Australian National Archives release Loans Affair documents

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Saturday, January 1, 2005

The National Archives of Australia have, as part of their standard document release cycle, released thirty year old documents from the Whitlam government.

The centre piece of the 1974 archives are a series of documents from the Australian Cabinet and the Treasury pertaining to the attempt to obtain a $US4 billion loan by the Whitlam government from the Middle East. The obtaining of these loans and the scandal generated became collectively known as the "Loans Affair," and contributed significantly towards the dismissal of the Whitlam government by Sir John Kerr the following year.

The documents from Treasury, which include descriptions of both the loan itself and the people involved in arranging them, are scathing. The "Points that might be made" document of December 13, 1974 clearly states that Treasury believed the distinct possibility that the loans might be part of "a confidence trick of major proportions". Minutes from another meeting five days later state the "incredulity" on the part of the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York regarding the viability of the loan.

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


various. "1974 Cabinet Records" — National Archives of Australia, January 1, 2005