"Naval Secrecy Defies Belief".

"Join 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.

However, 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?

It 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.

The 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 the tragedy.

Kanimbla's captain,.Commander George, McGuire, is a man whose competence to deal with an emergency situation has been clearly demonstrated.

His 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 Australian community.

These people trust their captain but the Defence Department clearly does not.

Again one has to ask why can't commanding officers be trusted? Sadly this has become one of the hallmarks of the Howard Government.

While censorship in war may be necessary to protect lives, censorship in peacetime is one of the hallmarks of a totalitarian government.

Sir Richard Peek, Vice Admiral (retd) Deakin, ACT"

"The Australian" 11.4.05









































































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