The Indonesian Occupation of Darwin
-Indonesia invades Australia in January. In a lightning strike, they take Darwin. Their advance is halted by Australian troops at Katherine.
-International condemnation of the Indonesian invasion comes to no avail, as the Australian line comes under continuous assault. Indonesian troops are shipped in to reinforce Darwin.
-Indonesian troops break through the Katherine lines, and continue advancing south. Australian troops have suffered a major defeat, and are confused and lacking leadership.
-Indonesian troops advance towards Alice Springs.
-Battle of Alice Springs. After a bitter, bloody battle, the town is taken, although it is almost levelled in the fighting. Indonesia now controls the Northern Territory, and looks poised to strike at Adelaide. Suharto has no interest in a prolonged war, however, and sets out terms for a ceasefire. Realising that a prolonged war could be disastrous and cost thousands of lives, Fraser agrees.
-Australia is forced to accept a humiliating peace. The Northern Territory will remain under Indonesian control, but the war will end. East Timor is not mentioned. The Northern Territory will become the Province of South Irian, under military rule. Disgusted, the Country Party break off their coalition with the Liberal Party. Fraser is almost universally condemned.
-In October, Fraser’s Liberal Party suffers electoral Armageddon. The party loses 40 seats, including Fraser’s. Bill Hayden, who campaigned on an anti-Asian, anti-Indonesian platform, becomes Prime Minister. Doug Anthony, leader of the Country Party, becomes Opposition Leader. John Howard becomes Leader of the Liberal Party, who are effectively marginalised as a political force.
-Protests in Darwin over the Indonesian occupation are brutally put down by the military.
-Australia Day is marked by demonstrations for the retaking of the Northern Territory. War is still too near for Prime Minister Hayden to comment, although he is privately understood to be sympathetic.
-The military governor of South Irian is formally inaugurated, although he has held power since the invasion. Although political elections have been postponed indefinitely, he promises to listen to the concerns of the people. Violence is still widespread, and clashes between occupying forces and the residents of Darwin are common.
-Prime Minister Hayden condemns Fraser’s policies of multiculturalism, blaming them for the loss of Darwin. He calls for a ‘return to the old Australia, of unity in tradition, culture and blood’. Within days of his speech, a wave of attacks begins on Asian immigrant communities.
-Cabramatta Riots. In one of Australia’s biggest ethnic enclaves, white Australians begin a campaign of terror against Asians. Leaders across Asia condemn the riots. While Prime Minister Hayden condemns the violence, he does not condemn their motives.
-Asian immigration to Australia slows to a trickle.
-A widespread program of Indonesian immigration to Darwin begins.
-Indonesian troops begin building up in Darwin. A second war is feared.
-On January 1, the anniversary of Federation in 1901, Prime Minister Hayden calls for ‘the reunification of Australia’. This is interpreted as a call for the return of the Northern Territory. Relations between Indonesia and Australia take a turn for the worse.
-In Darwin, protest marches take place for the restoration of democracy.
-In response to the marches, local council elections are held in Darwin. Although political parties are banned, candidates generally follow their former party lines, and condemn the invasion. A local independent, Jack Sullivan, supports an end to the violence against Indonesian authorities.
-Sullivan wins, against accusations of Indonesian vote rigging. Within days of his election, riots break out across Darwin. Sullivan’s house is firebombed, and he is assassinated by a local militant.
-Indonesian forces are called into Darwin from East Timor to restore order. Reports of civilian massacres reach the outside world. Hayden stands up troops on the South Irian border, threatening to invade to end the violence. War seems imminent.
-On April 17th, 16 days after the election, Australian forces invade. They quickly take Alice Springs, and begin steamrolling their opposition all the way into Darwin. They proceed rapidly into the city, but face stiff resistance. Indonesian forces fight a guerrilla war against the Australian forces, while their lines through the centre of Darwin hold. Soon, the entire city is aflame, divided roughly in half along Bagot Road. Darwin Airport is destroyed by the retreating Indonesian forces.
-A counter-attack by Indonesian forces lead to a break through Australian lines in Darwin. The Australian military are forced to withdraw from Darwin, establishing new lines at Katherine. The city, and the surrounding countryside, has suffered massive damage. Thousands of residents are dead, as many by the Australian bombing as by Indonesian forces. The population of Darwin is now 150, 000, with an Indonesian population of about 10%.
-A ceasefire is declared, once it becomes apparent that neither side will be able to strike a killing blow. Although Indonesia’s Australian territory is vastly reduced, it still keeps Darwin, and all territory up to Katherine. The rest of the Northern Territory is placed under Australian military government.
-While leaving the peace talks, Hayden is assassinated by an anti-Indonesian militant. He has become the victim of the race hatred he himself stirred up. After a bitter leadership contest between Lionel Bowen and Bob Hawke, Bowen becomes Prime Minister, Hawke’s former multicultural beliefs counting against him. Bowen is a reliable but unspectacular Prime Minister, appearing rather colourless compared to the growing popularity of Opposition Leader Doug Anthony.
-The reconstruction of Darwin begins. The Governor of South Irian sponsors large-scale migration to speed construction, and soon the Indonesian population has increased to 30, 000. The new Darwin begins to take on Indonesian architectural influences.
-New local elections are held after the death of Sullivan. The former Labor Party candidate, whose position has become considerably more moderate out of fears of more violence, wins.
-Britain cancels their Ashes Tour in Australia, in protest about the invasion and about Australia’s new racist laws.
-On the 5th of March, Bowen calls a double dissolution election. The election is fought over the issue of Darwin, with Anthony calling for its retaking and Bowen for peaceful relations to be restored with Indonesia. The election ends with no party in majority. The leader of the Liberal Party, John Howard, who opposes another war, forms a coalition with the Labor Party to enable them to stay in power. Anthony resigns, to be replaced by Ian Sinclair.
-Gradually, life begins to return to normal in Darwin. For the first time, flights to and from Australia are allowed. Although many Darwiners leave, many more decide to stay.
-Australia has become a bitter, racist nation, where many Australians still have not accepted the loss of Darwin. Gradually, however, Australians begin to accept that it is lost. Racist sentiment is still high, however, and discriminatory laws become commonplace. ‘Multicultural’ is the new profanity.
-The population of South Irian continues to rise. By the end of 1983, the population is at 200 000, with about 50 000 Indonesian soldiers and civilians.
-Talks begin about the demilitarisation of South Irian.
-South Irian becomes a haven for the ‘boat people’, refugees from the Cambodian Civil War, as Australia flatly refuses them. Cambodian influences become apparent in Darwin life.
-The first Indonesian troops begin leaving Darwin.
-In Australia, a double dissolution election is called, after the coalition between Bowen and Howard breaks down. In the resulting election, the Liberal Party, already weakened by the shadow of Fraser and by the effective usurpation of their policies by the Labor Party, is reduced to a rump of a few seats. Bowen gains a majority in his own right.
-The military governor of South Irian begins a project of ‘Islamising’ the local Aboriginal community, to promote a pro-Indonesian group in the community.
-The Darwin Mosque opens; built in Indonesian style, the interior bears homage to Aboriginal culture. The opening is heralded as a sign of greater cooperation between the disparate communities, and as a sign of increasing Islamisation of the local Aboriginal community.
-For the first time, South Irian reaches a 50-50 split between Australians and non-Australians, with a population of almost 300 000. The non-Australian population is mostly Indonesian, but with a large Indochinese minority.
-Joh Bjelke-Peterson, Premier of Queensland, resigns and goes into federal politics, contesting a safe National seat. Within hours of his election, Sinclair is forced by overwhelming demand to resign in favour of Bjelke-Peterson, who has achieved lasting notoriety in Australia for his virulent anti-Indonesian stance.
-The reigning military governor’s five year term ends, and a new civilian governor is appointed by the central government in Indonesia (since no Darwin legislature exists). The new governor promises a referendum on the future of the province, but this is treated with scepticism. Meanwhile, the governor still wields absolute power.
-New elections are held for Darwin City Council, spurred on by the new governor.
-Joh Bjelke-Peterson publishes his work, Australia for Australians, which takes a virulent anti-foreigner stance. His popularity skyrockets in Australia. Seeking to capitalise on this, Prime Minister Bowen blocks non-British immigration.
-Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser lead a joint protest against Bowen’s actions, with Whitlam stating, ‘We have become a new South Africa’. Police break up the march.
-In South Irian, Australia for Australians is banned by Indonesian authorities. A black market in its sale soon becomes widespread, however.
-After a four-year lull, violence begins again against Indonesian authorities, fuelled by the release of Bjelke-Peterson’s book.
-In the Australian Senate, the Australian Democrats join with the National Party to block supply, forcing an election which it is obvious Bjelke-Peterson will win. Bowen accepts defeat and calls the election. He loses in a landslide, with the National Party gaining majorities in both houses.
-Bjelke-Peterson draws up a radical realignment of electoral boundaries, effectively an Australia-wide gerrymander in favour of the National Party. He proposes a plan for ‘ethnic communities’, essentially ghettos. The plan is implemented.
-Thanks to Bjelke-Peterson’s policies, Australia becomes an international pariah.
-Migration to Darwin continues, with South Irian now 60% non-Australian. The architecture of Darwin, its only major city, is a fusion of Australian, Indonesian and Cambodian styles; the population is about 220 000. GDP per capita is much lower than the Australian average, but higher than the Indonesian average.
-A military build up begins in Darwin. Soon, tens of thousands of Indonesian troops are stationed there.
-Bjelke-Peterson calls upon Suharto to return Darwin; Suharto refuses. War is imminent.
-‘Elections’ are held in Darwin on the issue of remaining within Indonesia; over 70% vote to remain part of Indonesia. The vote is universally condemned as rigged.
-On November 11, Remembrance Day, a peaceful protest by the Australian population over the vote escalates into a riot, which ends with the Darwin Liberation Front (DLF), a pro-Australian organisation, taking control of much of Darwin. Indonesian troops begin an immediate bloody crackdown.
-Accusing Bjelke-Peterson of provoking the riots, Indonesia declares war. It invades the Northern Territory, quickly breaking through the Katherine Line and taking Alice Springs. Indonesian forces begin moving southwards, towards Adelaide.
-Bjelke-Peterson introduces a program of conscription, resolving to defeat the Indonesian invasion and retake Darwin. However, Australia’s international isolation makes this difficult.
-Battle of Adelaide. In the outskirts of Adelaide, Australian and Indonesian forces meet. Unimaginable carnage results. In the end, Indonesian forces are forced back, and move into retreat, under attack all the way.
-The Indonesian retreat ceases at Alice Springs, and the long siege begins. Neither side is able to claim a decisive advantage.
-Australian forces finally gain the advantage, and force Indonesian forces back. Eventually, Indonesian forces are returned to their pre-war positions.
-Battle of Darwin. The battle rages over several days, but eventually Indonesian forces, already wearied by the long push across Australia, are forced out of the Port of Darwin. Darwin is free.
-In the resulting peace settlement, it becomes obvious that the multicultural Darwin will not fit in to the new racist Australia or totalitarian Indonesia. The people of Darwin are given a choice in a preferential referendum; join Australia, remain in Indonesia or become a republic. By a slim margin, the republican option wins, as the vote is split between joining Indonesia and joining Australia.
-The Republic of Darwin, population 320 000, is declared. The government will follow the presidential system, with ruling governors appointed by the legislature.
-In elections for the new Parliament of Darwin, power is split between various ethnic groups; the Anglo-supported Liberal Party, the Indonesian-supported Darwin Golkar Party, the Cambodian-supported People’s Party, and the Aboriginal-supported Labor Party. Ian Tuxworth of the Liberal Party is elected as governor by the legislature.
-The racist mood in Australia begins to subside, with Bjelke-Peterson’s popularity falling.
-Suharto’s popularity also falls, as the success of the independence movement in South Irian begins to encourage rebels in East Timor and Aceh.
-The Republic of Darwin is admitted into the Commonwealth of Nations.
-In Australia, slowly emerging from its previously isolated stance, multiculturalism begins to become a potent ideology again. Prime Minister Bjelke-Peterson is increasingly seen as out-of-touch. Paul Keating is appointed as Labor leader, and makes multiculturalism official Labor policy.
-In Indonesia, FRETILIN begin a new guerrilla campaign for independence, sponsored by the anti-Suharto government of Darwin. Indonesian actions in response draw international sanctions.
-The Arrernte, an Aboriginal group around Alice Springs, petition for entry to the Republic of Darwin in protest against Bjelke-Peterson’s racist policies. Bjelke-Peterson refuses.
-The Aboriginal people of Alice Springs march for independence, and are quickly subdued by police. In the resulting violent reprisals, riots spread across government buildings in Central Australia. The Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory is seized, and the Aboriginal Republic of Alice Springs is unilaterally declared. The Republic offers overtures to join the Republic of Darwin, which are accepted.
-Bjelke-Peterson sends in the troops to put down the revolt, and the Northern Territory comes under military control. A program of Aboriginal guerrilla resistance begins, with attacks on Australian facilities. Within months, hundreds of Australian troops are dead.
-Tentative marches in favour of Australian withdrawal from Alice Springs begin in Sydney, but are opposed by riot police.
-Day of Mourning. On Australia Day, marches in favour of Aboriginal independence are brutally put down by police. Dozens die in the frenzied fighting that follows.
-Riots break out all across Australia in response to the police brutality. Bjelke-Peterson is universally condemned, and the National Party vote to depose him as leader. Ian Sinclair becomes Prime Minister.
-In the Australian elections, Paul Keating of the Labor Party defeats Sinclair, and becomes Prime Minister. The Coalition between the National Party and resurgent Liberal Party is reforged. In his first actions, he orders withdrawal from the Northern Territory, which has become a military quagmire, and recognises Arrernte independence.
-The Republic of Alice Springs merges with the Republic of Darwin, forming the Federated Republic of Darwin and Alice Springs, or DAS for short.
-The population of DAS is about 360 000, with 35% Anglo-Celtic, 25% Indonesian, 25% Aboriginal, and 15% Cambodian. The accession of Alice Springs makes the Anglo-Celtic population the majority for the first time in four years.
-In Indonesia, DAS support for FRETILIN leads to chilliness in their relations. At the same time, DAS becomes closer to Australia, largely due to the fall of Bjelke-Peterson.
-The Berlin Wall falls.
-In elections for the DAS Parliament, no party wins a majority. The new Green Party of Darwin makes its first appearance, and wins a substantial share of the Anglo-Celtic and Aboriginal vote. Hun Nguyen of the People’s Party becomes governor, based on Labor and Green support in Parliament.
-In Indonesia, Suharto publicly denounces the DAS, and gives them a deadline to stop supporting FRETILIN. Hun Nguyen refuses.
-Day of Fire. Indonesian warplanes bomb Darwin, destroying large parts of the city. War is declared.
-Australian ships and troops are sent to defend Darwin, with American support. The Indonesian invasion force is destroyed in the Timor Strait in a military rout. Suharto is forced into a humiliating withdrawal.
-In the resulting peace treaty, Suharto is forced to make economic concessions to Darwin over the Timor Strait, and to guarantee its sovereignty.
-The Soviet Union collapses.
-Suharto, increasingly embattled at home due to the lives lost during the abortive war against Darwin, is forced to make concessions to the Islamic lobby to shore up his support, as the military become disillusioned with his failure to keep Darwin.
-In Australia, the DAS provides a strong backer for Aboriginal land-rights groups, and there are calls for secession of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and northern Queensland into the DAS.
-A FRETILIN terrorist bomb explodes in Jakarta, as the movement (with DAS support) continues to press for independence. Suharto, desperate to keep his grip on power, launches a massive bombing campaign on East Timor, killing thousands. The move attacks international censure.
-In Aceh and West Papua, support for secession grows in response to Suharto’s actions.
-Aceh, West Papua and East Timor all declare independence, prompting a desperate invasion of the rogue provinces by the Indonesian military. This prompts further moves for secession from Maluku, Riau, and West Timor. Suharto is unable to keep a cap on the secessionist movements, and as a result Indonesia begins to break up.
-The Indonesian Civil War, a messy, multi-sided conflict, begins, as the islands squabble over territory in the absence of an effective central government. Suharto’s influence is largely confined to Java.
-Elections are held in Australia, with the civil war as the major issue. Paul Keating defeats John Hewson of the Liberal Party, as the National Party declines once more into a marginal rural party.
-The DAS explores closer links with Australia, such as a shared currency, in an attempt to maintain its security in light of the chaos to the north.
-The Indonesian Civil War continues, with the squabbling provinces eventually lining up into two factions, one secular and one Islamist. The Islamist faction dominates Sumatra and East Java, while the nationalist faction controls Kalimantan and Sulawesi. Large portions of Indonesia are in the hands of secessionist movements.
-The war ends, not with a ceasefire but with an armistice. West Papua, Timor, Maluku, Aceh and Riau gain their independence. The rest of the country is divided up into the Islamic Republic of Sumatra and the Republic of Sulawesi, which is Suharto’s stronghold. Sporadic fighting continues along their border in Java, which bisects Jakarta a la Berlin. A wave of Indonesian refugees sweeps into the DAS and Australia, causing tensions in both countries.
-Calls begin for the integration of the DAS back into Australia. The elections for Parliament are fought largely on the issue, with the Anglo-Celtic and Cambodian blocks supporting integration and the Indonesian and Aboriginal blocks against. The results show a slim majority favour reintegration, but only as full state with increased autonomy. Hun Nguyen remains governor, with People’s Party and Liberal Party support.
-The Islamic Republic of Sumatra adopts sharia law as its main legal code.
-The population of the DAS is about 400 000, the increase largely due to Indonesian immigration. The population is about 30% Anglo-Celtic, 30% Indonesian, 25% Aboriginal and 15% Cambodian. Due largely to ‘Islamisation’ policies under the South Irian regime, over 60% of the Aboriginal community declare themselves Muslim, making Islam the majority religion. Pressure begins to make Sharia law a part of the DAS legal code, largely due to pressure from Sumatra. Tensions begin to grow between the disparate communities.
-Renewed fighting breaks out on the border between the two largest Indonesian nations. The DAS comes under increasing pressure to take sides, as the Indonesian community backs the Sulawesi regime and the Aboriginal community backs the Sumatra regime.
-Aboriginal activists organise a march opposing the Sulawesi regime. The marchers come into conflict with Indonesian residents, and fighting breaks out. Riots spread across Darwin, as ethnic conflict comes to the fore.
-Alice Springs secedes from the DAS in response to the fighting, and holds a referendum to rejoin Australia, which passes. The DAS becomes the Republic of Darwin once more.
-In response to the fighting, Paul Keating calls ‘for the peaceful and democratic reintegration of Darwin, in order to end the conflict which has so plagued it’
-With the loss of Alice Springs, the population of the DAS falls to 350 000, divided up as 35% Indonesian, 25% Anglo-Celtic, 20% Aboriginal and 20% Cambodian.
-The fighting in Darwin ends after weeks of conflict, with an agreement not to implement Sharia law but to enforce tighter moral standards. Paul Keating freezes reintegration talks in protest.
-The fighting ends between Sulawesi and Sumatra with a ceasefire, and with the loss of large parts of Jakarta to the Sumatra regime. Suharto, seeing that his support has come to an end, is forced into retirement, and B J Habibie becomes President of Sulawesi.