Australian National Archives release Loans Affair documents

Saturday, January 1, 2005

The National Archives of Australia have, as part of their standarddocument release cycle, released thirty year old documents from theWhitlam government.

The centre piece of the 1974 archives are a series of documents fromthe Australian Cabinet and the Treasury pertaining to the attempt toobtain a $US4 billion loan by the Whitlam government from the MiddleEast. The obtaining of these loans and the scandal generated becamecollectively known as the “Loans Affair,” and contributedsignificantly towards the dismissal of the Whitlam government by SirJohn Kerr the following year.

The documents from Treasury, which include descriptions of both theloan itself and the people involved in arranging them, are scathing.The “Points that might be made” document of December 13, 1974 clearlystates that Treasury believed the distinct possibility that the loansmight be part of “a confidence trick of major proportions”. Minutesfrom another meeting five days later state the “incredulity” on thepart of the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Bank of New Yorkregarding the viability of the loan.

Those documents now available comprise the beginning of the LoansAffair, from the initial offers to the end of 1974. The remainder ofthe Loans Affair documents, as well as everything else from 1975 willbe released on January 1, 2006.

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