Australia: A Thief By Any Other Name Would Be As Villainous

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Courtesy: The Age

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 26 April 2014

As the fledgling nation of Timor Leste regained its independence from Indonesia in 1999, with the help of an Australian led international peacekeeping force, it had little reason to suspect that the very same nation, Australia, would engage in nefarious practices to secure an unfair treaty of its sovereign assets.

After a provisional agreement on the Bayu Undan and Laminara Coralina oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea was reached in 2002, a final treaty was negotiated in 2004 and signed in 2005. As we now know, this treaty was made with the benefit of information acquired by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and gave Australia a share of what is, in fact, by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of which Australia is a signatory, as asset that belongs to Timor Leste.

Enter Bernard Collaery, a former Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Attorney General and general counsel for Timor Leste who had learnt of the ASIS malfeasance early in 2013 and attempted to renegotiate the treaty with the then Gillard government. Gillard refused.

When the Abbott regime took office in September 2013 the issue surfaced again, prompted by Timor Leste's insistence on a greater share of another oil and gas reserve in the Timor Sea, the Greater Sunrise field, estimated to be worth AU$40 billion. Collaery negotiated on behalf of Timor Leste, winning a greater share of the assets originally on offer but the issue of the original unfair treaty simmered on. Eventually, Timor Leste, sought adjudication in the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague.

At the same time, Australia was being outed in the global MSM for spying on the then President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and his inner circle in government. The Indonesians recalled their Ambassador in disgust.

Then, on the 3 December 2103, twenty four hours after Collaery had arrived in the Hague, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in a blatant act of intimidation both arrested a former senior ASIS officer who led the bugging operation of the Cabinet Room in the Timor Leste capital of Dili in 2004 and raided Collaery's offices in Canbera searching the premises for six hours and seizing documents, USB sticks and computers.

In defence of this wanton act of skullduggary, the Australian Federal Attorney General, George Brandis, was reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), as saying:

I confirm that today, ASIO executed search warrants at addresses in Canberra, and documents and electronic media were taken into possession. The warrants were issued by me on the grounds that the documents contained intelligence related to security matters," he said in a statement.
I have seen reports this evening containing allegations that the warrants were issued in order to affect or impede the current arbitration between Australia and Timor-Leste at The Hague. Those allegations are wrong.
have instructed ASIO that the material taken into possession is not under any circumstances to be communicated to those conducting those proceedings on behalf of Australia.

Abel Guterres, the Timor Leste Ambassador to Australia, held a different view:

The actions taken by the Australian government are counterproductive and uncooperative," Mr Gusmao said. "Raiding the premises of a legal representative of Timor-Leste and taking such aggressive action against a key witness is unconscionable and unacceptable conduct. It is behaviour that is not worthy of a close friend and neighbour or of a great nation like Australia.
Our country, Timor-Leste, which came out of 24 years of struggle and trauma, and the subsequent mayhem in 1999, do you think Timor-Leste could possibly pose a security threat to Australia,” he told Guardian Australia.
“Thousands of people in Australia asked the government to help us [during the violence around the autonomy ballot in 1999] and Australia helped us … are we a security threat to Australia, I don’t think so, I think any fair-minded Australian would see this as ridiculous.

Nonetheless, while there were claims that the Australian Inspector General of Intelligence and Security had failed to act and the raid was a deliberate mission by ASIO to find out what case Collaery had against them, Brandis maintained that Australia was not spying on Timor Leste.

Over in the Hague, Timor Leste had lodged its appeal to have the seized documents returned while Australia promised to limit their use to national security purposes only. As the Hague deliberated the Timor Leste case the Australian version of the Guardian was reporting on comments by the Abbott regime about the Indonesian spying debacle:

You’re assuming these things are correct and I don’t comment on this kind of allegation, but the fact is we don’t collect intelligence for commercial purposes. (emphasis added)
We collect intelligence to save Australian lives, to save the lives of Australian people, to promote Australian values, to promote the universal decencies of humanity and to help our friends and neighbours, including Indonesia, and as I said our intelligence has been instrumental in defending many terrorist attacks in Indonesia and elsewhere.

However, on the 4 Mar 2014, the UN ICJ ruled:

Australia shall ensure that the content of the seized material is not in any way or at any time used by any person or persons to the disadvantage of Timor-Leste until the present case has been concluded;
Australia shall keep under seal the seized documents and electronic data and any copies thereof until further decision of the Court;
Australia shall not interfere in any way in communications between Timor-Leste and its legal advisers in connection with the pending Arbitration under the Timor Sea Treaty of 20 May 2002 between Timor-Leste and Australia, with any future bilateral negotiations concerning maritime delimitation, or with any other related procedure between the two States, including the present case before the Court.

Naturally, Timor Leste expressed its doubts on the probity of Australia in such an arrangement, and their concerns were not ill-founded.

On the 22 April 2014 the Australian Guardian published a report on the Senate Inquiry into Telecommunications interceptions where the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) made a case for:

telecommunications companies to collect data on the private communications of ordinary Australians and store it for two years to assist intelligence and police investigations.


wide data sweeps (aka. mass surveillance) were essential to effective policing of organised crime.

Knowing that their (ACC's) coercive powers:

Coercive powers
The Australian Crime Commission’s coercive powers, similar to a Royal Commission, are used in special operations and special investigations to obtain information where traditional law enforcement methods are not successful.
Coercive powers can only be used when the Australian Crime Commission Board approves their use. They allow the Crime Commission to:
  • summons any witness to appear before an Examiner
  • compel that witness to give evidence on themselves and others under investigation
  • obtain a person’s documents or other items.
Information derived from the Crime Commission’s coercive powers is protected under the secrecy provisions of the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002.

Will give them the authority (Australian Crime Commission Act, Page 33-35, Para 9-15) to collect, access and use, against you if necessary, any data they wish.

Thus, unlike the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), ASIS and ASIO who cannot admit it, but already use ECHELON programmes like XKeyscore, Boundless Informant etc. as part of their tradecraft in mass surveillance of the Australian public and beyond, the ACC plan to do the same and tell you about it as well.

In other words, the UN ICJ can say what they like, but we can, and will, do what we like to steal as much of that AU$40 billion as possible.

Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.