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Offline mr anderson

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The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« on: February 25, 2009, 06:56:14 am »
"Official Story"

The Sydney Hilton bombing occurred on 13 February 1978, when a bomb exploded outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, Australia. At the time the hotel was the site of the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting (CHOGRM), a regional off-shoot of the biennial meetings of the heads of government from across the Commonwealth of Nations.

The bomb, planted in a rubbish bin, exploded when the bin was emptied into a garbage truck outside the hotel at 1:40am. It killed two garbage men, Alec Carter and William Favell, and a police officer, Paul Birmistriw, guarding the entrance to the hotel lounge died later. It also injured eleven others. Twelve foreign leaders were staying in the hotel at the time, but none were injured. Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser immediately called out the Australian Army to guard the remainder of the CHOGRM meeting.

Mainstream articles:

The Age (Feb 14, 1978) - PM calls in army
The Age (Feb 14, 1978) - Day of courage and cowardice
Green Left (Feb 3, 1993) - Hilton bombing victim calls for inquiry
The Australian (Jun 23, 1998) - Special Branch Spied on 60,000
George Negus Tonight [ABC] (Sept 20, 2004) - Hilton Bombing
CNN (Nov 8, 2005) -  Raids recall Sydney Hilton bombing
Sydney Morning Herald (Jan 1, 2009) - Hilton bombing sets off battle of tactics

Director: Daryl Dellora
Producer: Sue Maslin
Released nationally on ABC-TV True Stories 8:30pm 19 February 1995
Distributed by Film Art Doco
Written by Daryl Dellora and Ian Wansbrough
Original Music by David Bridie and John Phillips
Financed by the Australian Film Finance Corporation Limited
© 1994 Film Art Doco Pty Ltd and the Australian Film Finance Corporation Limited

Through a series of stylised re-enactments and studio interviews Conspiracy tells the gripping and dramatic story of the Sydney Hilton Hotel bombing. A huge security operation had been mounted for what was the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting and yet the bombers somehow slipped through the cordon. Was the bomb itself made in a commonwealth government laboratory? Was a bomb disposal unit waiting nearby as part of a pre-arranged plan? Why were the Army bomb sniffer dogs called off just a few days before? Was there a police observation vehicle watching the hotel and did someone from that vehicle make the bomb warning call? Why were almost all of the bomb fragments simply swept up and thrown away? And why was a rubbish bin in a high security area left unchecked and unguarded?

Australia's first case of political terrorism?

    (John Jiggens, the author of THE INCREDIBLE EXPLODING MAN - Evan Pederick and the trial of Tim Anderson, tells how Australia's political police killed three people and got away with it for 14 years.)

For Constable Terry Griffiths, the worst thing about the Hilton bombing was that the blast did not render him unconscious. His intelligence recorded it all: the bright orange flash; the sound of glass shattering all down George Street; the flying shrapnel; the cries of the maimed; the grimaces on their faces; the pieces of flesh. Two garbage workers at the back of the council truck were blown apart. One of them, William Favell, was hurled fifty metres through the air. Half a dozen other people were seriously wounded. One, a policeman named Paul Birmistruw, would die ten days later. Terry Griffiths himself was so horribly injured, he can remember being convinced he was going to die. After an operation that barely saved his life, he woke up to find his large bowel hanging out of his body. He stayed that way for two months. Shrapnel had torn a hole in his foot, ripped open his leg, and punctured his body.

Griffiths wasn't even supposed to have worked that night but the NSW Police Department had cancelled all police leave for the CHOGRM conference. Griffiths arrived at the Hilton Hotel sometime after 11PM on 12 February 1978. The shift seemed routine. A few VIP limousines pulled in, dignitaries got out, then disappeared up the escalators into the Hilton Hotel. The only unusual thing was the overflowing rubbish bin outside the hotel. The police joked about how odd it looked to have all this rubbish lying around on the ground outside a luxury Hotel which was hosting such an important gathering of Commonwealth leaders. It was only when he began his own investigation into the Hilton bombing that Terry Griffiths came to realise that the overflowing rubbish bin was no joke.

Two earlier shifts of garbage workers had been prevented from emptying that bin, that was why it was so full. That garbage bin was the only one in Sydney not emptied that weekend. Someone connected with the security operation for the Hilton knew there was a bomb in that bin. For fourteen dogged years, Terry Griffiths has campaigned for a royal commission into the Hilton bombing. In that time he has witnessed an endless procession of cover-up and frame-up by the police. But now Terry Griffiths is closer than he has ever been to his goal. On December 9, NSW parliament unanimously called for a royal commission into the Hilton. The resolution was moved by the shadow Attorney-General, Paul Whelan, and supported by the Attorney-General, Peter Collins, and the Independent, Mr. John Hatton. Emphasising the need for a royal commission, the three men held a joint news conference, at which John Hatton said it was reasonable to suspect that ASIO had planted the bomb. Now only the Federal Attorney-General, Michael Duffy, stands in the way of a royal commission. (2) The morning after the bombing, Superintendent Douglas, the NSW policeman in charge of the operation, was asked why the bin was not searched. He replied "I did not think it was necessary".

He said that NSW police had been sent overseas to train in anti-terrorist tactics, but had not been considered necessary to search the bins. As an ex-NSW police officer, Terry Griffiths finds these comments incredible. The bin with the bomb in it was in one of the most sensitive security areas; it stood only a few metres away from the spot where Malcolm Fraser officially welcomed every head of state. On the 18 November 1972 NSW police permanent circular number 135 was released. The subject: Instruction for the Guidance of Police Dealing with Bomb Threats and the Discovery of Explosives or Suspected Explosive Devices. This outlined official NSW police procedure for dealing with bombs. Not only does this give prominence to searching rubbish bins, but on page 3 figure two, centre left, there is a conspicuous drawing of a rubbish bin. If NSW police received overseas training in anti-terrorist tactics, it certainly wasn't from the New York Police Department. A journalist called Graham Beaton interviewed Inspector Howe of New York's bomb squad on the 14 February 1979 in the Daily Mirror. The inspector said: "Bins would be at the top of our search list. And we would send in the dogs. If they didn't have dogs in Sydney, I feel rather sorry for them. If we had twelve dignitaries staying in one Hotel in New York, we would organise a sweep. First the sniffer dogs, Alsatians trained to detect the slightest trace of dynamite, gunpowder, etc. would go through the area. Then they would go through it again. Rubbish bins would be top of our list. In would go our lookout squads. They would be posted around the building so no one without a special pass could get in. They would be posted round the hotel Q in the lift well, on top of the building, and at every door. We would also have a lookout outside perhaps looking from across the road. Then we would send in the dogs again. They're wonderful in this kind of work. We wouldn't be without them."

Inspector Howe's comments about the importance of sniffer dog teams underlines another concern about the security operation outside the Hilton Hotel. Terry Griffiths has a letter from the ex-corporal in charge of the Dog wing, Keith Burley. In that letter Keith Burley states:

    "Approximately two weeks prior to the Hilton, the operational squad (that is the sniffer dog team) was placed on standby for the CHOGRM conference. We were told specifically to train the dogs on such things as letter bombs and parcel bombs. . . . We trained specifically for this task for two weeks. On the Thursday before the Hilton Bombing we received information at the kennels saying we were no longer required. This we thought was unusual to say the least. We attempted to find out why, but were unable to determine where the cancellation came from.

    "Those dogs were so finely trained," says Terry Griffiths, "they could have found a 303 shell a foot under the ground. From the point of view of a victim, the fact that they were taken away is an absolute scandal. Because those dogs were the only ones in Australia we had that could have detected explosive material, and they were withdrawn.

    "I say, as a victim, that those dogs being withdrawn was the reason people were killed and injured. Had those dogs been allowed to carry out the work they had been trained for, the bomb would have been found."

The bin that exploded not searched. It was the only bin in Sydney that was not emptied that weekend. The sniffer dog teams were called off. The most charitable thing that could be said about the security operation outside the Hilton for the CHOGRM conference, was that it was unbelievably incompetent. A more likely explanation is that whoever was in charge of security for the Hilton knew all about the bomb because they ordered it placed there.

The Hilton Operation Begins

There has always been a strong suspicion that ASIO were involved in the Hilton Bombing. To understand the reasons for this suspicion it is necessary to understand the crucial significance of the Hilton Bombing in the development of Australia's political police Q ASIO, the State Special Branches and the military intelligence groups.

Throughout the Cold War, the political police in Australia had seen their role as being concerned with the surveillance of subversives. As opposition to the Vietnam War grew, the political police were used extensively against the growing anti-Vietnam movement. In turn, this mass movement saw the political police as a major threat to Australian democracy. The Campaign against Political Police was born out of the Vietnam Moratorium movement.

This campaign reached its climax in February 1978 when a series of extraordinary political upheavals confronted Australia's political police with the gravest crisis in their history. At this time, the Hilton Bombing provided the means whereby the Australian political police redefined their role from being anti-subversive to being anti-terrorist.

In November 1977, Don Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, asked Justice White to investigate the nature and extent of security records kept by that state's Special Branch. The release of this report would have catastrophic repercussions for security police throughout Australia. The report demonstrated the extent of political police surveillance of "subversives". More importantly, it showed that this concept of "subversive" was extraordinarily broad. Files were maintained on all ALP candidates and elected members; on all members and activities of the ACTU; on demonstrators and participants in peace movements (even prayer meetings for peace were watched and recorded); and on all members of the South Australian Council for Civil Liberties. Long before the Council was formed, the public utterances of prominent citizens who advocated any form of civil rights and liberties were recorded and indexed. In all, files had been established and built up on a staggering 40,000 people.

According to Justice White, the concept of "subversive" covered everyone with opinions to the left of an arbitrary centre point chosen by someone in Special Branch. Justice White continued: "I have no doubt that the arbitrary centre point was established by Special Branch with the assistance of ASIO."

Another aspect that disturbed Justice White was Special Branch's complete lack of skill in intelligence gathering. They collected gossip and rumours, and after a while this gossip became accepted as fact. Justice White referred to the files as "a mass of records . . . relating to matters, organisations, and persons having no connection with genuine security risks . . . material which I know to be inaccurate, and sometimes scandalously inaccurate, appears in some dossiers."

The South Australian Commissioner of Police, Harold Salisbury, strongly urged that the Government not publish Justice White's report as the effects of publication would be "volcanic", with ramifications that would extend to all state Special Branches, ASIO, and foreign intelligence sources. However, on 17 January 1978, Don Dunstan sacked Police Commissioner, Salisbury for misleading him on the extent of Special Branch files, and published the report.

This event, one month before the Hilton bombing, sent the intelligence community into convulsions. On the same day, Dunstan wrote to Prime Minister Fraser to tell him that South Australian police would no longer act as intermediaries for ASIO. All but two of South Australia's Special Branch were transferred to other units, and those two were retained to help with the destruction of all records that were not to do with genuine security risks. The ramifications of these events were exactly as the sacked Police Commissioner Harold Salisbury had predicted: they shook the secret police in Australia as no other events had. On 20 January , the West Australian opposition called for an Inquiry into its Special Branch, and the next day, the Melbourne Age echoed this concern editorially. In an editorial on 19 January 1978, the Australian commented on the South Australian affair: "It is the size of the surveillance that is disturbing . . . Clearly the latitude given to Special Branch has been immense. It is worthy of a banana republic. It is not worthy of an Australian state."

The issue had assumed such importance that in the week following Salisbury's sacking, The National Times devoted a special issue to the South Australian controversy and the role of the Special Branches in Australian politics. It was called The Political Police - The Extraordinary and Disturbing Behaviour of our Special Branch Police. Federally, ASIO was now embroiled within the burgeoning crisis; there were calls for it to destroy all files no longer relevant to security; and federal cabinet decided to appoint a committee to investigate the relationship between ASIO and the state Special Branches. Strong laws were proposed to curb ASIO's excesses.

The Special Branch controversy widened to include New South Wales, when Don Dunstan detailed an episode that revealed that ASIO files had been given to the Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales, Peter Coleman. A Sydney journalist claimed that ASIO files on five prominent left-wingers had been made available to him by Coleman in 1971. These files were to be used in a magazine called ' The Analysis ' which was to prepare articles on the basis of information supplied by ASIO to discredit radical individuals, in particular members of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee. One of the files had been prepared by South Australian Special Branch for purely political purposes.

This seemed to be a damming example of the political misuse of intelligence information: Secret Police files were to be used as a party political weapon. It confirmed deeply held left-wing and ALP fears that the secret police were a secret arm of the conservative parties. The Privacy Committee of the NSW parliament began examining the files of NSW's Special Branch on Jan 23. On February 9 (four days before the Hilton Bombing) Premier Neville Wran announced that a judicial inquiry would be held into the links between NSW Special Branch and ASIO, and also into the connection between them and the leader of the Opposition in New South Wales, Peter Coleman. The inquiry was to investigate the allegations that Coleman was involved with a scheme to use ASIO documents to discredit people. It threatened to become a major political scandal. The establishment of this Inquiry was due to be announced on February 14, the day after the Hilton Bombing. It was on this day that the sniffer dog squad was called off.

It seems it was at this stage that the Hilton Operation began. Someone very high up in the security forces decided that the political police could rescue their position with a publicity stunt. A bomb was going to be found in a rubbish bin outside the CHOGRM conference at the Hilton Hotel. It was to be planted Saturday morning before the heads of state arrived. It would be discovered after a warning phone call on Monday morning. The press were to be alerted too. A blaze of pro-political police publicity would follow. All that had to be done was to keep people away from the garbage bin.

The Warning Phone Call

The Hilton Operation ran strictly according to plan up until 12.30AM on the Monday morning. Two garbage pick-ups were prevented by the NSW police. Whoever planted the bomb was well aware of the garbage collection times. Another garbage collection was due at 1AM Monday morning. At 12.30AM the warning phone call was made. (Terry Griffiths says another police officer told him the warning phone call was made by a Sergeant in Special Branch who had been observing the scene outside the Hilton in a red torana, a police observation car. The warning phone caller rang the police switchboard and asked to speak to Special Branch. It was 12.30AM Monday morning. Normally, Special Branch would not be there at that hour, though the phone caller seemed to believe they would be. (Indeed, the same person called back an hour later at 1.30Am and again asked to speak to Special Branch.) After the phone rang a few times, the police telephonist transferred the call to the sergeant in charge of the CIB, Cec Streetfield. The Hilton Operation had begun to unravel.

What Streetfield did on being informed of the bomb, is one of the mysteries of the Hilton. What he did not do is notorious: he did not warn the police outside the Hilton over the police radio. Streetfield testified before the Hilton Inquest in 1982. According to Terry Griffiths, he told a pack of lies. According to Streetfield, the phone caller said: "Dere is a bomb in der bin outside der Hilton Hotel." The phone caller then rang the Sydney Morning Herald and told them they might be interested in what was about to happen outside the Hilton Hotel. The Hilton Operation continued to fall apart. The garbage collection truck was running twenty minutes early that night. They arrived outside the Hilton at 12.40AM before the bomb was found.

The Hilton Fallout

The blast transformed the Australian political climate in favour of Prime Minister Fraser's beliefs in strong security measures, against the softer "civil liberties" line adopted by Wran and Don Dunstan. The public debate over security matters would be now totally overshadowed by the psychology of terror and terrorist danger. The newspaper headlines, which for the past month had been taken up with the Special Branch issue, were now dominated by the Terrorist Threat. Images of sinister, hooded men in balaclavas - the "terrorists" - stared from newspaper pages. Against a background of bullet holes, they clutched their machine guns tightly. The Hilton Hotel bombing was "a political baptism", the papers declared. Terrorism (the "Cowardly killer that knows no innocents") had "come to Sydney". The Sydney Morning Herald said, "Australia this week had a new and shocking experience. It was our first full taste of Twentieth Century terrorism."

The Herald declared the Hilton Hotel Bombing an "ugly new dimension" in "reckless political violence". The day after the Bombing, the leader of the Country Party in New South Wales, Mr. Punch, called for a widening of the powers of Special Branch. "Terrorism in Australia is now a fact of life" conceded Neville Wran.

For the political police, the newspaper beat-up of the Terrorist Threat was an amazing transformation in their political fortunes. In the aftermath of the bombing both Wran and Dunstan backed away from their decisions to investigate the links between ASIO and Special Branch and retreated from their threats to abolish Special Branch. In both cases, the Bombing was a major factor. Wran announced he would not proceed with the inquiry to investigate the links between ASIO and the leader of the Opposition, Peter Coleman. The Canberra Times reported Malcolm Fraser had pressured Wran to abandon the inquiry "in the light of the bombing". Dunstan decided to maintain his state's Special Branch, claiming that tragedies like the Sydney bombing established the need for a genuine security branch. A damaging chain reaction had been aborted. The attacks on Special Branches were stopped. ASIO stocks, which were at an all time low, before the bombing, rose dramatically.

Three weeks after the bombing, a new bill was tabled that gave ASIO vastly increased powers. ASIO's new powers included the interception of mail, telegrams and telexes; the use of bugging devices; legal break-ins and searches. Disclosure of ASIO agents identities was to become a criminal offence. ASIO's illegal violation of rights were to become legal violations of rights.

In this regard, the Hilton Operation was an unqualified success. But something had gone incredibly wrong. The bomb had exploded when it had been picked up by a garbage truck. Three people had been killed. Public pressure on the police to solve the crime was enormous. The newspapers demanded that the culprits be found. Many were suggesting that the security forces themselves had organised the bombing. Someone needed to be made the patsy. Within a year of the bombing, there were two bombing conspiracy cases in NSW which were widely regarded as frame-ups: the Ananda Marga trio and the Croatian Six. (6)

"There are many questions that have been asked for thirteen and a half years," says Terry Griffiths, "and they have been officially avoided. We would like to find out who was the person who told police to wave the garbage men on. As a policeman and a victim I would like to know why permanent circular 135 of 1972 was not adhered to. Why wasn't the rubbish bin searched? Why wasn't that area Q which was top security Q constantly combed by the security forces? Why were the military Q in particular the Dog Squad Q not where they should have been? Why were they withdrawn?" "It seems that the normal routine anti-terrorist procedures were not followed."

Was the Hilton Bombing the result of a remarkable series of bungles and coincidences? Terry Griffiths believes not. He believes there is a simple explanation for why the Dog Squad were called off; why the bin was not searched; why the garbage trucks were waved away. Security forces involved with the operation knew there was a bomb in the bin. It was going to be discovered just before the garbage collection arrived. That was the purpose of the warning call. ) Terry Griffiths is particularly critical of the 1982 Hilton Inquest and the numerous attempts by the police to accuse members of Ananda Marga for the bombing.

"Det Sgt. Jackson, one of the police involved at that 1982 Hilton Inquest, stated at the recent Anderson trial that the police knew that some of Seary's evidence was false."

Special Branch agent Richard Seary claimed at the Inquest that Ananda Marga members Ross Dunn and Paul Alister had confessed to him they were the Hilton bombers. Sgt. Jackson said it was well-known by the police at the time that Alister was in Adelaide at the time of the bombing and could not have been responsible for putting the bomb in the bin. Yet no one told the coroner who concluded there was a prima facie case against Paul Alister for being the Hilton Bomber. Terry Griffiths believes the conduct of the 1982 Hilton Inquest should also be investigated at a Royal Commission. "I believe there was evidence that that Inquiry was a huge cover-up and the police were part and parcel of that cover-up."

Griffiths is also very critical of claims made this year that another Ananda Marga member was responsible for the Hilton Bombing. The Sixty Minutes programme alarmed him because it appeared to me to be an unofficial ASIO public relations exercise. Years after the Hilton Inquest; after the trial of Tim Anderson and his acquittal; notorious Special Branch informer, Richard Seary and an unnamed ASIO agent called "Ron" alleged a new unnamed Ananda Marga member was the mastermind of the Hilton Bombing. Griffiths points out it has taken these men fourteen years to come forward. "We go from 1979 to 1991 with all those avenues to have those matters aired and for the evidence to be investigated by the court and not one mention of this suspect."

On the use of Seary as a reliable witness, Griffiths was scathing. "I don't think it was correct to put Seary up as a credible witness when it is a matter of public record that he has no credit with the courts in this state. Justice Wood said his evidence was not credible. When a judge says he is not a credible witness, I think it is remiss for anyone to put him forward as a credible witness and I don't think that should be done. The way that programme was put together it seemed like it was a staged reply to the questions that Ted Mack was asking in the Federal Parliament."

"Who are the people who cancelled the dog squad? Why haven't we been able to subpoena key personal like Superintendent Douglas to give evidence at any previous court case. They are the people we should start questioning first. These things have never been brought into evidence. We have had all this stupidity about Ananda Marga, and yet we don't even know what type of explosives were used in the bombing. "

"We have always had somebody who is charged, convicted and then freed - made the patsy for it. Now we have a new patsy for the Hilton Bombing. It doesn't gel with me. In my opinion it was a media event that went wrong, and in my opinion there is more than enough evidence to suggest that members of our own security force were responsible for the bombing."

On the 13 February 1978 at 1.40 am, a bomb exploded outside Sydney's Hilton hotel, killing three men and seriously injuring several others. Commonwealth heads of government were staying at the Hilton hotel at the time of the explosion.

Many government leaders claimed the bomb was meant for them. The media went into a frenzy describing it as the first act of terrorism in Australia. The then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, called out the army and a highly publicised hunt for the bombers began. The New South Wales Special Branch was assigned the task of finding those responsible.

Soon after the bombing a drifter and drug user named Richard Seary offered to help Special Branch find the bomber. He said he thought the Hare Krishna were responsible, however he was told to infiltrate the international meditation and social service group Ananda Marga. The India Prime Minister at the Hilton hotel claimed Ananda Marga tried to kill him with the bombing.

Five months later three members of Ananda Marga, Ross Dunn, Tim Anderson and Paul Alister were in jail charged with conspiracy to blow up the leader of a Neo-Nazi group leader, Robert Cameron. In court Seary also claimed they confessed to doing the Hilton Bombing. Although never charged with the Hilton bombing, they were convicted of the Cameron charge and sentenced to 16 years without parole.

Seven years later they were freed after a special Inquiry found that a serious doubt surrounded their conviction. They were given a full governmental pardon and compensation. Four years later Even Pederick claimed he had done the bombing under the influence of Tim Anderson. Pederick received a life sentence for his guilty plea while Tim Anderson successfully defeated his conviction in the appeals courts. The judges rejected Pederick's evidence as unreliable, contradicting known facts about the case.

Years into Pederick sentence, he expressed doubt about his own guilt, however he was made to serve his sentenced until his release in late 1997 (see "Pederick or Ananda Marga" link).

Many people, included policemen and army men, believe ASIO and Special Branch were the most likely to be responsible for the bombing.No one claimed responsibility for the bombing and the only ones to benefit were the security forces.

Who Bombed the Hilton?

    Terry Griffith, one of the policemen injured by the Hilton Hotel bombing, believes ASIO (Australia's national secret service organisation) and the NSW Special Branch did the bombing. The information he has gathered suggests strongly that they arranged for the bomb to be planted and then to find it in front of the Australian and world media. This tactic would have halted strong public demands to close down Special Branch and reduce ASIO's security powers. However, due to an apparent timing mishap, the garbage men arrived to empty the bin before the bomb squad, and it exploded in the garbage truck. The Security Forces then pinned the crime on Ananda Marga to cover their mistake.

    At the Hilton bombing inquest Griffith alleged that the private secretary of an unnamed Australian senator told him that he had spoken to an ASIO agent who had said ASIO were involved in the bombing. He said an army bomb disposal vehicle was waiting in the city at the time of the explosion (12.40 am) and Special Branch were observing the hotel from nearby, as part of a prearranged action.

    Griffith also gave evidence suggesting that even the then Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Fraser, may have known about the bungled attempt.

    He also said that a man called William Reeve-Parker had told him that an army officer had admitted planting the bomb by switching rubbish bins 24 hours earlier. A statutory declaration by Reeve-Parker was shown at the Hilton bombing Coroner's inquest.

    A Special Branch officer told Griffiths that his colleagues were observing the Hilton when the bomb went off and had tried to warn the police who were guarding the hotel on regular duty with a phone call. Griffiths said that he inferred the warning call had been an "attempt to save our lives," but that it also revealed security force involvement in the bombing. A police switchboard operator's notebook confirmed the fact that a call was received.

    Recently I met Keith Burley, the army man in charge of the sniffer dogs during the CHOGM meeting. He felt it most likely that ASIO and Special Branch were behind the bombing. Two weeks before the meeting he was told to get his dogs ready. Then just before it started he received a phone call saying they would not be needed which he said was highly unusual. He was certain that if his dogs had have been allowed to search the area they would have detected the bomb "from 100 yards away!" ASIO would have known this and so it is believed ASIO/Special Branch stopped him in order that they could find the bomb and claim credit. He said he traced the call not to bring the dogs, back to the Prime Minister's security office, which is ASIO! (see "Army Man's Letter" link)

    Keith believes the explosion was caused by a high tech plastic bomb, something only people highly trained in explosives could use or have access to. Other bomb experts confirm this. They claim that a small group like Ananda Marga would not have access to such technology or have the skills to use it.

    Questions unanswered include:

    * Who called off the sniffer dogs and why? These dogs were specifically trained to detetect any and all kinds of explosives. There would not have been any explosion had they been allowed to have done their job as originally arranged.
    * Who ordered the police on duty outside of the Hilton not to allow the rubbish bin which had the explosives to be emptied by garbage men for three days? (Unfortunately a new police shift was not told this and allowed the garbage men to empty the bin which resulting in the bomb exploding.)

      This one bin was the only bin in Sydney not emptied by the garbage men. It stood outside the entrance to the Hilton Hotel for three days, over flowing with rubbish and where world leaders passed each day!

The Hilton Bombing Inquest

Nearly four and a half years after the Hilton Hotel explosion, a Coroner's Inquest was finally held to investigate the deaths of the three bomb victims. The fact that it took this long to hold an inquest seemed very suspicious to us. Normally, a Coroner's Inquest into the cause of death occurs within days, or weeks at most, after the death occurred. I suspected that the inquest was held because of the efforts of Terry Griffiths, one of the policemen injured from the blast. He believed we were innocent and was trying to uncover the real perpetrators. CAADA had also campaigned for years to have an investigation into the bombing. We wanted to clear our names. Even though we weren't charged with the Hilton Bombing we were definitely linked to it through media and police speculation, innuendo and outright slander. The following article is an example.
"Members of a religious sect set off the Hilton Hotel bomb blast which killed three people. Sheather said yesterday the police knew who were responsible. He said he was confident those responsible would eventually be charged. 'We knew who did it from the first day after the bombing but lack of evidence to stand up in court had prevented us from making arrests,' Inspector Sheather said. 'We know three and possibly four individuals were involved."

Bill Jenkins, 'Police Know The Hilton Bombers'
The Daily Mirror. 14 February, 1979.

This article appeared just before the first trial. We thought cynically the well-timed police announcement was intended to prejudice the jury and I believe it did! Sheather was obviously referring to us, based on Seary's Committal evidence. He claimed to have known since the bomb went off that it was us. However, an article just before our arrest in the Sun-Herald of 11 June, 1978 contradicted him.
Security Chiefs believe they know the identity of the terrorists responsible for the Sydney Hilton bomb outrage. They believe the bombers are a young man and a girl, both members of the Ananda Marga religious sect.
But then, after all the prejudicial media coverage had done its damage, Superintendent Reg Douglas, head of Security at the Hilton Hotel at the time of the explosion, admitted on Channel Seven's national current affair programme, Willesee At Seven, in February 1980, two years after the bombing:

"We're in the same position now as we were then. There just isn't any evidence to even question anybody...We've got no evidence to point the finger at anybody. We haven't even got any suspects."

These contradictions by the security men only served to confirm our belief, and that of many others, that we were being made scapegoats for the Hilton bombing. Evidence was growing that only security forces had anything to gain from the bombing. The bombing was probably an internal job by the security agencies themselves:
In objective analysis, the only group seemingly to have gained by that bombing has been ASIO and the Special Branches, who were under public pressure at the time. In the investigations taking place, has any attempt been made to determine whether or not the bombing was a bungled attempt by any section of the security forces to justify their existence&emdash;that it was intended to scare, but backfired due to the unfortunate involvement of the garbage disposal unit?

Bob Hogg, State Secretary of the Victorian Labour Party,
quoted in the The Australian, 14th March 1978

Court Politics

When we heard about the inquest we wanted to attend in order to clear our names and, hopefully, find new evidence by discrediting Seary. CAADA made a large submission for us to attend so as "to take this most appropriate opportunity to clear ourselves once and for all of this unfounded allegation. Only then can our own case be looked at with eyes unprejudiced by the Hilton crime."
We and CAADA felt it was essential to clear ourselves of the Hilton outrage in order to get an inquiry into the Cameron conspiracy convictions. Although we had an appeal lodged with the High Court of Australia, we didn't have a lot of hope about it. Still, we had to exhaust this avenue before the Attorney General would look at holding a special inquiry into our case.
At first our application to attend the Hilton Coroner's Inquest was opposed by the police on the grounds that there was nothing to link us with the Hilton bombing. The police officer assisting the Coroner, Sgt Mason, made a public statement to this effect. The Coroner, Magistrate Norman Walsh, also stated, "I have been assured that there will not be any evidence led to implicate these people."
Some of our supporters thought after hearing Mason and Walsh's statements that we shouldn't attend the inquest because, in effect, we had been cleared of the bombing. We still felt allegations could be made against us. Moreover, it was an opportunity to get at Seary again. By now we had better ammunition to use against him in the witness box. Loaded with this we hoped to get better and new evidence that would further destroy his credibility and strengthen our chances of an inquiry.
Unfortunately, it soon became apparent we were not the only ones who wanted our attendance at the Coroner's Hilton Inquiry. Roger Court, QC, replaced Sgt. Mason and in May made a statement to the Coroner:

"Your Worship, for the record might I say that Anderson, Alister and Dunn certainly appear in my brief, and indeed there is a possibility that a prima facie case might be established against one or more or them."

This sudden about face had ominous signs for us. They were going to use the inquest to try and make a case against us.
Court had the same evidence as Mason, which was only Seary's year-old testimonies, which we thought were so inconsistent that they lacked any credibility to be used against us. In addition, CAADA had provided volumes of documents in our favour, including statements by people who had spent time with me in Adelaide at the time of the Hilton explosion. These alibis should have in themselves destroyed Seary's allegations that I was involved in the Hilton bombing. How could I be in two places, 1500 kilometres apart, at the same time?
We do not know why Court was allowed to take over from Mason. He had been a prosecutor in the Cameron conspiracy case that lead to our conviction. Later he opposed us again during our appeal. He continually supported the case built around Seary's conspiracy story. His support of Seary's evidence was so consistent it almost seemed he was Seary's lawyer. No one could understand why Court was allowed to represent the government again at the Coroner's Inquest for the Hilton Bombing, which was supposedly a separate affair. In this role, he was meant to be impartial and simply acting as an assistant to the Coroner. Some of the media were equally puzzled and suspicious of the sudden turn around.
Let the Show Begin!

We were not only allowed to attend the inquiry, they were requesting our presence. For the next two weeks we went through the normal stress of waking early in the morning, being shipped out in the meat wagons and 'welcomed' home in the evenings with a full strip search. For a while I found it degrading and humiliating but as I got used to it, I didn't care. What little pride and modesty I had left was ripped away.

At the beginning of the inquest, Ananda Marga, CAADA and the Prisoners Action Group staged a demonstration and street theatre called the 'Hilton Bombing Show'. People dressed as spies and clowns and acted out the ridiculous drama. They made a true circus out of a claim made by respected journalist, Evan Whitton, implying that the Coroner would have to have the police jumping through hoops to get around the inconsistencies of the inquest.

As usual there were many journalists and quite a few people from the public attending the Inquest. Michael Adams and Helen Barry represented Ross and I, while John Batten and Robyn Lansdowne appeared for Tim. The inquest began on the 17th of September, 1982 with an opening address by Roger Court inviting members of the public to come forward if they had any information related to the bombing.

Tim wrote the following to describe our first day at the Inquest:

"We were taken, handcuffed, out of the van in the basement up into a sort of concrete tomb that passed for a holding cell. Police who'd taken our biros and other items, so that we couldn't use them in the van, now handed them over to police at the cell area, so we couldn't use them in the cell. I made a brief struggle and retained my glass's case, and so won some instant resentment from the cops. Some of them hated to give in on even the smallest things and they remember such insights when making little things harder for you at the next opportunity.

We paced up and down in the bare cell, a few steps long, did some push-ups, tried climbing the walls of the narrow alcove that held toilets: anything to occupy ourselves till court began. Just before 10 am we were taken through an adjoining court, through a carpeted corridor used by the magistrates, and into the packed Coroner's Court. Large cops sat on either side of each of us as we took positions behind the Bar Table and our lawyers. We were reasonably relaxed, as we were not facing any charges, but the courtroom mixture of cops, Special Branch, lawyers, journalists, and the public was tense and expectant... We had our lawyers near us and Roger Court was at the far left of the Bar table, flanked by Geoff Graham for the Police Commissioner, a barrister for one of the Hotel employees, our lawyers and others led by Barry Hall for the Police Association and ex-cop, Terry Griffiths. A jury of six was empanelled."

(Tim Anderson, from his book, Free Alister, Dunn and Anderson)

Except for one or two days, I attended all of the inquest. Tim and Ross attended less because of study and disdain, respectively. As far as Ross was concerned the inquest was set up to scapegoat us for the Hilton bombing. One night Ross showed me an article sent by his parents from the prestigious Age newspaper in Melbourne. In effect, the article said the inquest would find a prima facie case against us ,but we would not be charged. This would prevent any further investigation into the Hilton matter while leaving us still to take the blame. The article was written a week before the inquest began.

"The whole thing is like a Moscow show trial," lamented Ross. He couldn't believe how blatant it was that we were going to be made into the scapegoats, despite strong evidence in support of us. Ross also worried that if he went to trial for the Hilton bombing he would be convicted. He and Tim had both been in Sydney on the day of the bombing. Tim had even been inside the building delivering a protest letter from Ananda Marga to the Indian Prime Minister.

Tim did not express any particular concern, but then again he often did not express his feeling to us except when he felt very strongly about something.

The inquiry seemed more like a circus to me and I found it hard to take seriously. While I shared Ross's belief about the outcome, I wasn't concerned. My alibi was solid and there was no possibility of a police verbal at this trial. Seary's word was all there was against us. My only real concern was the worry it would cause my parents if we were committed to trial.

Going into court each day was enjoyable from the point of view that I got to see many of my friends who were sitting in the back row behind us. Occasionally we could speak to them, much to the annoyance of the court guard.
Inquest Witnesses

The only witness other than Seary that was significant was Terry Griffiths, one of the police injured in the bomb blast. He gave evidence of his experience of the horrific explosion and the wounds and injuries he received there. Griffiths, who had now left the police force due to his injuries, had done a lot of work personally to find out who had really done the bombing. His evidence painted an entirely new picture of the bombing. Griffiths' story confirmed the theory that was prevalent among many people that the NSW Special Branch had done the bombing themselves in order to justify its continued existence.

Prior to the Hilton bombing the New South Wales Government had been considering disbanding its Special Branch (the state security force), following the disbanding of the similar Special Branch in South Australia. New South Wales Special Branch was rife with accusations of illegal spying on government officials and leftist groups and there was a general sentiment that it had abused its powers by spying on innocent people rather than real terrorists.

Many people theorised that Special Branch had themselves planted the bomb in a rubbish bin on the sidewalk outside the Hilton and had intended to also discover and disarm it in order to prove that they were needed to protect the people from terrorism. The theory went that, due to a miscalculation by Special Branch, innocent garbage men had arrived at the scene to empty the bin earlier than expected and were blown up when the bomb exploded in the garbage compactor of their truck.

Griffith presented evidence for the first time in support of this theory. He claimed that the private secretary of an unnamed Australian senator told Griffith that he had spoken to an ASIO agent who had said an army bomb disposal vehicle was waiting in the city and Special Branch were observing the hotel from nearby as part of a prearranged action.

Griffith also gave evidence suggesting that even the then Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Fraser, may have known about the bungled attempt.

He also said that a man called William Reeve-Parker had told him that an army officer had admitted planting the bomb by switching rubbish bins 24 hours earlier. A statutory declaration by Reeve-Parker was shown to the court.

A Special Branch officer told Griffiths that his colleagues were observing the Hilton when the bomb went off and had tried to warn the police who were guarding the hotel on regular duty with a phone call. Griffiths said that he inferred the warning call had been an "attempt to save our lives," but that it also revealed security force involvement in the bombing.

A stunned courtroom, including us, listened in silence as Mr Griffiths gave this startling evidence. Even more startling was Court's reaction to this evidence. Rather than investigate his claims, as one would expect him to do, Court attacked Griffiths' evidence by bringing in Special Branch and police officers to contradict him.

Court said Reeve-Parker "was certainly not on my list" of witnesses to be called, despite Griffiths' assertion that the man could identify the person who placed the bomb. Why Court did not call Reeve-Parker is something only Court can properly answer. Court claimed to be impartial but we thought his reaction to Griffiths' evidence proved there was no genuine concern to find the Hilton bomber(s). He clearly regarded Griffiths' unexpected evidence as an annoyance. The media followed Court's lead and also barely commented on Griffiths' important testimony.

It certainly seemed that the whole inquest had indeed been set up to give credence and support to Seary's evidence that made us the scapegoats for the Hilton bombing,exactly as the Melbourne Age newspaper had predicted a week before the inquest began.
Enter Seary

The moment that everyone had been waiting for finally arrived when Seary stepped into the witness box. We wanted him there to extract more vital evidence to hopefully strengthen our case for an inquiry into our convictions. The public and media just wanted to see this mysterious man whom they had heard so much about, mostly in unflattering terms. However, it seemed Court (and Coroner Walsh) wanted him for the purpose of ending the inquest with a prima facie case against us. Court was probably eager to get to Seary to draw attention away from Griffiths comments and on to the three of us.

Court began by supporting Seary's assertion that he'd been involved in a 'military wing' of Ananda Marga. (ie, the Social Service group, which I had been running at the time) Our objections to the phrase 'military wing' were over-ruled by Walsh. Court then repeated the phrase several times. "As if to spite us," Tim sarcastically remarked.

Seary recited his old allegations that Ross and I had confessed to the Hilton bombing. It all seemed a bit 'ho-hum.' Seary had said all this several times before at the Committal Hearing and trials. No charges were ever brought against us then and we didn't see how charges could now be laid considering there was no new evidence.

Seary made his allegations more implausible this time by retreating from his own central allegation by now saying that it all "could have been bravado". In the trials Seary had given detailed accounts of an actual event, but now he said he had doubts about whether we were lying or telling the truth! Perhaps now he knew that I had witnesses to prove I was in Adelaide and wanted to distance himself from his earlier claims. Whatever the reason, it destroyed any little credibility his Hilton allegation may have ever had.

We started to feel even better about our chances when our lawyers did a brilliant cross examination. They showed that in Seary's first 'Hilton' record of interview, he had simply memorised a 1600-word passage from his own journal rather than telling directly what he claimed had happened only a few days earlier. Seary strongly denied this, saying that he wrote and spoke the same way. Our lawyer remarked that the real reason he had had to memorise his testimony was because; "it was not true and learning it by heart was Seary's way of making sure of it."

Magistrate Walsh was obviously displeased when it was further revealed that Seary had been secretly paid $6,000 by the New South Wales police after we were convicted. Walsh then refused further questions on Seary's financial gains. He also would not allow medical and psychiatric records that would have shown his mental disturbance and unreliability.

Seary was a cunning witness. He recited his testimony without a flicker of guilt or uncertainly, even when he told the most outrageous lies. Our lawyer, Tom Molomby, wrote: "Seary is an extraordinary witness...Through this whole episode, he is exposed not only as a liar but a liar of extraordinary daring and skill."

On Wednesday, October 13th, after Seary's cross-examination had been completed, Court recommended to Walsh that the inquest be terminated and the jury discharged. He said the Coroner (Walsh) should find a prima facie case against Ross and I and also that "the evidence possibly discloses" a conspiracy between us and Tim. While we had known that this might happen, particularly because of the media reports and the way the things were going in court, it was still a bit of a shock.

To make it worse, Walsh went totally against normal practice and reneged on an agreement with lawyers to allow submissions before ending the inquest. Rather than hearing recommendations from all the lawyers present he simply adopted Court's recommendations. This was an outrage and our lawyers were angry. Walsh knew about my Adelaide alibi yet did not allow any of this evidence to be heard though it would have directly refuted Seary's accusations. He didn't even make any reference to it. He also should have allowed submissions by our lawyers as a principle of natural justice. In effect we had been condemned by Seary's implausible allegations without the right to reply.

The public were equally shocked and disgusted by the sudden events with one calling out:

"What a farce!" and, "Bring in a lie detector!"

The gallery booed and hissed. Ross being unable to contain his anger and disbelief jumped up when Walsh said, "I terminate the inquest."

Ross said in a nervous and angry voice, "Your Worship, no wait a minute, this man (pointing to Court) has in his possession evidence that can prove that Richard Seary is a liar."

Coroner Walsh ordered, "Sit down."

But Ross ignored him and continued, "Are you telling me that…"

"Please sit down," interrupted Walsh. "You're not doing yourself any good, please sit down."

Undeterred Ross continued, "We had to fight to get into this inquest. I want to speak the truth here today..."

Walsh snapped, "Look, if you don't sit down I'll have you taken out of the room. The inquest has now been terminated."

A woman in the gallery called out, "Bring in the lie detector!"

Ross continued: "I want to speak!"

Coroner Walsh: "Please sit down!"

Ross was still standing, "... something that hasn't been stated in this court before…"

Walsh cut off Ross again and ordered, "Take the prisoner out would you please, Sergeant."

The woman from the gallery yelled out again, "Bring in a lie detector!"

Walsh ordered: "Madam, you can leave the room straight away, please."

Meanwhile Ross was being dragged out of the courtroom still shouting, "I'm prepared to do a lie detector test!"

After the inquest ended Tim and I were taken back to the corridor before we joined Ross and were then taken back to our cells. As I walked through the crowded courtroom, I passed a journalist I knew. She looked very upset by what had happened, so I told her reassuringly, "Don't worry, it will be all right."

Although it was ironic that I was trying to cheer her up, I still had an underlying optimism that in the end everything would be fine, by the grace of God. I thought this accusation would cause a delay, but it would not prevent our eventual release. Delays were an unpleasant feature of our case, which by now I'd come to tolerate.

Ross was very upset and very angry with Court and Walsh. Although it was unlikely we'd be committed to trial, he was afraid that if we were, we would be convicted and put away for a very long time. Our parents and supporters were also upset. There never seemed to be any end to the injustice and persecution we were being put through.

The prison officers showed a lot of contempt towards us after the inquest, as if it proved what they had always suspected, that we really were terrorists.

Up to the end of the inquest many of the officers had given up on the idea of us as terrorists and started to believe we were probably innocent. That all disappeared in one swoop after the inquiry. Again we had to put up with their slander, negativity and victimisation.
Lie Detector

Ross took a lie detector test in March 1983. The questions were about the Hilton and Cameron conspiracy charges. Ross answered no to all these allegations. A report on the test stated:

"It is the opinion of the examiner that he was telling the truth to the above listed questions."

In mid '83 the New South Wales Government passed a bill banning the use of lie detectors. This prevented us from using these results. Seary never agreed to a lie detector test. I'm not surprised.


Tim tried in his own way to get justice by sending a complaint against Court to the New South Wales Bar Association. He cited nine breaches of Bar rules in Court's behavior at the inquest, especially claiming that Court should never have agreed to act as Counsel assisting the Coroner when he had been the prosecutor in our previous case.

But nothing came of it except a curt reply from the Bar saying, "The Bar Council has resolved that the complaint be dismissed." No reason was given. In fact, shortly after his complaint, Roger Court was made a judge of the New South Wales District Court.

Twelve years after the inquest the New South Wales Government released to the public documents related to the Hilton bombing. These papers showed that the security forces had withheld documents that would have helped us in our case. Nothing has been done about it. Nor has a Royal Commission ever been held into the unsolved bombing, despite repeated calls from various concerned individuals, politicians and groups.

After the inquest, journalist, lawyer and supporter Tom Molomby wrote:

It is timely to ask-though the media have not done so-what is going on? How is it that an inquest can be terminated, and enormous prejudicial publicity generated against three people on the basis of evidence which the police themselves clearly regard as worthless? It is not surprising that no answer to this has been provided, but it is profoundly disturbing that the Australian media are not interested in the question.

Army dog handler Keith Burley's letter to Member of Parliament Allen Barry, dated Monday 4th November, 1991.

Dear Allen,

As discussed on the telephone, I am and have been for some time, concerned at the ongoing enquiries into the Hilton bombing affair. More to the point, the fact that maybe not all is being told. I'm not exactly sure what format this type of letter should go, but I think if I tell you what I know to be fact and what I know was said at the time it will suffice.

At the time of the bombing I was a Corporal with the Military wing, at the School of Military Engineering, Casula N.S.W. The role of this unit was to breed and train German Sheperd dogs for sniffing out explosives. At the time we had what was called an operational team. This consisted of myself and my dog plus two other handlers and their dogs. We were on standby 24 hrs a day in case of emergencies involving explosives such as bomb scares. The dogs and handlers were very proficient at their jobs.

Approximately two weeks prior to the Hilton bombing the operational team was placed on standby for the CHOGM Conference. We were told specifically to train the dogs on such things as letter bombs and parcel bombs. This we did by making up these articles using live explosives. We trained specifically for this task for almost two weeks. On the Thursday before the Hilton bombing (Monday) we received information at the kennels saying that we were no longer required. This we thought was very usual to say the least. We attempted to find out why but were unable to determine where the cancellation came from. All I know is that it came through Victoria Barracks in Sydney.

(Note: Keith eventually located the call from the Prime Minister's security office)

Early hours Monday morning we received the news that the bomb had gone off at the Hilton and the operational team was required. I don't think there is any need to describe the sight that was before us upon our arrival in George Street. We spent all day Monday searching areas around George Street, the entrance, the garbage bins, the downstairs area around the car park, etc. We went home that night and returned on Tuesday. It was decided that we should stay on site and accomadation was arranged. We continued to search areas designated by security officers up until Friday when we finished our commitment at the Hilton. The security staff I refer to include NSW police and plain clothed persons identified to us as both police and ASIO personal.

(Note: ASIO spokesman denied on TV that they had anything to do the the Hilton security after the bombing--contrary to what Keith has just stated.)

By Wednesday it was quite clear to us that we were being used mainly for cosmetic purposes. That is to say that anytime there was a camera crew around someone called for the dogs to search a convenient location were we could be seen. It was bullshit in my opinion. We expressed that to the people in charge and they were not impressed.

There was a lot of rumour and innuendo going around at the time we were on the scene. The strongest being that ASIO had stuffed up. It was common comm
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Offline mr anderson

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Re: The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2009, 06:59:04 am »

December 9, 1991

Hansard & Papers > Legislative Assembly


Suspension of Standing Orders

Motion, by leave, by Mr Moore agreed to:

            That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would preclude the consideration forthwith of a motion concerning a Hilton Hotel Bombing Inquiry to be moved by the member for South Coast, provided that the following members only shall be permitted to speak for the time limits as indicated:

            Mover 15 minutes
            Attorney General 10 minutes
            Member for Ashfield 10 minutes
            Mover in reply 5 minutes.

Mr HATTON (South Coast) [12.21]: I move:

            That this House:

                        (1) stresses the imperative and urgent need for a top level, open, joint New South Wales-Federal Government inquiry into the bombing of the Sydney Hilton Hotel on 13th February, 1978;

                        (2) calls upon the Federal Government to immediately establish the inquiry;

                        (3) pledges the full co-operation of the New South Wales Government;

                        (4) emphasises that the terms of reference of the inquiry must embrace events leading up to, as well as, the circumstances and consequences and subsequent investigations of the bombing.

On 13th February, 1978, a garbage truck compactor set off a bomb that had been placed in a bin immediately outside the Hilton Hotel. Prime Ministers and other heads of State and senior political figures from Commonwealth countries gathered in Australia for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, known as CHOGM, to be held at the Hilton Hotel. The bomb ignited issues of national and international significance, not to mention personal consequences too horrendous and shattering to be ever forgotten by the victims and their families. Three people were killed and others were severely injured, scarred mentally and physically for life. Three people, Anderson, Dunn and Alister, were sentenced to gaol and spent seven years in gaol for a crime they did not commit: conspiring to kill a man named Cameron, the National Front leader. The two cases, the Hilton bombing and the Cameron case, are inextricably linked. Two questions remain: who was responsible and, of more importance, was there a cover-up? The answers lie with the Commonwealth and State officials who failed in their duty, were incompetent, dishonest and devious, obfuscated the truth, abused the due process of the courts, and knowingly lied and presented false evidence. State and Federal officials are involved. This must be the focus of any inquiry: not a retrial; not yet another chance given to discredited Crown witnesses to further cloud the truth; not a witch hunt, but a careful searching, independent inquiry. With regard to the further opportunity to discredit Crown witnesses by trotting out the same old story, Chief Justice Gleeson said in the unanimous Anderson appeal judgment of 6th June, 1991:
I do not consider that the Crown should be given a further opportunity to patch up its case against the appellant. It has already made one attempt too many to do so.

That appears at page 74 of the judgment. This inquiry must have the powers of a royal commission, be headed by a judge or leading Queen's Counsel, and be investigated by carefully selected, competent and, above all, independent investigators, otherwise it will be yet another rerun. The inquiry must have terms of reference and powers, and be fully supported, facilitated and resourced to get at the truth. I emphasise the bipartisan nature of this motion, which was brought on with the consent and support of all sides of politics. It is exciting that people are willing to put aside party political matters. The Federal Fraser Government was in office at the time of the bombing and the incumbent Federal Attorney-General has responsibility for the matter at this time. I do not suggest that either were involved in any wrongdoing. I suggest that this motion could have presented an opportunity for political point-scoring, but it has not. In October, in answer to questions asked by the Federal Independent member of Parliament Mr Ted Mack, Mr Duffy said that this matter was the responsibility of the New South Wales Government. He said further:
"While the Commonwealth had a direct responsibility for an interest in the safety of the visiting delegates at the 1978 CHOGM, the bomb explosion outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney in fact involved offences against the laws of New South Wales. Therefore, it is for that State and not the Commonwealth to decide whether another inquiry might be warranted."

I am sure the New South Wales Attorney General will take up that matter with vigour as he has done commendably in the past in the media and in this Parliament. Further answers demonstrate the integrated nature of Commonwealth and State responsibilities for security of delegates of CHOGM. It is nonsense to suggest otherwise. A joint Commonwealth-State inquiry must be conducted. The Federal Government is involved. The answers to the question, and other evidence, show that Federal Government agencies were responsible for security at the meeting held inside the Hilton Hotel. The CHOGM was organised by the Federal Government, which was responsible for the security of the heads of State who attended. A joint Federal-State committee planned the security. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was represented on that committee. There have been persistent suggestions of ASIO involvement in the bombing, for example, from Peter Monahan, a staff member of Senator Mason; Terry Griffiths, a New South Wales police officer injured in the blast; and evidence given at the trial of Tim Anderson that ASIO had infiltrated Ananda Marga. The recent revelation by former senior Army doghandler Keith Burley shows that Army sniffer dogs were used after the blast but were called off the job a few days before the explosion by Army personnel at Victoria Barracks. That is an extraordinary situation, and we must know the reason for that decision.

The officer-in-charge of police immediately after the bombing, Inspector Ian MacDonald, claimed recently there had been a "cover-up", to use his words, in the wake of the bombing. He claimed further that New South Wales and Federal police had requested the establishment of secure areas in both Pitt and George streets, but the request had been refused by the Federal co-ordinating body in charge of security, the Protective Services Co-ordination Centre. Despite extensive investigations by Federal and State authorities no forensic evidence has been forthcoming about the types of explosives used in the blast. One has to stop and wonder in sheer amazement that such a statement could be made so many years later. I point to the investigative work done after the Lockerbie tragedy as an example of what can be done when people apply themselves with due care and responsibility. Mr Duffy said further:
On the information available, it is clear that each Commonwealth agency took all appropriate measures within their individual spheres of responsibility. Security procedures, no matter how exacting, cannot guarantee that such incidents will not happen.
I emphasise that in no way am I being critical of Mr Duffy, who has relied on evidence provided to him. I want to know who provided such misleading evidence. I realise that the Minister must take responsibility for it, but I believe he will support the call for an inquiry. The key question asked by Mr Mack was:
Why has the Federal Government never opened a public inquiry to determine:

                        (A) Why the responsible Federal agency failed to:

            (1) prevent the Hilton bombing;

            (2) find the perpetrators; and

                        (B) determine the nature and extent of those agencies involvement in any investigations concerning Mr Anderson.
There is a need for an inquiry into the Hilton bombing, which was the first case of real political terrorism in Australia. Three people were killed, yet the perpetrators have not been punished. It happened in a climate that can only be regarded as extraordinary. For example, not long before the Hilton bombing an inquiry was held in South Australia into the dismissal of that State's Commissioner of Police by Premier Dunstan. An inquiry was conducted into the South Australian special branch by Mr Acting Justice White. The White report revealed that South Australia's special branch maintained an extensive body of files on individuals, issues and organisations. The files contained more than 40,000 indexed cards and 300 separate dossiers that covered not only communist activities but specific so-called terrorist groups such as the Ustashi. They also contained information about the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, personal activities, demonstrations, habitual demonstrators, the peace movement, the Council for Civil Liberties, members of the Supreme Court, previous Governors of the State, State and Federal Labor Party parliamentarians from South Australia and about 1,000 innocent persons about whom absolutely nothing adverse was known.

The most damaging allegations to the South Australian Commissioner of Police were those in the White report that on a number of occasions the commissioner withheld information, and that was the reason given for his dismissal. Premier Dunstan became involved in a top level inquiry about which there was a public outcry. Prime Minister Fraser was so concerned about the outcry that he called the officer-in-charge of ASIO back from holidays for an urgent meeting with the Federal Attorney-General to discuss the security implications of what became known as the Salisbury affair. Salisbury was the name of the dismissed South Australian police commissioner. Prime Minister Fraser wrote to all State Premiers underlining the need for continued co-operation between ASIO and State forces. That was the climate that preceded the Hilton bombing. As a matter of fact, a huge pro-government rally took place in Adelaide just 36 hours prior to the explosion outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney.

The matters touched upon New South Wales because Dunstan accused the new leader of the New South Wales Opposition, Peter Coleman, of having access to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation files. A considerable amount is involved in that. It now appears that the Ananda Marga was not responsible for the Hilton bombing; so we need to ask who was. Police and Federal agencies mounted a sophisticated operation at the Hilton at that time yet a bomb in a garbage bin outside the hotel was not located. Can that be credibly put down to incompetence? Senior police at the Hilton were in breach of New South Wales police permanent circular 135, dated 28th November, 1972, which clearly indicated that all waste bins should be searched in any potential bomb threat situation. Key security personnel responsible for the operation were not questioned at the inquest or at subsequent trials. Subsequent inquiries have led to two convictions in an apparent attempt to deflect responsibility on to innocent parties. These persons convicted have later been pardoned in one case, and overturned, leading to acquittal in another. No inquest was held for four years despite a question that I asked in the Parliament. When that inquest was held, false police evidence led to its early end, which prevented Terry Griffiths from giving evidence.

Evidence was withheld by police about the discovery of explosives in a University of New South Wales locker. Some of this evidence was destroyed by the special branch in 1985. The person who had responsibility for that locker unfortunately committed suicide shortly afterwards. Police and prosecutorial evidence was seriously improper in the 1990 Tim Anderson trial and the Cameron conspiracy trial. This adds to the theory that authorities were hopeful that the securing of a conviction would lessen demands for a full inquiry. The only inquiry into the Hilton bombing was the inquest, yet that was prematurely terminated. The evidence on which it was terminated was given by Richard Seary. Seary's evidence was thoroughly discredited by the Wood inquiry and charges arising from the evidence dropped, yet the inquest has not been reopened or any fuller inquiry instituted. ASIO produced documents relating to Seary to the High Court and later to the New South Wales Attorney General and the Wood inquiry, yet these documents have never been examined for their relevance to the Hilton bombing, only for their relevance to the trial on the Cameron conspiracy charge. The inquest was held in 1982. On 13th October, 1982, Stipendiary Magistrate Walsh found a prima facie case of murder against Dunn and Alister, but not Anderson. On 4th June, 1982, an inquiry by Mr Justice Wood was announced on Seary's evidence.

On 19th June, 1984, all charges arising from the inquest were dropped. Richard Seary, the informant, was used once again. His evidence was known by the Crown authorities to be false and was led in the full knowledge that it would bring the inquest to a close. Evidence of police officer Bruce Jackson at the Anderson trial needs to be referred to, yet no inquiry into the bombing has gone ahead. I said that the premature termination prevented Terry Griffiths from putting his evidence forward. Also known to police at the time but not revealed to the inquest was that explosives found in a locker at the University of New South Wales were linked to the bombing. The hirer of this locker, John Melton, was then alive but subsequently suicided in 1989, two months after Tim Anderson's arrest. I ask members to look at the police involved in the Robert Cameron conspiracy trial: Detective Sergeant Krawczyk, Detective Sergeant John Bourke - I emphasise him - Detective Sergeant Dennis Gilligan - I emphasise him - Detective Sergeant James Wooden, Detective Sergeant Roger Rogerson.

Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member has exhausted his time for speaking.

Mr COLLINS (Willoughby), Attorney General, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Minister for Arts [12.36]: I support the motion and on behalf of the Government I welcome it and what I understand to be widespread support for it in the Parliament. In the early hours of the morning of 13th February, 1978, Sydney was witness to the worst act of terrorism ever experienced in this country. The facts of that event are seared into our consciousness and are almost a matter of history. But today, nearly 14 years later, we remain ignorant of the cause. The Hilton bombing cannot simply be relegated to the yellowing pages of history until we know the truth, however unpalatable it may turn out to be. It must also be said that we owe this to the memory of the three who perished, their families, and to those who survived, including bomb victim Terry Griffith who is present today in the public gallery. I do not believe that this Parliament requires to be convinced of the need for an inquiry. However, as members know, I have not been successful in my requests for the Federal Government to join us.

My Federal counterpart, the Hon. Michael Duffy, has said that he does not believe there is new evidence or other information that would justify an inquiry. He has also said that the matters of concern are largely within the responsibility of the Government of New South Wales. With the greatest respect to the Commonwealth Attorney-General, I believe that he is wrongly advised. It is simply incomprehensible that the security arrangements for a meeting of 11 Commonwealth heads of Government were not primarily a Federal responsibility. It is a matter of record that several Commonwealth agencies were directly involved, including the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Commonwealth Police, as they were then known. In answers to a series of questions asked of him recently, Mr Duffy detailed the role of the Federal agencies, in particular the Protective Services Co-ordination Unit. He said:
At that time the role of the PSCU included the assessment of intelligence for ASIO and the Commonwealth Police and the General Co-ordination of security planning for CHOGM.

My purpose here is not in any way to diminish the responsibility of New South Wales government agencies but to demonstrate beyond any shadow of a doubt that security of CHOGM was a joint Commonwealth-State effort. It is, therefore, quite unacceptable for the Commonwealth to attempt to advocate responsibility. The Federal Attorney-General has had to correct himself in the Federal Parliament because of incorrect advice received from departmental officers about the use of the sniffer dogs in the Hilton security operation. With mounting absurdity, Federal authorities are trying to argue the impossible based on the implausible. In Mr Duffy's words:
As I understand it, the ADF had dogs which were trained for particular military purposes such as finding trip wires and locating mines, but did not have dogs trained for identifying the presence of explosive.

What preposterous nonsense! A mine is merely a mass produced explosive device produced for military purposes. There is no such device as a mine which does not contain explosives. As a result of the revelations of former Army dog handler Mr Keith Burley we now know that not only were such dogs available but that they were on standby to conduct security checks at the Hilton and were ordered off the assignment a few days before the bombing. Mr Burley has said that if his dogs had been used "there is no doubt whatsoever" that they would have found the explosives. As evidence of the effectiveness of the dogs, he said that one had found a .303 cartridge - which contains a minute amount of explosives - buried a foot underground. Mr Burley's statement is worth quoting:
On the Thursday before the Hilton bombing we received information at the kennels saying that we were no longer required.

            This we thought was very unusual, to say the least. We attempted to find out why but were unable to determine where the cancellation came from.

            All I know is that it came through Victoria Barracks in Sydney.
Victoria Barracks has been Army headquarters in New South Wales since 1848. Significantly, Mr Burley also believes that his team was used as part of a cover-up after the event. He said:
It was quite clear to us that we were being used mainly for cosmetic purposes . . . Any time there was a camera crew around, someone called for the dogs.

However, the Federal Attorney General - no doubt on the advice of his department - has rejected this revelation, claiming that it does not constitute "new evidence". It is surely up to the Commonwealth, if it wishes to reject this fresh revelation, to identify where in any previous public inquiry this information has been made public. But the new evidence does not stop there. Two weeks ago retired Commonwealth Inspector Ian McDonald revealed:
The New South Wales police also requested that there should be a secure area on the footpath on both Pitt and George Streets for some distance either side of the Hilton. Now, this was refused and in light of subsequent events - the bombing - it is important to know why it was refused.
It is quite incomprehensible that these fundamental precautions were not taken. The failure, in particular, to search the garbage bin immediately in front of the entrance to the hotel simply defies explanation and leaves the suspicion of guarantee that the entrance would remain insecure. The officer-in-charge of the New South Wales part of the operation, Superintendent Reg Douglass, was asked why the bin had not been searched. He replied, "I did not think it was necessary". That stands at complete odds with permanent circular No. 135, which the honourable member for South Coast has already mentioned. That circular included diagrams of areas that should be searched, and the exterior searching pattern, figure 2, clearly indicates that waste cans should be searched as part of a routine search pattern. It is interesting that clause 25 of the same instruction states that the senior army technical officer of Victoria Barracks is responsible for the removal and disposal of military explosive ordinance articles and foreign war souvenirs of this nature. That may be just a coincidence. The waste bins were not searched.

Of this bizarre breach of procedures, Inspector Robert Howe, then head of the New York bomb squad, said, "Rubbish bins would be top of our search list - and we'd send in the dogs". The Hilton bombing saga is a litany of unanswered questions and half truths. Why were the sniffer dogs not used and the bins not searched? Why was the bin outside the Hilton in George Street the only one in the metropolitan area not emptied for several days prior to the bombing? How is it that there is no conclusive forensic evidence when, as the honourable member for South Coast mentioned earlier, a minute fragment of a bomb that exploded in an aeroplane six kilometres above the night skies of Scotland can be traced? Who were the occupants of an orange Torana in George Street when the bomb exploded, and were they involved in the Hilton security operations? Why was the bomb warning phone call - received by police 10 minutes before the bomb exploded - not immediately referred to the Hilton radio room, in blatant disregard of operating procedures for the conference? I have stated previously the Government's willingness to discover the truth about Australia's worst unsolved political crime which is today regarded with indifference by the Commonwealth. Let sleeping dogs lie, say Federal authorities - whereas the key may be that sniffer dogs could not!

This issue, this weeping sore, now in its thirteenth year, transcends political, constitutional and geographical boundaries. The answers may be alarmingly simple. But, whatever the truth, the people of Australia are entitled to nothing less. Whatever the culpability, if any, of those providing security in 1978, the greater culpability falls on those who seek to hide and distort the truth. The mover of this motion seeks, and I trust will receive, the unanimous support of this Parliament. If it occurs, as I understand it will, it will be the first time in the history of the State that all sides have joined in this Parliament to call on the Commonwealth to adopt a particular course of action. Only a joint Federal-State inquiry will resolve these issues, nothing less. I commend this historic call on the Commonwealth to the House.

Mr WHELAN (Ashfield) [12.44]: The parliamentary Labor Party caucus this morning decided to support this motion, a copy of which the honourable member for South Coast was good enough to give me last week before the House adjourned. The motion, in effect, is an expression of support by this House for an open Federal-State inquiry. Many members in the former Government and the present Opposition, including the honourable member for Blacktown, Pam Allan, and the former honourable member for Seven Hills, Bob Christie, have been anxiously pursuing this matter on behalf of Mr Griffiths, whom I see in the gallery.

It is only that the procedures of the House do not enable the honourable member for Blacktown to be involved in this debate today that her request to me had to be turned down because of the motion of the House to suspend standing orders. The State Attorney General has said on public record that the Commonwealth had to be a part of the deal. I have to agree with him, because the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Mr Duffy, is not right in suggesting that the security officers and protection inquiry that he seeks would be adequate. What stands out above all in relation to the Hilton bombing, which occurred in 1978, is the fact that since that time facts and evidence have either been suppressed or not analysed.

The only way to achieve an effective resolution of this problem is to hold a joint Federal-State inquiry. As I have said to the honourable member for South Coast, that inquiry cannot be just a simple judicial inquiry; it must be a wide-sweeping inquiry in the nature of a royal commission, a Federal-State government royal commission with the terms of reference carefully drafted. Grave risks are associated with a further wide-sweeping royal commission in relation to the Hilton bombing. It should not be incumbent upon this Parliament to make a reference or request to the Commonwealth Government or for the Parliament and Government to form a royal commission that would, of necessity, see a retrial of people who have been already tried twice. I refer to Tim Anderson. An inquiry should not be used as an opportunity to enable a retrial of this now twice-proved innocent person; nor should it be available to those people who have contemptuous regard for the law of this State - people who have chosen to give evidence before a variety of courts and who have changed testimony for the purpose of seeking rehabilitation, a lessening of their prison term or personal satisfaction and publicity. They achieve nothing more than a retrial of a person already proved innocent. The terms of reference have to be tailored very much to ensure that there is no retrial.

The second point I must make is in relation to the Commonwealth department. I agree with what the Attorney General said. Fourteen years is too long. I am disappointed that the Federal Attorney-General has tried to obfuscate this important call for a judicial inquiry. I was so disappointed that I rang his office to obtain a copy of the letter he had sent to the Attorney General. The Attorney General was playing good politics the other day in the Parliament when he made the announcement, but at least he has come to the table on behalf of the Government and agreed there has to be a resolution of this matter. But for the Commonwealth Government to be hiding behind the perceived duties of the New South Wales Parliament and the veil of, "It is not the Commonwealth Australian Security Intelligence Organisation; it is not the Commonwealth police; it is totally for the New South Wales police to be involved", is not right. They were all involved. The people who are responsible for the murder of these three innocent people have been plying on the record of governments not being able to get their act together for the purposes of trying to find who the real culprits are. They have been relying on the jurisdictional difficulties between New South Wales and Commonwealth governments both Labor and Liberal since 1978. This motion will help to remove those jurisdictional and political difficulties.

In my view the royal commission should be restricted to the new matters, for example, the allegations of Mr Burley to which the Attorney General has referred, or to matters which have not been properly investigated or reasonably analysed in the past. A coronial inquiry has been held. There have been two court cases, two Court of Criminal Appeal hearings and in 1984 a lengthy and costly inquiry under section 475 of the Crimes Act. All of that evidence has been analysed and is available.

It is open to any royal commissioner to take that analysis on board without the necessity for a long and expensive inquiry. The object of the inquiry will be to ascertain the truth, which can be ascertained in a short time. The inquiry should be restricted to one or two points. First, is there any credible evidence that a member of the security forces - Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the New South Wales special branch, the military, police force or other agencies - was in any way responsible for or had prior knowledge of the Hilton bombing? Second, why were sniffer dogs not used and why was the fatal bin neither checked nor emptied? Third, why was the material found at the University of New South Wales and suspected of being connected to the bombing not used at the 1982 inquest, and why were parts of it later destroyed? Fourth, were all matters properly investigated or was there any evidence of negligence or irresponsibility in the security precautions at the time of the CHOGM conference?

They are some of the matters, but the Opposition supports the proposition that there should be no re-trial of innocent people. The honourable member for South Coast referred to what was said by the Chief Justice in the judgment on Tim Anderson's appeal. The late Mr Justice Murphy, a former High Court judge, was scathing in his criticism of the evidence of one of the prize witnesses, Richard Seary, before various inquiries. With those few words, on behalf of the Opposition I am delighted to support the motion. I hope the Commonwealth Attorney-General will meet with his State counterpart for the purpose of drafting the terms of reference of the proposed royal commission. I hope both Attorneys make the terms of reference available to all parties who have conducted an unrelenting campaign so that justice is finally done.

Mr HATTON (South Coast) [12.52], in reply: I thank both the Government and the Opposition for their strong support of the motion. This is an historic day and I hope that because all parties are united, we will achieve our aim, which is a full and independent inquiry. The honourable member for Ashfield said that only new evidence and evidence which has not been the subject of reasonable inquiry in the past should be examined. I agree with that, but I do not agree that that should be the end of it. I am sure he did not mean that. Earlier I said that the answers lie with those Commonwealth and State officials who failed in their duty, were incompetent, dishonest or devious, obfuscated the truth, abused the due process of the courts, knowingly lied and presented false evidence. In that regard the honourable member for Ashfield mentioned that witnesses have been discredited. He referred to the comments of Mr Justice Murphy in relation to Richard Seary. Those comments were added to by Mr Justice Wood. He found that Seary had not told the truth on at least 50 occasions, yet he was "a person of considerable intelligence and imagination who craved recognition and status and who was willing to exaggerate, bend the truth and lie in appropriate circumstances". The key question to the proposed inquiry is why these witnesses were used. Each of the witnesses was discredited. In the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal on the appeal of Tim Anderson, the Chief Justice said that, although Anderson was convicted of murder apparently on the strength of Pederick's evidence, the evidence had been significantly misrepresented to the jury and that those misrepresentations had not been corrected by the trial judge. The Chief Justice also said:
There was a major weakness in the evidence of Pederick. On any view of the matter his account of the events of 12th February, 1978, and in particular of the circumstances relating to the actual attempt at assassination is clearly unreliable. He is incapable of giving a description of those events which does not involve serious error. His evidence about important aspects of the matter was demonstrated to be wrong in a number of respects.
Later in the judgment the court said:
The Crown was permitted in an unfair manner to obscure a major difficulty concerning
The reliability of the evidence of its principal witness by raising a hypothesis that was not reasonably open on the evidence.

Those two extracts are to be found at pages 52 and 53 to 65 of the judgment of 6th June. Attempts to rehabilitate Pederick's credibility were criticised by the Court of Criminal Appeal. At page 63 of the judgment, the Court of Criminal Appeal had this to say about Denning:
The character and antecedents of Denning are such that the jury should properly have regarded his evidence with the most serious reservations. In addition the objective facts cast substantial doubt upon the accuracy of Denning's evidence. On one of the occasions when the appellant was said to have made an admission to him, the prison record shows that the appellant and Denning were not together and could not possibly have communicated. I consider that a jury acting reasonably would give Denning's evidence little or no weight.
In his contribution the honourable member for Ashfield referred to a number of outstanding questions. I agree with those and I agree with the comments made by the Attorney General. I should like to add a number of other questions. Did any member of the security forces have advance knowledge of the bombing and, if so, from what source? What happened to the forensic evidence from the bomb site? Why was it that the nature of the explosives and the device that exploded could not be determined? When was the warning call to police received and was it acted on promptly? Did the police know at the time that the evidence led at the 1982 inquest from the witness Richard Seary was false? If so, why was it led and who was responsible? This whole matter is shot full of holes; it has no credibility. It must be re-investigated. Terry Griffiths and I have been in contact for many years. In my view he is a man of great stature who has suffered grievously. In his latest letter to me dated 22nd October, he said:

If a victim of that tragedy cannot look to you, a member of the Parliament, for justice, then there is no justice in this State.

Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member has exhausted his time for speaking.
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Offline mr anderson

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Re: The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2009, 07:28:52 am »


7 HILTON BOMBING—Ms Kirkby asked the Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations representing the Minister for Police—

      (1) Did the former Police Commissioner, John Avery, ever order an inquiry into allegations about the Hilton Bombing made by bomb victim Terry Griffiths?

      (2) If so, was the inquiry ever completed?

      (3) If not, why not, particularly following the release of Mr Tim Anderson?

      (4) Was the inquiry ordered to be stopped?

      (5) If so, by whom?

      (6) (a) Did the then Minister assert in answers published on 16 September 1992 in response to questions on notice asked by myself, that New South Wales Police had no overseas-trained anti-terrorist personnel?

      (b) Did media statements made by Superintendent Reginald Douglas reported in the Daily Telegraph, 14 February 1978, suggest otherwise?

      (7) (a) Did the then Minister state that there were no established security procedures in 1978 which required garbage bins in a public street to be searched?

      (b) Are such directions contained in Permanent Circular 135 which came out in 1972?

      [8] Was there a request from the New South Wales Police for the Military Sniffer Dog Squad to examine the site of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting? If not, why not?

      (9) (a) Did the then Minister maintain in his answer to my question on notice on 16 September 1992 that to allow a garbage truck to empty the bin in which the bomb eventually exploded would have caused disruption to traffic?

      (b) Why was it not possible for traffic in front of the hotel to move into the centre lane?

      (10) (a) In answer to my question on 16 September 1992, did the then Minister state that the running sheet entries of the New South Wales Police who were on duty at the time of the Hilton Bombing were at the Independent Commission Against Corruption?

      (b) Where are those documents now?

      (c) Can the Minister indicate which personnel were on duty at the Hilton Bombing?

      (11) (a) Who were the New South Wales Police personnel rostered to perform duty with the anti-terrorist squad and within the security arrangements of the CHOGRM?

      (b) Why did they not search the bin and locate the bomb as they had been trained to do?

      (c) If officers were not present, why were they not directed to the vicinity of the front entrance in George Street after the phone call warning of the bomb?

      (d) Were the appropriate police officers called to give evidence and be cross-examined at the 1982 coronial inquiry into the Hilton Bombing? If not, why not?

      (12) Did ASIO personnel consult with the New South Wales Special Branch personnel on security for the CHOGRM conference and if so, what was the nature of that involvement?

      (13) Were any observation squad personnel who worked on CHOGRM ever called to give evidence about the Hilton Bombing? If not, why not?

      (14) Has any State security protection unit been called to account for its failure to detect the bomb?

      (15) (a) Did Superintendent Douglas accept responsibility for not searching?

      (b) Did Superintendent Douglas ever appear or was he ever subpoenaed as a witness to any court hearings relating to the Hilton Bombing?

      (c) If not, why not?

      (d) Was any disciplinary action taken against Superintendent Douglas?

      (16) (a) Did Detective Sergeant Streatfield disobey Police Permanent Circular 135 of 1972 by not relaying the warning he received of the presence of the bomb?

      (b) Was this reported in the 1992/93 Annual Report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security?

      (c) Were seven items of particular interest to the New South Wales Police? If so, were these policies ever followed up? If not, why not?

      (17) (a) Was crucial evidence relating to the Hilton Bombing (explosives and other items) found in a University of New South Wales locker in July 1981?

      (b) Was this evidence destroyed in 1985?

      (c) If so, why?

      (d) On whose orders?

      (e) Was any of this material brought to the attention of the inquest in 1982? If not, why not?

      (f) On what grounds was the investigation into Melton dropped?

      (g) If so, why and how were such investigations dropped?

      (18) (a) Did Mr Frank Walker, a former New South Wales Minister, publicly report that he was visited in 1980 by a former CSIRO scientist who claimed to have manufactured bombs for ASIO in the weeks prior to the Hilton Bombing?

      (b) Is the identity of the CSIRO scientist in question known to the Attorney General’s Department?

      (c) If so, what action does the Attorney General intend to take?

      (d) Is the Commonwealth Government willing to co-operate with the New South Wales Government on any inquiry into the Hilton Bombing?

      (e) If so, will the Minister ensure that an inquiry is established or ensure that the matter is investigated within the terms of the upcoming Royal Commission into the Police?


      The Minister for Police, the Hon. Paul Whelan, M.P., has advised for questions (1) to (17) and (18) (a) and (e). The responses to question (18) (b) to (d) are from my own portfolio.

      (1) I am advised no.

      (2) Not applicable.

      (3) Given the elapse of time and turnover of relevant personnel, I am unable to ascertain why not.

      (4) Not applicable.

      (5) Not applicable.

      (6) (a) This is a matter of public record.

      (b) I am advised that Superintendent Douglas was quoted in the Daily Telegraph of 14 February 1978 as saying NSW Police had been sent overseas to train in anti-terrorist tactics.

      (7) (a) This is a matter of public record.

      (b) I am advised no such directions are contained in Permanent Circular 135.

      [8] I am advised that no request was made. I am not aware of the reason for this decision.

      (9) (a) This is a matter of public record.

      (b) I am advised that this was because cars were already double parked outside the hotel.

      (10) (a) This is a matter of public record.

      (b) In the possession of the Police Service.

      (c) I am advised that approximately 238 NSW Police were rostered for duty in relation to the CHOGRM Conference on the day in question. Copies of running sheets will be made publicly available as announced by the Premier on 24 July 1995.

      (11) (a) I am advised that this was a responsibility of Special Branch personnel.

      (b) I am not aware why a search was not carried out.

      (c) I am advised that there was insufficient time between the phone call and the time of the blast.

      (d) I am advised that Detective Sergeant Crothers did give evidence to the Coronial Inquiry. The Coroner would have decided who was to be called to give evidence.

      (12) I am advised that there was consultation on security arrangements for the conference.

      (13) I am advised that there was no NSW Observation Squad working at the conference.

      (14) I am advised that no disciplinary action was taken against any police arising out of the incident.

      (15) (a) Yes, the Daily Telegraph of 14 February 1978 reported Superintendent Douglas accepting responsibility as he was in charge of police operation.

      (b) I am advised no.

      (c) I am unable to provide any information as to why he was not called as a witness.

      (d) I am advised no.

      (16) (a) I am advised no.

      (b) I am advised no.

      (c) Refer to the 1992/93 Annual Report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence. I am unable to advise why no follow-up occurred.

      (17) (a) I am advised that this is correct.

      (b) I am advised that the explosives were destroyed.

      (c) I am advised that this was because the explosives had become dangerous due to passage of time.

      (d) I am advised that the decision was made by a forensic scientist.

      (e) I am advised no, the relevance of the explosives was not known until after the Coronial Inquiry.

      (f) I am advised that Mr Melton was interviewed by police and eliminated as a suspect.

      (g) I am advised that a statement was taken from Mr Melton denying any knowledge and that his handwriting did not “match” the records at the university.

      (18) (a) Yes, according to media reports.

      (b) No.

      (c) Not applicable.

      (d) The NSW Government is eager to participate in a joint Commonwealth/State inquiry into the Hilton Bombing. However, the Commonwealth responses to the requests of my predecessors in office for a joint inquiry is that the explosion was a violation of New South Wales laws and therefore a joint inquiry is not justified.

      (e) The Premier has announced that all NSW Government files relating to the Hilton Bombing will be made available to the public.
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Offline mr anderson

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Re: The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2009, 07:43:19 am »
Inspector General Intelligence & Security Annual Report 1992-93



ASIO continues to be the main target of complaints against the activities of the intelligence and security community. The following are brief summaries of some of the cases my Office has handled this year.

What information did ASIO obtain about the Hilton bombing and the alleged attempted bombing at Yagoona in 1978, and what did it do with it?

In my last annual report I referred to a complaint I had received from a former NSW Police Special Branch agent who had been the principal Crown witness at the trial of three members of the Ananda Marga sect - Timothy Anderson, Ross Dunn and Paul Alister - for their alleged involvement in an attempted bombing at Yagoona, New South Wales, on 15 June 1978. (The 'Yagoona Three', as they became known, were convicted, but later released and pardoned in 1985 following a judicial inquiry in which the police agent's evidence and credibility were strongly attacked.) The complainant also alleged that the 'Yagoona Three' were involved in the Sydney Hilton Hotel bombing on 13 February 1978.

In 1991, it was asserted on a television program, 60 Minutes, that ASIO had an agent in the Ananda Marga in the late 1970s. The complainant alleged to me that, even though ASIO may have held intelligence and evidence which supported his account, ASIO never came forward to assist him or the Crown. The complainant says that ASIO owed him and the Crown a duty to provide relevant material, and that its failure to do so was improper. He seeks compensation.

The complainant also says the alleged ASIO agent had access to the 'inner core' of the Ananda Marga which, according to the complainant, was prepared to use violence to further its aims. On the basis of this assumption, the complainant speculated that the agent must have been involved in violent acts as part of his cover and that he may even have been offered immunity from prosecution.

This inquiry has proved to be a very lengthy and complex one. I have not been assisted in completing it by staff changes, limited resources and a heavy caseload of other pressing matters. However, at the time of writing, I have prepared a working paper which I have sent to ASIO for comment.

Without pre-empting my report, I have already reached some reasonably firm conclusions.

    * In assessing ASIO's duties to the criminal justice system, it needs to be borne in mind that ASIO is neither a law enforcement body nor a criminal intelligence-collecting body. Its overriding responsibility, as set out in the ASIO Act, is to protect national security. Any assistance it provides to the police or the courts must, in my view, be consistent with this statutory duty.

    * At the time of writing, my research indicates that ASIO had no prior warning of the Hilton bombing, and I have not seen or heard anything which substantiates rumours regarding ASIO involvement in the bombing.

    * ASIO's files contain material which appears to be relevant to the Hilton bombing and the Yagoona incident. However, three important points need to be made about ASIO's holdings. First, in the case of the Hilton, virtually all the relevant material was collected some time afterwards. Secondly, the intelligence relating to both incidents needs to be treated with caution, as most of it is open to interpretation and some of it is contradictory. Thirdly, as I mentioned in my last annual report, much of the ASIO material appears to be inadmissible in any court proceedings (for example, because it is hearsay evidence which does not fall within any of the established exceptions to the rule against hearsay).

    * In June 1983, ASIO officers met with members of the NSW Police and briefed them on some 36 intelligence items ASIO held which were relevant to the Hilton bombing and the Yagoona incident. The police expressed the view that seven items were 'of interest' but would only be of use to them if 'further information' could be obtained. As the police did not follow up with ASIO, it seems no 'further information' emerged.
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Offline netizen_x

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Re: The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2009, 06:54:12 am »
Thanks to you, Mr Anderson, for bringing this primitive black flag operation to our attention again.

Intelligence operatives often infiltrate marginal groups to provoke violence among marginal members of  a movement that threatens to disrupt the Agenda.

"Since corrupt people unite amongst themselves to constitute a force, then honest people must do the same" ~ Leo Tolstoy

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Re: The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2009, 04:03:14 am »
i just found out about this the other day. i actually just uploaded that youtube series to my new channel,
very interesting, this attack had all the hallmarks of a government funded operation

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Re: The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2009, 12:14:11 am »

Armed troops patrol the streets of Bowral during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting, February 1978.

The Hilton bombing set off a security alert which saw an official call-out of the Army by the Governor-General. One thousand troops were used as a security force in Bowral and to safeguard rail and road links between the town and Sydney.

Delegates attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting board a RAAF Chinook helicopter to return to Sydney from the NSW town of Bowral.

Most delegates were transported by helicopter in an unannounced change of plans. Helicopter support was provided by RAAF personnel.
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Re: The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2009, 03:00:56 am »
The Hilton Fiasco

The Hilton bombing. Two decades after Australia’s first act of terrorism the finger still points at a whacky religious cult, Ananda Marga.

Ben Hills
Pub: Sydney Morning Herald
Pubdate: Thursday 12th of February 1998

THE Crosslands Youth and Convention Centre, on a swathe of bushland near the outer Sydney suburb of Galston, is an unlikely starting-point for Australia's first act of international terrorism - and what, to some, is still its greatest unsolved crime.

Anyone who managed to get past the guards into the camp that sweltering January week in 1978 would assume they had stumbled over another harmless if slightly dotty New-Age cult: meditating monks in orange and white robes and turbans, lots of dancing and chanting, steaming cauldrons of rice and vegetables.

But mingling with the devotees of Ananda Marga were agents of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), and informers for the now-disbanded NSW Police Special Branch. They believed that rather than following "the Path of Bliss", some members of the cult were "capable of ... politically motivated violence" and had infiltrated it so comprehensively that they were in possession of photographs, phone-tap transcripts, lists of membership and assets, even the names of disciples rostered for kitchen duties.

In spite of this intensive surveillance, so he later testified, during the retreat a young impressionable novice named Evan Pederick was taken aside for a stroll among the gum trees and recruited to plant the bomb which exploded outside the Hilton Hotel a fortnight later. It missed the then Indian Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, but blew two garbage collectors to bits, and fatally wounded a police officer.

In the thousands of articles written, and the dozen or so books and films produced over the past two decades - many of them by supporters of the cult's former national spokesman, Tim Anderson, who was found guilty of the bombing but later acquitted on appeal - some intriguing conspiracy theories have been advanced about who may have been behind the bombing, including, inevitably, ASIO itself. There are grassy knolls of Kosciuszko proportions.

But the central players in the prosecution - Pederick himself, released last November after serving nearly eight years in jail for the three murders, the police, lawyers, other witnesses and informants - remain convinced that a number of people responsible for the bombing were never charged. Reports tabled in the NSW and Federal parliaments identify them as members of Ananda Marga, a cult which worships a now-deceased retired Indian railway clerk named Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar.

For them, the central mystery of the bombing is not "who did it?" but "what did ASIO know and when did it know it?" Because documents released in the past three years - an enormous cache held in the vaults of the State Archives, the report of an investigation into ASIO's role in a related operation, and a 235-page account by the former head of the police task force - indicate two things:

Before the bombing, ASIO should have known what was planned and taken action to prevent it. Afterwards, it is quite clear that the security service withheld information from the police that could have helped them close the case sooner.

Ananda Marga had been under scrutiny almost from the moment the cult arrived in Australia about 1973 and began attracting acolytes by the hundred. It was "monitored" by NSW Special Branch operatives from 1975 onwards, when the kidnapping of a policeman during the attempted theft of explosives from a depot in New Zealand by three Margis (as followers are called) signalled the start of an international campaign of terrorism, according to a report by the former head of the NSW police task force, Detective Inspector Aarne Tees.

Tees reported that over the following two years, Margis were linked with more than 40 demonstrations and crimes of violence, including bombings, around the world, mainly directed at the Indian Government and aimed at freeing Sarkar from prison, where he was incarcerated on charges of conspiracy to murder six members and defectors from the cult.

By 1976 ASIO was also actively spying on the cult. That year marked the end of Australia's age of terrorist innocence when a bomb went off at a woodchip mill at Bunbury in Western Australia. In the next 18 months an Indian military adviser in Australia was stabbed and kidnapped from his home, and there were attacks on the Air India office in Sydney, including the delivery of bloody, severed pigs' heads.

In September 1977, a group identifying itself with the Universal Proutist Revolutionary Federation, an organisation identified in the Tees report as the "military wing" of Ananda Marga, made its intentions chillingly clear when it wrote to the manager of Air India in Melbourne calling for Sarkar's release and threatening: "Assassinations will be simple, quick and will come soon ... the decision is in your hands as to how much bloodshed there will be: two deaths or 200."

At the time, Tim Anderson vehemently denied the cult was involved in any of the violence. While Margis were eventually convicted in those three cases, today the cult's new spokesman, Michael Andrews, says: "There were certain events with which we were associated. The difficulty is trying to make it clear what Ananda Marga as a mission does, and what certain individuals may have chosen to do that we can't control."

ASIO did not believe such disclaimers. By 1977, agents had permanent taps on telephones in five of Ananda Marga's State headquarters, they were using listening devices, reading mail, engaging in "physical surveillance", running informants inside the cult, and had circulated a "substantial paper" to regional ASIO offices and all State police special branches.

A tiny taste of the information that should have been ringing alarm bells in ASIO's Canberra bunker can be gleaned from the documents, in spite of heavy-handed censorship. Four months before the Hilton bombing, for instance, agents conducted two interviews with the father of a child attending one of the cult's schools who "had come to the conclusion that it was a dangerous organisation" and passed on information that Margis wanted to bomb the Indian High Commission, and had established a paramilitary camp on a farm near Stanthorpe in southern Queensland where disciples were trained in the martial arts and rifle practice.

EVAN Pederick, now rebuilding his life in Western Australia, says he has heard that ASIO specifically "received some sort of tip-off" before the bombing, but did not act on it or pass on the information to police. "Reading between the lines, it appears that ASIO were more concerned about protecting the cover of their operatives than in helping the police ... there was intense rivalry between ASIO and the NSW Special Branch and they were keeping things from each other," he says.

Nor has there been any satisfactory explanation of why a telephone warning to Sydney police headquarters by the writer and painter David Wansbrough - who had become convinced, while working with the Margis, that they were "crazy and potentially violent" - was ignored. Wansbrough says he passed on the names of Margis who were making threats against Desai several days ahead of Desai's arrival in Australia, but was fobbed off and told there would be "plenty of security".

Pederick, who says he was unique in the prison system in having to defend his guilt, had in fact first come to the attention of ASIO late in 1977 when he was arrested for "minor offences arising from his participation in street marches in Brisbane" and for writing to the Courier-Mail newspaper in defence of Ananda Marga.

On February 14, the day after the bombing, Commonwealth police passed on this alarming information: "A disenchanted Ananda Marga member from Queensland, who described Pederick as the senior Ananda Marga member on the Redcliffe Peninsula, had reported him saying, `Do not worry about killing people, you kill flies and ants and cockroaches, so don't worry about people'."

There is a recommendation on the Commonwealth police file that Pederick should be interviewed "because of his reported tendency towards violence", but this never happened, and the bombing remained unsolved until he walked into a police station and confessed to the crime 11 years later. "That was just incredible incompetence," says Pederick. "It wouldn't have prevented the bombing, but if they had leant on me then they might have solved the case much sooner."

Even more remarkably, when Pederick moved to Canberra a year later, he applied for a job in the Department of Foreign Affairs and was subjected to an ASIO security check. The Hilton bomber was employed, with a clearance up to "secret" level, after ASIO could find "no evidence of Pederick's involvement in acts of violence".

An inquiry in 1994 by the ASIO watchdog, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Roger Holdich, concluded that the agency was "genuinely shocked" by the bombing and had "... received no clear warning from either its agent or from telephone interception that the Hilton bombing was going to occur", whatever that careful wording might mean.

So much for speculation about prior warnings. What is clear from the reports is that after the bombing, ASIO did not pass on material which could have helped the police; not only on Pederick, who eventually stood trial 12 years and millions of dollars worth of police investigation later, but of other members of Ananda Marga who were never charged.

The Holdich report cites a 1984 ASIO assessment which says "[the bombing] is consistent with other Ananda Marga attacks on Indian officials during the period, and there are grounds for strongly suspecting Ananda Marga responsibility" and identifies these five Margi by their cult names "... source information and circumstantial evidence suggests that "Ainjali", "Suvod", "Kapil" and "Dhruva" were directed by "Abhiik" to undertake the Hilton bombing".

The report, however, concludes: "There currently appears [to be] insufficient evidence to initiate prosecutions."

"Abhiik Kumar", a bearded young American Margi whose real name was Michael Luke Brandon, and who had taken out Australian citizenship and used a number of aliases, is identified in the Tees report as the likely mastermind of the bombing.

"Violence had occurred in many parts of the world shortly after Brandon's visits," says the report. As well, according to an ASIO informant, Brandon had once given a lecture on bomb-making, telling his students Ananda Marga no longer favoured remotely detonated devices because they had twice failed to kill Desai.

Aarne Tees, a tough, experienced detective who was in charge of the B&T task force which took on the bombing investigation in 1989, has no doubt that ASIO failed to pass material on promptly - and, in all likelihood, is still sitting on important information.
"What they gave us was old hat. The problem was there was no co-ordination between ASIO and Special Branch, who had a lot of information, and the police who were doing the investigation," says Tees.

"ASIO was sitting on dynamite, information that might have solved it [the bombing] at the time, but they didn't want to let it go. For instance, they sat on `Ron' [the code-name for a senior cult member who was an ASIO informant] for a long time, and did not say they had a man inside."

The reports show that although eventually it did conduct some briefings and pass on some material to the police, ASIO refused the police access to transcripts of telephone taps on the Ananda Marga that may have helped crack the case, and had withheld other information, apparently for fear of blowing the cover of its informants.

But precisely what, if anything, ASIO could have done to prevent the Hilton bombing, or trigger the early arrest of those it believes ultimately responsible, may not be known until its 30th anniversary.

An ASIO spokesman says the files may be released under the "30-year rule" in 2008. But the Government can, if it wants, keep them secret for 40 years, or 50 years, or, indeed, for ever.


NOW aged 60, Aarne Tees retired three years ago after a distinguished career in the Police Service and is now practising as a barrister, mainly for the defence in criminal cases. "I've put enough of them inside over the years," he says. "Now it's my turn to keep a few out."

Tees says he har tried to put the Hilton bombing case behind him, but still believes that because of the limitations of the courts only a royal commission could get to the bottom of the case, and bring those he believes ultimately accountable to justice.


THREE months out of jail, Pederick, aged 41, has moved back to Western Australia to be close to his family, has got a job, and is trying to get on with the rest of his life.

"As far as I am concerned, the Hilton bombing belongs in history," he says. "There is no mystery about it. I guess I was quite unique in the prison system in that I had to keep proving my guilt, whereas everyone else said they were innocent." Pederick has used his time to write a book which he says will give the real story of the bombing - a story which, he says has been suppressed by the media because they have been "brainwashed by the Ananda Marga and timid because of the defamation laws."


STILL suffering physically and mentally from the after-effects of the bombing, Griffiths, 54, was one of the six people injured in the blast. A senior constable on guard duty outside the HIlton when the bomb went off, he was hit by shrapnel which blew off parts of his leg, and ripped holes in the intestines.

Griffiths was forced to retire from the police through ill-health two years later, and has spent the past 20 years turning his house in Seven Hills into an archive of information about the bombing. He remains convinced that the bomb was never intended to go off. He believes it was planted by the security forces - particularly ASIO and the NSW.


ANDERSON has left the Ananda Marga and , at the age of 44, is working at the Sydney University of Technology where he describes himself as a "teacher, writer and political activist". He declined to be interviewed for this article, but in the past has claimed he was "framed" by police for the bombing, and has blamed various organisations for it, including the former Soviet security service, the KGB.

Anderson, who spent more than seven years in prison but now has no criminal convictions, has degrees in economics and politics and has written three books. The dust-jacket of the latest Take Two: the criminal justice system revisited (Bantam), says: "Take Two is the chronicle of a police vendetta and a portrait of the system that sanctions such abuses."
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Offline mr anderson

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Re: The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2009, 08:42:28 am »
The Sydney Hilton Bombing - ABC News: 13 February, 1978

Official story: The Sydney Hilton bombing occurred on 13 February 1978, when a bomb exploded outside the Hilton Hotel in Sydney, Australia. At the time the hotel was the site of the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting (CHOGRM), a regional off-shoot of the biennial meetings of the heads of government from across the Commonwealth of Nations.

The bomb, planted in a rubbish bin, exploded when the bin was emptied into a garbage truck outside the hotel at 1:40am. It killed two garbage men, Alec Carter and William Favell, and a police officer, Paul Birmistriw, guarding the entrance to the hotel lounge died later. It also injured eleven others. Twelve foreign leaders were staying in the hotel at the time, but none were injured. Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser immediately called out the Australian Army to guard the remainder of the CHOGRM meeting.
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Offline liberte

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Re: The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2010, 02:14:44 am »
As an interesting aside I  met a close relative of Paul Birmistriw the police officer killed in the blast. I wont use his name for privacy reasons but he was  in prison at the same time as Mr Anderson.  I don't know  in what exact  proximity, whether they were in the same parts of the  jail but I assumed they actually spoke to each other but I could be wrong. I  thought it strange though that they'd put both men in  physical contact.
But what was more interesting was that  this relative did not hold Anderson or the Ananda Marga members responsible for the bomb attack.
This is after release with no coercion on him to hold that view.
This is to the best recollection of my knowledge, its close to 20 years ago 
I just thought its pertinent that a relative had this viewpoint at that time.
This is my opinion of the events I don't want to preempt anyone else's view or recollections. .

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Re: The 1978 Sydney Hilton bombing
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2010, 02:05:37 am »
Foul deeds will rise: Abbott on the Sydney Hilton bombing

September 6th, 2010 by Syd Walker

On 24th August 1995, a Labor MP Chris Haviland introduced a resolution into the Australian House of Representatives.

It was a bold initiative .

Haviland proposed that this House (emphasis added):

   1. notes the unanimous resolution of the NSW Parliament of 9 December 1991 calling upon the federal Government to establish a top level, open, joint NSW/federal Government inquiry into the bombing of the Sydney Hilton Hotel on 13 February 1978 and pledging the full cooperation of the NSW Government;

   2. notes the recent statements of the NSW Premier, Mr Bob Carr, confirming his Government’s support for such an inquiry;

   3. requests that the federal Government immediately establish a joint federal/NSW Government inquiry, with the powers of a Royal Commission, into all of the circumstances and consequences surrounding the Hilton Hotel bombing, including the events leading up to the incident, the bombing itself, the conduct of the subsequent investigation of the bombing and all relevant matters;

   4. requests that the terms of reference for the inquiry include a full investigation of the role played by all NSW and federal Government agencies, including military and security organisations, before, during and after the bombing; and

   5. requests that any provisions existing in any federal legislation which would otherwise prevent full disclosure to the inquiry by officers, employees, agents or sub-agents of federal Government agencies of any information under oath relevant to the terms of reference be set aside for the purposes of the inquiry.

It was the era of the Keating Labor Government. The Federal Attorney General Michael Duffy wasn’t keen at all. His dismissive response concluded:

“People are concerned about these matters. We understand that. There are allegations that arise which have always been examined very carefully and have been answered in the most extensive detail. If you go through the Hansard and look at the answers and the work that has gone into it, you will see that we are still of the view that there is no need, no requirement, to have a new inquiry.”

Independent MP for North Shore, Ted Mack, took the opposite view. Mack was effusive in his praise for Haviland’s resolution. He said (emphasis added):

The member for Macarthur (Mr Haviland) is to be congratulated for bringing this motion before the House. The motion is supported by the Premier of New South Wales and unanimously by the New South Wales parliament. It is a motion undoubtedly supported by the majority of the people of Australia. The Premier of New South Wales is to be particularly congratulated for following through on the unanimous decision of the New South Wales parliament in 1991 asking the federal government to agree to a joint federal-state inquiry.

The New South Wales Premier’s recent action of making state files available to the public on the Hilton bombing is a breath of fresh air after years of deliberate frustration of any attempt to find the truth, although anyone who has followed the 17-year saga of conspiracy of public officials to avoid accountability will not be surprised to see the Premier’s good intentions white-anted.

Some might superficially ask: what is the point of trying to reopen a 17-year-old affair which has already been worked over by a major inquiry, several court cases, many reports and thousands of media reports? The fact is that the Hilton bombing is the worst act of political terrorism in this country’s history. It was the largest security operation ever mounted in Australia, involving all key security agencies. It was also the most outrageous failure of security in Australian history, yet no-one responsible for the security operation has ever been held to account.

Mack added:

I have asked some 70 questions in this House about the Hilton bombing. The answers have been grudging, evasive, on occasions wrong and permeated with a `neither confirm nor deny’ mantra. Yet what information has been gleaned has only added more questions and more doubts. There were hundreds of people in the bureaucracies and security agencies involved to some degree in the Hilton, and many of those have played a part in blocking inquiries ever since.

Most interesting, in the current context, was the contribution by a newly-elected MP for the safe Liberal seat of Warringah. He spoke at some length in support of Haviland’s resolution, showing detailed knowledge of the complexities of the case – as well as a combative, partisan character. His speech began:

In supporting this motion I would like to quote Shakespeare’s dictum: `Foul deeds will rise, though all the earth o’erwhelm them to men’s eyes.’ If that does not move this House, the example of the Minister for Human Services and Health (Dr Lawrence) should be enough to show what happens to those who stand in the way of truth.

The Hilton bombing was Australia’s greatest act of terrorism and it marred what up till then had been Australia’s greatest international gathering. As a result, a man was charged and convicted but all the time protesting that he was the victim of a frame-up. Eventually, after several years in gaol, he was completely exonerated.

Years later, another man confessed and, on the basis of that confession, was charged and convicted. But any confidence in our knowing what really happened depends entirely on the slender thread of the confession of an unstable and delusional man….

The speaker concluded (emphasis added):

Our job is not, here in this parliament, to specifically probe into the dark and murky labyrinth of the security forces. Our job is to ensure that people who can do that job are allowed to do that job. Our job is to help establish an inquiry which can get to the bottom of this matter. It is so important that we do this because the people of this country are entitled to believe and to be confident that the forces of government, the security forces of this country, are working for them and not against them. The people of this country are entitled to have confidence that the various arms of government are working in accordance with the law and not, as it very well may be in this case, against the law.

Let me say most categorically that truth has nothing to fear from an inquiry. The government should have nothing to fear from an inquiry. ASIO should have nothing to fear from an inquiry. The police should have nothing to fear, the army should have nothing to fear from an inquiry, because truth has nothing to fear from an inquiry. This government should not be so concerned about the cost of an inquiry because truth is priceless; truth is precious. Any government which is prepared to spend $17 million investigating war crimes that happened in another country 50 years ago should certainly be prepared to help fund an inquiry of this nature.

Let all the documents be considered. Let all the witnesses be examined. Let all the options be considered and canvassed. Let the best conclusion possible be drawn, because the fact is we do not need to have this issue hanging over our heads in the way the JFK murder is hanging over the heads of people in the United States.

I say to the Attorney-General: don’t do a Carmen Lawrence on us. Don’t say to the parliament, `Of course I want the truth to come out, but I just don’t seem to be able to find a suitable venue in which to tell it.’ Don’t do a Carmen Lawrence on us, Attorney-General, because you are better than that. The ghosts of three innocent men are hovering over us today. Let us get to the bottom of this so that their souls can finally rest in peace.

The speaker’s name? Tony Abbott, MP for Warringah – currently leader of the Liberal Party and the Federal Opposition.

At the conclusion of contributions by the four speakers, the Deputy Speaker declared an adjournment and concluded: “The debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting Monday.”

A month later, Chris Haviland returned to the topic. Here’s the extract from Hansard:

Mr HAVILAND  (Macarthur) (5.58 p.m.) —On 24 August I moved a motion in the House of Representatives calling for a joint federal-state inquiry into the Hilton Hotel bombing in 1978. This followed, in 1991, the unanimous decision of the New South Wales parliament calling also for a joint federal-state inquiry. Since that time another motion has been passed in the New South Wales parliament, again calling for a joint federal-state inquiry. I notice that a similar motion to mine is now on the Senate Notice Paper for debate over there.

It is high time we got to the bottom of who was responsible for the bombing of the Hilton Hotel. I believe there are no further excuses. We need this joint federal-state inquiry. To not have an inquiry will mean that we will never get to the bottom of who committed these crimes. It is the worst unsolved murder case in Australia’s history. It was an embarrassment to Australia. I believe there will be a suggestion of a cover-up if people are not going to support an inquiry into this.

Bob Carr, the Premier of New South Wales, has supposedly opened the files held by the New South Wales government on this matter. When Terry Griffiths, one of the victims of the bombing, went down to look at the files he was told that eight particular files were restricted: he could not look at them. When he phoned the Premier’s office to ask why, he was told that the New South Wales government had opened the files but the Commonwealth government had placed restrictions on eight of those files. I would like to know why that is. There may be a very good reason.

Indeed, it is a debating point as to whether it is a good idea to just throw open files to the public anyway, given the sensitive nature of this issue. But, whatever the merits of that, it is high time we got to the bottom of this sordid issue and had a joint federal-state inquiry.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! It being 6 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until Monday, 16 October 1995 at 12.30 p.m., in accordance with the provisions of standing order 40.

That appears to be the last reference in Australian Hansard, to this day, on the topic of the Sydney Hilton bombing.

In March 1996, a Federal election was held.

Chris Haviland was deselected by the Labor Party for his seat in the run up to the election – somewhat unusually for a sitting member.

Ted Mack retired.

John Howard and the Liberal Party, who swept to office, promptly seemed to forget the Hilton bombing. With so much national focus on the Port Arthur atrocity from April 1996 onwards, it was easy to do…

As a backbencher in the early years of Howard’s new Government, Tony Abbott may not have held much sway at the time. But in September 2010 that’s no longer the case.

Whether he’s Prime Minister or not by the end of this week, Abbott could now set in motion the demand he so strongly supported 15 years ago.

This time – with his personal support and given the new balance of power in the House of Representatives and the configuration of the Senate – a resolution to establish this long overdue inquiry would undoubtably be carried.
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