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Democrats oppose war games plan with Indonesia



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SENATOR SID SPIN DIE R AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRAT SENATOR FOR VICTORIA

MEDIA RELEASE

P A R L IA M E N T O F A U S T R A L IA · THE SENATE

13 March 1992 92/135

Democrats oppose war games plan with Indonesia

The Australian Democrats today expressed their total opposition to an expanded program of military exercises with Indonesia, particularly in view of continuing concern about the Dili massacre.

Democrats' Defence Spokesperson Senator Sid Spindler said th at yesterday's proposal by Vice-Admiral Beaumont was unacceptable.

He said that joint exercises would be of no benefit to Australia's defence, could deepen our involvement in Indonesian human rights violations, and could provoke tensions with regional neighbours.

"The primary role of the Indonesian armed forces is to maintain internal control", Senator Spindler said.

"There is a serious danger that full-scale joint exercises - particularly army and air force manoeuvres - would mainly serve to ‘improve’ Indonesia's repression campaigns in East Timor, Irian Jaya, Aceh and elsewhere. ·

"We should not forget th at many Indonesian military officials, including the Chief of the Defence Force, appear completely unrepentant about the Dili massacre.

"Military co-operation can only be justified if it is low-level and aimed ^olelv at reducing mutual suspicion, Vice-Admiral Beaumont's proposal goes well beyond that.

"Joint exercises would be of negligible value to our defence, for the obvious reason that there is no foreseeable threat to Australia.

"Vice-Admiral Beaumount himself concedes th at Indonesia is not a potential threat, and no-one is going to invade Indonesia to provide a springboard for attacks on Australia.

"A new program of large-scale exercises is unnecessary and provocative. Proposals are needed to reduce military activity in the region, not increase it."

For further information: Senator Spindler

Richard Bolt

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