The CIA Station Chief at the Australian
Labour Party Conference
News Line 14 July 1977, page 12
The Australian Labour Party invited the chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency Australian station to attend its national conference, held in Perth last week.
Victorian delegate Bill Hartley issued a press statement drawing attention to the presence at the conference of Dixon Boggs, as an observer from the United States Embassy.
Hartley said the presence of Boggs was a sign of the further determination of certain agencies in the United States to further manipulate Australian affairs and potentially the internal affairs of the Australian Labour Party. Hartley’s statement went on:
“There is every reason to conclude that Dixon Boggs’ designation as a Counsellor of Political Affairs is spurious and that he is in fact the Australian station chief of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
There has already been a storm in Australia over CIA infiltration into the unions and the spy agency’s part in bringing down the Labour government in 1975.
There were reports that three days before the sacking of the Whitlam government, the governor general Sir John Kerr was briefed by a senior Defence official who told him that the CIA considered Whitlam was jeopardising the US strategic interests in Australia.
Bill Hartley’s statement said “This party has had no satisfactory response to the serious questions raised with the United States government via the Canberra embassy on the issue of foreign intelligence agencies in Australia.
“In the circumstances, this extravagant attempt at further observation and manipulation registered by the presence of Boggs should be dealt with by the conference.”
But instead, Australian Labour Party leaders rushed to defend Boggs. The Party president, Bob Hawke, said Hartley’s charges were an attempt to “divert” the conference – but he did not deny them.
Senior vice-president John Ducker said he was “sick in the stomach” at the statement – but he didn’t deny the allegation that Boggs was a CIA chief, either.
Conference then passed “without dissent” a statement from Hawke reaffirming the open nature of the conference to the press and public, and representatives of foreign Embassies. The issue, however, was whether suspected representatives of the CIA should be allowed in.
But the Conference unanimously condemned Hartley for issuing his statement. In a headlong rush to the right, the party leaders dropped even the party’s verbal commitment to full employment.
And Gough Whitlam repeated the tired old formula that the Labour government had been thrown out of office in a “Canberra Coup” because it has “moved too fast” with its programme.
“We have to moderate our social goals”, Whitlam said..