Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Australia facing crisis of leadership



Download PDFDownload PDF

'X . z Deputy Leader of. the Opposition

■ \ ■

SPEECH BY TOM UREN, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON 12th OCTOBER 1976.

Australia today is facing a crisis of leadership. The

Prime Minister with his succession of foreign affairs blunders

and ...ineptitude is providing the world with a ludicrous image?

His indiscretion in China ,h£.s hawkish view on the Indian

Ocean and now the Jakarta follies has discredited Australia in

the eyes of the world.

There is no escaping this plain, simple fact. .

In his efforts to appease the Generals in Jakarta, he has

made Australia look two-faced, deceptive and insensitive to the

suffering of 600,000 East Timorese.

In this he has scarred the clear conscience of many thousands

of Australians. .

Can Australians feel a n y .sense of pride in our defence of

political and social freedom in the world today? ’

Surely the answer following this latest tragic series of

blunders is no?

Again, I must stress the facts that have accumulated

over the period of the Fraser Government^ period in office.

On two occasions the radio links with East Timor have been

terminated by the Prime Minister to appease the Generals.

This was a blatant attempt to prevent the East Timorese

case”belng· Heard.

Whilst the war has continued, defence aid to Indonesia has

been increased - no doubt some of which will be used against the

East Timroese.

The humanitarian aid ship was obstructed and virtually prevented

P«rliar-~— ■ *T ----- --- ' . a rsT 2600

2.

from providing necessary aid to the suffering people of East Timor.

The catalogue of appeasement and obstruction has continued

unabated.

The Foreign Minister, and one could be excused for believing

that in reality it was the Prime Minister, for he is really our

Foreign Minister, inexcusably failed.to mention East Timor in his

recent speech to the United Nations.

What an exercise in cyncism.

What an exercise in attempting to water-down the w o rld1s

hostility to the brutal Indonesian invasion of East Timor.

How did Australia look in the eyes of the world. A war less

than 500 miles from Australia on which there has been substantial

discussion in Australia and it fails to rate even a mention.

What a farce.

Who does the Foreign Minister think he's kidding.

This Saturday 16 October, is the first anniversary of one

of the blackest days in Australia's history.

On 16 October 1975 five Australian journalists who were

bravely communicating to the world the Indonesian secret war

- in East Timor were murdered. 1

The Government throughout 1976 has been negligent in its

responsibilities to the Australian people in not pursuing the .

full facts surrounding their tragic deaths.

Despite overwhelming evidence of. Indonesian complicity in

their murder, no forthright statements have been made.

Furthe-rr"and"more^Tiamarg_ ing”to"thi^s"cynic'al""gbvef nnrerrt"is"tHat

the Prime Minister was in Jakarta less than one week before the

anniversary of their deaths. · ■

Did the Prime Minister raise the matter?

Did he state to the Indonesian President the belief of most

Australians that they were killed by Indonesian troops?

3.

Did he protest at thi's inevitable conclusion drawn from all

the evidence gathered in.~ relation to this murder in Balibo?

We can only have the deepest concern that he did not.

Certainly the communique signed by the Prime Minister and the

Presiding General in Jakarta failed to even mention this very

tragic and contentious issue.

Expediency mounted the platform in Jakarta. Once more the?. · *

Prime Minister has let down the Australian people in his unprincipled

fumble towards appeasement. ,

Yet even if this list of commission and omission by the

Fraser Government was to end there/ί , #e would have no room for

a sense of well-being*;

belief that we had tried our best to assist the East Timorese.

. For the visit of the Prime Minister and his servant to Jakarta

can only astonish the sensibilities of even the most resigned of

us.

. Prior to leaving Australia the tightlipped Prime Minister

on several occasions tried desperately to avoid the East Timor

issue.

Typical of his attitude was his answer to a question from the

Member for Fremantle on 5 October, I quote: -

"As I have said on a number of occasions, the policy

in relation to Timor has been stated very clearly

and unequivocally by the Foreign Minister".

Steadfastly he repeated this over and_„over_ agaiin._.

The Foreign Minister echoed this.

In the Indonesian Parliament and in the communique the

so-called 4 point policy of this Government was not repeated.

Rather#; the Indonesian and Australian people were told that .

we must now "look to the future".

What -he really meant-was -let us-lift-up-the—corner of the

carpet and hide the dirt from sight.

The reality of this classic case of short sightedness was

revealed by L t . General Sudharmono when he said on 11 October

that the Prime Minister's visit had led to the justifiable belief

that de facto recognition has been given to Indonesia's occupation

of East Timor.

I quote the General:

"Mr. Fraser's statement has very great importance for us.

It implies that Australia has recognised 'the integration .

of East Timor into Indonesia".

It is fortunate that this . · . foreign policy double-dealing of

the Fraser administration are revealed in unexpected and unusual

w a y s .

. We all remember the China dialogue well.

It shows the grave danger to Australia's foreign and perhaps,

domestic policy of this Prime Minister.

On the one hand he expresses in private meetings points of

view which clash with his public utterances.

In the case of East Timor it is impossible to deny that .

the contradiction between private scheming and public pronouncement

has reached epidemic proportions.

This contrast is nowhere more clearly felt than in relation

to East Timor.

For whilst this private scheming and appeasement of the

Jakarta_Generals__continues_,__thojusands_of_innacent_p_eop„le-J.n_Eas„t ..

Timor are suffering and dying.

No greater act of callousness can be found in Australia's recent

history.

Yet the Prime Minister's duplicity and deception h a s , and

most likely will,continue. .

5.

What is left of the .so-called 4 point East Timor policy put

by the Foreign Minister earlier this year.

The Prime Minister has not publicly reiterated the first

three to the Indonesian Parliament or General Suharto.

In the "communique" he only says:

"The Prime Minister recalled that Australian policy, on

the East Timor question had been clearly set out by the

Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Parliament".

What sort of explanation is this? -

What a convenient usage of words. The inescapable conclusion

is that the Prime Minfster has sold, out the East Timorese and the

conscience and integrity of all Australians.

What has the Prime Minister achieved out of this latest

foreign policy blunder.

He has encouraged the extremist elements of the Indonesian

Generals to proceed with military aggression.

Indonesian Lt. General Sudharmona has pulled the rug out from

under him and shown all Australians the deception, implicit in the

Prime Minister's actions in Indonesia.

This appeasement is the more disastrous when we look at the

long term crises of Indonesia and the region.

The $10 billion Pertamina loss, the increasing political

repression in Indonesia and the continuing poverty and exploitation

will have wide-ranging effects on the social, economic and political

fabric of Indonesia.

The separist wars waged by movements in West Iran, Moluccas»

Kalimantan and Sumatra are certain to create instability for the

Javanese based ruling military regime in Indonesia.

Further what will the Papua New Guineans think of this

sell-out?

6.

Especially when it has come so readily and accompanied

with a script of deception,ί-that could have almost been written

by the Jakarta Generals themselves.

We note already that the fourth point of providing aid to

the East Timorese through the .international Red Cross has been

dropped altogether. .

Rather, we have given $80,000 to the Indonesian Red Cross

which has already broken Red Cross understandings that aid should

be provided to all sides in a conflict.

What have we as a nation to gain by so easily, forgetting

our principles in East Timor? ;

How will future generations of the diverse peoples in

our region consider this tragic episode of appeasement? ·

The answer is clearly that all Australian's have lost.

We have seen how the Fraser Government, can so easily forget

principle and be so subservient to a repressive militarist government

One can only fear the consequences in the long term of this

weakness and appeasement.

Since returning the Prime Minister has only added to our

consternation.

Hidden away amongst the vague words of this secretive man/

he occasionally gives us a glimpse of his future actions.

He has already obeyed the request of the Geriarals :tp close .

the radio. "

What of the other important element of the General's request.

On A.M. this morning, he was asked the following question and

made the following reply".

The question was: "Would you be happy to see a limiting of the

activities of Fretilin people in Australia?

Mr. Fraser answered "I think I have already made it quite

plain in Parliament that the Government does not believe that it

is appropriate activity for people to use Australian soil to help .

cause difficulties in other areas". .

7.

It is here that I believe the deceptive policies of the . · ' · v. ·

Prime Minister are fully revealed. . "

It is evident that he believes that the activities of the

East Timorese independence movement in Australia is causing .

"disruption"<

How can he hold this attitude if he has not recognised the

Indonesian armed takeover? -

Can he really believe that the putting of the East Timorese

case for self-determination before the Australian people be a

disruption unless he has in fact recognised the illegal incorporation?

Surely not.

All f&ij£ minded Australians will bitterly resist this latest

forewarning of the attempt by the - Prime Minister to further seal

off East Timor from the rest of the world.