would be the way to finesse this.

MR. INGERSOLL: Sir Arthur Tang says Whitlam sad Cairns will not have to have clearance. But we are not sure whether this is going to pertain.

MR. INGERSOLL: You know, for me, who knows the Australia of World War II, having lived there for two years, to me these political movements are almost incomprehensible. It is a different Australia, completely, from the two years I spent there.

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MR. INGERSOLL: You can see how close it is, though. The Australians are split over the issue, too.

MR. SISCO: Sure.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Australia.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Entry 5177, Box 3. Secret. At the June 21 meeting, Hummel said that EA had changed its attitude toward Cairns’ election: “we think that the problem is really not our problem to solve. For one reason, we do not in fact give clearances for individuals in the Australian Government for the sensitive intelligence and defense installations. The Australian Government does that itself and tells us afterwards. So it is not up to us to clear or not clear Mr. Cairns. The problem is really the Prime Minister’s problem to solve. And I think this is the proper and mature approach. So that we don’t tear down the relationships we have by arbitrary action on our part, so that we don’t engage in spooky fiddling with the situation, in which we might get caught—in some of the other proposals that have been made. They are logical to consider, but we think not logical to carry out.” (Minutes of Under Secretary Sisco’s Staff Meeting, June 21, 3 p.m.; Ibid., Box 4)
  2. Ingersoll and Sisco discussed the election of Cairns as Deputy Prime Minister.