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Big Ben tolls no more

Written by: Bill F. on 4 June 2023


"Murderer, war criminal, bully" are the words used to describe Australia's fallen war hero, Ben Roberts-Smith. "Liar" can also be added to the list after his unsuccessful defamation case against courageous truth-seeking journalists.

This is the same man who was friend and personal mentor to NT police officer Zachary Rolfe who shot and killed Warlpiri-Luritja man Kumanjayi Walker at Yuendumu in 2019.

What words can be used to describe his skulking cheer-squad? Kerry Stokes the millionaire boss of Channel 7, Brendon Nelson former director of the Australian War Memorial, board member Tony Abbott, Gina Rinehart – all have cosied up to Big Ben and fondled his Victoria Cross, all have scoffed the rumours and leaks and scorned the Brereton Report. 

The same gang were among the loudest supporters of US imperialism when Australia joined the US in the illegal and catastrophic invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The legacy of that invasion lives on in the misery and hardship of the Afghan people, victims of imperialist war and victims of hideous war crimes.

Will the war criminals ever be brought to justice? In Roberts-Smith's case, if he is prepared to even return to Australia where he will be pariah number one, there could be an appeal on the defamation case, followed by charges, trials and appeals on the war crimes and other matters. Will his wealthy and powerful backers continue to cough up the dollars?

Contrast this to the treatment of real heroes like Julian Assange and David McBride who exposed serious crimes, especially war crimes, and not to forget Bernard Collaery who helped to expose efforts to swindle Timor Leste of its resources wealth. And don’t forget US-born Australian citizen Dan Duggan who, as of the time of writing, is in his 226th day of solitary confinement in Lithgow’s maximum security prison. He has not been charged with any offence under Australian law, but is facing extradition to the US for having participated, legally at the time, in the training of Chinese pilots. His wife Saffrine’ s visits are conducted in a tiny cage with guards, and Saffrine is subjected to 40 minutes of sniffer dogs, pat downs, scanners, and finger print checks to get in. Duggan’s struggling Aussie family is even forced to pay for Dan's cruel arbitrary incarceration. On top of refusing to help pay the legal costs, the Government is billing the family $400 a month for Dan's calls and enough food to stay fit, and even more for warm bedding and clothes. Yet Ben Roberts-Smith is free to enjoy a relaxing holiday in Bali!

Overshadowing all of this is the subservience of Australia’s governments to the political, economic and geostrategic interests of US imperialism. However, unlike the US, Australia has ratified the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, where war crimes can be tried when the country involved cannot do so.

To undo some of the shame Roberts-Smith has brought on Australia, the Albanese government must demand the immediate release of Julian Assange, drop all charges against David McBride, and refuse the US demand for the extradition of Dan Duggan.




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