Dangerous secrets
13 October 2002

Michelle Grattan ('Time for Hill to tell all on SAS', Sunday Forum, 6/10) gives us a timely reminder of the price of secrecy within the defence forces.

During the "children overboard" and the SIEV X inquiries, it became increasingly clear that the defence forces were keeping a great deal of important information from the public. This secrecy may have cost the lives of refugees - yet no one will speak out, tell the truth or admit that things went terribly wrong.

During a war on our own soil, such secrecy might be acceptable. But when there are questions of the behaviour of Australian servicemen and women abroad, we must have the answers promptly and honestly.

Until the children overboard inquiry, how many people would have believed possible this type of corruption by Australian authorities? I didn't - yet now I find that, for this government, anything is possible in the name of "border protection".

The Australian Special Air Service troops being investigated are the same type of troops sent to "combat" the dangerous men, women and children on the Tampa. If they tortured anyone in East Timor, how can we have any confidence that they did not hurt anyone on the Tampa? And how can we ever be sure they will not hurt people in Afghanistan - or anywhere else they are deployed?

Honesty and trust must be restored.


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