Bernard Collaery - Oil Under Troubled Water - Australia's East Timor Intrigue

Bernard Collaery is an Australian solicitor and barrister who specialises in litigation in high-profile catastrophic personal injury cases. He has acted for families of victims of the Thredbo landslide, the Royal Canberra Hospital demolition tragedy, the Glenbrook rail disaster in the Blue Mountains, the fire aboard HMAS Westralia and the tragic loss of an RAAF F1-11 in the South China Sea.

Throughout his career as a solicitor, advocate and politician Bernard has been a fearless advocate for human rights. During his tenure as Attorney-General for the Australian Capital Territory, he introduced an independent law reform process that culminated in the drafting of human rights legislation, including anti-discrimination legislation.

Bernard Collaery advised the East Timor Resistance for more than thirty years, providing advice on international law and other matters during the United Nations Transitional Administration from 1999. He acted for East Timor at the International Court of Justice in relation to a maritime sea boundary dispute with Australia.

Currently Bernard Collaery is patron and honorary solicitor of various charitable and non-profit organisations serving Indigenous Australians and marginalised sectors of the community.

He is with us to talk about his book Oil Under Troubled Water - Australia’s Timor Sea Intrigue.



Search is a membership-based democratic socialist organisation that links and enables socialist activists across political parties, generations and movements all around Australia. We have members from diverse backgrounds and interests, but we have common aims and values - summarised in our aim of ‘democratic ecological socialism’.

We run socialist education programs, publish news and views on Facebook and at, and we put on events like this one… I encourage you to like the SEARCH Facebook page to keep up with our events, and go to if you are interested in applying for membership - or simply get in touch with me to talk about what SEARCH does. Our contact details are on the website and our Facebook page

Many SEARCH members have a long history of involvement with Timor Leste, particularly Andy Alcock, who is the information officer for the Australia East Timor Friendship Association South Australia who helped us put this event together. Also it is important to acknowledge the work of Union Aid Abroad APHEDA and its Executive Officer Kate Lee for all their work in Timor Leste…both those orgainsations are good places to take practical steps to assist the people of East Timor…


About the New International Bookshop Our partner in tonight’s event is the New International Bookshop, based at the Victorian Trades Hall in Melbourne. They are currently closed but will reopen soon, and have Bernard’s book Oil Under Troubled Water published by Melbourne University Press available for sale online. NIBS, as it is affectionately known, is a quality bookshop that stocks left-progressive books and merchandise from all over the world, maintaining a fantastic second hand book section covering all genres, and running regular events aimed at fostering debate and discussion on the Melbourne Left. They will also soon be opening a café at Trades Hall. Their online book section is excellent, includes Bernard’s book…

You can order the book here:


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