Inglorious diplomacy

Australia’s sorry history in Timor
by
July 2021, no. 433
Buy this book

A Narrative of Denial: Australia and the Indonesian violation of East Timor by Peter Job

Melbourne University Press, $25.99 pb, 356 pp

Inglorious diplomacy

Australia’s sorry history in Timor
by
July 2021, no. 433
President Sukarno at Istana Palace in Djakarta, Indonesia, on 14 October 1965, announcing appointment of Maj Gen. Suharto as Army Chief of Staff (Keystone Press/Alamy)
President Sukarno at Istana Palace in Djakarta, Indonesia, on 14 October 1965, announcing appointment of Maj Gen. Suharto as Army Chief of Staff (Keystone Press/Alamy)

Peter Job, a former East Timor activist, has written a careful, dispassionate account of the stance of Gough Whitlam’s and Malcolm Fraser’s successive governments in relation to Portuguese East Timor. He has consulted a commendably wide range of oral and written sources, interviewing, for example, several retired senior Australian officials formerly engaged in the design and implementation of Timor policy. His story ends in 1983, with Bob Hawke’s election to office. Job should be encouraged to complete his account in the future to acquaint readers with developments up to at least the UN intervention in 1999 that gave Australian diplomacy a new role.

Ken Ward reviews 'A Narrative of Denial: Australia and the Indonesian violation of East Timor' by Peter Job

A Narrative of Denial: Australia and the Indonesian violation of East Timor

by Peter Job

Melbourne University Press, $25.99 pb, 356 pp

Buy this book

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Comments (3)

  • I appreciate very much Dr Stenberg’s sending in a comment. I stand corrected; he is quite right.
    Posted by Ken Ward
    26 July 2021
  • Thanks for your comment, Josh. Note that I make no reference to Brunei in my book. At the time of Gough Whitlam's 1974 meeting with Suharto, there were, of course, a multitude of nations in the South Pacific smaller than Timor-Leste, including Fiji and others considerably smaller. Then opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Andrew Peacock in fact made this point in criticising Whitlam at the time.
    Posted by Peter
    25 July 2021
  • I greatly enjoyed Ken Ward’s informative review of Peter Job’s new book, 'A Narrative of Denial', including the account of Australia’s role in Indonesian attitudes toward what was then Portuguese Timor. However, I don’t think that Gough Whitlam, meeting with President Suharto in 1974, can be faulted for ‘overlooking the fact that [East Timor] was almost twice as large as Brunei, ASEAN’s smallest member-state’, since Brunei would not be an independent state or a member of ASEAN until 1984.
    Posted by Josh Stenberg
    23 July 2021

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