Subject: Timorese want share of concert star-dust

The Australian 20 Dec 99

Timorese want share of concert star-dust

By BRIAN WOODLEY

EAST Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao has sought guarantees from the producers of tomorrow night's $1 million concert for peace-enforcement troops that the people of Dili will also benefit from the star-studded event.

Up to 8000 people, including as many as 3000 troops, are expected to attend the concert, headlined by Kylie Minogue and John Farnham.

Networks Nine and Seven will simultaneously broadcast the show and New Idea has bought the exclusive magazine rights.

"I would hope that adequate provision be made for the people of Dili and East Timor generally to benefit from the concert, the proposed television coverage and sale of merchandising associated with the concert," Mr Gusmao wrote to promoter Glenn Wheatley.

Yesterday, Mr Wheatley was still trying to meet Mr Gusmao's request to secure East Timorese involvement in the performers' line-up and ensure that royalties from showbags, videos and CDs was relinquished to local control.

While welcoming the concept of a Christmas rock concert to maintain the morale of Interfet troops, Mr Gusmao said he was concerned Mr Wheatley's company, Talentworks, had asked the aid agency Care Australia to handle distribution of money from sponsorships and merchandising in connection with the not-for-profit concert.

"A more significant and meaningful contribution towards the welfare of our people would be made if money raised was donated to an East Timorese-controlled organisation," Mr Gusmao said.

Mr Wheatley said he was not confident that there would be any money to distribute anyway.


The Australian 22 Dec 99

Kylie opens new front

From CARMEL EGAN in Dili

KYLIE Minogue performed one of the slowest stripteases in television history and John Farnham belted out his old favourites, but last night belonged to Doc Neeson.

The Christmas concert for the troops in East Timor has been the Angels frontman's passion ever since Australians were deployed in September.

Just 24 hours after collapsing from exhaustion and dehydration while singing for the troops stationed in the Suai border region, Neeson ­ a former army sergeant ­ was back in action in Dili and had the troops pumping with old hits such as Shadow Boxer.

After the rain that had been threatening all afternoon came, the soccer stadium in the city's centre had turned into a quagmire by the time the concert ended with the old Angels' number Am I Ever Going To See Your Face Again with its now traditional crowd response "no way, get f . . . ed, f . . . off".

"The lyric nazis didn't want us to do this because of its cultural insensitivity," Neeson told his cheering army fans. "But we're going to do it anyway."

A crowd of 10,000 had filled the stadium in central Dili and, in surrounding streets, thousands more East Timorese sat on rooftops or balanced on motorbike seats and tree limbs to catch a glimpse of the three-hour rock concert.

Senior defence force staff and VIPs, including Timorese Nobel Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta, watched the concert from the relative comfort of the grandstand, while local children and Australian soldiers cheered the entertainers from the front of the stage.

The biggest cheer from the local crowd, which stood silently throughout most of the concert, went to the Dili All Stars, a reggae group made up of Australian and Timorese artists.

Formed three weeks before the August 30 independence referendum, the Timorese exile musicians and their Australian friends were the first act on stage.

The Melbourne-based band's vocalist and songwriter Paul Stewart is the younger brother of Tony Stewart, one of five Australian journalists killed when Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975

"Being here and being able to sing for the East Timorese is an amazing, fulfilling experience," said Stewart, who doubles as lead singer of the Australian band Painters and Dockers.

The 10-member band became a smash hit through the East Timorese independence underground when they smuggled a recording of their liberation songs into Dili.

After the rapturous response to the All Stars, the East Timorese stood and watched in bewildered silence through most of the concert, including Minogue's striptease and John Howard's Christmas message to the troops.

Interfet commander Major-General Peter Cosgrove said the event reminded troops and Timorese that all Australians were thinking of them at Christmas.

"Ninety days ago we went into the unknown," Major-General Cosgrove said. "All we could do was our very best to help these wonderful people of East Timor."


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