Whitlam v Nixon: the cables that reveal Australia’s relations with US at breaking point

President Nixon meets with Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office at the White House in 1973. Photo: Yorba Linda via Nixon Presidential Library

President Nixon meets with Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office at the White House in 1973. Photo: Yorba Linda via Nixon Presidential Library

President Nixon meets with Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office at the White House in 1973. Photo: Yorba Linda via Nixon Presidential Library

President Nixon meets with Gough Whitlam in the Oval Office at the White House in 1973. Photo: Yorba Linda via Nixon Presidential Library

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Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s foreign policy prowess was remembered by politicians and commentators around the world on Tuesday.

But to the world’s biggest superpower, the rise of Australia in the Asia-Pacific signalled a threat to US hegemony.

Australia’s relations with the US were at breaking point under Gough Whitlam, excerpts from a yet to be released book have revealed.

According to diplomatic cables obtained by an academic at the University of Sydney, President Nixon ordered a top secret US national security study into cutting all intelligence-sharing operations with Australia in the final year of his doomed presidency.

The breaking point was reached after more than 18 months of diplomatic mistrust, said James Curran, the author of Unholy Fury: Whitlam and Nixon’s Alliance Crisis

“The book draws on sensational new evidence to show just how close Australia came to losing the alliance with the US,” the lecturer from the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre said.

Diplomatic cables from the White House reveal that President Nixon labelled the prime minister a “whirling dervish” and a “peacenik, who is certainly putting the Australians on a very, very dangerous path”.

Tape recordings from the White House also show that President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger agreed to “freeze” Whitlam “for a few months” so that he would “get the message”.

The escalation in tension came after Mr Whitlam’s vocal opposition to the Vietnam war, which he had opposed since the US had invaded in 1965.

When Mr Whitlam assumed office in 1972, he wrote a protest letter to President Nixon, urging him to de-escalate the conflict.

He also condemned the Christmas bombings by the US of civilian areas in Vietnam.

The last straw came when Whitlam’s minister for labour and immigration, Clyde Cameron, said the White House was “full of maniacs”.

Mr Whitlam’s attitude was described as an “absolute outrage” and a “cheap little manoeuvre” by President Nixon.

“From the minute the Vietnam war ends,” he quipped, the Australians “will need us one hell of a lot more than we need them.”

“For Whitlam to imperil his country’s relations with the United States,” he said, was “one hell of a thing to do.”

Despite the jovial appearance of President Nixon and Mr Whitlam during a 1973 visit to the White House by the prime minister, the diplomatic tension was simmering deep beneath the surface, said Professor Curran.

“Whitlam was just moving too quickly in the Asia-Pacific region with his style of foreign policy,” said Professor Curran.

“This included very strategic moves towards China.

“They couldn’t stand Australia being more independent … It was a period characterised by alarm and hysteria.”

One month after President Nixon ordered his intelligence agencies to explore options for leaving Australia, the Watergate scandal engulfed his presidency.

He became the only US president to be forced to resign from office.

Two years later, Whitlam became the only Australian prime minister to be dismissed by the Governor-General.

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Staff perks aren’t confined to Google

Google is famous for the perks it offers its employees. Staff at the Googleplex in California get free onsite haircuts, can take a dip in one of the swimming pools (complete with lifeguard), play ping pong, billiards, foosball, or have their dry cleaning done for free.

But you don’t have to be one of the world’s biggest tech companies to show your employees how much you value them and motivate them to achieve bigger and better things.

At Xero, we believe a happy workplace is a motivated and productive workplace. As a disruptive business which is rewriting the rules of accounting and giving small business owners control over their finances, we need our team to be creative and empowered.

Even small businesses with only a handful of staff can do some of the things we do to foster a positive workplace culture.

We make a point of recognising achievements. Sometimes we do it in a small and informal way, with a pat on the back from a supervisor or by sharing praise from a customer across the company.

Other times it’s more structured. We have a quarterly awards ceremony where I reward employees for exemplary work with a fine dining voucher for two, and once a year those who really overachieve are rewarded with a trip to Hawaii with the senior executive team.

Try the same approach in your business. If someone’s done a good job on a project or solved a difficult problem, gather the team around, outline the good job they’ve done and lead a round of applause. You might think it’s just a round of applause, but people thrive on recognition.

For bigger achievements like winning new business or working overtime to meet a tough deadline, buy them a gift. Luckily as a small business owner, you’ll know your staff well enough to know if they’d prefer a voucher for a manicure or a nice bottle of wine. Then gather the staff around and celebrate their achievement.

At Xero, we also like to create a team culture and celebrate achievements of the whole business. Earlier this year we threw a party in the Melbourne office to celebrate reaching 100,000 customers in Australia, and had dinner and drinks catered by food trucks, and music delivered by employees forming the Xero in-house band, known as ‘Xero Talent’. In fact, we’re lucky to have an over-representation of musical talent at Xero. I store my own PA system and guitar amps in the office, so we’re ready for the occasional spontaneous Friday night jam session.

For a small business, a food truck obviously wouldn’t be an economical way of feeding your staff, but you can still celebrate achievements. Take the staff out for lunch on a Friday when they’ve been working really hard or have lunch delivered to their desks from time to time.

Employees who spend time together work better together, so you can do things like organise an occasional trip to the movies or a football match. Our social club, the Xero Good Times Crew, is run by the staff, who come up with their own ideas for outings, everything from yoga and gym sessions, to lunches and ski weekends.

We also have a pool table and café-standard coffee machine in the break room. And to help staff get the best possible coffee they can we put them all through barista training. That means that instead of everyone wandering off to a café to buy their coffee, there are lots of impromptu social gatherings around the coffee machine.

Here are a few other perks for your staff, which won’t break the bank:

If your workplace can accommodate it, let people bring their dog to work or have a weekly Bring your Dog to Work Day. Pet owners see this as a major workplace perk.

If you can, let valued employees work flexibly so they can pick up their children or meet other commitments. This is a major benefit that employees value highly. Likewise, can employees work from home for one or two days a week? Anyone with a long commute will jump at the opportunity.

Another free way of providing perks is to negotiate deals for your staff with local businesses. Maybe you could arrange discount gym membership or cheaper lunches from a nearby takeaway. At Xero, we arranged to get a masseuse in for our Customer Care team when they were working flat out at the end of the last financial year. The 15 minute neck massages went down a treat.

Give your staff the opportunity to expand their skills and experience. Strictly speaking this isn’t a perk, but the feeling that their career is advancing is a key motivator for employees.

Finally, try giving a younger staff member increased responsibility. Put them in charge of their own project or make them responsible for some customer accounts. Likewise, consider sending promising staff on a course to improve their skills. Not only will you have more motivated staff, you’ll also end up with more skilled and capable staff, who will ultimately add more value for your business.

Ultimately, the key is to think creatively. You want to find a match between what your employees will value and what you can give them (within a reasonable budget). You’ll have happier, more motivated and more creative staff. What other creative ways have you found to offer great workplace perks on a budget?

Chris Ridd is Xero Australia’s managing director

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Princess Anne highlights plight of Australian farmers at RNA conference

Princess Anne, Princess Royal speaks to the audience at the 26th Commonwealth Agricultural Conference at the Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt Princess Anne, Princess Royal speaks to the audience at the 26th Commonwealth Agricultural Conference at the Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Princess Anne addresses the audience. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Princess Anne, Princess Royal speaks to the audience at the 26th Commonwealth Agricultural Conference at the Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Princess Anne, Princess Royal speaks to the audience at the 26th Commonwealth Agricultural Conference at the Royal International Convention Centre in Brisbane. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Princess Anne, Princess Royal is greeted by Lord Samuel Vestey. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Fewer than one per cent of Australians are now involved in farming, yet almost five million Australians went to an agricultural show in the past 12 months, HRH Princess Anne told conference delegates in Brisbane on Tuesday.

“The tradition of the agricultural shows form a particularly rich part of Australia’s social and cultural heritage,” the Princess Royal told agricultural conference delegates.

“I think there are more than 600 agricultural show societies across Australia and they do actually comprise the longest, continuously operating institution in the nation dating back to 1821,” she said.

The Princess Royal is the president of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth, a role she has taken on since her father, the Duke of Edinburgh stood down when he turned 90.

It was a low-key visit to Brisbane compared with the recent official tour by her nephew Prince William and his wife Catherine who are expecting their second child in April. The Princess Royal made no mention of the royal family’s growing brood.

HRH Princess Anne, wearing a cream suit with a grey blouse and attractive silver brooch, wore gloves as she arrived but removed them before she spoke to the conference.

The 2014 agricultural societies are tackling the theme of future sustainability, an issue raised at their 2012 conference in Zambia.

She said agricultural shows remained popular, but the issue remained how to make that popularity sustainable.

“I understand that some five million people – that is one quarter of the Australian population – attend an agricultural show each year,” she said.

“I think there might be one or two other countries here who might think that might be an ambition to have.”

However guest speaker Craig Davis, who has worked in advertising for Coca Cola, Kraft, Shell, Nokia and HSBC, made the point that in the last census less than one per cent of Australians were farmers.

“The vast majority of people living in cities or towns in most parts of the world don’t know a farmer at all,” Mr Davis said.

He said 100 years ago 14 per cent of Australians were “directly involved in agricultural production.”

“According to the latest census data, that figure has now fallen to 0.6 per cent.”

He said there was now a great divide between agriculture and urban life.

“We live in a very ‘urban-centric’ society, which has come to view rural life as largely ‘backwards and boring,’ fit only for simple folk who like to wear denim and wear big hats, plaid shirts and go to bed early.”

He said the average age of an Australian farmer was now 52 years of age.

“The real risk here is that this disconnect grows.”

Mr Davis was the keynote speaker at the opening day of the conference, kicking off the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth conference debates.

Princess Anne praised the conference venue – the redeveloped Royal National Association’s facilities at Bowen Hills, which had been “dangling in front of us” for several years.

“So it is a pleasure to be here and to see it in the flesh.”

“And, a big thank you to Queensland and to Brisbane for their hospitality and for being the host society for this the 26th agricultural conference.”

The Princess Royal said she was surprised it was the first time that Brisbane had been the host city.

“I am actually quite surprised that it is the first time that it has been here given the extraordinary history of Queensland as one of the greatest primary producing areas in the world,” she said.

HRH praised Queenslanders’ resilience against floods and its record as a world leader in beef and livestock production.

“Those of us who live in slightly wetter places on a normal basis I don’t think can really quite understand just what drought truly means,” she said.

“And for that you have huge sympathy.”

She acknowledged the state’s ability to bounce back after the 2011 floods.

“In previous years, there was extraordinary devastation caused by flooding and 2011 was the most recent floods,” she said.

“Those of us seeing it from afar, it looked pretty devastating.

“And when you get here and understand just how bad they were, it is quite extraordinary to have that lovely resilience to be able to recover from.”

The Princess Royal said the conference was an important tool to for Commonwealth nations to gather experience and advice on water, food and livestock management as they manage the impacts of climates to maximise agricultural output.

The conference runs in Brisbane until Friday.

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Proctor seals series with dramatic finish

WINNER: Adam Proctor (second from left) successfully defended his Australian Sports Racer series crown on Sunday despitefinishing third. Photo: Supplied.NATIONAL circuit racing champions have been crowned during round eight of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals at Wakefield Park on Sunday.

Titles in the Australian Manufacturers Championship, Sports Racer and Super Six Touring Car series’ were decided while dramatic rounds in the Kumho V8 Touring Cars and Australian Formula Ford series have shaken up the establishment going into the business end of their respective seasons.

Adam Proctor successfully defended his Australian Sports Racer series crown in one of the more dramatic conclusions to a national championship seen at a Shannons Nationals event. Entering the day leading by two points, Roger I’Anson looked to be in the box seat to take the championship when Proctor spun off the road from second place mid-way through race two on Sunday morning.

With a damaged car, he recovered to the back of the field however I’Anson was in a position to place one hand on the trophy – right up to the point until his car expired with four laps to go.

Proctor could only sail past to the championship lead as I’Anson was left stranded on the start-finish straight watching his title hopes slip away.

The works West outfit made a massive effort to get the Adelaide driver back on track for the final race, changing an engine in under three-hours – though ultimately it would be in vain.

Despite spearing the car off the road early in the race, Proctor did enough to grab third in the race and seal backto- back championships for the Stohr team.

“I am pretty happy with that, it’s what we set out to do and it’s the fourth consecutive title in Sports Racer which is great for our brand Stohr, and I am just really proud of our team.

“Emotions almost got the better of us yesterday but we came back strong today and just did what we had to do. I don’t even know how to explain today after what happened in the race this morning, and I guess it was just meant to be for us because it all sort of fell out in the end.”

Gavin Ross survived the usual Dial Before you Dig Australian Super Six Touring Car Series war to win his first title, working his way cautiously through a pair of wild races today to seal the championship in his bright Green Commodore.

Ross won the final race of the season and the final round of the year to seal his title in style, beating out outgoing and double champion Simon Tabinor and Jason Leoncini in the round results this weekend.

“I was going to take it easy, and I don’t know how I won race two – there was so much going on!” Ross said.

“It all fell into place in the third race. It’s nice to wrap it up this way and get the championship done.”

Beric Lynton secured the final round of the Australian Manufacturers Championship (AMChamp) series in style today, taking his Class B BMW 1M to a second victory for the weekend in the 200km enduro.

Lynton led from the outset after a close early fight with Mitsubishi Lancer rival Garry Holt, pulled away to lead by more than 25 seconds after the final pit stops had been completed.

Triple champion Stuart Kostera charged in the closing stages however was unable to catch the leading BMW, eventually settling for second some 12- seconds behind.

Luke Searle and Barry Graham finished third outright following a late splash for fuel with Matt Cherry and Glyn Crimp a solid fourth in the Audi TT.

Colin Osborne and Nick Lange won Class C on the day that Brock Giblin, badly injured in a fiery crash at Sydney Motorsport Park in July this year, returned to the circuit having recently been discharged from hospital.

Jake Williams won Class D in his Conroy Motorsport Honda Integra after a feisty weekend between the pair of Conroy Hondas and the Pedders Racing Team Toyota.

Lynton’s double victory was enough to boost him to the overall AMChamp drivers’ title, edging out fellow class B BMW driver Grant Sherrin by just seven points.

Lynton also beat home defending champions Garry Holt and Stuart Kostera to win the Class A AMChamp title for the first time. Grant Sherrin (Class B), Jake Camilleri (Class C), Kevin Herben (Class D) Gus Robbins (Class E) and Mike Eady (Class I) also scored national title victories this year.

A dramatic Kumho V8 Touring Cars round has turned the series on its head – Justin Ruggier winning the penultimate round of the series despite clashing with Ryan Simpson early in the final race.

Simpson dived down the inside of Ruggier on the second lap of the final race, sending both cars into the gravel and, once back on track, to the back of the field.

Simpson pitted with damaged and limped home while Ruggier executed a strong comeback performance and ultimately finished the race third and seal his maiden round victory.

Drew Russell was the surprise race three winner, getting the first win for the STR Truck Bodies team headed up by Matt Palmer. Russell also finished second for the round, Matt Chahda.

The series will go down to the wire at Sydney Motorsport Park next week with Ruggier holding a – provisional – 34 point lead ahead of the finale with 143 up for grabs.

James Golding was a surprise winner in round four of the Australian Formula Ford Series, taking advantage of a miscue by the winner of races one and two – Thomas Randle – to steal a round victory.

Randle won race two on Sunday morning after an early battle with Hamish Hardeman before slipping past to take a comfortable victory.

The pair battled again in race three with Hardeman leading the early running before Randle attempted a pass at turn two – the pair coming together at the tight left-hander, dropping them both down the field.

Randle was penalised for his role in the contact while Hardeman limped home to 15th.

Series leader Golding was the main beneficiary, assuming the lead and ultimately the victory after a dramatic battle with a recovering Jordan Lloyd in the closing laps of the weekend – the pair swapping the lead several times before Golding held on to win.

Golding won the outright round with Randle second and the consistent Cameron Hill a strong third.

Cameron Walters won the Formula Ford 1600 weekend ahead of James Garley and Jimmy Bailey.

The Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals finals season concludes in two weekends’ time at Sydney Motorsport Park, a bumper weekend to be highlighted by the fight for the Kumho V8 Touring Cars title.

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Picker reels in a winner

WHAT A CATCH: Two-year-old Oliver and his dad James Picker reeledin the winning 60cm rainbow trout on Sunday. Photo: Supplied.

YOUNG Oliver Picker hooked a 60cm rainbow trout to win the Trout Classic fishing competition at Pejar Dam on Sunday.

The two-and-a half year old, however, did have some help from dad James Picker when they reeled in the first place winner early on Sunday afternoon.

But that doesn’t stop Oliver from proudly displaying his trophy at home.

“He realises he did something special, but he probably doesn’t realise how special it really is, probably not until he gets older,” his father James said.

“But he’s been carrying the trophy around since he got home. He’s proud of himself.”

The father and son were part of up to 60 competitors who took to the Pejar Dam waters, hoping to land the winning trout in the catch and release competition.

Competition organiser Joshua Lambert said numbers were down this year, as were the fish landed by competitors, but all round it was a perfect day on the water.

“Weather wise it was gorgeous,” he said.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day. There were a lot of early starters in the morning.”

The Pickers took home a $500 fishing trip and a free rod and reel for Oliver.

$500 was also donated to the Lackanookie Bay Fishing Club, who had stocked the dam with rainbow trout.

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