Indonesia needs help: Opposition
January 28, 1999

The Age

Paul Daley, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

The federal Opposition Leader, Mr Kim Beazley, yesterday called for Australia to help Indonesia restore law, order and economic security.

As new details emerged about atrocities in two Indonesian provinces, Mr Beazley said a Marshall Plan-style reconstruction was needed to settle the unrest.

Recent turbulence has seen the estimated death toll from a week of religious rioting on the island of Ambon rise to 100. Mr Beazley said the unrest posed a serious problem for Australia.

Mr Beazley said he believed the unrest was being sparked by a lack of confidence in the political process since the end of the Soeharto regime.

``There are fears and concerns in the community about whether they (Indonesians) will be able to simply live,'' Mr Beazley said.

``This is a major problem for Australia. I've called before for a Marshall Plan for Indonesia, with the underpinnings in ... a decent return to law and order and economic security.''

The United States formulated the original Marshall Plan for cooperative economic recovery in Europe after World War II, with companies making available manpower and expertise.

Late last year there were suggestions that senior Government and military figures were considering such a plan for Indonesia. Sources would not rule out the possibility that Australia would formally consider such an option if the situation in Indonesia continues to worsen.

Mr Beazley said Australia would be able to provide knowledge of the region, rather than large military or financial resources.

``We must keep pressure on those in authority in Indonesia to protect populations (at risk). Clearly, populations are much at risk at the moment,'' Mr Beazley said.

Meanwhile, sources said that a pregnant woman and a 15-year-old school student were among four people believed murdered when Indonesian soldiers attacked an East Timorese village two nights ago.

According to the Melbourne-based East Timor Human Rights Centre six others from the same village of Galitas have been missing since the attack.