Hayden white-ants Timor success

Les Schaffer godzilla at SPAMnetmeg.net
Wed Oct 25 21:36:40 MDT 2000


[bounce from unsubbed "Graham M Bradley" <gbradley at bigpond.com.au> ]

>From the Courier-Mail (Murdoch paper in Brisbane)

Hayden white-ants Timor success
Ian McPhedran
25oct00

FORMER governor-general Bill Hayden has accused the families of five
Australian-based newsmen killed in East Timor in 1975 of pursuing the
matter for compensation.

He also supported Indonesian claims that the newsmen were killed in
"crossfire" at Balibo, describing the five as being "thoroughly unwise".

And he slammed the Howard Government's successful intervention in East
Timor as a "frolic".

The outspoken former Labor leader and foreign minister between 1983 and
1988 praised Australia's 25-year policy of appeasement towards Indonesia
and lauded the policy's author Gough Whitlam as well as former Indonesian
dictator Suharto.

His 10-page speech at the University of Tasmania last night made no mention
of the thousands of East Timorese murdered by Indonesian troops between
1975 and last year.

Mr Hayden was in the news two weeks ago when he attacked the Aboriginal
"sorry" campaign and the authors of the stolen generation report.

The former Ipswich policeman was a leading advocate of the Indonesian
appeasement policy in his term as foreign minister.

During his five-year stint he never visited East Timor which last year
voted to end 25 years of repression triggering an outburst of violence and
destruction by pro-Indonesian thugs supported by the military.

Mr Hayden also contradicted recently released government documents which
showed officials knew that the five newsmen — Greg Shackleton, Gary
Cunningham, Malcolm Rennie, Brian Peters and Tony Stewart — were in Balibo
before the Indonesian invasion.

"Perhaps some of this sustained focus on the five journalists . . . might
be connected to a damages claim," he said.

"I deeply sympathise with the survivors of those unfortunate journalists,
but it has to be recorded that they were thoroughly unwise to put
themselves in the line of crossfire at Balibo."

Indonesia has long maintained the men were killed in crossfire despite
witnesses telling of their brutal, cold-blooded murder.

Mr Hayden was a member of the Whitlam Cabinet, but in his speech he denied
any connection with the 1975 Indonesia policy.

However, he did admit pursuing it with some vigour from 1983 to 1988 as
foreign minister when Bob Hawke was prime minister.

Mr Hayden said the success of last year's Australian-led operation in East
Timor was due to United States threats against Indonesia.

"Frankly, the Americans saved our bacon," he said. "We should remember that
before we embark on any other thinly thought-through frolic like that one.

"The East Timorese have been given a desolation and told it is freedom.

"That leaves me deeply uneasy about the way the policy which brought this
about was thought through or, I suspect, needed to be thought through
rigorously rather than treated as a good idea on a comfortable Canberra
afternoon."






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