Monday, March 02, 2009


Tim Holding the peace-maker/ circuit breaker in Defence Dispute?

By Sasha Uzunov
Copyright 2009

It what would have only taken a few minutes to confirm or deny if Victorian State Government Minister Mr Tim Holding was being considered to head a trouble shooting mission to Afghanistan on behalf of the Prime Minister, has turned into a month long saga with the PM’s media office refusing to comment either way.

With tensions mounting between the Defence Department‘s civilian top brass and the Federal government over the SASR pay dispute, perhaps it has been wise not to add fuel to the fire.

The Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has launched a well crafted media campaign where he has vented his “anger” at his department over being kept in the dark on a number of issues. In an unusual move, his predecessor, Dr Brendan Nelson, from the opposition, backed him up in Federal Parliament. Subsequent events, such as the SASR pay dispute, have confirmed what Team Uzunov blog revealed more than a month ago about the break down in communication.

Nearly three weeks ago a media query about Mr Holding was put to PM’s Chief of Staff and highly paid Wiz kid advisor Alister Jordan but there was no response. Ms Jamilla Rizvan of the PM’s Media unit was contacted but again no response.

Team Uzunov blog, in an exclusive story on 30 January 2009, revealed that a leading Australian strategic analyst, who has the ear of the government, floated the idea of Mr Holding to act as a kind of circiut breaker in the break down on communication between the army brass and the government over the flow of information about Afghanistan.

Pundits say Mr Holding is a well respected politician and a former Australian Army Reserve Special Forces soldier who would be able to “talk the talk” whilst Mr Fitzgibbon, a former automotive electrician without military experience, has been waging a losing battle to bring to heel the civilian top brass.

Below is the story published on 30 January 2009, which was also quoted in The Age newspaper:

Friday, January 30, 2009 - TEAM UZUNOV

ExclusiveTim Holding - Brumby’s man turned PM Rudd’s international man of mystery?


By Sasha Uzunov
Copyright 2009
Mr Tim Holding, a Victorian State government minister who is a former Australian Army Reserve Special Forces soldier, will not confirm nor deny speculation about him undertaking a short fact finding mission to Afghanistan on behalf of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

A prominent strategic analyst, who has the close ear of governments, and speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he wanted to “float the idea of Mr Holding undertaking a fact finding mission to the Australian base in Tarin Kowt province [in Southern Afghanistan].”

“Mr Holding is an intelligent young politician with links to Special Forces. The Australian media underestimate his ability, which is why he would be ideal for the mission: he would slip under the media radar,” the strategic analyst said. “Mr Holding has not been informed of the proposed trip.”

The analyst said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was not happy with the flow of information about Afghanistan coming from the army chain of command and needed his own “eyes and ears” on the ground for a couple of weeks to assess the situation.

Mr Holding’s office was contacted a week ago to confirm or deny if Mr Holding knew the speculation about the Afghanistan trip. But no comment has been forthcoming.Mr Holding served as a Signaller or communications expert with the elite Army Reserve Special Forces unit, 126 Commando Signals Squadron, then attached to 1 Commando Regiment, 2nd Company, at Fort Gellibrand, Williamstown, Melbourne, Victoria from 1991 to 1993.

Greg Sher the eighth and most recent Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan was also a member of 1 Commando Regiment (1 CDO Regt).Mr Holding is the Minister for Finance, WorkCover and Transport Accident Commission, and Minister for Water, Minister for Tourism and Major Events in the John Brumby ALP state government.

A former Australian intelligence agent, with extensive Middle East experience, and also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he believed that Prime Minister Rudd would change Australia’s current military policy and commit a regular army infantry battalion (about 500 soldiers) to Afghanistan very soon.

Current military policy is for Australia’s Special Forces units, SASR and 4RAR (Commando) to do the frontline fighting in Afghanistan, which according to standard doctrine should be carried out by regular infantry.

SASR and 4RAR (Cdo)’s traditional roles include surveillance of the enemy, information gathering or carrying out raids against targets or securing entry and exits points for other army units.

SASR, 4RAR (Cdo) and 1 CDO Regt fall under the Australian Army's Special Operations Command (SOCOMD).

In contrast the Canadian army, after decades of peacekeeping, has regular infantry fighting the Taliban in the dangerous southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar. But over 100 Canadian soldiers have been killed.



The Age, Diary Column, Tuesday, 3 February 2009.

Timmy, don't forget to pack the water canteen

TIM Holding was dubbed "Twinkle Twinkle" because he was considered a little star, and he's really made an impact in the water portfolio with those faulty four-minute shower timers that last for 40 minutes or four hours. But Dim's moment to shine may have arrived.

Former Australian soldier Sasha Uzunov, now a photo-journalist, writes in his blog that Holding (below) could be destined for Afghanistan as Kevin Rudd's "eyes and ears" on the ground. You see, Holding is well credentialed as a former member of the Army Reserve in the 1st Commando Regiment - and he's Tourism Minister.

A "prominent Canberra strategic analyst" told Uzunov: "Mr Holding is an intelligent young politician with links to special forces. The Australian media underestimate his ability, which is why he would be ideal for the mission: he would slip under the media radar."

The analyst claimed the PM was not happy with the flow of information from Afghanistan so the analyst would suggest Holding embark on a "fact-finding mission" to the Australian base in Tarin Kowt. Diary asked Commando Holding about swapping a fluoro vest for a flak jacket, and he said:

"While I will sit by my phone awaiting the Prime Minister's call, I will make it clear to him that I will only travel to Afghanistan in the company of my friends at The Age Diary."
Who knew Twinkle had a sense of humour? We'll only go if he acts as our human shield. And brings a shower timer that works.

1 comment:

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