Bruce Haigh is a former diplomat who ran the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Indonesian desk from 1984-86. He now grows grapes and olives at his farm in Mudgee, while writing his book about Australia’s troops in France and Belgium in World War I.

Russell Crowe is a former New Zealander who now lives in Sydney and Hollywood, and enjoys occasionally fighting in bars. Both men made remarks over the weekend about the spate of alleged Australian drug traffickers being caught in Bali.

Crowe got on the phone to John Laws and called on John Howard to act, saying it was ridiculous that Schapelle Corby could rot away in prison for the rest of her life. “When there is such doubt, how can we, as a country, stand by and let a young lady, as an Australian, rot away in a foreign prison?”

“That is ridiculous,” Crowe wailed. “We just gave Indonesia how many hundreds of millions of dollars in tsunami relief? …The first thing I thought this morning was, like, how can I get Johnny Howard on the phone and say ‘look, what are you gonna do, mate, what are you gonna do?’ – that’s ridiculous, what if it was your daughter?”

“The due process of Indonesian law we have to respect from an international relations point of view but from my individual point of view, looking at it, it’s like it’s bullsh*t, let’s deal with it.”

Bruce Haigh outlined his views is a letter to The Australian, which published it yesterday without acknowledging his expertise. We reproduce it here:

Questions hang over AFP role

What was the game plan of the politicised AFP with respect to the events surrounding the arrest of the nine young Australian heroin traffickers in Bali?

The track record of the AFP in dealing with their Indonesian counterparts has not been good. The Indonesian police, and military, are corrupt. The AFP has not gone down the path of investigating links between Jemaah Islamiah, the police and the military. The Indonesian police and military have between them the biggest informer network in the Indonesian archipelago. As the enforcers of Indonesian unity they need it. So how come JI continues to organise with impunity?

The AFP has never made public how their contact with the Indonesian police and army were used to disrupt people smuggling in which the latter were involved. And now what is the game plan of the AFP and Indonesian police in the arrest of these nine? The alleged mastermind, Chan, initially acted as if he had been led to believe there would be no problem with the courier run. So why were expectations at odds with what happened? Is there an established heroin trade out of Bali? If so it could only operate with the cooperation of the authorities including the police.

It is common knowledge the Indonesian police and army are involved in corrupt activities including extortion rackets, illegal timber felling, drugs, prostitution, employment and people smuggling. Was money fed into the Indonesian network to stop people smuggling? Most recently the problem became an issue over the delivery of foreign aid in Aceh.

It is time that the Australian public was informed of the real nature of the relationship between the AFP and its Indonesian counterparts.

Bruce Haigh
Mudgee, NSW

Crowe’s comments were reported widely in our region. The Australian quietly slipped in Haigh’s letter without acknowledging his credentials. We leave you to decide whose considered advice the Government is likely to take.

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