Category Archives: Uncategorized


> Dear friends of Timor-Leste
> As you would be aware, our East Timorese friends have recently experienced yet another crisis. In the aftermath of the Easter 2021 floods in Timor-Leste a number of people have died, many have been displaced or are missing and there has been widespread damage to homes and other buildings.
> Tragically the death toll is thought to be more than 40 people and this is rising. In addition more people are still missing
> There are currently more than 13,554 displaced people and many have lost their homes and possessions.
> Aid organisations have reported that getting information from all the affected districts about the extent of losses is a problem because access to the internet can be denied for several hours a day. As a result, there are no accurate figures on the numbers of people left homeless or how widespread the damage to crops and livelihoods is.
> Displaced people from Dili still continue to seek shelter across 92 refuges that have been established by government, military and churches. Food is still being cooked and delivered by the community to those seeking refuge.
> Water in heavily flooded areas of Dili is finally starting to recede but the remaining houses and suburbs are filled with mud and debris. A mammoth clean-up effort is being led by members of the community. No coordinated government clean-up has been organised apart from the presidential buildings that have been affected.
> Covid-19 Concerns: Timor-Leste health authorities fear that this tragedy may lead to an increase in the cases of Covid-19. which is disappointing because until the floods Timor-Leste had only 294 cases and no deaths. It now has 1074 cases and 2 deaths
> The AETFA SA Committee has donated $Aus 1000 to the flood relief with $Aus 500 going to each Spend it Well and Care Australia. Both organisations are providing meals and relief for people who have been adversely affected by the floods.
> The problems being faced by the East Timorese are going to be very demanding aside from those caused by the recent Indonesian occupation. Anything you can do to assist our neighbours who showed great support for Australia during WW2 would be greatly appreciated.
> Please help by sending a donation direct to AETFA SA or choosing one of the charities below.
> NOTE: If you want a tax deduction, you will need to pay direct to an organisation that gives tax deductions:
> To donate directly to AETFA SA:
> Pay on line to: Australia East Timor Friendship Association SA Inc.
> BSB: 105 900 Account Number: 952 850 740
> …….then please email our treasurer Donald Barnes with details of your donation and contacts to receive your receipt:
> SPEND IT WELL (Tax deductible)
> Level 6 126 Wellington Parade
> East Melbourne VIC 3002
> Phone: (03) 9412 0412
> ABN: 20 077 830 347
> On line donations:
> CARE (Tax deductible)
> CARE Australia
> GPO Box 2014
> Canberra ACT 2601
> Phone: 1800 020 046
> Email:
> On line donations:
> Casmira dos Rosario of the East Timor Students Association SA has requested that AETFA SA also publicise the appeals being organised by Timor organisations that assist people with disabilities. These people have been badly affected and are in a more vulnerable situation than most.
> DPOs:
> Asosiasaun Deficiencia Timor-Leste ( ADTL):


Dear friends,

Please support the action below in support of Bernard Collaery and Witness K next Monday 9th November, 4.30 pm, Parliament House. (see details below)

Australia East Timor Friendship Association SA Inc
AETFA-SA, PO BOX 240, GOODWOOD South Australia 5034 Australia

Affiliate of the Timor Sea Justice Forum and the Coalition of Supporters of Bernard Collaery & Witness K


Dear Friends in solidarity with the people of Timor-Leste

The Australia East Timor Friendship Association invite you to join a protest which is opposing the actions of the Morrison Government to attempt to imprison Witness K and Bernard Collaery whose courageous actions helped stop them from defrauding the people of Timor-Leste from much of their resources in their half of the Timor Sea.

Australia’s Attorney General Christian Porter has claimed that these two men conspired to undermine Australia’s security knowing full well that the charge is totally unfounded. It is merely a vindictive act by an extreme right wing government to punish these men for helping our East Timorese neighbours to get a fair outcome from the distribution of resources in the Timor Sea.

See the information below for more background.
TIME: 4.30 PM
(the day that Witness K will appear in the ACT Magistrate’s Court)

Corner of North Tce and King William St, Adelaide




Bernard Collaery & Witness K, Webinar with Jose Ramos Horta and BC, and more…

Dear Friends in solidarity with the East Timorese and all victims of the TNI

While we are living reasonably secluded lives because of the corona pandemic much is still happening that we need to be aware of.

This update includes further developments in the cases against Witness K and Bernard Collaery, and details about an Australia Institute webinar with Jose Ramos Horta & Bernard Collaery on 2 September, information about Gil Scrine’s film Reluctant Saviour and Indonesia’s Independence Day on 17 August

Stay healthy and safe                                                                                                       In solidarity                                                                                                                          Andy Alcock
Information Officer
Australian East Timor Friendship Association SA
Phone:    61 8 83710480;   0457 827 014                                                                       Email:



Our Canberra friends inform us that the next action to support Witness K will be on Thursday 20 August outside the ACT Magistrates’ Court next week where Witness K faces another session.

They also report that Bernard Collaery’s appeal will be held in November and his trial will commence around March next year.  

He is likely to face costs, above and beyond his legal costs, of more than $100,000 to obtain documents from Woodside as well as other costs. 

A fund has been established to assist Bernard with these extra costs to which the AETFA SA Committee recently donated $500. More information about this fund and other ways to support him and Witness K can be found on the following websites:



with Jose Ramos Horta & Bernard Collaery

The Australian Institute is organising this event  with former President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, José Ramos-Horta, and barrister and former ACT Attorney-General Bernard Collaery for a discussion of Timor Sea oil scandals, alleged spying and the prosecution of Bernard and Witness K.

To register, go to the following website:



As Kathryn Kelly has said we need a Royal Commission into the treatment of whistleblowers, the legislation meant to protect them, and protections for journalists reporting their stories.  



Gil Scrine’s coming documentary Reluctant Saviour is based on the excellent book of the same name by Professor Clinton Fernandes, It is in the process of being finalised.  

A 5 minute trailer: is available for viewing on the following website:

There is also a fund to finance this important film.

Please donate if you can 



It is understandable that Benny Wenda the leader of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) is calling on West Papuans not to celebrate Indonesia’s Independence Day on 17 August given the crimes committed against the people by the very brutal and corrupt Indonesian military (TNI).

His message can be found on the following website:

However, on 17 August, we should remind the Indonesian authorities that it was many courageous and progressive Indonesians who struggled to obtain their nation’s independence along with many other people world wide who worked in solidarity with them.

For many years, the Campaign for an Independent East Timor SA (CIET SA) – the forerunner of AETFA SA – held pickets outside the Indonesian Consul’s office in Adelaide on this day to give this message to the Indonesian leaders.

During WW2, many Australian soldiers fought alongside Indonesian partisans against Japanese fascism. Many assisted members of the Indonesian independence movement who were preparing the people for independence after the war. Between 1945 – 1949, the Australian union movement put black bans on a Dutch fleet of about 170 vessels that had gathered in Australia to take on soldiers, armaments and provisions intended for Indonesia to smash the  independence movement. This solidarity by Australian workers was crucial in Indonesia attaining its independence.

Many of the Indonesians involved in this struggle were butchered during the TNI/CIA coup of 1965, which led to the deaths of about 3 million mostly progressive Indonesians. and ushered in the 33 year-long fascist  Suharto dictatorship.which led to greater suffering for the peoples of West Papua Indonesia, East Timor and Acheh. This sacrifice must never be forgotten.

The 17 August is a very appropriate day to remind Indonesian leaders of this history and to demand that they give the people of West Papua their freedom too.






THE TRIALS OF WITNESS K & BERNARD COLLAERY  – AN UPDATE (article for the Graham F. Smith Peace Foundation Newsletter)

The prosecution  of Bernard Collaery and Witness K – the two Australian men who assisted Timor- Leste to achieve a maritime border and greater access to its resources in the Timor Sea continues.

There was a hearing at the ACT Magistrates Court involving Witness K on Wednesday 22 July during which the case  was adjourned until around 20th August. As with other court hearings, over 40 people gathered outside the court to  protest the prosecutions, the secret way the trials are being conducted, the endless delays. Protesters also demand that the charges be dropped.
One of the worst aspects of this vindictive trial by Attorney-General Christian Porter is the federal Labor Party’s almost complete refusal to speak out. This is largely due to Senator penny Wong who is intent on echoing the LNP  fiction that the trial is about national security

However, some ALP members have refused to be complicit. Queensland MP Graham Perrett has spoken out, while NSW state ALP MP Paul Lynch has led that branch’s condemnation of it.

In addition ALP Alicia Payne MHR for Canberra is questioning the need for a closed trial for Bernard Collaery, but is not demanding that the fallacious charges be dropped.

There are some positive developments however. Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick and Rebekha Sharkie MHR, the Greens and independent Tasmanian MHR Andrew Wilkie have been demanding that the charges be dropped from the outset of the trials.

The main stream media is now reporting the trial more thoroughly and hopefully this will cause more ALP politicians to break ranks. Hopefully this will lead to more ALP federal politicians taking a stand.

Recently, Bernard Collaery was presented with Liberty Victoria’s Empty Chair Award on 24 July and he is one of the 10 finalists of the LawyersWeekly Foremost Lawyer of the 21st Century Award. There are several other worthy lawyers who have been champions for human rights amongst the ten do we wish Bernard well


A new website has been established that provides more information about the trial against the 2 men, which also has a link to a petition with over 51,000 signatures. There is also a fund to help defray the costs that bernard is supporting.

We request that people support this and encourage others to do so as well.

Finally, Ian Cunliffe – a former chief executive of the Australian Law Reform Commission and the Constitutional Commission and who as deputy to the secretary of Australia’s first royal commission into intelligence and security in the 1970s – has had an excellent article – Secret trials: our judges need to resist the government’s pressure – published in the Sydney Morning Herald. It can be found on the following website:


Andy Alcock

Information Officer
Australian East Timor Friendship Association SA

Drop The Prosecutions

Affiliate of the Timor Sea Justice Campaign (TSJC)

Hearings on Monday 25 May 2020


Dear Friends and supporters of AETFA SA and the people of Timor-Leste

Hoping all are well and avoiding the dreaded COVID-19 virus!

AETFA SA has received emails from Sister Susan Connelly of the Timor Sea Justice Forum (TSJF) to inform us that Bernard Collaery faces a further court hearing on Monday 25 May.

She has also sent a TSJF media release about the continuing cases against Bernard Collaery and Witness K which is being vindictively driven by the Australian Government in closed courts. As you would be aware, the actions of these two heroic Australians contributed greatly to Timor-Leste winning a case in the International Permanent Court of Arbitration (IPCA) to obtain a maritime border between Australia and Timor-Leste in the Timor Sea to allow a fairer distribution of its resources against Australia whose leaders had sought to cheat the East Timorese.

There is more background about the case in The Guardian 11.04.2020 article by Richard Ackland below which outlines the very deceitful behaviour Australia’s leaders towards our East Timorese friends and WW2 allies after they had suffered greatly because of the illegal and brutal occupation of their country by the Indonesian military for 24 years.

In the attachments to this notice are:

* a TSJF pamphlet

* a letter to federal MPs & senators

* a list of phone discussion points to raise with federal politicians

These documents are all related to the campaign to drop the charges against Witness K & Bernard Collaery.

The TSJF & the AETFA SA are urging friends and supporters to sign the letter and send it to your local federal MHR (Member of the House of Representatives) and your state’s senators.
[It can also go to ALP MHRs and senators because their position on this issue has been no better than that of the LNP Coalition Government]

We are also asking that people ring their federal politicians and use the phone discussion points when raising the issue with them.

Please give all the support to Bernard Gollaery & Witness K that you can. They do not deserve imprisonment for supporting fairness and justice in the Timor Sea.

At no time did they endanger Australia’s national security as Attorney General Christian Porter has charged.


Stay healthy and safe

Warm wishes



Andy Alcock Ordem de Timor-Leste (Medalha)                                                                              Information Officer,  AETFA SA Inc                                                                                                          Phone: 61 8 83710480; 0457 827 014                                                                                                  Email:


(AETFA SA was originally the Campaign for an Independent East Timor SA until Timor-Leste’s independence in 2002)






The Commonwealth Attorney-General continues to pursue the prosecution of former ACT Attorney-General, Mr. Bernard Collaery, despite having the power to discontinue the case.

The latest in the interminable series of hearings is set down for Monday, 25th May 2020 through to 3rd June in the ACT Supreme Court.

This hearing will be closed to the public. A determination will be sought at the hearing for some evidence to be available only to the judge. If that ensues it would mean that the defendant would not have full access to the evidence which will be used against him. It could mean that when the trial occurs, the jury will not be allowed to hear all the evidence.

The lack of public and legal scrutiny in the proposed conduct of this trial subverts internationally accepted standards for a fair trial and the right to prepare a defence.

Australian governments have exposed their people to the international humiliation of performing an act of economic espionage against a small and impoverished neighbour––Timor-Leste. Prosecuting those who acted in good faith in bringing the truth to light is a clear indication to the rest of the world that Australia is content to both swindle the poor and persecute those who act according to their consciences.

Bernard Collaery, as lawyer for “Witness K”, has been charged with alleged breaches of the Criminal Code (Cth) and the Intelligence Services Act. The details of these offences remain cloaked behind assertions of “national security”. However, national security has not been proved to be at stake, it has only been claimed, and it has been claimed by the very body––the Australian Government–– whose deceitful fraud is the cause of the whole debacle.

The prosecution of Bernard Collaery represents the denial of just and accepted legal norms to serve political and commercial agendas. It is further evidence that secret trials are already a feature of the increasingly fragile Australian democracy.

Authorised by Sister Susan Connelly

Timor Sea Justice Forum

0498 473 341



The court case Australians are not allowed to know about: how national security is being used to bully citizens

This article is more than 1 month old

Richard Ackland   The Guardian, 11 April 2020

In the Witness K case, a closed court is also very useful in covering up the alleged wrongdoing of a previous Coalition government

· It must have been six years ago or so that an anxious barrister knocked on the door of my cave-like office in Sydney’s CBD with news about Asio’s raids on a former intelligence agent known as Witness K, and Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery.

No sooner had he started to pick through the entrails, involving confiscated computers, files, documents, a USB stick and a passport, than he stopped mid-sentence. “Bugger, I shouldn’t have brought my mobile phone with me.” He dashed outside and left his phone on a ledge in the corridor – convinced the spooks were monitoring his whereabouts and his conversations about Collaery and Witness K.

It was my first inkling of the furtiveness and paranoia surrounding Collaery, his work for Timor Leste and the bugging in 2004 of its ministerial offices by operatives of the Australian Security Intelligence Service. Witness K, acting on instructions from Asis head David Irvine, helped to plant remote-switch listening devices in the Timor Leste cabinet room.

Collaery had straddled positions both as a lawyer for Witness K in an employment dispute with Asis and for the Timor Leste government – working for the bugger and the buggee. The aim of the eavesdropping was to maximise Australia’s position at the negotiations over boundaries in the Timor Sea and who got the lion’s share of the loot from the oil and gas resources.

In June 2018, Collaery and Witness K were summonsed to appear on charges alleging breaches variously of the criminal code and the Intelligence Services Act – conspiracy to communicate Asis information – and, in Collaery’s case, also communicating Asis information to journalists at the ABC.

The brief of evidence from the Commonwealth DPP had been sitting on the desk of former attorney general George Brandis for over two years. The AG’s consent to the prosecution is required under the legislation. It was not until Christian Porter, red in tooth and claw, got his feet under the AG’s desk that, with an amount of dispatch, the consent was signed.

When he announced the prosecution on 28 June 2018, Porter said, hopefully: “I would also encourage any member with an interest in this case to be conscious of the fact that the priority must be to allow the judicial process to be conducted without commentary which would impact on the fairness and regularity of those proceedings.”

You might wonder what planet Porter was orbiting when he signed off on that. Ever since, there have been protests outside the court in Canberra while countless preliminary skirmishes took place. There has been mounting public condemnation of the Commonwealth’s insistence that these prosecutions are of such great importance to national security that the court should be closed and the hearing conducted in secret.

And here we were thinking that it is the Howard-era government that is the real wrongdoer, defying international law to spy on a friendly and impoverished neighbour for commercial advantage.

Deceitful doesn’t even come close.

Political teeth marks are all over these prosecutions

Witness K has already pleaded guilty to agreed facts relating to his preparation of an affidavit for an in-camera hearing at the Hague. He faces further hearings in the ACT magistrates’ court in April. Collaery has more hearing dates in April which are no longer listed on the ACT courts website. In all, there have been 30 or so scheduled hearings since the charges were laid, most of them conducted in secret.

Political teeth marks are all over these prosecutions, with Porter issuing a certificate that proceedings be held in closed court in the interests of national security. Yet the extent to which the court is closed is up to the presiding judge, David Mossop, of the ACT supreme court.

No doubt he will weigh the principle of open justice and the danger to the rule of law if justice is shrouded, where reasons for findings of guilt or otherwise cannot be published, and as we’ve seen in the case of Witness J, citizens can be secretly jailed, Stalin-style.

The case against closing Collaery’s court hearings was put in an amicus curiae submission to the judge by Ernst Willheim, a former senior officer of the Attorney General’s Department and now a visiting fellow in the college of law at the the Australian National University. He also prepared a similar submission for the Witness K case.

Willheim submitted that the parties to the proceedings were unlikely to press arguments about open justice. Indeed, in the Collaery case it’s understood there have been consent orders relating to secrecy, but not for the trial itself. He pressed the point that there needs to a non-party helping the court on the “fundamental importance of openness in judicial proceedings”.

Should Collaery be convicted in a closed court, where the defendant’s lawyers and the jury could not see all the evidence, then public confidence in the administration of justice would take a damaging turn for the worse.

As it is, confidence is already a delicate flower. Judges and courts only have authority and community acceptance if justice is seen to be done, if reasons are explained openly and if fairness is the guiding principle.

The Soviets were good at obtaining guilty verdicts in secret, which then were conveniently used for propaganda purposes because no one knew what really went on.

Needless to say, Willheim’s amicus submissions in both the Collaery and K cases were rejected by the courts – partly on the ground that the commonwealth is a “model litigant”. This is not a good omen, for if Covid-19 doesn’t derail the proceedings in the short to medium term, Porter’s submissions on the sanctity of national security could well hold sway with the same outcome in the long term.

Witness K and the ‘outrageous’ spy scandal that failed to shame Australia

There is another powerful reason for openness. Collaery could call former prime minister John Howard and former foreign minister Alexander Downer to give evidence and it would be a calamity if the public couldn’t hear their explanations for the bugging.

None of which is to say that the accused are entirely without protections. There’s section 80 of the Constitution, which requires trials for offences against any law of the Commonwealth to be tried by jury.

A jury trial could be a worthwhile safeguard – then we could know whether representatives of the community gauge these proceedings as an overreach of prosecutorial and executive power. The former NSW DPP Nicholas Cowdery QC is of the view that in bugging the Timor Leste ministers, Asis was acting beyond its statutory power.

There is also the contention that a law that prohibits the disclosure of an illegal act by a public authority may infringe the freedom of political communication.

The defence had filed affidavits from former minister for foreign affairs and trade Gareth Evans, former chief of the defence force Admiral Chris Barrie and former senior diplomat John McCarthy.

Two other defence affidavits were from former presidents of Timor Leste, Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta. The affidavits themselves are not yet public but justice Mossop told the court those affidavits were intended to directly challenge assertions by the attorney general that there would be a risk of prejudice to Australia’s national security if certain information was disclosed publicly during the substantive criminal proceedings.

There are other concerns that surround the cases. Witness K was due to give confidential evidence in proceedings at the international court of justice in the Hague where Timor Leste was seeking to set aside the treaty arrangements which it now knew to be tainted by Australia’s bugging and eavesdropping.

Shortly before he was expected to travel overseas for this purpose, his home was raised by Asio and his passport confiscated, and it remains confiscated. In normal court proceedings, it would be a contempt of court or a prejudice to the administration of justice if a witness is prevented from giving evidence.

Here is a case where we find national security is being played as a card to bully citizens, cast them in the role of ‘terrorists’ and cover-up the wrongdoing of a previous Coalition government

Likewise, when Bernard Collaery’s office was raided in December 2013, the security services took his brief relating to Timor Leste’s arbitration proceedings.

Undertakings were made by Brandis that, of course, Australia wouldn’t stoop so low as to access the contents of this seized material – an undertaking that did not persuade the international court of justice.

The court, instead, preferred to make binding orders to ensure that Australia did not use the material to disadvantage Timor Leste. There were 16 judges on the ICJ panel and with the exception of one of them, they agreed with the findings and orders.

The dissenting voice was the former Australian jurist Ian Callinan, a Howard-era “Capital C” conservative appointed to the High Court in 1989.

In his amicus curiae submission, Ernst Willheim said those undertakings to the ICJ left open the prospect that the ACT supreme court also might not be satisfied by assurances made by the attorney general about national security.

Here is a case where we find national security is being played as a card to bully citizens, cast them in the role of “terrorists” and cover-up the wrongdoing of a previous Coalition government, of which the current attorney general is in a direct line of succession.

In June 2018, Porter was anxious to emphasise that what he called “the judicial process” should, in the interests of “fairness”, be conducted without commentary.

Can a secret trial, where evidence is suppressed, be a fair trial? It could be that the moment justice Mossop rules that slabs of the proceedings be closed, then the accused would be off to the High Court seeking a ruling that secrecy is an abnegation of fairness.

The attorney general wanted speed and silence; instead, he will get a case that has the potential to run on and on, accompanied by mounting public disgust.

· Richard Ackland publishes the law journals Justinian and Gazette of Law and Journalism. He is a Gold Walkley winner and a former host of Media Watch and Radio National’s Late Night Live

Deferral of Bernard Collaery meeting

>> Oil Under Troubled Water: Australia’s Timor Sea Intrigue
>> Dear Friends & supporters of Timor-Leste
>> It is with great sadness that the organisers of the launch of Bernard Collaery’s book Oil Under Troubled Water: Australia’s Timor Sea Intrigue scheduled for 16 March 2020 have felt it necessary to defer the event to some time in the future because of the necessity to take preventive action due to concerns about the spread of the Corona (COVID-19) Virus in the Australian community.
>> The Association expresses its apologies for having to take this step and is hopeful that we can hold the event in the near future when the risks to people from the Corona (COVID-19) Virus have been resolved.
We would like to give special thanks to Pollyanna Clayton-Stamm, Jason Lake and Imprints Booksellers, the Australian Institute of International Affairs SA,
the MUP and many others who worked to organise this event. We are looking forward to welcoming Bernard to Adelaide in the near future.

In the meantime please note that Bernard’s book is available for purchase at Imprints Booksellers,
107 Hindley Street, Adelaide SA 5000, Telephone: 08 8231 4454 – email
>> Regards,

> In solidarity

>> Rosemary McKay
>> Chairperson
>> Phone: 0433 101 568
>> Email:
>> Andy Alcock
>> Information Officer
>> Phone: 61 8 83710480
>> 0457 827 014
>> Email:



You are invited to the launch of Bernard Collaery’s revealing book:

Oil Under Troubled Water: Australia’s Timor Sea Intrigue

Day: Monday

Time: 6:00 PM

Date: 16 March 2020

Venue: Adelaide University Club

Level 4 Union House, Harry Medlin Room, Adelaide SA 5000

(See link at bottom of page for map of location)

A conversation with the author Bernard Collaery and SA Senator Rex Patrick.

Please book on

Presented by Australia East Timor Friendship Association SA Inc, MUP, and Imprints Booksellers

Australia East Timor Friendship Association South Australia Inc

                                    AETFA-SA, PO BOX 240, GOODWOOD South Australia 5034 Australia                                        Secretary:

Dear Friends & supporters of Timor-Leste

The AETFA SA Inc Committee highly recommends this event to you.

Most of you would already be aware of Bernard Collaery’s role with that of Witness K in greatly assisting Timor-Leste in gaining an international maritime border in the Timor Sea, overturning the very unfair CMATS (Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Seaarrangement forced on it by the Howard government and gaining greater access to its resources in the Timor Sea.

Included with this invitation is an article by Bernard Keane in Crikey which reveals more of the disgraceful role that the US and Australia played during the 24 years of Indonesian genocide and human rights abuses in East Timor starting with the murder of the Balibo 5. There is another one that AETFA SA was asked to write for the Search Foundation.

Bernard Collaery and Witness K are Australians that we can be truly proud of. They do not deserve the persecution that is being perpetrated by the Morrison Government as they helped win justice for our WW2 allies – they did not undermine Australia’s security.

Please contact your federal politicians and call on them to demand that the charges against these courageous men be dropped.

And  – of course – please attend the book launch and ask friends and family to do the same.


Andy Alcock                                                                                                                                     Information Officer                                                                                                     AETFA SA Inc                                                                                                                Phone:    61 8 83710480                                                                                                                      0457 827 014

AETFA SA – 44 YEARS OF SOLIDARITY WITH TIMOR-LESTE FOR INDEPENDENCE & JUSTICE                                                                                                                                   (AETFA SA was originally the Campaign for an Independent East Timor SA until Timor-Leste’s independence in 2002

Were our spies compromised by Balibo? New book reveals more sordid history                                                                                                                                              BERNARD KEANE

For decades, Australia’s intelligence services have denied having any foreknowledge that the Balibo Five were at risk from Indonesian forces.

Intelligence services ostensibly only learnt shortly afterwards that the five — journalists working in then-Portuguese Timor in October 1975, reporting on secret Indonesian military activity — had been murdered by Indonesian special forces.

But Oil Under Troubled Water, a new book by Bernard Collaery, presents a strong case that Australian spies knew that Indonesia regarded the journalists as a “hurdle to be got over” before Indonesian military preparations could ramp up ahead of its December 1975 invasion, beginning a quarter-century occupation of the province.

In Oil Under Troubled Water, Collaery — currently being prosecuted by the Morrison government along with a former ASIS officer Witness K for revealing ASIS’ illegal bugging operation against Timor-Leste — explores the history of Australia’s relationship with what is now Timor-Leste.

A key revelation of the books is that Timor-Leste has been deprived of billions of dollars in resource revenue as a result of the deliberate hiding of the discovery of significant helium deposits in petrochemical reserves beneath the Timor Sea from both Timor-Leste and the United Nations.

Remarkably, Australia itself has also lost access to this strategic asset by allowing American multinational ConocoPhillips to take control of the helium.

Collaery has also unearthed documents that contradict the longstanding official line on what the Australian government knew about the Balibo Five — Greg Shackleton, Tony Stewart, Brian Peters, Malcolm Rennie and Gary Cunningham — in the lead up to the Suharto regime’s invasion of Portugese Timor in December 1975.

A sixth journalist, Australian Roger East, was murdered by Indonesian forces while investigating the disappearance of the five.

Collaery shows British ambassador to Indonesia Sir John Ford reported to London in September 1975 about clandestine Indonesian military activity in Portugese Timor ahead of its planned invasion:

The only limitation on clandestine activity now appears to be its exposure. The Indonesians are clearly worried about this. According to the Australians, president Suharto told general Yoga, the head of Bakin [the then-named Indonesian intelligence agency] that he would not agree, for the present, to step up clandestine activities beyond their present level. A particular hurdle to be got over is a plane load of journalists and politicians who are due to visit Timor, apparently at Fretilin request, to investigate allegations of Indonesian intervention.

The Suharto regime had a history of heavy suppression of journalists inside its own borders and in West Papua; “getting over the hurdle” could have had only one meaning.

But this “sensitive” information obtained by an Australian agency — Collaery believes it must be ASIS — via a “top level liaison” with Bakin apparently wasn’t sufficient for the agency to alert the then-Whitlam government or to raise concerns about the ramifications of Ford’s phrase “getting over the hurdle”.

The Whitlam government at that stage was about to become embroiled in a life-or-death constitutional struggle, and Gough Whitlam was about to dismiss ASIS head Bill Robertson.

The Ford letter also sits poorly with the finding of inspector-general of intelligence and security Bill Blick’s 2002 review of allegations.

Blick found that another agency, the Defence Signals Directorate, did not have “intelligence material that could have alerted the government to the possibility of harm to the newsmen” and that “intelligence material was passed rapidly to government and there was no holding back or suppression of data by the agencies tasked with providing such material”.

The deniability of any foreknowledge or role of either Australian intelligence agencies or the Whitlam government itself in Indonesia’s destabilisation and invasion of Portugese Timor has been a staple of the official narrative around the murders of the Balibo Five — one that has united intelligence establishment figures and Whitlam apologists alike.

The British government has also come under pressure from the families of the two British journalists of the Balibo Five to explain what it knew ahead of and after the killings.

Collaery raises a wider question if the John Ford letter is correct. We’ve known since 1999, when the intelligence archive of Soviet defector Vasili Mitrokhin became available, that Yuri Andropov’s KGB had succeeded in tapping the communications of Henry Kissinger, who in 1975 was president Gerald Ford’s secretary of state and who accompanied the US president to Jakarta to meet with Suharto on the eve of the invasion.

It was at that meeting that Ford effectively greenlighted the invasion by telling Suharto “we will understand and not press you on the issue”.

Kissinger’s only concerns were that the invasion not commence until Ford had left the country, and that US weapons not be linked to the invasion.

Given Australia-US intelligence sharing, Kissinger is also likely to have been aware of Indonesia’s clandestine military activities in the lead-up to the invasion and the “hurdle to be got over”, via Australian sources.

As a result, the KGB may also have been aware that, effectively, ASIS or another Australian intelligence agency had had the opportunity to intervene before the murders of the Balibo Five, but refrained from doing so.

Was such information — which would have proved deeply embarrassing both to agencies and to Indonesia — ever used by the Soviets as leverage against Australian intelligence agents?

It’s another sordid moment in the long history of Australia’s neo-colonialist treatment of the people of Timor, driven by an obsession with exploiting its petrochemical resources.


 WITNESS K & BERNARD COLLAERY                                                                                                   -TWO HEROIC AUSTRALIANS BEING VICTIMISED BY THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT         Andy Alcock                                                                                                                              Information Officer                                                                                                                                     AEFTA SA Inc (Australia East Timor Friendship Association SA)

The Morrison Government is trying to imprison Witness K and Bernard Collaery – the two Australians who helped Timor-Leste to achieve justice in the Timor Sea.They are accused of breaching Australia’s  Intelligence Services Act 2001.

The action smacks of being a vendetta and and payback against these two men whose actions contributed substantially to the important win for Timor-Leste which is the poorest nation in SE Asia and which suffered 24 years of fascist terror at the hands of the Indonesian military (TNI).

In 2004, after Timor-Leste had gained its independence, Australian leaders sat down with the Timorese leaders to negotiate over the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea.

Alexander Downer – the then Australian foreign minister – had already withdrawn Australia from the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in a clear move to stop the acceptance of the usual principle of there being a maritime border midway between the coasts of Australia and Timor-Leste and to prevent the new nation from having full access to its resources in the Timor Sea.

To further Australia’s intention to rip off the shattered nation, Downer issued orders for ASIS (Australian Security Intelligence Service) to bug Timor-Leste government meeting rooms to give Australian negotiators an advantage over the East Timorese during talks. Australian leaders then bullied the East Timorese leaders to accept an extremely unfair deal that denied them a maritime border and access to much of their resources – known as CMATS (Certain Maritime Agreements in the Timor Sea).

Witness K was part of the ASIS spy team that carried out this action and he later considered that what Australia had done was both illegal and immoral as the spying had nothing whatsoever to do with Australia’s security, but was about a commercial interest for Australia and the oil corporations. The action involved skullduggery against a nation that had been a loyal ally during WW2 and whom Australia had betrayed during the TNI occupation. Witness K reported his concerns to senior security officials in private.

Later, when the leaders of Timor-Leste became aware of Australia’s actions, they approached the International Permanent Court of Arbitration (IPCA) in The Hague to seek to have the CMATS deal overturned. Bernard Collaery  was one of the key legal advisers to the Timorese government and he also agreed to represent Witness K

Despite attempts by former Australian attorney general – George Brandis – to pervert the course of justice in the IPCA by raiding Witness K’s home and Bernard Collaery’s office to seize pertinent documents, the East Timorese had an important win. In March 2018, the IPCA ruled that there should be a border equidistant between the two nations giving them much greater access to their oil and gas resources. Former Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop and the former president of the Timor-Leste council ministers Agio Pereira signed the final agreement

Despite this, Australia is holding a sum of about $8 billion raised from resources  in Timor-Leste’s half of the Timor Sea. This money is urgently needed for development and humanitarian programs to assist the people who have suffered greatly because of the TNI occupation..

Ir should also be noted that the federal ALP leadership refused to take a stand on the issue of the international court case and did nothing when in office to reverse what the LNP had done. Further, it is currently mostly silent about the rights of Witness K and Bernard Collaery.

Meanwhile, the cases against the two men who courageously did the fair thing continues.  They are being tried as separate cases as Collaery has pleaded not guilty and Witness K has pleaded guilty. They are occurring under a cloud of secrecy in order to maintain the fiction that the issue is all about security and to make it difficult for supporters to be at hearings. The two have even been denied full access to their lawyers!

Just recently, the Melbourne University Press published a book written by Bernard Collaery about this sordid history – OIL UNDER TROUBLED WATER Australia’s Timor Sea Intrigue  [MUP]. This will be an important expose of the dirty tactics employed by Australian leaders against the East Timorese. This will be an excellent read as Collaery is a world renowned lawyer and he has a great sense of humour.

Oil Under Troubled WaterBernard Collaery




ACT OF NO CHOICE Film and Speakers

You are invited to see David Bradbury’s film……………….
a film about the fraudulent and brutal Act of Free Choice conducted by the Indonesian military in West Papua in 1969
…..and be involved in a public discussion about the West Papuan genocide occurring on our doorstep
– led by
*    David Bradbury    – internationally acclaimed Australian film maker
*    Veronica Koman  – an Indonesian human rights lawyer
DATE:           WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL 2020
Doors open 5.30pm. Time of film (watch this space)
VENUE:         CAPRI THEATRE  141 Goodwood Rd, Goodwood SA
TICKETS:        $20 full waged $15 (concession)
available from:
Dave Arkins
Phone:    08 83454480

Donald Barnes
Phone:    08 83593109
0429 997 169

Andy Alcock
Phone:    61 8 83710480
0457 827 014

*  drinks and nibbles will be available at 5.30 pm
* proceeds will go to the independence campaign for West Papua and funding for the film
Organised by the Australian West Papua Association & the Australia East Timor Friendship Association SA
Endorsed by the Australian Institute of International Affairs, the Romero Company, the SA May day Collective

David is an Australian film maker who began his career in 1972 as an ABC radio journalist and who has produced 21 documentary films including many that address difficult international political issues. and highlight the plight of those affected.He has won many international film festival prizes, received five Australian Film Industry awards and two Academy Award nominations.
David’s first film was Frontline – the story of Australian war film maker Neil Davis. Some of his other well known films include Public Enemy Number One  (about Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett), A Hard Rain (about Australia’s anti nuclear movement), Nicaragua – No Pasaran (about the US undermining of the Nicaraguan government) Jabiluka (about the Mirrar people’s struggle against the Jabiluka uranium mine and Chile Hasta Cuando (about the fall of Allende’s government in Chile).
The Act of No Choice tells the tragic story of West Papua and how Indonesia gained control of the country. It is based on present day interviews with Hugh Lunn who was Reuter’s Indonesian correspondent in 1969 and went to West Papua to cover the Act of Free Choice
Lunn reflects on the referendum and how Australia’s nearest neighbours were in effect sold into modern day slavery. The process was organised by the Indonesian military (TNI) and totally undemocratic.
Only 1025 Papuans participated in the ‘vote’ which involved the raising of hands indicating a preference for Indonesian rile over independence. This often occurred in the presence of TNI personnel. Dire consequences awaited those who refused or objected.
According to Lunn, UN observers turned a blind eye and the outcome was supported by the US, UK, France and Australia.

At the heart of this annexation was  West Papua’s vast deposits of gold, copper  and oil West Papua was effectively handed to Indonesia to be exploited by foreign multi national mining companies.
To this day West Papuans are treated as ‘primitives’ in their own country: raped, murdered, tortured and sentenced to 15 years for raising their independence flag, the Morning Star.
For a more detailed overview of David’s films, see:
Veronica Koman is an Indonesian human rights lawyer who focuses on West Papua issues.
Her clients include West Papuans charged with treason for peacefully demanding their right to self-determination
Because of her courageous work,Veronika is now wanted by the Indonesian police on political charges which has forced her to live in exile.
Working for human rights in Indonesia where much of the political life is controlled by the country’s brutal military (TNI) is a very risky occupation.
She was awarded the 2019 Sir Ronald Wilson Human Rights Award.


BOOK REVIEW by Andy Alcock:

SCORCHED EARTH – Peacekeeping in Timor during a campaign of death and destruction  by Tammy Pemper

This book which tells the story of the great contribution of the UN police peacekeepers in the achievement of independence for East Timor is long overdue.

Peter Watt – a former SA police officer and the hero of the story – rang me in July 2019 to see if our East Timor solidarity group in SA (the Australia East Timor Friendship Association SA or AETFA SA) would be interested in promoting the book as we were having a celebration for the twentieth anniversary of the UN coordinated independence referendum in East Timor which occurred on the 30 August 1999.

Of course, we were very interested because we knew the problems that were faced by the UN CIVPOL (civil police) as they were expected to keep the peace for some time before, during and after the referendum while they were unarmed and the Indonesian military (TNI)  and their Timorese militias were armed and running riot. Their targets were any East Timorese who were known to be working for the UN and supporters and promoters of East Timor’s independence from Indonesia

The book is written by Tammy Pemper, Peter’s wife and herself a former UN police peacekeeper in East Timor, so the book is also a romance. Having said that, the book shows clearly the incredibly difficult and the life threatening role that the peace-keepers played during the exercise.

Sixty Australian police officers working under the auspices of the AFP participated in the the UN CIVPOL police force for the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) for the referendum. They were part of an international force of 271 police personnel from 27 countries that were deployed to UNAMET.

Their role was to liaise between the Indonesian military (TNI) and the East Timorese resistance (FALINTIL) and provide advice to the Indonesian Police (POLRI).

Peter was sent to Gleno, a town established by the Indonesians during their 24 year illegal and very brutal occupation of the tiny nation. This is a town that means a lot to AETFA SA members because in 2002 just before the independence celebrations, seven members of the Campaign for an Independent East Timor SA (CIET SA) – the forerunner of AETFA SA, visited the town on a day that Xanana Gusmao – the  former resistance (FALINTIL) supreme commander and later the president, PM and a minister of the independent Timorese government visited the town in a UN helicopter.

This was a joyous occasion. People were in an exuberant mood and wanted to get a glimpse of their hero. However, everywhere we went, we could still see the damage that had been wreaked by the TNI and its militias.

We had a guitar that we donated to the principal and staff of the Konis Santana Memorial High School in Gleno which had also had some of its science block devastated by the TNI and the pro-integration militias. And the damage was still visible.

Scorched Earth gives great detail of what Peter and the other UN police peacekeepers had to face in Gleno and other places before, during and after the referendum.

The whole situation was very confronting as many of the militia members were supercharged on drugs and consequently had a great blood lust. And the TNI and POLRI, which were given the responsibility for the security of the UN administrative and police staff, were mostly unhelpful or urging on the militias.

At the AETFA SA’s celebration on 30 August 2019, one of the speakers was Gizela Moniz da Silva, a tertiary Timorese student who is currently studying in Adelaide. Gizela was a small girl 20 years ago following the referendum and she gave a harrowing description of what it was like dodging the bullets and the machetes of the TNI and its militias. She also added a tragic note of how one of the kids she was attempting to escape with was wounded and tragically died because he could not get to a hospital in time because of militias blocking the road. Her account was very moving and there were a few tears – hers and others. This was the most poignant part of the evening and gave those listening some idea of what the East Timorese and the UN staff and police had to endure.

According to James Dunn, the former Australian consul to East Timor and the author of two books on Timor, who worked with the UN, told me that the militias and the TNI were responsible for approximately another 2000 deaths during the lead up to and after the Referendum. The TNI had already wiped out about a third of the East Timorese population – over 200,000 according to Amnesty International and the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR).

In one very confronting situation, Peter even had a loaded firearm pointed at his head. One US police officer was shot and wounded.

As Gil Scrine, the Australian documentary film maker – currently making the film Reluctant Saviour about Australia’s involvement in the situation in East Timor at the time – has said: “Anyone familiar with the previous 24 years of Indonesian occupation knew this was an act of faith beyond all reason. The very people assigned this protective role had perpetrated a genocide in East Timor second only to the Holocaust in the blood-soaked twentieth Century.”

The Australia PM and Foreign Minister of the time would have been well aware of the situation as Australian security agencies had been monitoring the brutal actions of the TNI for the entire time they occupied East Timor. Yet knowing about the atrocities committed, they still sent the UN police peacekeepers in to do an almost an impossible task.

We should also remember that when the post referendum violence took off, most foreigners left. However, a group of about 80 UN personnel remained. These people showed such incredible courage to assist the positive outcome for the East Timorese and their courage should never be forgotten. Sadly, a recent ABC documentary on the UN peacekeeping in East Timor after the referendum does not give adequate tribute to the very valuable role the UN police played.

This book provides this missing piece of the history of that struggle and is a tribute to the courage and endurance of all those who assisted the East Timorese gain their independence under great adversity.

Andy Alcock, Information Officer, Australia East Timor Friendship Association SA is a founding member of CIET SA (Campaign for an Independent East Timor SA) in 1975 which became AETFA SA after formal Independence in 2002.

If you are interested in purchasing Scorched Earth please contact AETFA SA:                           E:  (Secretary)     Ph: 08 83710480  (Andy Alcock)


Australia East Timor Friendship Association South Australia Inc

AETFA-SA, PO BOX 240, GOODWOOD SA 5034 Secretary: PHONE: 08 8344 3511

AETFA SA Inc invites you to an event to celebrate


– a crucial event in the liberation of Timor-Leste

TIME: 6 PM for 6.30 PM


DATE: 30 AUGUST 2019


COST: $20

Snack foods will be served and drinks will be available at the bar

There will also be an option to stay for dinner afterwards (at your own cost)

– RSVP by 26 August please!

Please contact:

Andy Alcock

Information Officer


Phone: +61 8 83710480

0457 827 014

Donald barnes



Phone: +61 8 83593109

0429 997 169


(AETFA SA was originally the Campaign for an Independent East Timor SA until Timor-Leste’s independence in 2002)


Car parks
15,Halifax St.
3 min walking to pub
$4 for 3 hours
Covered. 2m height limit
On south side close to corner. Across from the King’s Head pub.

11 Wright St
3 min walking to pub
$15 for 2 1/2hours
Uncovered. 18 spaces.
On the corner of John and Wright Streets
John Street is behind the King’s Head

On-street parks available but probably hard to get.

City South stop Opposite the pub

98 and 99 circle line buses stop across the road on Halifax St
Other buses may also run down here.

Latest news on Witness K and B Collaery

The issue of Australia’s relationship with Timor Leste continues, however there is some positive news. Ex-President and Resistance hero, Xanana Gusmao, has recently asserted that the prosecution of whistle-blowers Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery by the Australian Govt is unjust. Their court case, after much secrecy, has now been announced will be held on August 6. However we ask supporters to Call for the Immediate Discontinuance of the Case (see below). Also below is a speech given by Senator Rex Patrick last September on the ethics and legality of pressing these charges.

And we shouldn’t forget that Oz owes Timor more than $5b in stolen revenue from the oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea.

Another Australian, in more serious trouble, is Julian Assange. Action needs to be taken to prevent him being extradited to the U.S. from where he will never return if the extradition takes place. Like Witness K and Bernard Collaery he is a whistle blower for truth and justice.

Postcards are available for anyone who is interested in letting the Attorney-General know that we want the charges against K & BC dropped. Give me a call on 0469 359199 if you would like a postcard or two.

In truth and justice
Bob Hanney                                                                                                                                       Secretary                                                                                                                                          AETFA SA


Background                                                                                                                                      The Australian government spied on its regional neighbour Timor-Leste in 2004 during Treaty negotiations about the sharing of the resources of the Timor Sea. The Foreign Minister at the time was Alexander Downer, and the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was Ashton Calvert. The spy now known as “Witness K” found out that those who ordered the spying were lobbying for Woodside, the oil company involved. He complained to the spy agency and was advised to get a lawyer. He chose Bernard Collaery. When the Timorese government was advised of the spying, they withdrew from the Treaty and began negotiations for an internationally recognised border. The consequent Timor Sea Treaty was signed at the UN in March 2018. Two months later, Witness K and Collaery were charged with making known state secrets. They face two years’ jail.

Call for: An inquiry into the illegal espionage against Timor-Leste in 2004. An inquiry into the relationship between ASIS activities in 2004 in Timor-Leste and the ongoing investigation into the Bali bombings at the same time.
                                                                                                                                              Conduct of the Case                                                                                                                                              The prosecution is using national security legislation in the case without demonstrating how revealing Australian spying on a poor neighbour threatens national security.                               The prosecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery has not the met the minimum standards required for a fair trial:                                                                                                                      •   They have not been informed completely or promptly of the charges and evidence being used against them.                                                                                                                                    •   Undue secrecy and delay has surrounded the case and the hearings.                                        •   The A-G requires that all proceedings be closed and that no media covers the trial.
Other serious matters:                                                                                                                  •   Those who ordered the illegal spying have not faced charges, yet those who told the truth are being treated as criminals.                                                                                                                •   This prosecution is a warning to intelligence personnel that reporting the abuse of law by government will threaten their reputation and livelihood.                                                                  •   The prosecution exposes Australia to international condemnation.                                              •   It erodes the Australian image as a fair, law-abiding and honest regional power.
Recent Developments                                                                                                                             After comments on 5 July 2019 by the former President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmão that the prosecution was unjust, the Australian Prime Minister indicated that he was not ruling out dropping the charges.                                                                                                                                     Now is the time for all Australians to CALL FOR THE IMMEDIATE DISCONTINUANCE  OF THE CASE
*Contact the Prime Minister Phone: 6277 7700 Email: click here for Contact Form Post: The Hon Scott Morrison MP
 Prime Minister
 Parliament House
*Contact the Attorney-General Phone: 6277 7300 Email: Click here for Contact Form Post: The Hon Christian Porter MP PO Box 6022 Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Call for: The immediate discontinuance of the prosecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery.


Senator Rex Patrick’s Speech to Parliament 19 September 2018                   Senate Hansard pp 98-101.                                                                                                 Senator  PATRICK  (South  Australia)  (18:43):   I  rise  to  respond  to  the  Governor-General’s  opening  speech during this address-in-reply,  and I  do so with a  view  to discussing a situation that  we  have before us  that  should be of  great  concern. As we all  know, Australia’s  national  interests are best  served by  a rules  based international  order. The  2016  Defence  white paper  mentioned a rules  based order  53 times. The  Foreign policy white paper  put  out  by DFAT in 2017 mentioned a rules  based order  15 times.
We need to  practise  what  we preach, otherwise  DFAT will become  a  rather  expensive  department  that  has  no  credibility,  and  that’s  not  in  the  national  interests.
This overriding national  interest  is the context  of  my  following remarks. In  March  2002,  three  months  before  East  Timor  became  an  independent  state,  Australia’s  then  foreign  minister, Mr  Alexander  Downer,  withdrew  Australia  from  the  maritime  boundary  jurisdiction  of  the  International  Court  of Justice  and  the  International  Tribunal  for  the  Law  of  the  Sea.  That  meant  East  Timor  couldn’t  claim  its  right  under international  law  to  a  maritime  boundary  halfway  between  the  two  countries’  coastlines.  How’s  that  for  a  rules based international  order? Meanwhile,  on  20  September  2002,  the  Howard  government  awarded  an  exploration  contract  for  an  area  partly on  East  Timor’s  side  of  the  median  line.  East  Timor  protested  but  couldn’t  go  to  the  independent  umpire.
The government  awarded  similar  contracts  in  April  2003  and  February  2004,  also  protested  by  East  Timor.  Then,  in November  2002,  Mr  Downer  warned  East  Timor’s  Prime  Minister  that  Australia  could  hold  up  the  flow  of  gas from  the  Timor  Sea  for  decades.  He  said,  according  to  a  transcript  of  the  negotiating  records,  ‘We  don’t  have  to exploit  the  resources.  We  can  stay  for  here  20,  40,  50  years.  We  are  very  tough.  We  will  not  care  if  you  give information to the media.  Let  me give  you a  tutorial  in politics—not  a chance.’
In  December  2002,  the  Sunrise  project  partners,  Woodside,  ConocoPhillips,  Shell  and  Osaka  Gas,  announced the  indefinite  delay  of  the  project,  an  obvious  tactic  to  pressure  East  Timor  to  accept  Mr  Downer’s  demands.  The bottom  line  here  is  that  Mr  Downer  and  Woodside  wanted  to  force  East  Timor,  one  of  the  poorest  countries  in
the world,  to  surrender  most  of  the  revenue  from  the  Greater  Sunrise  project—revenue  that  it  could  have  used  to  do much  with,  including  dealing  with  its  infant  mortality  rate.
Currently,  45  out  of  1,000  children  in  East  Timor  don’t live past  the age of one.  Yet  our  plan was  to deprive them  of  oil  revenue. It’s  prudent  at  this  time  to  mention  that  one  of  Mr  Downer’s  senior  advisers  at  the  time  was  a  man  named  Mr Josh  Frydenberg. It’s relevant  to something  I  will  talk about  later. Mr  Downer  then  ordered  the  Australian  Secret  Intelligence Service  to  bug  East  Timor’s  negotiations.  ASIS installed  listening  devices  inside  East  Timor’s  ministerial  rooms  and  cabinet  offices  under  the  cover of  a  foreign aid  program,  piling  cynicism  onto  callousness.  The  espionage operation  occurred  at  the  same  time  the  Jemaah Islamiyah  terror  group  bombed  the  Australian  Embassy  in  Jakarta  on  9  September  2004,  when  Mr  Downer  and Prime  Minister  John  Howard  were  assuring  the  public  that  they  were  taking  every  measure  against  extreme Muslim  terrorism  in  Indonesia.
Introducing  another  character  into  the  story,  Mr  Nick  Warner  was  involved  in  the  spying  operation.  Mr  Warner went  on  to  become  the  head  of  ASIS  and  has  since  been  appointed  as  the  Director-General  of  the  Office  of National  Intelligence.  I  also  note  that  Mr  Frydenberg  was  an adviser  in  the  Prime  Minister’s  office  at  the  time  of the spying. I  will  have more  to say  on that  on another  day. Spied  on,  threatened  and  unable  to  seek  redress  at  the  International  Court  of  Justice,  East  Timor  signed  a  treaty in  January  2006.  This  blatantly  unfair  treaty  denied  them  their  right to  a  maritime  border  on  the  median  line.  It also,  in  effect,  created  a  permanent  regime  over  the  length  of  the  Greater  Sunrise  project’s  commercial  life.  The major  beneficiary  of  this  negotiation  was  Woodside  Petroleum.
The  then  Secretary  of  the  Department  of  Foreign Affairs  and  Trade,  Dr  Ashton  Calvert,  had  already  resigned  and  joined  the  board  of  directors  of  Woodside Petroleum.  Mr  Downer  took  a  lucrative  consultancy  with  Woodside  after  leaving  parliament  in  2008.  There  are also  credible  rumours  of  disquiet  within  ASIS  over  the  diversion  of  scarce  intelligence  assets  away  from  the  war on  terror  and towards  East  Timor. Aware  of  Mr Downer’s  consultancy  work  for  Woodside,  Witness  K  complained  to  the  Inspector-General  of Intelligence  and  Security  about  the  East  Timor  operation.  ASIS  took  steps  to  effectively  terminate  his employment—an  outcome  that  is  not  unusual  for  whistleblowers  in  this  country.  In  response,  Witness  K  obtained permission  from  the  IGIS  to  speak  to  an  ASIS-approved  lawyer,  Bernard  Collaery,  a  former  ACT  AttorneyGeneral.  After  2½  years  of  research,  Mr  Collaery  determined  that  the  espionage  operation  in  East  Timor  was unlawful  and may  also have  been an  offence  under  section 334 of  the Criminal  Code  of  the ACT.
Going  to  the  specifics,  the  case  rested  on  the  fact  that  the  then  director of  ASIS,  David  Irvine,  ordered  Witness K, the head of  all  technical  operations for  ASIS, to place  covert  listening devices  in the East  Timorese government buildings.  Those  instructions  enlivened  the  section  334  offence  in  that  it  constituted  a  conspiracy  to  defraud Australia’s  joint  venture  partner,  East  Timor,  by  gaining  advantage  through  improper  methods  when  the Commonwealth was  under  a legal  obligation to conduct  good-faith negotiations.
The  events  that  followed  are  well  known.  The  East  Timorese  took  Australia  to  the  Permanent  Court  of Arbitration,  which  saw  Australia  eventually  agree  to  renegotiate  the  treaty.  That  was  an  acknowledgement that  the operation  had  occurred.  As  part  of  those  proceedings,  Witness  K was  to  give  evidence  in  a  confidential  hearing. David  Irvine—that’s  the  name  I  introduced  a  moment  ago—in  his  subsequent  role  as  DirectorGeneral  of  ASIO, organised  raids  on  the  homes  and  offices  of  Bernard  Collaery  and  Witness  K  on  3  December  2013.  At  the  same time  the  raids  occurred,  the  Australian  government  revoked  Witness  K’s  passport.
We  know  from  inquiries  made at  estimates  last  year  by  then  Senator  Xenophon  that  the  competent  authority  in  law  advising  the  foreign  minister on  Witness  K  was  not  the  AFP  or  ASIO,  as  you  would  normally expect.  Rather,  it  was  ASIS,  headed  by  a somewhat  conflicted Nicholas  Warner,  noting his involvement  in the original  illegal  bugging  operation. The  day  after  the  raids,  former  Attorney-General  George Brandis  came  into  this  Senate  chamber  and  threatened criminal  prosecutions  for  ‘participation,  whether  as  principal  or  accessory,  in  offences  against  the Commonwealth’.  I’ve  recently  found  out  through  Senate  estimates  that  the  AFP  received  a  referral  from  ASIO about  this  matter  on  13  December  2013.  The  AFP  began  its  investigation  on  10  February  2014,  a  few  months later.  One  year  later,  on  18  February  2015,  the  AFP  gave  a  brief  of  evidence  to  the  Commonwealth  Director  of Public  Prosecutions. The  result?  Nothing. Zip.  Nada—until  now. In  May  2018,  three  years  later,  and  just  after  the  Joint  Standing  Committee  on  Treaties  finally  held public hearings  on  the  Timor  Sea  Treaty,  the  CDPP  filed  charges.  Sarah  Naughton  SC  from  the  CDPP  really  has  to explain  this  interesting  timing.  Did  she  and  her  predecessor  hold  off  until  diplomacy  was  out  of  the  way?  And that’s  not  all  she  has  to  explain.
Amongst  the  charges  before  the  ACT  court—this  is  public  domain  information— are  conversations  Collaery  is  alleged  to  have  had  with  a  number  of  ABC  journalists  and  producers:  Emma Alberici,  Peter  Lloyd,  Connor  Duffy,  Marian  Wilkinson  and  Peter  Cronau.  In  fact,  the  first  time  this  was  reported in  the  press,  the  journalist  responsible  was  Leo  Shanahan  on  29  May  2013  in  The  Australian.  Shanahan  quoted Collaery  directly  as  saying: Australia clandestinely  monitored  the negotiation  rooms
occupied  by  the other  party  … … …  … They  broke  in  and  they  bugged,  in  a  total  breach  of  sovereignty,  the  cabinet  room,  the  ministerial  offices  of  then  prime minister  …  and  his  government. But  Leo  Shanahan  wasn’t  mentioned  on  the  charge  sheet.  Only  the  ABC  journalists  were.  Is  she  trying  to  protect him  because  she’s  hoping  to  get  friendly  coverage  of  a  case  from  his  employer,  The  Australian?  Is  she  going  after the  government’s  perceived  enemies  at  the  ABC?
The  prosecution  requires  the  consent  of  the  Attorney-General, Mr  Christian  Porter.  Mr  Porter  consented,  claiming  on  28  June  this  year  that all  he  did  was  agree  to  an independent  decision by  the  CDPP,  but  as  the  Attorney-General  he is no cipher.  He is well  aware he has  the power to  decline  prosecution,  for  example,  by  questioning  the  general  deterrent  value  of  such  court  action.  What  is  the utilitarian  value  of  such  a  prosecution  this  former  lecturer  at  the  University  of  Western  Australia  could  have asked? Relevant  to  this,  on  1  July,  three  days  after  the  Attorney’s  press  release  acknowledging  his  consent,  Niki  Savva, former  senior  adviser  to  Prime  Minister  John  Howard  and  Treasurer  Peter  Costello  and  now  journalist  and commentator, said on ABC’s  Insider: I  just  think  it’s  very  fraught,  the  whole  thing,  because  from  my  understanding,  George  Brandis  had  asked  for  an  additional piece  of  information  from  the CDPP  on  this  issue  which  fortuitously  or  not  landed  on  Christian  Porter’s desk  when  he  took over  with  a  very  strong  recommendation  to  prosecute.  So  I  think  if  Porter  had  ignored  that  and  it  had  subsequently  come  out, then  he  would  have  faced  a  lot  of  grief  so  I  don’t  think  he  had  any  choice  but  to  proceed.
So  everything  hinges  now  on  the court  case. This  extraordinary  statement  cries  out  for  an  explanation.  How  would  Niki  Savva  know  what  Brandis  had  asked the  CDPP  for  and  whether  it  had  been  provided  to  Porter  and  when  or  what  the  CDPP’s  brief  contained?  Is  there  a leak?  Did  Attorney-General  Christian  Porter  leak  the  contents  of  the  brief  to  Niki  Savva  either  directly  or  through an  intermediary  or  did  the  CDPP  leak  it? One  thing  we  do  know  is  that  Ms  Savva  made  the  remarks  and  we  know she’s not  a fantasist. My colleague  in  the  other  place  Andrew  Wilkie  referred  Niki  Savva’s  statement  to  the  AFP  the  next  day,  on  2 July.  They  wrote  to  him  on  18  July  and  said  they  couldn’t  accept  the  matter  but  would  reassess  if  he  provided more  information.  Of  course,  this  is  something  that’s  very  difficult  to  do.
I  asked  some  questions  on  notice  to  the Attorney-General  last  month  and got  a  rather  uninformative  response,  which  I’ve  subsequently  written  to  him about.  I’m  curious  to  know  why  the  AFP  did  not,  at  the  very  least,  make  a  few  calls  to  the  A-G’s  department. Surely  the  A-G  would  respond  properly  to  a  preliminary  investigation  by  the  AFP.  It’s  a  question  I  will  ask  the AFP  at  our  next  estimates. Moving  along,  I,  along  with  Mr  Wilkie  and  my  Senate  colleagues  Senator  McKim  and  Senator
Storer,  also asked  the  AFP  to  investigate  the  original  conspiracy  to  defraud  the  government  of  East  Timor  under  section  334 of  the Criminal  Code of  the  Australian  Capital  Territory.  The AFP  advised us that, should further  material  become available  indicating  Commonwealth  offences  were  being  committed,  the  AFP  will  reassess  the  matter.  This  is  a catch-22  situation  if  I  ever  saw  one.  Clearly,  the  details  of  Mr  Downer’s  alleged  conspiracy  to  defraud  the government  of  East  Timor  are  unavailable  to  people  outside  the  principal  alleged  conspirators.  How  are  we  meant to  get  those  details?
There’s  a  prima  facie  case  of  a  section  334  violation,  patently  so  because  Witness  K  is  an amenable witness.  It’s up to the AFP  to request  an interview  with Witness  K  himself. Intelligence  officers  are  not  above  the law.  We  know  this  from  a  number  of  cases,  including  the  High  Court case  of  A  v  Hayden,  also  known  as  the  ASIS  case.  The  AFP  advised  me  on  3  August  this  year  that  they  have  no jurisdictional  issues  investigating  crimes  committed  by  intelligence  agencies,  so  why  haven’t  they?  Perhaps  the relations  with  Minister  Frydenberg  and  the  government  are  more  important.
Perhaps  the  fact  that  the AFP  are  now technically  part  of  the  intelligence  community  that  Mr  Nick  Warner  happens  to  head  has  created  resistance  to investigate. I  did  ask  the  Attorney-General  to  confirm  if  the  current  head  of  ASIS,  Mr  Paul  Symon,  was  informed  of  the prosecution  of  Witness  K  and  Mr  Collaery.  I  asked  the  same  about  Minister  Frydenberg and  Mr  Nick  Warner—no response.  There  are  many  more  questions.  Ms  McNaughton  is  handling  the  case  through  her  organised  crime  and counterterrorism  unit  as  though  Witness  K  and  Bernard  Collaery  are  potential  terrorists.  The  avenue  of  attack  sees the  use  of  the  National  Security  Information  Act  2004,  which  was  enacted  during  the  war  on  terror  in  response  to terrorist  threats.  It  gave enormous power  to the prosecution to seek orders from  the court  to classify  information as confidential  based on decisions by  the executive as  to what  information is confidential. Of  course  some  secrecy  is  needed. ASIS  officers’  identities  must  be  kept  secret,  because  if  foreign  governments know  who  our  spies are  then  they  can  identify  the  agents  in  their  countries  and  take  countermeasures  against them.  If  foreign  governments  were  to  learn  Witness  K’s  real  name,  they  might  be  able  to  identify  his  agents  in their  countries  and  take  countermeasures  against  them.  People  who  betray  their  country  would  no  longer  dare  risk their  safety  by  dealing with Australian spies.
But  Witness  K  and  Mr  Collaery  appear  fully  committed  to  this  kind  of  secrecy.  Indeed,  Witness  K  can  give evidence  whilst  having  his  identity  concealed.  That  is  precisely  what  happened  in  the  British  inquest  into  the downing  of  an  RAF  Hercules  aircraft  in  2005.  Among  those  killed  was  an  Australian  airman,  Flight  Lieutenant Pau  Pardoel.  All  the  special  forces
witnesses  who  testified  had  their  identities  protected.  The  same  method  could easily  be handled by  the ACT Magistrates  Court. But  in  this  case  a  fundamental  unfairness  occurs  because  the  prosecution  is  proposing  orders  that  the  entire matter  be  heard  in  secrecy.
This  is  from  a  government  which  repeatedly  makes  national  security  public  interest claims  in  this  place  in  respect  of  orders  for  production  and has  been  found  to  be  wrong  consistently.  This government  has  lost  all  credibility  in  this  space.  The  approach  is  blatantly  aimed  at  giving  the  executive  the  power to  classify  lawful  behaviour  as  secret  and  to  prevent  that  behaviour  from  being  disclosed.  In  plain  English,  the government  is trying to  prosecute people for  revealing its  crimes.
The  people  of  East  Timor  have  traditionally  been  good  allies  and  loyal  friends  of  Australia.  Their  support  of our  soldiers  fighting  the  Japanese  in 1942  was  vital.  The  East  Timorese  suffered  40,000  deaths  due  to  aerial bombings  and  the  destruction  of  villages  suspected  of  sheltering  Australian  troops  by  the  Japanese.  Australian troops  were  protected  at  the  expense  of  and  the  lives  of  many,  many  East  Timorese  people,  Senator  Neville Bonner  said  in  a  statement  to  the  Senate  in  1977.  And  yet  the  government  ordered  an  espionage  operation  against East  Timor’s  negotiators  to  gain  significant  advantage  in  those  negotiations.  The  operation  has  caused considerable  disruption,  ending  only  recently  when  we  renegotiated  the  treaty—hopefully,  this  time  without spying. In  the  period  between  the  spying  and  now,  East  Timor’s  sentiment  towards  Australia  has  deteriorated substantially  and  China  has  managed  to  increase  its  influence  through  the  use  of  soft  power.
The  government sanctimoniously  calls  for  a  rules  based  international  order,  and  that  just  looks  like  sheer  humbug.  It’s  time  for  this farce  to  end;  it’s  time  to  bury  this  issue.  We  did  the  wrong  thing  to  East  Timor.  It  was  called  out  by  honourable people  and  now  we  seek  to  prosecute  them.  Australia  committed  a  crime;  the  government  committed  a  crime.  Noone  is  above  the  law  and  we  need  to  investigate  that  properly.  All  of  this  stuff  to  do  with  Witness  K  and  Mr Collaery  in  the  courts  is  just  ripping  the  scar  off  a  wound  in  East  Timor,  and  I  urge  the  government  to  rethink  the process they’re going through. Thank you.