Balibo Five

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — The Balibo Five — Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham, Tony Stewart, Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie, who were Channel 7 and Channel 9 journalists and cameramen — were killed in East Timor on 16 October 1975.

Last Friday, 40 years on, a large crowd gathered at Victoria University to commemorate their tragic deaths, to vow to continue to remember them and in their names to extend our support for and build friendships between the people of Timor-Leste and Australia. Shirley Shackleton, widow of the charismatic Greg, reiterated her quest, now 40 years long, for truth and justice. Mal Walden, the familiar voice of Channel 7 News, delivered a powerful speech that was deeply affecting, recalling the toss of the coin that sent his fellow journos and adventurous friends to East Timor. He called on us all to not forget them. The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance has set up a permanent scholarship to develop East Timorese journalists, the Balibo Five-Roger East Scholarship.

Thank you to Terry Bracks, Rob Hudson, Damien Kingsbury, Monica Ferrie, Shirley Shackleton and John Milkins. We all appreciated John sharing with us his Dad’s last letter home; it evoked tears. And, yes, we will keep asking questions. The restoration of the Balibo Flag House and the establishment of the Balibo Fort Hotel and now the Balibo Dental Clinic is outstanding work. It is much appreciated, and it represents 12 years of progress on the part of the Balibo House Trust.

Shirley Shackleton told us about Greg’s last report, which is a must watch and was done in one take, such was his professionalism. He signed off:

Greg Shackleton, at an unnamed village which we’ll remember forever in Portuguese Timor.

Forty years later, we remember them.