On Saturday, June 2, 1978, nine people gathered in a room of the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne city to establish the National Front of Australia (NFA).
Yes, Australian nationalists viewed then – and view now – the National Front as a bad experiment, based as it was on an overemphasis on Australia’s British past and a downplaying of Australia’s national identity and an overbearing formal link to a foreign party, but that is hardly the point for this article.
Why? The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) didn’t like the idea of it and sent someone along to check things out. After all, the Vietnamese refugee influx was underway, Asian immigration was increasing and some Aussies were registering disquiet. Might this group stir up some public reaction? What could be done to shut it down?
Just recently, I viewed at the National Archives the ASIO files on the NFA (all eight volumes), some of which have earlier been published online. I read the ASIO agent’s report on the foundation meeting.
See for yourself: http://soda.naa.gov.au/record/12793105/77
However, if the official story still holds, there was someone else there to also ‘report’. A certain David Wilson of Melbourne’s The Age just somehow happened to know of the meeting too. Better still, he managed himself an invitation under the name ‘Steve Bailey’.
That was quite a feat of journalistic detective work. There was indeed a ‘Steve Bailey’ and how Wilson came to pose as Bailey would have been real labour. In Wilson went and on Monday morning, The Age ran with a sensational front-page anti-racist (sic) piece of journalism. The usual – hate, foreign links, Nazis, social discord, you name it. It was a bombshell that guaranteed the NFA would be stillborn. Whatever support it might have built-in time ran for cover and refused to join up.
However, this historical detective (may I give myself this august title?) smells a rat. The ASIO file records the names of the attendees. Of course, the ASIO agent’s name does not appear. I provide the surnames of the attendees:
Wilson (posing as “Steve Bailey”)
Now, here comes the problem that starts our little
ASIO shell game.
The Melbourne Age reported that “nine” people attended the meeting. Now deceased ‘anti-racism expert’ (sic) David Greason, who attended the meeting and who later switched sides (sic) after a stint in a loony bin in 1983, recorded in a book he wrote in 1994: “nine of us all up” were at the meeting. That was the number I was told by an attendee who later ‘defected’ to nationalism. That was the number always claimed by the NFA when it was certainly not known that any ASIO agent got in. Nine is the number.
So: who was the ASIO agent?
While it could be that any of the nine could be the agent, only one fits the bill. Whoever he was, he needed a fake ID, or in the alternate was one of the ‘loyal’ participants who had another job. But this agent needed to be professional and have particular skills. Most of the attendees didn’t match the job criteria.
Reasonably, the agent was The Age reporter, a man long accused by former Labor Party politician Joan Coxedge (she campaigned against political police) – of having the ASIO connection.
What does it mean then? That Fairfax has long had intelligence connections and that some of its journalists have been ASIO agents of one form or another. That Fairfax will run intelligence ‘scripts’ against delegated targets. That intelligence will be shared. That ASIO felt comfortable enough to use Fairfax this way.
The 1978 NFA operation was the first one known to be directed against would-be nationalist or so-called ‘Right’ targets and which integrated an intelligence agency with Fairfax journalism. It would not be the last.
In the context of today, we should look hard at many ‘journalists’, their campaigns against persons and groups and whether questionable persons seem to provide them with ‘information’, whether they seem to get in and out of groups and access groups.
This 1978 shell game was solved. How many more are there? As below: an account, partly correct of the foundation of the NFA.