With the death of Bruce Haigh at 77, we have lost a dear friend, valued colleague, and former AWPR Committee stalwart.
Throughout his years with AWPR, Bruce was a vociferous advocate of truth in government and expressed his views in many articles. He become convinced that AUKUS was above all what we had to campaign against.
Bruce was born on 6 August, Hiroshima Day, and died on 7 April, Good Friday.
Having grown up in Perth, Bruce could do and did many things. He was successively a jackeroo, a soldier and a diplomat. He had postings in Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and South Africa, where he actively supported the anti-apartheid struggle.
He went on to serve on the Refugee Review Tribunal and stood as an independent candidate in the seat of Gwydir, which takes in Mudgee in NSW. He grew edible olives on his farm, Guneemoo, and made barely drinkable wine.
He later moved to Orange, and in late 2022 he planned to live in Vietnam and ‘make himself useful in some way’.
But pancreatic cancer developed rapidly and he had hospital treatment in Laos. He was then brought back to Australia and Jodie Burnstein, his former wife, and their two daughters joined him before he died in hospital in Wollongong.
Bruce published two small books in 2001, The Great Australian Blight: losing the plot in Australian foreign policy, and Pillars of Fear: a critical examination of Australian failure in regional defence planning, which are as relevant now as when he wrote them. In Pillars of Fear, he remarked about a fellow Western Australian, that as Defence Minister, Kim Beazley was ‘dominated by his Defence chiefs, who went along with the US in buying equipment that suited US strategic purposes but did not suit our own’.
After a private cremation, an event to commemorate Bruce’s life will be held in May or June in Newcastle, where he had planned to live to be near one of his daughters. We will send details to all AWPR members.