376 Cablegram to Jakarta

Canberra, 15 December 1975


Portuguese Timor: United Nations

Ref O.JA3669, O.JA36731

Tjan's reaction to Australia's voting at the United Nations shows an inadequate understanding of the help given to Indonesia by our delegation in New York and the strength of public feeling in Australia against Indonesia's action in Timor. Australian voting was consistent with the several public statements by the Australian Government following Indonesia's reported intervention.

  1. You will now have New York's telegram UN4735.2 We think it would be worthwhile having a further discussion with Tjan about these matters drawing on New York's telegram. The points might also be made that Australia and Indonesia had cooperated closely in the drawing up of the original, regionally-sponsored Draft Resolution, and that Australia had been very active in seeking support for it-more active we suspect than the Indonesians themselves. Thus, for example, it can be argued-and the point made to Tjan-that Fijian and PNG sponsorship followed Australian representati[ons] in Suva and Port Moresby. We also made representations, unsuccessful in the event, to Singapore. In addition, Australian diplomacy played a major part in the weeks preceding the United Nations debate in blunting or diverting criticism of Indonesia by Tanzania, Brazil, Western Europe and China.
  2. Clearly the situation in New York was changed by Indonesia's military operations on 7 December. Mozambique, Guinea and Guinea Bissau, the East Europeans, China and others were insistent on some form of United Nations condemnation of Indonesia's action. That, in the event, this condemnation was not expressed in much harsher language, was due in no small measure to Australia's efforts in the Fourth Committee.
  3. In this connexion, it may be useful to provide Tjan-perhaps in tabular form to enable quick comparison-with the several texts in New York's UN4737,3 along with the further amendments that Australia had proposed (New York's telegram UN47234) but which we were unable to present because of the premature closure of the debate. In case Tjan is not aware of it, it might also be useful to take him through the separate paragraph voting (in which Australia abstained on the paragraphs most critical of Indonesia) as well as providing him with the texts of our delegations' explanations of vote in UN47285 and UN47336 along with the text of Campbell's initial intervention (UN4605).7
  4. The Timor issue now goes to the Security Council, where we have asked to present our views. Further instructions which are being prepared for Harry will ask him to keep closely in touch with the Indonesians.
  5. You should know that the Indonesian Ambassador called on the Secretary this morning to convey the Indonesian authorities' disappointment at the Australian vote, which seemed to represent a change without warning in Australian attitudes on Portuguese Timor.

[NAA: A10463, 801/13111/1, xvii]