Multi Function Polis defeated by a coalition of Far Left and Far Right

The MFP Saga: A Canberra Diary

Peter Myers, August 1, 2001; update December 12, 2009.

Write to me at contact.html.

You are at

(1) Introduction (2) The Wider Context (3) From Queensland to Adelaide and Back (4) Re-inventing Australia (5) The Switch from the Centralised to the Distributed Version (6) The Campaign in Canberra (7) Vallentine and the Nuclear Disarmament Party (8) Integration or Absorption?

(1) Introduction

From 1989 to 1991, there was a political movement in Australia which turned back the tide of Japan Inc in Australia. I was a part of that unusual movement, conducted by a small number of greens, communists and anti-communists in co-operation; my special role was to keep the Left and Right factions together, for otherwise the movement would have failed. The history of this movement has never been recorded.

Such temporary marriages between the "Stalinist" Old Left and the "One Nation" Right are embarrassing to both sides, dissolving as soon as their alliance has defeated the threat which brought them together. (The "Stalinist" Old Left looks to Chifley & the Australia of the 1950s & 60s as an economic model; the "Trotskyist" New Left has promoted Free Trade to destroy that national economy.) The same forces - "Stalinist" Old Left and "One Nation" Right - came together again later to defeat the "Republic" referendum, the Left being direct-electionist and the Right monarchist. Postwar Australia of the 50s & 60s was built on an enduring coalition of the same forces - public ownership and control combined with a degree of ethnic exclusiveness - until that "market socialism" was destroyed by the "internationalism" of the Whitlam Government in 1972. The push for Free Trade, i.e. the lowering of tariffs, began with "New Left" governments, Whitlam's in Australia and Kennedy's in America (hence the "Kennedy Round" of GATT talks).

In the last years of the Soviet Union, when America was desperately engaged in the Cold War, the Japanese Government put a proposal to the Australian Government, that the two parties build a special city in Australia, a city to focus and co-ordinate Japan's presence in this country, a city combining research, resort and managerial headquarters, an extraterritorial city partly controlled by the Japanese Government, a "Multi-Function Polis" (MFP).

Senator John Button, Australian Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce at the time, described how the proposal originated: "Mr Tamura, the Japanese industry minister, with whom I'd become friendly, raised the question of a 'Multi-Function Polis', an idea developed by MITI. Australia, he thought, might be an appropriate place for such a facility. ... It would be a symbol of the Australian and Japanese relationship in the new world of collaborative high technology" (John Button, As It Happened, p. 267). MITI is the Ministry of International trade and Industry, in Japan.

In his 1991 book on the MFP, Bonsai Australia Banzai, Gavan McCormack writes, "But at its core is the design to bring about a new dimension in the relationship with Japan, a 'special relationship'. ... If the plan goes ahead, it has the potential to make the Australian-Japan relationship of the 1970s and 1980s merely the prehistory to a future in which the level and character of Japanese involvement in Australia is dwarfed and transformed" (p. 34).

"When the Hawke Labor government first came to power in March 1983, it began by uttering sharp criticisms of Japan. Lionel Bowen, Deputy Prime Minister, complained that 'The Japanese must be laughing all the way to the Tokyo Bank, because they've been able to come in and control the resource development of this country' ... This mood was short-lived. The reality of the massive power imbalance was soon understood" (p. 35).

Expressing his disdain for public opinion, Button opined, "Unremarkable academics wrote flimsy books suggesting that the whole idea was sinister, another example of a subtle Japanese economic conspiracy to plant a Trojan horse in Australia" (As It Happened, p. 268).

Yet Yoshio Sugimoto had written, " ... highly considered and informed analysts, who have serious reservations about the MFP proposal, have often been reluctant to express their scepticism for fear of being labelled as racist" (Five Concerns About the MFP Project).

Despite the massive power imbalance, McCormack claims that, after the rejection of the Gold Coast MFP, MFP-Adelaide was a new proposal and an Australian project. After the public concern about the Gold Coast variant, the proposal had to be seen as "not Japanese": there was greater emphasis on participants from other parts of Asia, Europe and North America, and Australian futurists were put in the front seat. But were Japanese interests still back-seat drivers? Did the Australian futurists know where they were going? If the Japanese interests thought not, that may reflect their preference for the Gold Coast and Cairns areas. The selection of Adelaide promoted a switch from the centralised version, to the distributed version, which may well have been a way of including the Gold Coast after all.

After the failure of the MFP, McCormack wrote, "The Japanese government was not in the habit of drafting plans for sovereign governments ... anywhere else but Australia, such a proposal would have been rejected as intervention" (Bubble and Swamp, in Anthony Milner & Mary Quilty, Australia in Asia, OUP Melbourne 1998). McCormack notes that the Australian Government at the time was looking for a way of engaging Australia with Japan, a Japan awash with money, near the height of its stock-market bubble. In McCormack's overview of the project, the players (actors) are governments, diplomats, academics writing research papers, and the bubble itself, which was bursting when in December 1991 a Japanese mission visited Australia to make its final decision. Ordinary grassroots activists nowhere appear - they are invisible, ineffective, unmentionable. I have written this essay not to refute McCormack's history, but to complement it, giving a view from below; let posterity decide where the balance lies.

(2) The Wider Context

The task of intellectuals is to uncover - draw out, elucidate - things that are hidden - what Kinhide Mushakoji calls "occluded"; or alternatively, to cover up, in the service of vested interests. Mushakoji says that during the 1980s, Japan was building an "occluded" Greater East-Asia Co-prosperity sphere.

Mushakoji is a Japanese Professor whose work has been published by the Trilateral Commission and the United Nations. At the same time, he characterises the New World Order, promoted by the Trilateral Commission, as "the New Colonial Order" (see His paper Post-Modern Cultural Development in East Asia was published by Unesco in The Futures of Asian Cultures, Bangkok 1993. The following material, from Mushakoji Newsletter No.8 June 1997, written just before the "Asia Crisis", is very similar, at

'Nowadays, Japan does not officially claim to reproduce the concentric Pax Cinica as it did during the World War II. It is, however, the center with a concentric sub-contracting vertical division of labor. As was the case in the tributary Pax Cinica, Japanese ODA redistributes part of its accumulated "tribute" and covers part of the club goods of the region. Whereas the "Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere" (GEACS) was an official "project" of imperial/imperialist Japan, the present concentric vertical division created around Japan is, in a sense, the occluded GEACS. On the official discourse level, the Confucian concentric order idea is not professed as before, yet in the mind of the Japanese and of some of the East Asian NIE leaders such a model is kept secretly. The "gees flight" myth according to which Japan flies as the leading goose followed by the East Asian NIEs and their imitators is isomorphic with the concentric model with Japan as the center of the regional division of labor.'

Chalmers Johnson asked, where are the geese flying? To Los Angeles, he said, where America's imports were undoing its victory in WWII. But now, after the "Asia Crisis", it seems that Japan may be forced to exchange its trade surplus for monopoly money, which the Federal Reserve can print at will because the US Dollar is the world trading currency.

Mushakoji continues,

'This Japanese version of the concentric Pax Cinica, in both its overt and occluded versions, has a basic difference however with its Chinese model. Whereas in the latter case the tributary states on the periphery were able to keep their own cultures, in the Japanese concentric order this freedom is not tolerated. The occupied territories during the World War II were forced to adopt all the Japanese values including the cult of the Emperor. In the present concentric division of labor, the sub-contracting firms in the semi-periphery and the periphery are now "more politely" invited to learn Japanese management and quality control. The sub-contractors do not have to adopt the cult of the Japanese Emperor, but they are encouraged to develop the cult of the father company, some even singing the company anthem every morning! This highly hierarchical concept of social order, presented as a universal base of all virtues (faithfulness, dedication, self-abnegation, hard work), has been praised by the researchers looking for the causes of the East Asian "miracle" as more useful than the Western individualistic moral principles. It must be noted that these hierarchical values are hardly able to provide the ground to accept egalitarian values such as human rights.'

Mushakoji's concept of "occlusion" is related to Karl Marx's expression "false consciousness", but one can see it much earlier, in St Paul's exhortations to reveal the secret demonic powers at work in the world; and many centuries before Paul, Zarathustra (Zoroaster) was urging his followers to do the same. In all aboriginal religions, medicine men exorcise or cast out the malevolent forces in the same way. University academics in the humanities today see their role as "deconstructing" the hidden power structures, but in the process they seemed to have dissolved the social glue which kept us all together; unfortunately these same academics have erected their own power structures, whose "deconstruction" they resolutely resist.

In short, acknowledging the power structures seems to destroy them; that is why, in whatever social system one is in, those who attempt this revealing are resisted and persecuted. It follows that there can never be a utopia; yet we keep on trying to reveal what is hidden, and in this way, old structures are transcended and new ones created.

Consider Chalmers Johnson's analysis of the 1997 "Asia Crisis" (at johnson.html); is it not conspiratorial? This great illuminator of the Japanese miracle also revealed that the West has its own forms of occluded power structures even more sophisticated than those of Japan Incorporated. Taken together, Mushakoji and Johnson, these greatest of social scientists, agree that the power structures of both East Asia and the West are occluded. As disclosers of occluded structures, they are forced to work somewhat in the dark.

And who was at the head of the Western assault on the Japan model? None other than George Soros, described by Executive Intelligence Review as the visible face of the Rothschild money empire; even Johnson has not dared to shine his torch in that dark corner (EIR's special report on Soros, of April 1997, is called The True Story of Soros the Golem). Of course, Soros did not act alone; attacked by Mahathir, he was defended by Madeline Albright; and Samuel Huntington had led the "Aryan" wing of the assault with his article and book on the Clash of Civilizations. It's interesting to speculate on the links between the two wings.

George Soros wrote, in his book The Alchemy of Finance, "Japan has been accumulating assets abroard, while the United States has been amassing debts. ... President Reagan ... pursued the illusion of military superiority at the cost of rendering our leading position in the world economy illusory; while Japan wanted to keep growing in the shadow of the United States as long as possible. ... Japan has, in fact, emerged as the banker to the world" (1987; New Preface 1994, John Wiley & Sons, New York), p. 350.

Usurping Soros' own role, perhaps? Soros continues,

" ... the prospect of Japan's emerging as the dominant financial power in the world is very disturbing, not only from the point of view of the United States but also from that of the entire Western civilization" (p. 353).

"The United States and Britain are members of the same culture. This is not true of Japan. ... The Japanese think in terms of subordination. Contrast this with the notion that all men are created equal ... Japan is a nation on the rise; we have become decadent" (p. 354).

Such contrasts resembled Samuel Huntington's clash of civilizations article of 1993 and book of 1996, but Huntington was more concerned about China and Islam than Japan. Huntington was arguing against those envisaging a single civilisation for the whole world: his line was that the West is unique, not universal. If Soros is in the same camp as Huntington, then which is the force they are opposing? What is its name? Who is its face? Can one "discern its spirit"?

Soros expresses the same concerns, at a high level, that ordinary Australian were feeling, at a much lower level, during the MFP saga. The "Asia Crisis" was manipulated by Soros: soros.html, to bring down the "Asia Model": asia-crisis.html. It had the unfortunate side effect of hurting millions of innocent people. We MFP activists were purely defensive; we hurt no-one, we had no victims.

Gavin McCormack assumes that the bursting of Japan's bubble, from 1989 on, was a natural event, just part of the capitalist cycle. But was it? Patrick S. J. Cormack and Bill Still write, in their book The Money Masters: How International Bankers Gained Control of America (Royalty Production Company, 1998, pp. 73-4),

"{p. 73} Regulations put into effect in 1988 by the BIS {the Bank of International Settlements}, called the Basle Capital Adequacy Accord, required the world's bankers to raise their capital and reserves to 8% of liabilities by 1992. ... those nations with the lowest bank reserves in their systems have already felt the terrible effects of this credit contraction as

"{p. 74} their banks scrambled to raise money to increase their reserves to 8%. To raise the money, they had to sell stocks which depressed their stock markets and began the depression first in their countries. Japan, which in 1988 had among the lowest capital and reserve requirements, and thus was the most effected by the regulation - has experienced a financial crash which began almost immediately, in 1989, which has wiped out a staggering 50% of the value of its stock market since 1990, and 60% of the value of its commercial real estate. The Bank of Japan has lowered its interest rates to one-half of a percent - practically giving money away to resurrect the economy, but still the depression worsens".

Was the Basle Accord aimed at Japan especially? Why did Japan accept it? David Grover wrote,

'Japan's ... ability wield financial influence over the United States was actually quite limited. The U.S. still had the structural power to "set the menu" of international banking. ... pressure to pass the Basle Accord ... came from American and British bankers who claimed 'under-capitalized' Japanese banks were pinching their business unfairly. ...

'The problem facing the U.S. was to devise a strategy for placing the issue high on other states' agendas. A bilateral agreement on capital standards with Britain served this purpose nicely, as Britain shared many of the same concerns about its international bank competitiveness. Now, Japan and other countries were facing the possibility of a "zone of exclusion" disadvantageous to their international banks. Japan was now facing a unified Britain and U.S., and they were forced to come to the negotiating table. ...

'However, Japan's financial power in the late 1980s cannot simply be dismissed. Most strikingly, by 1985, it had emerged as the world's largest creditor. ... However, it is increasingly recognized that Japan's creditor status has not in fact brought an enormous increase in power to the Japanese State. The biggest limitation on translating this creditor status into power is that the majority of funds have been lent to a country ? the United States ? on which Japan is heavily dependent, both militarily and economically ... '

Might the MFP have freed Japan from that dependency? It that why it was "essential"?

See David Grover's analysis at basle.html; try putting "basle accord 1988 japan" into a search engine, e,g.

Huntington's associate Owen Harries applied the Clash theory directly to Australia, in The Australian newspaper of April 3, 1993. Huntington's clash with the Keating Government was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of June 6, 1995. And in the wake of the "Asia Crisis", the Australian Financial Review of March 6, 1998 carried an article titled "Triumph of the West", by Barry Buzan and Gerald Segal which, after discussing Huntington, said, 'Australia's search for acceptance as an East Asian state is equally fruitless and all the more absurd for a state seeking to "escape" the west. (The recent Asian melt-down may make the Australians think again.)'

During the "Asia Crisis", One Nation leader Pauline Hanson opposed Australia's aid to Thailand, when the appriate stance would have been to join forces with Mahathir & co against the financiers and Free Traders who harmed not only East Asia but Australia too.

(3) From Queensland to Adelaide and Back

There were separate campaigns against the MFP in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia; our network based in Canberra linked up these disparate campaigns, enabling us to support one another and keep each other up to date.

Our coalition was formed to defeat the Multi-Function Polis (MFP) in all its manifestations, but especially MFP Adelaide, which became the chosen site after the Gold Coast was rejected.

The irony is that, although fearing and resisting Japan, many of us also admired it. Any expansionist power threatens its neighbours, whether this be the British Empire swallowing one land after another, the American and Australian settlers swallowing the first nations, Nazi Germany swallowing Czechoslovakia and Poland, the USSR expanding into Afghanistan, NATO obliterating Iraq and Yugoslavia, or Israel engulfing its neighbours to fulfil Genesis 15:18.

The New World Order itself now seems so threatening, that I wonder if we did the right thing, turning Japan back. If only the Japanese had been less hierarchical, treating others more equally, some genuine co-operation might have been possible; perhaps it still is. At the weekly trash-and-treasure market in Canberra that I visit from time to time, there is a stall operated by some Japanese migrants who have a farm two hours' drive away, where they grow vegetables without chemical poisons. They are courteous and pleasant people, and their stall is well patronised. Because these people do not form a ghetto, and are not a wing of some overseas government, they are welcomed by the locals. Australians don't mind diversity, provided there is unity too; most don't want the racial tension promoted by the Trotskyists, with their "open borders" policy.

To limit the scope of this paper, and because the Left is embarrassed by its coalitions with the Right, I have decided to leave most of the details on our movement buried, including the names of activists, only bringing to light what is necessary to challenge McCormack's "writing us out" of the historical record. This essay is not a substitute for a study of the campaigns in the individual states, but concentrates on how they were linked up to become nodes in our network. In a sense, it is my own personal diary of events, yet I was just one of many nodes in the network.

Timing was critical in the whole saga:

1. If the governments had signed binding contracts before the March 1990 federal election, then the MFP might have gone ahead at the Gold Coast. However, the ALP might have lost the election through it.

2. The 1990 election highlighted the matter, cutting off some options to the proponents. Andrew Peacock deserves the credit for this, although his identification of the problems left a lot to be desired. Most Australian newspapers of March 20, 1990 reported on the MFP as an issue in the 1990 federal election.

3. Then the Gold Coast campaigners, led by Bruce Whiteside, shut off that option, leaving Adelaide as preferred choice. The credit for this goes to the Gold Coast campaigners, Wayne Goss (for not bulldozing it through as Joh might have done), and John Bannon (for believing his own propaganda). This choice made the project less likely, because the Japanese proponents wanted the Queensland coast as their site(s).

4. The economic depression then shut off the supply of funds.

The Australian of April 12, 1990 reported that Professor Ross Garnaut of the Australian National University, who as an economic adviser had led the attack on the postwar "market socialist" economy, 'blamed the right-wing League of Rights "and their equivalent on the Left of Australian politics"' for making the MFP an election issue; '... the planned space-age, Japanese-Australian city was still merely an idea that had been given "concrete form by people wishing to make a scare campaign about it".'

One of our Left activists told me that even Bruce Whiteside's Heart of a Nation movement, formed to counter the Gold Coast MFP, "had a couple of Maoists in it", who "would keep him in line", i.e. moderate any ethnic chauvinism. One Nation emerged from Whiteside's movement; after he fell out with Pauline Hanson, he accused her of hijacking it. However, during the anti-MFP campaign, Hanson was unknown; our network could deal with Whiteside, but Hanson would have been beyond us.

The MFP (Multi-Function Polis), born in 1987, died in 1991. From 1987 to 1991, Australians were repeatedly told by public leaders from the universities, government and big business, that it was "inevitable"; many books and glossy brochures were produced, pronouncing it an icon of the new era in Australia, an era of integration into Asia. Prime Minister Bob Hawke himself denounced opponents. We were commonly called racists and xenophobes; but the fact that I had an Asian wife made it hard for them to pin those labels on me. The acrimony of these accusations is hard to believe now, when most Australians have forgotten that the whole issue ever existed. Millions of dollars were wasted on it.

Yet there was always an undercurrent in Australia's Asia policy: at the same time as Prime Minister Bob Hawke was playing ping-pong matches with China's leaders, the new Chinese embassy in Canberra was being thoroughly bugged, quite possibly on behalf of MI6. The UKUSA Pact, with its Echelon spy system, was there all along, unknown to us all; poor fools we were.

Early in the campaign, a Japanese Australian, Professor Yoshio Sugimoto, joined the campaign against the MFP, with his paper Five Concerns About the MFP Project. Another prominent Leftist, Humphrey McQueen, made critical commentaries but stopped short of outright opposition.

Japanese interests clearly preferred the Gold Coast, the mecca for Japanese holiday-makers in Australia, as the site for the MFP; but their buying it up in advance ("Japanese already own land for MFP", Courier Mail, May 25, 1990; "Japanese sew up Surfers", The Australian, June 16, 1990) pre-empted the official decision, and caused an embarrassing backdown, which led to other sites being touted, widening the campaign to be Australia-wide.

Although the MFP Joint Steering Committee chose the Gold Coast site on June 14, 1990, on June 18 the Queensland Government announced that it would not spend the $300 million or more required to puchase the remaining privately-owned land at the site (The Age, June 19, 1990). As a result, on June 19, Adelaide was named as the successful site (McCormack, Bonsai Australia Banzai, pp. 51-2).

Western Australia had withdrawn its bid on May 15 (The West Australian, May 16), and Victoria soon after: "Concerns within the Victorian ALP Left that the project would be elitist and create a Japanese enclave close to the city forced the Victorian Government to revise its position on the MFP ... " (The Australian, May 18, 1990). The same article also reported, "The Multi-Function Polis could be split between the States with a central core controlling technology sectors around the country, according to the Federal Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, Senator Button".

Even after the selection of Adelaide, the preference for Queensland remained clear.

"Japanese to build $250 mini-city", The Courier Mail reported on August 2, 1990: "A Japanese woodchip company plans a $250 million mini-city for 20,000 people on 1000ha near Kingscliff, northern New South Wales", very near the Gold Coast. The Australian of August 4, 1990 ran a story "Japanese plan second mini-city in northern NSW", which stated, "Japanese woodschipping company Narui Norin Co Ltd said it would start work on a $250 million mini-city at Kingscliff, 12km south of the NSW-Queensland border ... ". On December 2, 1990, The Courier Mail announced ("Japanese city for Tweed") that the project would cost $1700 million and take 10 years.

On August 5, under the heading "New drive for Coomera city", The Sunday Mail reported, "Multi-Function Polis champion Mr Geoff Burchill is determined to press ahead with plans for a futuristic city at Coomera. The Gold Coast head of the 2020 Syndicate will be competing against the Federal Government's approved MFP site in Adelaide".

The Courier Mail of September 3 reported, 'A Queensland tourist development company plans to spend about $1 billion building a resort on east Cape York, employing about 2000 staff and catering to about 3000 tourists - from backpackers to the very rich. Farndale Ltd yesterday said a "resort city" would be built at Lloyd Bay, east of Weipa and 480 kn north of Cairns ... the Cape York space port would be a bonus'.

On September 17, 1990, The Courier Mail ran a story "North aims for high-tech polis", stating, "A North Queensland syndicate will seek Japanese and Hong Kong funding to establish a small high-tech city near Townsville".

And The Austrlian of January 15, 1991, under the heading "Japanese plan housing for 10,000", reported, "Japanese developers are moving to build estates for a total of about 10,000 people in north Queensland after buying huge tracts of farmland".

(4) Re-inventing Australia

Before Japan's bubble burst, in a euphoria reminiscent of a cargo cult, many wild ideas for the MFP were put forward by "Consultants", including building an artificial mountain for space launches. McCormack writes,

"The space industry proposal (understood from Japanese sources to have been incorporated in the MITI text at the insistence of the construction company Hazama Gumi) was described in a front page report in Sydney Morning Herald on 9 June 1988. It was to feature the construction of a veritable mountain, 2.1 kilometres high, which a special linear motor would approach from a 5 kilometre runway until it reached sufficient speed near the summit to 'catapult' its rocket into space" (Bonsai Australia Banzai, p. 40).

The Sunday Age of September 30, 1990, even reported, under the heading "Japan wants jet site here", "The Woomera rocket range in South Australia could become the testing site for the controversial new Japanese FSX fighter aircraft. ... The South Australian Premier, John Bannon ... played down the possibility of military research at the MFP, but said the future city could benefit from its proximity to State defence research and manufacturing projects."

At the same time as the Australian National University in Canberra was being de-funded, and forced to close courses and faculties, the Federal Government was planning to fund a major infrastructure development at MFP-Adelaide. Further, the MFP's proposed University was to be partly funded and run from overseas, and was to be called a "World" University, whereas ANU is called a "National" University. To some extent, then, the proposed MFP "World University" would usurp ANU as Australia's leading research facility.

The meaning of this upstaging, is that the MFP would be re-inventing Australia: the old Australia was being de-legitimated as racist, and the MFP was to be the foundation and organising centre of a new Australia. Senator Button himself referred to it as a new icon to replace the Snowy Mountains Scheme as a symbol:

"Australians relied on the Snowy Mountains Scheme as our great example of national collaborative effort. People were not comfortable with the notion of a high-tech city of the future" (John Button, As It Happened, p. 268).

The MFP would thus mark the transition from the Old Left to the New Left - from the "Stalinism" of the postwar years, to "Trotskyism". Hence, "Stalinists" and "One Nation" types temporarily united in opposition to it, my role being keeping them together.

The Institude of Advanced Studies at the Australian National University is Australia's premier research facility, its Oxford. Yet so fearful were the academics in the climate of political correctness, that these lions were as mice.

Professor John Sandiman was an exception. His shock-wave tunnel at the Research School of Physical Sciences (ANU), one of only three in the world, was scheduled for closure through reduction in federal funding. He was a feature speaker at one of our meetings against the MFP.

Our movement held two public meetings in Canberra. At the first, on October 11, 1990, there was a full house. Here is a copy of one of the posters advertising this meeting, showing Sir Mark Oliphant as a speaker: oliphant2.jpg. Whereas the other three speakers spoke against the project, Professor Gavan McCormack was invited to give a variant point of view; supporters and opponents each regarded him as being on the other side.

Early on, the Japanese proponents had invited McCormack's comments, and taken up his "green" suggestions to make the project more palatable. McCormack's apparently contradictory position can be explained as approval of Asianisation and of this project in principle, but strong disapproval of many of the details; as a result he appeared to oscillate between support and opposition. Details that worried him included the hierarchic and exploitative aspects of Japanese corporate culture, the yakuza presence on the Gold Coast, and utopian flights of fantasy. The proponents themselves seemed unable to distinguish between sensible ideas, and wild ones like building an artificial mountain for space launches. In this way, the proponents were their own worst enemy, and their idealistic language reminded McCormack of the rhetoric underlying Manchukuo.

McCormack accepted MFP-Adelaide as a new proposal, "distinctly different" from the earlier Gold Coast one, "radically changed", "Australian, not Australian-Japanese" (Bubble and Swamp, op. cit., pp. 70-71), and on this basis offered qualified support for it.

John Harwood, an Adelaide academic, disputed such claims in his paper Unsafe At Any Site: The Case Against MFP-Adelaide: "Ever since the selection of the Gillman site, the South Australian Government has insisted on the difference between 'MFP-Adelaide' and the original MITI proposal. It has tended to respond to questions about the nature and extent of Japanese corporate-sector involvement with accusations of racism. In high-profile media releases, MFP-Adelaide is represented as thoroughly South Australian, whereas in the SA Government's own submission, and in other less-publicised but equally accessible official statements, it has emphasised the pivotal role of the Japanese contribution. As a public relations exercise, this has again backfired."

In 1990, the Multifunction Polis Feasibility Study was issued, a grey soft-covered report widely distributed to interested persons; its subtitle was Report by the Joint Steering Committee to the Australian and Japanese Governments.

After MFP Adelaide folded, Professor Ted Wheelwright expressed regret to me that it had not proceeded. Wheelwright called it, as I recall, "a pity"; he had earlier expressed concerns about Japanese domination in his book The Third Wave, co-authored with Abe David, but he saw the MFP as a counter to domination from Wall Street. Australian independence, as advocated by Wheelwright, required a careful balancing between the two; Wheelwright has confirmed to me that this was his position. We opponents regarded Australia's leaders as incapable of such sophistication: the MFP saga itself was evidence of their incompetence. We thought they had the balance wrong, and were just transferring us from one colonial master to another.

(5) The Switch from the Centralised to the Distributed Version

McCormack makes no reference to the fine details of the 1991 13-volume Report, of which one volume, MFP-ADELAIDE MANAGEMENT BOARD REPORT ON THE FEASIBILITY OF MFP-ADELAIDE (not the "Overview" one) says, on p. 5-2: "MFP-Adelaide will be the first of many projects to be undertaken throughout Australia as a result of the MFP process, and will involve a wide variety of institutions, companies and organizations".

This text confirmed that the proponents had switched from the Centralised version, preferred in the earlier Anderson Kinhill Report of December 1989, to the Distributed version rejected then, without any explanation; nor was this fact noted in the mass-produced "Overview" volume mailed to participants in the public "consultation".

Clem Doherty, a consultant with of McKinsey & Co who had written an earlier report on the MFP, had first told me of the switch when I met him in Sydney on the weekend of February 20-21, 1991. As Minister in charge of the MFP, Button wrote of Doherty's role: "A task force was appointed and, under the leadership of its chief executive Denis Gastin, and with imaginative input from people like Clem Doherty at McKinsey ... " (John Button, As It Happened, pp. 267-8). I knew Doherty because we both went to the same school in Sydney; he first told me about the MFP at the 40th birthday party of a mutual friend, in Canberra in mid 1988; at the time he joked that Japanese interests had told him they "wanted to buy Queensland". Daniel Burstein, whose book YEN: The Threat of Japan's Financial Empire was published in October 1988, was reported saying the same, in The Australian of April 10, 1989: "What the Japanese really want, according to visiting United States author Daniel Burstein, is Queensland ... all of it".

When I told Doherty, at our meeting in 1991, that I knew Gavan McCormack, he cut off all contact with me: thus illustrating that each side thought McCormack was on the other side.

One of our activists obtained a copy of the Draft Minutes of the meeting of the MFP Community Consultation Panel on 24 April 1991. It reads:

"Agenda Item 6 - Management Board's Final Report

6.1 Release - Timing and Implications for Panel's Consultation Timetable

... Mr McCarthy added that the Minister is keen to emphaise (sic) the national nature of the project in the sense of a national development strategy. Adelaide could be seen as the first cab off the rank but not so central a focus as to claim opportunities that can be pursued elsewhere in Australia."

On June 4, 1991, Button launched of McCormack's book Bonsai Australia Banzai at the National Press Club; a publisher's notice about the launch is at bonsai-launch.jpg. At the launch, I asked Button about the switch to the distributed version; somewhat taken aback that I knew of it, he admitted the change. No wonder the public mistrusted its leaders.

On June 5, 1991, the day after my discussion with Senator Button, I made the following record of our conversation:

PM: 'It seems to me that there's been a switch from the centralised concept to the distributed concept. You've been quoted as referring to MFP-Adelaide as "the first cab off the rank".'

JB: 'There has been a switch.'

PM: 'Very few people seem to know about it.'

JB: 'The governments know about it. Some details are still being worked out, that's why there has been no announcement yet.'

The switch is apparent by comparing the Anderson-Kinhill Report of December 1989 with the 1991 13-volume Report on MFP-Adelaide. The Anderson-Kinhill Report was titled Multifunction Polis Joint Feasibility Study - Consultancy final Report. The volumes of the 1991 Report had a variety of names:

¥ MFP-ADELAIDE MANAGEMENT BOARD REPORT ON THE FEASIBILITY OF MFP-ADELAIDE - AN OVERVIEW ... May 1991. This "Overview" Report was sent to community groups who had made submissions; it contains little of importance. It was also called PEOPLE, TECHNOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT.


¥ MFP-ADELAIDE Preliminary Social Impact Assessment April 1991

The Anderson-Kinhill Report 1989 states, "So far as it is possible to generalise, it is unlikely that a place of much less than 200,000 people would be seen as having sufficient scale to warrant significant international investor participation" (Section 1, p.20).

Whereas the MFP-ADELAIDE Preliminary Social Impact Assessment April 1991 says, "Initial predictions of population increase now appear optimistic. Forecasts of population increase of 100,000 people over 30 years have now given way to scenarios of between 20,000 and 40,000 permanent residents on the core site ... " (p. 4-2). No explanation was provided for the change.

Anderson-Kinhill 1989 says, "a workforce composed substantially, of international, highly skilled workers attracted to work in the MFP" (Section 5, Page 5).

Whereas the MFP-ADELAIDE Preliminary Social Impact Assessment April 1991 says, "It should be noted that the MFP will not in any significant way change the ethnic diversity which already exists in South Australia" (p. 5-1).

Anderson-Kinhill 1989, although preferring the single-city version, stated,

'In the Australian view, the MFP is a set of desirable activities that may or may not be bound spatially, depending on the requirements of activities. The link between the activities might be "physical", as in a high speed train connection between R & D centres, or the link might be "virtual", as with a sophisticated communications and information network' (Section 1, Page 14).

'Spatial analysis conducted in the Site Ranking phase of work concluded that the Australian perspective suggests an opposing outcome to the Japanese perspective: "...locations which are efficient for private sector led development, and which will foster cultural diversity are more likely to be found within major metropolitan areas. The scale of Australian geography, the spatial distribution of the population within it and the political imperatives arising therefrom also imply an MFP at more than one location ... " ' (Section 1, Page 15, emphasis added).

'The unified MFP Concept describes the spatial configuration of the Multifunction Polis as a single site in a major metropolitan area or a limited number of sites in a number of metropolitan areas. Small specialist nodes linked with the major centre or centres are also considered possible. Here too, the Concept combines aspects of the Japanese perspective - the MFP as a place - with elements of the Australian perspective - the MFP in existing metropolitan areas' (Section 1, Page 18).

'International investors also rejected ideas that the MFP could have multiple or networked sites. They stressed the need to focus, at least initially, on a single and major MFP location for international investment' (Section 1, Page 20, emphasis added).

The switch to the decentralised version may have been prompted by the controversy in the 1990 federal election, and the selection of Adelaide; Kinhill continued to work as Consultants for the MFP Management Board.

(6) The Campaign in Canberra

For our second public meeting in Canberra, on August 6, 1991 we hired the Albert Hall. The meeting was on a cold, wintry night, yet in view of the importance of the issue, we expected a reasonable attendance; instead, there were, as I recall, about twelve people in the hall that night, including the speakers and organisers. The speakers were Sir Mark Oliphant, Professor Sandiman, Senator John Coulter, and myself.

In my speech, which I read, I said, 'I call on Senator Button to come clean with the Australian people: give us the big picture. One sentence in the recent report, one sentence in 13 volumes, says "MFP-Adelaide will be the first of many projects to be undertaken throughout Australia as a result of the MFP process". Documents in our possession show that Senator Button has referred to MFP-Adelaide as "the first cab off the rank"'. This important detail was absent from the smaller report sent to the public. Even though the hall was nearly empty, one attendee, who happened to be the Federal Secretary of the Naval Association, arranged to circulate my speech widely, via an ex-services newsletter distributed to thousands.

I personally picked up Sir Mark Oliphant, one of the most respected Jews in Australia, at his home in Canberra, brought him to the event, and took him home afterwards. Here is a copy of one of the posters advertising this meeting, showing Sir Mark and myself as speakers: oliphant1.jpg.

Sir Mark, a foundation scientist on the Manhattan Project, and later Governor of South Australia, shared my concerns about the MFP project, and had the spine, unlike many others, to break through the political correctness. He wrote, in a letter to Minister John Button, "As a result of long experience of British, American, Canadian, and many European Universities and industries, such as MIT, Cal.Tech, Bell Telephone Laboraties, Eastman (Kodak), GEC Schenectady, Phillips Eindhoeven; together with my experience of directing the development of microwave generators and radar systems, and of many aspects of the development in England and America of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons, I can assure you that the MFP is not the way to gain or exchange technological, manufacturing, or background industrial knowledge or know-how. ... There is too much real work to be done to spend the large sums envisaged on a will o' the wisp." The letter is dated August 1, 1991; he spoke on August 6, 1991. I recall that he gave me my copy of the letter, on the night of that meeting, and he authorised me to use it.

After MFP Adelaide was abandoned, the Canberra Times of July 28, 1992, carried a report, 'Some of the nation's biggest technology organisations, including IBM, BHP, Telecom and the CSIRO, met with Canberra academics and Federal Government representatives yesterday to discuss a plan to make Canberra the nation's "technopolis" within 10 years ... the ACT could gain what Adelaide might have gained from its failed Multifunction Polis, but without the high costs involved as Canberra already had much of the needed infrastructure'. When I pointed out, in a Letter to the Editor, that this new variant came from the same proponents who had backed MFP Adelaide to the hilt, it disappeared.

Although there were similar efforts in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, I have concentrated on Canberra to show that the capital city had not abandoned the Australian people. Gaining support in Canberra was important because the pro-MFP lobby were depicting regional opponents as uneducated and parochial. Sir Mark Oliphant played an important part in our campaign, showing that opposition was rational; I wish to express my gratitude to him.

Senators John Coulter and Jo Vallentine supported us throughout the campaign. Our network of activists around the country kept in touch via regular teleconferences run from the Senate, in the office of Senator Coulter and on Senator Vallentine's telephone account. Towards the end of 1991, we were informed that authorities in Parliament House were disallowing Senator Vallentine from continuing this arrangement; however, we managed to get one last teleconference before wrapping up; by that time, we had done our job, placing an advertisement in the "early general news" section of The Australian of December 2, 1991, when a high-ranking Japanese delegation was visiting and making its final decision. The advertisement cost us $759, a big amount for us, whereas the "Yes" case had millions of dollars of tax-payers' and multinational companies' money behind it.

The Australian of the same day carried a report, "About 50 Japanese business and industry leaders arrived in Adelaide yesterday on a mission that could determine the level of success of the multi-function polis. The success of the mission ... is seen as vital in securing Japanese funds, without which it would be at risk."

(7) Vallentine and the Nuclear Disarmament Party

I had earlier helped Senator Vallentine, but she did not know it. In 1984, as a member of the Canberra branch of the Nuclear Disarmament Party, I helped the Party avoid a damaging split during the 1984 Federal election. In that election, the Australian Labor Party, fearing that Peter Garrett, the rock singer who had become the NDP's lead candidate, would be elected for the NDP in New South Wales, directed preferences against him; but, the focus being on Garrett, Jo Vallentine was elected in Western Australia.

After the election, the Nuclear Disarmament Party Sydney Newsletter, March 1985, made the split in the party public, reporting that Trotskyists from the Socialist Workers Party were trying to take over the NDP by entryism and block-voting. The Australian of April 29, 1985 carried a front-page story, "'Raiding party' saw chance to take over". Garrett and Vallentine quit the party, claiming that they were being undermined by these block-voting Trotskyists allied with Canberra leader Michael Denborough, who resented their higher public profile. The story of how the Trotskyists destroyed the NDP is at trots-ndp.html.

The 1984 election campaign was conducted while Ronald Reagan was promoting his Star Wars project, and the NDP forced Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke to fight on two fronts. After the election, when Reagan pressured Hawke to allow MX missile tests in the Tasman Sea, counter-pressure from the NDP forced - or allowed - Hawke to desist; Hawke has recently claimed the credit for that himself, when advising current leaders to resist similar pressure from George W. Bush. In an address to the ALP on May 8, 2001, Hawke said, "Ronald Reagan pleaded with me for Australia to support Star Wars. I refused and the relationship survived":

During the 1984 election campaign, I provided Denborough with old newspaper articles about Hawke. The Sydney Daily Telegraph of February 16, 1974, carried a huge headline "HAWKE: I'D A-BOMB ARABS", and reported, 'The ACTU President, Mr Hawke, said yesterday that if he were the Israeli Prime Minister he would drop an atomic bomb on invading Arabs. ... Mr Hawke argued with Mr Hartley and Mr MacMullin. Slamming the table in emphasis, Mr Hawke repeatedly told them, "If I were the Israeli Prime Minister I would use the bomb on the Arabs."'

The Sydney Morning Herald carried a similar report on February 18, 1974, and Channel 9 ran TV skits on the theme on February 18 & 19. Hawke sued Channel 9, but did not sue the Telegraph or the SMH, suggesting that their stories were correct; the whole episode was reported in The Australian of December 13 & 14, 1974. It took me hours of searching to find these reports after so many years. An image of the Daily Telegraph's front page is at hawke.jpg.

NDP leaders told me that Peter Garrett vetoed the use of this material in New South Wales, not wanting to puncture the Hawke mystique; but I was told that the Western Australian branch had used it - that the Telegraph's front page was shown on TV in Western Australia - and I believe that this must have helped Vallentine get in.

(8) Integration or Absorption?

On August 9, 1991, I had a meeting with the Third Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, Mr Hideki Yamaji, and an associate of his, Mr Osama Hayakawa, at a Japanese restaurant in Kingston (Canberra); we each paid a third of the bill. Mr Yamaji spoke of the need to liberalise Australian tariffs, and the benefits of foreign investment; I enquired why Japan itself restricted imports and foreign investment, and pointed out that Australia had had a sequence of colonial relationships, with Britain, the US and Japan, from which the Australian people sought to escape.

On December 6, 1991, The Australian ran a story "Japan mission pulls plug on MFP investment".

Two or three months after our advertisement in The Australian, I received a telephone call from The Australian, saying that the Japanese Embassy had enquired who placed this advertisement: would it be ok to give them my name and phone number? Certainly, I said; and better still, could I also have the name and phone number of the person who enquired? Upon receiving this, I rang the said person at the Japanese Embassy, and explained that our real target had been the Australian politicians who were wrecking this country, and that we were sorry if others had been hurt in the crossfire.

On January 24, 1992, The Australian reported a new proposal to build a city called Pacifica in the desert near Broome: "Japan plans 300,000-people regional centre in our desert". Senator Button had been right about the MFP being "the first cab off the rank"; but this project, like the MFP, never got off the ground. My article Pacific City: Lessons From the MFP is at pacific.html.

McCormack agrees with Mushakoji that Japan was building a covert Co-Prosperity Sphere in Asia during the 1980s, but denies that the MFP or Pacific City were part of it or in any way connected.

Yet The Australian's report of the Pacifica (Pacific City) proposal, of January 24, 1992, reads, "An extraordinary plan to build a multi-billion dollar city of 300,000 people in the Great Sandy Desert in north-west Australia is being drawn up by Japan's largest construction and engineering company. The plan, being developed by Shimizu Corporation in consultation with Japanese academics, is for the 'environmentally friendly' city to become the international headquarters of a future Pacific economic community - the equivalent of Brussels and the European Economic Community".

In February 1992, while in Japan, McCormack wrote an article titled Pacific City, in which he stated, "At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development scheduled for Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 - the 'Earth Summit' - Japan will be expected to make a major contribution to dealing with accumulated environmental problems. In the most detailed draft of the plan for the Australian desert development, the city is projected as a possible Japan-Australia headquarters of a 'Pacific Community', housing the organs which would be devoted to promoting economic development and free trade throughout the region. It would be for the nascent Pacific Community what Brussels is for the European Community."

Is this "Regional Integration", or absorption into a covert Co-Prosperity Sphere?

Under the Whitlam Government, Australia embarked on a course of rejecting the European ("white") empires of the past, and embracing the indigenous peoples of the Pacific. Gough Whitlam presented this vision in his 1981 book A Pacific Community, to which Ezra Vogel contributed the Foreword. Whitlam noted that modern Japan has consistently seen the Western Pacific as a unit: "Japan sees the importance of the Western Pacific as a region" (p. 79). The term "Western Pacific", as compared with "Asia Pacific" - as in "APEC" - hints at a conflict, for APEC includes not only the Western Pacific, but the Eastern Pacific, including the United States, as well, and this reduces Japan's hegemony within that grouping.

The MFP saga showed that Whitlam's Western Pacific policy foundered when new, non-white empires emerged in the region. East Timor suffered for being in the middle, and Whitlam's own reputation has come undone over that issue. Did we detest our own past so much, that we would shift from one master to another? What would have been the fate of tribal aborigines, had we made such a shift? Would they fare better or worse?

Write to me at contact.html.