08/08/2006 - 22:00

Making connections count

08/08/2006 - 22:00

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State Scene has an answer for those wondering what some former Australian prime ministers, ambassadors and even top spies do in retirement – they can become global consultants.

State Scene has an answer for those wondering what some former Australian prime ministers, ambassadors and even top spies do in retirement – they can become global consultants.

Years ago, when State Scene was tutoring economic history at Monash University, many interesting chats were had with a politics tutor there.

He was Andrew Campbell, and we both eventually left Monash to pursue other careers.

Mr Campbell opted for the intelligence world and later moved into a less formal career as a private analyst/researcher, while State Scene eventually became a journalist.

Independently during those Monash years we were friends of the late Dr Frank Knopfelmacher, a Melbourne University academic who was Australia’s leading expert on communism, a psychology lecturer, outstanding political philosopher and inspirational teacher.

Mr Campbell and I were informal students of Dr Knopfelmacher – Franta to his mates – who was scandalously blackballed by a leftist academic clique in the 1960s from a Sydney University teaching position.

It was Franta who alerted us to the activities of the now-forgotten pre-war German Bolshevik activist, Willi Munzenberg, who ran networks of deceitful but influential front organisations across Europe and beyond Stalin’s Moscow.

The always lying Munzenberg proved, over and over, the wisdom of Mark Twain’s saying that: “A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on”.

State Scene later learned from former Labor premier, Carmen Lawrence, that for a time she’d worked with Franta and also found him intellectually challenging.

Quite accidentally, State Scene has obtained an article written by Andrew Campbell in the Council for the National Interest’s quarterly, National Observer (Autumn 2006, No. 68).

Titled, ‘Guanxi and Australia-China Consultants – The Risk of Dual Allegiance’, he makes interesting points which, among other things, tell us what some retired Labor PMs, some former ambassadors and top spies have done.

Among those highlighted are Bob Hawke AC, Paul Keating, and Stephen FitzGerald AO.

Now, it must be stressed, none of them or others named in his article are seen as unpatriotic or treasonous.

Mr Campbell simply uses them to highlight the fact that growing numbers of Australians who were MPs, senior intelligence spooks, or ambassadors, work as consultants for overseas clients, and for some this may include foreign governments.

“Australian consultants to China bring the benefit of language skills, experience in dealing with China and particularly the benefits of access to Australian and allied intelligence on China,” Mr Campbell writes.

“In Chinese this is known as guanxi, or ‘personal contacts networks’. Guanxi . . . literally means ‘connections’.

“The Chinese leadership highly values relationships with friendly, retired foreign political leaders as they represent the highest level of guanxi.

“Australian consultants’ visits to China are intensively monitored by Chinese security authorities, and provide a benign operational environment for possible compromise and recruitment.”

Mr Campbell then asks whether something should be done to legislatively tighten requirements at Australia’s end.

Although focusing upon China, his recommendations are as pertinent in relation to others, including especially the increasingly petro-dollar-flush Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Mr Hawke, former ACTU president and PM, has an advisory firm, Bob Hawke and Associates. In his biography he said that, after leaving office in 1992, he was contacted by China’s government.

“I accepted the invitation and was welcomed in Beijing by President Jiang Zemin who is also [Communist] Party Secretary and Chairman and of Military Commission. . .” Mr Hawke wrote.

A November 2001 report in The Australian Financial Review that highlighted China’s economic expansion said: “One person enjoying the fruits of these unique changes will be Australia’s former PM, Bob Hawke, when he’s not playing a round of golf on one of Beijing’s many courses or betting on the Guangzhou races.”

Ziwang Hu, the managing director of Goldman Sachs Greater China, reportedly said: “He’s [Hawke] doing well here. I’ve even seen him carrying around that golf bag in Beijing.”

Mr Campbell writes: “After the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy students demonstrators, Hawke was profoundly shaken.

“At a public commemoration, he wept for the victims of Beijing’s political crackdown.”

In 1998 AMP, in a bid to enter the Chinese market, used him “to assist in their negotiations at a political level”.

Mr Campbell sees Mr Keating as “the most discrete of the Australian consultants”.

“Nobody but I knows how my business life is,” Mr Keating is quoted saying.

“Not even business acquaintances of mine, because like most things, I keep my affairs to myself.”

In January 1998, Colonial Insurance disclosed that Mr Keating had advised it on “long-term strategy in Asian markets”.

The same month, Mr Hawke was in China for Colonial’s competitor, National Mutual Insurance.

According to Mr Campbell, a Keating friend said: “Paul’s always been fascinated by power and money. He’s achieved significant power, but he’s never had enough money. It’s a concern for him… Hawke’s made money out of the racing industry and looking after the Chinese…”

Whether Mr Keating is as closely associated with to China as Mr Hawke remains unknown.

His name was more often linked to former Indonesian president Sukarto.

Former ANU academic, Professor Stephen FitzGerald AO, and Australia’s first Whitlam-appointed ambassador to China, has, since 1978, “run a consultancy for Australian companies in Asia, particularly China”.

Mr Campbell’s assessment includes highlighting the professor’s repeated expressions of “acceptance that China’s future strategic and regional hegemony [across Asia] was inevitable”.

When referring to Australia’s future and Chinese power projection, Mr Campbell quotes Professor FitzGerald: “That future will not be one in which the US, or any other power with which we share cultural heritage or processes or institutions, is the determining force in the part of the world in which we live.”

Mr Campbell qualifies this by saying that the professor’s “benign assessment of Chinese regional hegemony, however, is not shared by the US, Taiwan or Japan, which watch with apprehension  as China introduces the new generation of mobile nuclear missiles…[that] could target Australia in an arc from Brisbane to Perth.”

This involvement by Australians who once had access at the highest level to intelligence and other information prompts Mr Campbell to say there’s an urgent need for an Australian Foreign Agents Registration Act (AFARA).

Such as act, he says, should be drafted to “prevent witting or unwitting disclosure of Australian and US classified information”.

It would, among other things, “forbid former Australian intelligence officers, diplomats and analysts from being employed as consultants for a period of at least three years after the termination of their employment with the Australian government”.

Although ministerial codes on post-separation employment are common with other western governments, Australia has resisted adopting them.

There’s a tendency, when people like Andrew Campbell pioneer such a proposal in out-of-the-way Australia, for them to be condemned outright with claims that they’re seeing all sorts of things under all sorts of beds.

It has been a long time since State Scene last met Andrew Campbell, but one thing that’s certain is that he thinks long and hard before advocating measures to counter revamped Munzenburg-style shenanigans.

His pioneering article concludes with a section titled ‘The Dual Allegiance Dilemma’.

“The Chinese intelligence services are noted for their operational ruthlessness and could be driven to demand guidance and expertise from their Australian consultants or agents,” he writes.

“Over the past decade, a wave of Chinese defectors to Australia, Canada, Belgium and the USA have revealed Beijing’s aggressive intelligence collection and counter-intelligence operations.”

Mr Campbell says this is likely to be a growing rather than diminishing phenomenon in future and footnotes an earlier National Observer (Spring 2005, No. 66) article by Richard Bullivant; ‘Chinese Defectors Reveal Chinese Strategy and Agents in Australia’.

“The risk of dual allegiance is a national and international security challenge which the Australian Government, in consultation with the US administration, must counter by a mandatory AFARA,” Mr Campbell concludes.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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