Minute from Blakeney to Tange

Canberra, 21 July 1961


Australian Policy Towards Portuguese Timor

The accompanying notes on current Indonesian attitudes towards Singapore and other neighbouring dependencies indicate, inter alia, the need for early re-examination of Australian policy in relation to Portuguese Timor. (Mr. Plimsoll also has referred to the need to define Australia's position in the United Nations General Assembly this year in relation to Portugal's colonial possessions.)

  1. The need for such a re-examination of policy is underlined by reports just received from our Consul in Dili of the active concern of the new Military Commander in Portuguese Timor to secure the greatest possible Australian involvement with the Portuguese position in Timor. As understood by our Consul in Dili, this involvement would include the encouragement of Australian capital and enterprise to Timor, consultation on political matters of mutual concern, and the virtual integration of Portuguese and Australian armed forces. The Consul has already received an inquiry about the calibre of Australian ammunition with a view to standardization in Timor. There are indications that proposals on these lines may well have been discussed at the highest level in the Portuguese Defence Ministry, and may soon be recommended to the Portuguese Cabinet.
  2. The suggested re-examination of Australian policy would entail consideration from a Defence point of view. A draft memorandum to the Department of Defence is attached for your approval.1


Assistant Secretary

[NAA: Al838, 3038/10/1, i]