Subject: AU: Snowdon grabs portfolio

The Australian

Snowdon grabs portfolio

Ashleigh Wilson | November 30, 2007

THE Northern Territory MP who joined Kevin Rudd at a New York strip club four years ago was yesterday promoted to the new Labor ministry.

Warren Snowdon, who represents the sprawling electorate of Lingiari, joined Mr Rudd's outer cabinet as Minister for Defence and Science Personnel.

In addition to speaking out against several key elements of the Commonwealth's intervention in Aboriginal communities, Mr Snowdon has also taken a hard line in the past over alleged Indonesian military abuses in East Timor.

In October 1999, he wrote an opinion piece in the Northern Territory News saying it would take "skill, patience and compassion" for East Timor to build strong relationships with Australia and Indonesia.

"Likewise, while it will be no simple task for Australia to rebuild its relationship with Indonesia, which has a number of pressing issues to deal with as it progresses down the path to democracy, we should aim for this," Mr Snowdon wrote.

"In doing so, however, we must continue to be forthright, particularly over human rights issues and the role of the military in the abuses that have occurred."

Darwin-based East Timor activist Rob Wesley-Smith said Mr Snowdon had long been a strong supporter of East Timorese independence, which included criticisms of the role of the Indonesian military.

"It's a feather in his cap," Mr Wesley-Smith said. "I just want him to keep going for a for a fair deal for East Timor."

Mr Snowdon said yesterday he was awaiting briefings from his new department but was looking forward to meeting again the 6500 Territory-based defence personnel.

"I can tell them federal Labor is determined to recognise the service and sacrifices of ADF personnel by offering them and their families well-earned support," he said.

He is only the third Northern Territorian to be named in a federal government ministry, following Labor's Bob Collins in the Hawke and Keating governments and the Country Liberal Party's Nigel Scullion in the Howard government.

Mr Snowdon made headlines earlier this year when it was revealed he accompanied Mr Rudd, and New York Post editor Col Allan, to New York strip club Scores in 2003.

He received strong support from Aboriginal voters at last weekend's federal election, with almost 63 per cent of the vote.

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