Authors: Ian W Taylor
Tags: #suspense, #terrorism, #political thriller, #action and adventure
Jake said “For your own safety please go. I
thought we had something special between us but I don’t feel that
you have been honest with me.”
“That’s not true Jake, I never lied to you.
I do care for you but we have only just met and I didn’t want to do
anything that would upset our relationship.”
He looked at his watch. “Look I have to get
back to the conference. I’ll call you tomorrow once you’re back at
She looked at him with those soulful brown
eyes. He wiped the tears off her face, gave her a quick hug and
hurried off, leaving her standing alone outside the pizza shop.
He jumped into the Toyota and headed back to
Yellow Water, feeling confused and angry. A Jeep roared past him
coming from the opposite direction and he caught a fleeting glimpse
of the driver and his passengers. Despite his weariness, Jack did a
double take. The driver looked like Blakey and his two passengers
resembled the Chinese he had seen in the Daly Waters Pub. He
stopped the vehicle and looked back but the Jeep had already
disappeared into the darkness of the night.
Having left his pizza behind in Jabiru, Jake
walked into the hotel restaurant hoping to get a quick snack. The
restaurant was about to be closed but he managed to salvage some
salad and fruit from the buffet and sat by himself out on the
terrace overlooking the hotel gardens. He knew he was late for the
evening’s meetings but he needed a break before getting back into
the negotiations. He ordered a glass of wine to settle his nerves.
His mind was buzzing with questions. Seeing Shoni at Jabiru had
brought on mixed emotions of confusion and betrayal. They had
enjoyed a few days together but how well did he really know her?
She was under no obligation to tell him anything about her plans so
what right did he have to question her? Was Barry Buckstone going
to be all right and was there going to be further trouble at the
mine? What were Blakey and the Chinese doing in Jabiru if indeed it
was them in the Jeep?
He snapped himself out of his reverie and
found the meeting room which was being used by the Australian
delegation. He slipped quietly into a seat at the end of the table,
hoping he wouldn’t be noticed.
“Ah here comes Jake at last. Christ you drop
us in this huge hole and then just disappear.” Jake looked over to
see Ambassador Connell sneering at him.
“I’m sure you could dig us out of a hole
anytime, Ambassador,” Jake retorted sarcastically. Connell went red
in the face and was about to answer when Jenny Antrim interrupted.
“Right everyone, let’s start allocating tasks so that we can get
clearances for our position for tomorrow’s talks.”
Jenny then allocated tasks around the table,
including some for Jake on market access.
“We’ll have to burn the midnight oil, so
let’s go get agreement from our industry people and government
agencies as the P.M. has ordered. We’ll meet here again after
breakfast at 8 am to review the outcomes.”
Jake spent the next two hours in his room on
the phone to several industry chiefs and senior government
officials. He sought their approval by email for the position to be
taken at the negotiations the next day.
By midnight he had done as much as he could
and switched on the television to unwind. He found the National
News channel and was having a coffee when he suddenly saw coverage
of the riot at the mine. The news item showed the protesters
pushing against the security staff trying to get into the mine. One
of the protesters had wire cutters and started hacking into the
fence. Jake caught a glimpse of Barry Buckstone in the forefront of
the protesters, holding up a sign saying “This is aboriginal land!”
Then the camera caught sight of a flurry of rocks been thrown from
the back of the crowd, knocking one of the security staff to the
The camera panned around to catch a group of
policemen charging into the protesters and forcing them back by
using their shields and truncheons. One of the security staff had a
fire hose and was pummelling the protesters, forcing them
backwards. In a flash the protest was over as the protesters
retreated from the fence. Jake saw Barry lying on the ground and
being pulled up by one of the police. As the program switched to
another news item, Jake switched the television off and lay on the
bed, too tired to remove his clothes.
THURSDAY - YELLOW WATER
Jake slept fitfully during the night, awoke at 6
a.m. and decided on a quick walk around the grounds of the hotel
before going to breakfast. While finishing breakfast he saw Saito
come into the restaurant and waved. Saito beamed with delight at
the sight of Jake and sat down opposite him. They discussed the
conference and Saito seemed ebullient about the prospects of
getting an agreement. Jake was gratified that Saito had been
allocated to the same Joint Working Group on Market Access.
The Australian delegation re-convened in its
conference room at 8 a.m. Anna Sentoro, Jenny Antrim and Robert
Connell were all there surrounded by Australian officials. Sentoro
started off by emphasising the importance of breaking the impasse
in the trade talks and passed over the meeting to Jenny Antrim.
Jenny outlined the progress made overnight and set out the issues
on a large whiteboard.
The morning was to be taken up by Joint
Australia-Japan Working Groups on the major issues, each of which
would report after lunch to the Plenary Session headed by the two
P.M.s . If the negotiations were completed successfully, the P.M.s
would jointly sign the agreement at a press conference in the
The delegates rose and went to their
respective working groups to continue the talks with their Japanese
counterparts. Jake was pleasantly surprised that his group disposed
of most of the issues one by one and by 11.30 a.m. the negotiations
had gone as far as they could. Jake and Saito had played an
influential part in achieving compromises within their respective
delegations. The main stumbling block in the Market Access Group
was the phase-out period of tariffs in Japan on imports of
Australian agricultural products; the Japanese delegation wouldn’t
agree to anything less than a ten year phase out period. This would
be left to Ministers to sort out given the political
One by one each of the Australian leaders of
the working groups returned with agreed outcomes. Anna Sentoro
marked the issues off on the whiteboard as the leaders reported
By midday the Working Groups had concluded
their work with 90% of the issues resolved. Apart from the
agricultural imports phase-outs, the remaining unresolved issues
were the Australian restrictions on foreign ownership of uranium
mining, the tariff issue on imports of Japanese automotive and auto
parts into Australia and the submarine contract.
Both sides retired for lunch and agreed to
reconvene for the plenary session at 2 p.m.
As Jake walked over to the lunch venue he
was tugged on the arm by John Carstairs.
“Come with me Stafford,” Carstairs
Jake nodded and followed Carstairs into the
bar area where Jim Williams was waiting for them. They sat down on
some lounge chairs.
Jake looked at them seeing consternation on
“You getting involved with those protesters
is what,” said Williams.
“You were seen talking to those aboriginal
activists at the mine on Tuesday and we heard you were talking to
one of the ringleaders of the riot at the Jabiru Police Station
last night. Can you explain what you’re up to? ”
Jake patiently explained the reason for his
initial contact with Barry and for his visit to the police station
the previous night.
Neither of them looked convinced at his
explanation. Carstairs said, “You could be in serious trouble over
this Jake. Barry Buckstone is seen as a troublemaker over the mine
opening and one of the instigators of the riot.”
“That’s not what I heard from Buckstone or
Sergeant Barker who was there. The sergeant reckons there were
other instigators who started throwing rocks. Video surveillance at
the mine will tell you who the real culprits are.”
“We’ll check that but I want a written
report on your involvement by tonight. We’ll have to inform
Ambassador Connell. There’s a good chance that you’ll be sent back
home on this and receive a reprimand.”
“That’s crazy. I’m an innocent bystander on
this. But for my intervention there could be another black death in
custody case. The guy was lying on the floor unconscious when I
“Jesus, the last thing we’d want is the
media to find out about this with the P.M. about to launch the
opening of the mine,” stated Williams. “You’d better keep your
Jake was starting to get angry. “I’ve got no
intention of telling anyone about this but you’d better be careful
about your accusations.”
“All right, we’ll keep this to ourselves for
the moment - but I still want your report by tonight.”
Jake walked off fuming to join the
Australian delegates for lunch. He never had much time for people
from the intelligence agencies who seemed to overreact to the
slightest hint of subversive activities. He could understand their
concern about security, given recent bombings in Australia carried
out by individual Islamic State extremists that had resulted in the
death of a number of innocent Australians - but their approach was
often closer to paranoia rather than a realistic assessment of
In his hotel room, Prime Minister Murray
hung up the telephone. He had just completed calls to the chairmen
of some of Australia’s major corporations including Toyota
Australia, the Australian Shipyard Corporation and Energet and was
pleased with their responses to his requests.
Before joining Parliament, Murray had a
successful career in business and had made a fortune after selling
his information technology business. He was recruited by the
Liberal Party in Melbourne and had moved rapidly up the ranks of
Parliament drawing on his business acumen and demonstrating strong
leadership in devising policies that would appeal to the voters.
When the Party was in opposition, he was appointed to the Shadow
Cabinet and eventually elected Leader of the Opposition. He won his
first election four years ago, largely thanks to a dysfunctional
Labor Government which was riven by factional in-fighting. In his
first term as Prime Minister he had managed to steer the economy
through a growth period as well as introduce a number of social and
economic reforms. However, the Liberal Party had just scraped in at
the last General Election a year ago but was now behind in the
popularity polls because of poor statistics on the economy, a
number of broken promises and gaffes from some of his ministers.
Recently he had faced a challenge from within his own party from
Malcolm Crichton who was then Deputy Leader of the Party and
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. However, the day before the
vote for the leadership, the National newspaper broke a story about
Crichton’s interests in a mining development which showed a clear
conflict of interest and he was forced to withdraw his challenge.
Murray then called on the party to vote on the deputy leadership
and encouraged Anna Sentoro to run as Deputy Leader. She easily
beat Crichton in the ballot and was subsequently promoted to
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. A disgusted Crichton was
moved sideways to the Ministry of Defence.
Murray badly needed some good news on the
political front and was determined to sign off on the treaty with
the Japanese. He had worked hard on his Cabinet members and
business leaders to accept compromises on the issues which had
stalled progress of the Agreement. At 2 p.m. he waited outside the
conference room until Japanese P.M. Koshi arrived, bowed to him and
invited him to enter the conference room.
Both delegations stood as one as the two
P.M.s entered the room and waited till the P.M.s had taken their
seats opposite each other in the middle of the table before
resuming their seats.
Each of the leaders of the Joint Working
Groups presented their findings to the P.M.s and handed out their
agreed recommendations. After a brief discussion they endorsed the
recommendations. That left only the contentious issues on market
access, investment and the submarine contract to resolve. They
discussed the issues for the next hour before calling a halt. P.M.
Murray announced that the meeting would break for one hour while he
and Koshi met privately in a separate conference room for
one-on-one discussions. On the way out P.M. Murray beckoned to Jake
to accompany them. Jake was caught by surprise but went along as
asked. Sitting down in the small conference room, Jake looked up
expectantly at P.M. Murray.
“Jake, as this Action Plan was your idea,
I’d like to get your view on how we resolve these remaining issues.
P.M. Koshi says he trusts you, especially after your performance on
the golf course.” Koshi nodded affirmatively, beaming at Jake.
Jake thought carefully before replying.
“Well to be honest Prime Ministers, if we are going to have a
treaty incorporating free trade, that’s what it ought to be. Let us
show the rest of the world how a proper free trade agreement should
be and remove all barriers to trade and investment. The more
exceptions and concessions you have to make, the less effective the
agreement is in actually expanding two-way trade. In compensation
for Japan removing all barriers to imports from Australia I would
suggest that our Government award the submarine contract to Japan
but with maximum Australian content. This would demonstrate what a
close relationship the two countries have in defence and
Jake was encouraged by the nods of approval
by both P.M.s and went on