Secrecy Defies Belief".
the Royal Australian Navy family in grieving over the recent tragic
loss of such fine people in the Sea King helicopter crash on the
Island of Nias in lndonesia.
I feel compelled to say that The Australian's story "Secrecy at
all costs on the high seas" (Med' 7/4), outlining the censorship
measures apparently imposed on the navy by the Defence Minister,
Senator Robert Hill, in reporting aspects of this tragedy defies
belief. For what reason, one has to ask, is it necessary to muzzle
operational commanders in peacetime?
seems that our commanding officers can be trusted with the fate
of thousands of lives in war but are not trusted enough by the
Government to speak to a few reporters during a peace-time tragedy.
Kanimbla community - wives, children. and parents - would number
in excess of 1000 people and yet they were denied the opportunity
to hear directly from the Kanimbla's commanding officer about
captain,.Commander George, McGuire, is a man whose competence
to deal with an emergency situation has been clearly demonstrated.
briefing, to embarked journalists, who clearly understood the
sensitivities of the situation, was censored, thereby preventing
him from communicating with his Kanimbla family and the wider
people trust their captain but the Defence Department clearly
one has to ask why can't commanding officers be trusted? Sadly
this has become one of the hallmarks of the Howard Government.
censorship in war may be necessary to protect lives, censorship
in peacetime is one of the hallmarks of a totalitarian government.
Richard Peek, Vice Admiral (retd) Deakin, ACT"