307 Cablegram to Jakarta and Lisbon

Canberra, 29 October 1975


Portuguese Timor

For Woolcott and Cooper

In our O.CH2799661 we asked you to advise the Indonesians of our extreme disappointment that they have found it necessary to resort to large-scale military intervention in Portuguese Timor. You were also asked to advise the Indonesians that the Australian Government would need to refer publicly to the fact of having made these representations to the Indonesians when the full extent of Indonesian involvement in Portuguese Timor became public knowledge.

  1. In the event, there has been no effective response from the Indonesians to our representations or to the ideas we have expressed about alternative approaches to the problem of Portuguese Timor. The Indonesians show no sign oflimiting the extent of their involvement in Portuguese Timor. Recent press and other reports of Indonesian military involvement in Portuguese Timor, including in particular those relating to the fate of the five Australian journalists, have increased the pressure of public opinion on the Australian Government to the point where Australian Ministers see no alternative to making the sort of public statement foreshadowed in your conversation with Malik (JA24982).
  2. Our immediately following telegram contains the text of a statement which the Minister wishes to deliver in the Senate tomorrow morning, 30 October. We should be grateful for your urgent comments on possible drafting changes. You should know, however, that the Minister has approved the text as is, and has also shown it to the Prime Minister.
  3. You will see from the third paragraph of the text that the Minister wishes to inform the Parliament that Australia has acted in Lisbon and Jakarta to express the hope that the Portuguese and Indonesian Governments will approach their talks later this week in a positive and constructive manner. We should be grateful if both Ambassadors could act accordingly.
  4. The Minister's intention to make a statement may be conveyed to both Governments. There would be no objections to providing both Governments with the text on the basis that it is confidential until delivery, and that the text may be subject to late amendments.

Australian assistance has far exceeded that provided by any other country. As far as we know New Zealand is the only other government to have announced a contribution-of $NZ25, to the ICRC, although a number of national Red Cross societies may have offered small contributions.

For Jakarta only

  1. In conveying this advice to the Indonesians, you should repeat Australian Ministers' continuing desire to limit as far as possible damage to relations between the two countries as the result of their differing approaches to Portuguese Timor. The terms in which the Minister's statement are couched reflect that continuing desire.

[NAA: A10463, 801/13/11/1, xv]