“Do to others as you would have them do to you,” is how I began one of my first Harrison White Journalist articles almost two years ago. In the article (harrisonwhitejournalist.com/2016/10/04/the-timor-gap) I detailed the plight of East Timor’s struggle to claim a fair maritime border against the Australian Government.
Over the past few months there has finally been a semi-conclusion to what only be described as a national disgrace. Negotiations have concluded with Australia offering to give East Timor 80 per cent of the revenue if the oil and gas is piped to Darwin, while East Timor wants a 70 per cent share of the resources processed on its shores.
However, even with Australia finally conceding to it’s own well drummed war cry of nations adhering to a ‘rules based order’. The Australian Government has sunken to an if possible new low in the this decade long dispute.
It has just come to light and only thanks to the Independent MP Andrew Wilkie’s recent speech given under the protection of Parliamentary Privilege. That the Australian Government has secretly charged former ASIO spy and his lawyer with the 2004 bugging of East Timor’s ministerial offices.
Mr Wilkie told Parliament’s Federation Chamber that the former spy, known as Witness K, and his lawyer Bernard Collaery, a former ACT attorney-general, were now the subject of criminal charges by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
“The bottom line is that the spying on East Timor was indeed illegal and unscrupulous,” Mr Wilkie said. “Although it was the Howard government’s initiative, the crime has subsequently been covered up by all governments ever since.
“And now this government wants to turn the former ASIS officer, and his lawyer, into political prisoners.”
Mr Wilkie said ASIS had, on the then-Howard government’s direction, installed listening devices in East Timor’s ministerial offices to eavesdrop on its deliberations “and put Australia in a vastly superior negotiating position” over the boundary dispute.
He said Witness K, then the head of ASIS technical operations, had complained about the operation to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, the watchdog for the nation’s intelligence community.
The case will now be fought in court, with obvious high security clearance required there is not much further that can be commented upon in this article. However, what can be expanded upon is the shocking treatment given to whistleblowers. Many of whom undertake the career ending action to conduct the famous journalistic phrase of ‘shining light in dark spaces’.
The obvious names that come to mind of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) and of course Australia’s own Julian Assange, all of whom have had forever life changing consequences for their actions. I can only hope that in their subsequent trial and life after, that Witness K and Bernard Collaery receive a better fate, for their sake and Australia’s.