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26 October 2014
GOUGH WHITLAM - GOOD, BAD, UGLY - OR LEFT, RIGHT, CENTRE
Shakespeare got it right on so many fronts - in fact if he had lived in the 21st century he would have been able to spend his old age saying "I told you so!".
His play, Julius Caesar, has the right quote for the Whitlam years:
"The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;".
on East Timor
The Age – letters - 241014
Gough Whitlam's record in
power is not without fault. Foremost was his failure to support a just
resolution of the Indonesian takeover of East Timor
when he had the opportunity. Mr Whitlam sometimes claimed to justify his
failure to act in 1975 because of his preoccupation with domestic issues. But
he lost any chance of influencing events in East Timor
much earlier when he met president Suharto in 1974 and supported Indonesia's takeover of Timor. He had the chance to at least insist on a peaceful
process, surely essential given Suharto's brutal record, but said nothing.
In the almost four decades
after the Indonesian military invasion, Mr Whitlam never deviated from his
support for its control of East
Timor, with scarcely a word about
its appalling human rights abuses there. The nearest he came to criticism was
suggesting Indonesia “overplayed its hand” at the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in Dili. I was a witness to that massacre, and my
travelling companion, an Australian university student, was one of those
killed. How could Mr Whitlam, steeped in the rule of law and human rights
values, so diminish the gravity of that event? Yes, Mr Whitlam was a great
Australian. But we need to acknowledge his whole record, not just the parts we
find most palatable.