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Craig Thrupp
Archive number: 2519
Date interviewed: 24 May, 2000

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Craig Thrupp 2519

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This interview was filmed for the television series Australians at War in 1999-2000.
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Transcript

Tape 112
NB. This transcript is of an interview filmed for the television series, Australians at War in 1999-2000. It was incorporated into the Archive in 2007.

112:00:55:00

Just tell me a little bit about yourself, your personal history and where you come from, how old you are, how you long you’ve been in the army?

112:01:00:00

I’m nineteen years of age, I was born in Canberra and the first couple of years I spent with my mother and father, lived in America, and when we got back from there they divorced, and I started to live with my father. And he was in the RAAF [Royal Australian Air Force] and we moved around a lot, every two years, once in a while. And a lot of different schools, a lot of different people to get to know, a lot of different friends, families experiences.

112:01:30:00

Having a father in the RAAF lead you into the army?
Well any serviceman will tell you no, because you know there’s a whole rival hatred thing happening, but no, you know when I was thirteen I was going to become an air force pilot. So didn’t have anything to do with it.
So you’ve been in the army nearly a couple, nearly two

112:02:00:00

years?
Yeah almost two years.
Basic training plus a bit more and then you’re off to Timor?
Hmm.
Give us a word picture of your first impressions, I mean be as chatty as you like about it, don’t feel as though you need to be clipping your answer. But what happened, the impressions of going to Timor, was it your first, it wasn’t your first time overseas you’d travelled a lot with your parents, with your father?
First thing that hit me when we got off the boat was that it stank,

112:02:30:00

like that was human faeces, piss, everything. The sewers were out of action, even though they were open sewers over there. But the place really, really did stink and the heat of it as well combined, getting off there with all your pack and what you were carrying just hit everyone, it was out of control. But after that, after you kind of got over the initial first couple of steps of, well

112:03:00:00

this is where I’m going to be living for six months. The thing that I did notice was that everyone was afraid of us, it was like here we were, we had guns and rifles and what not and we were patrolling the streets like, where a lot of the people would see. And they were very stand offish to us, and yet we hadn’t done anything to them. Like they’d developed a certain natural instinct against soldiers in particular. And it wasn’t until a couple of us started going up and you know asking everyone

112:03:30:00

how they were, you know in their language, that they actually became a bit more affectionate to us, thinking that you know these people are different, these guys are Australians, they’re different. Not your average type of shallow narrow minded soldier, if you know what I mean, so yeah. That was my first impression.
And after that, what happened then?
After that the first two weeks were about, a bit of a blur of

112:04:00:00

endless patrols, night picquets, shooting, [UNCLEAR] searches, you name it we did it, it was probably the best two weeks of my life over there. Not life in general but you now best two weeks of East Timor was the first two weeks ‘cause it was only our unit really in, in Dili, that secured Dili for the first time. And it was such an adrenalin buzz to be around fourteen

112:04:30:00

thousand TNI [Tentara Nasional Indonesia, (Indonesian Army)] soldiers and be the only battalion there. You know you go out on patrol and convoys of twenty trucks of TNI and militia in the back, who were dressed up as TNI, they were the same thing. Would go past and they’d be like slitting their throats at you and you know trying to aim their weapons and things like that, you know, but.
Were you scared?
No,

112:05:00:00

I was actually having a bit of fun ‘cause…
Why weren’t you scared, I would have been shitting myself?
Why wasn’t I scared? I kind of consoled myself on the boat ride over if you know what I mean, but you know I could die, I could not, who cares, you know I’m not going to go out there and get worried about it because it detracts from the whole experience of the situation, you know.

112:05:30:00

You can sit there and feel the fear of whatnot or you know make yourself feel this fear and then you wouldn’t feel anything but fear. You, you wouldn’t learn from this, experience of the situation, you block everything else out. So I just tried to treat the whole thing as a big sociopathic learning experience, if you know what I mean. A lot of the times when the TNI would go past and they’d be, you know shooting, or aiming their

112:06:00:00

rifles at our general direction, or throat cutting at us, you know you’d just laugh at them and wave, or give them the thumbs up, or peace or something like that, just to try and push them that one step further.
How long before you went to Oecussi?
Oecussi, we went there in the third month, no sorry the second month of our tour.
And you were there until the end of your tour?
End of our tour yep.
And how that, tell us the difference

112:06:30:00

between the Oecussi enclave and say being stationed and working in Dili?
The Dili I saw would have been different to a lot of the rest of the army’s perception of Dili. We were getting reports back from Dili that it was, you know they were given two beers a day and they were running around in PT [physical training] shorts and civvies [civilian clothes] and cruising down to the beach for a bit of a swim

112:07:00:00

and that type of stuff, you know. And they were getting paid a hundred and twenty five bucks, dollars a day, which is a completely different from when we were there. Oecussi enclave was completely different in that it was a very close knit enclave, in that everyone knew everyone there. You know you could talk to a person there and ask him how his brother up in the hills, south west of here was going, and he’d tell you all

112:07:30:00

about down there. And that’s where a lot of our information came from. And it was, it was better in that sense because we got more involved with the local community, it wasn’t just a, you know a large scale isolation; you know completely difference between the city and the country town. City you feel more isolated and individualised, but the country you kind of bond to everyone. We used that as a

112:08:00:00

lot to get our roots into what was going on in East Timor and that type of stuff, you know. If people were scared they’d come tell us and we can go out and you know patrol, or go and question this [UNCLEAR] and that was where ninety percent of our intelligence things came from, intelligence briefs came from the local people. You know, not from our own system. I think I got two or three intelligence briefs while I was over there, like

112:08:30:00

during you know where they said, “Yada, yada, yada, this has all happened, this is what’s happening.”
You actually picked up language skills right?
Yeah, yes.
Bahasa [Indonesian language] or the local dialect?
Tetum.
Do you want tell us about that, was that a good decision to do that and how you did it and how you saw it ?
In Dili I originally started doing it because I wanted to

112:09:00:00

get people to trust us, to like us a bit more and to, it was easy to sit back and look mean and you know, carry a machine gun or rifle and you know stare everyone down and everything. But it doesn’t really get you anywhere, if you know what I mean. Much better to be social and civil and you know, try and chat to them, try and see what’s going on ‘cause then you know it’ll reflect back on you. That’s why I started

112:09:30:00

learning the language over there. I was interested in learning about the people and didn’t have any books either so I started reading the Tetum book, you know. I was trying to chat to people and it just became a gradual thing and in the end it was a couple of us who had picked up Tetum okay that were actually speaking to people. There was another guy in my section, Aravelo,

112:10:00:00

he’s from El-Salvador where they speak Spanish, but Spanish is close to Portuguese which is what they also speak in East Timor. So he was very much in the lingo with the local people. And if ever he wasn’t around you know it was, people like me who had just picked it up that would be like the backup interpreter, if you know what I mean, so, yeah.
So you, you got on quite well with the locals and…?
Hmm, very well.

112:10:30:00

Did you sleep with any girls?
No, definitely not… hmm, not my type. And besides you had no interest over there, if you know what I mean.
So in a situation like that you’re away for what four months all told, half of it at least in Oecussi

112:11:00:00

where it seemed to me there was considerable risk, personal risk?
Of women or?
Attack, or?
Oh attack.
Or of personal danger. So in those circumstances how do you let off steam? I mean what do you do in the down time?
We used to read, wherever we went we constructed like a chin-up bar and we’d just go down every afternoon and

112:11:30:00

do our Simon super special, sorry our Simon super special heave session, and just do chin-ups and push-ups. And you know, if we could patrol down to the local football ground and watch a game of soccer that the locals were having then talk to them afterwards, you know we’d get involved with that.
This is extraordinary clean skinned for soldiers, I mean the tradition is that you f… girls and drink beer and downtime was really, you know I can remember

112:12:00:00

Saigon, I mean, maybe Vietnam was much more out of control than Timor, but those downtimes were really wild times?
Hmm, in terms of drinking and…
Having a good time, letting off steam, as an outlet for the incredible tension that you feel when you’re patrolling all the time?
Oh Vietnam was, I don’t know much about…
No maybe that’s not a good example but I mean that is the traditional sort of perception that soldiers lead a very tense and stressful day to day existence. And then when you do let off

112:12:30:00

steam it’s really, you know excessive?
It happens, we didn’t have any alcohol over there, in terms of, but we did have the Rec [Recreation] Centre, you know when we’d go down there you know everyone would have a couple of nice drops and get completely smashed. But that was you know, on our own time within the confines of ourselves and that was a stress release in terms of you know, you go there,

112:13:00:00

watch a movie and just completely chill out. You’d hang round in PT shorts and go swimming whilst, you know, another section patrolled the actual compound itself. So you didn’t have to worry about anything, it was like a big mind switch off. But in terms of the rate of, well the intensity of the conflict it was very, very low in terms of danger wise. Not initially in the first two weeks to a month but

112:13:30:00

as the situation, situation went along it became a bit more of a stand off. They weren’t going to really try to attack us because of a lot of international pressure, i.e. you know the United States coming in, in terms of backdoor dealings with Indonesia and that type of stuff. And their links to the militia leaders and the TNI etcetera into the whole sub-culture of

112:14:00:00

the East Timorese militia. So there was a lot of, a lot of reins from above being brought down, which I think lowered the risk. It changes now when you see the Jordanians going in there and they’ve had numerous contacts since they’ve been there, you know in the same areas where we were getting no contacts, so,

112:14:30:00

but…
Why is that do you think, different soldiering styles?
Very, very, very different, you could get religious about it and say that the Jordanians are Muslims and the East Timorese are Christian, but… and as soldier they’re…not

112:15:00:00

very professional. They go out in the field with suitcases and carrying an M16 [rifle] with a magazine and that’s it. You know, if anything was to happen to them, you know… it would astound me to think that they could protect themselves, you know, which I think is the difference with the way the militia saw us. I keep drawing references to Jordanians, at night they’d

112:15:30:00

use big generators and boom lights because they were afraid of the dark. There’s a country meant to be liberated by peacekeeping troops and you get soldiers who want boom lights, it’s not very…
When you… when you enlisted was Timor a possibility at that time?

112:16:00:00

I had thought about it, there’d been a lot of going ons in the news about it, and…
But you didn’t enlist specifically to go to Timor?
No, there was always things about Timor in the news, I mean they’d been going on for hundreds of years. Well maybe not hundreds but you know twenty, thirty, forty years. No but it wasn’t on my mind at all when I enlisted.

112:16:30:00

You weren’t surprised when the call came?
No.
Did you have to volunteer for it?
Well the sergeant at the start of the parade we had for it said, “If you are not wanting to go, put your hand up.” But I think that was more of a, you know, joke to take the icing, or put the icing on the cake. I was actually looking forward to going, so, in a weird kind of way.

112:17:00:00

There’s a perception that the nature of warfare is irrevocably changed since Vietnam, and that the pundits are now saying it’s an extremely unlikely that there will ever be a direct conflict like that, or like previous conflicts, trench to trench warfare for instance is probably over. And that the warrior soldier of the past is probably a creature that we’ll never see again. And that most

112:17:30:00

defence force personnel will spend the rest of their careers in peacekeeping and peace monitoring, peace enforcing roles. Do you agree with that?
Well obviously the future’s never, never written down. Who knows what will happen, maybe that’s why we still train, or that is why we still train for normal

112:18:00:00

trench warfare, if you understand, and also the low intensity peace conflicts slash jungle small operations. So we kind of have the ability to either act as a small unit, company or battalion size, or as part of a larger fighting force. You know World War II might have, you know, where they were parachuting in divisions and you know that type of stuff. But

112:18:30:00

I think it’s a sign of the times in terms of information availability and communications effectiveness. The world’s a lot closer than it ever was fifty years ago, when World War II happened. You know you can go on the internet and talk to people in Germany or Holland, wherever, it’s like a big social village, if you know what I mean. And that’s why you get, more so not, you get the conflicts breaking out between social ideals now, I think,

112:19:00:00

which is why you have more low intensity conflicts in the, in the world yeah. Not to dismiss the fact that large scale conflicts can happen though.
You don’t feel that your training, your basic training as a warrior soldier is being compromised by having to go on peacekeeping functions?
No definitely not, I mean peacekeeping is obviously a derivative

112:19:30:00

of trench warfare in terms of being the warrior soldier or what not, whatever you refer to it as. But skills such as patrolling both urban and jungle you know remain the same. Whether you’re in trench warfare or peacekeeping operations, that doesn’t change. Your whole professionalism, professionalism that you were taught as a solider doesn’t change. Your whole attitude doesn’t change,

112:20:00:00

it’s only the conflict and what you’ve got to think of and your rules of engagement and that type of stuff. It’s really a matter of personal, personal training when it comes down to it, or adaptability, so. And in my mind I think the Australian soldier’s above anywhere else, with the history I’ve read, we have a great reputation for, so.

112:20:30:00

You wouldn’t be disappointed to be asked to go on another peacekeeping mission somewhere else?
Oh definitely not. I think once you get over the whole, you know fear and all that type of stuff you were talking about earlier, it’s an experience, you know being shot at and being afraid for your life is a really character building experience, you know moral fibre, that type of stuff.

112:21:00:00

And it’s good to see what happens when that happens, what happens to yourself and your train of thought, you know, when such events do occur. And I suppose that’s why myself and numerous other soldiers enjoy, would enjoy other peacekeeping missions, or this one in particular, or any operation because you know you get those insights into yourself and, other people,

112:21:30:00

which make you stand out from the rest of society, you know, ‘cause you know a little bit more about yourself. It’s not the whole, I can sink loads of beer and all that type of stuff and be the hard man, or whatever, it’s you know to see how you react and see how you feel, learn about yourself, in a very violent sort of way.
Since you’ve come back from Timor and you’ve had that experience and you’ve had

112:22:00:00

you’ve had a break and time to reflect on and you’re now back at work. How, how did you grow out of Timor, what, what’s happened to you as a person as a result of Timor?
First thing I noticed when I got back was I was incredibly calm, I was always willing to do something, go to the movies or something like that but I didn’t have a worry in the world at all.

112:22:30:00

I’d go out with my friends and they’d be worrying about, you know, events which to them personally were you know, life altering but I just, I, it’s almost of the fact of I didn’t care anymore, but oh…it’s more you’ve, were so thankful for what you’ve got and seeing you know, you’ve seen a three year old with both parents killed running round the streets naked,

112:23:00:00

and then you come home and people you know are complaining about what uni course they want to do, or you know, the fact that the referee in the touch football game was biased and that type of stuff. And it was like who cares man, just enjoy it, learn from it, you know look at everything from a learning experience and bad things happen, accept it, and they always will. I guess I’ve lost that a little bit now because I’ve come back to the

112:23:30:00

social structure of society and had to reintegrate myself with consumerism and corporatisation and you know, all the other ‘isms’ under the sun which is bad. I constantly try to get back to that state when I came back from Timor, that sense of calmness. But obviously if you’re a part of society there’s things you have to forsake in terms of worrying, that type of stuff.

112:24:00:00

But, that’s what I want to do right now, is get back to that point when I got back, that calm interaction with everything.
Good answer. We were talking before about, well you raised the point about communication and technology and how that’s changed, considerations of conflict and war.

112:24:30:00

What was it like in Timor in terms of access to back home, I mean did you have internet, satellite phones? Just talk a little bit about, about communications? Did you have a girlfriend back here that you left behind?
Yes I did.
Tell us all about that, how did you keep in touch or didn’t you?
Well, well we kept in touch yes. All, well ninety percent of my dealings with back home were by letter.

112:25:00:00

Purely for the fact that where we were there were no telephones or internet or email hook up. You couldn’t, you know go out for a patrol down to the local net café in Dili and you know check your email account to see if your, you know fax message got through. The only phones that were available to us were satellite phones, that come out in the little box, and uplink directly to a satellite. Other than that once we did get our hands on a

112:25:30:00

HF Coms Radio [High Frequency Communications Radio], whereby we radioed Air Force Darwin and got them to put us through a phone patch so we could call home. And that was like a big lengthy process. But no, all my letter, all my communications were by letter and, it was good. I like letter writing and I do, I like it ‘cause you can put all your train of thought down in that one sentence and then when

112:26:00:00

you read that later it’s like a little slice of your life and thinking that you can look back on, so.
Was distance from the family and friends difficult?
No ‘cause I got some very good friends in my platoon, so it was big family atmosphere if you know what I mean. You know, you go out and have fun with them and what not. And at that point in time I’d only seen my

112:26:30:00

parents… once in about a year, so you know, like everyone you get used to the fact that you know, you don’t see your parents or your family or your friends and loved ones anymore but. Over there it was more of wanting to get back and spend time with them when I got back there, you know, just to see them again. Same with my friends and in my platoon, believe it or not, after spending five months with

112:27:00:00

them over there you’d think you wouldn’t want to see them again, but you know, you want to go out and like go to plays and stuff like that, so.
How about your relationship with your girlfriend, did that survive?
No, that crashed and burned about four months into it, so. I had a month to go to come home and hmm, didn’t work out, so. Bit of a communication breakdown.

112:27:30:00

Not due to the letter writing system, just personal communication breakdown between both of us, so.
Cost of war, war is hurt?
Well you could call it that, no. It was the fact that I was living in Sydney and she was living in Brisbane, so.
You of course were the subject of an ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] 7.30 Report, well you weren’t the only subject but you featured in

112:28:00:00

a 7.30 report. Do you want to tell us a little bit about army versus media, or versus isn’t a word, army and media in, in that sort of, in that sort of situation? I mean there’s a strong tradition in previous conflicts of war, artists and reporters and media people, well media wasn’t a word that was in use then, but the idea of reportage being so important to the people back home. And, and it seems to me as technology has become

112:28:30:00

more and more efficient and faster that’s grown and now the media is almost there, you know there’s a famous Somalia footage where the CNN [Cable News Network] cameraman were on the beaches filming the Americans coming ashore and they were actually getting there ahead of the troops. Have you, have you got any observations about media and the army in, after East Timor? Don’t count us as media so don’t feel you have to be kind.
Neutral.

112:29:00:00

You don’t have to be neutral.
The media, give me a minute here….
Take your time.
The media have their angle that they want to play to sell back to the audiences at home, back home. Channel 7, 9 and 10 you know, do it quite dramatically.

112:29:30:00

You know, the footage that people like that take from over there is footage that they can play or twist to their certain audience that they’re trying to angle at. SBS [Special Broadcasting Service] and ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] I didn’t think they did it, but they do it, but to a different degree to focus on their stream of customers,

112:30:00:00

if you, term. So you’re constantly having to deal with that over there of what the media wanted the rest of the world to see in terms of how much money they could make from it, to pay back. It’s you know, people call it you know… the media, you know the media that type of thing and lying. You know Ray Martin [current affairs television host] is a classic example in the Frontline [satirical TV show about current affairs programs] show that type of thing. But see he wouldn’t exist

112:30:30:00

without the people and likewise the people wouldn’t, who there, who were there wouldn’t exist without those type of shows. So I think they’re more of a reflection on society itself in terms of what certain individuals, or people, certain individuals or groups want to see. The media over there they’d, they’d ask questions but always with their particular slant in what they wanted, which I guess for families back home would be annoying ‘cause you have to kind

112:31:00:00

of pick through the pieces to get the information you wanted. The whole, whole saying of media is the source of information, but I think it’s bit false, or a fallacy. But the media did do very good things over there in terms of filming so many Australians and you know, people would watch TV to see if their son was there or their husband was there, or their daughter, that type

112:31:30:00

of stuff, or their wife so they could, oh you know there goes Edward, you know I know, I see him, he’s alive that’s cool. You know the 7.30 Report was a good example of just what we did over there, so there are our good points and there are our bad points, it’s…just one of those things. You have to sort through the bad

112:32:00:00

to get the good, and you have to use your brain, you know, to see the true stories out there, to see what’s really going on, so.
Interviewee: Craig Thrupp Archive ID 2519 Tape 113

113:00:56:00

You know the question you asked before.
Which one?

113:01:00:00

The one about did I sleep with any women over there. And you asked why not? A, they weren’t my type, you know and, B, that it was the whole, the normal thing where soldiers don’t sleep with civilians and that type of stuff whilst on operations. But you know if I had of met someone over there it would have been very…
Compromising?
No,

113:01:30:00

it would have been the… the big soldier coming in and saving you know, the East Timor’s community and all, you know the, the women would have you know, been drawn to that rather than the person themselves. So.
I understand what you’re saying.
That’s why I’m saying it’s not my type ‘cause you wouldn’t have got to know…
Just picking up a bit on the previous question about media and the representation, or misrepresentation, as a solider in the field did you get to see much of the Australian

113:02:00:00

reporting, in other words was it coming back to you in any sense?
Only what we could see in the paper, we used to go, used to get The Australian and you know the, the Courier-Mail, [UNCLEAR] there you go about the Courier-Mail. Over there we, you know, they were like two weeks late and we used to you know read the East Timor section of it to see if our unit was mentioned, all that type of stuff. And you know various fire fights were mentioned and it was like yeah that was us. But we didn’t really get to see any

113:02:30:00

reporting at all, unless we were being filmed.
So you weren’t getting a TV or CNN?
No, no.
Okay, on a more general sort of question, I mean everybody in the armed forces seem to be to, well not even in the armed forces, the general Australian population has some view about Anzac and this is emerging as one of the strong themes in this series, is that you know we talk about the, the blooding in 1915

113:03:00:00

and the building of this tradition which is now Anzac and it’s remembered every year on Anzac Day marches and for the last ten years or so many young people have embraced this. A recent Anzac Day in Turkey where we were you know twenty thousand Australians were there, as many, there’s never been so many Australians in Turkey since 1915 as there was this last Anzac Day. What are your views about Anzac and the tradition and the ceremony?
Well

113:03:30:00

initially you know…you know fourteen thousand Australians died for our country and for our peace and that type of stuff. But also a state of the British Commonwealth who, the, well the British, the British at that time thought that that colony could be expended and so

113:04:00:00

they sent some colonials to fight a war, as you know they’d done so many other times. But away from the whole political side of you know, being an Anzac, that type of stuff, I think it’s very personal, to the individual, because well to me for example the whole meaning of the word Anzac is more about, more about your mates, and your really good friends who you are with, you know.

113:04:30:00

It’s not about some general and, or the CO [Commanding Officer] of the unit and how one day you’d like to be there and wear the brass on your shoulder and walk around and tell everyone what to do. That’s all a load of crap, you know. The best thing about conflicts like that, or any conflict in general is your mates that you were there with, they’re the ones that make you laugh, they’re the one[s] that your whole day revolves around. You know you set a practical joke up all around some guy and

113:05:00:00

at the end you all laugh together, even though things are so grim or bad. You know to me that’s what it’s about, just the whole mateship and camaraderie. And… I don’t really know if you find that any, anywhere else which is why, you know it’s referred to, for myself as the Anzacs, you know ‘cause that’s where it originally was shown. But before that also in the Boer War.
Now that you’re a veteran?
At nineteen.

113:05:30:00

At nineteen were you, were you, if you were in Sydney or your in a capital city and there’s an Anzac march on next year would you march?
Oh definitely, definitely. I’m proud to call myself an Anzac so yeah. I didn’t think, well I’m not an Anzac if you know what I mean, but a veteran; you know march with the returned Australian soldiers. I kind of… I’d march as a respect to

113:06:00:00

the up keeping of the ideals of mateship and brotherhood that you know you experience in the army, all that type of stuff.
Anything that, this is not an offer generally made, is there anything you want to say that, or any subject that you want to raise that we haven’t talked about. I mean you complained about the way the 7.30 Report cut your

113:06:30:00

story and a whole lot of stuff they left out about you, as a person, your values. Here’s your chance?
I’ve nothing to say about the 7.30 Report.
No, no I’m just saying that you know…
Oh in general about the whole…
Your concerns that in their recordings that they didn’t take advantage of a lot of stuff you told them. So what I’m saying to you now is here’s a chance to say those things?

113:07:00:00

Alright.
‘cause we don’t cut anything out you see?
Okay, okay. In focus of the media, people respond to a lot of, the media tends to portray a lot of you know base emotions, thinking that that’s the way they were getting coverage. But…

113:07:30:00

I think the media actually underestimates a lot of society in terms of how smart they are, but also doesn’t underestimate a lot of society. There’s a lot of people in society who you know, that’s their whole frame of reference is TV and who won the football, what happened on 60 Minutes [TV current affairs program] last night. You know, you see stories about fussy children who you know, don’t want to eat their peas, I mean who cares, you know that’s not,

113:08:00:00

doesn’t deserve a 7.30 time slot, you know they should be showing insights into the human brain, Shakespeare, stuff like that. Things that make people reflect on themselves and not, not be demeaning to these base emotions which we are controlled by all our lives. Society I think has evolved as a very strict form of control over the years, it’s a very, very good machine and when you think you’ve got it picked, there’s

113:08:30:00

always the sub-culture, that also anticipated.
Is this a view that you’ve developed as a result of Timor or you’ve always felt like this?
No… always felt this, yeah. Timor… the people in Timor were the best people I have met on earth so far. Nowhere else have I been

113:09:00:00

where you’d walk down the street and everyone would look you in the eye and say, “Hello how you doing.” You know, and they were sincere about it. It’s not like you see a person here and you go, “Oh.” They go to you, “Oh hey how you doing?” It’s a kind of brush off glance by as they try and get past you. These people were genuinely interested in how you felt, you know and you were likewise genuinely interested in them, it was such a… amazing feeling.

113:09:30:00

In, I don’t think it was the fact that we were Australian soldiers or anything like that, it was the fact that that’s how their society had evolved. Whereas ours is [UNCLEAR], shivering for some reason, a bit cold, that’s a good conversation, well one way.
I’m enjoying listening to it.
Hmm.
So there, there’s a strong,

113:10:00:00

I mean other soldiers have told us this too, but this recognition of cultural difference if you like, for want of a, to use an anthropologist phrase, the cultural difference of where you’re coming from as a solider and the people you were [UNCLEAR] and it was often joked about and disregarded and blown away in Vietnam. As these conflicts had become less intense and there is more time

113:10:30:00

there seems to be a greater awareness of, you know an old soldier in Bougainville told us about how he was so affected by Buddhist Cambodia and there was a whole lot of values about Buddhism that he knew nothing about until he was there and experienced it. Was your experience like that?
Very much like that, not with religion, but in terms of the insight into humanity that you get from going somewhere like that.

113:11:00:00

It’s like people who are racist have this certain view that you know, this culture is bad, this certain race of people is bad. I suppose the greatest thing I learnt over there was that, well reinforced to me that people are all individuals and you cannot assess them on anything else except on who they are as a person. In, people can be

113:11:30:00

complete arseholes or they can be the most loving person you’ve ever known, or they can be somewhere in the middle. And you know, you’ve got to assess that for yourself rather than listen to a, what people are telling you or what… a fear or an emotion is telling you, if you know what I mean. But I just think it’s a shame that the civilised

113:12:00:00

society of this world, or the most technologically advanced, is actually becoming more anti-social as we go. There is, you know, there’s no longer a need for socialism, or being sociable, it’s very saddening because people are learning, losing a lot of base values in themselves.
And replacing those emotions for fellow man with personal greed and ….?
That’s exactly it…

113:12:30:00

you don’t even have to have a relationship with someone anymore, you can have it over the internet, if you want sex you go to the internet, if you want food you go to the internet. You know it’s all becoming too easy if you know what I mean, to not socialise with people. And I think that’s very sad, that would be the only worry that I have really, in terms of, at this point in time.
INTERVIEW ENDS

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