Thursday, November 06, 2014



William "Bill" Hartley (1930-2006) was an Australian hardcore ALP Victorian Socialist Left heavy hitter, who developed close links to the Arab world and was a supporter of the Palestinian cause. He was also tight with the Gadaffi regime of Libya (1969-2012). 

According to a declassified Australian Security Intelligence (ASIO) file, Hartley placed a phone call on 15 March 1973 to the Yugoslav Consul General in Melbourne, Stanisa Cvetkovic, wanting to speak with him. Cvetkovic was on a plane flight to Canberra.

The receptionist disclosed Cvetkovic's whereabouts to Hartley; she asked Hartley not to reveal her indiscretion !

Hartley's call  coincidently was a day before Attorney General Lionel Murphy's raid on the Melbourne ASIO heaquarters in 1973. link to further story

The raids on ASIO were conducted in light of the visit of the Yugoslav Prime Minister Djemal Bijedic on 20 March 1973.

Hartley during the phone call made a big song and dance about how he was close to the Yugoslav Embassy in Canberra, in particular the First Secretary.

Was Hartley tipped off by Murphy's office in advance? Was the Yugoslav Consulate General in Melbourne also aware of the raid before hand, which would explain Cvetkovic getting out of town and heading to the Yugoslav Embassy in Canberra? This can only be speculation, wild speculation at this point. Or there is an innocent explanation, in that prepartions were being conducted for the impending visit to Australia by Yugoslav Prime Minister Djemal Bijedic on 20 March 1973. (Bijedic is pictured below with Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam-on the right of photo).

Interestingly, another de-classified ASIO document, an intercept, reveals there was a phone call from a staff member from Senator Murphy's office wanting to speak with Franjo Rukavina, Cvetkovic's deputy at the Yugoslav Consulate General in Melbourne, on 19 April 1973, a month after the ASIO raids. The recepetionist would not give out Rukavina's private home number.

One of the key foreign policy objectives of Australia's Prime Minister Gough Whitlam (1972-75) was to develop links with Tito's Yugoslavia, who in turn had excellent relations via the Non-Aligned Nations Movement with Arab countries such as Libya and Iraq.

In 1975 Hartley together with Australia's Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and ALP National Secretary David Combe raised $500,000 election campaign funds from the Iraqi regime but the money never arrived--a middleman embezzled the cash ! see link for further story

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