Subject: ABC: Balibo memo sent to Whitlam within a day, inquest told

ABC

May 9, 2007

Balibo memo sent to Whitlam within a day, inquest told

A Sydney inquest has heard that an intercepted message about the deaths of the Balibo Five was sent to the Prime Minister's Department within a day of the men being killed.

Yesterday, the then prime minister Gough Whitlam told the inquest he did not learn of the deaths until five days after they happened.

A former head of the Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO) is giving evidence at the inquest into the death of Brian Peters, one of the five Australian-based journalists who were killed at Balibo in East Timor in 1975.

Gordon Jockel was the head of the JIO, which reported intelligence to the government, between 1973 and 1979.

He told the Glebe Coroners Court he first learned of the deaths when he was shown an intercepted message either the same day or the following morning.

He said the Defence Signals Directorate officer who showed him the intercept said it had also gone to the Prime Minister's Department.

Mr Jockel said he briefed then defence minister Bill Morrison a short time later.

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ABC Premium News (Australia)

May 9, 2007 Wednesday 6:21 AM AEST

Indonesia planned Balibo Five murders: ex-soldier

A former soldier who was in charge of Indonesian forces in East Timor at the time of the Balibo Five killings says the Indonesian military wanted the Australian-based journalists killed.

Former East Timorese soldier Lourenco Hornai Dos-Reis, who now lives in Portugal, was speaking via video-link at a special session of the inquest into the death of Balibo Five cameraman Brian Peters last night.

The Glebe Coroners Court heard Mr Dos-Reis was told at least three Indonesian officers had discussed an intention to kill the journalists.

He said the military wanted the journalists dead so they could not witness the invasion of the former Portugese territory by Indonesian forces.

Mr Peters was one of five Australian-based journalists who were killed in the incident in 1975.

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The Advertiser (Australia)

May 9, 2007 Wednesday State Edition

SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 10

LENGTH: 525 words

HEADLINE: Gough kept in dark on newsmen's death

BYLINE: BELINDA TASKER, PAUL MULVEY, SYDNEY

BODY:

GOUGH Whitlam's defence minister admits he concealed secret details from the prime minister about the deaths of five Australian newsmen in East Timor in 1975.

Mr Whitlam and his former defence minister Bill Morrison were star witnesses in Sydney yesterday at the inquest into the death of cameraman Brian Peters, who was killed along with four colleagues in the border town of Balibo 32 years ago.

Sitting in the witness box at Glebe Coroner's Court, a calm Mr Whitlam said he knew nothing about the journalists' deaths until five days after they were shot.

He also told the court he was confident he had seen all secret intelligence about the incident.

However, Mr Morrison revealed that while he was shocked when a top spy chief told him the journalists were feared dead within hours of them being shot on October 16, 1975, he didn't tell Mr Whitlam.

He also knew in the days before the shootings about Indonesia's plan to send troops into East Timor but kept Mr Whitlam in the dark. Asked by NSW deputy state coroner Dorelle Pinch if he told Mr Whitlam after October 16 about the journalists, Mr Morrison replied, ''No''.

He said around that time Mr Whitlam was dealing with controversies surrounding a ministerial resignation amid the fallout of the so-called Khemlani loans affair and a threat by opposition leader Malcolm Fraser to block the supply of legislation in the Senate. ''I think the prime minister had enough problems on his hands,'' Mr Morrison told the court. ''And it was on the pain of death to go anywhere near his office at that stage.''

Official reports have said that Mr Peters and his colleagues Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham, Malcolm Rennie and Tony Stewart were killed in crossfire between Indonesian and Fretilin troops.

But the inquest has heard evidence they were deliberately killed by Indonesian soldiers. Dressed in a navy blue suit, white shirt and dark-coloured tie, Mr Whitlam said he did not know about the deaths until early October 21, 1975.

''Officials from the departments of defence and foreign affairs told me in my office that in Indonesian military traffic that had been intercepted by the Defence Signals Division was a voice communication in Timor which said there were four white bodies in Balibo,'' he said.

Mr Whitlam said the fact he was in Sydney and Melbourne on October 18-19 and unable to access a secure phone line may have prevented intelligence staff from contacting him earlier.

Questioned for almost three hours, the 90-year-old Labor elder statesman also could not remember seeing several intelligence cables indicating Indonesia planned an incursion into East Timor in mid-October or that the newsmen were executed on orders.

Outside the court, relatives of the journalists expressed disappointment at Mr Whitlam's testimony.

Mr Shackleton's widow Shirley branded Mr Whitlam ''despicable''.

"Officials from the departments of defence and foreign affairs told me in my office that in Indonesian military traffic that had been intercepted by the Defence Signals Division was a voice communication in Timor which said there were four white bodies in Balibo.

--

The Advertiser (Australia)

May 9, 2007

Gough kept in dark on newsmen's death

BELINDA TASKER, PAUL MULVEY, SYDNEY

GOUGH Whitlam's defence minister admits he concealed secret details from the prime minister about the deaths of five Australian newsmen in East Timor in 1975.

Mr Whitlam and his former defence minister Bill Morrison were star witnesses in Sydney yesterday at the inquest into the death of cameraman Brian Peters, who was killed along with four colleagues in the border town of Balibo 32 years ago.

Sitting in the witness box at Glebe Coroner's Court, a calm Mr Whitlam said he knew nothing about the journalists' deaths until five days after they were shot.

He also told the court he was confident he had seen all secret intelligence about the incident.

However, Mr Morrison revealed that while he was shocked when a top spy chief told him the journalists were feared dead within hours of them being shot on October 16, 1975, he didn't tell Mr Whitlam.

He also knew in the days before the shootings about Indonesia's plan to send troops into East Timor but kept Mr Whitlam in the dark. Asked by NSW deputy state coroner Dorelle Pinch if he told Mr Whitlam after October 16 about the journalists, Mr Morrison replied, ''No''.

He said around that time Mr Whitlam was dealing with controversies surrounding a ministerial resignation amid the fallout of the so-called Khemlani loans affair and a threat by opposition leader Malcolm Fraser to block the supply of legislation in the Senate. ''I think the prime minister had enough problems on his hands,'' Mr Morrison told the court. ''And it was on the pain of death to go anywhere near his office at that stage.''

Official reports have said that Mr Peters and his colleagues Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham, Malcolm Rennie and Tony Stewart were killed in crossfire between Indonesian and Fretilin troops.

But the inquest has heard evidence they were deliberately killed by Indonesian soldiers. Dressed in a navy blue suit, white shirt and dark-coloured tie, Mr Whitlam said he did not know about the deaths until early October 21, 1975.

''Officials from the departments of defence and foreign affairs told me in my office that in Indonesian military traffic that had been intercepted by the Defence Signals Division was a voice communication in Timor which said there were four white bodies in Balibo,'' he said.

Mr Whitlam said the fact he was in Sydney and Melbourne on October 18-19 and unable to access a secure phone line may have prevented intelligence staff from contacting him earlier.

Questioned for almost three hours, the 90-year-old Labor elder statesman also could not remember seeing several intelligence cables indicating Indonesia planned an incursion into East Timor in mid-October or that the newsmen were executed on orders.

Outside the court, relatives of the journalists expressed disappointment at Mr Whitlam's testimony.

Mr Shackleton's widow Shirley branded Mr Whitlam ''despicable''.

"Officials from the departments of defence and foreign affairs told me in my office that in Indonesian military traffic that had been intercepted by the Defence Signals Division was a voice communication in Timor which said there were four white bodies in Balibo.

- FORMER PRIME MINISTER (1972-75) GOUGH WHITLAM

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The Australian

May 9, 2007 Wednesday

Whitlam's recall vivid, if patchy

ERROL SIMPER

THE name, the witness stated, was Edward Gough Whitlam. And he'd been Australia's prime minister from December 5, 1972, to November 11, 1975. The alert emphasis on the precise dates belied the witness's 90 years and the steel walking-aid resting to his right.

Whitlam remains full of surprises. He can, for example, still read without glasses. Driven through a side-entrance to the Glebe Coroners Court in inner Sydney just before 10am, he was already waiting in the witness stand when doors to the court inquiring into Brian Peters' death were opened.

It was a bit daunting really. You don't expect to walk into what you think is an empty room and see Gough Whitlam sitting there: blue suited, impassive, all but statuesque.

It fell to Mark Tedeschi, the counsel assisting NSW's deputy state coroner, Dorelle Pinch, to break the ice. Whitlam, aided by diaries and his 1985 book The Whitlam Government, stumbled just twice in more than two hours of evidence.

Both lapses were faintly surprising. He couldn't bring to mind the leader of the Opposition who, back in 1975, had been threatening to block his government's supply bills. Pinch and others muttered it had been one John Malcolm Fraser. And he lost a month over Indonesia's December 1975 invasion of East Timor. Whitlam thought it had commenced on November 7 while he, not Fraser, led the government.

But for a man of 90 recalling events from more than 30 years ago, he was a good witness. He kept his answers fairly short. If he rambled occasionally, it was clearly to reiterate something he wanted understood.

He was enough in command that Tedeschi, Pinch and his other two inquisitors -- John Stratton and Alan Swanwick -- treated him as they would any other witness.

Why was he there, in Glebe Coroner's Court, in the first place? Why did his recall matter? Peters was a cameraman killed in Balibo during an Indonesian incursion on October 16, 1975. He was one of five Australia-based newsmen slain. The others were Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham, Malcolm Rennie and Tony Stewart.

Whitlam has long maintained, and

Continued -- Page 18

From Page 15

yesterday repeated, he knew nothing of the deaths until October 21, 1975. Some close to the victims' families and others say Jakarta cables made it clear at least as early as October 13 that Indonesian-backed forces were to enter East Timor. They accuse Whitlam of inaction. They believe the five journalists could have been evacuated or, at least, warned of impending danger.

But the former Labor prime minister was implacable. He didn't even know the newsmen were in East Timor until he was told about an intercept of a conversation involving the Indonesian military referring to ''four white bodies''. He remembered it vividly as October 21; a Tuesday. That was the first he had heard. No one at the bar table could shake him on that.

Chauffeured away in his silver Statesman, he was besieged by cameramen, but couldn't get away because the lights were red. A posse of police strode to the rescue, blocking off an intersection and waving the car through.

Full of surprises. It's a rare occasion when Gough avoids photographers.

--

The Australian

May 9, 2007 Wednesday

Opinion / Op Ed

Arndt shared insights of rare social benefit

P.P. McGuinness

One of Australia's great intellectuals had some wise understanding of the Balibo controversy

of 1975, suggests P.P. McGuinness

THE coronial inquiry into the 1975 deaths of the five journalists in Balibo, East Timor, is an interesting exercise in raking over old controversies -- or should be. So far it seems to be yet another of the many politicised attacks on Indonesia which have characterised this issue from the start. Yesterday, the prime minister at the time, Gough Whitlam, appeared to defend yet again his own and his government's response to, and knowledge of, what happened.

In a word, unlike many of his decisions in government, this seems to have been one of Whitlam's most sensible. The truth about East Timor, then and now, has never been in favour among the political Left, which in this matter includes the media and much of the Catholic Church. It is still not clear exactly what happened and why at Balibo, but there appears to have been a good deal of foolhardiness by the journalists who died.

One of the great modern Australian analysts of Indonesia was Heinz Arndt (he died in May 2002, at the age of 87), who was also a keen observer of events in East Timor subsequent to the Indonesian invasion and annexation of 1975. Unfortunately he, like many genuinely knowledgeable witnesses of these events, was not only subjected to persistent vilification for refusing to accept the fashionable version of events, but is no longer available to bear witness.

So I was fascinated the other day to come across a letter which he wrote to me dated December 21, 1994, commenting on an article which I had written on the subject.

The crucial paragraph of the letter reads: ''Some weeks after news came of the death of the five Australian journalists, Mick Shann [a distinguished Australian diplomat and ambassador to Indonesia] rang me with the following story: The previous day, a middle-aged man called on him, just arrived from Darwin. He had been in a Darwin pub when he encountered the five journalists, excitedly telling him how they were going to hit the headlines. To get as close to the frontline as possible, they were going to put on Fretilin uniforms. (We were told the Indonesian military had dressed them in Fretilin uniforms after they had been killed. It also became known that they had explicit instructions from their head offices not to get near the fighting.) Mick told me the informant was prepared to confirm the story in a statutory declaration. Mick asked me what he should do. We discussed the pros and cons but in the end decided not to go public since the press and activists would turn it against the department [of External Affairs] and Mick.''

There is no doubt that the Indonesian army acted brutally, then and afterwards. But Arndt's comments on East Timor subsequent to 1975 served to dispel the myth beloved of the activists that under Indonesian rule the province suffered famine and deprivation. In fact, by the time of independence it was far better off than it had ever been under Portuguese rule, and so far arguably than under the regime which has followed independence. And its social services and education system were far superior to anything the Catholic Church had allowed when it controlled these areas. The events of independence unfortunately, with fault on both sides, destroyed a good deal of this beneficial Indonesian legacy.

But Arndt is no longer there to act as an honest analyst of these matters, in the face of abuse and denigration from those with a political axe to grind in Australia -- sometimes referred to as the war party against Indonesia. (They are still peddling a similar line about West Papua.)

What led to my referring to this letter was a reading of a new book on Heinz Arndt's life and work, Arndt's Story (ANU E Press and Asia Pacific Press, by Peter Coleman, Selwyn Cornish and Peter Drake).

This is a detailed account of Arndt's life and work prior to and particularly since his arrival in Australia in 1946, to a lectureship in economics at the University of Sydney. He had behind him a term in an internment camp (he was originally from Germany), and a distinguished first publication, Economic Lessons of the 1930s.

In due course he became a professor first at the old Canberra University College and then at the Australian National University. At first a socialist and adherent of Keynesian economics, he developed intellectually and professionally to a position closer to that of Milton Friedman, partly through his earlier specialisation in monetary economics: he was the author of what became for many years the standard work in the area, The Australian Trading Banks (1957 and many reprints), and many other books and articles.

But his greatest contribution to Australian economic life came from his interest in development economics and our near neighbours. Early on he realised how important Indonesia was for Australia and he became a leading scholar of that country's economy, thus no doubt earning the enmity of those who thought the future had to be socialist (they began as fans of the Sukarno regime and the Indonesian Communist Party), and the scholars who wanted to preserve traditions in aspic at the expense of the welfare of the people.

He founded and largely wrote for years in the Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, which had world significance as the main English language publication in this area.

Thus the ANU became an important centre for the study of Indonesia, as well as of other countries of interest to Australia. Arndt's students have continued to have great influence in these matters, and so have contributed much to Australia's understanding of its region.

This account of Arndt's life and work contains much that will mainly interest academic bureaucrats, but it is a rare portrait of one of our great immigrants who became a benefactor of his new country. Would that more of our economists (not to mention sociologists, anthropologists, etc) were of such social utility.

He was also for years a co-editor (with Coleman) of Quadrant but severed his connection with the magazine when it had an episode of protectionism and economic irrationalism under Robert Manne in 1990s.

P.P.McGuinness is the editor of Quadrant magazine. Arndt's Story is available in hard copy and online at:

http://epress.anu.edu.au/arndt--citation.html 


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