The funeral of former WA Senator Gordon McIntosh was held at Karrakatta Cemetery at 2:30pm on Friday 23 March 2019.
Gordon McIntosh was a Labor Party Senator in the Australian Parliament from 1974-1987. During those years he played a major role in keeping the Timor issue alive in the Parliament, despite the actions and policies of successive Australian Governments (Labor and Liberal) to oppose East Timorese self-determination and independence.
In addition to the many parliamentary questions asked by Senator McIntosh, he is best known as Chair of the 1982-83 Senate Inquiry about East Timor and his membership of the Australian parliamentary delegation to Indonesia and East Timor in 1983. His dissent from the formal report of the delegation was widely reported in Australia and welcomed by the Resistance in Timor.
Outside the parliament he addressed public meetings in Australia, New Zealand and New York. He petitioned the United Nations Decolonisation Committee in 1982 and joined others on the ‘Lusitania Express’ peace ship mission to Timor in 1992.
In 2014, Gordon McIntosh was awarded the Order of Timor-Leste for his contribution to the East Timorese struggle for independence. In 2016 he visited Timor-Leste as a guest of the State. During this visit he met for the first time the resistance veterans who had applauded his support in the 1980s.
His actions and activities in support of the people of East Timor were very much aligned with the members of the old 2/2 Commando Association of Australia. The December 1983 ‘Courier’ recorded that:
‘Senator Gordon D. Mcintosh of WA went with the last fact finding mission to Timor and undertook the task of taking a wreath, in the form of a floral cross, to lay on our memorial. Here is a letter from the Senator, followed by two photographs showing "Mission Accomplished"’.
Eulogies were delivered at the funeral service by John Waddingham, former senior staff member of Gordon’s when he was a Senator and HE Abel Guterres, Ambassador for Timor-Leste who delivered personal messages of condolence from HE Francisco Guterres, President of Timor-Leste and HE Xanana Gusmão, former President of Timor-Leste. Almost 30 years after it was written, a letter from then resistance leader Xanana Gusmão to Senator Gordon McIntosh has come to light. The correspondence provides a detailed insight into 1980s resistance thinking. It also indicates the particularly high regard in which McIntosh was held for his support for East Timorese self-determination.
The final speaker was HE Kim Beazley, Governor of WA, a former colleague of Gordon’s in government and opposition, who opened his remarks by saying that the personal messages from the two Timorese were the ‘finest tributes’ he had ever heard made by foreign leaders about an Australian politician.
Ed Willis, Vice-President, represented the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia at the funeral.