Scoop Review of Books

Killing Greg Shackleton Again and Again

Shirley Shackleton was married to the late Channel Seven reporter Greg Shackleton, one of five Australian television journalists who were killed in Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor in 1975. Shirley has asked the Scoop Review of Books to re-publish the following article (which first appeared on The article refers to Shooting Balibo by Tony Maniaty reviewed below.

I’m trying to think what to do about a recently published book – there is not much choice because of the laws of defamation. It’s ironic, anyone can print what they like and get away with it. Why? There is no protection in law for the dead, that’s why. A live person cannot even use the D word against someone who is assassinating a dead person’s character because of the likelihood of being charged with defamation. Since the D word does not exist in law regarding a deceased person, it cannot be used to defend them.

The Oracle who wrote this book D’s my husband in every possible way.

Greg Shackleton can be described by a whole raft of D words. Determined, dashing, desirable, delectable, decent, dedicated and Daddy. However the only word that matters is dead.

Because of this book he has to die over and over and over again.

Then there is the M word. Machiavellian. Mr. M’s opinion of Greg Shackleton rests on supposition. They met and talked for five to ten minutes in 1975 when the author was running away from Balibó in Portuguese Timor. He advised Greg Shackleton not to proceed. Unfortunately Greg and four colleagues failed to realise that the propaganda about Gough Whitlam’s wonderful relationship with General Suharto, the dictator of Indonesia was just that. P for propaganda.

In other words the Balibó Five, unlike Mr. M did not possess second sight.

The D’s in the book are far ranging. They include blaming all the murdered journalists for their own deaths and even include criticism for a surgical intervention on Shackleton’s nose. I haven’t yet read this master of the clairvoyant art’s learned musings as to the inner thought and motivations of Roger East who also committed a deadly sin by failing to heed the Oracle. A whole raft of O words applies to Mr. M: outmatched, opinionated, offensive, oleum, otious, outjockey, onerous, overkill and opportunistic.

I make no claims to be clairvoyant I just put two and two together by studying the evidence.

Next Mr. M will be blaming the Anzacs for their own deaths too. And police shot while attending a crime scene.

What a blessing to ASIO and the police force, to forensic science and to all medical institutions this paragon would be. If only he could stick to the facts and not write fiction.


Shirley Shackleton is a well known campaigner for East Timor leading up to the 1999 independence ballot and beyond. Her memoir The Circle of Silence will be published in May next year.

1 comment:

  1. johnd, 14. November 2009, 9:52

    The whole Balibo story as being told is incomplete. It seems to begin with the killing of the journalists and says little about the circumstances that actually led to their killing.
    What should be told is that the ABC journalists had witnessed the Indonesian buildup and reports of this ended up being broadcast back into East Timor as part of the Radio Australia news services to the region. The Fretilin by listening to those reports were able to determine the intentions of the Indonesians and accordingly set up an ambush for them at the border crossing point of Batu Gade. The battle for Batu Gade took about 2 or 3 days before the Indonesians were able to gain control and they reportedly suffered heavy casualties. They were able to determine that it was the “intelligence” provided by the Radio Australia broadcasts that allowed the Fretilin to prepare the ambush, and they set out to pay back for the casualties they suffered in the ambush. It is significant that they only targeted Australian journalist, thinking they were responsible for the Radio Australia broadcasts, and not the Portuguese journalists who had also witnessed what the ABC journalists had witnessed.
    Only the ABC journalist will be able to tell whether the reason they departed so quickly was mere caution, or did they have good reason knowing the Indonesians might be after them.
    It is also interesting that the reports of the journalists being killed was reported in the Portuguese media, with the absence of reporting here in Australia, everything to do with an Australian cover-up, and nothing to do with Indonesia trying to maintain secrecy. How could they, the news of what they were doing was already out, more so in other parts of the world than in Australia.