“To see him obviously framed could not but make me feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game.” — Bob Dylan in the song about Ruben Carter, the afro-american boxer framed on a murder charge.
Thus begins The Sydney Connection by John Jiggens depicting Australia’s own ‘French Connection’. The book is filled with shady General Manuel Noriega types and our very own Ocker Nostra.
Popular author of Mr Big and Mr Sin, raconteur and Brisbane Labour History Association (BLHA) member, Tony Reeves launched the book, The Sydney Connection, saying that “it would make a great crime fiction novel, save for the fact that it is true.” A big claim from a journo who wishes to trace the life of Bjelke-Petersen back to Nazi origins through the Muller family in the Fassifern valley south-west of Brisbane. He claims that the Mullers, former Country/National Party ministers in the Joh government were Nazis.
After all these years are we to discover that Joh stoked the flames of Nazi death ovens?
Wasn’t the racism, the uranium mining and exports, the ban on street marches, the sacking of the SEQEB workers in Queensland, the refusal of womens’ right to choose, the banning of sex education in schools bad enough for the journos of crime?
Reeves said: “This (The Sydney Connection) is a must-read for anyone interested in the Australian crime scene written by another of BLHA members, John Jiggens.” The launch was held in front of an audience of 25-30 people on Saturday, December 1, at 3pm at the BRISBANE WORKERS COMMUNITY CLUB Latrobe Terrace Paddington
The book was featured in the Weekend AUSTRALIAN by in an article Kevin Meade titled: Fresh clues on 30-year-old Mackay murder
Jiggens thesis is that the drug trade in Australia in the 1970s was part of a conspiracy using drug money to fund US military adventures in the South East Asia and the Pacific.
Central to this conspiracy was NUGAN HAND INTERNATIONAL — a bank that Jiggens says funded the secret war in Laos in the 1970s. A bit like claims in the novel Iraqi Icicle,
that the US defence forces’ used rock music against President Manuel Noriega during the 1989 invasion of Panama to arrest Noriega.
The fiction of Iraqi Icicle (see review below) has the western world periodically flooded
with drugs by the US military. This is revealed through a character in the novel – a US Colonel in the following excerpt from Iraqi Icicle:
‘Unrefined heroin. After every major war, since at least the American Civil War and certainly, the first World War, morphine and heroin addiction have increased in certain parts of the world.
‘Paris in the twenties, New York in the late forties. We were late starters in Australia. Sydney had to wait till the seventies for the aftermath of Vietnam.
‘Now in the nineties, we’re getting presents from the Gulf to supplement the stuff coming from south-east Asia and Afghanistan.’
At the launch, the barefooted Jiggens said that the US military used opium money to fund the Hmong private army to conduct the war against communists in Laos. [Many of the Hmong people were moved to Minneapolis, USA after the war - a cold and heartless place where many of the men would die in their sleep because of the alienation of one of the coldest places in America.]
While I do not wish to claim any knowledge of the truth or otherwise of this theory – it does seem vaguely ethnocentric, almost anglo-celtic. I say this lest we forget how ethnocentric Oz was in the 1960s and 70s.
The Sydney Connection is awash with words describing people and organisations involved in shady deals: ethnics, Gianfranci Tizzoni, ‘Nugan Hand,’ ‘the Okker Nostra’, ‘the Hmong opium army’.
Having said that, the author, Jiggens, is careful to distance himself from any racism in his description of accusations against Italians living in the marihuana growing district of Griffith where Donald Mackay was murdered.
This book has it all, from the bent copper, NSW policeman Fred Krahe, whom Jiggens fingered, in Reeves-speak, as the ‘nastie’ who murdered Donald Mackay, the anti-drugs campaigner and onetime Liberal.
It is not entirely clear if Jiggens is saying that (sir) Bob Askin, Liberal Premier of NSW, and ultimately Fred Krahe’s boss, had a hand in the murder of a fellow Liberal (Mackay) ?
Far fetched? But such a great yarn. A case of truth stranger than fiction?
Especially with the name like Krahe. The monica even sounds like the dreaded ‘Cray brothers’ of the London underworld satirised mercilessly by Monty Python as the brothers-in-crime who used ‘hyperbole and wit’ against their enemies instead of the more direct nailing of hands to coffee tables. Not so Fred Krahe, Jiggens claims he spoke only with a .22 revolver, killing Mackay and perhaps ‘the Rocks’ anti-developer campaigner, Juanita Neilsen. The bodies keep piling up.
I doubt Jiggens had a look at the value of Fred Krahe’s estate after his death to see if it was all worth it or whether profits went to others (like sir Bob Askin, or to Mr Sin (sir Peter Abbels – remember it was Bob Hawke who planted a kiss on Peter Abbles dying cheek with the words – ‘you saved Ansett (Airlines) and I saved Australia‘ during the airline pilots dispute in 1986) or Mr Big (Lennie MacPherson), higher up or lower down the food chain, depending on your perspective.
In this company, perhaps Krahe felt that doing ‘evil’, to borrow Jiggens phrase, was a legitimate day job.
As Jiggens points out, the member for Griffith and Immigration Minister in the Whitlam government, Al Grassby, lost his seat in 1974 to ethnocentric conspiracy theories – not to mention fraudulent and racist Liberal how-to-vote cards, put about by Donald MacKay’s Liberal mates.
Mackay’s preferences helped National Party candidate John Sullivan defeat Al Grassby.
This is not so strangely reminiscent of the recent 2007 federal election where racist material was put out in the seat of Lindsay by the husband of outgoing Liberal Jacki Kelly and his liberal mates to discredit the Labor Party. Pundits are saying how the electorate has turned, with the racist propaganda helping unseat John Howard from Bennelong. Who knows if this is true?
Crime journalist Evan Whitton said of this book:
“The Sydney Connection demonstrates a high order of research and scholarship and contains startling and new information on the Central Intelligence Agency, the Griffith Mob and the murder of Donald Mackay.”
Green member of the NSW parliament, Lee Rhiannon, said:
“This book joins the dots on the scandals and crimes we read about and lived through.”
Among the revelations is detail of the involvement of prominent NSW Police in the US drug trade, smuggling heroin and boatloads of cannabis to San Francisco via Sydney.
Perhaps Connection should be read as a novel as Tony Reeves intimated (perhaps unwittingly) in his opening at the launch at the Paddo Workers Club. But a warning to the young, set in the 1970s, it is ancient history perhaps best read as a well-written, historical crime thriller. As in every book, especially self-published ones, there are however a number of typos.
In review, there is no substitute for local knowledge, it is a shame that Jiggens was advised by Donald Mackay’s lawyer not to interview the Calabrians in Griffith, he may have found out so much more.
Notice of launch received from Ted Riethmuller, on behalf of the Secretary of BLHA.