Australia’s shame-Timor spying and secret trials to cover it up

 Rex Patrick on Timor spying: Albanese government’s first secret trial after only 67 days

by Rex Patrick

Sound-proof doors: Rex Patrick at the AAT. He is fighting for release of Timor spying archives.

Rex Patrick is fighting for the release of documents which expose Australia’s spying on Timor-Leste to cheat the little country out of oil and gas reserves. He is in court in Melbourne this minute but it’s a game of “We can neither confirm or deny”. The former senator and unbowed transparency warrior kicks off his first column for Michael West Media today.  

If you thought the Attorney-General dropping charges against Bernard Collaery was a sign that secret trials in Australian courts and tribunals were a thing of the past, you would be wrong.

Today, in Melbourne, a secret hearing is taking place where the government is trying to prevent the public disclosure of 22-year-old cabinet documents relating to the Howard government’s plans to defraud the newly independent and impoverished nation of Timor-Leste of their oil and gas resources.

January 1 is the biggest day of the year for the National Archives. It’s the day they unveil cabinet papers from 20 years prior. Last year, among the documents named but not released was a year 2000 cabinet submission entitled “Timor Gap Negotiations”.

I put in a request to get access to it. The Archives is an organisation charged with safely storing and making available significant historical government documents. But their response was one of ‘‘sorry, no access’’.

Dirty old deeds

That was the wrong thing to say to a transparency warrior.

Everyone – Australians, Timorese and informed members of the international community – knows that we did the dirty on Timor-Leste in 2004 when we used the Australian Secret Intelligence Service to spy on their sea boundary negotiating team after we had agreed to negotiate in good faith.

Yet the government has adopted a crazy ‘‘neither confirm nor deny’’ approach to the spying operation, which just makes our officials look like a child with chocolate all over his face in front of the fridge neither confirming or denying they touched the chocolate.

For the rest of this article please go to source link below.


By Rex Patrick

Rex Patrick is a former Senator for South Australia and earlier a submariner in the armed forces. Best known as an anti-corruption and transparency crusader, Patrick can be contacted on Twitter at @MrRexPatrick and and on Facebook and LinkedIn

(Source:; July 28, 2022;
Back to INF

Loading please wait...