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Chapter 7- Vietnam-Vietcong-2



The literary work, "Casualties of Telstra," contains two distinct sides, much like the China Chapter 7 - Vietnam - Vietcong side of the narrative. It is imperative to note that the account is entirely accurate, and any grammar or punctuation errors result from my limited abilities. These discrepancies should not detract from the significance of the story but, instead, be seen as components of the broader narrative.

In Chapter 7 - Vietnam - Vietcong, I have chronicled how The Honorable Dr Rex Patterson, a member of the Labor Party and representative of Dawson in Queensland, inquired during a Senate session held on September 7, 1967, about the assurance from the Australian government that Australian wheat sent to mainland China was not being forwarded to North Vietnam. In response, The Honorable Charles Aderman, a member of the Australian Country Party representing Fisher, stated that the Australian government had no control over the ultimate destination of goods purchased by foreign buyers

This implies that the Liberal-Country Party Coalition government at the time was indifferent to Australian wheat being utilized to feed Vietnamese soldiers fighting against Australian, New Zealand, and USA troops in the North Vietnamese jungle. The government's treatment of returning Vietnam soldiers, as documented in various media stories, was a source of shame and guilt for the country. Although time has passed, and it is now April 2024, recollections of these events remain vivid. However, each time I revisit various parts of this story, I find myself rereading the complex details that constitute the entire tragic story, causing my anxiety levels to rise alarmingly.

As an octogenarian, I find the politics of the Liberal County National Government still troubling. How can these politicians justify that the lives lost in Vietnam were collateral damage and that the selling of wheat to China was more beneficial to Australia than the lives lost in the jungles of North Vietnam? The mistreatment of Chinese people by the Chinese Red Guards affected me more than nearly being shot by them.

Finding the appropriate words to conclude this segment of my narrative is a challenge. It is important to note that in 1919, as a septuagenarian, I visited the Vietnam Memorial precinct in Portland, Victoria, before relocating to Ballarat. The experience overwhelmed me with a profound sense of disgrace and remorse for not having done more to prevent the destruction caused by Australia's previous Liberal-Country Party Coalition government.


Portland Memorial Vietnam Peace Park

Portland Vietnam Memorial Peace Garden

Please visit →


By courtesy of Yu Xiangzhen May 2019 →

Textbooks explain the Cultural Revolution – in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions more abused and traumatized – as a political movement started and led by Mao “by mistake,” but in reality it was a massive catastrophe for which we all bear responsibility.


"On May 16, 1966, I was practicing calligraphy with my 37 classmates when a high-pitched voice came from the school’s loudspeaker, announcing the central government’s decision to start what it called a “Cultural Revolution.”

It was my first year of junior high, I was just 13.

“Fellow students, we must closely follow Chairman Mao,” the speaker bellowed. “Get out of the classroom! Devote yourselves to the Cultural Revolution!”

Two boys rushed out of door, heading to the playground yelling something.

I left more slowly, holding hands with my best friend Haiyun as we followed everyone else outside.

It would be my last normal day of school."

Murdered for Mao: The killings China ‘forgot’



by T Zhu2021 — touched the Chinese and Russian grain markets in the 1960s, earlier than ... Australia to China was sent straight to North Vietnam.


MS Hopepeak - Absent JusticeIn January 2024, for the second or third time since 2021, I read through the paper FOOD AND TRADE IN LATE MAOIST CHINA, 1960-1978prepared by Tianxiao Zhu. Between Footnote 82 to 85 - T Zhu names not only the Hopepeak ship which I was on between 28 June and 18 September 1967 (refer to British Seaman’s Record R744269 - Open Letter to PM File No 1 Alan Smiths Seaman), he tells the story the way it happened (I was there) not the way the government of the day told it to the people of Australia in 1967 through to the present. The Australian Minister of Trade and Industry, Sir John McEwen, referred to by Tianxiao Zhu as having stated the British seafarers of the Hopepeak ship were fearful of going back to China, was only an afterthought after being flown from Sydney back to England. When John McEwen knew full well, this was not an afterthought. 


Those British seaman had witnessed me on two occasions being frog marched off the Hopepeak under armed guard never to be seen again. I was only seen again because my life was not worth 13,600 tons of wheat still in Australia ready to be loaded on to the Hopepeak for her return voyage back to the Peoples Republic of China. The voyage these British seaman was affraid of (for good reason) if they retuned with the Hopepeak. 

Interestingly to note, after the crew was flown back to England (I remained in Sydney), a new crew was flown out at the expense of the ship's owners. Had the ship's crew not proven they had good reason to be fearful of returning to Communist Chinathe ship owner would not have met the cost of flying the two crews.  

If the skipper had not reported my experience and that of another crew member of the Hopepeak at the hands of the Chinese Red Guards, on the Hopepeak's return trip to Sydney, the Commonwealth Police (now called the Australian Federal Police) would not have been waiting on the dockside to interview me and this other crew member on 18 September 1967 when we arrived back. 

Both the police and media wanted to know why so many crew members feared returning to Red China. For a ship's crew to all refuse to take the ship to sea because it was to travel to a certain destination is unheard of. This refusal to sail was NO afterthought. I reiterate, If what happened was not true, why did the  Commonwealth Police and media meet the ship? The captain and ship owner must have notified them that not all was well even before the ship had berthed.  

What is not mentioned in the footnotes by Tianxiao Zhu, is that the Australian Trade Minister misled many people about the seriousness of what had taken place so that the Australian government could continue to sell wheat to Red China.   

Likewise, the Commonwealth Police asked me to describe to them the context of what I was forced to write under threat of being shot. They would not have done this had there not been some official acknowledgement from the ship's captain that this was what had happened. Why was I escorted off the Hopepeak  under armed guard by the Red Guards and taken to the hospital in the manner I was? I was told I had syphilis, which I knew was highly unlikely, and when I refused to be injected with an unsterilized needle, I caused a scene at the hospital.

Refusing any demand by the Red Guards in the People's Republic of China in 1967 was not something one did for no good reason. 

I was placed under armed guard for several days, being regularly threatened as was another crew member who had not taken to lightly to being stopped and forced to recite verses from Mao's Red Bible; the ship's officers helped me compile two different letters addressed to Mao and the People's Republic of China. In those two letters, I apologized for causing a problem at the hospital and for my treatment of the Red Guards, whose treatment of me later was threefold. 

What the two ship's officers had written differed from what the Red Guards wanted to say in those letters. A third letter was written under pressure from the Red Guards, stating, "I am a US aggressor and a supporter of Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Nationalist Party." When I told the skipper that writing this statement meant I was signing my death warrant, as Chiang Kai-shek was against Mao Tse Tung, the 'Second Steward' in charge of the ship's correspondence said I was dead if I did not. 

At the suggestion of the 'Second Steward,' he stated it would be more powerful if I wrote ", I disliked America and its invasion of North Vietnam"  It was agreed for me to hand deliver this letter to the armed guards as a show of respect (I did what I was advised) fearful of loosing my life over an unsterilized needle).

Before leaving the ship with this letter, the '(Third Officer) on the Hopepeak, who was from Mauritius, pulled me aside and informed me the cargo being unloaded had already been paid for by the People's Republic of China. A further load of similar wheat still in Australia had also been paid for with that money held in transit until the Hopepeak returned with the next shipment. 

The 'Third Officer' made it noticeably clear to the Chinese Commander that if I were shot, there would be no further wheat sent to Red China, and the fight over what had already been supplied would be arbitrated on with the ship owners winning on appeal because they had completed their first part of the deal. This threat worked, and I returned from delivering this letter in a daze. 

After arriving in Sydney on 17 September 1967, I provided the above and below information to the Commonwealth Police and a newspaper journalist they had been contacted by the ships agent. 

While the ship was in China, for twenty-four hours a day, (night and day), we could hear a loud voice coming from speakers attached to flood light poles on the quayside, which allowed the wharf labourers to work through the night. In English (not in Chinese), the voice was making propaganda statements about British imperialism. The constant drone of the propaganda recordings day and night was unnerving. A sentry box had been placed at the bottom of the ship's gangway, where a Red Guard, sometimes two Guards, stood (not sat) to check the credentials of everyone boarding or leaving the ship. The ship's crew, from officers down, were told we could have shore leave but only to visit the Seaman's Mission and a Shop that sold trinkets and large bottles of Chinese-made beer.

No fishing lines were allowed to go over the side of the ship. Some ship's crews were treated differently from others. For reasons not known, our crew was being treated harshlyRumours had it that two young Chinese girls had been seen on a sister ship to ours and had been shot as prostitutes. Their bodies no longer belonged to The People's Republic of China. Those two bodies left with the sister ship to the Hopepeak. While these were only rumours that may have be why our ship had been singled out.   

When I found out who was Australia's Minister of the Army, I wrote to the Minister Malcolm Fraser asking him to ensure Australia refrained from sending more grain back to Red China on the Hopepeak with a new crew. The ship still left for  Communist China  carrying 13,600 tons of wheat regardless of my pleas. Australia will, of course, never find out how much of that wheat went into the bellies of the North Vietnam soldier's/guerillas before they marched off into the jungles of Vietnam in search of Australian, New Zealand and USA blood. 


I reiterate, how can a country like Australia sell their produce (wheat) to Communist China on Humanitarian grounds when Communist China was redeploying some of that wheat to another Communist Country (North Vietnam), which was the enemy of Australia? The same enemy who was killing and maiming young Australian lives and the young lives of Australia's allies, New Zealand and the USA? Young lives (mostly conscripts) who were never to see their homeland again

I ask every single visitor to this website to read footnote pages 82 to 85 of the paper FOOD AND TRADE IN LATE MAOIST CHINA, 1960-1978, prepared by Tianxiao Zhu. The paper discusses the Hopepeak ship I was on between June to September 1967, which went to communist China during the Vietnam War.

have mentioned some tough memories from my short stay in China, including witnessing some pretty horrific scenes. It's understandable that these experiences have stayed with me and even affected my sleep until recently when I started writing about these events. It's important that we acknowledge and address these kinds of events, so I wanted to share a resource with you - a first-hand account from a Chinese girl who witnessed similar events. You can find it at the link's frustrating when those in positions of power try to downplay or deny what's happening, like John McEwen did. It's important that we hold our leaders accountable for their actions and their words. In this case, I think it's only right that the Australian government apologize to those who were dismissed as liars by McEwen.

Confronting uncomfortable truths is never easy, but it is necessary to do so in order to move forward. It's important to recognize that thanks to the unwavering support of the British seamen who stood by me, refusing to return to China, my British Seaman's book was able to receive a clean discharge. This meant I could continue to pick up British-manned ships in Australia and Britain. Despite the not so Hon. John McEwen's disregard for the welfare of others.

Please read Chapters 1 to 12 below and learn how my China episode affected my life even after I purchased the Cape Bridgewater holiday camp in February 1988.

Absent Justice Ebook

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Absent Justice - My Story - Senator Ron Boswell

Threats made and carried out.

Page 180 ERC&A, from the official Australian Senate Hansard, dated November 29 1994, reports Senator Ron Boswell asking Telstra's legal directorate why were my FOI documents being withheld from me during my arbitration:

“Why did Telecom advise the Commonwealth Ombudsman that Telecom withheld FOI documents from Alan Smith because Alan Smith provided Telecom FOI documents to the Australian Federal Police during their investigation?”

After receiving a hollow response from Telstra, which the senator, the AFP and I all knew was utterly false, the senator states:

“…Why would Telecom withhold vital documents from the AFP? Also, why would Telecom penalise COT members for providing documents to the AFP which substantiate that Telecom had conducted unauthorised interceptions of COT members’ communications and subsequently dealt in the intercepted information by providing that information to Telecom’s external legal advisers and others?” (Senate Evidence File No 31)

As I have reiterated throughout this website, the threats against me during the arbitration proceedings came to fruition, and the withholding of pertinent documents is deeply concerning. Regrettably, neither the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman nor the government has investigated the detrimental impact of this malpractice on my overall submission to the arbitrator. Despite assisting the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in their investigation into the illicit interception of phone conversations and arbitration-related faxes, they never came to my aid.

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“A number of people seem to be experiencing some or all of the problems which you have outlined to me. …

“I trust that your meeting tomorrow with Senators Alston and Boswell is a profitable one.”

Hon David Hawker MP

“Only I know from personal experience that your story is true, otherwise I would find it difficult to believe. I was amazed and impressed with the thorough, detailed work you have done in your efforts to find justice”

Sister Burke

“…your persistence to bring about improvements to Telecom’s country services. I regret that it was at such a high personal cost.”

Hon David Hawker

“Only I know from personal experience that your story is true, otherwise I would find it difficult to believe. I was amazed and impressed with the thorough, detailed work you have done in your efforts to find justice”

Sister Burke

“…the very large number of persons that had been forced into an arbitration process and have been obliged to settle as a result of the sheer weight that Telstra has brought to bear on them as a consequence where they have faced financial ruin if they did not settle…”

Senator Carr

“I am writing in reference to your article in last Friday’s Herald-Sun (2nd April 1993) about phone difficulties experienced by businesses.

I wish to confirm that I have had problems trying to contact Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp over the past 2 years.

I also experienced problems while trying to organise our family camp for September this year. On numerous occasions I have rung from both this business number 053 424 675 and also my home number and received no response – a dead line.

I rang around the end of February (1993) and twice was subjected to a piercing noise similar to a fax. I reported this incident to Telstra who got the same noise when testing.”

Cathy Lindsey

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