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Dennis Dreaming

Dennis Richardson has had a long and distinguished career as an Australian public servant – 48 years to be exact. He has given “free and frank” advice primarily about national security to a bevy of Ministers and Prime Ministers over five decades. A few days ago he addressed the National Press Club about his experiences. He seems to have a bee in his bonnet about Chinese spooks keeping tabs on Chinese students and business people in Australia. I can understand his concerns about a foreign power conducting espionage in a sovereign nation state. Embassies, not just in Australia but around the world, are a hive of intrigue and espionage. Australia, like the United States, Russia and China and a host of other countries, isn’t adverse to using its embassies and consulates to keep an eye on their citizens living in another country, indulging in a spot of espionage and if the circumstances are right, in fomenting a little bit of trouble in their host country.

My major concern about foreign embassies and consulates in Australia today is the Indonesian Embassy’s around the clock surveillance of West Papuan refugees who have become citizens and residents of Australia. As an Australian I have issues about the surveillance. Everybody knows the Indonesian government likes to keep an eye on the activities of political refugees in Australia, especially if they’re beginning to have an impact back in Indonesia.
There is no doubt the struggle for West Papuan independence is reaching a new level. Their efforts to obtain diplomatic recognition around the world is beginning to pay dividends. The establishment of a West Papuan independence office at 838 Collins St, Docklands as a direct result of the activities of the West Papuan Independence Movement Rent Collective (which I initiated and am the current Convenor) has been of great assistance to the West Papuan Independence diplomatic offensive.

I'm disappointed that a man of Dennis Richardson’s stature didn’t raise the issue of the around the clock surveillance of many West Papuan activists by Indonesian consulates in Australia and the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra. What I'm more disappointed about is how bureaucrats like Dennis Richardson, the Australian government and Opposition, the Australian Federal Police, ASIO and a host of other security agencies turn a blind eye to the Indonesian government’s activities in Australia.

Everybody knows it’s happening, but nobody in authority is willing to raise the issue publicly. Australia as a sovereign nation state should be concerned about all foreign embassies and consulates conducting surveillance of Australian citizens in Australia not just pick and choose the ones that are currently politically expedient.