Contents of the United States diplomatic cables leak (Australia)

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Content from the United States diplomatic cables leak has depicted Australia and related subjects extensively. The leak, which began on 28 November 2010, occurred when the website of WikiLeaks — an international new media non-profit organisation that publishes submissions of otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous news sources and news leaks — started to publish classified documents of detailed correspondence — diplomatic cables — between the United States Department of State and its diplomatic missions around the world. WikiLeaks was releasing documents each day since the initial release date, but published the entire collection unredacted following the partially accidental publication of the passphrase to the symmetrically encrypted GPG file WikiLeaks had placed online and provided to The Guardian. The journalists had published the passphrase as the title of a chapter in a book on the process of investigating and publishing the stories believing that the encrypted file had only been provided to them with that passphrase and not realising the entire encrypted file was still online.

Australia-China relations[edit]

During a meeting in March 2009, Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia, advised US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be in a position to use force against China "if everything goes wrong".[1]

Taiwan and Tibet[edit]

During that same meeting, Rudd described to Clinton that China was "paranoid" about Taiwan and Tibet, characterised Chinese leaders as "sub-rational and deeply emotional" in their reactions to Taiwan, and stated that the goal of his plan for an "Asia-Pacific Community" was envisaged to weaken China's authority in the region and curb its dominance in regional diplomatic institutions.[1]

Political controversy[edit]

Australian Senator Don Farrell, a South Australian right-wing factional Labor powerbroker, said he believes that Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia from 2010 to 2013, was gunning for the prime ministership a year before Rudd's personal support in the polls collapsed.[2]

War in Afghanistan[edit]

Rudd was critical of Australia's European allies in the Afghanistan campaign, accusing them of having "no common strategy for winning the war or winning the peace" and derided the contribution of France and Germany to the fight against the Taliban as "organising folk-dancing festivals".[3]

A cable from October 2008 recorded Rudd telling a group of visiting U.S. congressmen that "the national security establishment in Australia was very pessimistic about the long-term prognosis for Afghanistan".[4]

Australian special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ric Smith (a former secretary of the Australian Defence Department) described the mission in Afghanistan and Afghan government presence as a "wobbly three-legged stool". In December 2009 Smith questioned what the Australian Federal Police would be able to accomplish given the "train wreck" that they had to be given to work with in the Afghan National Police.[5]

Australian officials who briefed the U.S. embassy hinted at clashes between officials and ministers over its "apparent lack of progress".[3]

Australia-United States relations[edit]

Australian Senator Mark Arbib (Australian Labor Party) was in regular contact with and acted as a 'protected' source and confidential contact for the U.S. government, providing inside information and commentary on the workings of the government and the Labor Party to officers at the U.S. Embassy, Canberra.[6][7][8]

Review of the Rudd government[edit]

A review of the first twelve months of the Rudd government in December 2008 by Robert McCallum, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to Australia:

  • Comments that Rudd's diplomatic "missteps" largely arising from his propensity to make "snap announcements without consulting other countries or within the Australian government";
  • Notes the government's "significant blunders" began when the then-foreign minister, Stephen Smith said in February 2008 that Australia would not support strategic dialogue between Australia, the U.S., Japan and India out of deference to China (David Pearl, a Treasury official on Smith's staff in 2004, told U.S. diplomats he was "very smart but intimidated both by the foreign policy issues themselves and the knowledge that PM Rudd is following them so closely"); and
  • Refers to Rudd's "control freak" tendencies and "persistent criticism from senior civil servants, journalists and parliamentarians that Rudd is a micro-manager obsessed with managing the media cycle rather than engaging in collaborative decision making".[9]

In November 2009, the U.S. embassy delivered another assessment that:

  • Rudd dominated foreign-policy-decision making, "leaving his foreign minister to perform mundane, ceremonial duties and relegating the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to a backwater".
  • "Other foreign diplomats, in private conversations with us, have noted how much DFAT seemed to be out of the loop," and that "The Israeli ambassador Yuval Rotem told us that senior DFAT officials are frank in asking him what Rudd is up to and admit they are out of the loop."[9]


  1. ^ a b Flitton, Daniel (6 December 2010). "Explosive Wiki Rudd Cable". The Age. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  2. ^ Karvelas, Patricia (17 December 2010). "Julia Gillard Coveted Prime Ministership a Year Before Coup — WikiLeaks". The Australian (via Herald Sun). Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Dorling, Philip; McKenzie, Nick (10 December 2010). "Rudd: 'Scared as Hell'". The Age. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  4. ^ Staff writer (10 December 2010). "China Flash of Fury at Australian Military Boost: Cables"[permanent dead link]. Agence France-Presse (via Yahoo! News). Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  5. ^ Dorling, Philip; McKenzie, Nick (10 December 2010). "Afghanistan: Our Secret Fears". The Age. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  6. ^ Staff writer (9 December 2010). "Arbib Not a Spy: Shorten". Australian Associated Press (via The Sydney Morning Herald). Retrieved 11 December 2010.
  7. ^ Dorling, Philip (9 December 2010). "Arbib Revealed as Secret US Source". The Age. 11 December 2010.
  8. ^ Dorling, Philip (9 December 2010). "The American Friend: Arbib Secret Source". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
  9. ^ a b Dorling, Philip (8 December 2010). "US Condemns Rudd". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 December 2010.

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