New ASIO book to raise eyebrows

16 October 2015

It's an untold story about Australia through the secret prism of ASIO. It's extraordinary, unheralded.

A new book on the history of the domestic spy agency ASIO will shed new light on the tumultuous period in Australian history from the end of the Menzies era and to the downfall of the Whitlam government.

The book, the second instalment of the official history of ASIO, covers events from 1963 to 1975, including street protests over women's rights, Aboriginal land rights and the Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War.

The book also explores the alleged ASIO role in the demise of the Whitlam Government, the question of CIA involvement in Australia, and the controversial 1973 police raids on ASIO's Melbourne offices.

Author Dr John Blaxland of The Australian National University (ANU) said the book would leave some people questioning what they thought they knew about Australian history.

"This is an account that is going to raise eyebrows and get people rethinking their understanding of a period they thought they understood," said Dr Blaxland, from the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.

"It's an untold story about Australia through the secret prism of ASIO. It's extraordinary, unheralded."

Given unprecedented access to the sealed records of Australia's secretive organisation, Dr Blaxland said his official history for ASIO would likely cause controversy.

"In telling a story like this, you're never going to please everybody. This is an organisation that has generated very strong views before and against," he said.

"Some people are going to be disappointed, some will be surprised, some will be pleased and some will be angry."

The Protest Years: The Official History of ASIO 1963-1975 by John Blaxland is published by Allen and Unwin.