THE historical record of events on Bougainville that led to the civil war of the 1990s has grown in subsequent years, and we now know a little more about what was occurring behind the scenes.
In the course of my research, I interviewed many of the key players involved in managing Australia's response to the uprising.
These people included officials from the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea, the Australian Defence Force, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Defence.
Australia considered boots on the ground in Bougainville but baulked at the idea because of the messy nature of the intervention they would be involved in.
But there was a strong consensus that Australia's weight was heavily in favour of the PNG Defence Force intervention, and this was made known in no uncertain terms to the PNG prime minister, who to be fair was not initially in favour of a military solution.
In parallel, Australia planned a rather significant package of military support, broadly like US involvement in Vietnam pre-1965.
So they were providing a lot of the technical capacity, including ADF officers (who worked on Bougainville with their PNGDF counterparts), armaments, capital goods and training.
Indeed, as one ADF officer remarked, “We [Australia] were even flying the PNGDF to Bougainville.”
Many of the officials I spoke with were thoroughly honest and had fascinating insights. Unlike the politicians, there was no denial of the atrocities that occurred, nor the blood on Australia's hands.
The problem was the Australian government had embarked on an ambitious foreign policy strategy that held the South Pacific region as a litmus test of its credibility - and as Defence was keen to note, Australia's role as the guardian of the 'free world' in the South Pacific, and, to an extent, South East Asia, was something they leveraged with the US.
So, when the first major challenge to this credibility occurred, Australia could not be seen to shy away from a decisive solution.
Moreover, because there was no conspiracy between the Australian government and Rio Tinto (which was a hypothesis I had initially developed and subsequently abandoned), the significance of Bougainville went well beyond the mine and intersected with the foreign policy heart of the Hawke government.
Sadly this important and lamentable episode in Australian history is known by few people.
Frequently my own scholarship on the matter is dismissed as left wing rubbish (as is my work on Rio Tinto-BCL).
This is frustrating, because all my assertions are rooted in a rich body of interview-data, generously provided by key officials involved in this tragic episode of history.
Facts and honesty, as I said, are under-rated commodities these days.
Dr Kristian Lasslett lecturer in criminology at the University of Ulster and sits on the executive board of the International State Crime Initiative