The CIA, environmentalist organizations such as Greenpeace, and Australian Green Party politicians all rejected the accusations. But the high-profile remarks from Palmer, a professor who owns a massive business empire worth billions and is a significant financial contributor to the center-right Liberal National Party (LNP), caused a firestorm of controversy across the nation.
The allegations were delivered after Palmer learned of a widely criticized leaked environmentalist report — “Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom" — outlining plans to undermine the Australian mining sector using the courts. The document, produced by the controversial group Greenpeace, laid out a scheme to funnel millions of dollars into lawsuits aimed at thwarting the coal industry in the state of Queensland.
Citing the 1970s-era Church Committee reports — products of a broad U.S. congressional investigation into intelligence agencies exposing secret funding to a wide array of private organizations — Palmer said the CIA was behind the “green” plot. And the goal in Australia, he said, is to destroy local industry.
"You only have to go back and read the Church Report in the 1970s and to read the reports to the U.S. Congress which sets up the Rockefeller Foundation as a conduit of CIA funding," Palmer explained at a press conference in Brisbane. "You only have to look at their secret budget which was passed by Congress last year, bigger than our whole national economy, which the CIA's got to ensure that.”
Palmer also claimed the alleged CIA scheme was designed to serve U.S. interests. "You only have to read the reports to U.S. Congress when the CIA reported to the president that their role was to ensure the US competitive advantage and economic advantages,” he said. "That's how you know it's funded by the CIA."
According to Palmer, the CIA would be interested in crushing Australia’s booming mining sector to make American coal more competitive. “So our jobs, our security, our exports, our balance of payments are exported to North America when they could be coming from Australia," he added, omitting, however, that the U.S. government is believed by experts to be stifling American industry as well.
Foundations associated with the extraordinarily wealthy Rockefeller family such as the “Rockefeller Brothers Fund” have indeed showered massive sums of money on Greenpeace for “global warming,” “sustainable development,” and more. Countless other similar organizations have also received massive grants.
Palmer offered no “smoking gun” to show that the CIA was actually linked to the controversial campaigns. He suggested, however, that there needed to be investigations and much greater scrutiny to find out where the “green” funds were coming from. "We care about this country,” Palmer said. “It's under attack by foreign interests."
In a statement, Greenpeace dismissed the accusations as "ludicrous." A spokesman for the CIA, meanwhile, told state-funded Australian media that, “Simply put, these allegations are false.” And some prominent officials blasted the comments as a “conspiracy theory” that might scare investors away from Australia.
Palmer also singled out by name a prominent environmental activist and regular candidate with Queensland State’s Green Party. "Drew Hutton is a tool of the US government and Rockefeller, and so are the Greens; everything they say. It's as simple as that," the respected businessman told reporters.
He then went on to attack the whole political party. "I think the Greens in this coming state election, all their candidates should resign if they are being funded by an offshore political power,” Palmer said. “It is tantamount to treason. Something needs to be done about it."
Hutton was quoted in media reports saying that he was considering a “defamation” lawsuit against Palmer for the remarks. But an apology would suffice, he added. "I just think that's a bridge too far," Hutton said. "I don't even understand the argument, to tell you the truth."
The Green Party’s leadership was on the defensive, too, calling on people involved with Palmer to disown his comments. And while the LNP did distance itself from the remarks, some prominent figures came to Palmer’s defense, brushing off and downplaying the comments.
“He's a larger than life character,” said Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition in Australia’s House of Representatives. “And when he says the Greens want to stop the coal industry he's absolutely right — of course the Greens want to stop the coal industry.” But Abbott, laughing off the remarks, noted that the environmentalist party did not need prodding by the CIA to oppose mining.
One journalist at the news conference asked what the difference was between Palmer accepting Chinese investment and environmentalist groups allegedly taking money from the U.S. intelligence community. “This is my personal money,” Palmer responded, noting that he makes his own decisions and is not a “tool” for anyone else. “The big difference is this is funded by the CIA. That’s the big difference.”
Palmer subsequently clarified his remarks, narrowing the focus of his allegations and saying that there were certainly well-intentioned individuals involved in the anti-mining campaign. "A lot of the people in Greenpeace are good people,” Palmer told Australia’s National Times after his comments generated headlines around the world. “But I don't like the idea that they are being funded by foreign people and many of them don't even know it."
The billionaire also said he did not question the loyalty of Green Party leader Bob Brown even though he did not agree with the party’s platform. And he acknowledged that he may not always be 100 percent correct, but neither are the Greens. “I'm trying to broaden the debate," Palmer added.
Meanwhile, the mining titan is also battling Australia’s controversial and unpopular “carbon tax” in court. Along with a wide array of experts, Palmer insists it is unconstitutional. The opposition has vowed to repeal the tax if it takes power next election.
Photo of Clive Palmer: AP Images