PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has defended a raid on the Canberra offices of a lawyer for East Timor who alleged Australian intelligence agencies illegally listened in on negotiations over gas licences.
The lawyer, Bernard Collaery, was expected to allege, in a case East Timor is taking to The Hague, Australia had tapped the its cabinet room in 2004 to listen in on the sensitive talks.
East Timor wants to rescind a treaty it signed with Australia in 2006 which set out international boundaries covering sea gas deposits between the two countries.
The visa of a former intelligence agent who was expected to be a witness in the case has also been cancelled by Australian authorities.
Mr Abbott told reporters the moves were to ensure national security and not to interfere in the court case.
Our online readers have had plenty to say on the issue:
Ghostinthemachine: "Short story not including that the foreign minister at the time was Downer and the company that benefited the most was Woodside, now Downers employer. Now two of his former colleagues at the time, Abbot and Brandis are trying to rescue him using the term 'National Interest' and the full force of the ASIO legislation."
Centrelink-rorter: "seriously this has got to be some sort of joke being played on the Australian public. can we please have an adult in charge. every day seems to have yet another catastrophe. i fear what will be next."
Evil-monkey: "this poor excuse for a government will not be happy until they have upset all of our neighbours the quicker these idiots are turfed out the better; they are ruining Australia's reputation."
Tstevens: "John Howard used ASIO to gain information on when was the best time to invade East Timor.This is a continuation of the same kind of spying, for the same reason.The LNP pretty much stole the oil in the Timor Sea by invading East Timor and taking it away from Indonesia. Attempts by the East Timorese to get their oil back meant showing the word the truth behind John Howard's 'humanitarian' activities in their country."
Vagabond: "When a government has some thing to hide National Security is the cover all. Menzies had "Reds under the bed" Abbott has "National Security". What I'd have to question is the timing, but there you go, Brandis would not lie would he?"
Canary: "Next step, New Zealand. Well we have upset the rest of our neighbours."
Gobsmacked: "National interest". Is that another way of saying "We justify our cheating and underhanded tactics against a minor neighbour because we wan't an unfair advantage when we appear before an International Court? Was that the sound of Australia's credibility going down the drain I can hear? .
Greenwash: "George Brandis should be stood down pending the results of a judicial inquiry into this internationally embarrassing matter. It is becoming clear the only reason we went into Timor was to plunder the resources, democracy and human rights obviously had nothing to do with it. Timor continues to be so broke they can't afford to feed themselves and we cheat them out of an income. SHAME AUSTRALIA SHAME!!!!
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