One-sided view of history

The Australian
6th January 2006

Mike Steketee correctly points out ("Loans affair is not the whole story",Opinion,5/1) that the 1975 cabinet documents released by National Archives provide little indication of the traumatic events of that year and, astonishingly, nothing related to the loans affair that came to a head in 1975. Moreover, for the third year in a row Archives allowed Whitlam to present a totally incorrect picture of the actions of his government.

Any future historian trying to establish an accurate picture of the substantive events of a year that experienced a real economic and political crisis would not find it if he relied on the archival release, let alone the statements by Whitlam. His failure to explain how, in the absence of Senate passage of appropriations legislation, he could legally have used any of the borrowings he sought from banks makes nonsense of claims by Steketee that he was "a stickler for constitutional traditions and conventions".

This raises the question of what role the Archives are supposed to be performing. It is surely about time that the Minister responsible for them provided an explanation of how the agency for which he is responsible is allowed to continue to present a one-sided view of history.