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This article was published on the Independent Australia website on 9 July 2022

By the Government rightly dropping the charges against Witness K’s lawyer Bernard Collaery, Australia was reminded of the illegal bugging operation against Timor-Leste, writes Bruce Haigh.

THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL, Mark Dreyfus, has thrown out all the concocted and spurious charges against Bernard Collaery the lawyer defending former ASIS employee and whistle blower, Witness K, who told Australia and the world about the illegal bugging, by ASIS, of the Timor-Leste Cabinet room prior to negotiations between Timor and Australia in 2004 over extensive and disputed oil and gas reserves.

The bugging was authorised by the then Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, with the knowledge of John Howard, then Prime Minister.

Charges were brought against Collaery by the then A-G in 2018, Christian Porter, perhaps with the knowledge and agreement of Scott Morrison. The charges were vindictive and presumably laid to protect Howard and Downer. However, most of the matters they sought to hide have found their way into the public domain.

Many people have formed an opinion about Porter, his character and his veracity. And his unjust pursuit of Collaery have hardened, if not confirmed, those opinions.

Collaery may sue the Commonwealth and Porter; nobody would begrudge him for doing that.

Dreyfus has reversed a significant miscarriage of justice and in so doing highlighted another: the illegal and unethical bugging of Timor Leste authorised by the Australian Government under the leadership of John Howard.

Justice must now be served by investigating all the matters involved in this sordid episode of Australian foreign policy. A commission should be convened to do so. Howard and Downer must be made to account for themselves and the deals surrounding Woodside in this matter, who were keen to develop the reserves.

Howard has form with the false “children overboard” scare tactic against asylum seekers and refugees, and taking Australia to war in an illegal invasion of Iraq. He has an interest in attempting to clear his name.

The mainstream media also have form in not seeking to take apart the case made by Porter. In my experience, there are no security issues involved in this matter. The only issue sought to be covered up was an embarrassment to the Coalition.

The dismissal of this case by Dreyfus should begin the process of exposing the moral bankruptcy and corruption of the L-NP beginning with Howard, passing through Abbott and Turnbull until reaching its rotten conclusion under Morrison. Australia has been poorly served from issues such as climate change, dealing with China, Robodebt and the AUKUS arrangement.