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Byron Shire
April 15, 2024

Collaery recognised for bravery

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ACT lawyer, Bernard Collaery, has been appointed Honorary Legal Officer for the Australian Bravery Association, despite being charged by the former Liberal-Nationals federal government. Photo Eve Jeffery

We live in times when exposing crimes has become the crime, and the illegal activities of elected politicians and unelected bureaucrats go largely without punishment.

Despite the decline in democratic values and integrity in governments over decades, there are a few who are prepared to risk their livelihood to speak truth to power and do what is ethical.  

Persecuted ACT lawyer, Bernard Collaery, was appointed Honorary Legal Officer for the Australian Bravery Association at a black tie dinner held at the Ballina RSL last Saturday.

According to the Australian Bravery Association, ‘The Australian Bravery and Gallantry Decorations in the Australian Honours System recognise distinguished acts of bravery or gallantry by members of the community and uniformed services. Recipients have selflessly placed themselves in jeopardy to protect life, property or the environment’.

Collaery found himself facing closed door courts after representing Witness K, a former Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) officer. Witness K was involved in, and then exposed, the illegal spying of Australian/Timorese oil and gas negotiations back in 2004.

ACT lawyer, Bernard Collaery. Photo Eve Jeffery

Collaery told The Echo he is under orders not to discuss the case, despite it being in the public arena. 

The operation, carried out in a Timorese government building, was aimed at gaining commercial advantage for Australian gas and oil companies, and Woodside Petroleum has been inferred as a beneficiary. The operation was conducted while PM John Howard and MP Alexander Downer were in office. Downer later went on to work for Woodside. 

In December 2013, Collaery’s home and offices – along with those of Witness K – were raided and searched by ASIO and Australian Federal Police, with many legal documents being confiscated. 

While Witness K pleaded guilty, Collaery says he lives in limbo and is still without a passport.

‘There are strong grounds for his conviction to be expunged’, he said. 

And while the charges against Collaery were waived by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus in July 2022, Collaery says he is still prevented from practising law. 

‘What’s needed is an inquiry into what happened in Dili in 2004, and for us to deal with the real people who were responsible… There has been a vast effort by the coalition government to cover this up’. 

‘It is not in the national interest for people who are still participating in political life – to walk away from this world wide scandal that has affected our nation and international relations. I think all of this was summed up by Gareth Evans in the Saturday Paper. I endorse what he says’.

What has been missed throughout is – this was unlawful he says.

‘James II lost his thrown in England when he decided to ignore the parliamentary laws. And of course from that, we had the glorious revolution and the bill of rights in 1688. The bill of rights, incidentally, is still law in Canberra… it says that no member of the executive – no minister or prime minister – is above the law. 

There has been avast effort by the coalition government to cover this up. 

‘Our international reputation has been trashed,’ he says.

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  1. Helloooooooo ? does anybody remember that real Australian HERO Julian Assange ?
    He showed proof that Australia and good’ol uncle Sam are war criminals who criminally invaded countries and murdered civilians .
    Cheers G”)


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