Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Statements by Members
Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the murders of two Australian, two British and one New Zealand journalist in the town of Balibo in the early days of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor. Reporter Greg Shackleton, camera operator Garry Cunningham, sound recordist Tony Stewart, reporter Malcolm Rennie and camera operator Brian Peters, now known collectively as the Balibo Five, had been covering the imminent invasion for Australia's Seven and Nine networks when they were shot and killed by Indonesian military forces. I also mark the death of Australian journalist Roger East, murdered by the Indonesian military in Dili on 8 December of the same year, who had travelled to Indonesia to investigate the deaths of the five journalists. In 2007, an Australian coroner ruled the Balibo Five had been deliberately killed by Indonesian special forces troops. Indonesia's official story is they died in crossfire.
We are friends with Indonesia. We share bonds forged in blood, having marked, just four days ago, the 16th anniversary of the Bali bombings. As friends of Indonesia, it is my great hope that one day we can come to a shared and mutually agreed understanding of precisely what happened in Balibo on 16 October 1975. The family, the friends and the colleagues of those young men deserve that, at the very least.